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Jackson Kayak Cuda HD

By Kerry Peeler

Jackson Kayak in keeping with one of their best selling kayaks the Cuda, has added a new member to the family. Coming in slightly longer, wider, more stable and packed with fishing features is the new Cuda HD. Coming in at a nimble 12'10" length, 33” width, 425lb weight capacity and weighing 85 pounds; the Cuda HD is a very stout kayak with the ability to handle a wide range of anglers and water. For this review we will be looking at the Cuda HD without a rudder.

This kayak comes with many great features. Starting at the bow of the Cuda HD you can see that the top deck of this kayak has had a complete make over. The bow hatch is a newly designed Thermoformed Hatch Cover with two easy open twist latches to ensure a tight seal. It also provides for a new paddle park system, which worked very well. This is additional to the Rod Stagers that came on both the Cuda 12 and 14. This hatch gives you access inside the kayak for storing gear and fish you might catch. Still up on the bow Jackson Kayak has made two molded in rod tip tubes. Slide your tip inside and secure the rod handle with one of the multiple bungee attachment points on either side of the kayak. This was nice to accommodate rods of various lengths.

Just back from this towards the footwell is the large Hinged Center Hatch. The Center Hatch gives you additional access inside the kayak for storing rods or larger gear along with a Hatch Storage Insert for storing items that you need quick access to. I am able to fit 3 Plano 3600 tackle boxes along with other fishing gear in the Insert. This is a great feature that has carried over from the previous Cuda. On top of the Center Hatch are two YakAttack Gear Tracks to mount a variety of accessories on. The YakAttack Accessory Plate will work really well here for fishfinders and RAM Tough Balls.

There is also an additional storage hatch in the stern. I like to use this area to mount any non Raymarine transducers that will be using the shot through hull method. This keeps it out of the way from most of your normal daily access. Also a good area to put non-essential items in case of an emergency.

The Cuda HD is very comfortable with the Elite Seat 3.0 mounted on a 4 way adjustable track system. This seat gives you the ability to move fore and aft, enabling you to adjust the trim of the kayak based on the weight in the kayak and also current water/weather conditions. It has a 3D mesh fabric with good ergonomics and comfort along with more storage capabilities under the seat for 2 tackle boxes. Jackson Kayak has also coupled this with the Therm-a-Rest lumbar pad to help you stay on the water longer. Along with the adjustable seat, it does offer you the ability to choose between a high a low seat position. The high position is very helpful when you are looking to stand up and fish. And yes, this kayak does afford this reviewer the ability to stand up and fish quite easily.

The back of the seat comes with the Seal Line Waterproof seat back bag and the new Platypus Hydration System. Built onto the back of our Elite Seat System is Platypus’ Hoser Hydration System. This protected pouch holds water and other hydration liquids in a BPA-free plastic sac for your day on the water. Sheltered between the seat and the SealLine pouch, the hydration system has a tube that runs to the side of the seat for easy access and quick sips via hose and quick sip end. This is a nice feature to help eliminate waste from plastic drinking bottles. The Cuda HD offers even more flexibility with the adjustable foot pegs and it is also rudder ready. The rudder is a fairly straight forward install and will help this excellent tracking kayak perform to its best when conditions are less than ideal.

Moving towards the center of the kayak we can see that Jackson has added YakAttack gear tracks on both the left and right side of the kayak, 1 17" set and 1 4" set. These are great for adding accessories without drilling into the kayak. The footwells are long and flat extending back into the seatwell area which is also flat. Both of these combine to give you a large flat standing platform which is covered by comfortable standing pads. It also provides you with some storage space beneath the seat. The Cuda HD has two specific scupper locations built into the hull design. Both of these are Transducer Scuppers, located in the footwell on the left and right side. This was designed to fit the large Raymarine Dragonfly transducers but will work with other manufacturers transducers as well. This is a nice option to keep your transducer in the water and protected.


Unlike many kayaks on the market the Cuda HD doesn’t separate the seating area with the rear tankwell with any plastic. Instead Jacksons design continues the flat area of the seatwell all the way to the stern with an open tankwell. This is divided by a gear track that can be used to secure a JKrate or additional rod holders. The tankwell has gear track on both sides with bungee to help secure your gear. The tankwell is large enough to use the JKrate or for storing dry bags and extra tackle boxes.

This kayak has gear track from bow to stern to help you mount a variety of accessories including camera mounts, rod holders and whatever else you can think of. There are also a couple of 1/4” x 20 threaded inserts molded into the kayak to allow for mounting camera accessories or even RAM Tough Balls. The Cuda HD comes standard with 2 RAM Tough Tube rod holders with quick release bases, 2 flush mount rod holders mounted behind the seat, 1 RAM 2007 Rod Holder and 1 1.5" RAM Tough ball. Also included is a Plano Tackle Box, 27oz Orion Cooler Tumbler, Line Cutterz and is Power Pole ready.

We really wanted to see how this kayak would perform with the new hull design. Once in the water you can really feel the changes in the hull compared to the Cuda 12 and 14. The increased width, 33”, companied with a slightly modified bottom hull made this kayak really stable. Trimming the seat makes it easy to find the right paddling posture for this kayak. Tracking and glide are excellent combined with speed slightly slower then the Kraken. With all of these features I was surprised by the speed of this kayak. This stability of this kayak will definitely allow those that would like to stand and fish that ability along with accommodating larger paddlers. The Cuda HD will fit a wide variety of uses form offshore saltwater fishing launching through the surf to flat water lake fishing.


The Cuda HD, from Jackson Kayak, might be new to the game but feels right at home on the water and is sure to become a favorite for many anglers.