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Watercraft Review

Is the Native Watercraft "Ultimate 12" Fishing Kayak as Good as the Name it Bears? (continued)


Real World Tests: Testing of the Ultimate 12 took place along many of Southwest Florida's rivers, estuaries, backcountry waters and beaches.  I put this kayak through it's paces having paddled it in various types of conditions from flat calm waters to chop and current in the Gulf.

The Groove Track system allows you to effortlessly mount accessories like rod holders.

Hull: The tunnel hull offers solid stability and maneuverability. This is the easiest, most stable kayak I've ever stood in.  However, if you try to ride up over a submerged structure like a rock or fallen tree and then slide off to the side, you can find yourself momentarily stuck in the Ultimate, as the structure tends to end up between the pontoons. The Ultimate is far more maneuverable than most solo canoes, but due to the lower sides takes on a bit more water in moderate chop.  The lack of scuppers does present a minimal nuisance where heavy rain or chop might be a factor. A bilge pump or large cup for bailing water is recommended.

The Ultimate 12 provides an incredibly stable ride whether you're sitting or standing and is extremely difficult to flip over.

Stability: The Ultimate 12 is a fishing boat like no other and was made to stand in. If you're new to the concept of standing in a kayak to fish it may feel a little wobbly at first. In time and with a little practice, you'll soon get over the initial awkwardness of standing. Unsteadiness is caused by having a wide stance. Due to the pontoon hull shape, you must maintain this fairly wide stance while standing, thereby making the boat shimmy occasionally. I intentionally rocked the kayak fairly violently while standing, and even stood for a while with both feet inside the same pontoon to see if it would capsize and it never did. Going from a sitting to standing position was as simple as getting out of a chair.

Not much has changed in the overall construction of this boat since it came out on the market in 2008. The tunnel hull gives the Ultimate superb stability so you can stand and maneuver the boat effortlessly and without sacrificing speed. The concave wells inside the boat that the tunnel hull design provides allows your feet to ride lower than your torso so you can sit or stand for longer periods with less fatigue.

The hull looks like two pontoons with a channel down the center, which offers extremely good stability and tracking.

Price and Applications: The Ultimate 12 is the perfect choice for the paddler that's looking for an affordably priced kayak that offers many high quality features you'd expect to find with more expensive models on the market.  It's well suited to river and back bay exploration as well as venturing out in the ocean in a light chop. Priced at $799-$1049, the Ultimate is a great value without sacrificing quality.  It comprises all the key features and accessories kayak anglers search for when looking for that perfect kayak. It's no wonder this model is a best seller among kayakers across the country with it's exceptional attention to design and comfort. 

This kayak is a good choice for both conventional and fly applications

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The roto-molded plastic is extremely light and has a very slick clean finish much like fiberglass. The only downside is that the boat does tend to scratch easily especially if you drag it over structure. Stainless steel hardware and straps are excellent quality and hold up to the elements well.  8
Performance The tunnel hull gives the Ultimate superb stability so you can stand and maneuver the boat effortlessly without sacrificing speed. You can sit or stand for longer periods with less fatigue. It does tend to get turned around fairly easily in a stiff wind and/or current. The rudder kit for $299 is recommended so it will track straight under these conditions. 8
Price For $799-$1049, depending on configuration, this is an exceptional value 9
Features Great features for the money.  Native continues to raise the bar on offering standard features like First Class Seating, full size foot braces, integrated arm rests, and Adapt a Track System without compromising price. 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) The tunnel hull design provides an incredibly stable ride whether you're sitting or standing and is extremely difficult to flip over. Submerged structures can present a problem and tend to end up between the pontoons.  The roto-molded plastic is extremely light and can scratch easily especially if you drag it over rocks or oyster bars. This is one of the lightest kayaks on the market which makes it easy for the solo paddler to carry. 8
Application The Ultimate is a great all-around kayak for a variety of applications. From rivers and backbays to open water flats, this kayak handles well in light to moderate chop and current. 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Stable hull - Makes it a little slower
+ Light for carrying - The plastic doesn't feel as thick as some boats
+ Roomy  
+ Easy to paddle  
+ Affordably priced  


The Ultimate 12 is fun to paddle as well as fish from! 


Conclusion: I can't think of a more perfect boat. It's the #1 seller for Native and there's lots of reasons why.  The stability and comfort are tough to beat and I love everything about the seat. The major selling point of the Ultimate is the seat since a happy kayaker is one that can comfortably stand or sit and fish for extended periods without any discomfort. This model is especially popular with fly fishermen since there's a ton of clear, snagless floor space between the front edge of the seat and the foot braces which is nice to have when you need to make longer casts. The ability to remove the seat gives the fly angler even more room to stand and spread line out onto the platform. The possibilities are endless when it comes to fully customizing the Ultimate making it the perfect choice for the kayak angler that's into gadgets and accessories.The Ultimate 12 retails for around $800 and is available at most major kayak dealers throughout the country.









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