The Thresher series of angling kayaks from Wilderness Systems heralds the arrival of the first purposely designed fishing kayak for saltwater anglers that are more inclined to find themselves thrust into more ‘challenging’ conditions that big game fishing at sea can provide. That said, it is far from a saltwater only boat with many options being offered by this boat to the freshwater big river and lake angler too. A boat that comes with a lot of the features that are to be expected from Wilderness Systems, it is also packed with a host of new, interesting and very innovative ideas that should come in very handy for a host of anglers.
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a factory fresh Thresher 155 and opted for it in the flint colour with an optional rudder fitted. First look that I got at it was when it was in its purest form and free from modification. What was instantly noticeable was the build quality of the boat. Heavy grade plastic has been used in its construction, the components used in any of the rigging are top quality and, as we have come to expect from Wilderness Systems, this looks like an angling kayak built to stand the test of time.
The first thing that struck me about the Thresher 155 is the length and sleekness that this boat displays through its width. I was very surprised with how narrow the kayak is, far more so than a lot of images online would suggest. The second thing that struck me, immediately after the first, was the sheer number of features that this boat is packing. It really is packed from bow to stern with some fantastic favourites from Wilderness Systems along with some really clever new additions. Let’s do a walk through of this boat from bow to stern to take a look at the features of this particular angling kayak.
Starting at the bow, the bulbous nose of the kayak is immediately noticeable. This is a departure from the more pointed bows that Wilderness Systems have been producing like those found on the Tarpon series. The pointed bow cut through waves when launching which resulted in a fair bit of water coming over the bow. This new rounded nose has been designed with breakers and swell in mind and hydrophysics should dictate that a bow of this shape should push the oncoming water to each side and allow the kayak to ride up over the wave rather than through it.
Right up at the top of the bow is a solid moulded handle. This looks like an improvement on the Ride series and really makes the kayak a lot easier to transport. Solid handles means less swing when carrying so less strain put on the arms. It also means that there is less chance of snagging fishing line or hooks during a retrieve as well as providing a secure point for leashing/strapping to your vehicle for transporting. The handle is well rounded and comfortable to hold.
Moving further back the bow of the kayak brings us into contact with one of the new features for this series of boats – the cavernous front storage hatch. This very large hatch is hinged towards the bow of the kayak to allow the user access when on the water. Taking a look at the hatch lid we can find another very clever addition to the Thresher series, the very secure and functional paddle keeper. The large strap that features the company logo makes a fantastic place to park a paddle when you need you hands free in a hurry. Placing and removing the paddle from this area is very easy but it still retains the paddle securely when not in use. A simple and very effective idea from the team at Wilderness Systems.
Staying with the bow hatch lid, there are a couple of other neat features that shouldn’t be overlooked. The small rubber fasteners that are used to keep the lid securely shut are designed in such a way as to pull towards the angler when in use. One thing that really strikes me about them is that although they are very easy to use they seem to hold the lid very securely. The tabs are of a size that will facilitate opening and closing even with numb fingers, a regular product of kayak fishing in Ireland. One the sides of the rubber fasteners towards the centre of the kayak are a couple of grooves. These have been added as resting places for the blanks of fishing rods, to prevent them rolling about when rebaiting or unhooking fish. A simple addition but a very clever one.
The next area we will take a look at is the storage space provided under the hatch lid. before looking at the storage space itself it would be worth mentioning the deep lip recess under the lid. This has been designed to carry any water that does make it over the bow back towards the cockpit where it can drain quickly and easily. Looking at the storage space itself and it is clear to see that this cavernous space will hold a lot of gear. It easily takes a C-Tug trolley with the wheels removed with plenty of space for more. The storage area features scupper holes and this would suggest that the recess is far from waterproof. Wilderness Systems have included a couple of scupper plugs to keep water coming in and although the recessed lip around the storage area will drain a lot of water away, this storage area is not completely waterproof. If you intend on keeping items inside that must remain dry then pop them into a drybag of some sort. The storage bay also features a flat surface which offers the option of mounting a round hatch for access to future rigging projects.
Moving on from the bow storage hatch brings us to the front end of the cockpit and another excellent new feature, the FlexPod OS. An improved feature from the Ride 115X, The FlexPod OS is a removable console that allows the user to mount and keep their fish finder screen, wiring, battery and transducer in one unit. The hinged console will hold the fish finder screen on its lid, the battery and wiring can be tidied away inside while the transducer is connected to the bottom. When the console is removed from the kayak we can find a large rectangular void in the hull of the boat which allows the transducer to sit in contact with the water. Easily opened clasps hold the console in place and a good carry handle allows the user to remove the unit with ease.
