Wilderness System Tarpon 120 Fishing Kayak Review


When buying a new kayak, functionality is one of the things we’re looking for. Everybody wants a comfortable and relaxing day on the water once they finally find time to go out. The Wilderness System Tarpon 120 probably has everything you would wish from an angler kayak. If it doesn’t, you can effortlessly mount anything you need. Take a look at some of its outstanding features.

  • Phase 3 AirPro adjustable seat
  • SlideTrax gear tracks
  • Storage pockets
  • Self-bailing scupper holes
  • Paddle holder
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Two Orbix storage hatches
  • Color choice
  • Cupholder
  • Four padded carry handles


Length: 12 feet 3 inches

Width: 30 inches

Depth: 13.75 inches

Weight: 63 pounds

Capacity: 350 pounds

Tankwell size: 42 x 18 x 6.5 inches

Material: High-density polyethylene, rotomolded

Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty for material and manufacturing defects

Included accessories: Adjustable seat, gear tracks, sliding footrests, storage pockets, paddle holder

User Experience

Performance: Kayakers agree on one thing – the Tarpon 120 kayaks are very quick and responsive. The hull design is excellent and allows you to glide through the water. Furthermore, it tracks with ease regardless of your paddling technique. Considering that it’s a 12ft kayak, the maneuverability is really good too – you won’t have any problems avoiding rocks and other obstacles.

However, if you want to raise maneuverability to a higher level, this kayak has a trick up its sleeve. It’s rudder-ready, meaning there is a molded groove at the stern as well as screws for securing the rudder. Unfortunately, the rudder itself doesn’t come in the package, but you can buy it separately from Wilderness Systems.

Stability: You shouldn’t expect any trouble in this area either. Users report that this kayak has excellent balance, mainly because of the multi-chine hull that increases stability. This feature makes getting in and out of the kayak really easy. Furthermore, this allows the kayak to accommodate even larger users without sinking too much or losing stability.

It’s a versatile vessel that works well in different types of water – from calm lakes to choppy rivers and coastal waters. Finally, there is a bonus to the Wilderness Tarpon 120. Because of the high stability as well as large space at the bow, you can use this boat when kayaking with your dog, even if your furry companion is larger in size.

Storage: The Tarpon 120 offers you more than enough space for all the gear you want to bring. Users like that you get two storage hatches instead of the usual one (or none). The first one is in the middle and measures 8 inches in diameter. The second one measures 19 inches and is located at the bow. It’s large and wide enough for bigger equipment such as a camping tent or a sleeping bag if you’re planning a longer trip.

However, neither of these hatches are fully waterproof. The larger one has rubber around the edges, but users report that a small amount of water still manages to find its way in. For this reason, be sure to place your electronics and valuables in a dry bag before placing them inside, so they don’t get damaged.

Behind the seat (in the stern area) you will get a spacious tankwell rigged with bungee cords. It’s convenient because it’s wide enough for a gear crate, and the front part is curved so you can easily secure a bucket if you wish to do so.

The storage feature that users like most are the corner pockets in front of the seat (next to the hatch). These are great for keeping a large number of smaller gear within hands reach, for example, fishing pliers, your kayak gloves, or a waterproof camera.

Fishing: Customers agree that this kayak is a real joy to fish in. This is because you can attach or mount all the accessories you need for your trip. There are four pre-installed gear tracks (SlideTrax), two of which are on the sides while the other two are in the tankwell area.

While this kayak doesn’t include any fishing rod holders, it’s quite easy to mount rod holders from Scotty, RAM, or YakAttack to the gear rails we talked about. Additionally, most fish finders can be mounted on the rails too. The manufacturer also provides you with a mounting plate for an easier fit, if your equipment can’t be mounted by default.

In the bow area, you will find a handy paddle holder – a bungee cord with a rubber wheel. It’s really easy to quickly slip the kayak paddle underneath it when you need both hands to hold the rod, for example when reeling in your catch.

Comfort: This is probably one of the most comfortable sit-on-top kayaks around. It comes with a Phase 3 AirPro seat that has mesh stretched over perforated foam. This design allows good airflow, while at the same time having a really soft feel.

This kayak seat gives you excellent back and leg support because the backrest and thigh support are adjustable in height. Furthermore, the seat is raised from the floor which has additional benefits. You get better visibility when paddling and casting the bait, and the position keeps you from sitting in a puddle when water comes inside the kayak.

Finally, Tarpon 120 kayaks come equipped with adjustable foot braces. It’s easy to move the footrest back and forth, which allows even tall kayakers to find the optimal sitting position. This level of comfort makes it possible to use it as a recreational kayak too, which is a big plus.

Transportation: Here we have the only potential problem you are going to encounter with this kayak – it’s large and heavy. You have to plan how you’re going to transport it from your home to the water. It probably won’t fit in the back of your truck, so you need to learn how to strap the kayak to your roof rack. Alternatively, you can buy yourself a kayak trailer, which is a good investment if you go kayaking more often.

The weight can also be a bit of a problem – not everyone can carry a 63lbs vessel on their own. It is equipped with four padded handles, but you probably won’t be able to do it on your own. For this reason, you will either need a friend to help you carry it from your car to the water, or you need to get a kayak cart.


  • Surprisingly fast
  • Easy to control
  • Plenty of storage options
  • Comfortable seat
  • Convenient gear tracks
  • Large tank well
  • Excellent durability
  • Gear pockets


  • Heavy to carry on your own

Overall Rating

We are really happy with the Wilderness System Tarpon 120. It comes from a renowned manufacturer so you can rely on its quality. Furthermore, this fishing kayak performs great in any situation, which means you can take it on different kayaking adventures. It’s a stable, comfortable, and well-made vessel that is going to take your enjoyment to a higher level.

  • Price: 100% – Considering all the features it comes with, one might even call this kayak cheap. It’s not the most affordable one you can find, but the equipment it comes with and the overall quality level of all the components makes it absolutely worth it.
  • Material: 95% – The body of this kayak is made of HDPE, which basically guarantees durability. It’s a rugged vessel that won’t get damaged easily regardless of the situation. To back up this claim, Wilderness Systems gives you a limited lifetime warranty on materials.
  • Design: 95% – The design of this kayak is really smart – everything is in its place. The seat position and the footrests provide a high level of comfort, while the placement of the storage compartments and gear rails is really convenient. When it comes to looks, this one will certainly be noticed on the lake. A nice touch is the possibility to choose between four vibrant color patterns.
  • Overall: 97% – This is an amazing kayak that is primarily designed for fishing. You can use it for recreational purposes, but it fully shines when you pair it up with your fishing gear. It offers excellent maneuverability and stability, so the only thing you have to do is kick back and enjoy.

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As you had the chance to see, there are many reasons why the Wilderness Tarpon 120 stands out among the rest. It’s very gear-friendly, and its overall versatility will certainly surprise you. Many kayakers say it’s their favorite boat, and they wouldn’t change it for any other kayak. The affordable price is just the cherry on top – it makes it an even better choice. If you like the features it comes with, you should give it a shot – you won’t be disappointed!

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Wilderness System Tarpon 120 Fishing Kayak Review