Kayak Fishing with Wilderness Systems Kayaks 5 Excellent Choices

Since 1986 Wilderness Systems Kayaks has been producing some of the best and most advanced kayaks available. Wilderness Systems fishing kayaks are no exception.

Like the Perception kayaks we reviewed previously, Wilderness Systems kayaks are American made at their plant in Greenville South Carolina, and they continue to lead the Kayak industry in technology and innovation.

Whether you’re fishing rivers, streams or open water lakes in freshwater. Or, you’re paddling the bays, surf or offshore waters in saltwater.

You will find a Wilderness Systems Kayak to fit your needs and built to handle your type of fishing. Built and designed with fisherman in mind and complete with a limited lifetime warranty.

Why Wilderness Systems? Well, for one, I’ve been fishing from one for over 20 years and I still use it today. Now, it is a dinosaur compared to the current models of Wilderness Systems Kayaks.

Young lady standing up and paddling her kayak as she looks for a likely spot to fish

So, let’s take a look at some of their latest fishing kayak models and let you check them out for yourself and see if one catches your eye.

Quick Glance:

Wilderness Systems Kayaks has long been a leader in the kayak industry. We reviewed four of their fishing Kayak models that are built for serious fisherman. The Tarpon 120 – a good starter fishing Kayak, the A.T.A.K. – with advanced features for maneuverability in wind and moving water, the Radar 135 with advanced seat and available pedal power option, and the Latest and most technologically advanced, RECON and RECON HD perfect for the most serious of fisherman. Five excellent fishing kayak options for any kayak fishing situation.

Tarpon 120Radar 135A.T.A.K. 120Recon 120Recon 120 HD
Wilerness Systems Kayaks Tarpon 120 side view
Good for beginnersBest overall
fishing kayak
Best in wind and
moving waters
Latest Model
highly advanced
Most Advanced
Fishing Kayak
Easy to PaddleVery StableVery ManuverableMost StablePedal equipped
Best SellerMost VersatileCan Stand and FishPaddle or PedalElectric Motor Optional
Price $Price $$Price $$Price $$$Price $$$$

Wilderness Systems Kayaks


Wilderness Systems Kayaks logo

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS KAYAKS ARE SOME OF THE MOST CELEBRATED IN THE INDUSTRY.

Chris LeMessurier fishing out of a Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120

Wilderness Systems is a premiere kayak manufacturing company located in Greenville, SC featuring award-winning designs in recreational, touring, and fishing.

With innovative designs tuned for performance, premium outfitting, and stunning quality make these kayaks among the most acclaimed paddling experiences in the world.

From new entrants to seasoned experts, Wilderness Systems kayaks are designed to get you where you want to be, more often – on the water.

We are extremely proud of our award-winning designs and continue to push the envelope of what’s possible in kayak design, outfitting, and overall quality. If you haven’t, we encourage you to find out for yourself why Wilderness Systems kayaks are consistently recognized as some of the best in the industry. Once you do, kayaking will never be the same again.

Wilderness Systems Limited Lifetime Warranty

*PLEASE NOTE – YOU MUST POSSESS A VAILD SALES RECEIPT OF PURCHASE FOR A WARRANTY TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR PROCESSING.

For the original retail purchaser (“Consumer”), Wilderness Systems kayaks by Confluence Outdoor provide a limited lifetime warranty against material or manufacturing defects in the hull and deck. Parts, accessories, and outfitting are warranted for a period of one (1) year against material or manufacturing defects from the date of purchase. This limited warranty is only valid with the purchase of a Wilderness Systems kayak from an Authorized Wilderness Systems Dealer. This warranty is non-transferable.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon Kayaks


This is one of Wilderness Systems best-selling kayaks year in and year out. An awesome combination of maneuverability and functional fishing platform. Very easy to paddle gliding easily over the water. If you are looking to try kayak fishing, and not ready to drop a large investment in a fishing kayak, the Tarpon 120 would be a great option for a beginner.

I am still fishing out of a 20+ year old Tarpon 120 so I can attest to their longevity, durability and fishability. You won’t get all the bells and whistles available like on the Radar, A.T.A.K., or Recon models, but you will still have a very fishable kayak without spending too much.

Introducing the New Tarpon. Retaining everything paddlers love from the celebrated original with improved comfort, stability, speed and paddler interface, the new Tarpon is easily the most versatile boat in the Wilderness Systems lineup that is equally at home on rivers, lakes or oceans. Every detail is carefully crafted and executed flawlessly to bring you boundless paddling perfection.

