Vanhunks Boarding began life back in the 90s in South Africa, their brand name taken from the legend of a Dutch pirate.
Perhaps more synonymous with recreational kayaks, surfboards, and SUPs, the company isn’t particularly well-known when it comes to fishing kayaks.
That’s something they’re gunning to change with the creation of the Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler, which is under the Bonfire Bob review microscope today.
Is it any good? How does it compare with other fishing kayaks? Does it deserve our score of 4.5?
Read on to find out, and soon you’ll learn if it’s the right kayak for you.
Our Verdict on the Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler Kayak
The Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler Fishing Kayak is an impressive angling machine, and a craft you might start to see more and more out on the water in the US. Given the fact that this fishing machine is overloaded with features, the price point is outstanding.
- The Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler Kayak Review
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The Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler Kayak – What is It?
Coming in at 13 feet in length and a generous 36 inches wide, the Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler is a hardshell fishing kayak designed for a solo paddler.
It features an abundance of impressive storage space, a lawn-chair seat, and is compatible with a pedal drive with either fins or a propeller.
A new release, and relatively unknown, the Elite Pro Angler continues to garner interest from the kayak fishing community, as it begins to climb up the search engine rankings across the USA.
What’s it For?
A super-stable fishing platform, the Elite Pro Angler has been designed for calm lakes, slow moving rivers, and flat water.
It’s suitable for offshore fishing, but I would be cautious when taking this kayak out in particularly choppy conditions.
The generous storage space indicates that this is a craft that loves to be taken on long fishing trips and kayak camping adventures.
And I think it works perfectly as a recreational paddler for anyone who just wants additional comfort while exploring the nation’s waterways – with or without a fishing rod.
The Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler Kayak Review
While the Elite Pro Angler has been supposedly built from a single piece of rotomolded, five millimeter polyethylene, on closer inspection, you can see what looks like a seam running around the craft.
There are a few other cosmetic bumps and lumps, but you might expect that with a kayak that offers these features at this price point.
I certainly don’t suspect any of them to have a negative impact on the durability of the boat, and the Elite Pro Angler should last for years to come with the right care and maintenance.
And for some top tips on how to look after a kayak, follow that link, and go here for advice on how to protect and store a kayak to improve its longevity.
Of all the factors concerned in this review of the Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler, I will admit that it’s the performance department that we’re a little in the dark on.
This isn’t a tried and tested machine like the Vibe Sea Ghost 130, for example. But we can certainly make some well-educated guesses with the right research.
The sharp, pronounced keel of the Elite Pro Angler helps with tracking through the water, and whether you’re paddling or pedaling, you’ll feel its benefit.
And for a wide, boxy kayak, it tracks surprisingly well. I don’t think it’s going to be comparable to the Wilderness Systems Radar 135 in this regard, but you’re not going to be slaloming all over the place.
Fishing kayaks aren’t known for their speed, and the wider, longer, and heavier they are, the slower they become.
Vanhunks claims that this is a superfast fishing kayak, but I think that’s stretching the truth a little.
It’s not going to come close to the Vibe Shearwater 125 or Bonafide SS127 for pace, and you can tell that just by looking at the design.
That said, you should be able to build up a decent head of steam in the Elite Pro, certainly more than most kayak anglers need for a lazy day out on the water.
At 36 inches, the Elite Pro Angler is one of the wider fishing kayaks in this class, and has a stability to match.
That wide, open deck space is just ripe for standing casts and reels, and the hull design of the Elite lets you do that in confidence.
Not to mention the EVA pads on the gunwales – a clear indication that this kayak has stability in spades.
I don’t think it’s quite going to rival the best stand-up fishing kayaks for 2023, but it’s certainly more than capable for anglers to get to their feet if they so choose.
The foot/hand operated rudder in the Elite Pro Angler seriously improves your turning ability, ensuring it’s quite a nimble fishing machine considering its size.
That said, it’s not going to turn as fast as a Jackson Kayak Bite, for example, given that it’s a much larger craft.
Features and Accessories
Vanhunks knows how to please their customers when it comes to company ethos, boarding products, and gear.
But how do they measure up for keeping the kayak fishing community happy? Let’s explore the features of the Elite Pro Angler. Note that storage options are discussed later in the review.
- Four integrated trolling rod holders.
- Two flush-mounted rod holders in front of the seating position.
- Gear accessory tracks.
- Aluminum mesh seating – more on this, below.
- Compatible with a pedal drive system – sold separately.
- Large, durable carry handles, bow, stern, port and starboard.
- Underseat tackle tray.
- Fish finder scupper hole with protective cover.
- Foot and hand-operated rudder.
- EVA standing pads.
- Bow paddle park.
- Scupper holes.
- Rudder release.
- Drain plug.
- Paddle included.
Some points to note:
The Elite Pro offers a great selection of fishing rod holders. Wilderness Systems Radar 135 – take note!
A real boon for a kayak at this price point, the option to convert the craft from paddles to pedals is an enticing prospect.
And you can choose from a propeller or a fin drive when you upgrade, both of which are available at a fraction of the cost of some pedal systems.
The EVA deck pads offer grip for standing, and they’re also located on the gunwales, should you wish to stand in that position.
The stern carry handle is enormous! Bolted in, it almost stretches the width of the boat, so you can easily use two hands to carry it if required, or have two people side-by-side.
With an aluminum frame, and quick-drying mesh seat and back, the seating in the Elite Pro Angler is extremely comfortable.
It’s fully adjustable, although it can’t be raised or lowered. Still, with its elevated position, you have a commanding field-of-view over the water.
It can move fore and aft on a slide track, so you can adjust it to your preferred position for paddling or fishing.
The super-wide, uncluttered deck feels spacious and unrestrictive, and the fully adjustable foot braces will cater for paddlers of all sizes, if you’re not purchasing the pedal drive.
The Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler offers a seriously impressive selection of storage solutions and space, starting with a generous bow tank well with bungee tarp cover.
The tarp also incorporates a bow paddle park to keep your paddle secure for hands-free fishing. Check out this review of the best kayak fishing paddles if you want to up your paddle game.
Just behind, there’s a hinged compartment that’s the ideal size for a transducer/fish finder battery. Be aware that this isn’t watertight.
In the center of the deck, you’ll find an awesome kayak tool pod. This is a hinged compartment you can use to keep things like fishing pliers close to hand. There’s even a fish measuring scale on the top for convenience.
If you’re upgrading to a pedal drive, the tool pod is removed to make way for this system.
Under the seat, you’ll find a handy storage tray on a slide track, covered with a bungee tarp which pulls out like a drawer and is useful for throwing lures in.
It can also accommodate a Plano 3600 tackle box with plenty of room to spare.
Tackle storage boxes can also be stashed in the two molded compartments located at either side of the seating position. Both feature a bungee strap to keep their contents from falling out.
The port and starboard carrying handle locations incorporate cup holders into the molding, which is a clever use of the space.
Behind the seat, there’s a sealed circular storage hatch for keeping smaller items and valuables protected, but we’ve saved the best for last when examining the storage capabilities of this craft.
The Elite Pro Angler boasts a monster storage tank well at the stern of the kayak.
I’m willing to guess this is up there with the largest tank well on a fishing kayak of this class, and it can easily accommodate a giant kayak fishing cooler or kayak crate.
All-in-all, the Elite Pro Angler offers some of the best storage available in a fishing kayak this size, and is ideal for anglers or kayak campers who like to bring a lot of gear on their adventures.
If you’re going to include a huge storage tank well that is capable of bringing everything – including the kitchen sink – you’d better back it up with a weight capacity to match.
And with a whopping 617 lbs, the Elite Pro does just that.
