It has been a full year since Eddyline made its debut into the fishing kayak world with their C-135 Stratofisher. The boat took the Best Boat award and the Best in Show award at the 2015 ICAST show with its debut, showing off its beautiful sleek finish, light weight, and full fishing features we’ve come to expect from today’s top fishing boats. Being made from Eddyline’s thermoformed Carbonlite 2000, the C-135’s rigid plastic hull performs the way a high-end fiberglass composite does, and the roomy openness offers unlimited adjustability. But the company doesn’t stop there, with that adjustability, they have teamed with YakAttack in offering their YakAttack Edition; leaving very few accessories the angler would need to buy down the road. With all the glitter and glamour, first paddling impressions can be a bit polished or blind with that ‘new car’ glory, so how does that initial impression compare after paddling exclusively in the kayak for an entire season? Well I’m going to try and answer that question while giving a more in-depth review of the boat and its features.
My C-135 arrived at Get:Outdoors back in the winter with every bell and whistle Eddyline offers. It was indeed the Christmas present we all dream of. Some of the options that came on the metallic green over silver hull included the company’s proven rudder design, removable bow and power hatch liners, flush mount rod holders behind the seat, deck and tankwell traction pads, and a pair of YakAttack LeverLock anchor trolleys. If this weren’t enough, the boat also was the YakAttack version that includes a grey BlackPak crate system, a VisiCarbon Pro light and flag, a ZookaTube rod holder, a RotoGrip paddle holder set, YakAttack Gear Tracs everywhere, and a cool drink/cup holder with Eddyline’s can cooler. The guys and gals at the shop dared me to use and abuse the boat like it wasn’t mine. That’s a bit hard to do looking at the finish of the boat knowing it is made from a hard plastic material I knew nothing about. But I agreed to it to a point: no whitewater over class II since the river gods already love to claim my fishing rods all the time.
So what is the deal with this great looking new material? Well it isn’t so new to start with. Eddyline has been making super high quality, high-end, fiberglass laminated sea and touring kayaks going back a good 45 years. The transition touring kayakers usually make in their boat purchases often begins with a basic roto-molded polyethylene hull. These boats are offered at an affordable price point that comes with some performance issues if the hull happens to warp or oil-can over time as the hull is used, and they are heavy. Design limits had to be addressed to compensate for the molding limits polyethylene roto-plastics have during the roto-molding process. Fiberglass composites were a huge step up as the hulls were still very durable but gave much better performance and responsiveness; not being limited to what could be done in a big roto-molding oven. The material could also be repaired by the average paddler if a problem occurred. Back in 1995 Eddyline, one of the top fiberglass touring kayak manufacturers, began working with a thermo-formed molding process that offered a cleaner/healthier working environment for their boat builders using a virgin ABS material that was 100% recyclable and performed as well as fiberglass. Continually refining the chemical and performance qualities of the material, they now build all of their boats using Carbonlite 2000. This plastic material is lighter in weight compared to poly-boats and even most fiberglass boats, can come in high-gloss finishes that have excellent abrasion and impact resistance, are UV resistant, stiffer and more resistant to heat distortion than comparable polyethylene roto-molded kayaks, and can easily be repaired if ever needed. The refined material allows Eddyline to cover their Carbonlite 2000 kayak hulls under a warranty against any defects in materials and workmanship for a period of three years from the date of purchase to the original owner. The deck rigging is covered for 2 years to the original purchaser.
The C-135’s hull measures 13.5 feet in length and is 34 inches wide, weighs only 69 pounds, and has a weight capacity of 450 pounds. Eddyline uses the Cloud 10 Frame Seating System that offers four different seating positions we will discuss later in the review. The optional deck and tankwell traction pads are thick and use an excellent adhesive that proved to be durable and haven’t failed, even under the vulnerable foot brace area. Speaking of foot braces, the standard adjustable foot brace that comes in the C-135 is plenty strong and operates easily using a locking lever behind the pedal. With Eddyline’s optional lightweight rudder system, the same basic pedal is used on a sliding track that self-centers the rudder using small bungees that spring the pedal with the track. More about the performance of the rudder later.
The C-135 tankwell is large and I do recommend getting the available traction pad for back there. It will keep tackle and your crate or livewell system in place much better than the slick Carbonlite 2000 hull material by itself. A zigzagged bungee system runs from side to side using catches attached to the rear gear tracks. This system uses small hooks on the ends of the bungees that make securing the bungees very quick and easy. At the rear of the tankwell is an 8” round day hatch that offers stern access to the inside of the hull. This becomes very important when attaching some accessories like a power-pole or trolling motor. Behind the seat is another 6” round hatch giving some access to the midship. There are two additional large hatches located in the front of the boat. Both hatches use a turn-buckle design to secure the hatch. Once sealed, the hatches are very waterproof. In heavy driving rains, I experienced no issues with water leaking in. The raised hatch lips also have channels that drain water away from the openings. Both hatches offer a good fitting drop-in hatch liner that I do recommend getting. The liners will hold whatever you place in them right under the hatch cover…not allowing the gear to slide all over inside the hull. There is nothing like discovering that your lunch has slid to the middle of your hull where you can’t get to it on the water. The middle ‘power’ hatch is large enough to hold a group 24 trolling motor battery if needed. By pulling out the liner, you gain access inside the hull and additional internal storage.
