Wilderness Systems hit the nail on the head with their redesign of an old classic. The Tarpon has been a staple series of kayaks in the Wilderness family for over a decade, and now the addition of the TarponX 130 takes this family of kayaks to another level of style, comfort, and features.
First, let’s start with new features that differ from previous Tarpon models starting from bow to stern. The carry handles have been upgraded to the rigid material similar to that of the Thresher, as opposed to the soft material and rubber handles from before. The key feature that puts the X in TarponX is the addition of the flex pod OS. This is the same electronic housing unit that can be seen on the Thresher and ATAK models. Wilderness Systems has taken it a step further with the Helix electric motor drive that is designed to fit in the flex pod OS scupper. Additionally, there has been an additional transducer scupper installed beneath the utility pod cover should angler chooses to utilize the Helix drive. This feature will allow a fish finder to be installed without having to use a drop down arm over the side of the kayak. Other than the addition of the Flex Pod OS, the most impactful difference from previous models is the introduction of the Air Pro Lite seat. This seat is a rigid framed seat similar the Air Pro Max, but with a couple small differences. The Air Pro Lite does not have multiple positions such as hi, low, and recline that we see in the max seat. From a stability standpoint you will notice that the TarponX has been widened by 4 inches for increased stability and capacity. The rear tank well also has been re designed to accommodate a Black Pack or other type of tackle crate better with squared of corners as opposed to the rounded ones previously. All of these changes have been made with exclusively with the serious angler in mind.
I have had several opportunities to paddle and fish from this kayak in the last two weeks and I continue to be impressed each time I take it out. I have to admit that I have never been interested in the Tarpon series because I had always been under the impression that Tarpons were for salt-water anglers and they didn’t suit my needs. I have only owned kayaks in the Ride series and the ATAK, till now. Going from a Ride 135 to a 115X to an ATAK, I know what kayak stability but apparently I didn’t know what speed was. This kayak faster than any yak I’ve ever paddled. The seated stability has not been an issue in this kayak so far. I know that I probably will not be attempting to stand in this kayak but there are many times when its not even warranted. I have been pleased with the loading and unloading of this kayak since I have been in the ATAK for the past year, and the difference has been very welcomed. Since paddling this kayak I have honestly began to question whether standing stability is a priority for me anymore over speed. I believe that my TarponX130 will continue to be a staple in my personal fleet, and I look forward to spending many more hours in it.