There’s been quite some buzz this year about Native’s new offering, the Slayer 14.5. We asked Native Pro Staff member, Nathan Wiles of North Carolina to provide his thoughts and insight on this yak from Native…
After having paddled the Slayer 14.5 for over 8 months now, I want to share a few things about this new line of Native Watercraft kayaks that was introduced in late 2012 and made available in early 2013. As with all their lines of fishing kayaks, Native took this new model to the next level of kayak fishing. Some say “built by kayak anglers for kayak anglers.”
At 14’6’’ in length, a width of 30” and a weight capacity of 450lbs, the Slayer is a very stable boat while standing or paddling in rough conditions. In my opinion, more stable than the Ultimate series. The Slayer does weight 75lbs empty making it the second heaviest kayak in the Native fleet behind the Mariner 12.5 Propel. I don’t car top or lift the Slayer on a rack because I have a kayak trailer for all my kayaks when traveling so weight is not that big of a deal…just a short lift on and off the trailer.
One of the first things you will notice is the open cockpit area of the Slayer. This large open area is perfect for those wanting to fly fish and be able to strip line without having to worry about the line getting tangled up on obstacles or accessories in the cockpit. This open area also enables anglers to stand and have some space to move around slightly in regards to feet positioning. Also available are the Native traditional foot pads which add comfort for the feet while standing. The electronics console can be used for battery storage, transducer mounting or just a general storage area if electronics are not your cup of tea on a kayak. The 2013 models came with SS Phillips head bolts that required a screwdriver to gain access. However, the 2014 models are now coming with thumb screws that make it easier to access while on the water. The molded in tackle trays on each side of the Hi/Low seat are perfect for holding the Plano 3640-1 tackle boxes. Behind the seat is also enough space to hold larger tackle trays or soft plastic bait bags and easily accessible while sitting.
Native’s intent to design comfort in the Slayer is also evident in the First Class Hi/Low seat which has a high or low position for the angler to use….undoubtedly one of the most comfortable seats on the market!! When in the high position, it did take a few minutes to adjust to the higher enter of gravity but I never felt as if I was tippy or in danger of flipping. Originally, I had a concern of my paddle length of 240cm being too short while the seat was in the high position, but that never became an issue.
The large rear tank well area, as with the large bow compartment, makes a perfect area for storing gear, crates, cast nets and other items to prevent them from getting around the angler. The front compartment can be covered with the optional front hatch cover which is a handy cover containing a sealed gasket around the molded compartment.
As far as “on the water performance”, I would put the speed of this boat somewhere around the Ultimate 14.5. I’m 5’10” and weigh 250lbs and own both the Ultimate and Slayer 14.5 and see very little difference between the two. The major performance difference I see between the two is tracking. At first, the Ultimate seemed to track a lot better. My first on the water experience with the Slayer was the 2013 JAX Classic in which we battled 3 days of heavy rain and 20-35mph winds the entire time. Paddling did become difficult in the wind and rough water conditions and I was a little concerned after that tournament. I consulted several kayak shops and they advised me to try a rudder on the Slayer. I had never had a rudder before on any kayak but had the new rudder kit for the Slayer installed. The very next weekend, we fished again in windy and rough conditions and boy was it a difference. No more breaking paddle strokes to correct direction, no more paddle left side twice, right side three times and etc. The use of the rudder for paddling/tracking made things much easier and drift fishing in windy conditions was excellent. I basically set my rudder and peddles on a distant point and paddled normal and the tracking was 10 times better in rough conditions….I’d definitely recommend a Native rudder kit for these reasons.
As far as accessories go, the Slayer has designed this kayak with the groove tracks on each side of the cockpit as well as on each side of the front and rear tank well making it very easy to add rod holders, etc without drilling holes. New accessories this year include the Hi/Low seat organizer as well as the Back Pak that is easily attached to the HI/Low seat and is a wonderful and handy accessory. The front console also has groove tracks on it for mounting a FF, camera, or another rod holder as well if needed.
- Length: 14’6″
- Width: 30″
- Weight: 75lbs
- Capacity: 450lbs
- MSRP: $1399