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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone have any experience with pelican kayaks, particularly the zest sit on top. Looking for a really cheap entry level sot. This one is about the cheapest around at Academy sports for around 230. Like the size-9'4" will go in the truck pretty easy. I don't need a tourer, just one to float down the river and wet a line. Most places I'll be are calm with slow currents. Any info would be appreciated.

Ryan
 

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I've never owned a Pelican or paddled one but if you are going to be fishing rivers, lakes and or Carolina style salt marshes I think you would be happier with a sit inside. The reason is just plain versatility and fishability. Take a look at their Getaway line.
Lots of guys have sit on tops for fishing and like them but I have a 2 person sit inside that I fish out of and I much prefer it over sit on tops. You can put your rods inside as well as keep your tackle in front of you. If you wind up with a sit on top or a sit inside with flushmount rod holders; let me save you some pain. Don't go sticking a bunch of rods in holders and take of merrily, merrily downstream. Low hanging limbs and branches will wind up getting your attention in a very negative fashion.;)
I don't know how important weight is but the Ram-X boats they make are tough but a little heavy. Probably close to 20 % heavier than rotomolded poly and heavier still than glass or glass composites. Not normally a real big deal when you are fishing. Since you have a pickup, you won't have to worry about loading on top of a suv or van. I've carried a 16' 8" touring kayak in the back of a longbed P/U with no problems. Just make sure you tie it down. I've seen a couple catch the wind just right a blow out of pickup beds. One was older and borrowed and shattered. The driver was freaking out.
 

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I can't speak out of experience on the Pelicans either. The purists on the paddling boards knock them for weight and construction, but I say you're lucky to have an Academy - they've got great prices. Weight is not a huge issue with the Zest since its a short boat. If you were optimizing on weight you'd look at something made of a different material anyway, like sinker man suggests.

The first thing to consider on that particular boat is the weight capacity. I've got a review of the 9'6" Heritage Dolphin on the reviews page with similar capacity. Short story: it was not a suitable platform for somebody who was near/above the stated capacity, even just for playing around. The center of gravity on a sit-on-top is going to be higher than a sit-inside, so you have to watch that bouyancy/gravity relationship.

The second thing to consider is length. If you're really just floating down the river it should be OK - actually pretty good since it will be very maneuverable. Definitely convenient for hauling, storing and launching. Not a whole lot of space for gear though. The small one we had was pretty bad to paddle on flat water. It would walk-the-dog like a zara spook. Every paddle stroke was an over-correction. Since we do a lot more flat water I got rid of it and bought a longer, better tracking boat.

sinker man and I have gone back & forth on the Sit Inside Kayak versus Sit On Top debate before. I'm from the Sit On Top camp, I enjoy the rigging options and I have full intention of getting into the surf, though I haven't yet and there's no place I've been yet where a sit-inside wouldn't have been fine. I think the Sit Insides can and generally do have more comfortable seats. Merits to both, mistakes to be made with both.

You said you're looking for really cheap and the zest is it. If it gets you out and you enjoy being out with it, its a good investment. If you think you'll be getting deeper into kayak fishing, rigging, touring, and flat water, you'll want something longer, faster, with more storage and configurability.
 

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First kayak I had was a Pelican, got it at SAM'S. It was 9 '' paddled Like a inertube but I loved it.It got me fishing.IT would not track at all.I put a skeg on the back helped a little But not much.It was a pice of trash, A bath tub,but at the time I thouhgt it was the Queen marry.I went little further every day.Caught some fish and got hooked my self.Traided her in the next summer on a zore sport, my new Queen mary.If money is tite get you a Queen merry. JUST GET OUT THERE MAN AN TAKE A KID.
 

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There's certainly something to be said for getting out there, regardless of the yacht beneath your fanny. You'll learn what you like about that boat and what you don't like. When you hear people talking about how such-and-such a boat "tracks better", you'll have some idea of how important that is to you.

I've been taking that approach with tackle. I've found some things I'm willing to pay more money for in a reel, but haven't yet discovered what makes a $100 rod worth five $20 rods (except when I can't find the length/strenth/etc I want).

The only thing to guard against is discouragement -- but if you think you can be successful against that ghost, then do some fair amount of research, but don't get stuck too long in the analysis phase. Git on out there!
 

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Ditto Lefty's sentiment. I bought a SOT about 10 years ago without any inkling that I would ever fish from it. With a minor amount of tinkering, I have made it a fine fishing vessel. I don't care if the other guys laugh at me- yeah that's right- I heard you guys snickering at my yellow/red and green jalopy! ;):D:p
 

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Man talk about a boat with CHARACTER!! That's one COOL CRAFT ya got there!!
 

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Keep an eye on Craigslist for Raleigh there are lots of Yaks for sale and you may find something a bit better used. Some people buy on a whim and just want it gone..or love it and quickly upgrade.
 

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There are obviously various opinions out there on which style is best. And it should be pointed out, that what is right for one person will not be right for others. I have been very fortunate to have owned and fished from 8 different kayaks (and one canoe). I had never been in a kayak prior to buying one nine years ago for fishing. And quite frankly, if I didnt fish from it, I would not own one. I am not a paddler but a fisherman.

My first boat was a sit inside, a WS Pungo...fished it hard for about 5 years. Since then I have owned nothing but SOT from Perception (an Illusion), Malibu (eXtreme, Pro Explorer and X-Factor), Ocean Kayaks (Prowler) and Wilderness Systems (Tarpon 120 and 140). And I prefer the SOT style for me. At first, it was hard to adjust after so many years in the Pungo (which is a fine kayak). But after owning a few, I found from a fishing platform standpoint, the SOT suited my style best.

As far as buying a Pelican....if that is all you can afford and it gets you out there, then go for it. You would be better off seeing if you can find a used kayak as mentioned before. And remember there is a fair amount of 'paddling' in kayak fishing. Having a kayak that paddles poorly or is not comfortable will make for long days. And it might not be a enjoyable for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone for the advice. These are the types of responses I expected. Everyone has a different idea of what is best. SOT or SinK. I'm not planning on buying til after Xmas anyhow. Just got out of college, so I have to get the wifey something special for putting up with me through a few years of the army and four years of school. I live about 20 minutes from the bass pro in Nashville, and work about 5 min from the Dick's and Academy. We also have an REI close to work. I'll keep looking. So far Academy has the best prices by a long shot. Right now I think I'm leaning toward an Ocean Kayak. Reviews on the Pelican have been pretty discouraging. OK has the Speck SOT. 12'. A little longer than I planned on getting, but the price is pretty nice, around $300 and I live about five minutes from Percy Priest lake, so I know I'll end up on the flatwater too. Thanks again for all you opinions and welcoming a TN neighbor so well.

Ryan
 

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I've not spent any time in "small" rivers -- just lakes and coastal sounds -- but I've never heard anyone complain that their 12' kayak was too long.

That end-of-season comment reminded me -- I noticed I guess it was two years ago that a lot of outfitters seem to use eBay online stores to turn over their rental fleets about this time of year. You might want to set up a search within x radius of your home zip code and see if you can find a liquidation.

Good luck
Lefty
 

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My Pungo 12 sit in suits the old man just fine--can stretch out and take a nap if I need to. Only use in backwaters and sound. Easy for old man to handle and transport.

Pack lite and catch heavy!!:)
 
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