Ascend FS10 – By: Alan High (Alan High)
Bass Pro has their own line of kayaks, under the “Ascend” brand. They make 10 foot and 12 foot models, both in Sit On and Sit In formats. This review is for the FS10 sit in kayak.I have been fishing from my 18′ canoe for a few years, and that works well when I have the kids with me. But, there are times when I just want to head out by myself and the canoe isn’t the easiest thing to handle alone. The idea of fishing kayaks intrigued me and after doing a lot of research I purchased this boat. Initially, I was leaning more towards a sit-on (specifically an Ocean Kayak Trident 13′) until I saw one up close. I realized handling a 13′ kayak wasn’t going to be much different than an 18′ canoe, so I went smaller.
I spent time looking at hull shapes, keel designs and all that fun stuff, there are a lot of different boats on the market. The lines on this boat suggested it would be pretty stable, track straight, turn quickly – basically not handle like a barge. I wasn’t disappointed when I got it in the water. I feel like it moves faster than my Clipper canoe on open water, tracks very straight into the wind. It is stable in the wind and waves, even when running parallel to the waves. I have no problem turning the boat around on it’s length. The boat is quite light, and easy to throw up on the roof of the car. I can carry it on my shoulder, but if I want to load all my gear and only make one trip I put it on a cart.
I have tried to paddle in as many different water / weather conditions as possible before writing this review. I can say I have no regrets choosing a sit in type over a sit on model. I have stayed a lot drier being inside the boat when the waves break over the bow than if I was sitting on the deck. The sit-in is really easy to get in and out of, I’m 6’1 and 190 lbs. No problems bringing fish, holding them in the net while unhooking them – the boat is really stable. The only time I get water inside the boat is from hauling up fish.
On to specifics with this boat. The seat is really comfortable, adjusts with straps inside the boat. I like that I can release the slide and recline while fishing. For transport the seat folds down forward, there is room to jam something behind the seat, but I’m not sure how easy it would be to get at while paddling. The foot posts are quite durable, nice locking handles on them, probably the best ones I saw in all the boats I looked at. I wasn’t crazy about the foam they put on the sides for thigh pads, it fell apart as soon as I touched it. If I find my legs getting sore I will replace it with some better material – not a deal breaker for me though. The gear well in the back fits a plastic milk crate perfectly, and you can still store stuff below it. I am able to turn around and reach stuff in the crate without capsizing (remember to keep your head midline in the boat and you will stay upright). The built in recessed rod holders in the back are easy to reach, I keep my landing net in one. My boat came with a rod holder up on the front tray, not the most durable thing, but it works. I filed off the guide on the rod holder so I can place it somewhere other than straight ahead.
Like everyone else, I had to “pimp my ride” after I got it. I added a compass on the tray, a strip of thick foam weather stripping on the tray edge to hang on to lures (otherwise they end up down by your feet), lots of tie down points for paddle leashes etc. I didn’t like the cords they installed on the paddle keeps on both sides, they were too short, so I changed those and added a pull loop so I could grab it with gloves on. Right now my finder display is on the right side of the tray. If that forward rod holder wasn’t there the tray could easily accomodate a GPS/Sonar finder display. After using the boat for a while I am removing the supplied forward rod holder, putting my sonar smack in the middle, and a pair of Scotty holders on each side of the tray. My transducer is hull mounted inside behind the seat and the battery is on a small rack behind my seat (inside wall of the rear well), all the wiring is tucked up under the top edge of the hull. I tried using a drift sock, but the boat always turns perpendicular to the wind, not sure if that is because of how it is secured or not. Last year I started using an anchor with better results. For next season I plan on putting in an anchor trolley.
I purchased this boat late 2010 and the color options were sand and yellow. The 2011-2012 colors are favoring dark camo patterns. From a safety standpoint, the new colors are very difficult to see on the water. I can’t understand why all of the boat manufacturers are putting out kayaks in these colors, but that is a subject for another thread.
Overall, this boat is a ton of fun to paddle and fish from, and is really stable on the water. I keep finding more places to go fishing and hopefuly more time to fish. No regrets with my purchase at all.