Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Stealth Pro Fisha 575: first impressions in the dry

Well, it finally arrived after what seemed months of waiting!  Chris and Victoria pulled into our little street of tightly terraced houses to deliver my nearly 6m sea fishing kayak.  First impressions?
First impressions are exactly that.  What strikes you as you glance at it for the first time, which is generally the paint job and the profile. There's no doubt that the 575 has a fantastic looking profile, it just looks like it's built for speed. That very low profile back end sits low in the water, extending the waterline without catching the wind and I can't wait to try it out.  Its hull is practically flat, which should make for good stability and surfing characteristics, and speed of course.

As for the paint job, well it's probably the only time you'll ever look it in such detail, in the months to come that nice shiny finish will soon be scratched and matted up all over with sand, gravel, fish guts and who knows what! But for the meantime it's absolutely pristine, which means that faults tend to show up more. Stealth are known for their sometimes wild and wacky colour schemes dreamt up by customers from all over the globe, which is great, but the more complicated and exotic the colour scheme, the more likely you'll see the odd error.

My 575 is white tipped with red. Pretty simple, but even this proved a bit difficult for the gel coat finishers at Stealth. One side the lines don't quite meet up at the binding strip and on another they meet up but one isn't straight. The bonding strip is also a bit wobbly on the edges and still spotted with the release agent from the mould, giving it a slightly ragged appearance.  This is a shame, as the kayak is generally finished quite well and the fittings look good quality.
You might find some raggedy edges and
the odd line that veers off from the vertical.

As I say, the paint job will soon be scuffed, scratched and generally look a mess, so it's not really a big deal. It's just those first impressions.  ;-)

What else?  Well, laying it on the world's smallest lawn gave me chance to go over some options on where to put stuff. Certainly the front hatch is cavernous, really enormous, and everything could just go in there. The South Africans seem to put their fish straight in the hatch, but I prefer to use a cool bag to store my catch so I can keep it really cold with freezer blocks. When I freeze mackerel, I like to see the colours still on them!  A cool bag does restrict access to the space further up and below:

But you don't need access to it all the time, you can just keep a small opening and slide the fish in there, keeping your tackle boxes in front.
The next big item for me is my C-Tug.  This won't fit in the back hatch at all, so it has to either go in the front or strapped to the back. You don't really want your C-Tug covered in mud / sand to go in with your tackle and fish, getting everything all mucked up.  If you feel you can make it secure, the C-Tug fits quite nicely strapped on the back with the elastic cord. But it would need a roll test to make sure it doesn't come out if the yak turns over. The other point is that the rear of the 575 sits pretty low in the water, so it may be that the wheels will drag a little. I'll have to check that out on the water. The best place for it might be right up at the front. Extra weight there can help keep the nose down a little, which can marginally extend your waterline and so improve your speed.

Perhaps my biggest surprise are two factors that reflect the kayak's designers live in a warm water environment with sandy beaches. First, the Pro Fisha 575 has a permanent rudder, making it difficult to drag up rocky or shingle beaches using the front end handle. Stealth provide a "drag" handle, but that's not something you want to use if you're on rough ground as it just scrapes the side of the yak.

If you've already fitted your rudder, and you want to adjust your feeting position before you get on the water, you need to find somewhere with soft sand so that you don't risk buckling the rudder as the entire weight of you plus yak will be on it. Best to get your foot rests in the right place before you put the rudder on.

And speaking of feeting position, we come to the second feature that seems pretty typical of SA kayaks: tiny little footwells, suitable for bare feet or at best feet wearing just neoprene. Most UK guys paddle in cold water for most of the year, and if you're wearing boots on top of dry socks (i.e. from a dry suit, so a size up from your normal boot size) then you probably won't fit them into the Pro Fisha footwells. Bit annoying, as we don't all launch or land onto sandy beaches. Where I fish it can often be sharp barnacled rock edges on the shoreline. Not great for glass yaks, but even worse for neoprene socks.  You need boots in these places, but my Orvis wading boots don't fit so I'm in the market for some new footwear. This seems to have been something that the Dorado 2 has addressed specifically, though the footwells are still pretty narrow in that boat too from what I hear. If you're a big guy, try your footwear out first in someone else's!

That's it for my first impressions. What really counts is it's performance on the water. If it's fast, comfortable and handles rough water, that will do for me. All other considerations are secondary!

But now I have it, the question is where do you put a six metre kayak? It'll have to go up the back wall like my Scupper Pro did, but this is over a metre longer...  Imagine the neighbours fear and delight when they saw nearly six metres of kayak arrive ready to go up against our gable!

First thing is to get it on the wall, note the rubber fenders on the gable to protect the yak:

Next is to get the sophisticated and fully patented Vertical Yak Lifting End Protection Unit in place:

Then carefully lift it into position, nose down in the fully patented protection unit with one end resting on a wall buttress, and attach the pulley:

From outside it looks even more ridiculous.  Remember the nose is about a foot from the corner of the house...