Blending celebrated legacy design elements with a re-imagined modern flair, the new Tarpon delivers a dynamic on-water performance with enhanced agility and unmatched stability, while well-executed and innovative features elevate the paddler’s overall experience.

The renowned Phase 3® AirPro seating system offers easy three-point adjustability, while plush honeycomb-vented fabric and ergonomic 3D foam provide maximum airflow, comfort and support.

the authors' 1990's model Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 loaded for a day of fishing on Copano Bay in Texas

The new Tarpon features the DryTec Case – a new integrated dry box to keep your valuables safe, the MagnaTec magnetic water bottle holder, and flexible mounting options and accessory integrations, all of which come standard with the boat.

A protective and replaceable skid plate, comfortable rigid carry handles, industry-leading storage capabilities, and thoughtful and configurable deck bungee rigging rounds out a robust list of attributes.

Available in 2 sizes: Tarpon 105 and Tarpon 120 and feature:

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Tarpon 120 top view with feature listings
  • The premiere sit-on-top kayak is now even better and more comfortable
  • Fast, efficient and straight tracking
  • Excellent stability – great initial stability and solid secondary stability when the boat is leaned on edge
  • Dog-friendly – bring Fido along for the ride
  • The most comfortable and adjustable Phase 3® AirPro seating system features CoolTouch so your seat stays cool
  • Large rear storage well for crates, coolers, fishing equipment, scuba tanks & camping gear
  • Front storage hatch offers dry storage
  • Mesh cover for rear storage area to secure items – can be rolled back
  • Sectioned storage tray to organize smaller items like sunscreen, fishing lures and snacks
  • User-friendly paddler interface – new features including a water bottle strap and dry box are all within easy reach
  • MagnaTec magnetic water bottle strap system
  • DryTec removable dry box is perfect for storing wallets, phones, keys and other valuables
  • SlideTrax™ accessory rails so you can customize your kayak for fishing, filming or adding other accessories
  • Quick park paddle holder
  • Rigid carry handles for easy transport
  • Rudder Capable – compatible with the Wilderness Systems XL Rudder Kit for solo kayaks (sold separately)
Wilerness Systems Kayaks Tarpon 120 side view
  • Specifications:
  • LENGTH: 12′ 3″ / 373 CM
  • WIDTH: 31″ / 79 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 63 LBS. / 29 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 13.75″ / 35 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 350 LBS. / 159 KG
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Customer review 5 out of 5 stars

They have made some real improvements in the new Tarpon 120 compared to my 20 year old version. The seat is much more comfortable which is great for a long day on the water. And, the new model is much more stable and less prone to tipping. The new Tarpon is still very easy to paddle and maneuver which makes it great for beginners.


Wilderness Systems Radar Kayaks


I’ve had the chance to fish out of a Wilderness Systems Radar 135 and It is a great fishing kayak. A big upgrade from my very basic, and very old, Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. The Radar 135 is a wider and heavier kayak which provides for a very stable fishing platform. It also comes with a very comfortable seat, accessory tracks and extra storage.

Young lady holding a nice redfish caught fishing from her kayak

The Radar series – Wilderness Systems’ first tri-powered kayak with paddle, power and pedal capabilities.

The Radar features S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology that combines Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness and Tracking throughout the entire design for ultimate performance in multiple water environments.

When utilizing the Helix PD™ (see video below), a built-in steering control system affords easy navigation and hands-free fishing, while the AirPro MAX complements the package with optimized positioning for any mode of travel.

In addition to a flat platform for standing and freedom of movement, the Radar boasts state-of-the-art outfitting including expansive SlideTrax™ rails, a multitude of storage opportunities, and scupper options to deploy the Helix MD™ Motor Drive, the Helix PD™ Pedal Drive* and even multiple electronics options including down-imaging, side-scanning or both.

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Radar Features:

