Bonafide SS-127 Review

July 6, 2018

Like many of us, I’ve been an angler all my life and often find myself fishing the same water, in the same way, with the same tackle. Why? Because for years I’ve applied the proof-of-concept approach to my fishing technique: find prime water, offer a variety of presentations until I find what the fish want, catch, and repeat. It’s a recipe for success that we all apply, and continues to take us back to our favorite fishing holes (and it comes in handy when wanting to brag to your co-workers on Monday). However, like anything else, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. On a recent fishing trip, I had the opportunity to fish from a kayak for the first time. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but was unable to break my proof-of-concept habit and try something new, until now...

The scene was a mid-sized stream with blistering sun, little cover, and an itch to fish. Along with a few other anglers, I was making a 9-mile paddle along one of Tennessee’s primo smallmouth streams. Our party included four Bonafide SS-127’s and one Bonafide SS-107. I was equipped with a 127 outfitted with dual Scotty Powerlock Rod Holders, an array of YakAttack GearTracs, the Bending Branches Angler Pro Plus Telescoping Kayak Paddle, one casting rod, one spinning rod, a box full of soft baits, and a number of other items. It was my first trip on a Bonafide, and the first time I was fishing from a kayak. Was I a little nervous? Maybe, but more so excited. I had heard many accolades about the Bonafide being a fantastic fishing kayak, and I had the fishing experience to keep up with the other, more seasoned kayak fishing vets. Down the bank we went...

From the outset, the kayak paddled like a champ. I had paddled a number of kayaks before this trip, but none came close to the stability of the Bonafide. I found myself standing up to cast within 10 minutes of starting the trip. And not just standing, but walking around! On a kayak! All anglers know that fishing often requires awkward body placement and movement to make the perfect cast or to finesse fish out of cover. I was able to move around the kayak at will to fish both the spinning and casting setups as I pleased. The jolt of each cast did little to upset the balance of the boat. Turning around or kneeling forward to get gear out of the storage compartments was a breeze. Numerous rigging lines and anchor points had been added, which definitely helped lock down rods and gear when moving through small rapids, brush, and strainers. Making sharp turns in fast water was a little difficult, but more likely due to my rusty technical skills, rather than the 127 itself. Taking time throughout the day to watch the other ‘yakers, it was hard not to notice the relative ease of maneuvering the 107. At two feet shorter, the 107 was described as feeling more like a recreational or “sporty” kayak, with the ability to cut and dodge more easily than its bigger brother. We were navigating up to class II rapids, and both models handled them without the slightest issue...

I lagged behind the others most of the day, choosing to fish each spot a little harder and cast to more holding water; but that’s just my style of fishing. When the others paddled out of site, the quick pick-up speed of the 127 made fast work to close the gap. As is the case with most trips, the take-out was strenuous. At 75 pounds, the 127 isn’t exactly a light kayak, and the 107 sits at a svelte 67 pounds. But what these boats might give up in added weight, they certainly make up for in performance. And if you’re not willing to grin and bear it at times, there’s always a spot for you to sit at the put-in...

Overall, the 127 exceeded all expectations and performed as well as everyone said it would. I had a double-digit smallmouth count at the end of the day, and even though I didn’t hook a Tennessee giant, I still left the creek with a feeling of satisfaction. In total, I spent 12 hours in one of the sharpest-looking kayaks on the market. The float was comfortable, the water was teaming with fish, and the company was second-to-none. With a rugged nature, and all the amenities to drive success from the start, the SS-127 delivered on all levels. For what it’s worth, this kayak got my seal of approval as a Bonafide fishing boat worthy of consideration for all anglers looking to scale down boat size for a big upgrade in fishing prowess.

Small, personal watercraft are becoming more and more popular on waterways all over the country. With raising expenses of owning a full-size power boat, many individuals are turning to more economical ways to get out on the water. More and more individuals are turning to canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle board (SUP’s), and other small craft to leave the shore. Anglers are fully aware of this, and the traditional thought that bigger boats mean bigger and better fishing opportunities, and fish, has shifted. There is no doubt that larger boats will continue to be a mainstay on the water for anglers and recreational boaters alike, but we need to take full notice of the movement in our sport; the stigma that personal watercraft are only good for paddle sports is over.

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