1. Gear storage! I can't stress this one enough. I have actually become anti-crate (a yak fisherman's best friend) because of the amazing layout of the Cuda 12. With the upgraded seats that were released in 2015 you can store two 3600's strapped into the seat, then there is also area on both sides of the seat recessed into the hull for two more 3600's. Then you can stack 4 3600's under the seat or clean it up a bit with one deep 3700. In addition to that there are two stagers behind the seat in the tankwell for two additional 3700's stored on their side. What this allows me to do is assign certain tackle to certain areas such that reaching for my crankbaits, jigs, or frogs is a one thought process. I'm not digging through the crate trying to pull out the right box, it's always where it should be. And since everything is so handy and accessible it keeps me from making a critical mistake many anglers make, leaving the deck cluttered. Two reasons to keep the deck clear, makes handling fish much easier when you've got the space to do so, and if you ever flip everything that is on deck is going down.
But what if you're not quite busting trails in your yak but you have the occasional tree you have to skirt under? Quite a hassle to store and remove all your rods for a couple of laydowns right? Well that's where the horizontal rod storage and tip protectors come into play. I can store 4 rods horizontally on the sides with bungee holding the reels securely to the sides while the tips lay protected under the front cover. Can you tell I like how this yak is laid out? Ever lose a lure and wonder where it went? During clean up before heading home I've noticed a few times that a frog or jig was missing and I go look around the launch and there it is. This happened because I had some tackle that I didn't take time to put up and it fell out during the loading process. That has almost never happened in the Cuda because of the handy center hatch that lets me store everything below deck right before taking out. It's safe and secure until I get home to sort everything out such that it saves time and keeps me from having to wonder where I lost this or that.
2. It can do it all. After having another year behind me I can honestly say this boat will do anything you ask of it. I have been on a lot of moving water, small creeks, big lakes, and nasty swamps and I've never been wanting for something more. If the boat was longer for more speed I wouldn't like it as much in the creeks, if it was wider for more stability I wouldn't like how much it weighed. At least for me it seems to be the perfect mix of an all terrain kayak and I think that's one of the first questions you need to ask yourself. Am I going to use a yak for moving water only? Lakes only? If so get one more suited to those applications and make do with it on other waters but if you're looking for one boat that does everything really well the Cuda 12 seems to be the perfect answer while having all of the features that make it very hard to replace. On open lakes I was able to maintain 4mph all day while on moving waters I can turn around and maneuver in tiny creeks just fine.
And that's it. I could go on about little details but that's the meat of the story right there. I will keep looking at other options and trying out new boats, especially since quite a few new models were just released this year, but they will all be held to the standard of the Cuda 12. If they can't do it better I won't change. I am curious how much a pedal drive could add to my open water abilities and I'm also curious to try out the Cuda HD that is a tiny bit longer and a little wider. I haven't found the Cuda 12 to be lacking in stability so I'm not sure I'm willing to compromise for the higher weight, just have to try one and see. Next time you're in the market for a new boat demo a Jackson Cuda 12 and see what you think.