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Jackson Kayaks some of The best!

Posted by Paddlerscove on 19th Dec 2015

The comparison of the Cuda 12, BIG RIG, and Coosa HD Fishing Kayaks. In this comparison, we look at the stability, features, and the role of the kayak, in conjunction with what settings usage will occur and the experience of the users.

Stability: We measure stability in two ways. The initial stability or side-to-side action and the secondary stability which measures the point where the Kayak may forgiving, or it may flip you into the dip. A major contributor to stability is the width of the Kayak another is the way in which the Kayak is constructed. A third is where you sit. Kayaks that you sit on top (SOT) of usually have less Initial stability because you have a higher level of gravity. Because of how a SOT Kayak is constructed it may have more secondary stability. Kayaks that in you sit in (SI) often have greater initial stability and may or may not have good secondary stability. Here is a comparison of the three Kayaks for width.

Kayak Size

Width Length
Cuda 1231 inches
BIG RIG37 inches
Coosa HD34 inches

For initial stability, the BIG RIG offers a wider width and longer length. The Coosa HD comes in second with a shorter length but wider width than does the Cuda 12. If initial stability is a concern for you, then it is very likely that the BIG RIG would be the first place to start. Much of this is dependent upon other factors such as your skill level both at using a kayak and fishing from a Kayak. Other factors play a role such as the type of the water body in which you wish to Kayak and fish. Before Choosing a Kayak, take it for a test drive.

Seat Location

Sit OnSit In
Cuda 12
Big Rig
Coosa HD

The a common high-grade feature on all three kayaks is the patented Hi-Lo seating option. What this means for anglers is that these Kayaks allows you to adjust the seat height to fit your preference or the requirements of the body of water in which you are fishing. The Hi-Lo seating allows you also to increase or decrease the Initial Stability. Raise the seat high and Initial Stability decreases. Lower the seat height and the Initial Stability increases. The BIG RIG is wider and Longer; the Cuda 12 offers anglers the ability to customize the Kayak to your needs. In terms of secondary stability that is a huge plus especially if you fish in more than one type of water body. The Coosa HD features a SOT hi-low adjustable seat too and is wider than the Cuda 12. What this tells us is that the primary ingredient in this equation is you. Your skills as a kayaker and as a fisherman fishing from a kayak really overshadow much of the advantages offered by any of the three brands.

Weight Capacity

How much you weight plus your gear. A lower weight capacity means that your options for what you pack and catch decrease; whereas, a higher weight capacity means you can carry more gear, or catch more fish.

Weight Capacity
Coosa HD425 lbs
BIG RIG450 lbs
Cuda 12350 lbs

The BIG RIG offers a 25 pound advantage over the Coosa HD and a 100 pound advantage over the Cuda 12. If you have a lot to carry or if you are a larger person then the BIG RIG is the kayak that might meet your needs the best. The higher number is not necessarily the clear advantage as smaller crafts offer other advantages such as increased maneuverability or speed or ease in paddling. So while discussing the differences between one kayak and another, it is important to keep in mind that many factors go into finding the best kayak for you.

Overall Weight

Total WeightWeight With Seat
Coosa HD79 lbs85 pounds
BIG RIG92 lbs98 pounds
Cuda 1268 lbs74 lbs

The overall weight of the kayak becomes important for two reasons. You have to be able to load, unload and pack it to the water source. You also have to be able to transport the kayak. Overall consideration of the total weight makes a difference. The BIG RIG is the heaviest with and without the seat. The Cuda 12 is the lightest. The middle ground is the Coosa HD. For smaller people, the Cuda 12 means less exertion and allows you to save your strength for paddling. It's always easier heading downstream, but when you go down stream you then have to come back upstream, and that is when the lightest kayak pays off big time. Heavier kayaks sometimes become more stable on the water than do lighter kayaks. Everything becomes a balancing act both literally and figuratively speaking.

The Water Body

Picture yourself skimming along the waves of calm inlet or protected bay. On nice days, the fish disperse through the water based on tidal movements. Which kayak is going to work the best for fishing the calmer waters along a protected coast. If the tide is coming in, then the fish are going to take shelter on the side of rocks and submersibles that block the flow of the tide. The pay off for the fish is that they exert less energy in the shelter of the rocks than they do in the full force of the tide. How does that change on a lake where much of the action radiates outward? It changes based on the size of the lake Larger lakes behave like the ocean. The inner shores may be rapidly changing and full of waves, or the water may be smooth as glass. Smaller lakes and lakes with odd shapes likely will remain calm.

Imagine that you are meandering with a river. Pushed on by gravity over rapids, past ripples and down the runs. Those varying types of river terrain require different types of features for your kayak to be successful. This is an experiment to show you how vastly different water bodies can be. That is in terms of how kayaks behave and how fish behave. The idea is to think about where you are likely to fish while kayaking.


The BIG RIG is the large size kayak. The Cuda 12 is a medium sized kayak. The Coosa HD is a smaller sized Kayak. The smaller, narrower, and longer kayak is often the vessel that is easiest to navigate. The wider, shorter kayak offers stability but at a sacrifice for maneuverability. The overall shape, width, and length determine which type of habitat the kayak can be used.

