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Profish Reload Review - Alan Howell
4:11PM 19th Jun 20

Viking Kayaks Profish Reload Review by Alan Howell from North Carolina USA

To get straight to the point, the Viking Profish Reload is simply the finest inshore/offshore fishing kayak available. Ask anyone who owns one. There isn't even a close second when you do the math. More importantly, its also an amazingly safe offshore fishing kayak. I don't make either of these statements lightly. I've been paddling for almost four decades and have researched and tried well over a dozen fishing kayaks in different brands and hull designs over the years. Of course, no single kayak is going to fit all fishing scenarios. But for what I do, mainly inshore/offshore saltwater, and large freshwater lake fishing, the Reload comes the closest. (I do have a shorter kayak for small trout river fishing).

First Impressions:

When I first saw the Reload, my initial impression was that the designers didn't take the traditional profit-driven marketing approach. They didn't hold back certain features for future versions...they just went ahead and delivered the full set of premium features right off the bat, and I respect that greatly. After paddling the Reload for several months and many different locations, it has only reinforced that view. It's simply unmatched, even in yaks twice the price. And no, I'm not paid to say these things. This is a completely honest review, and I paid full retail price for my 2019 Profish Reload.

I won't dive into the nerdy hydrodynamic physics here, but the hull design is pure poetry. It has exceptional glide, speed, stability, very little hull slap. Somehow it does all this while being extremely resistant to windcocking. (I can't imagine the design and field testing time this must have taken to achieve this). I can paddle against strong currents plus 15-20 knot winds and still make headway. That is a huge safety benefit when you're offshore and an unexpected storm pops up. The Reload has an exceptional weight ratio at 68lbs. which is amazingly light, especially for an almost 15' kayak. In fact, it's lighter than most 12' kayaks, which is a real back and shoulder saver. This also makes it far, far safer in rough conditions.

The buoyancy (weight/displacement/hull volume) is a key factor in handling rough waves, and particularly those unseen compound lateral waves that can take you by surprise. A heavy kayak drafts much deeper and doesn't respond as fast to the wave and can catch an edge and flip whereas this boat just rolls right over it. The stability is astounding and almost seems like a bit of voodoo for a boat this long and sleek. It's just a huge relief to not have to constantly worry about stability when you're fishing.

I can't say enough about the layout and quality of the features. The aesthetic design, hatches, seals, seating position, TacklePod, tankwell storage, rod holder placement, rudder design, accessory mounts, and the adaptability of the accessory pods are simply superb. There just isn't any other offshore fishing kayaks that can match this combo of safety and performance plus off-the-shelf fishing ready features.  

The TacklePod is revolutionary

The TacklePod is revolutionary in my opinion, and hence the 'Reload' name. You simply pull a single pin and lift it out at the end of the day and all your electronics, tackle, etc. comes inside with you to reload for the next day. Now I don't have to keep walking back outside to my kayak when I forget something I want to bring with me the next day and don't have to worry about someone stealing my electronics. I honestly can't imagine NOT using this type of system on a fishing kayak after using this design. It's totally spoiled me. Mounting my electronics on top and lithium battery pack inside the pod was a breeze. I can even fit a telescoping backup paddle inside the pod with ALL my fishing tackle, raingear, drift chute, water bottles/thermos, food, etc. for an extended trip. (This also makes it perfect for when I do wildlife photography from the kayak). It's reasonably watertight and has an enclosed port for your fishfinder transducer that goes all the way through to the open port in the hull. This thing even has a beautiful wood cutting board for cutting bait mounted on top and tie-down bungees that securely holds your soft plastic liquid scent containers and a hand towel...a really useful and aesthetic touch. I get to see all my paddling/fishing friends turn green with envy when I show them this pod system lol.

