Kayak Fisherman Ireland

Wilderness Systems Thresher 155 – Fishing Machine

Anchor trolley on the Thresher 155We took a look at the features of the Thresher 155 in the ‘Walkthrough’ of the boat. Here, I would like to take a look at the boats dimensions, handling and suitability as a fishing kayak. I received a Thresher 155 in the ‘flint’ colour option and it arrived to me in its purest form prior to modification. For my angling needs I have made just some basic modifications but there will be more to follow. To get me started I added an anchor trolley, echo sounder and flush mount rod holders.


Weight and Dimensions

Side by side, the Tarpon 140 and the Thresher 155There is no hiding the fact that the Thresher 155 is a big boat. Very big. Side by side it dwarfs a Tarpon 140. The Thresher is 15.5ft/4.72 metres long and spans 30 inches/76 centimetres at its widest part. The factory fitted rudder included with my kayak adds another few inches to the length. What do you get for a boat this size? A lot of speed, stability and weight capacity (450lbs/205kgs). The Thresher 155 comes in at 80lbs/36kgs in weight according to Wilderness Systems’ website but I do think that this figure is an over estimation. Off the water the Thresher is big and heavy but having said that I can car top it on my own in a moderate breeze. Maybe I am stronger than I think I am but I have a feeling that the stated weight is a bit of an over estimation!

Car topping is not a major issue with this boat, especially if you have help. The rigid carry handles make excellent lashing points for transportation, especially for longer journeys. I regularly travel from the west coast of Ireland to the east and the peace of mind offered by the rigid handles as tie down points is very reassuring.

Handling on the Water

Getting the Thresher 155 onto the water reveals a different side to this boat. Granted, the weight of the boat means that it will take a couple of paddle strokes to get it going but once moving the Thresher 155 glides across flat water almost effortlessly. Even without the rudder the kayak tracks excellently on calm water with no wind. Covering distance in flat conditions is no problem at all and this kayak should eat up the miles when travelling to marks that are further out.

The Thresher 155 paddles well and tracks straight

Throw a bit of wind into the equation and the Thresher adapts. Unlike the Tarpons that like to cut through waves, the bow of the Thresher 155 rides up and over the breakers, taking in far less water that the Tarpons. There is still some water ingress and spray to the cockpit but this is to be expected when paddling into 3ft/1 metre waves against an onshore wind. The well designed cockpit and scuppers ensure fast and reliable egress of any water that makes it into the cockpit.

The Thresher 155 paddles well and will allow the angler cover lots of waterLaunching through breakers is no problem to the Thresher 155 and either is traversing swells once you get beyond the breakers. The kayak seems to want to ride over the top of them and allow the paddler to ride down into the trough before rising to the next oncoming swell. Paddling parallel, perpendicular and diagonal to the swell provided no problems or issues for this boat at any stage. Testing conditions for the rougher water paddles were carried out during onshore winds of 24 knots.

One consideration of big game saltwater kayak anglers is how stable the kayak is. This is certainly a consideration of my own given my tendency to chase species of sharks form the kayak. The Thresher 155 will put to rest any doubts that anglers may have over stability. The kayak is incredibly stable, allowing me to stand on flatter water. Sitting side on in quite a roll and swell was never something that even remotely worried me. At all times I felt perfectly safe sitting and fishing facing side on with this kayak. There is more than enough stability to push yourself forward to access the large front hatch too. You would really want to try hard to capsize this kayak.

Sitting side on is very safe on the Thresher 155One thing I do have to mention about this kayak is that it has stability and speed in spades. What it does not have is maneuverability but being a boat that is nearly 16ft/5 metres long this should be fairly obvious to most people looking at it. This is a boat for getting across swells and eating up miles to get to fishing marks to target bigger game, not for picking your way through flooded forests or small rivers. Keep this in mind and the Thresher 155 is an excellent craft designed for exactly that.

The rudder system introduced on this kayak is a dream to use. The new system with the ‘car pedal’ style foot braces are very responsive and it is a joy to keep both legs at a constant length when using it. Very comfortable, intuitive and I imagine that there will be many manufacturers trying to replicate this system over the coming years.

The new rudder system keeps you tracking straight as an arrow



The big question though is how will the Thresher 155 stand up as a fishing craft? Very well if the preliminary trips out are anything to go by. Fishing has been slow as can be the case at this time of year but that’s no reason not to get out and have a look at how the kayak has been set up for fishing. The answer, as it happens, is ‘very well’.

the rubber fastener for the front hatchStarting at the top, the rigid carry handle does not present the opportunity to foul hooks that other styles of carry handles can. The rigid handle stays clear of the bow and clear of fishing lines. The large storage hatch at the front is cavernous and capable of storing a lot of gear from packed trolleys to packed lunches and most things in between. Fill it with ice and use it as a cooler for your catch! The stability of the kayak allows access to the front hatch when on the water. The fasteners on the front hatch are large and well thought out, facilitating easy use even when fingers and cold and numb.

The FlexPod OS with my Lowrance echo sounder fittedThe FlexPod OS is another fantastic addition and I have modified mine to take my Lowrance echo sounder on RAM mounts so I have full tilt and pan options with the screen. The unit fits snugly into it’s recess and when buckled in place will stay there. Removing the entire unit after use is simple and saves having to break down wiring circuits every time I need to load/unload the kayak from the car as well as the security issues involved with leaving the electronics in situ. A big ‘thumbs up’ for this particular feature.

The rectangular storage hatch is also an introduction for the Thresher series and an excellent one at that. This hatch allows the angler to carry extra rods or provides somewhere secure to stash fishing rods for a rough launch or landing. Accessing them from the water is simple and the rod pod easily took both rods that I attempted to store – a 5ft/1.5 metre set up that I use for jigging and light static bait fishing alongside a 7ft/2.1 metre spinning rod for lure fishing. Both rods were easily stored and removed from the hatch that is well sealed and easy to use.

The rectangular hatch makes a great place for rod storageWhen closed the lid of the rectangular hatch is also very useful to anglers. The flat bungeed surface is great for holding a couple of tools like unhooking pliers, a knife and a T-bar disgorger. I also have an idea to mount a section of chopping board onto the lid of this hatch to provide an area for cutting and preparing bait without marking the kayak. The lid of this hatch also features a short length of GearTrax for adding small items like a rod holder, GPS or whatever you decide for yourself. The rectangular hatch is very much a ‘hit’ for me.

Looking at features found in the rest of the cockpit reveals some interesting concepts and developments, some improvements on previous Wilderness Systems models, some are entirely new ideas for this series of angling kayaks. The GearTrax that flanks the cockpit is not a new idea but it provides ample mounting options for those that don’t like drilling.The small rubber mesh pockets that were present on the Tarpons are still here but they have been cleverly notched to prevent water pooling.

Fishing from the Thresher 155Small depressions either side of the rear of the rectangular hatch have been added with the sole function of providing somewhere to rest the butt of a fishing rod. There are corresponding grooves cut into the front hatch which act as a continuation of this idea and I have to say that I really like them. It’s a very simple idea but one that stops rods rolling or slipping when baiting up or unhooking a fish. They also make excellent places to rest rods when fishing static baits at anchor when using a longer rod (6ft/1.8 metres plus). There is a generous space under the seat in the cockpit which will also take a small Plano box or two.

The Thresher 155 with a string of small pollock on boardThe rigging spaces available for flush mount rod holders is generous and will fit at least four flush mounts, possibly six. The options that are provided by the sheer number of rod holders means that anglers will be able to carry an extra set up or two, on the off chance that there may be something unusual about that can now be fished for with the ability to carry more appropriate gear. Who hasn’t been out on the water to think “If only I had that rod with me”?

Finishing with the tankwell we once again have ample space for the angler that likes to carry boxes, crates or whatever. I am looking forward to some of the items that are in the pipeline from Wilderness Systems, particularly the livewell that has been developed to fit snugly inside. The tankwell offers a host of storage with many options for securing a load through bungees and webbing straps. As with the cockpit, the tankwell is sensibly flanked by GearTrax for extra rigging of accessories.


Final Verdict

The Thresher 155 has been designed by Wilderness Systems as their first step into a big water boat specifically aimed at saltwater guys and anglers that like to fish bigger rivers and lake systems. They have pulled off a feat in being able to take that first step right into a sprint. The Thresher 155 is an interesting craft. The weight takes a little bit of getting used to and it will not turn on a pin head but when these minor factors are taken into account, the Thresher 155 is a kayak that has a huge amount of relevant features to the angler, everything is well thought out and placed deliberately and with the utmost of care and attention to detail. The boat covers distance well, offers tremendous stability and can be relied on when the wind whips up a bit and the flat waters turn to rollers. The Wilderness Systems Thresher 155 – Fishing Machine!

The Wilderness Systems Thresher and other angling kayaks can be found in Ireland at the Canoe Centre.

Fishing from the Thresher 155

By Gary Robinson

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