The latest release from Mantra Kayaks has been on the drawing boards for the past nine months and rumours promised it to be the perfect 12’ fishing kayak, capable of fishing anywhere.
The Mana has two features that jump out at you straight away: the moulded side carry handles and the large centre hatch.
The moulded handles make the kayak easier to manage when loading on/off the car and give the kayak a really solid feel.
The centre hatch has been solidly constructed so that your rod holders or sounder can be attached directly to it. There is an assortment of attachments built into the hatch so that any brand of rod holder or mount can be easily fitted. It also has a handy fish measure built in.
Under the hatch is the centre console that has a number of storage trays, creating a great spot for your selected lures and tools. Mantra Kayaks offer an option to cut out this centre console, allowing storage in the hull. This is great for guys wanting to fish offshore; storing all your kit is essential in order to push out through even small surf.
This will also have advantages for fishers pushing up into skinny water. The best way to stop rods and other gear snagging up on overhanging trees is to stow them somewhere with easy access.
The Maximum Storage Option includes cutting out the console, fitting a new rubber seal, lanyard for the hatch and tie-off points inside the hull. Other features include an oval hinged hatch at the front, large rear well with detachable bungy, extra attachment saddles for gear keepers and lanyards, two flush rod holders and a drink holder.
The deluxe seat provides great back support and some extra padding underneath you. Even without the clip-in seat, the Mana is a comfortable kayak due to the contoured seat pan and adjustable footrests.
Our demo kayak was fitted with the optional RAM rod holder up front and the Maximum Storage Option mentioned previously. The placement of rod holders, storage options and comfortable seating made for a very pleasurable three-hour outing on the water.
For this review I asked Mantra Kayaks Pro Team staffer Brad Dicker to join me. Brad’s pretty solidly built and I wanted to see how the Mana handled 100kg-plus. The kayak sat high in the water and proved to be really stable.
All Mantra Kayaks come standard with scupper plugs so that you get a perfectly dry ride while paddling in the flat water. As with most 12’ kayaks, the tracking and paddling performance was excellent, especially when compared with shorter kayaks.
This was the interesting part of this review, as it was the last week in February, South East Queensland had been hit with wild weather for most of the month and all beaches were closed. The surf was about 1.5m and really messy. Looking down the beach towards Surfers Paradise, I could only see one other person in the water, playing in the shallows with a bodyboard. I pushed out into a foam of whitewater, not really sure how this was going to go.
The Mana handled it exceptionally well. The bow of the kayak has sufficient volume to lift up and over the smaller waves while paddling out. While punching through bigger breaking waves, the bow cut through the wave as long as you maintained sufficient speed.
A few waves were too big and I would find myself getting pushed back and then surfing backwards to the beach. The power of the undertow and sweep along the beach was very strong.
Due to the confused state of the waves, I spent a lot of time getting pushed sideways. The shape of the rails on the sides of the Mana made it really easy to stay upright while in this position. Some kayaks are quite susceptible to capsizing when sideways, depending on the hull shape and chines at the side of the craft.
Paddling in these conditions is challenging and fatiguing. After 40 minutes I decided to let the waves have their way and take me to the beach, satisfied that the Mantra Mana was a capable craft in the surf. With the ability to stow all your gear and easily access it once through the surf zone, the Mana definitely has the credentials to fish in open water.
We are spoilt for choices now with a number of great 12’ kayaks on the market. The Mantra Mana represents amazing value for money at just $799.
The deck layout and hull performance allow this kayak to be stable, manoeuvrable and yet streamlined through the water. Its storage options allow you to stow gear safely for the surf and offshore fishing trip, yet it is going to be equally suited to paddling up river to some of your quieter fishing spots.
The Mantra Mana retails for $799. A Mantra Package is available that includes a deluxe seat and two-piece fibreglass shaft paddle for $899. The Maximum Storage Option retails for $50.
For Mantra Kayaks dealers in Australia, visit www.mantrakayaks.com.au.
Craig McSween of Splash Safaris Sea Kayaking, who is also a Sea Kayak Instructor with Australian Canoeing, conducted this review. For feedback on this review you can contact Adventure Outlet in Southport on 07 55712929 or --e-mail address hidden--