Stealth Pro Fisha 525 - First Impressions E-mail
Written by Matt Whisenhunt   
Monday, 10 February 2014 00:00

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I received my Stealth Pro Fisha 525 to kick off 2014, and after getting a few miles under the belt I thought I would give a first impressions.

After paddling an X-Factor for the last 6 years, I wanted something a little faster, lighter and easier to paddle. The X is a very good fish and dive platform, but it is big, slow and tiring to paddle. And at the end of the day truck topping "the barge" (as I’ve come to lovingly refer to it) is a chore. So, I searched for a while and finally settled on the Pro Fisha. It looked liked a high-performance boat with a good compromise of speed and stability. Moving from plastic to fiberglass was also high on my list of priorities as I had experience from surf kayaking of how much faster glass can be. My expectations were pretty high, and I can say the Pro Fisha delivers.

First, the nuts and bolts. The 525 is 17.2 feet long, 24 inches wide, and weighs in at 54 pounds, although it feels much lighter. (The X-Factor tipped the scales at 78lbs). It has a generous fish hatch with enough room for multiple rods, fish and gear, as well as a nice sized dry hatch behind the seat, which gives the ability to carry more gear than would appear at first glance. Foam stringers in the bow and stern along with a bulkhead separating the fish hatch from the main hull provides good buoyancy. There are also 4 flush mount rod holders behind the seat.

The Pro Fisha promotes an uncluttered deck because there simply isn't that much of it. This is a good thing in my opinion. This yak has plenty of space for gear below deck, more than I would need, and I tend to travel light. There is room for a fish finder and some forward mount rod holders as well. I haven't had a chance to really test out the fishing aspect of the kayak yet, but I did manage to cast a few flies and it is a nice stable platform. The fish hatch, rod storage and deck are well laid out and should function well, but only time will tell.

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The footwells are pretty narrow, so those that wear Boggs or other boots will have to get used to wearing slimmer neoprene socks or booties. The seat is very comfortable but I'm not a huge fan of the fabric loop attachments. The seat also holds water, but after sitting in it for a while it actually ends up feeling like warm insulation. I am 6'2 and the rudder pedals are not maxed out, so a tall guy can fit in this boat. The rudder function is excellent. It is fixed in the hull about a foot from the stern, which makes the boat very responsive. I am not too concerned about hitting rocks as the only time I have run into rocks in the X-Factor was in the river and it left a nice hole in a Scupper Pro. 

What this kayak is really about is performance. This boat is light, sleek and fast. The fiberglass construction makes it effortless to paddle and allows it to glide on the water. This, by far, is the best feature in my opinion. It takes a small amount of energy to get to a good cruising speed and very little to stay there. It really is a pleasure to paddle.

And if you stop paddling for a moment, the kayak doesn't come to a halt. It continues to glide and loses speed very slowly, which in turn requires even less effort to return to a comfortable cruising speed. And speaking of speed, this kayak has it in spades. Over three outings and 20 miles I have consistently averaged between 4.7 and 5 mph with a max of 6.3 for a half-mile, and one of those outings was 10 miles! For reference I took the X-Factor out and over 2.2 miles averaged 3.2 mph with a similar pace and a max of 5 for a quarter mile. The biggest difference was the feeling of pushing the plastic through the water as opposed to the fiberglass gliding.

This is really the biggest advantage of the Pro Fisha- the amount of energy needed to carry a much faster speed for miles is significantly less. The farthest I've paddled the X-Factor was 8 miles and I could barely lift the boat onto the truck afterwards. Whereas, 2 laps around Big Lagoon (10 miles) in the Pro Fisha and lifting what feels like a big surfboard is not a problem. The above speeds were at what I would call a comfortable workout pace, so a very mellow pace with minimal effort still yields over 4 miles an hour. All day paddling covering some serious water is very much a reality with this boat. Overall, the kayak tracks well and has less hull slap in the chop than I was expecting with such a long boat without much rocker. Even with a little slap the energy loss is minimal with the long water line and fiberglass hull.

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So, does this performance come athe cost of stability? I suppose that depends on your experience and comfort level. I think anyone with a sea/whitewater background will find it has good initial and very good secondary stability for such a narrow beam. I took the boat in five-foot swells to the front side of Pilot Rock in order to get some good chop and mixed swell, and found the Pro Fisha comfortably stable, especially when danglin'. The seat is low, and with most of the gear stored below deck, the center of gravity is low and the seat cockpit really locks you in.

That’s a big plus for me, coming from a whitewater/surf kayak background. Being able to control the boat with my hips is essential to my comfort level. If your only reference for kayaking is a big stable sit on top, this boat will feel a little tippy. However, after a few outings and armed with good paddling technique and the knowledge that the kayak will move under you but won't tip over because of good secondary stability, I think any experienced paddler would be comfortable in the Pro Fisha. Hopefully the ocean will sit down enough at some point so I can get out in the surf.

This review is obviously focusing on the paddling aspect of the Pro Fisha, but for me enjoying the paddling aspect of kayak fishing is crucial to the enjoyment of our sport, and the Pro Fisha is a true joy to paddle. There is very little to not like about this boat (maybe a little wider footwells and hard mounts for seat straps). But, all those wash away once you’re gliding across the water. This is the kind of kayak you look at with its lightweight, easy-loading, speedy characteristics that make you want to load up and get out there. The ocean fishing season can't get here soon enough. Covering miles while chasing Salmon and Pacific Halibut are very much in reach with the Stealth Pro Fisha.

See ya on the water.

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