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Radar 135 top view with feature listings
  • A. Bow Paddle Park– One handed paddle storage. Keeps your paddle within easy reach.
  • B. Orbix Bow Hatch
  • C. Mounting Surface – Flat mounting surface allows more room for mounting custom accessories to your kayak.
  • D. Flex Pod OS Console System – Allows for compatibility with the Helix MD™ Motor Drive or easy installation of your favorite fish finder electronics.
  • E. Keepers XL Footbraces – Large, padded foot rests for support and comfort. Easy to adjust locking lever.
  • F. Flex Pod PD – Flex Pod PD allows for use of the Helix PD™ Pedal Drive System as well as easy installation of electronics including side-scanning fish finder technologies.
  • G. Front SlideTrax Accessory System – Easily add and remove accessories from the front of your boat. Quickly reconfigure accessories based on conditions and the gear needed.
  • H. Versatile Steering System Mounting Location – Rudder steering control for the Helix PD™ and MD™ provides mounting options on the left or right sides of the kayak. Available separately.
  • I. Molded-in Tackle Storage Pockets – Self draining molded in tackle pockets. Now you have an easy spot to keep your favorite lures for the day within easy reach.
  • J. Rectangular Center Hatch – Center rectangular hatch provides plenty of watertight storage space within arms reach. The flush with the deck hatch allows you to stand on it easily while you fish.
  • K. Mid-Ship SlideTrax Accessory System – Easily add and remove your AirPro MAX seat and accessories from the middle of your boat. Quickly reconfigure accessories based on conditions and the gear needed.
  • L. AirPro MAX Seat – The AirPro MAX seat offers multiple seating positions and adjustability has been optimized with the addition of cam levers to speed mounting and dismounting.
  • M. Paddle Park – Stow your paddle securely by your side and out of the way with the paddle park on either side of the deck.
  • N. Tankwell w/ Adjustable Bungee – Large tankwell has plenty of room to accommodate crates, livewells, and tackle boxes.
  • O. AirPro 3D Seat Mounting Location – The AirPro 3D seat provides an elevated perch position for the angler to paddle or cast from, delivering unsurpassed visibility, stability and comfort.
  • P. Rigid Carry Handles – Front and rear ergonomic handles make carrying more comfortable. Solid construction reduces the opportunity for hook snags.
  • Q. Stern Mounting Plate Location – The Stern Mounting Plate allows for mounting aftermarket accessories such as battery-operated stakeout poles, trolling motors, and more. Stern comes rudder ready.

Radar 135 Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 13′ 6″ / 412 CM
  • WIDTH: 34″ / 86 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 90 LBS. / 41 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 15.5″ / 39 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 475 LBS. / 215 KG
Wilderness Systems Kayaks Radar 135 side view

 

Helix PD™ Pedal Drive. Innovation. In Motion.

Featuring a 6:1 gear ratio precision-tuned to a 14 x 17 two-bladed fixed pitch prop, the Helix PD Pedal Drive is the most efficient and intuitive kayak pedal system ever engineered. Compatible with the Radar family of kayaks.

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Helix PD Pedal Drive
Wilderness Systems Helix Pedal Drive
Wilderness Systems Radar 135 Customer Review 5 out of 5 stars

The Wilderness Systems Radar is a longer, wider more stable fishing kayak when compared to the Tarpon, and with a much more comfortable seat for all day comfort when fishing. It has the added feature of being compatible with the Helix Pedal Drive as well. With more features and stability, the Radar is definitely a step up in fishing Kayaks compared to the Tarpon.


Wilderness Systems Recon Kayaks


With the release of the Recon series of fishing kayaks, Wilderness Systems has built one of the most advanced fishing kayaks available anywhere. Loaded with features and new technologies, the Recon is for the serious fisherman that is looking for the ultimate fishing kayak.

The brand new Wilderness Systems Recon is a factory-loaded boat that you can rig your way. With a fully customizable open platform, a lineup of revolutionary new features, and the freedom to choose the preferred mode of propulsion – paddle, pedal, or power – the Recon series of kayaks are the future of fishability.

(Note: This model is Helix PD™ Pedal Drive-capable and the Helix PD™ Pedal Drive can be purchased separately. The Recon 120 HD comes with the Helix Pedal Drive installed.) Aftermarket motors can also be deployed with a direct-to-boat stern mounting interface.

Ken Kuhn fishing Copano Bay in Texas from his Wilderness Systems Kayak

A wide-open deck provides the angler with an abundance of space, freedom of motion, and provides a rock-solid platform from which to stand, cast, and hookset in confidence.

The functional layout of the intuitive topdeck interface keeps all your gear and essentials within reach, with ample surface areas for personal modifications.

The Recon series features next evolution of S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology – Wilderness Systems’ signature design approach that carefully and masterfully combines Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness, and Tracking to deliver the ultimate performance in all waters. This model’s hull optimizes any mode of travel, be it paddling, pedaling, or motoring, with specialized volume distribution and under-the-waterline nuances to keep the boat moving quickly and steadily.

The Recon series also establishes a new paradigm for storage. The StowPro Storage System features an extra-large gasketed hatch and a thoughtfully configured bin to access, organize and defend important gear. Down the boat and atop each gunwale are Dual Rod Troughs – a unique horizontal rod storage solution to keep rods close-at-hand and away from wind and breakage.

