The Jackson Kayaks Cuda 12 fishing kayak

The Jackson Kayaks Cuda 12 Fishing Kayak Review

The Cuda 12 fishing kayak has been designed with all the things to expect from Jackson fishing kayaks in mind, such as great storage, superior standing room and specialized seating that offers ultimate comfort for anglers.

The Cuda 12 has a front dashboard that can also be moved to behind the seat and innovative gear tracks that are very easy to adjust.

What to Consider when Buying a Fishing Kayak

Of course, if you are going to make an investment in a kayak you want to make sure that it is ideally suited to your personal needs. Using the following criteria to help you choose the right fishing kayak will make sure that your investment is a sound investment that you will be happy with.

Consider the following:

The Jackson Kayaks Cuda 12 Fishing Kayak Review

The Jackson Kayaks Cuda 12 fishing kayak

The Cuda 12 fishing kayak is one of the most popular kayaks that Jackson have released and fans are going wild over the great balance between speed and maneuverability and good dry storage facilities.

If you have your eyes on this model but are not quite sure if it beats similar kayaks in this price bracket our review is here to help.

Read on to find out if the Cuda 12 kayak is the right choice for you as we discuss the highlights and low lights of Jackson’s latest model.

It is worth saying that each angler will have his or her own personal tastes and what is good for one will be a problem for the next.


Weight74 pounds
TypeSit on top
Capacity350 pounds
Rigged for fishingYes


  • Coming in at 12’6”, the Cuda enjoys a reasonable good speed whilst still remaining stable
  • Comfortable seating
  • Adjustable foot braces and seat
  • Superior outfitting
  • In-built paddle keeper
  • Good dry storage space
  • Optional rudder


  • Not as suitable as some models
  • Less maneuverable due to length and speed
  • Heavy so you are likely to need assistance
  • Obstacles cause difficulties when standing
  • No anchor trolly

Size and Weight

The Cuda kayak has an overall capacity of 350 pounds so should be suitable for the average sized angler with the average load of equipment.

The designers have been really clever in developing a longer length kayak that comes in at 12 feet and 6 inches but does not lose anything in the way of stability.

The balance between stability and maneuverability is very good although it may be suited to experienced kayakers rather than those just starting out.

Coming in at 74 pounds it is relatively heavy compared to some other fishing kayaks, but those who are not very strong should not struggle to manage the kayak easily.

We would say that you may need help moving the kayak any significant distance or when tying to your roof, but generally, you should be ok.


We really like the design of the hull on this Cuda kayak and you can fish in large rivers, bays, etc with ease. The speed is reasonably impressive and you can maneuver well despite the length, so, all in all, it is a pretty good kayak.

The Jackson Kayaks Cuda Fishing Kayak features a sit-inside hull design that keeps anglers dry and clean bad weather hits, which is quite often if you are a long-standing angler!

Without a doubt, the highlight of this kayak is the fantastic ‘Elite’ seating system that has been creatively designed.

The seating is very durable and is made mostly out of aluminum. You can adjust the seat to suit your fishing needs and can change it back to the standard seating position when paddling.

This is one of the comfiest seats that we have ever tried and the great back support means that you can paddle for hours without becoming uncomfortable.

The fact that you can adjust the poor braces is also a massive tick in the box for larger anglers who become frustrated by standard braces and seats.

The cockpit is reasonably large compared to standard kayaks and has foot pegs that can be customized to suit your needs. The foot pegs have used padding to increase comfort levels and you should not feel any pressure even after long periods of gliding through the water.

The clever rudders are a good design feature that enables anglers to move them from the cockpit whilst still maintaining power. You can also get into tight spaces with this kayak, despite its size.

The Cuda is almost the perfect fishing kayak as it offers many great features and looks great on the water. The long length looks as good as it feels when riding at fast speeds through the water and is a huge appeal to experienced anglers who like the thrill of kayaking.

If you need to travel a long way to fish, this kayak is very fast and will get you there in no time. It is great for getting through breakers and is very good in rough waters. That said, the pace of the kayak can be very daunting for new paddlers and we would only advise that experienced kayakers but this mode.

Due to the speed, we would recommend that experience kayakers buy this model and we do to think that it is wholly suitable for novices. Yes, you will learn to adapt to speed in time, but you need to walk before you can run and your first priority will be adjusting to fishing in a kayak rather than a standard boat, not being the fastest on the river.

The kayak is designed to be flatter than standard kayaks, so to allow for plenty of room to stand up. The flat bottomed kayak is free of obstructions which is a major highlight of this kayak. The only other issue that some people may have with the design is the weight of the kayak. At 74 pounds it is not the heaviest kayak we have tried out, but it is not the lightest either.

man fishing in kayak at evening


It is important that a kayak is built with attention to detail. Of course, if it looks really good it is a nice benefit but those little details really are what makes a kayak worth the purchase price.

Things like a comfortable seat and adjustable footpegs do not really become important until you are on the water, then their importance is realized.

One aspect of the kayak that we are not a fan of is the molding of the footwell. The console between the wells and the day hatch leave little room to move about and there is not enough room to move once you stand up in the kayak.

We are a little disappointed by this as a few simple design tweaks could have alleviated this problem.

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.

‘Yak Attack Spectralite’ tracks are made to that work alongside a number of RAM mounts and a GoPro mount that give the angler plenty of options when out and about on the waters. As we have said, the choice of the kayak is down to personal taste and we like that the Kilroy offers plenty of options.

The Cuda comes with both a soft spray skirt and hard deck so that you are able to switch as and when you like. Another feature that we really like is the stand-assist strap, which is something that is annoyingly lacking in some kayaks.

This small, but very important, the addition will give new kayaks the confidence they need when out paddling.

It is worth noting that there is not much dry storage space in this kayak, which will be a problem for some, particularly if you use fishing finders, which most anglers do these days.


Overall, we love the blend of good movement and stability and even though this kayak may not be as fast as some people would like, we think that it hits reasonably good speeds.

If you want a super comfortable kayak that travels at medium speed then the Cuda 12 is an excellent choice for you.

There is good dry storage space on this kayak, which some other Jackson models do not have, so may appeal to Jackson fans who have avoided buying their other kayaks die to this issue.

The main problem for us is the console and the lack of standing room, which you should not really expect for the price that you will pay for this kayak.