A Look At The Native Slayer 14.5…
I get asked a lot about my kayak and with so many people in our area new to the sport, I thought I would take you readers on a little walkthrough of my Slayer 14.5 by Native Watercraft. The Native Slayer was created as a sit on top version of their popular Ultimate series sit inside kayaks. Native Watercraft asked their customers what kind of features they would want in a sit on top fishing kayak, the customers responded, Native listened and the Slayer was born. Having been on the market for a year or so now, the Slayer is offered in 12′ and 14.5′ paddle versions as well as their very popular Slayer Propel 13 peddle kayak. Hitting the market this year, as I’ve written in a past post, is the Slayer Propel 10, which once again I think will make a great river fishing kayak. A lot of the features I’m going to discuss below on the Slayer 14.5 are the same on the other models, so keep that in mind if you’re shopping for a shorter kayak. Let’s get started with the front of the boat, shall we?
The first thing you’ll notice about the bow of the Native is the handle placement. The designers at Native really did a nice job with creating the handles on this kayak. I’ve owned kayaks with poor handle placement and/or bungee cord style handles in the past and trust me, a good handle is important when loading/unloading your kayak or especially when portaging around obstacles in a river.
Moving back we find one of the reasons I opted to buy the Slayer, the open front hatch. I’ve found that I use the open front hatch a LOT more than I ever did the enclosed hull storage style compartment that was on my last kayak. It’s easily accessible and I’ve tossed everything in there from extra clothing on those cooler mornings to a cooler holding lunch for all day trips. I’ve even put the scuppers in, filled the compartment with some lake water and kept a few fish for dinner in there when I’ve forgotten the fish cooler at home. Speaking of fish coolers, Native makes a soft sided cooler bag that fits perfectly in this front hatch as well as an optional cover if you want to enclose it. You’ll notice on both sides of the front hatch, as well as most of the Slayer, are gear tracks for adding accessories like rod holders, camera mounts, etc.
Next we come to the part of the kayak where you spend your time, the cockpit. Once again Native did a great job with the design here, leaving the cockpit area open for those of us who fly fish from our kayaks. There is very little here for fly line to catch on and the open area makes standing to fish much more comfortable. Non slip padding, a molded in cup holder, bungee for a tackle box or tray and yet more gear track make the Slayer’s cockpit perfect for long days on the water. Of course, no fishing kayak is complete without a YakAngler decal (sold at http://www.yakangler.com).
A nice feature for those of you who use a depth/fish finder is the electronics console. The console cover is easily removed with thumbscrews unveiling open access to the inside of the hull for running your wires and storing your battery. Gear track on the console cover makes mounting your electronics super easy.
Finally, we come to the feature that is at the top of my favorite feature list and one whose importance is often overlooked by rookies to the sport, the seat. Having owned a Native Ultimate 14.5 before, I knew Native’s seats were comfy but they did an even better job with the Slayer’s seat. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be comfortable all day. An angler who isn’t comfortable is going to quit fishing long before someone who is comfy, and you can’t catch fish if you’re not on the water fishing. It’s just that simple. The longest I’ve spent in my Slayer without getting out is 10 hours. That’s a long time! Having a comfy seat, stability to stand to stretch my legs and of course biting fish made the day fly by without my wanting to quit. The Slayer’s seat has a high and low position and lots of adjustment via the straps. I wasn’t too sure how stable I would feel with the seat in the high position, as my last kayak was very tippy when the seat was up, but the Slayer is just as stable in the high position as it is the low. The day I spent on the river with the WCO Kayak Fishing Team, I spent half of the float with the seat up and really enjoyed it.
Behind the seat is a neat little water tight compartment for holding your keys, cell phone, extra lures or in my case the scupper plugs that I’m not using at the time. The compartment tray or bucket comes out easily allowing easy access to various points should you need to run wiring or drill holes for accessory mounting.
The rear tankwell is, as you can see, very spacious and perfect for your crate and gear. Plenty of included bungee cord keeps things in place and within easy reach. Native added molded in areas for a bucket or crate and the area is big enough should I ever decide to take my Labrador retriever duck hunting from this kayak. With a 450 pound max capacity on the Slayer 14.5, that shouldn’t be a problem if I can keep knothead from jumping out for a swim.
One final feature to discuss is the wheel on the stern of the Slayer. It doesn’t look like much, but I can’t say enough how handy that wheel has been when I’m pulling the kayak out of the garage, pulling it down to a boat ramp, walking it out onto a pier or in one case dragging it from the water’s edge across a grass park and to the parking lot. While the wheel isn’t much help and actually is kind of a hindrance in soft sand, here in Indiana I can’t imagine not having it. If I ever fish where I’ll have to launch from a beach or something, the wheel easily removes with two screws.
There ya go, a look at the Native Slayer 14.5. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at indianayakfish at outlook dot com and I’ll help best I can. For more info, on the Native Slayer and other Native kayaks, check out http://www.nativewatercraft.com If you’re interested in purchasing a kayak or in the area and want to test paddle one, be sure to give the guys at http://www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com in Zionsville, Indiana a call. The guys there are great to deal with and will treat you right.