Vibe Shearwater 125 Review: Sit On Top Kayaks You Want to Try Out
Are you looking for a sit-on-top kayak that can be rigged with a motor or pedals? Check out the Vibe Shearwater 125
Imagine a kayak with a motor to travel to the fishing grounds, then pedals to explore miles of shoreline with a standing platform to prowl the shallows looking for fish. It has a padded deck, a large tank well, and two removable accessory pods. These features are what kayak anglers dream of, and the new Vibe Shearwater 125 has them all. And to top it off, the kayak has both vertical and horizontal rod holders and two paddle holders.
Vibe Kayaks recently jumped into the kayak fishing game with smart sit-on-top kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at a great price. In just a few years, their simple Yellowfin 120 and sea-worthy Sea Ghost 130 have become two of the most popular fishing kayaks. Now, Vibe has released the Shearwater 125 as their first full-feature, full-size kayak for serious kayak anglers. In addition to gear tracks, rod holders, and bungees that are standard on a fishing kayak, Shearwater boats host unique features that make them ready to fish straight from the shop.
- Weight: 109 lbs w/o X-Drive pedal system
- Length: 12’ 6”
- Width: 35”
- Capcity: 475 lbs
- Hull: Rotomolded Plastic
- Drive type: X-Drive fin drive
- Price: $1399 w/o X-Drive
What Kind of Fishing Kayak is the Vibe Shearwater 125?
The Vibe Shearwater 125 is a full-featured, stand-up, sit-on-top kayak ready to rig for serious inshore and backwater kayak fishing. Compared to the Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 or Old Town Topwater 120 PDL, Shearwater boats have a flat deck, stable hull, and smart fishing features. Also, like other boats in the full-feature, stand-up class, Shearwater boats can be paddled or rigged with pedals or a motor. Stand-up kayaks, like Shearwater boats, are most popular with backwater and inshore anglers looking for a kayak to carry them to the fishing grounds and then provide a solid platform for stand-up fishing. Ready to fish out of the box, the Shearwater 125 offers unique features with the potential to rig electronics, lights, and accessories. Anglers looking for a solid kayak for serious fishing have a new option to consider.
Key Fishing Features of the Vibe Shearwater 125
Five seat positions, three power options, and three accessory pods add up to one of the most unique fishing kayaks in recent years. In addition to gear tracks, bungees, and flush-mount rod holders, the Vibe Shearwater 125 has innovative features making it one of the best fishing kayaks.
The first key to any full-feature fishing kayak is a multi-function seat. The Shearwater’s frame seat can be configured in five different ways. With a setting for high position and low position, the seat can be reclined and removed. The fifth position requires an optional standing platform mounted to the back of the seat. Fold the seatback forward, and stand eight inches off the deck to improve visibility and casting action.
Another unique feature is the multiple accessory pods that turn Shearwater boats into a stand-up kayak or a pedal fishing kayak. The pod fits in a large opening in the deck and allows the boat to change character depending on the angler’s needs. One pod gives the Shearwater a flat deck for stand-up kayak fishing. Another pod provides water-tight gear and tackle storage. To turn the Shearwater into a pedal drive kayak, the X-Drive pod accepts the Vibe X-Drive or Hobie’s MirageDrive and MirageDrive 180. Of course, adding a pod to a kayak’s design increases weight and reduces the boat’s efficiency, but the advantage is a kayak that can do more than one job.
To turn the Shearwater 125 into a motor kayak, simply add a Bixpy jet motor and battery system. The Shearwater’s rudder is pre-drilled to attach the small Bixpy jet, and the tankwell accommodates the waterproof lithium-ion battery. Control the speed with a remote and turn the rudder to control the direction.
The comfortable seat, versatile pods, and multiple power options make the Vibe Shearwater a full-feature kayak designed to meet the needs of almost any angler and setting the boat firmly in the class of full-feature kayaks.
A Note on the Shearwater 125 Xd Drive
Vibe Kayaks aren’t reinventing the wheel. The most recent company to enter the fishing kayak race has taken advantage of innovations that came before them. For the Shearwater 125, Vibe chose to use a fan-powered pedal drive like the original Hobie MirageDrive.
Using the Shearwater’s pedal pod, anglers can install the XD Drive or any Hobie MirageDrive. The XD Drive is light and efficient with instant shallow-water clearance. If you’re looking for a lightweight yet powerful drive, go with the XD Drive. But, if you need forward and reverse pedal power, switch to a Hobie MirageDrive 180. Vibe designers are working on other pod options to accept different pedal systems.
How We Tested the Shearwater 125
When I have a long day of hard fishing ahead of me, I pull the Vibe Shearwater 125 out of my kayak quiver. My favorite time to use the Shearwater is during fall speckled trout season. Traversing tidal rivers and sneaking into shallow grass flats requires a kayak to cover distance and then go into stealth mode.
Using the electronics pod in the center of the cockpit, I installed a Humminbird Helix 7 fish finder. The small pod makes it easy to install electronics. I simply attached a RAM Mounts ball mount fish finder arm to the top of the pod, placed my battery inside the pod, and mounted the transducer to the bottom of the pod. Not only does the pod hold the electronics in a convenient place, but it makes it easy to remove the fish finder.
When I have the Shearwater loaded with fishing gear, tackle, lunch, and my rods and reels—I use the X-Drive to cover long distances across current and wind chop. I haven’t tested the Bixpy jet, but the compact electric motor would make reaching the fishing grounds even easier.
