Old Town has revolutionized the kayak industry with its newest and best release yet of the Sportsman series. The Sportsman series’ new flagship boats include seven extraordinary kayaks that allow land anglers the opportunity to venture deeper into the wilderness and open water. Ryan and Cory at Old Town graciously invited me down to Ft. Lauderdale for their momentous media unveiling. There were many professionals from a varied array of publications, companies, and YouTube channels that were anticipating the first look. I felt privileged to be among those seeing the groundbreaking and patent-pending abilities of the NEW Old Town kayaks.
Sportsman First Impression
The Old Town kayaks are certainly visually appealing, and some would even say they’re aesthetically sleek and stylish. The design of the 120 and 136 autopilot kayaks are very similar to the previous 120 and the Predator when comparing them visually. The new boats come in two colors, photic camo, and ember, which is exclusive to the Sportsman line. The 106, 120, and 132 Big Water kayaks are available for paddle and pedal drives. The 106, 120, and 136 can be outfitted with the Minn Kota trolling motor. The 136 is quite noticeably larger and designed for open and big water fishing; however, the 106 and 120 fish almost equally as big. The 106 boat is much smaller but is ideal with its easy transportability and versatility. It’s a small kayak that fishes big, and it’s very stable and capable. Stay tuned—I will be diving into more detail and revealing the unique differences.
Old Town’s New Autopilot Kayak
I think we can all agree that the pedal system Old Town implemented in the 120 and Predator series was impressive. The engineers at Old Town then went a step further and created something special for 2020. I have seen many anglers outfit their kayaks with aftermarket trolling motors only to be left unsatisfied. You first have to find a compatible and capable trolling motor, drill dozens of holes in your boat, and, of course, wire and strategically lay everything out. Old Town took the guesswork out of the equation and designed the perfect trolling motor-equipped kayak that seamlessly integrates the famous Minn Kota GPS spot lock with a 45-lb. thrust. This feature is a game-changer. Allow me to take a moment to share my firsthand experience.
My Experience with the NEW 120 Sportsman
On day two of our meet, we were able to test the kayaks and pre-fish. A friendly yet competitive tournament was inevitable for the second half of the day.
I jumped into the 120 Sportsman with autopilot and was quite impressed with the simple learning curve. If you can work a television remote, you will have no trouble operating the Bluetooth-enabled Minn Kota remote. When I envisioned the deployment of the trolling motor, I assumed it would be cumbersome and confusing. However, Old Town has designed the process to be as simple as possible. As I got situated, I leaned over to pull the cord that allows the motor to be seated in the run position. The Minn Kota has two safety kill switches, one at the trolling motor level and another near the seat of the kayak.
I quickly turned the remote on with a touch of my thumb. I then proceeded to maneuver the kayak around the canal. I was instantly impressed with the responsiveness of the trolling motor and how the kayak quickly reacted to each push of the button. You can steer the kayak hands-free with the foot-controlled rudder. Not to mention the newly designed rudder is much larger than previous models so that you can turn on a dime. Their attention to detail is what I’ve always admired about Old Town. Even the remote has thoughtful and straightforward features that make usability easier. For example, the button to activate the trolling motor is concave so you can operate by feel instead of having to look down every time you turn on the Minn Kota.
Once seated, there is a built-in dry box with ample storage to protect your wallet, phone, and keys directly to your right. This might seem like an insignificant feature, but I can’t count how many times I have forgotten my dry box at the house, therefore potentially exposing my sensitive devices to saltwater and the elements. After securing my valuables, I quickly started exploring the vessel to see what was new. Besides the low-profile trolling motor, I took notice of how much room I had. Not only was there more than enough storage in the stern of the boat, but I also had space to lay bait buckets, tackle boxes, and more right in front of me. They designed this kayak to provide the user with more than enough space, and this makes the kayak much more open and comfortable than its predecessors.
The 120 also featured many more molded-in pockets to store pliers, knives, and other fishing tools. I quickly put my fish grip, pliers, and drink in the available spaces and was ready to go. On this particular day, the wind was blowing at 12 knots, and I knew I would get to see how the yak handled under less than perfect weather conditions. As I was fishing, I had a short bout of amnesia, forgetting that one of the coolest features, “Spot-Lock,” was readily available. I hit the spot lock button, and sure enough, I was able to fish in the same spot without touching a remote, paddle, or pedal for the entire duration. The accessory tracks allow you to conveniently accessorize your kayak with cleats, fish finders, GoPro mounts, rod holders, and more. This is important to me as I do take advantage of this feature and outfit my kayak with many cool aftermarket accessories.
The left of my seat, there was a newly designed pocket to slide small Plano boxes into, so now you can keep your tackle within convenient reach but out of the way. I didn’t have to do any transporting of the kayak on this trip, but I did take notice of the redesigned roto-molded handgrips, which allow for much easier transport. The new grips are a nice touch considering the Old Town boats have never been very light. That’s okay—I’ll substitute lightweight for stability and durability any day. Please take a look at my experience on the water; I filmed the entire day. Here is the video for the first part of the day, testing the kayak and pre-fishing for the tournament scheduled for later in the day:
I can honestly say that I didn’t have too many concerns regarding the new design. Still, on this day, Ryan had his mindset on crossing one of the larger channels in the area we were fishing. This channel not only has substantial waves but it also has dozens of large yachts and ships coming through at all times of the day. A large boat can generate quite a big wake, which you probably don’t want to see from a kayak. My competitive spirit had me ready to go. I wanted to win the tournament. The objective was to catch as many fish as possible, regardless of size or species. I came face to face with three- to four-foot swells, and the smaller brother, the 106 Sportsman, handled it like it was no obstacle. I was taken back with how great the boat cut through the waves and how stable the Double U hull design is.
I have taken my 120 pedal in some pretty rough stuff, but I have never tested its limits. After this adventure, I will have all the confidence in the world if I ever encounter unfavorable conditions.
The new Sportsman line has the capability to revolutionize kayak fishing. It will surely be a staple in the kayak community for years to come. I highly recommend that you give Old Town a look if you are in the market for a kayak, especially if you are an avid fisherman who loves to explore with ease and with little expense. Click on the link below to learn more and to explore the new autopilot, pedal, and paddle Sportsman kayaks: http://bit.ly/oldtown_
Here is a new video of the 136, this is a sweet kayak and I highly recommend that you watch: