With the arrival of Viking Kayaks to Canoe Shops Group stores, it is only fit for us to take a good close look at these kayaks and show you the reason why we have chosen to bring you these awesome fishing kayaks. The clever guys designing and producing Viking Kayaks over in New Zealand are mad keen kayak fisherman. They design their hulls to perform well in the open coastal waters around NZ and have equipped the kayaks with features so that you can make the most of your session on the water. Given that our waters are very similar to those on the opposite side of the world it comes as no surprise that the Viking Kayaks are very well suited for UK kayak fishing.
The ProFish Reload is an all-out saltwater fishing kayak, designed to take on rough inshore/offshore waters and is capable of going the distance to those further afield fishing marks. Whilst performing well in choppy waters and ocean swells, the ProFish Reload is also a joy to paddle on calm coastal and inland waters. Storage space is plentiful and with a good amount of stability, this fishing kayaks will suit a range of paddler sizes too (up to 18st comfortably and a bit more for an experienced paddler). At the heart of the design is the Viking Reload Tackle Pod - an innovative fish finder installation pod and tackle storage pod that can be completely removed from the hull during transport and storage, providing the ability to load up your gear at home, get to the water, load the pod into the hull and go! The 14ft 9in hull paddles efficiently and sits amongst the fastest fishing kayaks available. Lets take a closer look....
Fresh from New Zealand, a Viking ProFish Reload in the Black/White (Granite) colour option....
Hull Design and Construction
The Reload starts with a sharp entry flared bow, a tried and tested design which performs well in choppy waters typical of open coastline. The hull then tapers back to the start of the foot well and continues back to the widest point around the seating area and start of the tank well. This is typically where the majority of weight is placed on the hull with the paddler in the seat and gear in the tank-well. Having the wide point of the hull here provides plenty of initial stability. The hull then tapers back to the well-defined out-swept stern.
Looking from the side we can see the flared bow that will push the Reload up over choppy waves. The bow section itself also has plenty of volume, aiding the hull to push up and over waves and remain buoyant when punching through surf on beach launches. The bow is well pointed for cutting through the conditions. The keel line runs much the length of the kayak and sweeps out from the stern. This provides excellent straight line tracking with the well defined stern keel always engaged with the water. The waterline length exceeds 14ft providing plenty of speed, and the ProFish Reload sits right up there with the fastest 14ft and 15ft fishing kayaks such as the Ocean Kayak Trident 15 and the RTM Tempo & Rytmo. The highest point of the kayak sits at the front of the foot-well with the remainder of the hull back from the foot-well sitting lower. With not too much kayak presented to the wind, the Reload will handle better in side and cross winds.
The hull itself is tri-form in design. A large central bulge, with central keel line, runs the length of the kayak with flatter sections found towards the sides of the kayak. This central region will see the hull track well in a straight line. The flatter regions towards the edges provide lateral (side-to-side) stability on the water – great for moving about on the kayak without feeling like you’re going to fall in! The edges round off to the top deck and these soft edges/chines provide good secondary that helps the kayak perform well and remain stable in livelier waters.
Overall the Profish Reload has a great hull design that will see it handle more challenging inshore and offshore conditions.
The hull construction itself is tough and durable to take on the abuse likely to be experienced from kayak fishing! Viking manufacture these kayaks using virgin Linear Medium-Density Polyethylene (MDPE). This is the industry standard used by many main brand manufacturers for its excellent durability qualities. This grade of plastic is stronger and stiffer than lower grades of plastic (such as Linear Low Density Polyethylene LLDPE) used in the manufacture of cheap kayaks. UV stabilisers are mixed into the plastic to ensure the colours resist fading in sunlight. The fittings and fixtures are all quality too, either being Stainless Steel or Nylon, so suitable for both freshwater and saltwater use. These are quality kayaks and are built to stand up to the abuse of saltwater kayak fishing.
The bare hull weighs in at 31kg which is about right for a 14ft+ sit-on-top plastic kayak. If you have eaten your weetabix (other tasty and strength-inducing cereal available) in the morning then you can car-top the Reload from the side handles, but for many it’s much easier to slide the kayak up onto your roof rack from the rear of the vehicle, as is the case with many of the larger fishing kayaks. If you have a helping hand then things are much easier!
The guys over at Viking have included plenty of useful features on the Profish Reload to make these kayaks a comfortable and efficient platform to fish from. They are regularly out on the water kayak fishing so know exactly what the kayak angler wants from their kayak and have put this into the design of the Profish kayaks
Starting at the bow we find a soft touch webbing carry handle. Either side you will find moulded-in threaded brass inserts. These take a M5 bolt (available at CSG stores) for the attachment of pad eyes for an anchor trolley kit – a very neat feature and gets around having to drill the kayak. This makes the install of an anchoring system very easy.
On the bow we find also deck bungees. These can be used to attach gear to the bow if you’re really loading up for a big trip. More commonly these can be used to hold your rod tips under for surf launches and landings. Take a closer look at the bow design and you’ll see 4 grooves. You can use these to push the rod tips under the bungees, all from the seating position. They also provide some structural rigidity to the bow section.
At the front of the foot well we find an oval hatch with rubber cover. The rubber cover is held firmly down with two webbing straps for extra security. The hatch cover is also leashed to the inside of the hull, which is a nice touch. This opens up into the hull with plenty of space to store gear and makes a great space to store a trolley. The popular Railblaza C-Tug and C-Tug Sandtrakz fits in here with ease.
On to the main foot well and we find the feature which gives the Reload it’s name – the Viking Tackle Pod. The Reload Tackle Pod offers a worldwide first: a fully removable fish finder mounting pod with a large tackle storage space. Simply load up the tackle pod at home with all the gear you need so that when you get to the launch spot it is quick and easy to set up. This is a really awesome feature!
The hinged lid of the Tackle Pod allows for easy access to your tackle when on the water. There is plenty of room to store a few tackle boxes and a few tools. The lid also includes a built-in wooden bait chopping board! This is a really nice touch. The top of the Pod makes a great surface for mounting your fish finder unit as well as other accessories such as Rod Holders.
The pod is held to the hull via a stainless pin at the stern-side end. The pin is leashed to the kayak and you simply need to pull it out to release the pod from the hull.
This reveals a large hole through the hull – this is where the transducer scupper of the tackle pod sits.
The transducer scupper will fit the majority of popular fish finder transducers used by UK kayak anglers. The transducer slot in the base of the Tackle Pod measures 205mm long and 85mm wide and will fit the following transducers:
All Lowrance sounders using the following transducers :
- 83/200 kHz skimmer
- 50/200 kHz skimmer
- 83/200/455/800 kHz broadband skimmer
- 50/200/455/800 kHz broadband skimmer
The Lowrance side imaging Structure Scan transducer is too long to fit.
- The latest Raymarine Dragonfly 'Pro' and 'DVS' transducers will fit (just) provided the stem is left free sliding rather than locked forward. The original (old model) Dragonfly transducer is an easy fit.
- The standard Garmin transducers tested to date fit, the large down imaging transducers may fit, but this has yet to be confirmed.
- All Humminbird transducers tested to date fit, including the compact down imaging, side imaging, and XD transducers
A scupper hole runs between the transducer recess and a cylindrical well above, which can be accessed by removing the round black plastic plate on top of the pod. A transducer scupper mount kit can then be used to mount a transducer in the recess, or if preferred, use a transducer bracket (usually supplied with fish finders) bolted to the pod. Either way makes transducer install easy. Excess transducer wiring can be coiled and stored in the well above the recess and hidden away by covering back over with the black plate. The wiring passes through the black plate by simply cutting a small notch in the side of the plate, or for a smarter look use a deck seal. Install a small deck seal on top of the pod and you can route the power cable to the inside of the pod where you can store your battery. The mount for a fish finder can be bolted to the top of the pod and that completes the setup – and it is all completely removable from the hull at the end of the day! The ability to have a removable fish finder setup and tackle storage unit certainly sets the Viking Profish Reload apart from other top end fishing kayaks.
But why is it called Reload?.... Well that is because the Tackle Pod can be removed and the area reloaded with other Viking accessories such as the optional Kid-Pod shown below. The Kid-Pod provides a small seating area for a child to accompany you on the water and includes a screw hatch for storage inside the pod. Other Reload accessories include a Twin-Tackle Pod within-built Livewell and a flat deck pod.
Sturdy adjustable footrests feature in the foot-wells. At the bow end of the foot well you can see a raised flat area – this could be useful for bolting accessories too such as camera mounts or poles. Scupper holes are also found at the low point in the wells to allow for auto-draining of the deck.
Either side of the seating area we find side handles. These are moulded-in and allow for a really firm grip of the kayak when carrying off the water.
In front of the handles we find flush mount rod holders. These are in a great position to hold your rod whilst fishing on the drift, or at anchor. They also make a handy place to hold the rod whilst tackling or baiting up.
Either side of the seating area we also find a bungee paddle holder
In between the seating area and the Tackle Pod we find a central screw hatch. The lid simply screws off to reveal a small removable storage bucket. Remove this and you find a moulded-in area with a scupper bung running through to the bottom of the hull beneath. This is designed to be a bait storage area that can be washed and drained through this scupper hole. The removable bucket would also make a nice bait or tackle holder.
