Malibu Kayaks – Stealth 12 and Stealth 14 Review By: Rick Bisson (Phatrick)
What do you look for in a fishing kayak? I went down my list and the main things I came up with were stability, maneuverability, storage space, and versatility (could I use it on rivers and lakes, rough water and calm?)
Stability: this was important to me and at 33 inches wide the Malibu Stealth series fits the bill to a tee. You will not find a more stable sit on top kayak, sitting sideways, kneeling, turning around, standing, jumping in the water and climbing back on are all easy to do and standing is made easier with the center casting/bait well platform that not only offers a place to stand but a aerated bait well/cooler/ ice chest/center storage as well. Rough water as well as wake from passing boats don’t seem to bother the Stealth either, you rock and roll a little bit but you never feel as though you might go over.
Maneuverability: At 12’6” long the Stealth 12 is, as should be expected, a very easy boat to paddle, Easy to get going, it will drift forever on just the slightest stroke of the paddle, and it will turn on a dime. No rudder is needed as the boat tracks true in all but the worst weather conditions and then it could be my fat ass acting as a sail that could be affecting the handling. The boat drifts nice down the river, I haven’t taken it over rapids or anything too hairy mostly because I haven’t encountered that type of water. At 14’6” the Stealth 14 doesn’t have the “off the line” speed of the 12 but once you get going seems as fast as anyone I’m fishing with. The 14 won’t turn as tight as the 12 but it tracks as true and a rudder doesn’t seem to be needed. I have one and I’ll put it on any way to see if it makes a difference. The 14 sits a little higher in the water. I don’t think this affects the handling at all, it might keep your ass a little drier though.
Storage space: With weight capacities of 450 and 550lbs, The Stealth 12 and 14 are built for hauling gear. If you ever want to go camping you’ll need storage and these Kayaks have it in spades. Both the 12 and 14 have a huge front hatch and the standing platforms open to give you storage bags or ‘glove boxes’ that also remove to give you access to the inside of the kayak for rod storage (sort of like a rod pod you can stand on) The 14 also has a huge rear hatch with removable storage bag to allow access to the rear of the yak for more storage. Plus the tank well in the rear of both the 12 and 14 has cut outs for just about every size of crate or pail you can find. Seriously folks if you can’t fit it in or on this kayak YOU DON’T NEED IT
Standing platform on the Stealth 14, the switch by the cup holder is for the bait tank. The clear plastic center piece unscrews to allow access to the bait or cold drink
This center tank isn’t aerated so I use it for more storage or put ice and drinks in it, The left side hatch on the 12 opens directly to the inside of the kayak and the right side is a glove box, on the 14 both sides have removable bags and the center tank on mine is aerated
The intake is on the bottom and the pump is accessed through the left side hatch
The huge front hatch on both and the rear hatch of the 14
Versatility: You can take it down the river, you can take it on the lake, you can take it fishing, diving, swimming, exploring. Both kayaks have 4 rod holders and bungee cords front and rear. At 12’ 6” the stealth 12 has a 450lb cap. The 14 at 14’ 6” will carry 550lbs of whatever gear your little ‘ol heart desires!