Recently I have had quite a few people ask me what I think about my Commander 140 and would it be a good fit for them. Well now that I have had it for a little over 4 months and put many fishing trips in it, I thought it would be a good time for a solid review of the Commander. I knew that I wanted to give myself quite a bit of time on the water before I decided to tackle writing this and I hope this will help answer a lot of the same questions that I had.
The Wilderness Systems Commander is a great boat from a great company and hands down one of the best on the market in my opinion. I base that opinion on the type of fishing that I do and the areas that I fish. When I first started looking for a new boat I narrowed it down to the Ride 135 and the Commander 140. I had 3 things that I wanted most from the boat. 1. I wanted to be able to stand and fly fish from it, which it definitely meets this requirement with it’s stability 2. I wanted to be able to take my son out with me every now and then. Obviously the Commander fits that bill as it is technically a tandem. I can sit in the low seat and my son can sit in the high seat. 3. I really wanted a stable photography platform for my wildlife photography. The stability is great for photography and the high gunnels help keep the water from getting your gear wet.
I spoke with Chad Hoover at Hook1 to get his opinion and he suggested both the Ride and Commander would work, but he thought the Commander would suit me a little better. After speaking with Chad and doing a little more research I decided it would be the way to go for now. I say for now because I really want a Ride too, LOL. Not because I am at all unhappy with the Commander, mainly I want something I can surf launch with and also to have options depending on the conditions. But if I could only have one boat, I think it would be the Commander.
The reason I would choose the Commander is it’s versatility which I think is unmatched. It is super stable and I mean super stable. I actually took it out floundering the first night I had it and was able to gig a flounder with no issues. I also have absolutely no problems standing and fly casting from it. I am able to cast comfortably and not worry about any stability issues. You can also fly cast it very well from the captains seat. I have also had no issues standing up and fighting fish.
I think it paddles very good from both the high and the low seating obviously. It paddles better from the low seat but either way, I think it moves along pretty darn good. The only thing for me that I noticed is that a flatter paddle stroke works better than a high paddle angle. I think this also has to do with my paddle length. If I had a little bit longer of a paddle or one with the ability to adjust the length it would solve this.
For me it has paddled well in all conditions including current, wind and chop. You can trim the boat while sitting in the low seat position by sliding the seat backwards or forwards to help it cut through the water. It paddles in the wind better than you expect, it does get a little wet if the wakes get a little large and you try to plow through them. However I have found it is best to slow down your paddling a little bit and the commander will flow better over them.
The boat is a flat out fishing machine. I love standing up and paddling in it and the ability to sight cast opens up a whole new world of fishing. Standing up for the high seat is a breeze and I would say I sit in the high seat about 90% of the time unless it is pretty windy and then I move down to the low seat.The Commander tracks very good in my opinion and I been overall very pleased with it’s performance on the water.
As a photography platform I think you would be hard pressed to find a better option. I can take my photography gear out with me on the water and have the peace of mind that it is going to stay plenty dry. I carry my gear in a Lowepro DryZone 200 waterproof camera bag. As you can see from the photo below when the Dryzone is removed from it’s outer shell it fits very well in the front of the Commander.
If anyone is intrested I wrote a review on the DryZone 200 which you can find here about how I have incorporated using it in the Commander. The Commander has definitely opened up a whole new world for me to expand my photography work.
With all boats nothing is perfect and I have only a few quirks that I wish were different. The captains perch (high seat) can get a little uncomfortable after about an hour of straight sitting. So I bought a tree stand seat pad from walmart that inflates and that solved that problem. Chad told me you can also put a strip of STS to help make it more comfortable. The only other thing that is a little issue for me is the deck. Being that it is a tunnel hull if I am mostly standing for about an hour or so it starts to hurt my feet. Mainly I think because my feet are so wide and I have flat feet that they start to feel a little discomfort. I think that most of this issue lies in the fact that I have no sort of padding on the deck. Same as with the seat, Chad mentioned you could put down some STS and it will help with the issue. I have not done so yet but it really does not bother me that bad. While sitting in either the captains seat or the low seat the tunnel hull is a non issue. The tunnel hull does have it’s advantages, you can lay things in the groove such as a water bottle, pliers, measuring device etc.. and they do not roll around.
I wanted to finish by saying, if you are looking at a Commander or any kayak for that matter, the best advice I can give, is to demo the ones you like and in your price range and decide what works for your style of fishing. What may work for me and my style of fishing may not work for you. The Commander has been a great fit personally and if you are looking for similar things I was looking for in a kayak it may be right for you too.
I have put up a full gallery of images which are located here on my site www.nsbkayakfishing.com. They were taken by good friend and kayaker Robert J Carmody. Please check out his site www.robertjc.com. Please also check out my facebook group New Smyrna Beach Kayak Anglers for more photos of the Commander.