Native Kayaks Review: Best Pick For Your Next Kayaking Trip

Native Watercraft designs some of the most innovative and specialized fishing kayaks on the market. Our review covers the major Native kayak designs, versions made of different materials, and the brand's technology for models propelled by paddles or pedals, angler paddle board and convertible tandem crafts.


What Are Native Kayaks?

Native Watercraft is an American company that designs and builds kayaks for fishing, hunting, camping and outdoor recreation in the United States. This brand stands out for their specialized angling crafts and their integration of Propel Pedal Drive technology into versions of most of their designs. This pedal technology enables anglers to operate a craft while keeping their hands free for casting and reeling.

Native makes several series of kayaks as well as an amazingly stable fishing paddle board. The brand's series include Slayer, Manta Ray and Ultimate kayaks as well as pedal versions of each of these editions, tandem builds, and the Versa Board Angler. This review provides an overview of each of these series and the different sizes available as well as options for Propel pedal installation.


Native Kayaks Specifications

Pedal drive kayaks leave both of an angler’s arms free to cast and reel in fish and make it easy to adjust your position while fighting a fish. Piloting a watercraft with pedals also enables anglers to rely on strong leg muscles while reserving arm strength in order to be able to fish for longer sessions.

Native makes a full selection of sit-on-top fishing kayaks with high/low framed seating. Grooved tracks and rail mount systems allow anglers to customize any of the brand's models. Sit-on-top kayaks provide anglers with the option to sit or stand on the surface, making these designs ideal for fishing in bays, lakes, surf and slow-moving rivers. This brand also makes an angling paddle board and hybrid fishing kayaks that straddle the line between canoes and kayaks with a tunnel hull and open cockpit.

The hand-sewn First Class Seating on Native Watercraft fishing kayaks is designed to provide armchair-level comfort. These seats feature straps and not full aluminum frames, which some anglers find provide less secure support. Many of these seats offer a great deal of flexibility with adjustable positioning.

Pedal Kayaks

Titan Propel is designed for bass fishing and provides all of the features an angler expects from a purpose-built fishing kayak. This series features a Titan hull and rudder that provide a very tight turning radius and a built-in transducer recess for quick mounting. Titan kayaks by Native feature Plastifoam technology with superior flotation and stiffness to provide safety and performance features that anglers have come to expect from this brand.

Choose from models with a range of platform lengths to allow for easier portability in a truck bed in addition to models that require a rack or to be strapped down. The First Class Seating in the Titan models enables anglers to easily transition between standing and sitting. This model also allows for mounting a Power-Pole Micro Anchor system to make it easier to hold position.

The Propel is a very stable 10.5-foot model that provides many of the same features as the 12 and 13.5-foot models. This platform is ideal for use in sight casting and provides ample leverage. The Propel provides convenient horizontal rod storage with rod tip protection. Customize this 10.5-foot model or the larger 12 or 13.5-foot versions of the Titan with a transom-style motor mount that can be equipped with any trolling motor to add power assistance to these fishing kayak designs.

The Slayer Propel Native kayak models are designed to be small and lightweight and feature a pedal system for hands-free navigation. The Slayer Propel 10 measures 10 feet long and weighs in at only 62 pounds without the drive unit installed. These models also feature a bow to stern rail mount system designed for compatibility with rod holders by major brands and purposely-positioned rails for mounting cameras. These models feature a left-hand rudder control system and a 7-inch dry bow hatch cover. Groove tracks make it easy to mount a wide variety of accessories.

The sharp bow shape and rudder protective keel on the Slayer Propel is designed for tracking. This model also features a modified tunnel hull for tracking and increased stability. The Slayer Propel LT is made out of thermoformed ABS for lightweight performance. This model features a sharp entry and bow flare for glide and smooth travel in rough water.  

