Tested July 2012
The original 135 is a time-tested survivor from the earliest days of the kayak fishing movement. It has the ability to carry a big angler and all his gear, up to 550 pounds. But there's been a big change recently, and it's a key one: Thanks to a hull redesign, it no longer paddles like a barge. The new design also embraces the standup paddling boom. The deck is wide and flat, perfect for sight-casting. The seat also detaches, opening up even more room for standing if you need. You can also position the seat in the center of the boat for maximum maneuverability, or scoot it to the stern for improved trim when charging the surf. The rigid "Orbix" hatches open (one-handed) in a snap. And Wildy's revolutionary "SlideTrax" accessory system is better than ever. No tools or drilling required--accessories mount right on the gunwale. The basic model we tested didn't come with rod holders, much to our preference of one tester, who said, "That's fine, I'd rather install them right where I want them." Otherwise, pony up for the Angler edition, which comes with two, plus a SlideTrax mounting plate. The only puzzler: Our test boat came with just a single paddle keeper, leaving us wondering where to stash a drift pole.
Wilderness Systems Ride 135
A spirited revival
($949; $1,069 Angler; $1,169 Angler with rudder in roto-molded plastic, wildernesssystems.com)
L: 13'6"; W: 31.5"; 85 lbs., 550-lb. capacity