The advantage of using this system means that the angler does not have to mess with adhesives for through-hull shooting transducer setups, you get more accurate reads from your unit due to the transducer being in direct contact with the water, the entire unit is easily removed for transport, charging, security or storage, the design of the console and transducer recess means that there is minimal drag created by your unit. The recess for the transducer is of a generous size and should accommodate most models. Of course, this unit does not have to be used for electronics and would make an ideal storage space for spare lures and fishing tackle.
Moving further down the cockpit the next feature that we see is the rectangular centre hatch which features bungees and Slide Trax for mounting accessories. The lid of this hatch is hinged towards the bow to lift away from the angler and is secured using the same type of buckle that is seen on the FlexPod OS. Opening the hatch gives access to the hull and is an ideal place to store a couple of fishing rods for a rough launch/landing. A rectangular hatch such as this is a first from Wilderness Systems and a very welcome one, particularly to anglers that frequent ‘bigger water’. The pod can also be used to store spare rods to give the angler more options while afloat.
On either side of the rectangular hatch plenty more features can be observed. There is a small recess for resting the butt of a rod when changing lures or unhooking fish, only a small feature but very handy. Beside these depressions are a pocket which is covered by a rubber mesh, very handy areas for storing small items and a feature continued on from the Tarpon series. One really clever addition to the Thresher series was to add drainage notches to ensure that gear stays dry when stored within.
Also included are the Slide Trax system for mounting gear either side of the cockpit, a concept found on most Wilderness Systems kayaks and an excellent idea, especially to those who don’t like drilling holes in kayaks. Also included in this area are the new foot braces that Wilderness Systems have introduced with this kayak and will no doubt feature on future models. Called the Keepers XL Footbrace System. This new style of foot brace works like any conventional foot brace on the boats that do not feature rudders. With the optional rudder included they really come into their own and provide a totally new experience in rudder control, something I will develop further when I arrive at the rudder on the stern.
The last item to be found in the cockpit is the now famous Air Pro seating system. A firm favourite with all who have tried it, the Air Pro seating offers unparalleled comfort. A seat like this is the difference between sitting and fishing all day or starting to fidget a couple of hours into an excursion. As seen on the Tarpon series, the seat is adjustable in many different ways. The backrests height and tilt can be adjusted and the seat can be raised at the front to give better upper leg support. all adjustments are made with webbing straps and are intuitive to use. The seat is foam covered for support and drilled to facilitate drainage when needed.
Directly behind the seat we can find a few pad eyes and good flat areas for rigging. These flat areas should easily hold at least four flush mounted rod holders and the pad eyes offer multiple leashing points for rods. A smaller ‘traditional style’ paddle holder can be found at the side of the flat rigging areas. Just to the rear of the tankwell is another flat surface that is perfect for a round hatch to allow the angler access to any rigging hardware that may be installed in this area. As well as this obvious area, the kayak also features many other flat areas which are perfect for all manner of rigging projects and modifications that those who love drilling holes in kayaks will appreciate!
Just after the flat mounting spaces for flush mount rod holders or any other accessories that take your fancy, we can find the very generously sized rear tankwell. This tankwell will easily accommodate those anglers that like to take everything but the kitchen sink with them. As seen on the Tarpons and the Rides, there are multiple fixing points for bungees to keep your items on board and a couple of webbing straps will help with securing loads. Large crates and tackle boxes can be stored here and, if YouTube videos are any indication, it looks like Wilderness Systems will be releasing some accessories that will fit snugly inside (really looking forward to the live well).
The tankwell is flanked by Slide Trax for all your rigging needs. These are great for adding things like camera mounts for the over-the-shoulder shots. A sturdy handle, similar to that at the front of the kayak finishes the tankwell. Easy to find and use, the solid handles really are a great addition when it comes to transporting the boat. Just before the kayak’s rudder is another flat mounting surface which should facilitate the mounting ball for a Torqeedo motor.
Located at the very back of the boat are the rudder and bung. The bung is a bung and self explanatory. The rudder is fantastic! A newly designed blade and operating system have been incorporated into the Thresher’s design. This has resulted in a longer, curved blade that is connected to an ingenious steering system. On the old system when you wanted to use the rudder you extended one leg and bending the knee of the other. The new system operates exactly the same way as any car pedal does. You operate the kayak with your toes, pressing down in the same manner you would your car accelerator pedal. Paddling with a rudder just became a whole lot easier. Using the rudder with this system allows the leg to stay where is was for a more comfortable and efficient paddling experience. Another feature of the rudder is the adjustable tension that the paddler can apply to it. With three different settings the paddler the responsiveness and turning angle of the blade can be adjusted for different types of water and preferences.
Here ends the walkthrough, admittedly a little longer than I imagined it would be but that is solely down to the sheer amount of features that can be found on this boat. I have been paddling and fishing on this boat and I will bring you an assessment of its handling and how it fishes very soon.
The Wilderness Systems Thresher and other angling kayaks can be found in Ireland at the Canoe Centre.