Why reinvent the wheel? Wilderness Systems’ Tarpon has been a proven fish killer since the early days of kayak fishing. Early adopters loved the seaworthy and sporty hull along with a comfortable, low-profile seat and smart layout. Now, Wilderness Systems take fishing to the next level with their Tarpon 130X.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130X Specs
Length: 13’
Width: 32”
Deck Height: 16”
Weight: 78 lbs
MSRP: $1,469 USD

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130X is One for the Ages

Wilderness Systems has given their long-time favorite a modern re-fit to include some of the most popular features available. Fans of the Tarpon should not worry—classic features like the locking bow and cockpit hatches are still there. And the hull retains the soft chines that improve handling in rough seas.

The cockpit is updated to include Wilderness’ most popular inventions. First, the FlexPod OS, which offers more options for storage or an easy way to install and remove electronics. Exchange the FlexPod OS for Wilderness’ new Helix MD motor for reliable, compact power.

Wilderness Systems
Tarpon 130X combines the best ideas in kayak fishing. | Image: Courtesy of Wilderness Systems

Helix Drive Takes You Forward—and Back

Of all the motor-boater kayaks we’ve tested, the Helix drive is the most efficient and easy to use. The lower unit and Torqeedo battery fit together for a non-obtrusive motor that is shaved for size and weight without cutting power. The motor connects to a remote throttle through a single cable. A single lever controls speed and direction; this boat has reverse! At full speed, we were able to zip along faster than anyone could paddle. According to Wilderness, the battery will run for eight hours, plenty to fish all day.

The throttle also displays battery life, range and GPS speed. The whole package weighs less than 20 pounds and hardly takes any space in the cockpit.

In addition to the FlexPod OS, Wilderness replaced the low-profile seat with their famous AirPro Lite seat. The frame seat is both tough and comfortable. Mesh backing keeps the rider cool, and multiple adjustments make it comfortable. The seat slides fore and aft on a track system to balance weight and trim the kayak.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130X fishing kayak
Tarpon 130X is the boat we love with a topside design we love more. | Feature photo: Courtesy Wilderness Systems

As expected from Wildy, the rest of the boat is peppered with smart fishing features: gear tracks, cargo cubbies, skid plate, sturdy foot braces, molded carry handles and solid construction. My favorite is the simple but brilliant bungee and ball on the bow that holds my paddle when my hands are busy.


Get Motoring with the Tarpon 130X

On the water, the new Tarpon 130X retains the same great handling features as its predecessor. Although the AirPro Lite seat does change the geometry, stealing some performance for added comfort, the modern upgrades give this classic new life. Coupled with the Helix motor, smart features like deck storage and gear tracks make the Tarpon 130X a serious contender in the performance fishing market.

Fish Friendly Features:

  • FlexPod OS
  • AirPro Lite seat
  • SlideTrax accessory system
  • Latching bow and cockpit hatch
  • Skid plate
  • Rigid carry handles
  • Gear cubbies in deck

Video Review of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130X With Helix Drive:

This article was first published in the Winter 2016 issue of
Kayak Angler Magazine.
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