Gear Up: {Vanhunks Zambezi Kayak}

Gear Up
By Jimmy Kennedy
Gear Up Ambassador

As someone who is new to kayak fishing, I’ve asked my fishing buddy Dan Carns to help with this review on the Vanhunks Zambezi. We recently had the opportunity to fish for striped bass in Cape Cod, and I was blown away by the overall fishability of this product, especially in what I would consider less-than-ideal weather conditions.

What is it?

The Zambezi 12-foot, 6-inch pedal-drive kayak from VanHunks Boarding is one of the latest additions to its extensive lineup of recreational and dedicated fishing kayaks. As a kayak angler, I found this fishing platform to be exceptionally qualified. At first glance, the length offers a ton of storage capacity, and the weight capacity, at 470 pounds, offers you the chance to fully rig this kayak for extended stays on the water. As a gear hound, it’s imperative that I have room for all my gear, including a milk crate to handle a half-dozen fishing rods. I carry three tacklebags, a cooler, a float bag and several fishing accessories to complement my setup. The front of the Zambezi has a covered hatch with bungee straps on top for storage above and inside the bow. Behind the first hatch is an additional hinged and latch-able compartment that is perfect for keeping a battery stored and out of the elements. Conveniently located below this compartment in the bottom of the hull is an integrated/protected transponder location for your fishfinder. Although this kayak has six integrated rod holders, I’ve added two gear track rod holders in the flush-mounted tracks up front, as well as a camera boom and my Garmin. The V-hull slices through the water nicely and cuts down on hull slap when it is windy. You’ll find the rear deck has extra storage capacity, with two equipment wells for those long, possibly offshore runs. 

What sets it apart?

Made from roto-molded polyethylene, there are no seam or joints, making this kayak hull stress-free and durable. The four flush-mounted gear tracks and extra storage in the front and back allow the angler to create the perfect platform for fishing. The 12-foot, 6-inch length and 33-foot width makes for exceptional tracking and stability. Weighing in at 70 pounds without the drive system and a scupper hole wheel system, the Zambezi is fairly simple to transport and move to the water’s edge. An additional hull hatch allows for any below-deck maintenance. The Zambezi also has screw bosses predrilled for a transom mount if you plan to add an electric moto and comes in three color options.

How do I use it?

The true advantage of this kayak is the pedal-drive system. While you’re underway or targeting that specific species of fish, you can be moving into position and fishing at the same time. Another advantage of the hands-free Fin Drive is the ability to re-rig gear while underway. The elevated mesh seat is adjustable on a slide track, combined with length adjustments on the Fin Drive to suit any size passenger. This comfortable, elevated seat also allows for better visibility through the water, which can be a challenge in a kayak. During windy or tidal conditions, the deployable rudder lets you quickly turn for a superior fishing position. This kayak comes as a paddle craft, as well, with adjustable foot pegs that control the rudder, but my recommendation is to order the Fin or Prop Drive for maximum performance. 

How much?

$1,195 (with just a paddle) – $1,730 (with the Fin Drive option)

Angler’s insight:

I’ve just returned from an epic, four-day striper fishing trip on Cape Cod, and this craft outperformed my expectations. It was stable enough to stand in and sight fish in flat water and capable of holding its own during the windiest days when we had 20- to 30-mph winds. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a gear hound, and there was ample room for all my gear plus some unused storage space! The price and quality of this kayak are enough for any serious kayak angler to consider checking out Vanhunks.

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