Is it a bird, is it a boat, no it’s a fishing kayak with wings and an electric motor! Cheesy I know, but this craft sure got some serious inquiries when we were at the ramp and on the water.
When I was first offered the opportunity to test and review the Haswing Manta-Ray fishing kayak with integrated electric trolling motor, I have to admit to being super curious and possibly a little sceptical about this hybrid fishing platform.
After arriving at the test location in Sydney’s southern suburbs on a crisp Spring morning, the guys from Haswing had the Manta-Ray set-up and ready to go.
It’s designed and manufactured in China by an engineering firm with over 40 years’ experience building industrial pumps and electric motors. The first thing that is evident is the attention to detail that has gone into designing the kayak and all the parts and accessories which make the whole rig come together.
The hull and its component wings are rotomoulded plastic and appear capable of taking a bit of rough and tumble treatment. The boat can be deployed from most shorelines which you and a mate can walk down to.
At the bow and to either side of the recessed seat are well-positioned grab handles. Forward of the foot well is a storage compartment perfect for fishing tackle, safety gear and other items you want on board but out of the way.
When folded down, the stand-up support rail is well out of the way, although the support arm seems to have no specific storage location. Small stainless cleats are fitted towards the bow and with a strap system would enable some additional storage for items that you are happy to get wet.
The foot well affords plenty of legroom for even the tallest people. The seat keeps you elevated above any water that may pool in the well and can be easily popped out during cleaning.
The open space between the legs/foot well was originally designed for a centrally located electric engine. This has been somewhat sealed with a simple acrylic fitting by the local importers, who decided that the rear-mount electric is much more suited to the purposes of Aussie anglers.
Two rod holders are within easy reach. They and the one on the stand-up rail have a unique system whereby a piece of the holder itself is attached to the butt section of the rod via a screw mechanism. This part of the rod holder is itself detachable from the main cradle by pulling on a quick-release trigger.
This means that your rods and reels are secure when trolling or not in use, but can be easily released when a fish is hooked or you want to make a quickfire cast.
The wing design is clearly one of the standout features. The arms which attach them to the hull are robust to ensure structural integrity and rigidity.
The pods are best kept retracted when under way to reduce drag and increase efficiency and battery life of the electric motor.
It is very to deploy the wings, which have small storage compartments built in.
Firstly, unclip the straps which cross from one wing to another behind the seat, then simply grab the handle and swing one wing out at a time.
Once the wing is fully extended, clip the strap to the cleat and then tighten by pulling on the strap. You may find that you need to tighten the straps a few times to ensure the pods are held securely in place.
You will be absolutely amazed at the stability provided by this rig.
I was so impressed that in my mind I was conjuring up dawn sessions flicking soft plastics on inshore snapper grounds all up and down the coast. Plans are afoot to take this rig offshore and do some serious fishing around inshore bommies for reds and kingfish this Summer.
Why would I get an electric-powered kayak when I just love paddling and keeping fit? To me it is more an electric-powered fishing platform than just kayak, and there are hundreds of fishing locations and thousands of anglers who are just going to love the places they can access with this beaut package.
The manufacturers have a stand-alone range of transom- and bow-mount electrics now available in this country under the Haswing brand.
The Haswing Osapian 40lb has been reconfigured specifically for the Manta-Ray, so that the throttle and steering are at easy reach to the starboard of the seat and connected via pulleys and cables to the electric motor at the back of the main hull.
In practice it is remarkably simple. Aft of the seat is a battery compartment, with a wiring harness that connects the throttle control to the motor. The steering is connected via a steel cable and responds fairly directly.
To control the tilt of the motor, a separate wire cable system is built in through the floor beneath the seat, allowing impressive control over the tilt of the motor. There are at least 10 tilt settings so you can adjust for the depth of water you are operating in.
There is also a depth collar on the main shaft which can be adjusted prior to launching to suit the depth you plan to operate in.
The integration of the electric motor has been done really well. Steering is direct and the kayak at full pace gets along at an impressive speed and easily cruises at trolling speed.
Launching and landing can be done with ease the very first time.
Given the robust build of the Manta-Ray and the integrated electric motor and 50Ah 12V battery to power this baby, the downside is that the whole rig weighs 67kg.
To get it on and off your roof racks and down to the water’s edge you really are going to need the assistance of a fishing buddy.
This therefore kind of cancels out the ability to sneak in after- or pre-work Summertime fishing sessions unless, of course you accessorise your racks with a specific set-up to get your new vessel on and off the roof of your car. See something like www.roofcarriersystems.com.au/item/yakima-showboat-kayak-loader.
Fortunately the rig can be fitted with a set of removable kayak trolley wheels.
Battery life depends on speed and the quality and size of your battery.
Information provided indicates that with a 50Ah 12v battery, you can expect up to 70 minutes of full-speed continuous use or with a 75Ah battery, 105 minutes.
The motor has a built-in LED power reader so you can monitor the percentage of battery remaining to ensure you can get back to shore safely.
Ensure you know the rules and regulations when it comes to safety equipment for your local waters, and for safety’s sake, always take a paddle.
The local importers have recently met with the manufacturers to suggest some changes and modifications which will be available to current owners.
The Haswing Manta-Ray isn’t for everyone, but neither is a paddle- or pedal-powered kayak.
For $1999.95, the electric motor eliminates the effort of paddling to your fishing spot and means you can do plenty of trolling, while the wings deliver exceptional stability and make stand-up fishing a very serious option.
To find your local dealer visit www.haswingmarine.com.au
Price: $1,999.95 (battery not included)
Battery Price: 50 Ah 12v ranges from $120-$250
Weight: 67kg with 50 Ah 12v Battery
Warranty: 1 year on kayak, 2 years on motor