Kayak fishing has quickly become a popular way to get out on the water. In my opinion, kayak fishing has become too sophisticated though. What do I mean?
Fish finders, propulsion systems, kayaks over 100 pounds, and more attachment and accessory points than you know what to do with.
To me, kayak fishing should be simple – a rugged kayak, good paddle, and a life jacket. I think the point of kayak fishing is slowly fading away as people utilize trailers, fish finders, power poles, and all other sorts of “boat like” appurtenances.
This is why I use a particular kayak – the Jackson Kayak Liska.
Introduction to the Jackson Kayak Liska
The Jackson Kayak Liska is by no means the fanciest kayak on the block or the fastest. It is a rugged, simplified kayak that is stable, maneuverability, holds a good amount of gear, and can take you where you need to go.
I fish the Liska for one main reason – simplicity. I am far from the person who brings 6+ rods with them, mounts electronics, or utilizes an electric propulsion system. Although you could set the Liska up with a lot of this gear, it really is for the more simplified fisherman – the person who is looking for an adventure.
Specifications are great for getting an overall idea of how a kayak handles. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the Liska:
Length: 12’ 1”
Total Capacity: 400 lbs
Weight: 84 lbs
As you can see, the Liska is relatively wide and has an all-around length at about 12-feet. The Liska has a hull that is best suited for rivers in my opinion, but it can handle ponds, lakes, and saltwater. One thing to note is it is not designed for long paddling distances – it is better suited for stability and maneuverability than speed and distance.
All in all, it has a tremendous design that nearly anyone could paddle.
So how does the Liska track, you know…how well does it stay in a straight line? The short answer is not great, but the second answer is sufficient.
Tracking is not the Liska’s best attribute. It tends to wander a bit and you will notice the front of the kayak move side to side as you paddle. In my opinion, this is a good thing as the Liska is more capable at handling a wider range of waters. For example, if you are paddling a river you do not want a long, narrow kayak that has exceptional tracking. Why? Well, the simple answer is because you wouldn’t be able to maneuver throughout the river. Typically, good tracking means not so good maneuverability. Everything comes with a drawback and kayak design is a game of balances.
In this case of the Liska, the tracking is simply sufficient. You aren’t wandering so much that you are losing a lot of forward movement, but you do have some inefficiencies from the hull design when it comes to going in a straight line.
What the Liska lacks in tracking it makes up for in stability. At 34” wide the Liska is very stable and does a great job of allowing a paddler to have confidence out on the water. Whether you are a seasoned paddler or looking for your first sit on top kayak, the Liska has a lot to offer in terms of stability. I like to stand in fish in the Liska, and quite frankly I stand more than I sit because the Liska is so stable.
Not only this, the Liska does a great job at rapids and flowing water. While the Jackson Kayak Coosa is kind of the go to river kayak, I would argue that Liska could give it a good run for its money…a very good run. I have taken the Liska down several runs of rapids and it handles remarkably well. This is a great boat for the river if you need one.
On occasion, I bring some people with me to kayak and fish a river and I always put them in my Liska for one simply reason - it is full of confidence. Some kayaks are great, but require a higher skill level. The Liska builds confidence right off the bat and does a lot of the work for you when it comes to rapids and flowing water.
The Liska excels at traversing through rough water and is a great kayak for river fisherman. This is all due to the excellent stability a paddler will find in the Liska.
While this kayak does have pretty good maneuverability, it is 12’ long and does require a little effort to turn around. However, for the size and stability that the Liska provides, it is quite maneuverable in my opinion. On a trip to the Llano River, there were several logs down from a large flood that hit not too long ago. Talk about a lot of maneuvering.
I think the Liska is more than capable at sliding through tight chutes, it just requires a little more effort and or skill.
As previously mentioned, the Liska is good at rapids and its good maneuverability is a contributing factor to its success through flowing water. Once you get the hang of how the boat handles you can really ride through some rough water.
Outside of rapids, the Liska is a good as you will ever need for moving around. Whether you are on a lake, flatwater, pond, etc., the Liska has more than enough maneuverability to put you on some fish.