The Manta Ray Propel Angler is a pedal-driven version of the standard Manta Ray Angler kayak designed to provide a quiet ride. This model features a sharp bow and stern to promote glide. Its design is customized for the needs of anglers and comes with padded grab handles, an adjustable seat, sealed bow storage, and two flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat and one staging rod holder for easy rigging. Groove tracks allow you to mount accessories of your choice.

Native Watercraft Manta Ray Propel 12 Angler Kayak Copperhead
  • Propel Pedal Drive System with forward and reverse
  • Sewn 1st Class Seating with Adjustable Inseam
  • Integrated rudder

The Ultimate FX Propel 13 is a very lightweight 13-foot pedal drive kayak designed to the specifications of the pro staff of Native Kayaks. An open deck allows for easy loading and unloading and comes with a built-in battery box to power electronics, recessed transducer mounting plate and cable routing channel. Valuables can be stored in the hatch cover on the bow, which is designed to shed water. Spacious under-seat storage and an adjustable thwart box set this model apart.  On top, premium deck padding supports stable use of this kayak as a fishing platform.

Native Watercraft Ultimate FX Propel 13 Kayak Copperhead
  • Stable, fishing machine
  • Generous bow and stern storage for all your gear
  • Rudder and Propel drive included

Slayer Kayaks

Native Watercraft Slayer 13 Propel Kayak Blue Lagoon
  • Features Natives unique pedal drive system which can go in forward or reverse
  • Uncluttered flat deck area provides plenty of room to stand comfortably
  • Plenty of Groove Track Accessory Mounts provide almost limitless customizing options

In addition to the pedal-powered Slayer Propel, Native Watercraft also sells two standard paddle-driven Slayer models. The Slayer Pro comes in 12 and 14.5-foot lengths. These basic kayaks are easy to customize and are very stable multipurpose fishing crafts. These kayaks feature high/low seating positions for comfort and lowered paddling. Groove tracks and rails that run from bow to stern allow customization such as mounting of fish and depth finders. Slayer kayaks also feature an open cockpit ideal for fly-fishing and bass angling.

Manta Ray Kayaks

The popular 12-foot Manta Ray Angler from Native Watercraft is a comfortable sit-on-top paddle model that provides speed and ample storage in a compact-sized craft ideal for flat water and river fishing. The Manta Ray comes with two Sea Dog flush mounts and a deck-mounted paddle holder. This self-bailing model features seating that drains, vents and cushions. A Tag-Along Wheel makes transporting this craft even easier.

The Manta Ray LT is a lightweight Trylon ABS thermoformed sit-on-top Native kayak with a hull that provides the most stability possible in seated, sight-casting and paddling positions. The Manta Ray Angler 12-foot XT model is a polyethylene adaptation of the thermoformed LT model. Both Manta Ray models feature First Class Frame Seating with two height positions suitable for paddling or easy transitions from a seated to a standing platform. Sharp bow lines enable a paddler to sustain control in choppy water or swells.

Ultimate Kayaks

Native Watercraft Ultimate FX 12 Kayak Hidden Oak
  • Redesigned Ultimate tunnel hull offers more stability and storage room
  • Features the High-Low First Class seating system
  • Seat can slide forward or backward on a groove track

In addition to the pedal-driven Ultimate FX Propel 13 described above, Native Watercraft also makes two tandem designs. The Ultimate Kayak series from Native also includes the Ultimate 14.5 Tandem and Ultimate FX 15 Tandem crafts. These two-seater fishing kayaks are hybrid canoe/kayak platforms that are suitable for fishing, hunting and camping as well as casual recreational use. These designs feature a sharp bow entry and stern exit for tracking and a tunnel hull for tracking and enhanced stability.

