Jackson Kayak Kilroy 2013 Review


Well well- I’ve had the Kilroy for probably 7 months now. I got the first one to make it to Charlotte NC. Though I haven’t used it exclusively- I have mostly and for me in that time frame I figure is over 50 outings with an easy avg of 5 hrs a pop. So it’s time for a review.

I’m typing this on my cell in an effort to keep it concise. That’s not likely though. I’d turn back now unless truly interested in this boat.


First know that everything is relative. Kayak fishing is no exception. If you don’t know what experience or reference a reviewer has- it really doesn’t mean much.

I ‘ve been kayak fishing 15 years. I am much more at home in a SIK than a SOT. I prefer a low angle paddle style and rarely fish anything with rapids or salt. I’ve had yaks from 10 to 15 ft. I am one of the only knuckle heads I know that fishes from a touring kayak but have owned many brands as well as a Coosa and Cuda 14. I admittedly think highly of Jackson boats in general but am in no way affiliated with them. I am a member of the Great Outdoor Provision Co. Kayak Fishing Team- which is a Jackson dealer but the day I feel like I can’t say exactly what I feel about a product , that will certainly be my last day on the team.

Point is I have experience and call it like I see it but its important to know where it’s coming from. One guys “fast and tracks well” isn’t the the same as another’s.

At 12 ft 4 in length, 31 in. wide and 69 lbs with everything on it the Kilroy is pretty much in the middle of the kayak world. Not too extreme on any counts and that enables it to be a well rounded boat. Yes- it’s a hybrid so not your choice for the ocean and its not going to go upstream against a current like a 25 inch wide tourer- but it will pretty much cover everything else. See the Kilroy compared to my Jackson Journey tourer below.


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Due to the width, hybrid design ( standing below the water line) and the flat floor the Kilroy is a beast for stand-up fishing. Substantially more stable than a Coosa or Cuda. Stand-up is not a big part of my fishing but it’s there if you want or need it. Whether it is cruising the shallows in spring looking for bedding bass, retrieving a lure from an overhanging tree limb or just taking a stretch. Makes entry and exit a breeze in less than ideal landing spots or launches and slippery, green rock rivers. There is a sturdy stand assist strap but really not needed. Even getting up from the low position.

Once you realize it’s 31 in. wide (which is very normal for most kayak anglers- just not as much for me) and that it’s only going to go so fast you quickly see that if you just take it easy and be smooth the Kilroy will reward you with a decent cruising speed. It wants to stay straight so you can be a little sloppy when stopping paddling to glide down a bank but when needed it is responsive enough to pull off some agile maneuevering. That coupled with the moderately high sides make the Kilroy a very good choice for rocky flows with mild rapids or big lake chop without getting wet. For a 12 ftr it glides right over oncoming chop without alot of bounce and surprisingly well.

The molded “dash” is just pure brilliance. For mounting mainly but there is a neat little compartment which will hold a small Plano box. The dash is easily removed if you want extra room for a dog or your small crumb snatcher. it is designed to be used up front or switched to the rear. Jackson would be happy to sell you another for the back I’m sure. The dash comes with a dense foam block attached to the dash for temporary lure stowage but trust me- take that off and just use the loops of the velcro. Works better and looks better. The length of the dividers just happens to be the right size for more rails if you need them. There is a recessed semi-circle at the rear that is handy for stashing your paddle when tying lures or when fishing stand-up. Adding a little duct tape will help prevent the paddle from sliding to either side if you tilt/rock the boat. Some of the rubber silencing mat would be the best solution though.


I like the back open and carry my crate there which is easily attached with the bungees that are connected to the floor. I use the longer rectangular crate and still have room behind the seat for my backpack. I bet in 2014 they will include the soft rear cover that they showed off on the prototype. It would be nice if Jackson would’ve included that on mine but I would’ve taken a seatback pocket over that. It does come with plastic rails front and rear and a nice Ram 2007 rod holder and ball. I liked it enough I bought another to match. My Lowrance sonars are attached to the dash with a Ram mount.

Storage is excellent. Down the sides, under the seat, ( if in the high position) in the back behind the seat, in the front or in the rear bulkhead. I really wish they would’ve stretched the dry storage just a tiny bit so it could have the larger oval hatch. I can’t figure that one out. You can’t fit much through that circle hatch. They did think enough to put deck lines in the front as well as bungees in front of the dash. Deck lines are absent on the back though.

The Jackson seat is still the same as always.  High or low and very good- if still squeaky as heck and not as good as the Native.  You should sit straight up when paddling and with no bend toward the rear of the boat you can feel the top crossbar press against you under the shoulder blades. I don’t think that’s the best explanation-so just look at a Native if you don’t get it.

My personal favorite feature of the Kilroy is the rod storage on each side in the boat. I seem to end up under docks and trees alot so I like to keep a low profile. Though it is advertised for storing 2 rods on each side its pretty marginally practical. One on each side and 2 in holders on the dash is all I need. They are secure, out of the way and the tips are protected in the tubes.

If you like to ride around with your yak in the truck for days like I do and get a bunch of rain in it you will realize that even though it has a giant opening for a cockpit the curved lip around the top makes it a chore to dump. I’ve removed my 2 rear rails ( for use on my tourer to swap rod holders back and forth) so now that lets some water drain out there when on it’s side. I’m either going to expand the holes on one side or install a drain plug. I always have a sponge in the rear hatch.

The Kilroy has paddle holders on each side that I don’t use much. Typically I use the double bungee holder on the dash when I need one. I always land fish on my left and have snagged the bungee a few times with trebles so I will probably strip that side off.

Kilroy has the newer hard, snag proof  handles all around which are great and balances well if picked up from the side. The high sides make it very easy to put on your shoulder like most SIKs. Without the seat the weight drops to a very manageable 64 lbs and I guess the dash would probably take off another 4 or 5 lbs if you removed it. I never do and it has enough bungees you need not worry about it coming off going down the highway.

I prefer to paddle low angle but I ride in the low position and a 240cm paddle is suiting me fine.( though I need a better quality one because its horribly painful to use a carbon fiber, bent shaft Werner in one boat then switch to aluminum : ( I expect 240 cm would be the choice for most paddlers. If I was taller or rode high I might want to stretch it to 260.

Also has a GoPro mount on the dash and I’d love to put one there if I had the $$.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the Kilroy. It is a perfect compliment to do the things my touring yak will not. I expect it will be great when waterfowl season rolls back around for cast and blast. At $1150 I think it’s a good value and a definite keeper for my fleet! Anyone that can make it to Charlotte is welcome to meet me for a test paddle.





-keep it Hardcore and fish on— Stu

About Stew Rat

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One Response to Jackson Kayak Kilroy 2013 Review

  1. Angel says:

    I recently started kayak fishing and I’m hooked. Had my first experience in Monterey, ca fishing for lingcods. Thanks for your review, I haven’t yet purchased a kayak but I think the Kilroy you reviewed would be a good option.