The Old Town Predator brings a lot of very good kayak innovations into the one package making this one heck of a fishing yak!
The company’s statement says ‘The Predator will bring you closer to the water and the action with highly customised features that are engineered to meet the needs of avid anglers and weekend warriors alike’. So let’s take a look at these features and while we are on the water, check out how well they perform.
This is perhaps the most important consideration for me as my old back just aint what it used to be these days. The Predator uses the Element Seating System, a system that provides three primary positions to offer the user the best seating position for the job at hand. There is the travel setting, the attack setting and the stand-up setting, each providing a different seat arrangement.
The travel setting provides a lower centre of gravity to provide more stability. The attack setting provides a raised seat position for fishing and better overall view of the water and the stand-up setting allows anglers to stand up and have the Element Seating System quickly flipped out of the way. I played around with all of these settings and found the attack setting the easiest all-round setting.
Being a little older and wiser than I used to be, standing up in a yak is something I really don’t do much, however as the seat could fold away I thought I’d better give it a go and found it easy to do and stable with the seat folded away. There was ample room and the strap attached in front of the mod pod allows less nimble users to lever off it to help them stand.
On the water, altering the seat was a bit of a drama. I found it easiest to set it where you wanted it and go from there. The seat is absolutely magic. During a full day’s kayaking I did not have any dramas at all with the seating. In fact, as described to me when I picked up the yak, the seat is like being in a lounge chair, and that’s pretty close to the mark!
Brilliant and comfortable is a simple summary.
In a departure from the smooth surfaces found on most yaks, the Predator has incorporated the Exo-Ridge deck. Essentially this feature is a textured design that ensured you and your gear stay as dry as possible while providing grip when standing up. It’s an interesting concept so I thought I would give it a go with shoes and without to see what difference it all made.
With shoes (I wear dive booties when yakking) there was absolutely no slipping at all. Without shoes I found the deck ridges a little harsh on my soft office feet. As for keeping dry, the ridge pattern was brilliant and when combined with the one-way scupper stoppers, the craft remained dry all day.
I thought the flooring was magic and a really good way of dealing with water in a sit on top kayak as they are all wet. Old Town has been sensible enough to understand water gets in and have developed ways to get the water out!
There is a host of other features that make this yak such a good unit in the field for anglers. The large bow hatch with Old Town’s Click Seal Cover has plenty of room for bulky items like a tent, spare clothing or food bags, plus it’s waterproof! The centre console makes use of the Mod Pod Cover, a cover that allows you to essentially customise where rod holders, sounders and other accessories are placed. It also has a drink holder right in the perfect place! Additional storage can be had under the Mod Pod and if options are not enough in the standard position you can turn the entire mod Pod around and create double the positioning options. The foot rests are fully adjustable and there is side mounted paddle storage to keep the paddle safe and out of the way when necessary.
Two features I really like and that worked well in the field were the rod tip holders and the really neat one way scupper valves that slot into the 8 scupper holes.
The rod tip holders are two angled flaps found on the bow of the yak and when rods are stored along the length of the kayak, the tips slip under these flaps, protecting them, yet maintaining easy access to the rod. I will admit to not knowing what these flaps were when I picked up the yak, but they are brilliant in the field.
The scupper valves are awesome. Kayaks are wet, or at least when I paddle them they are wet. Scupper holes are pretty standard on most yaks and some even have scupper stoppers, but the Predator has one way scupper valves that allow water out and no water in. Add these to the Exo-Ridge deck and this craft is really dry underfoot. I found it a brilliant combination to keep you drier, especially for us fair weather yakkers who don’t have the skills or the tendency to bash around in surf-like conditions. I will leave that to those way more talented than me for the moment!
Accessories and some clever thinking are everywhere on this kayak. The removable mounting plates found all around the craft allow even more customisation and they are strong enough that a Minn Kota will easily be fitted if you want powered yakking. You can put more rod holders, position the sounder exactly where you want, add cutting boards, tie down straps, safety lanyards and more to these mounting plates.
And being that this yak was designed for anglers there is a Humminbird transducer scupper included. In fact you can purchase the Predator with three package options and these are the basic unit, a 386CXI DI Humminbird option (as we tested the craft) and a 798CXI SI option. These options really make this unit buyer friendly as you can super-size the purchase and get one of the best sounders on the market or grab a base unit and add all those extras yourself. I love that idea.
So while the Predator is one of the most well thought out kayaks for anglers I have been in, the big question is always, how does it perform in the real world?
And that’s what we wanted to test on the Brissie River one fine day while chasing bass.
Launch and retrieve is simple with this kayak and on the water it is fantastic. I’ll not say this is a racehorse with all the flighty characteristics of one, but rather it’s more of a reliable trail horse that gives incredible service every time.
Long distances in open water would tax paddlers, however if you’re wanting to explore the water closely and poke around while fishing, the Predator 13 is sensational.
Our trip down the Brisbane River was a great example of what this yak is perfect for. We travelled with the current, poked in and around all the snags and deeper edges and had some fun tracking through some small rapids. At one point we did travel upstream about 3km and once you had some good momentum going the paddling wasn’t overly difficult, but the trip back down that pool, with the current while fishing was magic.
Stable? Absolutely. I swapped between a baitcaster and a threadline throughout the day and, as you do in a yak, found myself doing all sorts of inventive casts at odd angles and not once did I feel like I was going to tip the craft. Landing fish, crashing through trees while I wasn’t paying attention, resting up against branches and logs, pushing down small rapids and simply paddling were great experiences. There is a lot to be said about a craft that allows you the peace of mind to simply concentrate on fishing rather than concentrate on staying upright, especially for those like me who are solely interested in the fishing side of yakking and not the fitness or distance or challenge of it all. Yaks for me are a means to an end and the Predator 13 is a terrific means to an end for low grade river fishing. I reckon it’d also be great in canal estates, smaller coastal systems and inland lakes as it is simply such a fantastic fishing platform.
Or should that be get on it? The Predator is a really good sit on top kayak that offers an angler a one-stop package where all the work is done for you. The options are almost limitless, the standard inclusions are great and everything works really well in the field.
If you want to grab a yak that has the ability to be a one person job, then the Predator is well worth having a look at as it meets a lot of criteria. So did the manufacturer’s claims come up to scratch? Simple answer is yes they did. The Predator is a bloody good kayak, one that will fish a variety of waters and take on a variety of fish with ease.