This morning, in a 5:30am Facebook Live announcement from the Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Alabama, Old Town’s “Brand Evangelist” Ryan Lilly revealed an all-new fleet of fishing-focused kayaks, the Old Town Sportsman line of seven models, which includes three power, four paddle, and four pedal options.
Word of the new line-up had been kept under tight wraps leading up to the early-morning digital drop. Back in February, I was invited by Old Town to Fort Lauderdale to preview and test-fish the new kayaks with a group of outdoor writers. The launch was so super-secret, we had to sign non-disclosure agreements and promise to keep all evidence of the event off social media. On the night before the in-water demos, we were introduced to the lineup by being walked out to a dark beach lit with tiki torches like a Survivor Tribal Council.
There was good reason for all the fanfare. The new lineup is an impressive expansion of the popular Old Town Predator and Old Town Topwater fishing kayaks, and it’s headlined by the flagship AutoPilot 120|136 – a high-end, high-tech, powered fishing machine that leverages Minn Kota’s Spot-Lock technology. That’s right, the same technology that has captains placing Minn Kota motors on the bows of their center consoles – allowing them to virtually anchor over a spot without the hassle of actually dropping and hauling an anchor – is now available for kayak fishing.
I spent most of the test-fishing day in the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 (the 136 had not yet come off the production line) and, as much as I hate the overused phrase, it’s truly a game-changer for kayak fishing. I fished narrow canals, docks, bridges, and channel edges in peak tide, using Spot-Lock all day long to hold in place so I could focus on fishing without fighting wind, current, or boat wakes. As soon as I get a chance to spend some time in Northeast waters in the AutoPilot 136, I’ll share a more thorough review.
I also fished from the Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota. This model is billed as an easy-to-use, compact, motorized fishing platform. With a boat-style forward/reverse throttle on the right side and foot-pedal steering, this boat was super easy to use and just plain fun to scoot around in, and it has all the fishability of the Old Town Topwater.
Another new model in the Sportsman line is the Salty PDL 120. It’s based on the Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal hull, but it’s far more fishy, with rod holders, accessory tracks, a foam deck, and a large tankwell. It’s a great value for anyone looking to get into hands-free pedal fishing and the 12-foot lightweight hull will make for easy car-topping. BUT the hull is actually a really impressive performer. It’s great at handling waves, ideal for surf launches, and very nimble.
The next three boats in the Old Town Sportsman line are re-designed versions of their award-winning Topwater and Predator kayaks. The Old Town Topwater 106|120 is now the Old Town Sportsman 106|120, available in paddle and pedal (PDL) versions. The Old Town Predator 13 PDL is now the Old Town Sportsman Bigwater PDL 132. All three kayaks have been upgraded to the new and improved premium Sportsman seat.
The seventh boat, in case you’re keeping count, is the Old Town Sportsman Discovery 119 Solo – essentially a rebranding of the Discovery 119 Solo, a recently released canoe/kayak hybrid that is super lightweight, making it perfect for solo adventures to remote ponds, and has been a big hit with both fishermen and waterfowl hunters.