Native Watercraft Ultimate FX Propel 13: First Impressions


From the moment I first set eyes on the Native Watercraft FX Propel 13 pedal-powered kayak on the company’s American website (see here), I just knew I had to have one of these mean machines! Along with my wife Jo, I’ve been a Native Watercraft fan for quite a few years now, and this latest release from the company looked to be the perfect upgrade from my much-loved Mariner 12.5 (see my video about that now-discontinued boat here). So, I immediately placed an order with Native Watercraft Australia for an Ultimate FX from the first shipment destined to reach this country, which was due to arrive on our shores in October/November, 2016.

My trip to Melbourne to pick up the shiny new Ultimate happily coincide with me also taking delivery of a fantastic, purpose-built, duo kayak trailer from Redide Trailers (something I’ll be blogging about in detail very soon!).

What a combo! The new Native Watercraft Ultimate on its Redtide Trailer.

What a combo! The new Native Watercraft Ultimate on its Redtide Trailer.

Naturally, I was itching to get the new machine wet, but writing deadlines and poor weather conspired against this for a few days. Finally, a narrow window of opportunity opened and I managed to sneak out for a late afternoon bass fishing session on the freshwater reaches of a river not too far from home.

From almost the moment I slid the Ultimate into the water and climbed aboard, I knew I’d made the right decision. A hybrid between a more traditional “sit-in” style kayak/canoe and the newer generation of “sit-on” yaks, the Ultimate has a noticeably higher seating position than either my old Mariner or the company’s more recent flagship: the Slayer. The new boat is also a tad lighter.

The higher seating position of the Ultimate FX makes pedaling a breeze.

The higher seating position of the Ultimate FX makes pedaling a breeze.

That raised seating position translates to a significantly higher comfort level for my ageing bones and muscles, and also seems far more efficient when it comes to operating the circular, bicycle-style Propel pedal drive that is the hallmark innovation of the Native Watercraft brand. I found this to be the most comfortable ‘yak of any style or make I’ve ever been in, as well as very easy to push along.. and fast! The turning circle was also a radical improvement over my old Mariner, and she paddled beautifully when ultra shallow water called for me to lift the Propel unit and switch to the “Twin Armstrongs”.

The slight but inevitable downside of a higher seating position and lower hull weight is a marginal reduction in stability, and the Ultimate did feel a tad “twitchy” to me for the first 10 minutes or so I was on the water. However, I soon came to realise that this is largely a mental thing, and that the boat would actually be very hard to tip. Also, if and when you do transition to a stand-up stance for fishing (something made easier by the higher seat, as a matter of interest), your feet (and therefore your point of weight transfer) are situated on a floor that is actually below the waterline, greatly enhancing stability.

Success! A great way to christen the new 'yak!

Success! A great way to christen the new ‘yak!

I’ve got so much more to tell you about both the Native Watercraft Ultimate FX Propel 13 and that Reditide Kayak Trailer, but all of that will have to wait for future blogs throughout the coming summer and autumn seasons… For now, let me just say that I’m super impressed, and relieved that I made the right decision! If you’d like to have a look at a very quick teaser video I made during that shakedown trip, just click here. Oh, and yes, I caught and released a bunch of beautiful bass that afternoon, including a few bruisers (see below). What a great way to christen a new ‘yak…

For a more detailed video verview, see my longer video here, and to find out more about the Ultimate FX, contact Native Watercraft Australia. Finally, to locate your closest dealer, just click here.


Single-handed selfie with a bruiser bass aboard the new Ultimate FX Propel 13.