Fishing Kayak Review: NuCanoe Unlimited

Buyer’s Guide | Kayak Angler

When the Kayak Angler office received a NuCanoe Unlimited to review at the height of fall speckled trout season, the team was understandably excited. NuCanoe’s designs are famously fishable backwater sleds, and the newly released Unlimited was one of 2021’s most talked-about fishing kayaks. Based on what I had heard, I expected the boat to hunt the flats and creeks like a hungry tiger.

NuCanoe’s Unlimited has endless possibilities

NuCanoe Unlimited Specs
Length: 12’6”
Width: 41”
Weight: 84 lbs (hull weight)
Capacity: 400 lbs
MSRP: $1,749
nucanoe.com

The NuCanoe Unlimited is 12.5 feet long, 41 inches wide and features NuCanoe’s signature canoe-kayak hybrid hull design with open deck and high gunwales. At 84 pounds, the Unlimited’s hull is designed to be used mainly with a motor or pedal drive. When I unloaded it off the trailer I stared at the massive blank canvas and started dreaming about its limitless possibilities.

The topside of the Unlimited is totally open for the angler’s interpretation. There are 11 gear tracks placed at convenient locations to mount electronics, rod holders, gear storage, and even a motor and anchor system. In addition, small access hatches—which NuCanoe calls wiring access plates—are placed at the bow, stern and midship to make electronics and power installation easier and cleaner. Just mount the accessory near one of the wiring access hatches and run the cables below the deck. The optional ThruHull Wiring Kit available on NuCanoe’s website makes for even easier gadget installation—the kit comes with eight rubber inserts with standard hole sizes, four blank inserts, two nylon grommets and two hardware sets.

Given its capacity for loading for bear, the Unlimited will be especially appealing to expedition anglers and those fishing the tournament trail. However, I kept rigging simple with a Railblaza Kayak Angler Crate to hold my rods and tackle. Sometimes less is more. Simple is beautiful, they say.

NuCanoe has added smart design details to the Unlimited. The boat we tested was fitted with the optional GearPod bow storage compartment. This 10-gallon watertight storage space is convenient for stowing tackle trays, lunch and a rain jacket. The Unlimited’s EVA-foam padded deck is cut and patterned to match the deep channels integrated into the deck, which move water to the scuppers and provide more rigidity for standup fishing. And—my favorite touch—the carry handles on each side double as taco-style paddle holders. I love a double-purpose gadget that does two things well.

NuCanoe Fusion 360 seat

The Unlimited comes with NuCanoe’s Fusion 360 Seat, which is also standard on the F10 and Frontier 12. The 360 bit means the seat spins 360 degrees to fish in any direction or turn around to reach gear in the stern. The seat base moves forward and back on 79-inch-long gear tracks molded into the deck. This huge range allows for customizing your deck and levelling the kayak’s trim so you can get the best performance.

The Fusion 360 Seat is built tough with fabric fused to the frame, so it won’t sag or stretch. The wide seat is plenty comfortable for all-day fishing. The elevated Fusion 360 Seat feels a bit like sitting on a throne—the high seat doesn’t lend itself to an efficient position for long-distance paddling, and it exposes the angler to more wind, which further slows paddling progress. However, the advantages of the elevated perch are more room for casting and a better view of the water.

NuCanoe boats with Fusion 360 seat

NuCanoe Pivot Drive pedal system

The Unlimited’s bow is designed to accommodate a motor or anchor system, while its squared-off stern can accept a trolling motor, outboard, anchoring system and NuCanoe’s own Pivot Drive pedal system.

The Pivot Drive consists of a pedal unit mounted to the deck and a flexible external cable attached to a propeller in the stern. A handle near the seat connects via wires to the propeller in the stern to steer the boat. I’ve enjoyed the few minutes I’ve spent pedalling the Pivot Drive at trade shows. I would have loved to try it on the big Unlimited. Instead, this trout trip was a paddle adventure.

Man fishing from seated position on sit-on-top kayak
Photo: Roberto Westbrook

NuCanoe Unlimited performance

The Unlimited is too big and awkward for me to lift onto my roof racks solo, so I used a Malone MicroSport trailer to haul the Unlimited to the put-in. My Malone WideTrak ATB cart wheeled the boat to the water at the launch.

Once on the water, the NuCanoe is easy to paddle for a full-size, extra-wide kayak. Many full-size standup kayaks in the same class as the Unlimited use a catamaran hull to improve stability and tracking. Instead, NuCanoe’s Unlimited relies on a long waterline and channeled hull to provide straight-ahead tracking, while its wide beam makes for a stable fishing platform. The Unlimited can carry the gear and accessories of a full-size kayak and still stand and paddle or cross shallow water like a champ.

As I paddled the Unlimited around the backwaters of Southeast Virginia, I imagined how I would rig the boat for serious fishing. Without scupper plugs, the Unlimited boasts 400 pounds capacity and with plugs it will hold up to 650 pounds. The huge capacity means there’s room for electronics, batteries and pedals or an outboard motor, making the boat a leader in the race to rig a kayak for unlimited fishing.

If you’re looking for a light and nimble sit-on-top paddle kayak, I suggest looking at the NuCanoe Flint or Pursuit. But, if you want to rig a kayak with a motor, electronics, pedals and anchor system for competitive fishing and big adventure while still having the performance to paddle and fish when the water gets shallow, then the NuCanoe Unlimited is a boat for you.

Where to buy

NuCanoe

Unlimited

In the UNLIMITED….yes you can. This kayak was designed to blow through obstacles and give you control. A solid open deck with unlimited rig-ability. A remarkable hull design that is fast AND stable, prepared for any waters. Plug & Play ready for pedals, power, and electronics. The UNLIMITED takes you to the future of kayak fishing & hunting.
  • Made in the USA
  • Fast and stable
  • Unlimited rig-ability

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Open deck for rigging
  • Multiple power options
  • 360 swivel seat

Cons

  • No internal storage

 

Man standing and casting on sit-on-top kayak
Photo: Roberto Westbrook
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