Contributed by Chris Pierce
Fishing kayaks and I have a rocky history. In the past they had a tendency to be stingy with the stability and I was clumsy and often fell out of them. Over the past 4 years or so several reputable fishing kayaks have come and gone through my life but all of that may have changed recently.
This past summer I was introduced to the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 by my friend Adam Harbuck who insisted I load his into the truck and head to the lake with it. He assured me that I would finally find the stability I had been after for years in this boat. I was skeptical of course, but off I went.
Once at the lake and after unloading the admittedly heavy boat on a sandy beach, I very cautiously lowered myself onto the ATAK half expecting it to toss me like an old mule. It didn’t. After a couple of minutes carefully shifting my weight back and forth to get a feel for how fast it would roll out from under me, I realized that it wasn’t going to. This boat is stable. Really stable. It was only a few minutes before I was standing and paddling all over. I don’t think that even if I fell out of this boat that it would roll over unless it was pulled over as you went. It really is that stable.
Inside the ATAK is even more to be excited about. There is storage everywhere. A large hatch in the front of the boat holds lots of gear and has a cover that includes a strap across the front where you can tuck your paddle and not worry about losing it while fighting that big fish. The rear of the boat features a rectangular hatch which gives you access to the inside of the boat for rod storage. Tucked just behind the seat is a very generous tank well that will hold just about any crate on the market. The boat is outfitted with just the right amount of gear track for all your accessories. It is everywhere you need it.
The center of the ATAK is where the real magic happened for me. The AirPro Max seat is extremely comfortable thanks to the breathable mesh fabric and the fully adjustable back. The seat provides a low position for easy paddling and a high position that allows for easy casting and fishing. In front of the seat the floor is open and expansive allowing for plenty of room for your feet when standing and is covered in a tough padding for all day fishing comfort.
Within easy reach from the seat is the console. Positioned between your feet is a utility console that includes a cover with slots for tools, lures and a cup holder for a bottle of water. Just in front of this console is what really sets the ATAK apart from most fishing kayaks on the market. The FlexPod system provides a removable insert that holds your fish finder, the battery and the transducer. This pod can be removed from the boat easily for storage inside your vehicle or charging in the garage. It’s a great feature.
Even with all the features and fantastic stability, this boat still has its share of shortcomings. At around 90 pounds empty, it is heavy, but I have to say not really heavier than other big boats I have paddled from other manufacturers. 90 – 100 pounds seems to be the industry target number for these big boats.
Another problem is that the center utility console does not have a drain. This seems like a no brainer for fixes in the next model. It is annoying to have to spend time with a sponge or worse turn the whole boat over to empty the water from such a handy storage area after fishing but I really do find it a minor annoyance. Also the small mid-ship hatch disappears under the seat and has promptly been forgotten and never used by me. It could be moved forward twelve inches or so to be useful.
Also, if I were designing the next model I would consider insulating the front hatch and using it as fish storage. I believe it would make for a nice feature on the boat.
All in all, the ATAK 140 is a great boat and more than makes up for its problems. The low profile of the boat sheds the wind beautifully and it is plenty fast for what I need to do. It allows me to get to all my favorite fishing spots while being tough enough to drag around the woods or over levees when the time comes.