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A Look At The Native Slayer 14.5…

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Another River Adventure…

A week ago last Saturday four of us from the Wildcat Creek Outfitters (http://www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com/) Kayak Fishing Team met up to float a river here in northeastern Indiana that I had never been on. WCO team member Kyle H. had been on it a few times and was having good luck with smallmouth bass and northern pike. Having never caught a northern pike from a kayak and with the thought of fishing new territory on my mind, I was pretty pumped up for this day to begin.

We arrived at the launch site at about 8 a.m. I had already met Kyle H. and Kyle P. previously, but was able to finally meet Tom S. in person and was looking forward to fishing with these guys. We had looked on the Indiana DNR’s website to find that our intended float was supposedly a 4 hour trip, but we figured it would take 5 or 6 hours seeing that we were going to fish and not just paddle straight through. As we would find out later, both our estimate and the DNR’s website were way off.

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Soon after launching, we were all fishing as the gentle current moved us downstream one by one. I don’t recall who caught the first fish, but I would bet it was Kyle H. as the kid seems able to sweet talk fish into biting his hook. He was casting a large chartreuse and white spinnerbait, which would prove a wise decision as you’ll see here in a bit.

As the morning progressed we all caught small pike and smallmouth bass, with a few rock bass and even one largemouth bass thrown in for good measure. Kyle P. caught his first ever northern pike and I caught my first northern pike from a kayak.

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Tom caught a lot of fish as well from his Native Watercraft Ultimate 12, but I never seemed to be close enough to snap any pictures when he did. The other three guys not only caught fish on their spinning & baitcasting rods, but they all also caught fish on their fly rods. I was the only numbskull that didn’t bring a fly rod, but I’ll correct that the next time we float this river.

Kyle H., as I said, was having great luck throwing the large spinnerbait. He was looking to catch some big pike and it worked as he caught not just one, but two really nice fish.

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One of my goals from a kayak has always been to catch a nice, dark colored smallmouth. I admire the looks of a bronze river smallie, but when I usually fish for smallmouth we only catch fish that are really pale in color. While a truly big smallmouth eluded all of us this day, I was able to catch one that put up a nice fight and had the coloring I was hoping for.

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As the day wore on we began to encounter a lot of deadfalls and structure blocking our way down the river. We literally had to go over, under, around and through all kinds of large trees that were down and it proved tiresome after a bit. I was worried how my fourteen and a half foot Native Watercraft Slayer (http://www.nativewatercraft.com/) would handle the tight turns and small quarters, but it handled the challenges with ease. When portaging through the woods on the riverbank due to impassable structure across the river, the wheel on the stern of the Slayer really came in handy. At one point we decided to check our location and see how far we were from the take out point. Kyle H. pulled it up on his phone and we discovered that after about four or five hours of fishing, we were not quite half way. Ugh!

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After this discovery, we kept fishing for a while but eventually decided that if we wanted to finish before dark, we had best stop fishing and start paddling straight through. We did so for the next three or four hours and in the process Kyle H. and I agreed we had to paddle through some very nice looking stretches of the river that were sure to hold fish. Nonetheless, we kept paddling hard and continued to encounter a lot of deadfalls blocking our way. The river was beautiful and I would have liked to slowed down to enjoy the scenery more, but we were all getting worn out and ready to get back to the trucks.

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Finally at around 7 p.m., a full eleven hours after launching, the take out point was in sight and all four of us were relieved to be off the river. We soon had our kayaks loaded up, said our goodbyes and were back on the road headed home. I slept like a rock that night and my shoulders were terribly sore the next morning, but yet I can’t wait until we do it again.

Check it out! New from Native Watercraft…

The crew at Native Watercraft simply amaze me with their never ending interest in creating kayaks for all situations. Their upcoming ten foot version of their popular Slayer Propel peddle kayak seems to be a future contender for best river kayak on the market in my opinion. While I won’t get to test drive one until my local dealer (www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com) gets one in stock, I’m anxiously awaiting some time in the cockpit of this new addition to the Native lineup. Word from Native is the Propel 10 will be even more stable than the already super stable current Slayer models, more maneuverable than the standard Propel in the 13′ 2″ version, and a lot lighter in weight. With estimated weight coming in somewhere around 69 pounds, it will most likely be the lightest peddle angling kayak on the market. Can you imagine how easily a kayak like this would be to toss into your pick up truck and head to the river for an afternoon of fishing?!? I like it!

In common with it’s big brother the Propel 13, the Propel 10 will also have the Peddle drive system that can be peddled in reverse and the super comfortable first class seat. One most noticeable difference in design between the two kayaks is the front hull storage. In the Propel 13 the hull is open, like the standard (non-peddle) Slayer 12 and 14.5. However, the Propel 10 will have a hatch cover that opens up to inside hull storage instead. This was done for design reasons and should provide some nice dry storage for those long days on the river. The Propel 10 will have, like it’s big brother, lots of gear track throughout its length. My Slayer 14.5 has a lot of gear track as well and I can’t stress enough how nice it is to mount accessories where I want them, whenever I want them. If you’re going to do any videoing, this is nice for changing the angles of your video.

In closing, without even seeing the Propel 10 in person yet, I have no doubt this kayak is going to be a popular addition to the Native Watercraft family of kayaks. It just appears to offer way too much in such a small package not to be!

