The ‘Mojo’ from Emotion Kayaks was the first kayak that I used to sample the delights of kayak fishing. It was the first kayak that I fished from, taught myself how to self-rescue from, undertook my first rigging projects with and I have made some special captures of fish with it. Like my first car, I do have a soft spot for this kayak and hopefully that will not impair my ability to put together a fair and balanced review.
It was bought as a way to spend time on the water and in the stages of planning to purchase one I started looking at the viability of turning it into a fishing platform. I was very swiftly made aware that the ‘Mojo’ also had a sister in the ‘Mojo Angler’, a kayak made ready for kayak fishing. Basically this consisted of a standard boat with a couple of flush-mount rod holders and a centre console that sits between the angler’s legs in the cockpit area to store tackle in. I thought about getting this model but came to the conclusion that I would much prefer to buy a standard boat and make the modifications to it myself. The reasons for this were twofold; firstly, I liked the idea of doing the rigging projects myself. Secondly, I am taller than the average angler at over 6 feet/1.80 metres and I preferred the idea of being able to lay everything out to my own specifications and to suit my body size.
Starting off with the kayak’s specifications, if you refer to the company’s website you can see that the total kayak length amounts to 12 feet 5 inches/3.79 metres, and measures 32 inches/81 centimetres across its widest part. This width makes the craft quite stable, more stable than I had anticipated as captures of large tope have subsequently shown me. I would go so far as to say that the stability of this boat is excellent, the only time it has tipped was when done intentionally to practice safety drills. That said I never brought it out in any extremely rough conditions. The kayak’s length makes for a reasonable paddling speed but nothing superb. Paddling against the stronger tides that are a feature of some of the Irish coastline is a struggle at times but hindsight has made me realise that its performance is excellent for a twelve foot boat. Besides, this struggle is always beneficial from a fitness point of view! At the top of the boat, the bow is shaped to cut through the water and in areas that are free of tidal influences the kayak glides along relatively effortlessly. It tracks very nicely and seems to always do what you want it to, not what it wants to.
Moving from the bow onto the hatch, the model I use is from 2008 and features a large hatch closed in with a neoprene cover. On top of this goes a hard plastic cover, held in place with bungees. The seal was never watertight but the design is such that it lets only very minimal amounts of water through. The hatch is large enough to fit almost any item that a kayak angler may wish to go afloat with and the hull area that it gives access to is more than ample. Running the entire length of the boat, it is suitable to take a spare paddle, made up rods or just to be utilised for general storage.
Next up is the cockpit area which measures 55 inches by 22.5 inches/127 centimetres by 60 centimetres. This gives ample leg room for somebody of my height with plenty of space to spare. The foot braces in the cockpit are the sliding adjustable type which can be adjusted to fit most sizes of paddler. The small centre console features a recessed area for a water bottle and a small flat area to hold a mobile phone/VHF radio/GPS unit. The cockpit area also contains four scupper holes and moulded in gutters which quickly drain any water taken on board out of the way. The moulded seat is exactly that – a hard plastic moulded area that I use to hold a fabric seat that is clipped into place using the many pad eyes installed on the boat. While not technically inside the cockpit but rather just to each side of it are small paddle ‘shelves’ where your paddle can be rested and held in place with elastic bungee cord.
Moving back along the boat, we next come to the tankwell area. This area is large enough to accommodate most tackle or camping equipment that most outdoor enthusiasts would be likely to carry with them. The area directly behind the seat has a circular indentation moulded into it and this recess fits a large bait bucket perfectly. Any gear and equipment that need to be carried in the tankwell can be secured by the bungees present. Also present in the tankwell area are the scupper holes that ensure you gear remains drained if water does happen to come in on top of it. At the very back of the tankwell you can find the drain bung to empty out any water that ever finds its way into the hull.
The kayak itself weighs a total of 52lb/23.5 kilos so lifting it solo onto roof bars on the car or van is an easy task. In profile, the kayak is rather deep and this has advantages and disadvantages. First off, it elevates the angler so they are sitting that bit higher off the water than they would on most sit on top kayaks. For me, these extra couple of inches are of great benefit for spotting fish, such as trout rising. The down side of this is that the higher sides catch the wind and this makes the boat prone to weather cocking, especially in Ireland where days that are totally free of wind are rare to come by. It also results in drifts that can be too fast for good presentation of flies or lures when fishing. Other anglers have also commented that the high sides would make re-entry after a dunking very difficult but I have to say I never encountered any problems during the countless times I practiced it.
Any of the bungees, pad eyes, J hooks, toggles and handles that were factory fitted to the kayak are all of a very high standard and expertly installed. In over four years of rigorous use I have not had to replace a single item – testament to the craftsmanship when you take Irish conditions and my tendency to ‘use and abuse’ outdoor gear into account. I really like to put any gear that I use through solid, sometimes brutal testing to make sure that it will not fail me when I need it most. To transform the ‘Mojo’ into an angling craft I added a couple of flush mounted rod holders, an anchor trolley, an anchor line cleat, extra bungee in the cockpit area to secure tackle and a few RAM mounts for cameras, a Visi-Pole and an echo sounder.
My final word on the ‘Mojo’ from Emotion Kayaks is that they would make an ideal starter boat for anybody thinking of taking up kayak fishing. It handles well, is very stable and its design and construction are well thought out and executed. It handles heavy loads (up to 375lb/170 kilos) and was well able to support me, my fishing gear and some monstrous tope without showing any worrying signs of being close to tipping point. This kayak has seen some great fish and has given me some fantastic experiences. I would recommend it to anybody without hesitation. The only major issue I have with the boat is that it was never great at launching through surf and I never felt totally comfortable on it in rough seas or high winds. Wind strengths of up to ten knots were no problem, fifteen felt a little ‘dicey’ and twenty knot winds were a non starter. Harsh weather aside, this boat is an ideal starter boat that served me incredibly well.