The troughs can hold up to three 7’6″ rods on each side, are secured with cross-lashing bungee, and are noise-dampened by Wilderness Systems’ celebrated Silent Traction pads. Midship side pockets, tackle box recesses, and a functional under-seat area provides even more gear storage in all the right places, while the expansive and notched tankwell yields a custom-crafted space for popular rear storage items like the Wilderness Systems Kayak Krate.

Young lady with a nice speckled trout caught fishing from her Wilderness Systems Kayak

Wilderness Systems kayaks are renowned for comfort, and the Recon ushers in the next progression of this pillar with the introduction of the all-new AirPro ACE seat. Embodying easy Adjustability, luxurious Comfort, and fine-tuned Ergonomics, the AirPro ACE seat leverages the premium framework and materials of the popular AirPro MAX but with a groundbreaking new feature – a one-handed mechanical lever for quick adjusting the trim on-the-fly.

Akin to a manual vehicle seat adjustment, though a quantum change in kayaks, this function allows the angler to dial in their unique position for paddling, pedaling, motoring, or to make room for fishing. The Recon’s seat has been thoroughly thought out down to the “nuts and bolts,” as even the hardware is clipped in place to mitigate the possibility of getting lost.

Wilderness Systems Recon Features:

Wilderness Systems Kayaks - Recon 120 top view
  • Fully customizable open platform, factory-loaded with room for personalized rigging
  • Supremely wide-open deck affords the angler an abundance of space, freedom of motion, and provides a rock-solid platform from which to stand, cast, and hookset in confidence
  • Tri-power optimized with the freedom to choose the preferred mode of propulsion – paddle, pedal, or power
  • S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology – Wilderness Systems’ signature design approach that carefully and masterfully combines Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness, and Tracking to deliver the ultimate performance in all waters
  • StowPro Storage System featuring an extra-large gasketed hatch and a thoughtfully configured bin to access, organize and defend gear
  • AirPro ACE seat – embodying easy Adjustability, luxurious Comfort, and fine-tuned Ergonomics, featuring premium, breathable materials and a one-handed mechanical lever for quick adjusting the seat trim on-the-fly, allowing anglers to dial in their position for paddling, pedaling, motoring, or to make room for fishing
  • Dual Rod Troughs – a unique horizontal rod storage solution to keep fishing rods close-at-hand and away from wind and breakage; can hold up to three 7’6″ rods on each side; secured with cross-lashing bungee; noise-dampened by Silent Traction pads
  • Midship side pockets and tackle box recesses provide gear storage in all the right places
  • Convenient cup holders to keep beverages close-at-and, yet out of the way
  • Silent Traction pads throughout the footwell to keep anglers sure-footed and stealth
  • Comfortable front and rear carry handles for easy transport
  • Molded-in side handles to assist in managing the boat solo
  • Expansive and notched tankwell provides a custom-crafted space for popular rear storage items like the Wilderness Systems Kayak Krate
  • Rear-mounted transducer area to ensure scanners are protected and in position for the fullest range of view
  • Easily add an aftermarket motor with a direct-to-boat stern mounting interface
  • Internal steering and lift lines for snag-free rudder or motor operation
Wilderness Systems Kayaks - Recon 120 side view

Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 12′ 2″ / 371 CM
  • WIDTH: 38″ / 96.5 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 95 LBS. / 43 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 15″ / 38 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 450 LBS. / 204 KG

Wilderness Systems Recon 120 HD Kayak

The Recon 120 HD model comes standard with the tried-and-true, easy-deploy Helix PD™ Pedal Drive system. With instant forward/reverse, on-a-dime turning, and a lab tested gear ratio for smooth all-day pedaling, the Recon 120 HD packs more performance than other pedal driven kayaks in its class. The Recon 120 comes ready to paddle, or easily install the Helix PD Pedal Drive midship or add an aftermarket motor with a direct-to-boat stern mounting interface.

Wilderness Systems Kayaks - Recon 120 HD side view

A supremely wide-open deck affords the angler an abundance of space, freedom of motion, and provides a rock-solid platform from which to stand, cast, and hookset in confidence. The functional layout of the intuitive topdeck interface keeps all your gear and essentials within reach, with ample surface areas for personal modifications. Also, comes with rudder system


Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. Kayaks


Advanced Tactical Angling Kayaks A.T.A.K. – designed to be a highly maneuverable and stable fishing platform that will tackle wind and moving water. A great kayak for fishing rivers and streams with fast water areas and open lakes where wind can become a factor for paddling a kayak.