As with the Profish 400 and the Profish GT, the whole seating and foot well area is sculpted to provide a comfortable paddling position. The seat section sits lower (a low centre of gravity provides better stability) and then rises beneath your thighs for under leg support before lowering again at the footrests. This promotes a good paddling posture and feels comfortable when seated in the hull. Scupper holes are found in the low point under the seat for auto-draining should water enter this area. A couple of pad eyes sit at the front of the seating area for the attachment of a seat.
Just behind the seat we find two more screw hatches. Again these open up into molded-in storage areas, with drain bungs in their base. Un-screw the drain bung and you reveal a scupper running to the bottom of the hull beneath. Again these areas are designed for storing bait and can hold water to keep bait fresh if needed. Leave the hatch off and these also make a handy drinks bottle holder!
Behind the seat we also find no less than 4 flush mount rod holders! Two are angled outwards and would be good for holding the rods whilst trolling a lure off the back off the kayak, or for just holding the rods whilst paddling as with the centre two which are angled straight back. A couple of pad eyes sit between the two middle rod holders – these are for clipping the backrest section of your kayak seat too.
At the stern we find a huge tank well! There is stack of room here for storage and it will easily hold a good sized crate. 3 scupper holes are found here for drainage (2020 update - now only 2 scuppers in the rear cargo area).
The tank well is shaped to take the optional Viking Chill Pod – an insulated pod with bread-bin flip-up style lid, ideal for keeping your catch fresh whilst on the water, and easy to access from the seat.
On to the very stern and we find various threaded brass inserts and a Railblaza StarPort. The Starport makes a handy place to fit a Railblaza Safety Flag, or the pole-mounted visibility kit with Flag and Navigation Light. The threaded inserts at the very back of the stern are for the installation of the Viking Rudder Kit. The ProFish Reload comes ‘Rudder-Ready’ with pre-installed rudder tubing for the rudder control lines to run through. These can be seen protruding at the stern and run through the inside of the hull to the footrests. Having these pre-installed makes rudder installation very easy!
Larger threaded inserts are found around the edge of the tank-well. These can be used to install the optional Viking Insulated Fish Cooler Bag, or bungee buttons to fit bungee across the tank-well if required. Two soft touch carry handles sit on the stern, and a drain plug sits at the back of the tank well area. Look closely below the side handles and you’ll notice more M5 threaded inserts for the fitting of pad eyes for an anchor trolley.
That covers about every feature found on the ProFish Reload. A lovely hull design that will perform superbly in typical UK coastal conditions and is more than capable of taking on more challenging conditions and going the distance to those fishing marks further afield. Oh.... and it’s stacked full of useful features. You can really tell this is a kayak designed by kayak anglers for kayak anglers!
Most standard sit-on-top seats with 4 attachment clips will fit the ProFish Reload. We have found the Feelfree Deluxe to be the best fit for this kayak and offers excellent back support for those long days on the water.
The guys at Viking Kayaks have come up with a real winner with the ProFish Reload. It has a great hull design that boasts plenty of useful features to make your day on the water more enjoyable. The removable tackle pod concept is superb and makes installing a fish finder and storing your tackle a whole lot easier, and the best thing is that it can be removed easily at the end of the session. You then have a lighter hull to car top and you have a tackle pod that you can take indoors to load up ready for the next session..... game changer!
The design allows for easy addition of accessories such as the Chill-Pod, Kid-Pod, Twin Tackle Pod e.t.c. The guys at Viking have also made the Reload very easy to accessorise with popular items such as an anchor trolley, a rudder system, a safety flag/light and fish finder. All of which makes the Reload a great fishing kayak.
The 14ft+ kayak range is a popular choice for those wanting to kayak fish on saltwater, with these longer hull designs performing better over distance and in rougher conditions. This may be as a first saltwater fishing kayak, or as an upgrade from a shorter kayak for those wanting to take their kayak fishing trips to the next level. The ProFish Reload sits amongst the fastest plastic fishing kayaks on the market and is at home fishing in the typical coastal conditions we get here in the UK.
Over the last few years the Profish Reload has quickly established itself as a top fishing kayak amongst the UK kayak fishing community with many happy paddlers fishing from a Reload in all sorts of waters and conditions. In fact, it is one of the most highly praised models currently on the market!
We have been using a Profish Reload this season down here in Cornwall for kayak fishing, with great results and plenty of fish! The Profish Reload has not failed to impress us and has cemented itself as one of our favourite fishing kayaks, a thought also echoed by many happy customers who are now fishing from Profish Reloads. There will be a full on-water review coming soon.... watch this space!
Liam (Cornish Kayak Angler)
The Canoe Shops Group Ltd.