The Vibe Shearwater 125 Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak Review

Making their first splash in 2013, Vibe Kayaks have built a reputation for designing fun, practical, and affordable craft that bridge the gap between your first kayak, and premium, high-end fishing machines.

It was Vibe that created the first sub $1000 fishing kayak, after all, and part of their ethos is to help everyone get out and enjoy the water, with feature-rich kayaks that don’t cost the earth.

And so the Shearwater 125 was born.

Personally, this is one of my all-time favorite fishing kayaks, and I hope you enjoy reading my Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak review as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

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The Vibe Shearwater 125 Kayak – What is It?

Marketed as “the most complete fishing kayak ever,” the Vibe Shearwater 125 most certainly has a shot at that title since its release in early 2020.

It’s a sleek, streamlined fishing beast that is absolutely jam-packed with quality features, and – at the time of writing – I believe it offers more than any other fishing kayak right off the bat.

As the name suggests, it’s 12.5 feet long, which is considered the perfect sweet-spot for a fishing kayak, and it can be used with paddles, pedals, or power – with the versatility to be upgraded at a later date, ensuring it’s manageable for any budget.

Vibe Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak

What’s it For?

The Vibe Shearwater 125 Kayak is a go-anywhere, do-anything fishing craft, and is perfectly at home in the ocean, on rivers, lakes, and ponds, salt and freshwater, and everything in between.

Like most fishing kayaks, however, it’s not recommended you take this out on whitewater any higher than a class II.

And with the amount of fishing rod holders, practical features, and useful touches you’ll find from bow to stern, the Shearwater makes for an excellent tournament fishing kayak, so check it out to stand a chance of blowing away the competition.

The Vibe Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak Review

Durability 4.5

Made from a single piece of rotomolded high-density polyethylene, the Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak is a solid unit that is built to last.

And right out of the shipping package, you can see and feel that quality across the board.

Everything from the handles to the hull, the hardware, and everything in between has that solid look and tactile, satisfying response.

Performance 4.9

You can just take one look at this kayak and know that it’s been designed with performance in mind, and is arguably one of the most well-balanced fishing vessels in its class.

Tracking

With that sleek, streamlined U-hull design, the Shearwater tracks as straight as an arrow, and is almost effortless to paddle. I’d love to see this go head-to-head with Bonafide’s SS127.

Speed

I would go so far as to say this was one of the fastest fishing kayaks out there. It looks like a dart, it performs like a dart. It must be a dart! Only it’s not – it’s a kayak.

Vibe have specifically designed the Shearwater to have a superfast hull shape, so you can get to your fishing spot in no time – which is highly advantageous in tournament conditions.

Stability

Standing is easy in the Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak, thanks to the hybrid hull design that offers a great balance of the stability, speed, and tracking triumvirate.

And the fact that you can convert the seat into a standing platform 16-inches above the water line, not to mention the gunwale perch pads, tells you everything you need to know about how crazy-stable the Shearwater is.

Even anglers with poor balance and/or co-ordination should feel more confident to stand in the Shearwater than most other fishing kayaks.

Maneuverability

The toe-controlled rudder system ensures intuitive maneuverability on the water, and the hull has been constructed to offer a great balance of tracking and turning with its hybrid design.

However, the Shearwater doesn’t have the best turning circle, certainly when compared to something like the Hobie Mirage Outback, for example.

Vibe Shearwater 125 Kayak

Features and Accessories 5.0

To have been a fly-on-the-wall of the Vibe design team’s HQ, I imagine you would have overheard something like this:

“What features do you want?”

“Yes.”

The Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak is simply overflowing with practical touches that will keep most anglers more than happy, and I believe it to be the most feature-rich fishing kayak at point of sale on the market.

Check it out:

  • Horizontal fishing rod storage/stagers.
  • Rod tip protectors.
  • Four top loading gear tracks – two fore, and two aft.
  • Free flow foot braces – switch from rudder to braced with ease.
  • Versatile central pod – open deck, pedal drive, or extra storage console – the choice is yours.
  • Gunwale standing pads – get a better view of the water.
  • Four tackle tray slots that fit 3600 series trays.
  • Two cup holders.
  • Four rear flush mounted rod holders.
  • Five-position seat (more on this, below).
  • Three sealed access plates into the hull for custom rigging.
  • Stern mounting points for anchor/trolling motor.
  • Replaceable hull skid plate.
  • Quick paddle park.
  • Stand-assist strap mount.
  • Silent standing EVA deck pads – never spook the fish again.
  • Gravity rudder – compatible with a Bixpy Jet motor – sold separately.

Wow – that’s pretty impressive, right? And even if there is something missing, or you don’t like the configuration, there are almost limitless ways you can customize the Shearwater to suit your own style.

And that’s not even mentioning the storage options – which is coming up in a moment, so keep reading.

Regardless, Vibe set their stall out with this kayak, and they didn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a fishing machine with all the bells and whistles, you’ve come to the right place.

Comfort 4.7

When it comes to comfort, Vibe hasn’t cut any corners, and the seating system that comes with the Shearwater has to be seen to be believed.

It offers no less than five positions, and can be raised low to high, depending on if you’re paddling, fishing, or just laying back, relaxing and taking it all in.

And it can even be folded to create a standing perch, which offers a seriously impressive field-of-view, and a commanding position over the water, a full 16-inches above the water line.

Even if you’re one of those kayak anglers who aren’t comfortable standing on your craft, this raised platform is a game-changer to still allow you an improved field-of-view over the water from a seated position.

