Wilderness Systems latest ATAK on the kayak fishing scene

Attention to detail, simple stuff that works is what Bill Dunn tells of the latest yak to come from Wilderness Systems.

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The world of kayak fishing has never been more competitive, or specialised and the choice for the consumer has never been so great. All the main players are trying to build yaks to suit as many needs as they can, and the days of using an ordinary old garden variety chain general purpose kayak are fast being left behind.

The Wilderness ATAK 140 is not much more than 12 months new, and in that time it has won various industry standard awards, show awards as well as YakAnglers 2 main product awards, including the peoples choice award. Conceived for the massive US Bass fishing scene, this yak is best suited to lakes, estuaries and larger rivers, but it can be a handful in creeks and rapids above class 2. Although not designed for offshore, it’s gaining momentum as a “beyond the breakers” craft.

Atak cockpit

With many manufacturers now producing purpose built fishing yaks, it is now coming down to which ones deliver on the promise, and which ones are simply dressed up. The ATAK 140 definitely looks the goods and delivers.

Designed by yak fishers, for yak fishers, it was conceptualised by some US Pro Fishers like Chad Hoover, designed by Wilderness Systems and then 18 months of testing and revising by both, before being released. Every time you hit the water fishing in this yak, you realise or see something that someone has already thought about – and then acted upon.

The result is a fishing kayak, that is almost like a stretched and mounted blank canvas, and it is so, so easy to do almost whatever you want with. Specifications wise, this yak is 39kgs, including the seat, a tad over 4.2 metres in length and 86cm in width. It has ample storage, and has a payload rating of 250kgs. So it is not small by any stretch, but to fish from is a delight, being both a stable, and responsive platform.

Atak seat

First thing I notice when hoping aboard, is the aircraft like deck in front of me, it is spacious, and allows for easy customisation of your setup. The deck is covered in rubber pads, that aids standing stability as well as comfort, they will also deaden the noise when you drop a lure or pliers. Up front of the cockpit you have the OS pod, ideal for sounders, simple and easy to operate and store. This is a huge plus, but not water proof, so make sure you water proof your connections. It will house your sounder, transducer, battery and wiring, all in a removable pod.

There is a tool tray with slots in it, that sits in front of the pod, making it easy to grab grips and pliers, and behind the pod is a large covered tank well for storage. The wells lid also has a neat paddle keeper strap on top of it. The lid is not water tight, so dry bags are the go, but there are 2 scupper holes fitted, and 2 plugs supplied if needed. The lid can also be easily removed – ala Native Slayer. Either side of the lid on the hull are some tie down points.

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The seat itself is nothing short of superb. I’ve spent up to 7 hours on the water and not suffered any ill effects, besides if cramp starts to set in you can simply stand up and have a walk around. With 3 positions, the seat in the low position puts you at a similar height off the water as most SOT fishing yaks with basic type seats, and when in the high position offers advantages for sight fishing, as well as aiding standing. The seat sits in slide tracks recessed in each side of the hull, and the advantage there is that it allows you trim the boat (moving your seat/weight back or forward, up or down), which can be a huge benefit, especially when negotiating rivers, windy situations, or even swells encountered in large bodies of water. There are 2 tabs on the seat, with pictograms of seat positions. If you grip the tabs on the relevant pictogram you perform that seat movement.  The seat can also be slid of the tracks, should you wish to remove it. The operation takes about 1 minute, and saves 4.5 kgs when lifting the yak. Toward the front of the seat is a 6” round screw top hatch, with a bag insert attached. It can be hard to get to on the water and would probably be best for things like keys and wallet, stuff not needed when on the water.

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There are 5 more slide tracks mounted on the yak, all recessed. 2 are forward of the seat, 2 aft and 1 centre rear of the yak. The centre rear track is great for something like a flag or light pole, well away from casting sweeps. The other tracks can handle pretty much anything else you want to add.

The rear hatch, makes carrying rods very easy. I have had up to 6 rods in the yak (up to 7ft, but they could be longer). The hatch is rectangular shape and has a foam rod stager mounted inside, meaning storing fully rigged rods inside the hull is a breeze.

Between the seat and the rear hatch is the well deck, designed to hold crates. This area behind the seat allows you to fit virtually any of the popular configurations, keeping them within reach. Precision Paks, Yak Attack black paks, milk crates, they are all catered for. Or it allows you to travel light with the bungees on each side able to hold 2 tackle trays in place. The same bungees will also stop your pak from accidentally diving to the depths. Very simple, with various reliefs, bungees and anchor points, it doesn’t look much – until you go to use it, and you soon realise that the guy with the thoughts got there before you, again.

Atak name conseal

At the back of the yak there are mounting areas for electric motors, rudders and Power Poles. I have fitted up a rudder,(its pre rigged) and find this a benefit in wind and very useful when fishing drift lines and the like, but certainly not necessary when paddling. Screw inserts and mounting flanges are already in place.

This yak, once up and going, doesn’t paddle like an ungainly barge. It is very manoeuvrable and gets along at a respectable pace that can easily be kept up. Its low height and angles above the water help it shed wind (more design detail), and when standing can be easily manoeuvred like a paddle board, or a tip for small changes, use your rod tip. It paddles straight and doesn’t turn its bow much on a stroke, but it is 14 foot which helps when you have a big cod or Jewie hooked up when trolling, you don’t get spun around. With the addition of a rod holder to a front track and it becomes a trolling machine, which can be a great way to locate fish whilst giving you a cardio work out. But you really find out what this yak is about when you start nudging it in to snaggy areas, standing and casting in under fallen branches, or moving about in stealth mode. When you’re on your game this boat will reward, it has a very shallow draft and can be a very quiet craft and it is hands down very stable, which really pays divide ends when fishing for lures in trees !

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The Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 is a premium fishing kayak, but you don’t need to be a premium fisho to own one. Much cheaper than a boat, virtually maintenance free, and lots of fun. If you want one of the most adaptable, well thought out kayaks on the market, I would recommend you take a good look at the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140. Find an owner or dealer and get a test drive organised, you won’t regret it.

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Bill Dunn

About Bill Dunn

Me....well my first fishing memories are at lakes Entrance and Bright, both in Victoria with my family when I was about 10-12 years of age. Since I have always taken a rod and reel when away,and whilst never been good at it, i find it very relaxing. Yak fishing started for me when i was in my early 20's on the rivers and coastal areas around the ACT, I would take my fibreglass slalom kayak and a rod, tent etc.

About 6 years ago I got a bit more serious and started looking into yak fishing again and it didnt take me long to realise it was a fast growing version of the sport.

These days, I still live in Canberra, and a few kayaks on, I still find it theraputic and at the same time challanging. More recently I have been helping new comers into the sport with advice and tips on kayaks and set up, the fishing I leave to them.

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