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River Smallies & The Hippie…

With my younger brother Josh and I both having a day off during the week this past Monday, we made plans to float my favorite section of a local river together. I had been on this float trip last year with my wife and friend of mine, and I knew my brother would enjoy the trip. He was up for it and I was excited to spend the day with him on the water.

After dropping off my truck at the take out spot, we headed back to the put in and launched our kayaks. I was running the river in my 14.5 foot Native Watercraft Slayer. While many people prefer smaller kayaks for river floats, my 14.5 foot ride handled the trip just fine and maneuvered easily around the downed trees, boulders and sandbars that dotted the river throughout the day. Marc at Wildcat Creek Outfitters (www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com) had told me that floating rivers in Indiana wouldn’t be a problem with the longer kayaks and he was right.

It wasn’t too long into the trip before I had my first fish of the day, a little smallmouth bass that was of average length for this section of the river. We were using our ultralight rods so even the small fish provided a decent fight and lots of fun. Tossing a 1/8 ounce white buzzbait and fishing it just under the water’s surface near structure proved to work for me the first half of the trip. Later in the day I switched over to a beetle spin lure with a black body with red and yellow striping, and caught just as many fish as I did on the buzzbait. I found that letting the lures drop just for a second along the edge of logs or downed trees really enticed fish to strike.

Josh was also catching some fish during the trip including his first smallmouth bass, rock bass and a tiny carp. If I remember correctly, he caught some of those fish on the same type of buzzbait I was throwing, but he also had luck on small white and purple spinnerbaits.

The highlight of our day, besides just spending time together on such a beautiful river, was seeing a pair of bald eagles. It wasn’t that long ago that bald eagles were no where to be seen here in the Hoosier state, but now it’s not uncommon to find them along our many rivers and lakes. No matter how many times I see one of these majestic birds, I am always in awe of them and the conservation efforts that have brought them back to this part of the country.

As the day went on, we stopped a few times to stretch our legs and make a few casts from shore, including one stop on a sandbar for lunch. Cold chicken sandwiches and Mountain Dew hit the spot after a morning of paddling.

Last year, when floating the final stretch of this trip, my friend Kevin got a good look at some river otters where a creek spills into the river. Unfortunately, they were no where to be found as Josh and I approached the area, but there was plenty of sign such as the muddy slides along the river banks. Along with the eagles, we did see plenty of turtles, blue herons, ducks, geese and many really big carp. As huge carp after huge carp swam past my kayak, I longed for my bowfishing gear.

We ended the day with less fish than I had caught last year, but that didn’t bother either of us at all. Josh agreed that it was a fantastic day and the time together was very much appreciated. As we loaded up the kayaks and headed our separate ways, we agreed it wouldn’t be long before we returned to float the river again together.

I was able to get plenty of video footage, including some underwater footage for my first time, on this trip with my Go Pro camera and made this video of our day. Enjoy!

A Little Bit of Luck On Carr Lake…

One nice thing about working second shift is that I can get up early and hit the water for a few hours before work.  Usually Monday mornings are my day to fish during the week since I can get to bed earlier on Sunday nights and yesterday was no different.  I was lazy and didn’t load the truck up the night before, and I was kicking myself in the backside when the alarm went off at 4 a.m. Monday morning.  I wanted to be on the water to watch the sunrise, so I had to get up and get moving.  Once my gear and my Slayer 14.5 was loaded, I grabbed a cup of coffee for the road and was on my way.

As my friends will tell you, I’m a bass fisherman.  I’ve spent most, if not all, of my life fishing for largemouth bass.  However yesterday was different in that I finally broke away from bass and decided to put some fish in the freezer by targeting bluegill and crappie.  Words can’t express how out of character that is for me.  To top it off, I was going to troll with some small crankbaits.  Again, that’s out of character.  I much prefer to cast and I can’t stand using crankbaits.  I’ve never had much luck on them, I don’t really know how to fish them and those stupid treble hooks get caught on everything.  Nonetheless, I had bought a couple of small Flicker Shads and took a friend’s advice, and trolled all morning with two lines in the water pulling two Flicker Shads.  Man, talk about something different.

I had chosen a small, secluded yet public accessible lake more for the scenery than anything else.  Surrounded by mostly forests, I knew it would be a beautiful spot to enjoy the morning.  I underestimated the mosquito bomber squad at the boat ramp, but I was on the water on time and enjoyed the sun coming up over the trees while I paddled the lake in search of fish for the frying pan.

After about an hour of trolling and watching two guys in a motorboat not catch anything, one of my rods finally bent signaling fish on.  I grabbed it out of the rod holder and was reeling in what turned out to be my first crappie of the day when my other rod bent as well.  First time catching fish by trolling crankbaits and I had a double!  Soon my kayak was a jumbled mess of tangled fishing line, fish slime and treble hooks.  Remember what I said about hating crankbaits?  Yeah.  Still, I couldn’t argue that they worked and I had a crappie and a fat bluegill in the cooler for dinner later.

 

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Another hour produced nothing, even though I trolled the same spot over and over in hopes of picking up more crappie.  Finally I had another fish on and it proved to be my second crappie.  A 14″ largemouth bass also took the bait ten minutes after that, but he was released unharmed.

 

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Figuring I had 3 fish to clean and still had to get ready for work, I called it a day and headed back to the boat ramp about 9 o’clock.  On my way I passed two older gentlemen in a motorboat who were bobber fishing for bluegills.  I asked if they had any luck and they said not a bite.  When one of them asked me if I had any luck, I simply smiled and said “A little bit.”

Definitely a great morning to be a kayak angler.