And the seat can easily slide forwards or backwards, so you can adjust it depending on your level of comfort/balance.

However, one of the downsides to having so many features, and a streamlined, narrow hull design, is that the Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak doesn’t have the roomiest deck space.

You might want to look elsewhere if you prefer a super-spacious, clutter-free deck area – particularly if you’re a larger human. This review of the best fishing kayaks for big guys and gals is a good place to start.

Storage 5.0

Aside from the crazy amount of features listed above, the Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak also manages to pack in plenty of storage options – which is an essential part of any decent fishing craft.

Starting at the bow, you have an open front cargo storage, which is ideal if you want to quickly reach for clothing or gear without fiddling with a hatch.

However, the downside of this is there’s a chance this area might get wet, particularly when paddling through rough water.

The answer is the Vibe flex top cover, which can keep all your belongings secure and protected, and features a sliding paddle-park on top for a quick place to stow your paddle in a hurry.

If you’re using the Versa console in the middle of the boat, you have access to a huge, watertight pod to keep important gear and valuables, which has a magnetic tackle tray to prevent hooks, tools, and lures from going astray.

The bungee tie-down on top of the Versa pod is also a nice touch, and a great place to stash anything you need to grab in a hurry.

Bear in mind that if you’re using the pedal drive system or simply the open deck setup, your kayak won’t have the Versa pod, and you’ll be a little lighter on storage options if that’s the case.

Not to worry, though, as you’ll still have the sliding underseat storage drawer, which is protected and secured with a bungee-mesh cover.

Behind the seat, there’s a generous tank well with bungee cord and clips to easily secure your cargo.

This space will easily fit most tackle boxes, bags, and/or crates – and you can follow that link for some great suggestions. Alternatively, it’s an ideal location for one of these kayak coolers.

Either way, with the Vibe Shearwater, you will never have to leave anything behind on your fishing trip.

Weight Capacity 4.5

With a generous 475 lbs of maximum weight capacity, you can comfortably load this fishing kayak to around the 375 lbs mark – which is plenty of weight for most anglers and all their gear.

If you think that you’ll need more, you can always check out this review of the best inflatable fishing kayaks (which tend to have higher weight capacities than hardshells), or go here for tandem kayak options.

Portability 3.9

The Vibe Shearwater 125 has a starting hull weight of 82 lbs, so it’s already on the heavy side, especially when compared to this review of the most lightweight fishing kayaks on the market.

Fully loaded, this figure jumps to 109 lbs, so you’re almost certainly going to need a buddy to help you get it to and from the water.

Alternatively, you can use one of these practical kayak carts which can take the strain, and keep your kayak from getting damaged on the ground.

Ease of Use 3.4

There’s a lot going on here, and for first time kayak anglers, the Shearwater 125 might appear more than a little daunting.

When I first started exploring this kayak, it made my head spin with the amount of features and points of interest that I was trying to understand and focus on!

As such, there’s a good chance this kayak has a much steeper learning curve than almost anything else on the market, and some would argue that it’s trying a little too hard.

They have a point – as there are many kayak anglers out there who prefer a more pared-down kayak fishing experience, with a clutter-free deck, and skeleton features.

If that sounds like you, then the Shearwater probably isn’t the best choice for your fishing style, and I would take a look at something like the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12, the Jackson Kayak Yupik, or even the Lifetime Tamarack if you’re on a budget.

All that said, once you get the hang of everything that’s on offer here, the Shearwater is pretty straightforward to use, and will almost certainly help you catch more fish.

Safety 4.0

Stability wise, you couldn’t ask for more, and it’s going to take a lot of effort on your part to make this kayak tip.

However, if you do happen to go into the water and capsize, it might be a little more challenging than lighter kayaks to flip back over.

And while the muted colors schemes are stylish and attractive when it comes to aesthetics, they’re not the easiest to see out on the water – particularly in low-light conditions or inclement weather.

I would strongly suggest a high-visibility flag is one of your first additions to your loadout when setting up this kayak.

Price Point 4.5

The Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak isn’t the most expensive craft on the block, nor is it the cheapest.

But when you consider everything you’re getting for the price, it sure does make it real value for money, and is a steal when you consider it’s one of the best fishing kayaks in the world right now.

Of course, when you consider the pedal drive kit is $500-$600 more, things can start to get pricey.

But many kayak anglers don’t need a pedal drive, or they simply prefer using a paddle to get around.

In that case, the base price of the Shearwater is pretty good, considering you’ll probably never buy another kayak in your life.

Overall 4.4

When I first reviewed the Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.

Every inch of this kayak has been designed with practical touches to help kayak anglers catch fish, and enjoy a comfortable, day-long experience out on the water.

Consequently, it nearly always makes it onto our best fishing kayaks lists – in all kinds of categories.

But it’s the sheer amount of Shearwater features that will make most kayak anglers sit up and take notice. This is the fishing kayak I would have designed, if I were a fishing kayak designer!

And yet, that’s not for everyone. For many kayak fishermen and women, the Shearwater might be a bit too “busy.”

If you prefer a more simple setup with a wider deck space, then this isn’t the kayak for you.

Summary

I hope our Vibe Shearwater 125 kayak review has opened your eyes to this incredible fishing machine, and if you’re looking for one of the most feature-rich kayaks on the market, your search is over!

Let us know if this is the kayak for you, or if you prefer something a little more straightforward and manageable.

Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayaking!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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