Once I hit the flats and skinny creeks that hold speckled trout and redfish, I switch to paddle power. The flat deck and wide hull make stand-up fishing simple. I can confidently stand and cast, with enough efficiency to paddle the boat across shallows and into winding marsh creeks. One of the advantages of a Hobie-style fin drive is the instant shallow-water mode. Just kick one pedal forward, and the boat’s draft is a couple of inches.
For shallow, protected water and all-day fishing, the Shearwater offers comfort and efficiency with the capacity for a full-arsenal of gear. This makes the new boat popular with bass anglers and tournament competitors looking for any advantage over the fish and fellow fishermen. As a stand-up kayak, the Shearwater is not popular with swift-water or offshore anglers. The frame seat and tight stability that make the boat great for all-day efforts reduce the Shearwater’s big-water capabilities. If you’re looking to fish without the kayak holding you back, the Shearwater 125 with XD drive and Bixpy motors will reduce limitations.
Performance of the Shearwater 125: Stability, Versatility and Fishability
As a full-feature, stand-up, sit-on-top kayak, the Vibe Shearwater 125 does its job well. This boat is designed for fishing all day on bass lakes and inshore salt. Add the motor or pedal option, and the Shearwater 125 covers miles of water.
The Vibe 125’s pedigree starts in the hull. With a classic tunnel hull, the bottom of the Shearwater pushes volume to the outside to improve stability, while the open area between the pontoons helps improve tracking and speed. The pontoons come together in a flared bow which helps cut through chop and improve straight-line performance.
A tunnel hull does such a good job keeping the kayak paddling straight that turning the boat can be challenging. The Shearwater’s Gravity rudder strives to control the boat. Maybe the pre-drilled holes for the Bixpy motor reduce surface area, or the rudder isn’t large enough, but the boat is a little slow to turn, especially with the pedal drive. Deploying the rudder is easy—just release a cord, and the rudder slides through a sleeve and drops into the water. It only took a few minutes to install the system, and the boat can be rigged to use a handle when pedaling or foot pegs while paddling.
The downside of any stand-up kayak is paddling performance. A wide, relatively flat hull doesn’t rock with the waves or cut through the wind. Also, the elevated frame seat acts like a sail in the wind and distances the paddler from the water. Add the Gravity rudder to improve the boat’s manners or install the Vibe XD pedal drive or Bixpy motor to increase the Shearwater’s range. Like other stand-up kayaks, the Shearwater isn’t intended for open water performance—check out the Vibe Sea Ghost for ocean paddling.
Vibe Shearwater 125 Loaded with Fishing and Comfort Features
The Shearwater really shines on the topside. The Summit Seat is plush with padded mesh. The seat moves between five positions flawlessly. I added the standing platform to the back of the seat for an elevated fishing position. The seat removes quickly and stores easily. I like the tackle drawer under the seat to keep my pliers, scissors, and favorite lures at hand and out of the way.
Vibe went above and beyond with other fishy features. Four flush mount rod holders and four horizontal rod holders allow me to stage multiple rods for power fishing. I keep a topwater lure, soft-plastic, and twitch bait ready to go when I’m targeting redfish, trout, and striped bass.
When the speckled trout are super picky, I can keep three different twitch baits and a couple of jigs on call. To keep me organized, tackle cubbies and cup holders next to the seat are convenient for holding lures and terminal tackle or drinks and snacks.
Like many stand-up kayaks, the Shearwater doesn’t have a bow or stern hatch. However, the boat does have removable plates for below-deck access to rig the Shearwater with a trolling motor or navigation lights.
What The Vibe Shearwater 125 Does Best: All-day, Stand-Up Fishing
The Vibe Shearwater 125 was designed for bass fishing and inshore saltwater, and this is what the boat does best. If you like to wake up early and fish hard all day, the Shearwater is your boat. A deck designed for fishing, with tackle and rod storage to offer lots of options to suit any angler. A wide, flat, padded deck provides plenty of room for standing and casting or paddling. A comfortable seat keeps me going with a high position for fishing and a low position for paddling. I like to carry four or more rods and keep a dozen lures at hand. The deck is designed to keep rods and tackle organized and ready for action. Then, add the XD pedal drive or Bixpy motor, and the fishing machine is capable of covering distance.
What The Vibe Shearwater 125 Does Worst: Long Distance and Open Water
As a stand-up kayak, the Vibe Shearwater 125 does not cover open water well, cross the surf zone, or bounce down a rocky river. These conditions call for a kayak with looser stability and a low-profile seat. The XD pedal drive and Bixpy motor perform well enough to propel the heavy kayak. Still, if you’re looking for a pedal fishing kayak, I suggest a boat designed specifically for that power option. If you’re looking for a motorized kayak, consider adding a more powerful Torqeedo electric outboard or a more maneuverable trolling motor; the Shearwater is designed to accept any aftermarket power option.
Does The Vibe Shearwater 125 Deliever On Its Mission?
Vibe designers developed the Shearwater 125 to fit the full-feature, stand-up kayak category and compete with classics like the NuCanoe Frontier 12 or Wilderness Systems ATAK 120. The boat is super stable and paddles with comparable efficiency. Having a pedal or motor option allows the Shearwater 125 to compete with tournament anglers looking for a competitive fishing platform. If you need a boat for easy grab and go fishing or require a platform capable of rigging to the gunwales with electronics and accessories, the Vibe Shearwater 125 deserves a test drive.