Nearly any kayak made by Jackson Kayak is comfortable due to the Hi-Lo seating and well designed chair. The Liska has a little extra comfort due to the padding on the deck of the kayak where a paddler would stand. If you have never paddling a Jackson Kayak with the Hi-Lo seating I highly recommend it. The seating is probably the best you are going to get without having some heavy, bulky seat that would defeat the purpose of kayak fishing. When you are not in the seat, you have great standing comfort as well.
I like to paddle the Liska barefoot because the padding is so soft. I can stand up on the deck and not worry about sliding around. The padding is quite durable too. After having the Liska for over a year, I have had zero issues with the deck padding and imagine it will hold up for quite a while longer.
Although not directly tied to comfort, the stability also adds comfort in the sense that you can remain relatively stable out on the water, even in choppy conditions or flowing rivers. This is a huge point in my opinion, because an unstable boat will make you be on edge, uncomfortable, and always worried about tipping over. You won’t have this problem with the Liska, as it is very stable and after a few minutes you won’t even be thinking about stability.
Adjustable foot pegs and a sliding seat system also allow a paddler to tailor the kayak to fit their individual liking. The chair can slide forward and backwards to adjust for different leg lengths and kayak trim. For those of you who aren’t quite up to speed on what I mean when I say trim, I simply mean where you are positioned in the kayak.
For example, a more forward trim (your body positioned towards the front of the kayak) will provide better tracking whereas a more rearward trim (body towards the back of the kayak) will provide better maneuverability. You can tailor this to what you like, but typically you want a slight rear trim. After you have reached a good balance, you then can adjust the foot pegs to your liking as well.
Lots of adjustability in order to fit a large array of paddlers.
This is a fishing kayak, so it needs to be capable of fishing…and it is. Molded in flush mount rod holders, track system on the gunnels, and ample storage make the Liska a simple, yet extremely effective fishing kayak.
While you can easily add a fish finder, micro PowerPole, and other “boat like” features, the Liska provides a clean platform for users who prefer a simplistic approach to fishing – such as myself. As I previously mentioned, I think kayak fishing has gone past the original, intended boundaries. I think a kayak should be easily transportable, under 100 lbs., not require a trailer, and no electronics. I’m not saying that electronics are a bad thing, I just think at some point you are becoming a boat and not a kayak.
The Liska definitely is more on the side of a traditional kayak while still offering many options that allow a user to customize their kayak with whatever gear they might want.
As previously mentioned, the Liska is very stable. This is great for those of us who like to stand and fish.
When I am out on my Liska I am almost always standing when I am fishing…it is just so stable.
Last, the Liska does have good storage. Front hatch storage, rear tank well storage, under seat storage, front of seat hatch storage, and a pouch on the back of the seat. You really should have more than enough storage with the Liska.
The stability, maneuverability, and overall design allow the Liska to be one mean fishing machine.
So what if you aren’t a fisherman, but like to get out on the water. The Liska will still serve you very well. Whether you like to hunt, do photography, or simply go for a paddle out on the water, the Liska can serve you well.
Although it is extremely difficult for me to leave the house without my fishing poles, there is something amazingly peaceful about just paddling a kayak across the water. When you have the comfort and stability that the Liska has, these types of days are much better.
My dad often comes along on my journeys with a Liska and he loads it up with a lot of gear - cameras, coolers, snacks, first aid, etc. There is a lot of space to bring whatever you need and then some. So whether you like to take pictures, hunt, or just paddle out on the water, the Liska has you covered.
Considering a lot of kayaks are around $2,000, the Liska is a good deal. Yes, it is quite a bit of money, but the durability, design, and quality are well worth the investment. You are getting a lot of bang for your buck with the Liska.
You aren’t getting quite as many features as some higher priced kayaks, but then again, you are saving a lot of money and getting 90% of what the other kayaks offer. I personally do not need or want tons of rails, attachment points, and accessories. However, if you are someone that plans on adding lots of aftermarket mounts, fish finders, etc., you might want to take a look at a kayak like the Coosa HD.
I’d highly recommend the Liska to anyone looking for an “all-around” kayak that can do a lot of different things, as it is somewhat a jack of all trades master of none.
All this said, if you are on the market for a fishing kayak or recreational kayak, take a look at the Jackson Kayak Liska. It is a great option!