The Zambezi 12'6 Kayak Review by Dan Carns
I’ve recently started using the 12’ 6” Zambezi from Vanhunks and this kayak is everything I had hoped for as a fisherman! This is more than a fishing craft though as the recreational kayaker will also find this kayak enjoyable.
The first thing you’ll notice is the enormous amount of storage. The bow hatch has a bungee strap so you can stow gear inside as well as on top. Directly behind this is another covered hatch that has a latch-able cover that is perfect for the battery and wire harness for your electronics. Directly below this is the integrated transducer compartment in the bottom of the hull so can you permanently mount your fish finder transducer with a wiring chase up onto the deck. As with most Vanhunks Kayaks, there are flush mount track rails in the front and back on each side for additional electronics, rod mounts, flag poles or camera booms. In addition to the two front-covered hatches, there is an additional hatch in the rear that serves not only for storage but is a big access port for any below-deck service that you may encounter. The rear tank well is large and divided into two areas, one for a livewell/rodholder crate and the very back is perfect for storing your float bag or any additional gear with the included bungee straps. Of course, this is set up as a fishing craft so there are six flush mounted rod holders, two up front and four in the rear, perfectly positioned for trolling/trawling. As a tournament angler, it’s important for me to carry multiple tackle bags and due to the way, the rear storage is set up, I can store my largest bag directly behind my seat making it easier to retrieve.
There are several features combined that make this the perfect fishing craft. First of course is the length at 12’ 6’ that makes this kayak track really well and handles itself in rough water. The second is the hull design featuring a V-shaped bow that cuts through the surf and cuts down on hull slap. The pontoon-style hull makes for perfect stability as you’ll be able to stand and sight fish with ease. Like most of their kayaks, the raised mesh of the adjustable seat is made to sit in all day. Vanhunks has put a lot of thought into this kayak as they have added large tackle storage slots with bungee straps on both sides of the seat as well as raising the seat for additional storage under it and improved visibility through the water.
In my opinion, the most important piece of equipment in this kayak is the Fin Drive system that allows you to continue to maneuver or drive your kayak while continuing to fish. Hands-free propulsion changes everything for kayak anglers as you can continue to fish as you move your craft into the perfect spot. Another advantage of the Fin Drive or Prop Drive is the ability to change gear or re-rig as you move from one spot to another. Of course, you can order this kayak with paddles only and it comes with a tool pod where the drive box goes. The beauty of this design is that you can then, later on, purchase the Fin Drive and it fits right in the through-hull port. The Zambezi comes with a deployable rudder that is super responsive and with just a few peddle strokes you can do a U-turn so it’s very agile. If you opt for the paddle-only version there are foot pegs that control the rudder so not only is there an adjustable place to rest your feet, but you also get that super rudder control as you paddle. Another new feature on this kayak is the left-hand steering control so that if you are a right-handed spin caster like me your left hand simply drops to the control handle.
Due to the length of this kayak, you’ll need to consider how to transport and move this kayak to the water at your launch. Vanhunks has several options for car top transportation as well as several dolly systems. My favorite, the balloon tire scupper hole dolly, allows me to travel over very rugged, rocky shorelines or super soft sandy beaches.
All in all, this new dedicated fishing craft will serve the new or the experienced angler well. With Vanhunks design in its DNA, you’ll find this kayak an excellent choice for recreational use or a dedicated fishing craft.
By Pro Staff member Dan Carns