Native Watercraft Ultimate FX 15 Tandem Kayak Lizard Lick
  • Redesigned Ultimate tunnel hull offers more stability and storage room
  • Features the High-Low First Class seating system
  • Seat can slide forward or backward on a groove track

Ultimate tandem models feature two high/low seats for ergonomic comfort with adjustable paddling height and forward and aft configuration. These kayaks can also be converted into solo seaters. Both crafts feature premium deck padding to support casting and standing. These models also feature groove tracks and an adjustable thwart bar for mounting accessories as well as one tight line anchor trolley. Gear can be stored in the open stern area.

Versa Board Angler

The Versa Board Angler is a stand-up fishing paddle board from which an angler can stalk, cast, and fight fish. This hybrid fishing paddle board features a padded standing and optional seating area with extra volume for increased stability. The design of this board centers around a groove track for accessories and supports the ability to add optional seating that will allow you to paddle this hybrid craft like a conventional sit-on-top kayak. This paddle board also features molded-in foot wells to increase your comfort and control when paddling in a seated position.

Versaboard
  • Native Watercraft
  • Native Watercraft Versa Board Angler SUP

Native's Versa angling paddle board is ideal for flat water and slow rivers and features a spring-loaded drop skeg with handle control for tracking. A paddle holder clip allows you to easily switch over to a hands-free platform for angling. This board also features a stern hatch, tag-a-long wheel, and super seal scupper plugs. A sharp bow entry supports tracking and a modified tunnel hull provides more stability than most paddle boards and convertible kayaks.

Pricing

Expect to spend at least $800 on a Native kayak. If you want a Pro model, a polyethylene adaptation, a tandem kayak or one of the brand's Ultimate series models, you should expect to spend over $1000. Count on laying out at least $2000 for any model with Propel pedals.

The most affordable Native Watercraft is the Versa Board Angler convertible paddle board which retails for around $799.99. Other models priced under $1000 include the thermoformed Manta Ray 12-foot Angler kayak at about $869.99 and the 12-foot XT polyethylene Manta Ray model at $899. You can also purchase this model with a package deal from some outdoor retailers for the same price. The Slayer 12 Kayak has a $999 price point.

The 14.5-foot version of the standard Slayer fishing kayak retails for around $1,189 at Native Watercraft dealers across the country. The Slayer 12 XC model is priced at $1,499, while the Slayer 12 LT sells for about $2,799. The Slayer 12 Pro is priced at $1,369 at dealers across the country, while the 14.5-foot model sells for less than $1,500.

Get all of the most desirable features for your money when you purchase the Ultimate 12 Kayak, which is priced at around $949. The redesigned Ultimate FX model is priced at about $1,299, the 14.5-foot Ultimate tandem model is $1,299 and the Ultimate FX 15 tandem retails for less than $1,800.

Pedal-propelled kayaks by Native Watercraft cost considerably more than standard paddle models. The Manta Ray 12-foot kayak with Propel pedals is priced considerably higher at around $1,999, while the 13-foot version jumps all the way up to $2,499. The compact 10-foot Slayer kayak with Propel pedals is priced at around $2,399, while the 13-foot model ranges from $2,499 up to $2,599. The price difference for these models makes it reasonable to choose a paddle kayak based primarily on the desired length.

The Titan 10.5-foot kayak with Propel pedals sells for about $2,499. The Propel 12 is in the mid-$2000 range and may be available with packages for under $3000. The Ultimate FX 13-foot kayak with Propel pedal technology sells for about $2,799 while the Titan 13.5-foot with Propel pedals has one of the highest prices at around $3,249.


How Native Kayaks Compare

Build Quality

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Warranty

Build Quality

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Warranty

Build Quality

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Warranty


PROS

  • Angling kayaks designed for fishing
  • Available with or without Propel pedal system
  • plenty of room for coolers,radios etc

CONS

  • Seat straps lack the stability of a metal frame

Conclusion

Native Watercraft makes some of the highest-rated fishing kayaks on the market. If you want to compare fishing crafts with a variety of designs and lengths that are available in different materials and with the option to choose paddles or pedals, you should start with the Native kayak models featured in this review.

Janice Friedman
 

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