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Malibu "Stealth 12"

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Malibu Kayaks Stealth 12

Kayak Make & Model

MSRP ($):
Length (ft):

The Malibu Kayaks “Stealth 12” was picked as a great river fishing kayak. These attributes make the Stealth 12 a great medium sized fishing kayak that can handle a variety of fishing situations. With features like the 2 front and 2 rear flush mounted rod holders, center bait tank system, and gator hatch kayak anglers will be ready to hit the water right from the store.

  • Hull transducer area for fish finder
  • Molded cup holder
  • Adjustable foot track system
  • Bow & stern handles
  • Gator Hatch
  • Center Bait Tank System
  • Rear bungee storage


  • Width: 33"
  • Weight: 60 lbs
  • Depth: 12"
  • Capacity: 450 lbs


Malibu Stealth 12 Livewell
Malibu Stealth 12 bow view
My Malibu Stealth 12

User reviews

2 reviews

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Pros & Cons
Overall rating 

Malibu Stealth 12 Fish N Dive

When searching for a paddle kayak this fall, I had very specific criteria. I wanted lots of under deck storage, higher weight capacity, a wide boat for standing and casting and a decent rocker if I ventured into windy waters or out beyond the breakers.

The kayak I decided on was the Malibu Stealth 12. I have had it out a dozen or so times including a tournament for approximately 100 hours of on the water time.


Length: 12' 4"
Width: 33"
Weight: 55 lbs
Weight Capacity: 450 lbs
Features: Multiple large hatches including the gator hatch, a standing area for secure footing, Lowrance transducer ready mount and a livewell.

Some notes about the specs. The width feels wider than 33". Standing and sitting is a breeze because of the graduated hull design (not flat) that gives multiple levels of stability. The large front gator hatch, aside from offering roomy access to the hull interior also doubles as a child seat up front. The livewell is not pre plmbed save for a drain plug. This is easily done from a youtube video and a kit however. The transducer mount works great and was a solid fit.


The Stealth 12 is pretty lightweight compared to other kayaks of similar length and width. This makes it easy to cartop or throw in the back of a truck. The gator hatch gives a cavernous access to the interior. Previous models had issues with water intake around the hatch but with a redesign, new buckle securing positions and a better seal, this has not been an issue in any of my outings. No kayak is watertight so less than 4 oz of water in the hull after eight hours on the water is a good thing especially in rough conditions.

The FND version has four flush mount rod holders pre-installed and work well. The specialized shock cord cleats throughout the kayak hold the bungees in place and keep you from getting snapped with the larger head on the cleat. There are multiple places throughout the kayak to mount rails and accessories which is nice.

The livewell is under a large oval hatch and also has a quick entry port in the middle. This keeps your bait from being able to escape when they see the hatch open. The hinge opens the hatch away from you so it's easy to access the entire space if needed. It does not come plumbed so you can use it as dry storage as well as long as you leave the drain plug in. Additionally, if you fit a screen in the drain hole you can keep bait in with fresh water without having to run a pump.

The rear tankwell is large and has room for a crate and a small cooler as well. It does come with multiple scuppers in the tankwell as well as the main deck so water has an escape point.


The Stealth 12 needs to come with a standard seat and needs to have connection points at the hinge of the seat that will connect to the hull. The standard Crack of Dawn seat tends to slide forward, covering the lip of the livwell hatch causing you to have to adjust to get in there. Obviously padding on the lumbar and glute sections of the seat would be nice.

The back tankwell has no hatch installed. There is a circular raised section that I installed a 4" hatch to allow access for rigging and in case something gets wedged in the hull. It's a small change but well worth it in my opinion.

The side handles for lifting should either have longer straps or be rigid. The soft handles tend to pinch your hand up against the side wall when lifting with one hand and sometimes two. Rigid handles I think would be the way to go.

The black hatches in the middle of the kayak have a raised texture on them but the plastic can be a bit slick when wet. Putting an EVA foam in the standing section or offering aftermarket pre-sized foam with adhesive for the two sections where you feet rest would be optimal.


The price point on this kayak (around $1100) makes it a great value for those looking to stand, fish rough water and be able to transport easily. It is not the fastest kayak on the water but handles different water types well. In smooth water it will be slower than most but where it really shines is in the rough water scenarios. The graduated hull and scooped rocker cut white caps and allows you to keep pace with most kayaks. The wind doesn't affect it like a lot of high walled kayaks and the ride is pretty dry. I'm using this kayak throughout the 2014 tournament season.

Pros & Cons

Stability, Large Hatches, Livewell, Transducer ready
seat, no rear hatch
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Overall rating 

Stability Over Speed

There has always been a big debate among kayak anglers about which kayak is the best. Actually, there isn't just one, perfect kayak that will perform well in EVERY situation that you might face. It all boils down to what's important to the individual who will be paddling this floating piece of plastic. After owning my kayak for over a year and not submitting a review to Yakangler.com, The powers that be have been putting the pressure on me to get it done, so here it is...