HabitatCoosa HDBIG RIGCuda 12
Big LakesYesYesYes
Saltwater InshoreYesYesYes
Deep OceanNoYesNo
All-Water HabitatsYes

All three of these Kayaks are approved for all water habitats. Though they offer features that are both similar and at the same time different they function as designed until you put a fishermen in them. That is not to say that once the fisherman is in the kayak that the kayak no longer functions as it is designed. It means that you, the fishermen, become an integral part of the kayak and as such effect the way the kayak functions. At this point, we have compared many of the features that are the same or at least are slightly different. It is time to break down each of these fine kayaks into their parts.

The Coosa HD

This is a redesigned version of the original Coosa Kayak. It features a long hull and wider deck making this a good choice for people of most sizes. Super tall and lanky or portly people may find the Coosa HD a tight fit, but for most fishermen and fisherwomen the Coosa HD offers the right amount of boat.

Top Features of the Coosa HD

  • Elite 3.0 Seat -- Helps keep you comfortable all day long. This seat features multi-level adjustments so you can find the perfect position for paddling or fishing. Expect to adjust the seat forward, backwards, upwards and downwards. The seat is made by Thermarest and features a comfort educed lumbar support along with a curved, padded back. Under seat storage is provided by several pockets
  • Improved Fishing Rod Management Systems allow for multiple rod storage and rod security during fishing and paddling.
  • Ram Kayak Mounts -- Helping you add nearly anything you want to your Kayak. Ram makes fishing rod and tube holders as well as mounts to hold your electronics.
  • Yak Attack mounts and platforms to organize your gear and make your expeditions more successful.
  • Goal Zero bringing the power of solar to the perfect off-grid location. Keep your gear charged and ready to go.
  • Plano Tackle for all of your fishing tackle, lures, and flies organized and ready for use when you need them.

Expect a well-organized craft. The Coosa team polished the HD with everything to make a fishing trip comfortable, organized, and successful.


Of the three kayaks, we discuss here the BIG RIG is the largest of the Kayaks, but don't let its larger size fool you. It is designed to offer kayakers a stable platform and outstanding performance, including speed. While longer and wider the design features a low and lean attitude, that helps improve maneuverability and speed for people of all sizes. The larger size makes this kayak perfect for larger bodies of water such as oceans, big lakes, and wide, fast rivers. However, this kayak is perfectly at home in shallow waters, wetlands, and small rivers. The BIG RIG also offers fishermen an easier platform from which to stand and fish. One of the key features is the standing bar with a telescoping behavior that allows you to stand easily, lean, and fish with ease. One of the key improvements to the BIG RIG is its outer keel that helps this larger kayak navigate the waterways while maintaining speed. That is a plus for fishermen because the kayak helps you reserve your strength for fishing.

Best Features Include:

  • Hi-Lo Seat is fully adjustable with removable lumbar support.
  • Highly organized rod storage including pole and tackle stagers and pole holders.
  • Jackson Kayaks casting brace with full retractable arm for added support while standing.
  • For and Aft hatches for storage including easy access from all seat positions.
  • Built in Yak Attack Gear Trac's allowing you to customize gear storage. Easily works with Ram Mounts.
  • Rod Trough for pole and reel protection while paddling the kayak.

The Bottom Line:

The BIG RIG is designed to allow the most stable platform for fishermen. It is the widest of the three kayaks and is designed to allow fishermen to easily control the craft from a sitting or standing position. Plus features include the larger maximum load of up to 450 pounds. It makes this a perfect kayak for backwater adventures and multiple day float trips. Despite its large size it is designed for people of all sizes. Expect comfortable seating and easy to stand features in fairly decent organized unit. Extra features such as the Yak Attack Gear Trac's allow you to set up the kayak to fit your usage.

The Cuda 12

The Cuda 12 is designed as an all-around fishing kayak. It is light enough to pack easily and still long and wide enough to offer good stability. This kayak goes easily from river to lake to inner coastal waters. With experience, perhaps the Cuda 12 would make it okay in deeper ocean waters, but this is the smaller size and for deeper ocean treks the Cuda 14 would provide more stability, safety, and room. This is the medium sized kayak of the three and offers an outstanding all around list of uses. The Cuda 12 is perfect for those fishermen who fish in a wide array of fishing locations. Expect a well designed Kayak with angler logic as part of the design

Top Features

  • The Stand Assist Handle makes it easy to go from sitting to standing for casting and netting fish.
  • Plenty of storage including a center storage hatch and a large rear tank well.
  • Designed to be agile and easily manageable with options like rudder or rudderless features, removable skid plate, and locking bar.
  • Stagers logically deployed for rods, rod storage with tip protectors, tackle box stagers that make accessing tackle easy from a sitting or standing position.
  • Special rear seating design that allows for a wider use of the deck area.
  • RAM Tubes, rod holder, for the perfect organization of equipment.
  • Removable lumbar support,
  • Elite Seat 2.0 with full four-directional adjustment and added comfort.

