By Paul Lebowitz
Drew Gregory and the original, purpose-built river fishing kayak the Coosa are inextricably linked. I couldn't imagine one without the other. When Jackson Kayak announced the introduction of a new Coosa model, the HD, in a brief, one-paragraph press release, I dialed Gregory's number hoping for more details. What does a little bit longer and a little bit wider mean? What are all these new features visible on the one photo of the prototype released to this point, a top-down deck plan?
He called me back the next morning from the road. "I'm in Missouri now. Yesterday was Columbus, Georgia. Charlotte tomorrow, and Salt Lake City on Monday," he said, before launching into an animated discussion of the Coosa HD.
"EJ (the founder of Jackson Kayak) says every production model is a prototype for the next time we redo that model. The Coosa HD is an improvement on the original," Gregory said.
"It will be a few inches longer and maybe an inch wider for better performance on flat water, for better tracking. Even if you're a hardcore river fisherman we know there are times you fish your Coosa on a lake," Gregory explained. No worries though. "It's still a true river kayak," Gregory emphasized.
Whitewater performance should be improved. There's a new Elite Seat that anchors more firmly in the boat. Like Jackson's new Kraken, it can be moved forward and aft to adjust the boat's trim. Unlike its open water cousin, on the Coosa HD the trim adjusts in both high and low seat positions.
The original Coosa was Jackson's first core-built fish cruiser – I don't count the sit-in Day Tripper. Since then the company's released two Cudas, the Big Tuna tandem, the Kilroy sit-in and the massive Big Rig. Each has debuted a slew of refined fishing features. Gregory says the best of them are coming to the Coosa HD. For example, Big Rig style rod tip protectors.
"What boat needs them more than a river boat?" Gregory asks rhetorically. "It was critical to bring that feature over."
Keep in mind the Coosa HD is still in prototype. Features are subject to change. Now let’s dive into the details.
The HD is getting molded-in YakAttack accessory tracks too. A pair flanks the tankwell; two more are up front on the gunwales. A fifth length will likely perch on the new Coosa Console.
"I'm really excited about that," Gregory said of the new console. "The beauty of it is you can take the whole thing off if you want, leaving more flat deck area for standing," he said. In use, it provides an ideal place for a fishfinder – the battery and wiring are protected within the console, and the display itself benefits from a sleek, "in-dash" mounting style. A transducer compatible scupper will be located nearby. "It's really pretty," Gregory said.
Coosa fans will note the new look bow hatch. The bungee nest is gone. There might be some, but it will be limited to help keep lures from snagging. "The idea is to keep the nose as clean as possible," Gregory said. There's new deck padding, and the footwell ridges are no more, replaced by new footpegs that offer improved ergonomics.
Gregory told me to take a closer look at the stern of the Coosa HD. There are two mounts way in the back, aft of the tankwell. They are RAM receptacles, but they aren't for rod holders. This is Gregory we're talking about, a man famous for his GoPro videos.
Those are mounts for a new camera pole designed by kayak rigging wizard Luther Cifers of YakAttack. Gregory is using a prototype now. He said it provides an unprecedented degree of adjustability, and can be used in a flushmount or elsewhere around the boat. Coosa HD owners will be set for shooting video right from the 'yak store.
There's more, including a reconfigured drag chain / anchor recess, a Splizzors fishing multi-tool from Buck Knives, a new lumbar support from Therm-a-Rest, and improved rod staging. Final details have yet to be determined. What's sure is this is boundary-breaking Coosa thoroughly modernized.