Monday, June 11, 2012

Gear Review / First Impressions: Emotion Mojo Angler Kayak

Had I paid more than about half price for this boat,
I'd be on the war path about this.
Ouch.  Well, this is where it starts.  This boat arrived last week seemingly out of nowhere, and it's destined for a lifetime of service over oysterbeds, in tangled dead floating trees, and off of concrete boat ramps. Note to Emotion Kayaks:  remember to wrap the stern.

For anyone just catching up with this story, I ordered this boat on sale from in April.  In May, I found out that the boat I'd paid for didn't exist, wasn't in production, and wouldn't be delivered...perhaps ever.  The Cabela's corporate office got involved.  Three weeks later, the boat showed up at my office.  It was a sight to behold!

A little, err, 12.5 foot long, bundle of joy!

Nice, clean lines. Looks like a lot of thought
was put into this boat.
Other than the battle-rammed stern, the first thing I noticed about the boat was its clean lines.  This is an attractive kayak - designed by someone who has done this before....many times.   It also was designed by someone (or a team) that understand the fickle nature of kayak anglers.  The rear rod holders are flush mount, but for once, they are actually the right distance and angle from the seat. The front rod holder (a Scotty) is attached to an adjustable and even removable console in the paddler's lap (or far from it, if they prefer).

The portage straps are all necessary, since the boat clocks in at around 55lbs, but they are not too big to grip or small enough to cut off the circulation in someone's hand.

One big plus, noted by others who have reviewed this boat, is the ample rear unit (I have got to use that phrase more often in common conversation, well, maybe not).   There are indented molded corners in the exact shape and size of a milk carton (several manufacturers now do this) and there's ample space for a child's seat, cooler, bait bucket, etc.

Removable center console with spots for rod holder (incl),
dry box (incl), drink bottle, and fish finder
There's an enigma to this boat  - I can't decipher whether it's genius, arrogance, or pure utility-mindedness (only you know what you want - here's the boat. rig it up).  Rigging is very limited.  No anchor rigging, and one setup near the seat that might pass for a rod clip / paddle clip.   Frankly, I'm surprised.  But honestly, had any or all of them been included but not installed, I would have complained about that.  Had they been installed and I thought they weren't "just where I would have put them," I'd have made a note of that, too.  And of course, this is a closed hull boat, so installing anything anywhere takes incredibly thin, long arms like Kristen Wiig's Eunice character on SNL....So....fair enough.  I'll have to rig it myself, like every other kayak fisherman does every other kayak.

Had to add forward d-rings
to my truck bed
to keep the boat stable.
I hate you, Trac Rac.
Looking around the boat in general, it's just solid.  The fore compartment has a great hatch cover that's clear plastic (not sure why that's necessary, but it's different, so let's go with it).  The placement of the hatch makes it impossible to use it to store extra fishing rods or extremely large gear, but with the addition of a sealed wall, will make a great bait bucket / live well / food and drink compartment).  The foot pegs are set up to grip the balls of the paddler's feet - a welcome change from boats that cradle the heel.

An ample seat back cushion rests against a solid plastic seat back (molded into the boat) providing excellent support on my two paddles thus far (90 minutes on a small lake and 150 minutes on the open Chesapeake Bay).  There are scupper holes in the seat - always necessary but not always present on kayaks. The seat bottom is molded into the boat and was comfortable enough for my first paddle in calm water, but left my rear end pretty sore after my second, longer paddle in 1-2' waves, crosswinds, and a changing tide.  I'll need to purchase a cushion, which should run about $30.  Anyone considering this boat should add that to the price tag.

A few quick negatives on the boat.  First, due to the drama that was required to come into possession of this boat at all, there was definitely a lack of attention to final detail on the factory floor, and a pretty clear intent to get the boat out of the factory door and on the highway to me.  There are a few very noticeable burn marks from the drill/rivet gun, a few small exposed air pockets in the hull, some final sanding that really was not handled after the final molding, and of course, somebody's failure to wrap the bow and stern for shipment.  The factory warranty was signed just about 10 days prior to me receiving the boat - definitely hot off the factory floor!  Inside the fore compartment, a good few handfuls of plastic shavings and round cutouts from drilling the rod holders out were still floating around.  Again - haste ruled over quality control in this particular case.

In addition, under the category of "mixed blessings," I was originally a little bummed out that this boat was only available in a orange-brown "mustard" color, and a bright olive drab (the color I ordered).  I was actually looking for more of a "sand" colored boat that would have decent visibility (to humans) and good utility for work, hunting, and fishing.   Here's a picture of the color that I ordered (Mojo Angler / Olive Drab) - compare it to the image above (my warranty sheet says "olive drab").

Now, here's the color of boat I was really looking for (which Emotion Kayaks had no way of knowing, and they don't sell the Mojo Angler in this color anyway):

And again, the color of the actual boat I received:

How dare you ship me the color I actually wanted,
but couldn't order!

First bass in the boat!
So, I dunno.  Call it dumb luck.  Lucky....regardless!   The Emotion Mojo Angler seems to be just the boat I had hoped it would be.  I'll be working on detailed assessments of its tracking abilities, ability to take on waves, any issues with landing fish, etc. but so far I am tickled with the boat.  I initially thought the Mojo Angler (MSRP $799) would make a good substitute for a number of the higher end Wilderness Systems fishing kayaks (MSRP $1000 - $1200), but a higher end boat than Bass Pro's Ascend 12 ($479); and at first glance, that compromise appears to have been a good one.

I recommend the boat, at its MSRP, if you have the opportunity to visually inspect it before purchasing.  If you are considering an online purchase, use good judgment.  I ended up paying significantly less than MSRP for this kayak (even less than the sale price of $599), and given the condition in which it arrived from the factory, the boat I received would still be a great deal at $550, marginal at $600, and returned it to the factory immediately if I'd paid $700 or above.  If you purchase an Emotion kayak online, I personally recommend that you be present to accept the freight shipment and make sure the boat is intact (ideally, better than intact).

Thanks for reading and I look forward to telling you more!


Devin Angleberger said...

Awesome kayak, hope it serves you well!

Alex said...

Slick looking yak! What all are you planning to put on it? Anchor system? Rudder?

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