Sometimes you feel like a paddle; sometimes you don't. The new modular Predator XL kayak from Old Town keeps you happy in either case. With the help of a drop-in electric motor module, you can leave the paddle onshore and navigate the water with 45 lb (20.4 kg) of thrust and a foot-controlled rudder system.
The new flagship of Old Town's fishing-specific Predator family, the Predator XL separates itself from the pack with its Minn Kota electric motor module. The fully enclosed unit drops right into the kayak, just forward of the seating position, delivering salt-water grade trolling power with forward and reverse modes. The foot-operated rudder system completes the hands-free drive package, providing steering for both forward and reverse. Old Town claims that the unit's digital management system allows for full-day motoring.
The Minn Kota console includes a speed dial, battery indicator, USB charging port, and sonar mounting and storage hardware. Old Town's Quick-Kick Stand allows for quick drop-in capabilities and one-handed lifting to get the motor out of the way in shallow, debris-filled water.
"With the Predator XL we wanted to bridge the gap between fishing kayaks and bass boats and shallow water skiffs, " explains David Hadden, brand director for Johnson Outdoors Watercraft. "The game changer is the combination of the Minn Kota motor and foot controlled rudder system, which allows you truly hands free fishing. Now you can work your local shoreline like a tournament BASS angler, moving and casting at every dock, stump or overhanging limb without taking your hands off the rod to reposition your boat."
The modular construction of the Predator XL also works with other plug-and-play modules, providing options for those that might not need motor power. The Utility Console is a sonar management module with a sonar mount and battery/cable storage. The Exo-Ridge Console seals slides in to create a flat, seamless Exo-Ridge grip deck.
In addition to its new modular capabilities, the Predator XL packs the features of its Predator predecessors. These include the multi-position, angler-specific Element seating system; mounting plates for rod holders, GPS, etc.; fishing rod and paddle storage hardware; dual tackle storage; and a stand-up assist strap.
Old Town introduced the Predator XL at July's ICAST Show, where it won "Best in Show." The company will get the craft into customer hands beginning in November.
The motorized Predator XL with Minn Kota module, battery box and rudder system will retail for US$2, 699. The boat does not include the battery itself, and Old Town recommends using a deep-cycle marine battery. The base model will cost $1, 599, and each module will be available on its own – $999 for the Minn Kota motor module, $199 for the sonar-ready Utility Console and $99 for the Exo-Ridge Console. The boat measures 13 ft 2 in (4 m) and weighs 92 lb (41.7 kg) without the consoles. The motor console adds 25.5 lb (11.6 kg).