Ashley Williams just got back from his initial paddle of the Jackson Cuda and he was most impressed. Read on to learn what GOPC Kayak Fishing Team member, “The Druminator,” says about this new boat from Jackson.

This thing does it all! It’s quick off the start, turns and tracks very well, and is a great stand & fish kayak. Definitely use a 230cm paddle to accommodate the high or low seating position. Rod stagers kept two fly rods out of the way but in a ready position. Two rigged 7.5′ spinner rods were easily stowed away inside the rod hatch. The seat is super comfortable and it’s rear pocket held all my tackle. Goodbye milk crate!

Jackson Cuda Seat

Water may have come halfway up the scuppers so I left all my dry gear inside the boat instead of wearing it. The pull strap for standing worked great for getting up, sitting down, and dragging the kayak from one place to another. Also, this kayak is QUIET and there is no hull slap. Some kayak anglers find hull slap annoying and feel it scares fish.

Mine has a rudder for those nasty situations I may encounter, I paddled the Cuda with and without it deployed for some time today to get a good feel of it.

I think that most kayaks paddle “straight” at around 70-80% effort and with proper technique. When most people talk about their kayak not going straight they are generally pushing it too hard. Therefore, the kayak locks into an undesirable line and is hesitant to corrective strokes.

Rudder up this kayak paddles well and can hold a line so long as you don’t go overkill with the stroke. I found the sweet spot to be less effort than other kayaks I’ve had experience with. I felt I was only putting 60% effort into it and it reached maximum speed and stayed in line while also allowing sudden turns as needed. I found the Cuda to be more responsive to edging than other sit on tops. Turning was quick and there was a great amount of return for each stroke made.

With the rudder down was predictable. Turning was quick and flat as there was little lean needed when using the rudder. The rudder is also quiet and you hear very little disturbance from it. Jacksons’ choice of rudder allows for the cable length to be adjusted as needed rather than other rudder kits that crimp cables into a fixed position. I have this weird preference for having my left foot slightly forward of the right (don’t know why, don’t ask…).

High and low seating in the Cuda. At first I had to do some thinking as to how I was going to move this seat up into the high position. To solve this I put the seat in the high position and tightened the strap to about an inch of taunt. This allowed me to take the seat from the low position and move it up into the high position without it straying from the mounts. That inch of extra strap allows the seat to clear the grooves in the high position mounts.

Sitting in the high position felt awkward at first. It provides a noticeable change in center of gravity but it was not enough to worry about. I was able to reach the water and paddle with a 230cm paddle. Any shorter would have not worked.

The seat in itself is worth the price difference between the Cuda and others. I sweat just looking at someone being physically active. The seat in the Cuda provided venting and support like no other. You can feel the breeze coming through the back of the mesh paneling which will be a welcome relief when the heat and humidity come on full force. My Stohlquist Fisherman PFD cleared the back of the seat easily. As I always tell everyone, a full back PFD isn’t ideal for sit on top seats.

That’s it for now. If I think of anything I’ll add to this. Otherwise, ya’ll should respect this. After all, I found this important enough to type during The Walking Dead.

Ashley Williams is a pro kayak angler for Great Outdoor Provision Co and able assistant to Rick Grimes, former deputy sheriff of King County Georgia.