The award-winning design of the A.T.A.K. 140 is now available in a compact package for increased manageability both on-and-off the water. The A.T.A.K. 120 is a continuation of the 140, maintaining all the core attributes that have set a new standard for fishing kayaks – an open customizable platform, unmatched stability, and a wind-shedding deck – yet the 120 brings an entirely new set of specialized performance attributes to the table.

Rocker has been increased to better negotiate moving water, and a secondary transducer scupper has been added to accommodate electronics (including side-scanning technologies) while utilizing the Helix MD™ Motor Drive (sold separately). Additionally, a new quick-release cam lever now allows the AirPro MAX seat to be adjusted fore/aft on-the-fly.

Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 12′ 3″ / 371 CM
  • WIDTH: 35″ / 88 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 86 LBS. / 39 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 16″ / 41 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 400 LBS. / 181 KG

Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K Features:

Wilderness Systems Kayaks - A.T.A.K. 120 top view with feature listings
  • A. Rigid Carry Handle – Ergonomic handles make carrying more comfortable. Solid construction reduces the opportunity for hook snags.
  • B. Circular Stern Hatch – Access the inside of your stern for electronics and other accessory modifications.
  • C. Rear SlideTrax Accessory System – Easily add and remove accessories to the rear of your boat. Quickly reconfigure accessories based on conditions and the gear needed.
  • D. Tankwell w/ Adjustable Bungee and (2) Gear Security Straps. – Secure stowed items in the tankwell with custom bungee security straps.
  • E. AirPro MAX Seating System w/ Extended Travel – Patented suspension-style seat for all day comfort and performance. High, low and recline positions allow for great visibility and stability. Honeycomb mesh material keeps you cool and dry.
  • F. Mid-ship SlideTrax Accessory System – Easily add and remove accessories to the middle of your boat. Quickly reconfigure accessories based on conditions and the gear needed.
  • G. Side Scan Transducer Scupper – Secondary scupper hole allows for easy side-scan transducer installation.
  • H. Stand-up Assistant Strap – Stand up easily and move about the deck with aid from this strap.
  • I. Removable Utility Pod Cover – This specialized cover is easily installed/removed and is useful for tool, tackle and beverage storage on the water.
  • J. Front SlideTrax Accessory System – Easily add and remove accessories to the front of your boat. Quickly reconfigure accessories based on conditions and the gear needed.
  • K. Keepers XL Footbrace System – Large, padded foot rests for support and comfort. Easy to adjust locking lever.
  • L. Flex Pod OS Removable Console System – Mount fish finder, battery and transducer in a removable pod. Helix MD Motor Drive compatibility.
  • M. Bow Hood Storage Cover – Sheds water from the bow of the boat. Secure gear in a large self-draining storage well.
  • N. Bow Paddle ParkOne handed paddle storage. Keeps your paddle within easy reach.
  • O. ATAK 120 Bow Mount Plate – Install this sturdy bow mount plate to the front of your ATAK 120 to give you a solid base for mounting cameras, lights, and other accessories.
  • P. Molded-in Side Carry Handles – Additional snag-free carry point for easy solo transport
  • Q. ATAK 120 Stern Mount Plate – Give yourself endless options for mounting accessories with these solid mounting bases for the ATAK 120.
Wilderness Systems Kayaks - A.T.A.K. 120 side view
Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120  kayak customer reviews 5 out of 5 stars

The A.T.A.K. is a highly maneuverable and low profile fishing kayak. Stable enough to stand and fish, yet still nimble enought to navigate fast waters. The low profile of the kayak makes it much less affected by wind. And, like the Radar and Recon, it comes with the comfortable AirPro Max seat.


Wilderness Systems Kayaks – Some of the Best


As you can see, Wilderness Systems Kayaks are truly some of the very best kayaks available on the market. High quality American made Kayaks with a limited lifetime warranty so you can feel confident in choosing Wilderness Systems fishing kayaks. I have been fishing out of a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 for over 20 years now and she’s still going strong.

Kayaks and kayak fishing continue to evolve, so if you’re looking for a fishing kayak, look to the leaders in the industry for the very latest in technology and innovation. And, with wilderness systems, you have a company that has a nearly 40 year track record of producing outstanding kayaks.

If you have any questions, comments, ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I will get back to you ASAP. Have you tried a Wilderness Systems Kayak? If so, tell us about you experiences in the comment section as well.

Lady with a nice redfish caught while fishing from here Wilderness Systems Kayak

As always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you asap. You can follow up on Facebook: Rex The Beach Angler, Instagram: thebeachangler7, Twitter: @AnglerBeach, and YouTube: Man Art Creations.


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