The optional ChillPod and KidPod flat deck make this like having three kayaks in one. Are you a fly fisherman, have kids, or throw a lot of cast nets? Drop in the flat deck (KidPod) and no worries. I had been using a large cooler in the tankwell for keeping my catch cold but the insulatedChillPod is a far better option. It's custom made for the tankwell area, locks in place, lowers your center of gravity, doesn't catch the wind, and is very easy to access. You can even remove the ChillPod from the tankwell when you get to the reef and use it for a tow-behind diving cooler if you're spearfishing or snorkeling. It just doesn't get any better than that. As I said, this yak is unmatched.  

The hatches stay bone dry including the large front hatch. (A very serious safety feature in an offshore kayak). Most paddlers will tell you the ultimate hatch seal test is to flip your kayak in the water, climb on top and lay on the hull and wait for awhile, then flip it back over and look inside. My test is far more demanding...car topping the kayak in a hard rainstorm for hours at full highway speeds. It's the ultimate test of dry hatches IMHO, utilizing far higher water and wind pressures. I've never once seen more than a few drops inside the hull after either test. The placement of the front, back, and seating area hatches are perfect. Zero issues or complaints with them. More than enough dry storage for any outing and I don't have to worry about my expensive professional camera gear getting wet inside the hatch.   

For me, the paddling stroke in this kayak is completely uninhibited and fluid. You're not slamming your fingers or knuckles into the gunwales as you do in a wider boat. You don't need a long heavy paddle, and you don't have to adjust your aft stroke to clear the side of the boat. All this equals far less fatigue at the end of the day.

 

One of the main reasons I bought this boat was the bow design. It's sharply pointed with a decent amount of rocker. It punches through a wave with ease which is a huge plus on a surf launch. It sheds well, and tracks perfectly. It's aerodynamic when car topping or on a trailer. It's also just plain beautiful to look at when you know what you're seeing. 

The seating position provides some rise and support under your knees, and your butt is lower to keep your center of gravity nice and low. It's the only kayak I've been able to sit in all day without killing my back, and that's no exaggeration, and I have pretty significant back issues. I've heard some very experienced paddlers say they don't need an added seat with this design, but I use mine because I'm just used to using one. I admit it's totally changed the way I think about seating position for the better.

The rod holder placement and angles are exactly right for how I fish...lots of trolling and jigging. Two upfront holders on the gunwales and four immediately behind the seat, plus Railblaza Starport HD mounts. I didn't have to modify or spend additional money to add more mounts or holders to make it more fishable. Everything is already there ready to go. There is no doubt the person who designed this boat was a serious fisherman. First-class, well thought out engineering all the way around and the fit and finish are superb.

The rudder design is genius. It lifts up if you accidentally go over a shallow log or weeds and yet is still deep enough to carve nice turns. The real beauty of the design is that a haul up system (or rudder removal) is not needed whatsoever, even for cartopping. I've been paddling this yak consistently for months now and I have not had to do a single adjustment. There is a tiny bit of flex creaking sound in the foot pedals but that describes virtually every yak rudder foot pedal out there. (I try to keep my boat as silent and stealthy as possible to keep from spooking fish so I notice things like this but most people probably wouldn't give it a second thought).

That's the Pros now for the Cons...

If I had to give any con to owning this boat, I'd really have to try to think of one. I guess my only answer would be that it doesn't turn on a dime if you're only using the rudder. But of course, no 14' kayak will. All you have to do is alternate forward and back strokes and you can literally turn on a dime anyway, like any other kayak, so really its a non-issue. The boat does everything I need it to and it looks damn good.

 

I know quite a bit about boat hull design and I honestly can't think of any major changes I would make to this yak. (Or even the accessories). It gives you everything you need for a successful and safe fishing trip. The chines and lines are exactly what this boat needs to make it a joy to paddle. Even the highly contrasting color schemes are perfect for making sure you don't get run over by offshore party boats and that wreckless jetskier.  And oh yeah...it has a 30 year 'back to bow' warranty. I couldn't be happier with my purchase.

 Alan Howell from North Carolina USA 

 

 

WATCH THE FULL PROFISH RELOAD VIDEO REVIEW