Wilderness Systems Recon 120HD – Review

The Wilderness Systems Recon 120HD is a progressive fishing kayak designed for avid fisherman. It’s a confidence-inspiring fishing machine with a customizable open platform.

The Recon series of kayaks have a lineup of revolutionary new features that make them stand apart from the pack.

These features include a highly adjustable seat designed for all-day comfort and the next evolution of S.M.A.R.T. hull technology. This hull technology instills confidence in stability.

The Recon 120HD checks all the boxes for the expert kayak angler with a simple design that’s perfect for the novice.

This fishing kayak is a factory-loaded boat with luxurious comfort and premium framework.  

A top and side image of the the Wilderness Systems Recon 120HD.
The Wilderness Systems Recon 120HD

Specifications

  • Maximum Weight Limit: 450lbs
  • Kayak Weight: 115lbs
  • Length: 12’2″
  • Width: 38″
  • Price: $2149

Features

  • An open storage platform that offers enough space in all the right places.
  • Comes standard with the Helix PD Pedal Drive System. This system has instant forward/reverse and turn on-a-dime turning.
  • Customizable to be paddle, pedal or motor driven.
  • Wilderness Systems calls S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology. This stands for Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness, and Tracking. This technology optimizes the hull’s design to keep the kayak quick and stealthy.
  • StowPro waterproof storage system. This system features a hatch with an extra-large gasket and a removable internal storage bin.
  • An open cockpit design
  • Fishing rod holders atop each side of the kayak. These holders feature a unique horizontal rod storage solution. This placement keeps your rods close and accessible and has bungee cords to hold them silently in place.  
  • Lots of storage with an open rear platform. There are midship side pockets, a recess for tackle boxes, space under the seat and convenient cup holders for your beverages. 
  • AirPro ACE seat is comfortable, adjustable, and ergonomic. The seat’s design includes the framework of the AirPro MAX. The improved design has a mechanical lever for quick one-handed adjustments on the fly.

Important Feature Details

The Recon 120HD comes from the factory loaded with customizable features. These features turn the kayak into the perfect fishing machine for your style.

The open storage platform offers enough space for all of your gear.

There are plenty of intuitive features for the serious angler. Including an expansive standing platform.

Propulsion System

The Wilderness Systems Recon 120HD is build on the same platform as the The Wilderness Systems Recon 120. The only difference is the integrated Helix Drive propulsion system.

This pedal drive kayak comes standard with the Helix PD Pedal Drive midship system. This system has instant forward/reverse and turn on-a-dime functionality. And, the gearing is lab tested with a 6:1 gear ratio to ensure smooth all-day pedaling.

An image of the Helix Pedal Drive System.
Helix Pedal Drive

The Helix Drive has a groundbreaking intuitive design with 3-phases of possible positioning. The phases include fully deployed, zero draft and fully stowed. 

When fully deployed it offers the most speed. However, the auto-raising mast will achieve zero draft.

An image of the fully deployed Helix Pedal Drive
Helix Pedal Drive Fully Deployed

A spring-loaded kick pedal easily engages the low draft phase. When engaged, the pedal raises the system tighter to the kayak.

Simply rock the system up and forward to achieve the fully stowed phase. This position provides more space on the wide-open deck. 

An image of the Helix Pedal Drive Fully Stowed.
Helix Pedal Drive Fully Stowed

These groundbreaking new features make it the most efficient pedal system offered in any pedal drive-capable kayak.

Efficiency is achieved with a two-bladed fixed pitch prop. The prop’s pitch is perfectly angled to maximize speed with less effort.

Pedaling may not be your preferred mode of propulsion. If that’s the case, then the kayak is simply upgradable to an aftermarket motor.

The motor mounts on a solid stern mounting interface. This interface uses a universal trolling motor bracket to easily install a clamp-on style trolling motor. 

The bracket is made of heavy-duty 13 gauge steel. The bracket’s angled design is built for electric trolling motors up to 3 horsepower or 70 pounds of thrust.  

An Optimized Hull Design 

The Recon 120 HD kayak features the same hull technology in many Wilderness Systems kayaks. Wilderness Systems calls it S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology. This stands for Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness, and Tracking. 

