The New Jackson Mayfly Kayak

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Photo by Justin Pickett

Photo by Justin Pickett

By Justin Pickett

Jackson Kayak is known worldwide for making some of the best kayaks on the planet.

Be it for fishing, whitewater, or freestyle, performance and quality are two words that come to mind when you lay eyes on a Jackson.

Jackson Kayak has been in the fishing game for almost as long as they have been in business. Boats like the Coosa, Cuda, and Big Rig have all been proven on the water as serious fishing platforms. With numerous products available to the kayak angler today, there are a million ways to outfit each of these platforms to best fit your fishing needs. However, one of the techniques that still didn’t have a niche in the kayak industry was fly fishing. Sure, there have been accessories developed to help make toting fly rods a little easier, but that was much of the extent of fly angling accessories. Jackson saw this missed opportunity and has developed a kayak meant to cater to the fly angler. And this thing is ALL ABOUT FLY FISHING!

IMG_0055bBy now, especially for you kayak fishing enthusiasts, you have probably seen the new Jackson Mayfly on social media platforms, or maybe even on the water. For those of you that haven’t, if you are in the market for a solid fly fishing boat, this is the kayak that you want. For starters, forget all of the little accessories you thought you would need to get started as a fly angler chucking flies from a kayak. There are numerous fly-friendly features that have been thoughtfully built in to the platform of this awesome kayak which take a lot of the headaches out of fly fishing from a kayak.

Going through the kayak, several features have been built in to the Mayfly to accommodate fly equipment.

The biggest difference seen on the Mayfly is the modified footrest system. Jackson ditched the pedal-style, side mounted footrest system for a new, center mounted footrest that eliminates line snags while also providing several inches of adjustability forward and aft. If you’re not a fan of footrests, this footrest is easily removed and affords the angler tons of free deck space, and leaves plenty of room for activities. The seat system also gets an upgrade with an adjustable, sliding seat bracket that allows for simple seat position adjustment on the fly.

IMG_4151Just forward of the seat, on each side, are two fold-down fly boxes for storing flies on board the Mayfly which are secured with a bungee cord. On each side of the kayak is a new, molded-in, tubular rod storage system that allows you to safely store your rods while fishing, as well as during travel. To coincide with the rod storage, each side also has padded fly reel wells with bungee straps so your fly rod can be stored securely without having to either remove the reel, or place it precariously and hope it doesn’t get damaged. The rod storage system is setup for nine foot rods. Longer rods can be stored on the kayak, however the reels will not sit inside the reel wells.

Behind the seat is a large area for storing coolers and other gear. I can easily fit my Orion 35 cooler in this area and still have room for a few smaller pieces of gear or a couple large fly boxes. New latches have been added to the forward and aft storage compartments which provide a solid seal and help keep water out of the hull, and a drop in tray has also been added to the forward compartment to allow easy access to other gear that may come in handy. Just like with many of Jackson’s vessels, there are numerous rails mounted along the kayak to allow for smart placement of various RAM mounted accessories, like GoPros, cup holders, rod holders, etc, giving you limitless possibilities with the way you can rig your Mayfly for fishing.

When I think of Jackson Kayak, I think of quality and performance.

This is my second Jackson, and both kayaks’ fit and finish have been top shelf. I’ve been to the factory twice now, and I’ve gotten to see the work that goes into each and every kayak. The group of people that mold, cut, finish, accessorize, and ship these kayaks truly love what they do and that enthusiasm is translated into each and every Jackson that leaves the factory. Every decal, every edge, and even the distribution of the colors must be perfect on each kayak before it leaves for its new home. So with the Mayfly, you can expect much of the same.

