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
|Condition you got it in||New|
|How many times have you used it?||50- more trips|
|Rate it! 1-10||8|
About the Author: Rob DeVore is a Pro Staff Member at Yakangler.com and an outdoor writer from the Tampa Bay area. He writes for various fishing publications and is the host of The Late Show on the Kayak Fishing Radio Network. Rob also is the author of ABadBackcast.com