While we are talking about hull access through the hatches, taking a look inside the C-135 hull reveals one reason this manufacturer is a cut above most other brands of boats. Since most of the deck rigging is attached to the top half of the kayak before it is assembled and chemically plastic welded to the bottom half of the hull, the craftsmen at Eddyline are able to seal off all of the critical fasteners and accessory holes drilled into the boat using a marine epoxy. The deck is also supported in key areas using structural foam blocks placed strategically in all the stress areas of the hull: the deck where you will be standing and also in the tankwell. One of the first possible places other boat manufacturers may see their kayaks fail is often in front of the seat around the deck scuppers. This area is often the location that gets the hardest scrapes along the bottom of the hull because our weight is supported in that location under the seat, and it is also where we stand. The scuppers become pillars that have to support our weight in the foot areas of the deck, transferring that weight to the bottom of the hull. Because of the molding process in roto-molded kayaks, scuppers often have less plastic than the rest of the hull, so it becomes a key area where many hulls crack and fail. The thermoformed molding process and the much more rigid plastic that Eddyline uses all but eliminate the possibilities of a hull failure in this area. They also add large foam blocks to these stress areas; the surface area of hull support is much greater than a scupper alone can offer, further distributing the paddler’s weight. This foam also serves as positive floatation should the hull ever get compromised. The C-135 hull uses only 4 scuppers; two mid-ship on the deck floor and two in the back tankwell. The flat areas of the deck are slightly angled to drain any water into the scupper holes with no pooling issues at all…even when the boat is loaded with a heavy angler. Plugs are not needed but the owner can always opt to add them later if desired.
The C-135 uses 2 hard rubber coated nylon carrying handles appropriately located on the bow and stern. These handles are comfortable and secured using bolts through the hull. Located just slightly back from the center of the hull are the side grab handles. These are made from Eddyline’s super-durable paddle shaft material. The balance point of the hull is a bit forward of these handles because of the shape of the well thought out seat support design; Eddyline correctly considered proper boat trim more important than side-carrying balance since we are buying our kayaks to paddle and not necessarily to carry around.
Let’s take a look at the one place we are going to spend most of our time in the C-135…the seat. When designing this boat, Eddyline knew from the start they would have to have a brilliant seat that would compete with the comfort of all the other major players in the industry. The company decided to team up with Cloud 10 Gear to come up with the Could 10 Frame Seating System. Using strong rigid thermoformed side brackets that are welded to the hull, the seating system allows the aluminum framed seat to be positioned in 4 positions: high forward, high back, low, and reclined. It can also be flipped back for more standing room (great for fly fishermen that like lots of clear uncluttered floor space). The seat material is waterproof, sun proof, breathable, and very durable. If you want a neat camp chair for bank lunches or camping, just pull the seat out and you are good to go. The seat is easily removed for transport or storage but you don’t have to worry about it falling out if you flip or have it blow out going down the road because of the design of the frame support system. Another good feature Eddyline includes in this boat is a stand assist strap. This nylon strap attaches to a secure point well forward of your feet to help give you leverage when you pull yourself up to stand or sit back down.
The YakAttack Edition comes in specially priced with YakAttack gear that most fishermen will at some point need and get. Seasoned kayak anglers may already have some of this gear, but those wanting to get more serious at kayak fishing will definitely find this package priced attractively. This edition includes an exclusive gray colored BlackPak for the C-135, a VisiCarbon Pro light and Eddyline flag combination for safety, their top of the line Zooka Tube rod holder that will secure and hold many different types of rods, a RotoGrip paddle holder, strategically placed Gear Tracs along the gunnels and in the front deck area, an installed front deck pad that is thick and tough, a front hatch liner, a YakAttack 4” dogBone with a 1.5” ball for your camera or other gear, and a drink cup holder with Eddyline’s foam can holder that can fit on the center Gear Trac using the included 1” Screwball. All of these items are some of the top sellers for YakAttack so check them out on that company’s web site.
Let’s get into the performance of the C-135 since that is what most readers want to know. I expected a lot out of this boat’s performance at this price point on my first outing in it. I was hoping to feel that same difference you can feel between a roto-molded touring kayak and a high end composite touring boat. Well this first outing was on a cool breezy day back in the winter. Breezy was a sustained 30 mph wind. I really shouldn’t have been out there on the lake in those conditions but I’ve been in much worse. I pushed off and cut diagonally across the wind on out into the lake. The wind caught the somewhat high profile of the boat and it took off like a sailboat without its centerboard in place. Skirting sideways across the lake, I found myself happy this boat had the optional rudder. Blowing across the lake, I was grabbing that rubber ball at the end of the rudder’s deployment line and the jam cleat as fast as I could grab it. Thankfully the rudder deployed as it should and now I was sailing without a sail, but the boat went where I directed it. It took no time at all to reach the other side of the lake and calmer waters in a deep cove. Given the conditions I decided to not push my luck standing in this boat on this trip. It did feel quite comfortable and very stable. The boat felt much lighter than other fishing kayaks and responded quickly to paddle strokes. This paddle response was exactly what I was hoping for.
