Kraken Kayak

A couple quick and dirty mods to my Kraken Kayak

The Kraken is a fishing machine but can always be made better

The Kraken is a fishing machine but can always be made better

You know that no matter how great a kayak is there are always things you want to tweak to get them just how you want them.

Today I broke out the saw, drill and a few parts to do a couple mods to my Kraken kayak, to get it ready for a long fishing season.

We do at times here in San Diego get into some pretty big fish, my biggest  white seabass for instance was 62 pounds. I have an insulated game bag that fits inside my hull with ice packs that I keep my catch in for those time that I do keep fish. Just to make getting the bag, as well big fish, into the hull a bit easier I cut away the inner lip inside the center hatch. This gave me close to an inch of extra width and length. This easy mod has no affect on the integrity of the kayak or the water tight seal of the hatch.

Like I said quick and dirty, I actually did this with an angle grinder.

Like I said quick and dirty, I actually did this with an angle grinder.

The next thing I did was grab a small hack saw and cut out the back side of my battery tray. I have been using small Nocqua lithium ion waterproof batteries, I love these things but on a real long day I do need to swap them out. By cutting out the back of the battery tray I can still get my batteries up off the floor of the kayak but have a bit easier access to them if I need to swap them out.

Cutting away the back of the battery tray

Cutting away the back of the battery tray


Now I have access to the batteries from the front and back.

Now I have access to the batteries from the front and back.

The last thing I did was swap out the plastic gear track that the boat came with for the aluminum gear track with back plates. The reason I did this was to make the center hatch much more rigid so no flex when punching surf. Also I like to use a small down rigger at times and with the combined stronger tracks and the plates I got from Yakattack for attaching my finder and rigger my hatch is super solid.

New aluminum gear track

New aluminum gear track


additional backing plates

additional backing plates


This is the mounting plate for my A78 Raymarine. I will use a similar plate for my downrigger once I get it.

This is the mounting plate for my A78 Raymarine. I will use a similar plate for my downrigger once I get it.

You can see how it mounts to the gear track in this shot.

You can see how it mounts to the gear track in this shot.


You can see in the above photo how the plate attaches to the two tracks. SUPER solid

Always tinkering with the yaks. I hope this gives you some inspiration to cut into your boat.
Maybe do it a little cleaner than I did.

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Kraken Fish Finder Rigging

The Kraken on the water and ready to hunt

The Kraken on the water and ready to hunt

After getting my Kraken my first stop was visiting my local Jackson Kayak Dealer, OEX, to get some rigging done. Sure I could do it all myself but they have all the tools and parts I needed to make it a fast and easy job.

The Kraken was designed to be easy to rig for fish finders and turning the included KKrate into a bait tank. Below I will give you a quick photo walk through of how we rigged up my new Kraken with a Raymarine Dragonfly fish finder.

The first job was deciding the position of my Raymarine fish finder and how to mount it. I decided to put it onto the center hatch attached to the piece of starboard which covers the hinge. I like to keep it so that I can take the entire finder base off, this keeps it from getting damaged when carrying a bunch of boats. I used a combination of a Yakattack Mighty mount and some Ram mount parts to mount the base.

Raymarine Dragon fly base attached with a Mighty mount and Ram parts.

Raymarine Dragon fly base attached with a Mighty mount and Ram parts.

We ran the power and transducer wires through the hull just in front of the hatch.

We ran the power and transducer wires through the hull just in front of the hatch.

The next step was setting up the transducer and running the wires to the battery and the head unit. To secure the Transducer we used a disc of plastic that came from a flush mount install. Just cut it to size and put a couple holes in it. Run a piece of cord though the bolt hole at the top of the transducer then up through the Transducer scupper and through the disc. We used a small cord lock to hold it is place. A cheap and easy transducer mount. The Transducer pulls up nice and snug into the bottom of the boat.

Transducer mounted with small disc of plastic and some cord

Transducer mounted with small disc of plastic and some cord

Transducer cable run through the hull in the side of the center hatch.

Transducer cable run through the hull in the side of the center hatch.