The Bottom Line:

Expect the Cuda 12 to fit perfectly into most fishing situations. It offers a light carry weight and nearly the same maximum load limit as the BIG RIG. It is larger than the Coosa HD and smaller than the BIG RIG. It comes well equipped and offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to organizing your gear. Unless you are looking for something to handle large waves, it does not get much better than the Cuda 12. The only disadvantage is its slight smaller size that makes it slightly less stable than the larger BIG RIG.

The Variable That Matters

We have discussed how these three kayaks measure up to each other. We have compared their features in an easily visualize way. What you might have noticed is that these three kayaks, the Coosa HD, BIG RIG, and the Cuda 12 overlap quite a bit in what they offer. It is how they are different that really matters. Even still, that is not the variable that matters the most. The most important variable in this equation is you.

Each of these kayaks is designed to offer something unique to specific kayakers. Let's look at what those little gifts might be.

Your Experience

Two things come into play when we talk about experience and fishing kayaks. First is your experience safely managing and using a kayak. Second is your experience fishing from a kayak. To open up the choices that people have for choosing a great kayak that fits their lifestyle, the three kayaks discussed here overlap a lot of features. But your experience makes the similarities valuable, but not as valuable as the differences do.

If you are a new kayaker, the best kayak of the bunch for you is likely going to be BIG RIG. The BIG RIG simply because it offers a longer length and a wider width that leads to more stability for those who are new to kayaking. The best way to determine which is the best for you is actually to use them. BIG RIG might be too large of a kayak. If that is the case, then the Cuda 12 kayak would be the next most stable kayak of the group. The third choice would be the Coosa HD, which is the smallest.

If you are experienced with kayak management but new to Kayak fishing then the Cuda 12 would likely be the best kayak for you. It is capable of moving from quiet stream to raging river, to coastal shore fishing. It offers enough primary stability to match your experience as a kayaker and special features such as the stand bar help you get used to fishing from kayak. The BIG RIG would likely be the second choice simply because it allows you to haul more gear. An experienced kayaker would likely be one that went on extended fishing trips in his Kayak. The third choice would be the Coosa HD. It's smaller size allows you to take advantage of your kayaking experience, but it hauls less gear and offers the lest stable platform simply because of its size.

If you are an old pro at both kayaking and kayak fishing then the Coosa HD would likely be your best bet. The smaller size should not hamper your ability to paddle or fish from the kayak. It is versatile enough to handle most waterways allowing you plenty of fishing venues to enjoy. It is lighter to carry and haul, and though it has less maximum cargo volume, your experience helps you pack just what you need. A newer kayak fishermen might bring more gear than they need. All three of these kayaks are perfect for the advanced kayak fishermen. For you, it comes down to individual features.

Fishing Venues

Regardless of experience in quiet, calm waters, all three of these kayaks meet the bill. The smaller Coosa HD is lighter to use, carry, and tow. It makes an outstanding day trip kayak. For bigger lakes, and near shore ocean kayaking all three kayaks work well. The larger BIG RIG is likely the best choice for ocean and large lakes simply because its size and design will handle changing water conditions that you find in both larger lakes and ocean settings. The BIG RIG works well on all water venues for all levels of users.

So the biggest difference between all of these kayaks are size. The BIG RIG is the largest, the Cuda 12 is the middle kayak, and the Coosa HD is the smaller kayak. Your size also matters. For comfortable operation and fishing, if you are a larger person than the BIG RIG is the choice for you. For smaller people, the Coosa HD or the Cuda 12 might fit you the best. The adjustable seats that all three models offer makes a big difference for comfort. Those seats are similar so people who are right in the middle can choose from any of the three kayaks and still be comfortable while paddling or fishing.

Gear and Fishing Gear Storage and Organization

All three offer GPS and electronic integration. The Coosa HD offers a solar charger that works well for those who enjoy multiple day adventures. The BIG RIG offers slightly wider storage areas simply because of its wider and longer frame. Expect all three to have ample storage for rods, and fishing equipment. The Cuda 12 has a slight advantage because its design comes from fishermen. For the Cuda 12 expect a well-organized craft with a lot of customizable features. If you are new to kayak fishing, then consider the BIG RIG again simply for its larger size and heavier maximum weight capacity.

It is important to try out a kayak before buying one. They change from one person to the next simply because of the person's size. Even the BIG RIG is designed for people of all sizes. What you want to check for is a comfortable place to sit with everything that you need in proximity. The last thing you want when on the water is to have to move around a lot. Not only does that that increase the risk of upsetting the kayak, it scares the fish.

Overall, all three of these kayaks offer a lot of value. As you shop for a kayak focus on the differences, your own ability to learn, and the types of water on which you will fish. When you buy a kayak, also make sure to buy Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) because the safety should be part of every adventure. The last tip is to remember that you are the variable. Even the best-equipped kayak may not be the best kayak for you. Aim for comfort, features, and ease of use. If you have more questions about any of these Kayaks, reach out, because we want your kayak experience to be the best.