Pat Metheny of Back Country Ski & Sport in Salem, VA provides a detailed overview of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, one of the most versatile and popular sit-on-top kayaks on the planet. If you’re looking to get out and paddle or fish anything from the coast to the lake to larger class I and II, this could be the one you’re after. Join us as Pat reviews the many features the Tarpon 120 offers the recreational paddler and kayak angling enthusiast.

This best-selling Tarpon is a versatile sit-on-top that’s size isn’t as extensive as its performance, yet still has plenty of room for any sized paddler and all their fishing gear. Winner of the 2008 Sea Kayaker Magazine Reader’s Choice Award for Best Sit on Top Kayak.”

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Hey everyone, my name is Pat and today we’re here at Back Country Ski & Sports in Salem, Virginia to talk about some kayaks.

We’ve got the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, one of our favorite, versatile sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks whether you’re fishing or not.

Self-bailing SOT, like most of the SOT out there. Any waves that come in, drain out of the scupper holes in the bottom, which is great. Another scupper is under the seat, so you’re sitting in a dry cockpit if you do get a big wave in the boat.

They make this boat in at least three different sizes, the 10, the 12 that we’ve got here, and the bigger 14.  Size of the boat for size of the paddler and the body of water.

The 12 foot is great size because its in between, so it kind of cover a little bit of everything. You can go down smaller creeks and smaller rivers and its still manuverable to get down the New and the James around here, but long enough that it tracks fairly well on the lakes and the ocean, when you want to get out there.

Tons of great features all over the kayak and I’d like to talk about some of those real quick.

it is a roto-molded, polyethylene kayak, which makes it very durable. The same way they make the whitewater kayaks that we take down big rapids, they just mold in tons of great features for paddling and fishing all day.

Bow to stern on this boat, we’ve got comfort grab handles on the bow, the stern and the sides.

We’ve got a great, huge oval hatch right here for drybag storage, or just giving us access to the inside compartment of this boat.

So its great for fishing poles, drybags, any of the equipment that you necessarily want to get to while you’re on the water, but you can easily paddle to shore and access.

We move back here to the center console, that comes down to the cup holder.  Good, deep cup holder that holds the beverage and doesn’t let your coffee spill over in the morning.

The center console is where we always used to attach our fishing rod holders,  GPS units, fish finders, all that good stuff.  Up until a few years ago, and then Wilderness gave us these tracks, they put on the bow and stern of the boat. And now we’ve got a ton of options for mounting.

Anything we could have mounted here (console), now we can slide onto the track. Not do a permanent, drill holes in the boat any more, so we can slide our accessories off of this boat and put them on another boat, or move them around if we don’t like where we put them.

So, these tracks are pretty neat stuff.

We move back to the cockpit here, we’ve got adjustable foot pegs.  We have bungee cords in the cockpit here to hold down our plano boxes or our fishing pliers to keep them from washing off the deck.

We’ve got these rubber, kind of cubby-holes for cameras, or again fishing pliers, anything we don’t want sliding around.

Smaller hatch here in the center of the cockpit, great access for (again) waterproof cameras, little drybags, little dry boxes that you do want to access from the cockpit. You don’t want to paddle over to the shore and get out, we can clip these bags and boxes down to these strings in here.

Because before these strings, you’d put your boz in here and it would slide to the stern and you would try to reach in there and couldn’t find it so, they went further ahead than most and put some lashing points inside the hole. I thought that was really, really neat.

I’m kind of used to seeing well-padded seats in boats now.

The foam changed from last year to this year. We now have a porous foam material on the cover and a closed-cell foam on the inside, so this seat drains incredibly well and drys really fast.

Great UV inhibitors in the material now keep it from bleaching out and turning white.

The seat is adjustable in every way. We can go front to back just like all the seats on most of the boats, but now we can adjust the backrest to go a little bit higher if we need a higher backrest or if that pushes our lifejacket up, we can cheat it down.

We can also support the underside of our legs by pulling up on this strap, so all of our weight is not on our heels on our feet, on the foot pegs.

Right here at the cockpit, we also have a paddle holder on each side of the boat, so we can lay a paddle, more permanently attach it down, get off and wade-fish or put it on the bank without worry of the paddle blowing off or floating away from us.

If you need a faster place to ditch your paddle, there’s a little ball and a bungee cord on the front of the boat that’s great. If I have a fish on the hook and need to get rid of my paddle, I can slide it under there and get it out of my way and pull the paddle back out when I’m ready to go.

Move behind the cockpit to the stern of the boat, we’ve got bungee cords, kind of standard issue for tackle bags, coolers, you know anything we need to twist around, sit side-saddle and access in the back of the boat. Bait buckets, all that stuff works great back here, its actually cupped out a little bit for your bait bucket.

Again, scupper holes back here so any water that spills in the stern is going to drain out.  And we’ve got tracks again, so we can mount rod holders, all that good stuff as well.

Comfort grab handle on the stern, and this boat is rudder-ready. So, if you are going to go to the lake and you’re going to paddle in some windier conditions, you can add a rudder to this boat to help keep it straight on those windy, windy days.

This boat is 12′-3″ long, 30″ wide makes it fairly stable. 12′ (longer) keeps it tracking fairly well.

If you don’t want a boat that tracks that well, go to the 10′ size. 10′ boat at 30 and a half inches wide, so a really similar-paddling boat. Again, 10′ a little bit better for smaller paddlers or smaller rivers, 12′ bigger paddlers, bigger rivers, bigger body of water.

If you’d like to come in and sit in these boats one day please give us a call, come in to Back Country.

Don’t go anywhere, we’d like to talk to you about a couple other kayaks.. : )