Transducer nice and snug in the bottom of the Kraken

Transducer nice and snug in the bottom of the Kraken

With the included battery tray in the Kraken your battery sits nice and secure off the bottom of the kayak. I used a KFS watertight battery box with external connector as my power supply for both my finder and my bait tank.

The KFS battery box fits perfectly into the Kraken battery tray.

The KFS battery box fits perfectly into the Kraken battery tray.

In part two of the Kraken rigging I will show you how we rigged up my bait tank.

The Birth of the Kraken

The Kraken, a Jim Sammons signature kayak

The Kraken, a Jim Sammons signature kayak


As soon as I joined Jackson kayaks, a little over a year ago, we began chatting about adding an offshore/big water fishing kayak to their already impressive lineup. This style of kayak was the one missing item that they needed to cover fishing from streams and rivers, to ponds and lakes and now the open water.
There was an initial push to get the kayak done quickly but it was agreed that rather than push the boat out we would take our time and get it done right and make a boat we would all be proud of. I truly believe we have done just that.

One of the first steps in the design process was me sitting down and putting together an initial proposal for this yet to be named JS signature offshore kayak. I am a paddler, I started out in touring boats and love kayaks that paddle well so these attributes were at the top of the list, then came a list of features that I would like to see in a big water fishing kayak. I forwarded this list along with some very bad drawings of what I had in mind to Damon the project manager, Tony Lee, the head designer at Jackson, and other members of the design team to get a formal proposal nailed down. We then had to come to a consensus on the specifics for this boat, things like what length and width would we be looking at, hull design and lastly what were the most important deck features, because my list of wants was a bit long.

One of our biggest challenges and questions was weather we could incorporate the Jackson elite seat into an offshore boat. I have fallen in love with this seat but we were not sure if it would work on this boat. If we were going to use it we had to figure out a way to get it lower and more secure. Tony has come up with a fantastic solution for this which will not only give me the comfort of the Elite seat but lock it in and add the ability to adjust the trim on the kayak.

one of the original concepts for the seat retention system.

one of the original concepts for the seat retention system.

There was some debate as to the length that the kayak should be, sales indicate that shorter kayak sell better, but I had it set in my head that I really wanted a long kayak for gliding across the offshore waters. With the plethora of big boats on the market now I also wanted to be very sure that this was not a Stand Up kayak. My words to the design team on this subject were “If people can stand on it then it is too wide”. Once all was said and done we settled on a proposed length of 15-16 feet and under 30 inches wide. Figuring these dimensions would give us a good balance of speed, stability and volume for carrying all my gear.

In trying to figure out the boat dimensions and hull design our first mission was to take out a variety of kayaks into the rough water and surf zone. By jumping from kayak to kayak and discussing each boats performance it really got us onto the same page as to what we were trying to achieve on our new project. Yeah the fun part of the design process is taking some kayaks out and playing on them. We had a blast.

Jim Surfing the Cuda 14

Jim Surfing the Cuda 14

Once we knew what we were shooting for on the hull the first plug was made so that we could get a prototype built. The first prototype was basically just to dial in the hull no real deck features were included. Once the first prototype was finished it was shipped out to me in San Diego to take for a test drive on some flat water and then in the surf. I have to say for the first run prototype I was already very impressed, the boat had incredible glide was quite and though we had some drainage issues, due to lack of scuppers in the prototype, it surfed like a champ. More fun for me!!

Our first look at the Kraken Prototype

Our first look at the Kraken Prototype


Jim getting his first paddle in on the Kraken prototype

Jim getting his first paddle in on the Kraken prototype

No test of an offshore boat would be complete with out a surf test.

No test of an offshore boat would be complete with out a surf test.

Along with working with Tony and his team I spent a good deal of time chatting with other Jackson team members from around the world to gauge what were the most important features in a kayak for their fisheries. Of course you can’t get all the features built into the kayaks that people are looking for but we tried to make the kayak as easy to modify as possible.
For me one of the most important people in this design process was my good friend and Jackson teammate Sean White. We fish together a lot so have very similar desires for a fishing kayak. We bounced a lot of ideas back and forth for our new boat and he was always an inspiration for new ideas.