My kayak is a Malibu Stealth 12 from Malibu Kayaks – and there are several reasons that I chose this make and model that I’ll get into, but let’s talk about the basic statistics and specifications first.

Length – 12' 4"
Width – 33" at beam
Weight – 60 lbs
Load Capacity– 450 lbs Max

As you can see by the specifications, this is a very stable kayak that can carry a lot of gear. Now, why would I want to be concerned with being able to schlep loads of gear when I’m a fisherman who appreciates simplicity? Easy answer – Options! I use this boat for more than just fishing….having a place to put all of my camping gear and the ability to still float is a big deal to me, and the Stealth 12 delivers with its huge “gator” hatch at the bow, and the large “tank well” at the stern. Ample storage and access to your gear without having to put it in and out of an 8 inch hatch is a great asset to me because even when I pack light, it always seems like I’m taking too much….if that makes any sense.

Malibu makes a very stable kayak. This is another thing that I really like about the Stealth 12 is that it doesn’t feel tippy at all…and the casting deck makes it easy to stand up and fish….even though you really DO need to tap into your best balancing act. Primary stability is top notch as is the secondary stability – I think that you’d have to work fairly hard to tip this boat. In fact, most of the kayaks in the Malibu fishing line are 33 inches wide at the beam, (Exception – the X-13 is 29 inches) so you should expect the same stability characteristics out of all of them.

The main feature that sold me on getting a Malibu besides the fact that they float and hold a lot of gear. You may laugh but, as I mentioned earlier, everyone looks for different features and has a differing opinion about what’s important to them while out fishing in a kayak.

To me, having all of my gear within easy reach, without having to put it in a crate behind my seat is, to me, the greatest asset to having a Malibu. This is the only kayak manufacturer that has this feature. The center console on a Stealth 12 or 14 has 3 hatches placed right in front of the seat for stowing your tackle and other small items. The big round hatch is actually a livewell but I use it as a large, inanimate tackle box. It holds my scissors, pliers, plug box, waterproof storage box, and several bags of soft plastics. You don’t have to use it as such – I’ve seen many Stealth models where the owners have added a pump for an aerator to use the livewell with a minimum of drilling.

Those of you who know me can tell you that I like to keep it simple. The Stealth comes with 4 flush mount rod holders – 2 front and 2 rear. I use the rear rod holders religiously. Since I fly fish a lot, I don’t have any of the Scottie mounts or anything to clutter the deck and fly line (trust me, it’s hard enough keeping the line free and clear of a sandal strap or foot peg without having a rod holder or camera mount to worry about as well) The back of the Gator hatch doubles as a child seat…and the reason for the forward facing rod holders.

All of the kayaks in the Stealth line also feature adjustable foot pegs. Sorry, but to me, there’s nothing worse than those rotomolded foot rests…I call them “ankle bangers”.

The Stealth 12 tracks well and you don’t have to over correct in order to keep going in a straight line. It also handles well is sloppy conditions by the bow diverting the waves to either side as opposed to through the wave. If you get hit on the side, the shape of the hull does a fairly good job of redirecting the wave energy back down and out instead of up and over. It’s a fairly dry ride and has removable scupper plugs already in place in the seat well so you sit slightly raised instead of on the floor.

With all of these great attributes, what could possibly be wrong with this boat?

Only a few things... Remember – there is no such thing as a perfect kayak...

The front gator hatch doesn’t seal properly from the factory. You’ll have to make a slight modification by moving the quick connect buckles towards the middle of the hatch in order to get a tighter seal. I understand that NO kayak hatch is 100 percent waterproof, but in sloppy conditions, the gator hatch is almost like a water magnet and can fill up your boat fairly quick if you don’t make sure the buckles can be pulled snug.

Another thing that I don’t like about this kayak is the seat cleats (the little bracket that you clip your seat to) These are large threaded plastic. The first time I took my kayak out, one of them popped out and wouldn’t stay attached to the boat. I’ve tried glue and 2 part epoxy and nothing works. I’m not an engineer, but I don’t think a large plastic screw is a good thing to use for something that might have to support the stress of the back end of a sit on top kayak seat. I thought it might be an isolated incident but, I’ve been told that this is quite a common occurrence with this make and model….or maybe my kayak is telling me that I need to lose a few pounds.

After paddling this kayak for over a year, I’ve also figured out that you won’t win any races when paddling against other kayaks. Any time I’ve been out on the water with folks in other makes and models, I always seem to be bringing up the rear. This really doesn’t bother me as I prefer stability over speed, but I wanted to include it with my review.

Primary Stability – Excellent

Secondary Stability – Excellent

Load Limit – Excellent

Ample Storage – Excellent

Tracking – Great

Speed – Not So Good

Handling – Great

My Malibu Stealth 12
Malibu Stealth 12 Livewell
Malibu Stealth 12 bow view
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