IMG_8641When it comes to the performance of the Mayfly….Wow. When I first stepped onto my Coosa HD, I was impressed. The stability and the maneuverability were a surprise for me. I’m 5’11”, 215 lbs and I’m not as nimble as I used to be, so stability was high up on my priority list. Standing up on a kayak slinging a fly rod around isn’t the most passive thing in the world and requires some balance. With the Coosa HD, I could cast and move around a bit with confidence in knowing that as long as I didn’t do anything crazy, I wouldn’t be taking a swim. Several months later I found myself fishing from a new Mayfly for the first time while floating the Collins River in Tennessee. I spent much of that day inspecting all of the new features and testing out the handling and maneuverability, but what blew me away was the stability of the Mayfly. It is, by far, the most stable kayak that I have ever stepped foot on.

While the Mayfly isn’t going to be the speediest of kayaks on the planet, speed isn’t what it’s really meant for. I’ve had several people ask, “How fast is it compared to (insert other kayak here)?” Most of the time I just tell folks that it’s plenty fast. At a dry weight of 89 lbs, it’s not the lightest kayak, so therefore it isn’t the fastest either. But it does what it’s supposed to do well, and that is get you to the fish and make the fishing fun and effective. Don’t get too caught up on speed and weight. I doubt anyone looking into a Mayfly is going to be running it in time trials.

A couple characteristics that I have payed attention to are the maneuverability and the tracking.

The Mayfly does a wonderful job of tracking straight, and, with its lower profile, it doesn’t get pushed as much by wind. The maneuverability is impressive as well. At 12’8” in length, the Mayfly is no dink, but the thoughtful design of the Mayfly allows it to turn on a dime, and navigate tight spots with ease. Recently, while fishing the creeks of Tates Hell State Forest in the Florida panhandle, I meandered up a small feeder creek in the Mayfly while chasing some tailing redfish. This creek was barely wider than the kayak, and there were three very tight corners to negotiate. Without any fuss, I was able to steer well up the creek, land a redfish, turn around, and head back out to the main creek. The draft of the Mayfly is also nearly nothing. I’m not sure exactly how much water I actually draft with me and my gear on board the Mayfly, but it has to be less than four inches. I’ve navigated some super shallow waters, and there have been plenty of times when I just knew I was going to run aground, but I never did. This kayak will seriously get you into water skinnier than any fish will want to swim around in.

IMG_4920Probably the most important, most awesome feature about this kayak, for me, is the stability. Like I mentioned, I’m no tightrope walker. Having a stable boat that isn’t looking for an excuse to toss me overboard is a big plus for me. Transitioning from the already stable Coosa HD to the new Mayfly was, surprisingly, like night and day. The stability is insane. When I launched my Coosa, I sat in the seat and pushed off the dock, or shore. When I launch my Mayfly, I push off the dock or shore as I step onto the deck of the kayak and remain standing the entire time. Just like you would with your poling skiff, or a bass boat. One of the first accessories I bought for my Mayfly was a fiberglass Stiffy pole and I’ve had a blast poling carp flats this year. I lash my Orion 35 cooler to the Mayfly and use it as a seat and a poling platform, and it’s still stable enough for me to step up and down from the cooler and land a fish. It truly is impressive.

I feel like Jackson Kayak has really nailed this one.

There isn’t another kayak out on the market today that could fit the bill as a fly fishing kayak like the Mayfly does. This kayak is packed with features meant to make fly fishing from a kayak easier, more efficient, and more fun, and it does it in spades. And, as with any Jackson, the options of customizing your ultimate fly fishing kayak are infinite. I’ve had a ton of fun with my Mayfly fishing waters that I would have normally had to pass up, and finding fish that I would have normally missed. If you’re looking to upgrade, get started, or just want a kayak that is just more fly fishing friendly, then look no further than the Jackson Kayak Mayfly. You won’t be disappointed!

Check out the new Jackson Kayak Mayfly at

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “The New Jackson Mayfly Kayak

  1. Had a quick question on how you fit the Orion 35 with the seat. My Mayfly has a track behind the seat and I assume you just took that out. Per my measurements is it only 19” from back to the track and per the Orion website the base length of the the cooler is 21.25. Did you just take out the track?

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