My boy Sean White who definitely deserves some credit on this boat. Of course if you hate it, blame him. lol

My boy Sean White who definitely deserves some credit on this boat. Of course if you hate it, blame him. lol

Having someone like Tony Lee who can take our crude drawings and ideas and turn them into reality is the key to getting this kayak right. We would hand off our ideas to Tony and he would run with them, making them better than we could have ever hoped.

One of my awesome concept drawings for our bait tank system.

One of my awesome concept drawings for our bait tank system.

Of course this process would not be complete without the bumping of heads from time to time. Sometimes working from different sides of the country on a design via phone and emails makes getting ideas across tough. At one point Tony and I just were not seeing eye to eye on a specific area of the kayak and it just was not getting resolved over the phone. We are both very passionate people when it comes to the design of the boat mainly because we both so badly want it to be done right. Because we just couldn’t clear up our differences over the phone, I jumped on a plane the very next day and flew to Jackson Kayak in Sparta Tennessee so we could fight it out in person. This was honestly one of the best things that could have happened during this entire process. Tony and I were able to quickly resolve that one issue, once I could sit in the actual kayak and demonstrate my meaning. We were also able to hammer out many of the final design features on the boat during this visit. If I had not made that trip I think we would have been another couple weeks in bringing this boat to market. Of course since I was there I also got to jump on the latest prototype and even got it out for a fish and got several largemouth bass on a local lake. More fun and yes a fish has already been landed on the new boat.

Tony Lee hard at work on the plug

Tony Lee hard at work on the plug


This is where a kayak mold comes from.

This is where a kayak mold comes from.

Working out some rod holder placement on the 2nd prototype

Working out some rod holder placement on the 2nd prototype


Getting the 2nd proto ready for its maiden voyage

Getting the 2nd proto ready for its maiden voyage

When we first started work on this kayak the name Kraken was one that I had my mind set on. I love the image of this mythical sea beast that can sink even the largest ships and ruled the seas. I liked it so much I had a friend and artist Jackie Endlich draw up some concepts of a logo for me then I took those concepts to another friend and tattoo artist Charles Belnavis and had him logo up my left arm. These two pieces of art where then sent to Jackson kayak and turned into the actual logo for the Kraken. Thankfully they agreed to name the boat The Kraken, after all it was already a permanent part of my body. You can see the final version at the top of this article.

Original Concept for my tattoo and Kraken logo by Jackie Endlich

Original Concept for my tattoo and Kraken logo by Jackie Endlich


A couple angles of the tattoo by Charles Belnavis

A couple angles of the tattoo by Charles Belnavis


Only because I think everyone should see how talented Jackie is here is another piece of her art.

Only because I think everyone should see how talented Jackie is here is another piece of her art.


The logo as it appears on the bow of The Kraken

The logo as it appears on the bow of The Kraken

With the Outdoor Retailer trade show planned as the event to Release The Kraken Tony and the guys at Jackson have been busting their tails off to get the boat ready for the show. Over the past couple days I have had countless texts and emails updating me on the process and consulting on the final details, things that just can’t be done until you have a molded kayak on hand to work with.

I have been in the kayak fishing business for over twenty years and to say I am excited to have my name on this boat would be a gross understatement. Though my name is on the boat this truly was a team effort and I can’t thank everyone involved enough for pulling this all together. I hope that everyone that has a chance to see and paddle the Kraken loves it.

The Kraken, putting the kayak back in kayak fishing.

Meet The Kraken

Meet The Kraken

Kayak Surf technique articles and video

Jim getting his surf on.  This shot is of the prototype of a new boat out soon. hint hint.

Jim getting his surf on. This shot is of the prototype of a new boat out soon. hint hint.


I spend a lot of time in my kayak fishing areas where you need to head out through the surf to get to the fishing grounds. So I have become pretty proficient at handling my kayak in the surf zone. I recently hooked up with the guys from Kayak Fish magazine to shoot some stills and video for a kayak surf instructional article and video.
It is a two part series, launching on one, landing on the other.
Check them out I think you will learn a couple things.
Kayak Fish article Kayak surf launching.
Kayak Surf Landing