Team member and avid kayak angler, John Rapp gives us his first impressions of the Big Fish 120.
It was back in July 2017 when I traveled to iCast in Orlando, Florida where I first laid eyes on the new 3 Waters Kayaks Big Fish 120.
I was able to look at the kayak closely and saw some of the features that I liked that Feelfree and other brands had incorporated into their kayaks — horizontal rod storage, standing platform, accessory track system, removable pod system, adjustable high back seat and more. Needless to say, it caught my eye as I was ready to commit to a new kayak.
At 52 years old, 5’10” and pushing 240lbs, I was also looking for a stable platform to fish off. The tri-hull feature looked sweet and my understanding was that the design would help the boat track better and help with speed without reducing my requirement for stability.
I purchased one of the first of the Big Fish 120s off the container when they arrived. I took it out on its maiden voyage back in December 2017 on Summersville Lake in West Virginia. It was a 40 degree day with light winds and thought I’d share my experience and initial thoughts.
As advertised, the kayak was nimble and I was able to get up to speed quickly. It even seemed to maintain speed a little longer than my Lure 11.5 after the last paddle stroke. The kayak tracked nicely after I managed to equalize my equipment weight. Another noticeable thing was I felt like it rode high and pushed over waves rather than cut through them. Best of all, I managed to catch a nice Smallmouth that day sliming my Big Fish 120 properly.
After its maiden voyage, she was quietly parked in the garage for three months in hibernation waiting for her next ride to Tennessee for the 2018 Kayak Bass Fishing Kayak National Championship.
Over its hibernation period, I bought a few things to add to the kayak and also utilized some existing equipment that I had from my Feelfree Lure Kayak. I mounted a Lowrance Elite 7 Touch Screen, the FeelFree Uni-Bar, a YakAttack Black Pack and accessories for each via Ram Mounts and YakGear. I also purchased an NRS sponge to keep in the kayak and to make sure my side storage areas stayed dry since there is no escape for water that is captured in those locations. Installing my Lowrance onto the removable pod was simple using the hardware supplied by the manufacturer. What is nice about the setup is that I have total scan since it sets just below the hull of the boat. No modifications were required to make sure it was low enough to be function properly. One of the pitfalls of the pod system is that to put in and remove it from the kayak requires the box to be opened which makes it a little difficult to handle and remove. Accessorizing was a breeze and this kayak was tournament ready!
Taking on Tennessee
I was excited to use the Big Fish 120 for the 2018 Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship. I had a chance to prefish for four days in Tennessee prior to the event, which gave me the opportunity to try the kayak in different types of waters. This included the main lake, coves, rivers and creeks. I experienced rain, sleet, high winds and large swells but overall I was very impressed with the handling of this kayak. Stability and the overall ride were very nice. As I mentioned above, it took on swells very well and very little water crested the bow. The winds pushed me around a little bit but I used it to my advantage as all experienced anglers would do in those situations. When I needed to stay put I used my anchor. This is where a rudder would have helped and look forward to getting one installed.
I was also impressed with the cockpit design. The higher seat allowed for me to shove a tackle box underneath it even in the low position along with my measuring device for easy access. It also has space below the side rails to put smaller tackle boxes and other gear. The layout also allowed for me to move about freely and confidently. If I needed to adjust my fish finder I could slide to access my touch screen. The cockpit design combined with its impressive stability allowed for me to access my gear behind the seat easily without fear of any balance issues — again I’m older and not as flexible as I used to be.
The kayak did its job and helped me score 27th out of over 750 kayak anglers!
I believe that anybody who uses this kayak wIll be very happy with it. Its combination of features, stability, good speed and handling is what most anglers are looking for and the Big Fish delivers. I will be putting this kayak to the test more in the near future on the New and Greenbrier Rivers in class II and III rapids and look forward to seeing how the tri-hull handles these waters.
- John Rapp
Feelfree & 3 Waters Kayaks Fishing Team Member