First impressions are always important in life, but if you’ve ever dated someone for any length of time you probably know that first impressions can be misleading. Only “time” can be the test on whether or not something or someone is real and legit.
Well, I decided that I needed some quality “time” with the new Jackson Kayak SUPerFISHal, a stand up paddle board truly built with fishing in mind from the ground up. This board was a team effort at Jackson that was conceptually spearheaded by Ken Hoeve, shaped and designed by Tony Lee (who is a big surfer and has shaped numerous boards, as well as the Coosa, Cuda 14, Cuda 12…you get the idea) and was seen to fruition by product manager Damon Bungard among many others who had a hand in development. I was able to give some feedback during the process and test the prototypes out some, but had never really spent any long periods of time on the board. So, this was my chance to finally do so on a final prototype version. I was fortunate enough to head down to one of my favorite places to kayak fish, the Florida Keys, for my first date with the SUPerFISHal! In such a scenic location, how could a beautiful romance not blossom, right?
Well, you’d be correct, the love for the board began on day 1 and continued as I fished on it 4 out of the 6 days we were on the water. My first impression is that it truly is a stable watercraft (35 inches wide), which allows you to walk around on the board while on the water. In fact, if you’ve got some decent coordination and balance you can even stand on top of a cooler that easily straps down to the board with the cam straps that are included (instead of bungee). I liked that aspect and found it to be clever because no matter what size cooler, crate, gear or accessory you know it will always be secured tightly since you can control how tight the strap gets.
I spent the majority of my time up on top of the cooler push poling around the flats looking for permit, bone fish or redfish. It was incredible the advantage I had being up so high on the board and I’m already looking to see how high I can get on my personal SUPerFISHal when I get it soon! We had poor “sight fishing” weather the entire trip but I was able to sight fish some Jacks and caught my largest one ever that I spotted a mile away since I was on top of the cooler. I even fought the fish for 7 minutes or so on top of the cooler! The fish I am most upset about is when I couldn’t get the only permit I had a real shot at on this trip to bite! It was literally the size of your car door! I’ll be back! We still had a great time catching many other species and getting familiar with the SUP.
Some of my favorite and notable “fishy” features on this board are as follows:
- 35 inches (11’7 long) of pure stability! Walk around, sit or stand on your cooler with confidence.
- The sides of the board do not roll over smoothly like most all SUPs, but rather have a small “lip” that is critical for making sure accessories, baits, plyers etc do not easily slide off the board and into the water! Small, subtle, clever.
- Also, the most obvious fishing feature on the boat is the front dashboard component (that can be removed when you just want to use the board for rec purposes). The dashboard has a lot of cool stuff going on including a rod tube on either side to protect the other rods that are not in use, bungee to hold down tackle boxes or other gear, drink holder and a nifty paddle slit that stands your paddle up next to you so you don’t have to bend over to grab it. The deck also comes with space to install accessories such as a fish finder, rod holder, or GPS mount etc. What is great about the dashboard is that you can cut and drill into it and it will not compromise the structure of the boat since it is an additional piece that is attached separately on top of the SUP.
- Two RAM 2007 Rod Holders also come with the board. These rod holders will take any style of rod including baitcasting, spinning, fly rods and even hold your paddle as well.
- Of course like all 2013 JK products it also comes with a GoPro and RAM ready which 6 potential insert locations where you can move your cameras or accessories without ever having to drill into your SUPerFISHal.
- Instead of just having grippy deck foam in one area on this board, we’ve added it all over the deck because we know how anglers will be moving around a good bit while getting to their gear, fighting a fish etc and they need all the comfort and grip they can get.
- Cam straps on the front and back that can assist you in tightening down gear of all shapes and sizes which is critical on an SUP because they are predominately flat by design.
- The board is also rotomolded using the same durable process we at Jackson use on our whitewater, recreation and fishing kayaks. This ensures that it will be durable to last on the rocks, oyster bars, concrete or asphalt that it comes in contact with.
- We’ve also added the hard plastic handles so that fishing lures cannot hang up on them.
- There are 7 total handles on the board that make it easier to carry, get back in while on the water and allow you plenty of options on where to attach/tether any additional accessories. There is even a clever strap handle in the center of the board making it easy to take from the ground, up to your hip and carry. Without this handle, a side carry to or from the water would be impossible and its great for re-entry while in deep water as well. Another subtle, brilliant feature that doesn’t show up on a first impression date, but sure showsup after the 30+ hours I’ve spent with her!
- Twin fins on the hull. Having the option to install two fins optimizes tracking and makes it easier for the novice SUP Angler to paddle.
- On each side of the board you’ll notice bungee that is easily connected to a J-hook that will allow the butt of any rod, or a push or stake out pole, to be secured to the deck.
- One Jackson Kayak red safety flag included.
- Last but not least it does come with a cool Jackson Kayak Nalgene bottle that fits into its beverage holder on the dashboard.