These hull design features have been masterfully combined. Thereby, providing ultimate performance in all waters. The hull efficiently cut through the water and creates a rock-solid platform.  

This technology optimizes the hull’s design with specialized volume distribution nuances. Thereby, keeping the kayak quick and stealthy, no matter the mode of propulsion. 

Kayak Control and Maneuverability

The Recon 120HD is easily controlled with a large responsive rudder. The control lever for the rudder is positioned on the left side of the kayak. The is the perfect place for easy, quick access.

This oversize rudder easily retracts. This feature prevents the rudder from being damaged in shallow water. Simply pull one of the lift lines to swing the rudder up out of the water. Pull on the other lift line to drop it back in the water.    

Gear Storage

The StowPro Storage System is a highlight of the Recon 120HD. This system features an extra-large gasketed hatch at the front of the hull. This gasket design ensures a perfect water tight seal. 

The bin inside the hatch is removable. This is great for cleaning or pre-loading with gear or ice for refreshments. Moreover, the storage system has been thoughtfully configured. It’s accessible from the driver’s seat and sealed to defend your important gear from the elements. 

An image of the StowPro storage system
StowPro Storage System

The open cockpit design features dual rod troughs atop each side of the kayak. These rod holders feature a unique horizontal rod storage system. This system keeps your rods close and easy to grab. It also has bungee cords to hold your rods silently in place. 

This horizontal design can hold 3 rods up to 7’ 6” long. Furthermore, the storage area is noise-dampened. There are silent traction pads where the reels rest are just behind the seat area. 

An open rear platform is just behind the seat. This platform has cross-lashing bungee cord tie-downs to secure your extra gear. 

An image of the Recon 120/120HD rear storage platform.
Recon 120 Rear Storage Platform

Also, more storage is found in midship side pockets on both sides of the seat. Under the seat there is a recess for tackle boxes.

Recon’s Seat

The AirPro ACE seat is another highlight of the Recon. This seat has an innovative system that is the embodiment of easy adjustability, luxurious comfort and ergonomics.

The seat allows anglers to dial in their custom comfort setting for any mode of travel. Whether they’re paddling, pedaling or motoring, this seating system provides you with the perfect freedom of motion to get you across any water.  

The premium breathable material covering the seat will help keep you dry and comfortable. 

The design has the same materials from the popular AirPro MAX. These same materials are engineered into the new AirPro ACE seat, but with a groundbreaking new feature.

The seat sits on a track system with a mechanical lever. This is similar to a manual vehicle seat adjustment to move the seat forward and backward. Therefore, with one easily accessible lever you can make quick one-handed adjustments on the fly.

An image of the AirPro ACE kayak seat.
AirPro ACE Kayak Seat

Accessory System

Accessory rails line both sides of the kayak. The marine grade anodized aluminum slide rails that are customizable with mounting systems from RAM® and YakAttack®. 

You can use the rails to mount fishing rod holders, cup holders, a cell phone holder or just about any gadget you want mounted on your kayak. 

Additional Features

  • Removable seat
  • No-noise traction pads for standing to fish
  • Stern access hatch for stern mounting and through hull rigging 
  • Easy carry handles a the front, rear and sides
  • Tackle box recesses under the seat
  • Duel rod troughs 
  • An abundance of space for storage and for standing
  • Convenient cup holders

Pros

  • Customizable
  • Easy to maneuver
  • A lot of great features for fishing
  • Lots of storage
  • Large load capacity

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The kayak is often in short supply

Wilderness Systems Recon 120HD Conclusion

Wilderness Systems kayaks are the future of fishability, and the Recon 120HD is one of the best in its class. The functional layout of the intuitive topdeck interface and the ability to make personal modifications create a unique angling platform that kayak anglers are sure to enjoy.

Wilderness Systems’ signature design approach brings you groundbreaking new features in recent years. These angler-friendly features make the newest generation of the Recon 120 HD a great boat for the series angler.

Check out our article 21 Best Fishing Kayaks for Big Guys for more great kayak options.

For more information on the Recon 120HD from the Wilderness Systems website, click HERE.

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