Words and photos by Chris Funk
I am not one of the lucky rascals who get to go to the monster outdoor gear shows and lust over all of the new goodies that are coming to the market. I have to sit and wonder and dream just like the rest of the populace. One product announced at Outdoor Retailer that had my attention was the new Jackson Kayak Coosa HD. I was looking forward to our first meeting. Thankfully this past weekend found me near the Jackson factory and surrounded with new plastic.
There were lots of choices to paddle but the one I had my heart set on was the HD. For those that have never been around a prototype boat, a little grace is in order. The plastic is super thick and rough and the decals are usually not very pretty. The molds are not in a finish quality because things are in a constant state of change working toward the finished product. This Coosa was rough, but under that I could see (and paddle) the diamond.
The first thing I noticed was the lower profile and with the wind whipping through the canyon it proved itself a vast improvement in wind performance over the standard Coosa. The bow has a much sharper entry and with the seat trimmed forward it tracked nice and straight with a bit more wiggle than a Cuda but not even close to the original Coosa. Putting the seat in the aft position returns the craft to the much more familiar paddling characteristic of the older model.
The floor of the HD is nice and flat and there is a flip-up console right between the footpads for mounting electronics on. The console will be removable. As a fly fisherman that made my heart skip a beat. With the console removed the floor is flat and wide open. This opens up a perfect place to put a camera bag as well so I am claiming Jackson added this feature just for me.
The tankwell is nice and large with rails running down both sides of it and a bar across the front. The bar will take a little bit of getting used to but I understand it will help trim some weight from the finished product. The covers were devoid of any hook-catching bungees and that will be nice but I heard talk of folks wanting to add at least one piece just for a paddle storage device. It will be Power Pole ready as well so for those with the Micro Anchor it will be an easy set up.
The Jackson Kayak Coosa HD paddled very nice, picked up speed well and was easy to keep at pace. The true test came when I stood up. The skinny, athletic guys popped up and sat down with no issue. I am neither skinny nor athletic and since the prototype did not have a stand assist strap I was not the most graceful in getting to the standing position. The HD is wonderfully forgiving. If I had stood in the original Coosa the same way I would probably been swimming. As a person that spent the last year in the Big Rig I can honestly tell you it is not Big Rig stable but it was pretty darn close.
I don't know if it helped to paddle the prototype or if that just increased my desire to get my hands on a finished product. I know the design team is ironing out the last details and it will not be long before they start rolling off the line. The stability, maneuverability and versatility will make the Coosa HD a solid addition to my fleet.
Jackson Kayak pro staffer Chris Funk is a proud self-proclaimed redneck outdoorsman. He swings a mean camera, particularly when any of his beloved critters are around. Funk is a Kayak Fish Magazine contributing editor.