Next step is too walk along the kayak, holding it above your head, until it rears vertically up against the wall. I think you can forgive me if there are no photos of this part! Bit jittery the first time, but in the twinkle of an eye the job is done.
The kayak, all 5.75m of it, extending even above the roof line, is strapped securely in place!
Yes I know it's bonkers, I can't wait till we move house!

Coming next will be an on-the-water first impressions, stay subscribed for the updates!


  1. madas a hatter comes to mind haha nice yak tho

  2. Hey man nice yak!! How is the pro fisha compared to your scupper pro??

  3. About a hundred times better? ;-) The Scupper Pro isn't a fishing yak, it's just a general purpose SOT, so there are lots of things that could be better (no fish hatch, very little storage, etc). The Pro fisha 575 is IMHO the Rolls Royce of fishing kayaks. There's nothing else as quick, light and large out there. Everything has been carefully thought through. It's hard to improve on it. There might be a tiny improvement to have the type of rudder you find on Epics, that lifts up, but that so minor it's neither here nor there to be honest. The rudder BTW is fantastic, makes paddling so relaxing especially once the wind picks up.

    I can say with my hand on my heart it is the best fishing purchase I ever made. If it ever breaks I would get another one the day after. I like it that much!

  4. Awesome!! I currently own a Scupper Pro, I love it! Its stable and pretty fast compared to other plastic SOT kayaks. But as you mentioned It is a general purposed SOT. The Storage isn't ideal for my type of fishing. I was curious how the stability and speed is compared to the Scupper Pro. I live in Hawaii, the oceans here can get very hostile at times with strong off shore winds and ripping currents. No Stealth shops in Hawaii and I don't think anyone owns a stealth on my island. Any info will help. BTW Your kayak looks killer!!

    Thanks Kester!!

  5. The ProFisha will handle much rougher conditions than the Scupper Pro could ever manage. The main reason is that the rudder is cleverly positioned so that as the swell picks up, your tail lifts out of the water but the rudder remains as long as possible in the water, meaning you can use it to steer and stop the yak swinging round side on to the wave. Big tides are no problem either, as there isn't a faster fishing yak out there.

    But if you have to go through and come back through big, heavy surf to get out to your marks, you might want to look at other models (Stealth also do a surfboard type yak just for those conditions). Maybe the 475 is a bit easier to surf in as it's a bit shorter. Read the interviews I did with the guy that runs Stealth - he explains the differences in detail there.

    But for such a long kayak, I've had no problems in any conditions. I've gone through standing waves in a tidal rip of about 2m (6 foot plus) and survived. Not saying it wasn't scary, but there's no way I could have stayed in the Scupper Pro. I would have been tipped out after the first or second wave.

    I think there is someone with a Stealth on Hawaii, check out the Stealth facebook page or just write direct to them and ask if there is anybody importing them. It took me about 6 months to get mine, but it was worth it. You won't regret it. The other thing I forgot to mention is that my 575 is actually lighter than my Scupper Pro, despite being much longer and having internal storage. The size of the storage of the 575 is not to be underestimated. I can get all my kit, c-tug, everything, inside the yak if I have to return through a big surf. So you should never lose anything even if you get tipped out.

    Any more questions just ask. :-)

    1. Nice!! I live on the Island of Oahu, I know some people on Kauai have some Stealth Evo's and I think they are getting them from Head Water Kayaks in California. I will most likely go through them as well... I don't really have to punch through crazy surf, so entry and re-entry isn't really to big a factor. I try to go on the nicer days, just some times we get bipolar whether and it gets a little tough out there, but nothing the Scupper Pro couldn't handle. haha so not that tough. But a better paddling kayak I think would make the day more enjoyable and give me a boost in confidence. But So far Pro Fisha 575 sound like a great choice. Would you know how they are compared to the Evo 495? As in Speed? Or anything that really stands out between the two?

      I will also check out there website.

      Thanks man you are very helpful!!

    2. The ProFishas are made with a more modern epoxy, so they're much lighter and yet also stronger than the Evos. Speedwise there's nothing to touch them. As I say, the 575 really is in a class of its own. But once you go shorter, there's more to compare them against. If you're a big guy you might prefer the 525 which is a bit wider. I've got a mate who's 6'4" and he feels yaks like the ProFisha and Dorado are a bit too tippy for him (mind, he was previously using a Prowler which is basically a big plastic barge!).

      Think if you're used to the Scupper, you'll be fine in the 575. It just makes your days out that more enjoyable, as paddling up and down a drift becomes a pleasure and not drag. The first time you experience the glide in the 575 you can't help laugh. You stop paddling and keep going, and going, and going...

  6. Hey thanks for all your help Kester! I am 5'9'' 180 lbs, I was thinking Evo 495 because of its stability and storage compacity. Only thing holding me back is ease of paddle and speed compared to Scupper Pro. Definitely getting excited over here. But If I ever make a decision and get one I will let you know. Pro Fisha 575 or Evo 495... lol


  7. Yep, you're identical height / weight to me! I'd go for the 575. Much easier to get on and off your car, faster, more storage, stronger. No contest!


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