I was very excited to see WRO’s demo kayaks come off of the truck. Back when I was a Native Watercraft endorsed guide, we were drawing this concept on a napkin during the 2010 Canoecopia. I was very excited to see what the designers from Native were going to do with the input from their Guides and the “Power to the People” initiative. So was born the Slayer series. There was a demand for a kayak that would fit between the super stable Ultimate and the speedy Manta Ray, I am happy to say that Native has bridged that gap.
The deck layout is very clean, flat, and open. The Slayers have integrated tackle box compartments on each side of the seat, and closed cell foam padding to silence the deck and pad fishing rods. The bow of the Slayers is more bullet shaped, it does deflect some water but tends to torpedo through bigger waves. So in rough water you might get some splash over into the forward well. If you’re going to store dry goods up front I suggest dry bags, the Watertrail bags, or simply plug the scuppers. The well covers are due out soon as well. The slayers both have ample Groove track for mounting gear, such as the Yak Attack products. You will have to move around the bungi rigging to get to fully utilize the track, but not a problem. Again there are lots of options for tool-less modifications and accessories.
The Slayers High Low First Class seat is nothing short of a lazy Boy chair. Native has raised the bar on their seat design. It's comfort as well as the High Low positioning makes this the most versatile seat out there. You will never have a wet butt on a Slayer. The new seats do make some noise but this will work out after a few hours on the water.
There is also a removable plate up front for a fishfinder mount and battery storage underneath. If you place a battery there it will have to down sit inside the kayak interior. It would be cool to see a bag or a plastic insert there to hold the battery up off of the kayak interior. The plate also has a short Groove track on top, but with the demo models I had, there was no room to insert the YakAttack t-bars without loosening the track from the plate. The track needs to have about ½ inch shaved off each in to allow the t-bars to fit. Nevertheless it is a great place for a Depth finder and a killer design.
Both kayaks are easy to portage and have rigid handles integrated into the side Groove tracks, and one each at the bow and stern. They are well balanced and easy to carry. They also include the stern Tag Along wheel, but unless you are on a hard surface they drag and collect dirt and sand. Being it is a single wheel, if the gear on you kayak is not balanced it will tip over to the heavy side. It would be cool to see this removable without using tools.
In my opinion Native has definitely filled the gap between their most popular kayaks. The Slayer will be a very popular kayak among anglers, especially those who want the option of the high/low seat and the ability to stand and cast. Now let’s see how they do on the water.
I started with the Slayer 12 and the seat in the low position, almost immediately I noticed how nimble this kayak was, it would be a great river boat where maneuverability is a plus, as far a speed it accelerated great and had a reasonable glide. Performance wise it is comparable to most 12 foot SOTs.
Now came time to put the seat in the high position. I attempted to change the while on the water but personally found it hard to do without going overboard. I put the boat in the shallows got out and changed the seat. With the seat in the high position there was a noticeable change in stability and the speed of the kayak. At 200-pounds, my change in seat positions made the kayak feel “tippy” but the secondary stability locked in like a champ. I did notice a loss of speed as well, but I am sure moving my weight up and back about 3-inches made the boat stern heavy so it dragged a little. I suggest an easy fix by shifting some gear forward to counteract the weight change.
Now the standing test, I found myself shifting a lot when standing on the Slayer 12, personally, I didn’t find it as stable as the Ultimate 14.5 but still a viable “stand and cast” kayak for folks one they get used to it. As far as performance I am sure a lighter paddler would have no stability issues. If you’re over 200 pounds move up to the 14.5, which is what we are doing now.
I was very excited to try out this kayak, and man let me tell you “big difference” from the 12. Again I started with the seat in the low position, out of the gates the Slayer 14 was a rocket ship. It accelerated and tracked very well. The extra waterline definitely strengthened the initial stability of the kayak. It turned very nice and even edged well in the turn. It appears the Slayer 14 has a similar hull design to the super stable tandem the “Deuce Coupe”. It was so stable; I was even able to switch the seat positions while on the water. In the high position the stability change was less noticeable than that of the Slayer 12. Standing was also easy, I was so comfortable I even grabbed my fly rod and gave it a cast or two…The Slayer 14 passed with flying colors. The Slayer 14 is definitely a better boat for us bigger paddlers.
My final thought is that the Slayer series of kayaks will be the perfect fishing kayak for inshore and calm open waters. It is the perfect kayak for fans of the Ultimate series, who want the safety of a self-bailing hull with a open hull design. The stability of the Slayers, along with the High Low First Class seats makes it a sight casters dream. I like the open deck design and it’s clean enough to be a great flyfishing kayak as well. I have a feeling Native Watercraft is going to do very well with the Slayer and can’t wait to see what new accessories and kayaks are coming. Well played Native...well Played! Check em out at the Native Watercraft site or if your in the Tidewater area of Virginia come by and see them in person at Wild River Outfitters.
My 4 P’s
The Slayers are not fast kayaks, but there is a great balance between speed, maneuverability and stability. It’s a great compromise and a very versatile design. I wouldn’t call this a big water kayak but I wouldn’t hesitate to take it out to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on a calm day. The Slayer is going to shine on calm waters and in the backcountry. Bigger paddlers should go for the 14.5.
No doubt one of the best designed fishing kayaks of the year. The boat comes clean as a whistle, but has more than enough provisions for tool-less rigging. The seat makes this kayak, as in all Native Watercraft. Let’s just say that you can sit in this one all day. A true fishing machine, for sure and as an inshore guide, I see this as a near perfect skinny water sight casting kayak.
At 70# for the 12 and 75# for the 14.5 the Slayers are slightly heavier than most comparable SOT's but the padded, rigid handles are comfortable. The Slayers are balanced well, so solo loading and cartopping is not a chore. The tag along wheel is great for hard surfaces, but will dig in on soft ground. I suggest a kayak cart for portage over long stretches of soft ground.
Retail for the 12 is $ 1179.00 and the 14.5 is $1279.00, a little higher than most fishing SOT's but well worth the retail. You will get your money’s worth out of the Slayer!
Disclaimer: As of 2013 I am no longer sponsored by a specific kayak company. I am now partnered with Wild River Outfitters and have decided to be non-biased with fishing specific Kayak Manufacturers. I have decided to embrace the community and utilize all the brands we sell. Wild River Outfitters has demo kayaks from all the major companies and are able to provide these kayaks for rentals as well as on our kayak fishing trips. This way we have options and are set to help the customer to find a fishing kayak that is perfect for them. I am going to familiarize myself and fish with every one of these kayaks.