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Tarpon 140 vs. 120 vs. Emotion Fisherman

Please pardon what may be a fairly lengthy note.

Since last July I've been paddling around in a dark green Tarpon 120. My first few trips included fishing my local "pond" (I grew up on Lake Erie, so "Lake Ida" is not much of a lake to me). I paddled around my apartment complex pond. I played around in the ocean (practicing wet entries). Eventually I fished Key Largo with a Tarpon 160 and a Scupper Pro TW - very fast boats in their own right.

All told, I've been quite pleased with my Tarpon 120. I've caught tarpon, jacks, reds, snook, ladyfish, bass, and a few sharks. I've rigged out the boat to suit my needs - fairly minimal but with an anchor trolley, rod holders, a nice crate system, more deck rigging for paddle parking, and so on. I removed the seat and added my own, put a cheap plastic drawer handle on the rear hatch to overcome a problem with the threading.

Then, the Tarpon 140 was introduced. I put off wanting to get one by telling myself that it would be "too big" for my apartment. After all, my ceiling is only 14' tall in the corner. It'd barely fit! Then, for reasons that I can't share just yet, I picked up a yellow Tarpon 140 (someone else is getting the T120, though I'll have use of it any time I want). Yellow and black - the colors of my beloved Pittsburgh sports teams. I already owned a yellow/black PFD and yellow/black radios, a black milk crate, and yellow/black binoculars.

I waited a week and a half or so before doing the initial rigging. I wanted to be sure to get it right, and to have the time off of work to do so! I fished in my Tarpon 120 in a howling wind against a very fast Scupper Pro and said "dammit, I'm taking the 140 out tomorrow." I rigged into the late evening and got up early to take the T140 out at Lake Worth Lagoon (quick report: there are no longer any fish except mullet in all of Florida, I swear).

There, I met up with Mike, proud owner of an Emotion "Fisherman" (also in yellow). He showed off the in-kayak storage before loading it onto my car and away we went. During an afternoon break, I test paddled the Fisherman, and some of my thoughts are below.

Let me state up front that I believe that the Fisherman is a great boat for Mike. He likes his boat quite a bit, and that's all that really matters in the end: someone who buys "the right boat" but doesn't like it won't fish out of it more than someone who loves their "wrong" boat. What follows is my opinion. The Fisherman got a lot of bad press from some people when it was released.

Executive summary: My T140 is a fine fishing machine, the T120 is as well, and so is the Fisherman. I'd take them in the order I just listed.

First, the T140 and the T120. Obviously, the tankwell is bigger. A pre-bungeed deck makes parking your paddle easy (though I re-rigged mine with some additional inchworms). The flat seat is comfortable, and the flat footwell is supposedly for standing - something I'll never do in my kayak.

Maneuverability is always an issue in a larger boat - and it suffers a little bit on the T140. Just a little - proper paddling can more than make up for a lack of maneuverability with the proper strokes, braces, etc. I can still turn the T140 completely around with two big strokes. Stability is roughly the same as best as i can determine. The hull is more of a V, but it's also further forward. In other words, when I scooted forward, legs overboard, to get into my front hatch I felt just as stable in the T140 as I do in my T120.

If you're interested in rigging, they're roughly the same boat. However, two nice advantages present themselves in the T140. First, the rubber hatches are a godsend. The one behind my seat is no longer "a tremendous pain" to use, and the one on my seat is going to be used for something - I'm just not sure what. The flat footwell is also begging to be used - perhaps for a "quick" rod holder when you're rigging up a new lure or something.

The final issue? Speed. My GPS tracks my speed down to the point where I'll see a 0.2 MPH drop when I finish one stroke but have yet to begin the next. I could paddle comfortably at 3 MPH in my Tarpon 120. Heading into a wind I'd get anywhere between there, and paddling as fast as I could (i.e. for about ten strokes) I'd top out at about 5 MPH. The T140 did 3.5 MPH into a reasonable wind today with only a teeny bit more than "comfortable" expenditure of energy. In calm waters (I tested this on my apartment complex pond just now), I paddle at about 4 MPH with the same comfort at which my T120 hit 3 MPH. My top speed in the T140 is around 6.5 MPH. That's a 25 and 30% improvement over the T120! I can't imagine how fast the T160 might be!

All told, the T140 is a winner! With the addition of a rudder (April 3), this boat will be tough to beat (for me). I'm quite pleased.

Now, on to the Fisherman. First: storage everywhere. Mike had his rods, his poles, a change of clothes, drybags, a dead body or two (joking), and a bit of "kitchen drainage" stored in his kayak, all of which greatly minimized the amount of gear we needed to fit into my car. The hatches are easy to get to and lock with large, easy-to-use twisty handles. With ample space for RAM balls behind the seat, the Fisherman has a few places to store a rod or five. Unfortunately, it does lack the "center console" of the Tarpon series necessitating the storage of all rods behind the angler.

The Fisherman, I remarked to Mike, feels like an overgrown surfboard. While my T140 footwell area is about six inches deep, the Fisherman is about two. This results in a very high, dry ride (and lots of storage room), but I couldn't get over the "surfboard" feeling. At the same time, though the Fisherman is 1" thinner than the T140 (28" to 29"), it feels wider. For these reasons, I feel as though I'm sitting "in" my Tarpons a lot more so than the Fisherman - which truly feels like a "sit on top."

Speed? Maneuverability? These are the Fisherman's weak spot. People have called it a barge, and what it gains in stability, storage, and fishability it pays for in speed. The Fisherman pushed a solid audible wake while my T140 sliced through the early-morning calm waters with much more ease. Though the two are the same length, the Fisherman is more difficult to turn than my T140, perhaps because it doesn't feel as though you can push off the sides of the Fisherman (what sides?) as much as in the T140.

All told, again, I'd rank the boats (for me) as T140, T120, Fisherman. Mike was very impressed with the "glide" of the T140. I'll add any comments he has about his Fisherman when I get the chance to ask him.

5 Responses to "Tarpon 140 vs. 120 vs. Emotion Fisherman"

  1. Thanks for the review - I'm thinking about getting 2 140s (girlfriend). Glad you like it!

  2. Hey, did you ever end up adding an anchor to your Tarpon 140? And if so, any advice on installation. please email me at caffrey@globe.com

  3. nice review. i am struggling with choosing a kayak. i am only 5' 6" and 140 lbs. if you were my size, would you choose the 120 or 140? i would say that 70% of my paddling will be freshwater and saltwater with minimal current/winds, 15% stronger winds/current and the last 15% surf).

    thanks.

  4. Thanks Erik!

    Bought my t140 yesterday and just starting rigging it!
    Great review! I was going to buy ride 135, but i made last minute change cause I thought that tarpon 140 would be lot faster. I tested it and loved it!

    Have a great summer. Ice is starting to melt in Finland too, so few weeks and I'm fishing again.Only this summer I'll be kayakfishing!
    Haven't seen anyone else doing that in Finland yet!

    Antti

  5. I have a Tarpon 120, Tarpon 140 and a Ride 135. I do mostly river fishing, many times on swift moving rivers with alot of rocks. The 120 is what I consider the best boat for this type paddling / fishing, because the extra length in the 140 makes a huge difference when trying to maneuver. On flat water rivers or even rivers with non-obstacle structure and rocks, the 140 would be my pick. The Ride 135 is probably my least fave, yet has tremendous stability. It is a VERY wide boat and on flat water I often stand and fish. The extra width does seem to impair speed.

    Nice review above!


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