Justin Tunnage – Pro Fisha 525

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I have been paddling the Pro Fisha 525 most weekends for the last 12 months and my goodness, have we had some adventures!

I was initially attracted to Stealth Kayaks due to their sleek lines, proclaimed speed and apparent functionality. To me this equated to adventure and they aligned to what I wanted to achieve in my journey as a kayak fisherman. Initially I tested the Fisha 500, then the Pro Fisha 575 and finally, I settled on the Pro Fisha 525. All three kayaks are fantastic platforms, however I felt that the Pro Fisha 525 was the best fit for me because of my height/weight (175cm/80kg), fishing techniques and desire to paddle longer distances.

For the first few months I was based in Auckland, therefore my weekend missions only involved paddling about 10-12km’s per trip. Needless to say, the sleek and stable design of the Pro Fisha 525 ate those demands for lunch and I was never troubled by the short sharp chop of the Hauraki Gulf. Sure, it felt a little different coming from the old plastic Perception Swing, but I felt in sync with the platform after about half a dozen missions. I also found the angled rod holders in the rear suited my “Baitless” fishing methods. I could have one or two micro-jigs or heavy soft-baits out dragging along the bottom as I worked my primary rod targeting Snapper with a micro-jigs or soft-baits. Sometimes when the Kingies were in I would change this up and have a live Mackerel out the back as I worked a micro-jig. The later proved very successful out at Mathesons and Leigh!

During the winter of 2017 we shifted to Wellington due to work commitments and it took me the better part of six months to gain a basic understanding of what can be a treacherous body of water. The complexity and ferocity of the currents around the Cook Strait demand respect. It is not uncommon to be drifting at 4-5kmph on a perfectly still day and then encounter 1m+ standing waves where opposing currents meet. It is also not uncommon for the weather forecasters to get their crystal ball gazing completely wrong and at the flick of a switch you find yourself in 20kt+ cross winds and in swell that resembles a washing machine with the lid open. Nevertheless, the Pro Fisha 525 has never failed me and we have remained upright and moving forward during some crazy conditions.

This is perhaps what I love the most about the Pro Fisha 525; to me it is the safest kayak on the market in New Zealand. The extra 1-2kmph of speed it has over other plastic and PDL kayaks is often the difference between requiring rescue and being able to get yourself out of danger. For example, I had one six-kilometre return journey that took me three hours due to current and wind. There were no rest breaks because as soon as you stopped paddling you started going backwards; fast!

With the big currents comes big Kingfish! It is normally a seven-kilometre paddle out to the first bit of reef structure where we begin the love/hate relationship of mechanical jigging. We will then spend the entire day, covering 20-30km+ all up, fighting those broncos of the reefs, sitting side saddle or conventional as we whip and crank the 200-300gm jigs. Once again it is that extra bite of speed of the Stealth Kayaks that allows us to manage our lethargy as we jig for Kingfish to ensure that we have enough energy in reserve to safely return from out wide at the end of the day.

In addition to the above, you need stability and simplicity in design when handling 15kg+ Kingies on the kayak. Obviously the Pro Fisha 525 has the stability but what is often overlooked is the ease of putting your catch straight into the centre hatch and not having to worry about turning around to a rear compartment. Stealth have recently adopted a design from a local Wellingtonian and now offer a catch bag that sits inside the hatch and keeps your catch chilled all day long. This has proven dynamite when we have pushed even wider in search of tuna for Sashimi. Some recently caught Albacore tuna that was bleed well and placed straight on ice was by far the most amazing sashimi I have had to date!

In closing, the Pro Fisha 525 enables me to pursue my kayak fishing ambitions with vigour whilst not forgoing safety. I have some lofty goals to achieve over the next 24 months and I couldn’t think of a better partner in crime than my Pro Fisha 525.


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