We have all done it, walked into Bass Pro Shops kayak section and thought, "Huh, that is not a bad looking boat. The price is fair and the open deck makes this kayak look like it’s as long as the Nitro Z9 sitting in the boat department." But the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not it will give you the bang for your buck.
Let’s start at the top with some good points about the FS128T. This kayak will flat out haul gear and has the storage space that can make any tackle hoarder one very happy individual. The FS128T has a very open hull that runs end to end with 4 different hatches to access the storage from the deck. This kayak not only is great for fishing gear but if anglers find themselves looking at pulling some double duty in the fall for a little hunting action they will also find plenty of deck space to haul treestands and other hunting equipment . Overall the deck space and storage on this kayak is exactly what it appears to be.
How about stability? Coming in at 12’-8” long and 33” wide the FS128T can get the job done. With that keep in mind you are on a kayak so when you talk stability you’re not talking the same language you would be with a larger bass boat. The kayak offers great stability on the paddle allowing you to shift your center here and there. As far as standing goes, it’s no problem. It may take you a little time to get your “sea legs” but once you get comfortable mentally the kayak will do its job and you should be able to get casting with a little practice.
Does it track well? Not bad, not bad at all. I tested this boat primarily in moving water therefore, I was able to see it cut its way upstream fairly well. It’s not going to be the fastest kayak you’re going to get in but you will get there at some point. Weighing in at just less than 100 lbs the boat is heavier than smaller models and the hull shape is not as streamlined out for speed. But I will say again it’s built more for stability than a paddle race.
There are some issues that come with the value and I had to make a few adjustments to improve some of the areas that we didn’t like. One thing you will see right away is that the casting deck is a little softer than most. This is a result of the material and the center hatch being right where you stand. I spent some time cutting and relocating the Styrofoam inserts and adding in some columns cut from yoga blocks. This allowed me to reinforce the deck and get things a little more stable. Keep in mind, this is a plastic boat so it is always going to give a little bit.
The Bass Pro kayaks are known for leaky hatches on the deck that end up leaving a little water in the hull area. Only having this kayak a couple weeks I can say, so far so good. I have seen a little water in the hull but it’s been minimal thus far. If you start to see any water all you need to do is reseal the hatches with a little Marine Goop. They come off easy and should only take about 30 min of your time. You may also find yourself reversing the direction of the rear hatch, as it opens facing away from you. When turning around you will find the reach just a little longer and a little awkward to reach over.
The seat is comfortable enough and will allow you to adjust between 3 different seat heights to find what fits you best. However the bungee strap holding the seat is going to need a quick update unless you like looking up at the sky. I used 2 tie down straps to help lock it into place and keep from rocking over during a monster hook set. Bungees stretch, straps do not.
Over all the Ascend FS128T by Bass Pro Shops is affordable and can make a solid first kayak for anyone looking to get started in the sport. It will require a little work out of the packaging, but if you are a DIY guy on a budget this kayak will fit the bill. If you’re looking for a kayak to take to the water today you have to keep in mind that you get what you pay for and expect to have some frustrations.
Length: 12' 8".
Weight: 84 lbs. Weight with seat: 96 lbs.
Maximum weight capacity: 350 lbs. Made in USA.
Sit-on-top/Stand up design provides the ultimate kayak fishing platform
Solid casting platform with pull up assist strap for stable switch to stand up fishing
Removable 360° swivel seat with 3 position height adjustment
Multiple weathertight storage hatches with easy access
Deep molded side storage trays accept all kinds of fishing gear and tackle
Multipurpose molded dash - catch all trays, cupholder, and recessed tackle tray storage under seat
Adjustable foot braces
4 flush mount rod holders - 2 by seat, 2 forward
Molded rod tip stagers on bow deck hold top of rod while fishing
Fully adjustable rod tender - provides vertical adjustment and 360° of horizontal adjustment
8 scupper drains - big enough to accept transducer (sold separately)
Information from Bass Pro Shops: http://www.basspro.com/Ascend-FS128T-SitOnTop-Angler-Kayak-Camo/product/12102505321116/