5 days on a Dorado

Tested: Kaskazi dorado kayak

Kayak angler Dan Bode recently put the Kaskazi Dorado through a stringent offshore paddle test.

WHEN Steve Blanche from Wild Water Sports and NSW distributor of Kaskazi Kayaks invited me to test out a Dorado, we agreed the best approach would involve five paddling sessions over four consecutive days, irrespective of weather conditions.

Two dedicated fishing sessions were also mandatory along with a couple of light surf tests. We chose this methodology because the South African manufactured Kaskazi earnt its reputation as a premium big water performer with the knowledge that it isn’t a surf ’yak per se. In addition, at $3195 the Dorado is a specialist product that effectively fills a performance niche in that price range.

The selected test location was Byron Bay, for its exposure to chop prone north easterlies and availability to the dreaded southerly. Byron also offers occasional similarities to paddling conditions you may experience in a variety of waterways like Port Phillip Bay and Jervis Bay, unprotected waters along the NSW coast and messy openings like Sydney’s Port Jackson and Port Stephens. In essence I tried to match the Dorado to the protected launch but open water elements it is renowned to excel in, both as a fishing platform and a paddle ’yak.

Design & layout
On delivery of this eagerly awaited project I was captivated by the stunningly sleek hull lines that sung sweet tunes of a long distance sea kayak that craved speed and chop while delivering quietness and excellent cross wind ride. At the same time I also had a few pre test reservations about the stern mounted rudder system, super deep seat, short fish hatch length, rear tankwell accessibility and distance to the fully enclosed aft hatch. On further investigation of the overall premium build quality I noticed a very minor area that could have benefitted from a slightly better finish for the price tag. This was restricted to the forward part of the upper footwells where they meet the fully enclosed fish box. This manufacturing oversight was purely cosmetic in nature and did not affect the structural integrity or performance qualities of the Dorado in any way. With regard to the fittings and fixtures, all eyelets, rod holders, screw-in hatches and attachment points were professionally fitted and sealed exactly where they should be. The only exception was the rudder pedals which I found a bit too high on the toes.

On the water
I started testing in glassy conditions with a very slight swell. Initial stability was perfectly reasonable for a vessel with sea kayak hull heritage. From a seated position I was able to make a careful crawl far enough forward to touch the bow at a stretch. If I attempted to crawl further forward, I’d fall off. In a swell, this would be a different story given the fast hull shape. Crawling up the back I could reach all the way to the rudder easily and adjust or retie the rudder lines if required. Again in swell this would be a difficult task. With such a deep seat and high gunwales, I assumed remounting the ’yak with a PFD might be difficult, surprisingly, it was virtually the same as wet boarding any kayak in the sit-on-top class. Finally, moving and spinning around the seat section of the Dorado was as easy as most SOT kayaks. From a seated position I found secondary stability excellent. The deep seat and footwells were ergonomically designed and I never experienced cramping or discomfort, even after four hours on the water at a time. Accessing the rear tankwell and hatches while seated was stable, if not a tad inconvenient due to the seatwell depth.

The Dorado was the fastest off the shelf fishing ’yak I’ve ever paddled. On the best day I managed just under 8 knots (14.8km/h) on a fast sprint against the wind and swell and 8.3 knots (15.4km/h) with the swell and wind behind.

Against a 20 knot onshore wind, this ’yak performed beautifully facing whitecaps out wide. Reaching showed that the Dorado is an excellent choppy water contender that holds a fine course. Beyond the breakers, whitecaps flowed as well under the hull as can be expected, even at rest; additional stability questions weren’t an issue while seated. The Dorado also held itself tightly on the drift and demonstrated all the pros of a fibreglass sea kayak, but as a SOT. All in all this is a truly magnificent fishing ’yak to paddle, although wider hipped operators may experience confinement issues or discomfort from the seatwell that’s more suited to regular sized frames.

In the launch through messy 1-2 foot waves the Dorado speared cleanly through and beyond to the backline. When swamped by waves I found the Venturi scuppers in the footwell drained adequately, while the deep seatwell required lots of sponge work to clear the unwanted water pooling.


Dan Bode putting the Dorado through its paces in the surf zone. He says it’s a big water performance ’yak suited to fishing. 

Surf re-entry was as expected. The Dorado is near impossible to control. As soon as a wave lifts the stern you can almost guarantee it will breach sideways and slide off the top of the building crest before it breaks. No matter how much speed you’ve generated to match the wave, rudder control in the surf is an exercise in futility. As a wave pitches and takes you up in the wash, the best you can hope to do is paddle hard then brace as the ’yak ambles sideways toward the shoreline. To its credit, I loved the water tightness of the Dorado’s centre hatch when submerged or covered in whitewash. After three sessions in faces up to three foot, it’s safe to say the Dorado rates as an excellent sea kayak hull as opposed to a surf hull.

Rod storage was a problem because my shortest 5’10” rod couldn’t fit inside the centre hatch. I ended up lashing my rod to the tankwell bungees and speared the rod tip through the rear handle. This security measure was only really practical for one rod lying flat. It’s my understanding that the latest Dorado has addressed the issue with an extended rod chute for rods up to seven foot long.

For casting soft plastics ahead on a drift or pulling hard bodied diving lures, the Dorado was a winner.

As a livebaiting platform the Dorado lacked that magical appeal for two main reasons: the rudder configuration and rear deck layout. Firstly, the standard sea kayak rudder combined with the tight flush mount rod angle made turns on a slow troll incredibly frustrating. Time and time again I found my livebait line hooking the rudder mechanism at the stern. Freeing up caught lines while chasing pelagics is not a fishing experience I appreciate. In terms of the deck layout I would have preferred the fully enclosed rear hatch to be placed immediately behind the seatwell. If positioned there it could double as a perfect inbuilt livebait tank rather than the internal hull access that it currently affords.

When locked up on a running fish, the Dorado maintained a steady direction under tow using the rudder and rod tip fighting method. It also demonstrated a nice balance of responsiveness to angler movements.


The ‘yak was well and truly tested under fishing conditions as this nice jewie illustrates.

The verdict
The Dorado is a super fast and extremely paddler friendly big water performance ‘yak suited to fishing applications like casting soft baits or long distance, inline lure trolling. It’s certainly ideal for snapper fishos who travel reasonable distances in choppy seas. In essence, the Dorado is a super smooth and very fast ride for specialist anglers who have a passion for paddling and need the room to store essential gear and a good brace of medium sized fish.

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 4.8 m

Beam: 0.63m

Weight: 28kg

Max. capacity: 180kg

Depth: Bow 0.4m; cockpit 0.3m

Price: Around $3195

Contacts: Wild Water Sports Ph: 1300 72 9992; www.kaskazi.co.za

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