This is seriously impressive for a hardshell fishing kayak, and it even comes close to rivaling something like the inflatable Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack.
Needless to say, this kayak has talked the talk with the storage options, and walked the walk with the maximum weight capacity.
And you can be safe in the knowledge that you can bring an extremely fat dog with you if you do choose!
On the scales, the Elite Pro Angler weighs in at 81.5 lbs without a pedal drive, and 92.5 lbs with a pedal drive.
Coupled with its size and boxy design, this isn’t the easiest kayak to transport – in spite of the generous carrying handles on all sides.
You will definitely need some help with this one, either from a buddy, or from a quality kayak cart.
It’s certainly going to be a bit of a challenge to hoist it onto a vehicle roof, and you might be restricted to using a trailer only for this one.
If you’re looking for something less bulky, try this review of the best lightweight fishing kayaks on the market.
Alternatively, for the ultimate in portability, check out this article on the best inflatables for kayak fishing.
Ease of Use
When it comes to choosing a kayak for beginners and novice paddlers, there’s nothing too scary about the Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler.
If you’re using it with a pedal drive, the learning curve might get a little steeper, but as a paddle craft alone it’s pretty intuitive to use.
It’s sheer size might be a little daunting to beginners, especially if you’ve never paddled before, but it shouldn’t take too long to get the hang of things.
If you’re looking for something that is specifically catered towards new paddlers, try this review of the best fishing kayaks for beginners, instead.
I’m not quite sure why I like the look of the Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler, but as the company says, there’s something about it that makes you want to start “planning that ultimate adventure.”
Vanhunks has gone for rugged practicality over sleek and sexy, with a boxy design that’s built like a tank.
There are a lot of angles to the Elite Pro Angler – and somehow it all works – but it won’t be for everyone.
It’s currently available in four color schemes – River Rock (brown/gray), Bora Bora (aqua blue), Aqua Green (green/blue/yellow), and Oceana Blue (blue).
They’re all striking in their own right, although I personally think the aqua green is a bit of a mess and hurts the eyes.
As mentioned earlier, cosmetically, the kayak does look a little rough in places, and certainly doesn’t have the polished finish of something like the Old Town Sportsman PDL.
Designed to be as stable as possible, the Elite Pro Angler should give the paddler plenty of confidence on the water.
It’s certainly not going to be easy to tip.
But if you do manage to capsize or fall out, the large carry handle to the stern of the boat makes an excellent grab handle.
It’s also ideal if a fellow paddler gets into difficulty and needs to hitch a ride.
Remember, you should always wear a good fishing PFD, regardless of how safe (or unsafe) your kayak is, and you can read more top-tips for kayak safety at that link.
Given the fact that this fishing machine is overloaded with features, and – when talking about the kayak design itself – has comparable quality with high-end fishing kayaks, the price point is outstanding.
You’re getting A LOT of kayak for the money here. Especially when you consider it can be converted to a pedal kayak with minimum fuss, and the drive systems are also reasonably priced.
Still, if you’re looking for something sub $1K, check out this review of the best fishing kayaks under $1000, or go here for a general guide to the best budget-friendly fishing kayaks on the market.
In the USA, at least, Vanhunks are something of an unknown quantity, and it’s only in recent years kayak anglers in the States have started to take notice.
And the Elite Pro Angler is certainly the right kind of boat that can turn some heads, and maybe even convert a few paddlers from their loyalty to other kayak fishing brands.
The US branch of Vanhunks is based out of Florida, and they continue to change the hearts and minds of US kayakers – particularly when it comes to fishing.
I think the 4.5 score is very respectable for the new fishing kayak on the block – and I’d be very interested to see where this company is going.
The Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler Fishing Kayak is an impressive angling machine, and a craft you might start to see more and more out on the water in the US.
What are your thoughts? Is this a boat you’d like to try? Do you think it’s capable of rivaling products from the big-brand kayak companies?
Let us know in the comments, and in the meantime, stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!