The Jackson Kayaks Cuda 12 Fishing Kayak Review

9.3 score
[Editors rating (9.1) + Users rating (10.0)] / 2 = ( score (9.3)/10

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Editor rating: 9.1 / 10
User's rating: based on 1 user ratings
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Editor's Pros & Cons
  • With a length of 12’6”, this kayak is a good compromise between speed and maneuverability and with a width of 31”, it is a reasonably stable fishing platform.
  • It has a very comfortable seating system that is also height adjustable, it includes adjustable foot braces, and it has a stand assist strap.
  • The outfitting is absolutely top notch and it has a paddle keeper to keep your paddle from driving you crazy when you are fishing.
  • It has sufficient dry storage space with a hold in both the bow and the stern, a tank well, and it is available either with or without a rudder.
  • With a length of 12’6”, this kayak is less maneuverable than shorter kayaks in the 10’ range and with a width of 31”, it may not be stable enough to suite some anglers.
  • With a weight of 74 lbs. this kayak is a bit on the heavy side which might make it difficult for some anglers to load and unload without assistance.
  • I really don’t like the way that the center console/hatch cover interferes with the standing room.
  • The only other problem that I have with this kayak is the lack of an anchor trolley which, in all honesty, is really not very difficult or expensive to install yourself.


I am afraid that in the interest of honesty, I have to admit that this is not one of my favorite fishing kayaks. On the other hand, I also have to say that Ocean Kayaks has a well-earned reputation for producing high-quality kayaks and the Cuda 12 is not an exception to that rule. In fact, it actually has a well-designed hull that is specifically meant to enable anglers to tackle big water such as large lakes, estuaries, sounds, bays, ect. as well as to enable them to punch through the surf to reach those offshore waters where the big fish live. Also, with a length of 12’ 6”, and a beam of 31”, it is a good compromise between speed, stability, and maneuverability.


Plus, the “Elite” seat is both very comfortable and innovative in that it allows you to choose either a low position for increased stability or the high position for increased visibility and maneuverability; the idea being that you lower the seat when traveling to and from your destination and then raise it when you arrive for the best of both worlds. Also, when you combine the seat with adjustable foot braces, you have a very comfortable cockpit when sitting which, in turn, brings me to the reason that I am less than pleased with this kayak.


While I do like the idea of having a center console, this one is rather bulky and thus, I feel that it severely limits foot room when standing. On the other hand the console is removable but, then you are deprived of its valuable storage space. Plus, the center console also serves as the hatch cover for the in-hull rod storage space which is why is so long; it has to seal a long enough hatch to enable you to easily insert and remove your rods.


Furthermore, the cockpit does have a stand-assist strap which is a nice feature and it also has tackle box stagers along the sides and in the tank well and it has multiple rod stagers in addition to a rod tip protector mounted on the bow. Plus, it comes with a GoPro mount, a RAM 2007 Rod Holder, a RAM Tough Ball, and two RAM Tough Tubes! Last but not least, there is dry storage in both the bow and the stern along with a tank well for carrying a cooler or a live bait well. Thus, all things considered, the Jackson Kayaks Cuda 12 is actually a pretty awesome kayak; I just don’t like the lack of foot room.

Bottom Line

While I have to admit that this is a really nice fishing kayak that is both well designed and very well outfitted, I am afraid that with a MSRP of $1,000 to $1,200, there are other kayaks that I would purchase instead of this one.

However, as long as you don’t mind the center console being in the way and the lack of an anchor trolley, I believe that you would likely be very happy if you did decide to purchase one because I have great respect for Jacson Kayaks; just not great love for this particular one.