Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Fishing Kayak Review

If you're looking for a serious fishing kayak for longer sessions, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 kayak could be just what you’re after. Thing is, will it fit with your other styles of paddling? Will it be able to hold all your gear for an overnight trip?

We will look at all of the main features of this 12 foot kayak and check out its pros and cons, to help you decide if this one might be a good option for you on your next fishing trip.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Image
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    Length: 12 foot 3 inches
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    Width: 30 inches
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    Weight: 63 pounds
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    Depth: 13.75 inches
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    Weight Capacity: 350 pounds

Before You Buy A Tarpon Kayak

Choosing a fishing kayak can be a little different from choosing a recreational yak, as you will need to take into account the extra gear you’ll need and the type of fish you might want to catch. For example, are you planning to fish in the ocean? Or will you be sticking to slow-moving rivers and lakes?

The Tarpon 120 is a 12 foot long sit-on-top fishing kayak with a single seat. It offers lots of storage space so it could be good choice if you plan to pack up your gear for a longer fishing trip or even an overnight stay.

Saying that, the maximum capacity is 350 pounds, so if you’re on the larger side you might find that you can’t fully load it up with gear.

A fishing kayak can give you the added benefit of features designed to make a fishing trip easier, such as pre-installed gear tracks and rod holders. If you’re simply looking for a vessel that you can take out for a leisurely paddle on the weekends, then the Tarpon 120 might not be for you, and you might find you get better value with a recreational yak.

The Tarpon 120 is designed to handle different types of water, which may make it a good choice if you plan to fish in various locations. It can be paddled in ocean surf (providing you’re an experienced paddler) or calm lakes and rivers.

On The River With The Tarpon 120

Top Features Of The Tarpon 120 Fishing Kayak

The Tarpon 120 is a 12 foot sit-on-top fishing kayak designed to be comfortable and easy to maneuver during long days on the water. It’s also designed to enable you to take along all the gear you need on a fishing trip.

This yak is among the most popular in the Tarpon series because of its handy features and ease of use.

Storage

When you’re heading out on a fishing trip you know you need to take a little more gear with you than if you were simply out for a paddle. And with the Tarpon 120 there’s plenty of space for your fishing gear.

As well as the large storage well at the back, that has the security of bungee cords, there are two sealed hatches. The larger one is at the bow and there’s a smaller one just in front of the seat. Although these hatches are not completely watertight, they should keep out most of the water. But you might want to put your gear in dry bags before you store it in there.

With the hatches and the rear storage deck, you should be able to carry along a small tent or overnight supplies as well as your daily fishing essentials. In addition to this there are two storage pockets with a rubber mesh covering in front of the seat, for keeping smaller items close to hand. There’s also a cup holder.

Geared For Fishing

As well as plenty of space for your gear, the Tarpon 120 is ready for a fishing trip in terms of rigging. There are four gear tracks on the sides of the yak, with two in front of the seat and two behind, making it even easier for you to attach your fishing accessories, such as extra rod holders or electronics. This means you won’t have to drill any holes.

The shape of the hull also gives good stability, making it possible (if you have good balance) that you could stand up in it, which could help you cast your line more effectively.

Standing On A Tarpon 120

Comfort

When you’re spending hours on the water, a comfortable seat is important. The seat on the Tarpon 120 is a Phase 3 AirPro seat, that’s slightly elevated off the deck, which will help keep you a bit drier when you’re paddling. The raised seat can also give you better visibility, which is important when you’re fishing and can also help you cast better since you’re not sitting directly on the floor of the yak.

Video: Phase 3 Air Pro Kayak Seat

The comfortable seat can be easily adjusted both on the seat bottom and back, with the height of the seatback being adjustable, which can help different sizes of paddlers. The adjustable footrests can also help make your fishing trip more comfortable.

To make sure your paddle doesn’t drift off while you’re busy fishing, there’s a convenient paddle holder bungee at either side.

Maneuverability

The Tarpon 120 is designed with both primary and secondary stability, meaning it’s built to be stable in a range of conditions from flat water to choppy. With the design of this yak’s hull, it’s a versatile vessel that is also built to deliver on speed and maneuverability.

A good thing about the Tarpon 120 is that it comes ready for a rudder to be attached, although you’d need to buy the rudder separately. While the design of the hull offers good tracking, it can be good to have the option of attaching a rudder if you feel you might need one.

If you’re going to be fishing in rivers or any other place where there might be rocks or obstacles, being able to turn quickly is important and the Tarpon 120 can be turned easily.

Tarpon 120 Kayak By Wilderness Systems Review

To make it more convenient to transport, there are side carrying handles as well as comfort grip handles at the bow and stern. With its 12 foot 3 inch length you will need to think about how you will get it from your storage area to the water, as it may be too big to fit neatly in the back of a truck. So you might need to think about a trailer or roof rack if you don’t already have one.


Tarpon 120 Alternatives

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140

The Tarpon 140 has many of the same features but is 14 feet long and just 28 inches wide, so could offer you better speed on the water. The extra length also extends your storage area and it has a slightly larger weight capacity of 375 pounds, so could be better if you’re planning on loading it up with gear for an extended trip.

It features the same Phase 3 seat and pre-installed gear tracks but it also comes at a slightly higher price.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Perception Pescador 12.0 Pilot Kayak

If you’d rather have more of a hands free fishing experience there’s the Pescador Pilot, which is in a higher price bracket than the Tarpon 120 but has lots of fishing features, including four rod holders, gear tracks and a built-in rudder system.

The main difference between them is the Pescador Pilot features pedals, so you can power through the water, only needing your paddle to turn. It’s designed to perform well in all types of water, including open water, so could be good if you prefer to fish in the ocean.

However, this yak is pretty heavy, weighing 85 pounds. On the other hand, it can hold quite a lot of gear with a capacity of a whopping 475 pounds.

> Our full Pilot review

Sun Dolphin Journey 12

Sun Dolphin Journey 12

If you’d rather not spend quite as much as the Tarpon 120, the Sun Dolphin Journey could be a good alternative. It has built-in rod holders and a storage hatch. But it might lack the versatility of the Tarpon 120, as this one’s built more for flat water.

However, it’s a lighter weight at just 48 pounds, making it easy to carry, and it can also haul a heavier load at 395 pounds for you and your gear.

> We also looked at the Journey 10 SS


In Summary

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Image

Pros

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    Speed
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    Storage
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    Gear tracks
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    Comfortable seat

Cons

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    Heavy
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    Not compact

After reading this you should now know whether the Tarpon 120 is right for you. A fishing kayak can be a great investment for hours of fun on the water and the Tarpon 120 could be a great choice. It’s versatile, spacious and has lots of fishing features, making it easy to add your own accessories.

If you’d like to check out this yak for yourself, just click here. And if you have any comments or questions please let us know. Don’t forget to share this with your fellow paddlers.

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