Many shorter wide fishing kayaks have a tendency to bow-wag back and forth while under paddle. That’s why the guys at the shop recommended getting the C-135 with the rudder installed. This is usually true for a lighter paddler trying to get a fishing kayak going using hard paddle strokes, but with this boat loaded as it was, I thought it tracked every bit as well as any boat I have been in up to 14.5’ long without using the rudder. In a matter of a few easy strokes the boat accelerated up to hull speed quickly with a minimal amount of bow-wag. A soon as hull speed was reached, the boat really locked in and tracked very well and required few if any corrective strokes. One thing I often see many paddlers do is to use a power stroke that is way too hard to get a boat moving. Whitewater paddlers using the short play boats of today learned that very quick short strokes got their boats moving faster and more efficiently than super-hard forward strokes. The same can be had with any kayak for that matter. Even more so when the kayak is a wide sit-on-top and the paddler is using a long 240cm or longer paddle length. Those strokes quickly turn into hard sweep strokes that want to turn the boat more than they want to make the boat go forward. Using quick short strokes to get the boat moving initially and then gradually adding the power to the stroke will get the hull up to speed quicker, more efficiently, and straighter than piling on the power from the start. Using this technique, I could really feel that this boat responds and reacts much quicker to the paddle compared to much heavier roto-molded plastic boats. The boat not only got up to speed faster, it could also stop, turn, or even scull and move sideways easier. This is important when it comes to fishing tighter waters.
The Carbonlite 2000 is definitely tough. One lake I paddled the boat on several different times is loaded with tons of snags and ever so slightly submerged stumps. The boat slides easily over snags with no issues as far as durability goes. The scuppers are well rounded where the snag doesn’t hang you up in the hole either. As the season has passed, I have run the boat up onto paved boat ramps, hit submerged rocks, too many stumps to count: all with no ill effects. In fact, the material shows less wear for the abuse than my roto-molded boats with a comparable amount of time on similar waters and conditions. I have used the boat on rivers filled with rocks, but have taken care to not slam into any rocks or slide the hull into and through any shallow shoals where serious damage could occur. I have left the boat sitting out in the full summer sun in the gravel driveway, day after day, with no warping from the heat in any way shape or form. Against ALL recommendations, my C-135 has sat strapped down to a kayak trailer in the full sun for many days with no rack indentations or warping. You could definitely not do this with a roto-molded kayak without at least seeing some sort of oil canning along the bottom of the hull. The Carbonlite 2000 material can polish up good as new and is tough as nails too.
I’m happy to report that the rudder is nice and lightweight and deploys and retracts easily. The system uses a jam cleat and cord on the right hand side of the boat that is used to retract and deploy the rudder for use. It uses a single cable on each side that runs through the hull to the foot braces. The foot pedals slide along the tracks to engage the cables. The pedals are length adjustable and self center if tension is released from the cables/pedals. The rudder is simple and works like a rudder is supposed to. Is it really needed? I’ll leave that up to the individual based on their weight, the load in the boat, and their paddling experience. If I personally had it to do over however, considering the tight places I like to fish, I would leave the rudder off. I often smash it into stumps and fallen trees and I hate hearing it crunch …but it has always come out of those situations unscathed. But I also fly fish…and I’m terrible at it so there are few things as aggravating to me than to catch the rudder cables back there with my fly. I am a bit of a minimalist and my weight loads the hull to the point that the center keel (that runs the full length of the tri-hull design) engages well enough to make the boat track just fine in most conditions. If you like a rudder and use one often with your fishing, by all means this rudder works well with this boat.
When it all comes down to it, what sets this boat a step above its competition? This is a paddler’s boat. The clean decks and openness are a fly fisherman’s dream. The boat has the stability we all want and need for standing and fishing with plenty of internal storage for all of our gear. It looks great and it stays looking great. And it performs with the responsiveness we would expect out of a composite fiberglass boat. I work many on-the-water boat demos through the season where the shop brings out every major brand they carry. I am there to try and sell any boat the shop carries…not just one particular boat. With that being said, I suggest that the customer try several similar boats to the one they came to try to compare apples to apples. It is neat to watch them paddle one boat, then the C-135, then another boat, then they will go back to the C-135, and more than likely they will come and ask for more information on the Eddyline. I can simply suggest that they pick up one end of a roto-molded boat, then the C-135, and ask which one they would want to load up in their truck or on their car at the end of the day. And the answer always comes back to the C-135 Stratofisher. You can seriously feel that the kayak is substantially lighter in weight than other comparable roto-molded fishing kayaks. The craftsmanship and finish on the boat are second to none…even after a season of use. It’s a looker with classic kayak lines and it has the paddling performance and responsiveness to go with those looks.