Friday, June 4, 2010

The Versa Board Review

Late last year I stopped in at Rivers Runners to speak with store manager and kayak mastermind Jesse Koch.  Mrs. Manifesto and I had been thinking about and starting to look into the various kayak paddleboards on the market and I wanted to get his take.  Mrs. Manifesto had been looking for a core body exercise (Have you seen the abs of the peeps that paddleboard day in and out?  Damn...) and well...I've been looking at new kayaks to fly fish from.  Jesse knew from our first kayak purchase that we really were impressed with the Native Watercraft product and said "It's coming.  It's not ready yet...but it's coming."   I took Jesse's word for it since he's privy to information and prototypes coming out of several of the kayak and canoe companies and I trust his opinion.

A couple months later I ran into Jesse and he said that they had just gotten a Liquidlogic Versa Board at the shop and that I should come by to check it out.  A couple more conversations with Jesse and I figured that this sit on top paddleboard must be the real deal since he was so excited about it.  With the long weekend looming I thought it would be worth lining up the rental to demo a Versa Board for ourselves on the family pond.

The Versa Board is offered by both Liquidlogic and Native Watercraft under the same name.  The Native Watercraft can be ordered in an Angler version with rod mounts, paddle holder, and groove accessory system.  Both are offered with an ingenious flip out of the way First Class Seating or the functional and comfortable DVC seat as another option.

One of the first questions that I had about the Versa Board is how stable it would be and how easy would it be for us to use on the water.  These questions were asked and answered the moment I stepped up on the Versa Board and paddled away from the edge of the pond.  The Versa Board is amazingly stable and it's a great platform to paddle from, fly cast from, and play which Hadley did all weekend.  She was on and off the Versa Board swimming and was giddy about hanging on to the back handle while the wife and I paddled her around the pond.

Over the course of the weekend I found the Versa Board to be really enjoyable to fly fish from both in the standing and sitting positions.  When standing to cast there wasn't any feeling of a loss of balance. The Versa Board doesn't wobble side to side during casting motions and there truly is a huge benefit to paddle standing up since your field of vision is so much larger than when you're sitting down.

One afternoon I spent a couple hours with my legs dangling over the side of the Versa Board casting small poppers up against the lily pads to entice a bluegill here and there.  I really enjoyed this laid back fly fishing experience and the Versa Board felt so comfortable to do this on. 

From the fly fishing side of things it will be interesting to see what options or accessories will work best on the Versa Board to attach items like a crate or other gear while on the water.  In my mind the Versa Board would be the ultimate no frills fly fishing play boat for ponds, rivers, and marsh flats.

Just so we're looking at both sides of this...the Versa Board is not all that fast to paddle, it's a bit heavy, and it really isn't a kayak that I'd want to attempt upstream or against the wind all day paddling from.  The Versa Board is however even more stable than our very stable Native Ultimate and tracks wonderfully with hidden keel and spring loaded skeg.

The Liquidlogic and Native Watercraft Versa Board is a great balance between a sit on top and paddleboard and most likely our next big ticket purchase.  Now to decide on which color we (Mrs. Manifesto) like best...


Hadley Wrynn said...

I really want keep:)

Shane Benedict said...

Thanks for the review. It seems like lots of folks are finding the Versa Board to be a fun, easy, and versatile craft that anyone can paddle for lots of different reasons.

Liquidlogic Kayaks

Cameron Mortenson said...

Shane...thank you for your comments on this post. I figured that I'd like the Versa Board but did not expect to be so impressed with it. We can't wait to get our own soon!

Any chance of getting a couple Liquidlogic Kayaks decals for our badged out Honda Element?