The folks at Jackson Kayak in TN crafted my Kilroy DT this fall and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. As a relatively new dad I knew this would serve a lot of purposes for myself and my family. I've only spent a few moments in the original Kilroy so consider this my true introduction to a hybrid/sit-in style fishing kayak.
I'll start by saying this. My limited time in a Kilroy was initially for good reason. After having paddled a Coosa and Cuda around as my first two boats I really didn't see myself in this style. Frankly, it wasn't even on my radar. I saw a couple of friends in Kilroys at our events, then a couple more. Gradually, there were a good many out there and I became curious. One thing I noticed that was consistent across all of them is that they loved this kayak.
As it turns out, the reasons I wanted to avoid a sit in (everything being wet inside, lack of comfort, lack of fishing features) all are non-issues now that I've spent a good amount of time in this yak. I remembered my old sit in, this was nothing like it and here's why...
This has every fishing feature you could imagine outside of flush mounts and a transducer scupper. You may run out of gear before you run out of places to hide it. The cord running down the inside walls keeps tackle boxes out of the way and the huge tankwell behind you can handle your crate and/or cooler and whatever else you need. Beyond that, there's a perfect spot for your hawg trough behind the rod tubes. That brings me to another point- I have a nearly 8 foot swimbait rod that is a royal pain in the vehicle. Thanks to the DT, I can now stow that rod (and 3 others) inside the yak during transport. Most of us have more than 3 rods so those other ones can easily fit in the cavity of the boat. It has more gear trac than I've ever seen on a fishing kayak quite frankly and I could carry 10 rods if I wanted to with no permanent modifications by adding a crate behind me and holders down each side. It is a fantastic trolling craft, which is something I do on almost every long paddle. Holders can be placed out of the way and there's no need to worry about stability when grabbing your rod that just went off. A perfect segway, onto the stability.
I've mentioned this before online to those asking and I'll say it again, this is a different kind of stability. Granted, I am not a large man (165-170 pounds) but I find this boat to be insanely stable. Turn the whole way around and hold the fish for a photo stable, take a knee on your seat with a fish stable, run up and net your fish from the bow stable. I've not had a boat that I've felt this secure in.
My initial disclaimer here is that I have not loaded this kayak down with gear and that I don't weigh much (noted above). The tracking could be better but looking at the hull it makes sense. I did paddle this boat tandem with my wife and sitting closer to the bow improved the tracking without question. I plan to add a River Stick manual shallow water anchor to this kayak and this will also help the tracking. I will find the sweet spot with seat placement and accessories that overcome this.
This is a large kayak. Unlike a SOT, I can grab it with two hands on one side and hold it against me to walk so it's not too heavy to do that, but it is not light either and you wouldn't expect it to be at 14'8. This style simply makes it easier to carry which is a plus. As a side note, the flat bottom makes it very easy to drag (which I'd recommend on a soft surface like grass, not a rigid one). It's easy to get the bow in the back of my truck and push the rest of the way into the bed.
This boat gets up and goes. I rated it a '4' because I know there are faster kayaks out there but I find this kayak to be quick off the line, easy to paddle once it gets going and responsive to turn which says a lot of a kayak of this length.
As you'd expect from whatever Jackson Kayak Elite Seat series you have, this boat does not disappoint with comfort. Given the stability of this boat I'd be interested to try even a higher seating though but you will feel at home with a low and high option on the DT. Plenty of room inside to not feel crammed like you may in a traditional sit in.
Very versatile kayak here. Will turn fine on a river, fare well against the wind and get you from point A to point B on larger bodies of water just fine. I would avoid whitewater and water where waves over the bow are common but other than that you can get this yak on a ton of different fisheries. Another point on a different kind of versatility is the tandem option. There's a track that runs the length of the kayak and a pod that holds each Elite seat. Simply secure that pod to the track and you have your 2-seat option (not to mention limitless options for seat placement in both tandem and solo).
So that's it- I love this kayak. It's going to let me do things I have not yet done in a kayak like get my son on the water, enjoy a day with my wife in tandem and get my dad out on the water in something I am sure he'll feel comfortable and safe in. I look forward to many solo trips and standing a lot more than I have in the past as well. Can't wait to spend 2016 in it. Give this one a paddle.
I have only had my Jackson Kayak “Kilroy DT” for a couple weeks but I have put it through some serious torture testing during that short time. From rivers and lakes in Tennessee to the Okefenokee Swamp and Suwannee River in South Georgia, I spent 8 full days kicking her tires. As far as cons go, it is a heavy boat, about as heavy as a Jackson “Big Tuna.” I was able to trailer top and load on my Tacoma’s camper shell by myself but I am pretty used to Jackson’s larger boats. Removing the tandem gear if you are paddling solo will help a little with the weight and frees up a lot of room. Another small con is the lack of a stand up strap but I plan on being resourceful and adding my own. I need a bit of help getting up in boats and find the strap very helpful. I did hit my knuckles on the thwart bolts when paddling hard in current and may look for a lower option in the future.
That is it for the cons. The Kilroy DT is a pack mule and I really loved it on the water. I put all my gear and had room for it 2 more times over without having to get creative. I can’t wait to put it on the water for a multiple day adventure with camping gear loaded. As well as the standard Kilroy did with a 3 night camping trip I am fully convinced I could be out for a month or more in the DT. Duck hunters will be able to load their retrievers and enough decoys to cover the Gulf of Mexico. I plan on using it for big game hunting as well and the ability to trim the seats for weight distribution will allow a hunter to put a large critter on deck and paddle as far as they want to.
Speed was nice for such a large boat and it comes up to speed rather quickly. I will not win any races in it but as long as I can maintain a good speed with little effort I am pleased. I was able to paddle back up current in several rivers and it handled the small rapids I went through with ease. The rod tubes in it are longer than the standard Kilroy and there is a touch more room on each side of the chair to get rods out but honestly with that much room in the boat I found very little use for them other than while trailering the boat. The floor is nice and flat and will be good for anyone who paddles with their dogs and the stability is almost as much as the “Big Rig.” I stood and used my Bending Branches Optimus stand up paddle and it did great with very little hull slap in the small chop I paddled through.
The seating is anchored on a track that runs the full length of the floor and it is trim-able fore and aft to adjust to the paddling characteristic you want. By trimming back I was able to lift the nose up and have a looser ride for crossing current and for maneuverability. By trimming forward I was able to drop the nose and increase tracking as well as defeat a bit of wind issues. I like that fact that you can adjust for the weight of your gear or paddling partner. Since I am “significantly” heavier than my bride I can move closer to the center of gravity and not have her pointing up in the air.
I can see this boat being a real good asset to my fleet either in solo or tandem. Yes it is a heavy boat but it is built to haul heavy loads and that is just what I want it for. I also love the versatility of the tandem/solo configuration as well as the adjustability of each individual position. There is enough gear tracks around the gunnel to mount just about anything you could want to and there is the small hatch in the back for other gear. The open hull design is perfect for loading up with days’ worth of gear. It will be a hard used boat for me and I plan on putting it to even more testing in the deep swamps just as soon as I can.