I cannot say that my first kayak was selected based on years of experience paddling around the gulf or that it won out after reading hundreds of online reviews. To be completely honest the only requirement I had was a boat that I could stand in. I had been told that standing would make my sight casting ventures more productive and at 6’4” 200 lbs I knew I needed a wide stable boat in order to do that.
Sure I probably could have bought a much cheaper kayak to start with until I was sure that this hobby would continue, but I decided I would rather take that money and jump right into a quality boat. After taking my first trip in a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 I was relatively certain that this was the platform I wanted to consider. However, after trying to stand I found myself flat on my back in the middle of Brown and Root Flats (insert LOL here). Dean Thomas with Slowride Guide Services introduced me to a little more stable boat, the Ride 135. After seeing the upgraded seat and hatches in the 2012 model I was sold and knew that this would be my first kayak. In early 2012 I purchased my ride at the Houston Boat Show and I am so glad I did.
Although it is not as fast on the water as the Tarpon was I learned very quickly that once you got it going the speed was efficient. There is a ton of deck space and I cannot think of a single time that I was ever in fear of turtling. Now keep in mind I am strictly a marsh, flat and bay fisherman. I have never gone BTB in this boat and even though I am sure it would handle fine in the surf my perfect record of staying upright would probably be ruined.
The hatches have been more than efficient for handling the loads of gear that I have been known to carry and standing in this boat comes very natural. The pontoon style hull gives a certain degree of stability that I believe is unmatched. The rear tankwell is extremely large and will accommodate any combination of crates, coolers, and other miscellaneous gear. It is a very dry ride and with a single set of scupper plugs I have been able to silence most of the “gurgle”.
Overall I have been very pleased with my purchase and after 3 years of paddling I have never regretted my decision. Sure, from time to time I get that new boat fever when a boat comes out with added features and conveniences, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love that new boat smell. If you are looking for a stable boat that tracks well and comes with a ton of storage you can’t go wrong with the Wilderness Systems Ride 135.
Kayak: WS Ride 135 (2012)
Length: 13′ 6″
Width: 31″ (widest point)
Max Capacity: 550 lbs
Deck Height: 16.25″
Weight: 82 lbs
Extras: Freedom Elite Seating, Orbix Hatches, Slidetrax