Initial review of Stealth Fisha 550 -repost after KFDU crash

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Initial review of Stealth Fisha 550 -repost after KFDU crash

Postby Salty Dog » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:11 pm

Hi All,

Thanks to those that already commented. Couldn't find this after the KFDU crash & loss of 48hrs worth of posts, so re-posted. Luckily I had also posted on AKFF.


Just starting to get a little bit of time to test my Stealth Fisha 550.

My paddle fitness still leaves alot to be desired. I don't have a sea kayaking or surf ski background, so this is my first experience with a fibreglass kayak. My previous kayak was an Ocean Kayak Scupper without a rudder. That will give you an idea as to what I am used to paddling.

Everyone pretty much knows that the Stealths look nice, but to me that's a pretty minor consideration.

I've got to say that the Stealth feels very different to the Scupper. The whole kayak sits alot higher in the water. I was worried that stability might be an issue. After a couple of times out at sea, one short trip, one longer one, it doesn't seem to be a problem. I caught a planet, (snagged) on Sunday & didn't feel at risk of going over when trying to get unsnagged, only 20lb braid with 20lb leader but still a decent test.

Another thing that is different if the flat bottom for part of the kayak. It seems to help you turn. I find it easier to turn the Fisha than the Scupper even though it is about a metre longer.

This is mostly a good thing but I had some self-inflicted rudder problems early on - over-tightened a nut on the rudder which caused crimps to break. I did not enjoy paddling without a rudder & found myself all over the shop with a little bit of wind & current in what were otherwise sheltered waters. The sort of problem I experienced should be unusual in the extreme. With the benefit of hindsight I feel very dumb for having made the mistake. The support I got from Dennis of Kayak Specialists Australia was beyond excellent, can't rate it highly enough, especially considering I bought 2nd hand.

Due to lack of fitness, I have mostly paddled at a pretty leisurely pace. When there is wind or swell around & I am paddling slowly, found myself doing plenty of little rudder adjustments which I am sure will become second nature when I am more used to using my rudder. When I did try & paddle a bit faster I didn't seem to need to do as many adjustments.

One thing I will say is that the Fisha 550 seems to encourage you to paddle faster, especially if there is a light following swell. It really encourages you to try & catch those waves. I can tell that the Fisha is fast & that the speed limitation is definitely the paddler at the moment. I am really looking forward to being more able to realise it's potential. I don't have a GPS, so I can't offer any figures. If I did have one, I could only tell you how much faster an unfit paddler with poor technique goes in a 550 vs a Scupper which might be a bit unimpressive for the more seasoned paddlers or the fit guys out there.

The fish hatch is considerably smaller than that of the Pro Fisha 475 or 575. The size of the hatches on the Pro Fishas is huge & I am jealous. I could still fit a couple of rods in there though if I were inclined to go through surf. The fish hatch also has some drainage holes in the bottom that go into the foot wells. This effectively means that the fish hatch has water in it at rest. It could also mean that if you had your fish hatch open at an inopportune moment that you could drain the water out through the venturi drains in the footwells. I am not a fan & would prefer the fish hatch to be dry as it is in the Pro Fishas. Will have to silicon up the holes.

The rear storage hatch is actually bigger than it looks & you would be surprised at the amount of stuff that you can fit in there. It is screw top & can be prone to sticking a bit if done up too tight. It doesn't seem 100% waterproof, but buying 2nd hand, I can't know for sure that the lid is original or that the previous owner didn't cross thread it at some stage. Some other Stealth owners might be able to comment on whether there's is fully watertight but for mine, I would dry bag anything that you absolutely can't afford to get wet.

Had an issue with my left rudder pedal only getting stuck in the footwell if pushed down too far. The right one was fine & I have adjusted the left pedal higher & it doesn't seem to be an issue anymore with the pedals adjusted that way. When I tested the Pro Fisha 475 & 575, I didn't notice that being an issue at all, so if it was a manufacturing problem, looks like it has been sorted out for the Pro Fishas.

The shallow rear well with the webbed bungy is accessible but would most likely be more awkward if I was using a seat or a back rest. That is where I am keeping an insulated bag with ice bricks in it - too tight a squeeze in the fish hatch.

The bucket is pretty comfortable even without any additional padding or a back rest. My lower back still gets a bit sore after a decent paddle, but that would be more to do with the big gut of the paddler up front, lack of proper paddling technique & fitness. If I am not pushing it, I will be comfortable for hours. My back doesn't get as sore as it did when I first started. As there are only the venturi drains in the footwells, you don't get nearly as wet as in the Scupper. With the Scupper I was resigned to sitting in water as there was a scupper hole right under my bum....no more amusing motor-boat noises when no-one else is around to hear.

The handles on the 550 come in handy. Fibreglass is quite slippery when wet. The 550 is easy enough to car top, as easy if not slightly easier than the Scupper. Being longer, it does catch the wind more when you lift if over your head though.

The paddle keeper up the front is a really simple design but really handy - got used to that pretty quickly.

The 2 standard flush mount rod holders are pretty accessible. The rear storage gives reels a place to rest a little further away from the water if your rods have a short butt. The are a bit smaller diameter than the ones I had in the Scupper. I had to trim a little of the round rubber base off one of my rods to get it to fit but no big deal.

The Stealth naysayers, especially those in the States who haven't paddled them would be quick to mention hull slap. This is definitely an issue when paddling straight into waves & can be surprisingly loud. The 550 is a long boat with a flat bottom, so you would have to expect that if you take waves head on though. If you are at a bit of an angle, it's a non-event with it being practically non-existent. The same on flat water - just not an issue. Ask the South Africans if they think that big fish out at sea are put off by their hull slap...

All in all, I am thoroughly impressed with the kayak so far. Looking forward to getting better with it & getting into some decent fish eventually to test it more.

Pictures of my kayak are still up on Kayak Specialist's site, so will be lazy & just link to them:
http://kayakspecialists.com.au/used-kay ... -550-fisha
Regards, Adam.

Stealth Fisha 550
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Salty Dog
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