I’ve had my kayak for almost four years now and it’s been suitably modified from day one. One of the first modifications I fitted was a stern light powered from a 12v SLA battery mounted within the kayak. The majority of my fishing tends to either be at night or from day into night.
It’s a legal requirement for a kayak to be fitted with a fixed white light that provides 360 degree light and is visible for 2 miles whilst navigating/anchored at night. At that time there was very little available within the UK with regards to kayak lighting, little has changed to be honest. The Scotty light springs to mind, though to be honest its performance left a lot to be desired. I ended up fitting a detachable light designed for small boats and yachts with an uprated LED light.
A few weeks ago I read a couple of online articles where a new kayak light was mentioned, namely the VISICarbon Pro manufactured by YakAttack in the USA. I was unable to locate a dealer within the UK so I contacted Yak Attack in an attempt to find a European dealer. Yak Attack offered to provide one for review and long term test. Normally I’ve read any available reviews in advance of handling new tackle and equipment, though in this instance I hadn’t, hence I had no pre-conceived opinions. The unit was neatly packaged and also enclosed was a RAM mounting kit.
With the unit out of the packaging it was time to have a close look. There was the light assembly, flag, product guide/instructions and a YakAttack sticker, though what really impressed me was the presence of a credit card sized customer service card with full contact details. That wasn’t something I’d really across before, nice touch.
The light assembly is a four piece affair, the lower three sections are of a similar length with the final section being the light itself.
The lowest section is similar is design to a rod butt, foam covered and approximately 1 3/4” in diameter. The design of the lower section allows the VISICarbon Pro to be fitted to most ‘rocket’ type rod holders. At the base of this particular model (CP2) is a 1.5” ball which also allows it to be mounted to a 1.5” RAM ball (Kit RM2 required).
Standard 1.75” Rod Holder RAM Mounting Kit (RM2)
A Scotty ready model (CP1) is also available with a Tallon flush mount model soon to appear in the model line up. The lower section is also claimed to fit to many flush mount rod holders, though these tend to be angled and may not provide the best performance, though I’ll try this once I’m afloat.
Above the lowest section is an elastic lanyard that serves two purposes. It allows the unit to be secured to the kayak to prevent loss should the kayak capsize or the unit be inadvertently dropped overboard. Secondly, with the unit collapsed it can be used to bind the unit together keeping it compact, it also aids stowage.
The centre two sections of the VISICarbon Pro are of carbon construction, similar to what you’d find at the lower end of a light spinning rod. The finish is good and there are a couple of graphics to compliment the appearance. The narrow diameter will keep the drag effects of wind to a minimum. The upper section is the light itself, more on that later.
What have the four sections got in common?, well, they’re all connected with an elastic shock cord that passes from the lower ‘butt’ section to the light, passing through the two middle sections.
The cord is under tension and allows the sections to either be quickly locked into place, or to be broken down into a compact size for easy storage. The principle is the same a used on many lightweight tent poles, though applying it to the light was most intuitive. When snapped together the unit is 48” long which when mounted vertically will comfortably put the light above head height.
Stowage, this is where yet again the unit proves to be most innovative. The red flag, which measures 18” x 6”, also doubles up as a stowage pouch.
There is a opening at one end, secured with Velcro, this allows the collapsed unit to be slipped inside and secured.
In this configuration the unit is very compact (14” long) and can be stored within a rear mounted crate or large centre hatch/rod pod with ease. It also fits into my dry box which is just perfect. As a result you can take the light afloat and fit it as required. It also allows the unit to be removed and stowed prior to a potentially difficult surf landing.
Getting back to the flag, attaching the flag is simplicity itself. The VISICarbon Pro uses ‘Silent Snaps’ to allow the flag to be attached to the light in seconds, it really is that simple. The ‘Silent Snap’ system comprises of two small elastic loops with a plastic tab on each. Pulling on a tab allows one end of the flag to be inserted.
The process is repeated on the other end resulting in the flag being securely attached to the light.
It’s very secure, the flag will not blow off and it’d happily survive a capsize. That being said, I’m not going to put the last statement to the test anytime soon!
That leaves the light itself.
The light unit has been custom made for the VISICarbon Pro and sports of section of reflective SOLAS tape with high visibility orange tape positioned at either side. The tapered clear lens houses the LED module. As standard it comes with a two LED module, though additional modules can be purchased to enable this to be changed to either a one or four LED module. Clearly this will vary the light output and battery life as a result. Again, this is an option I’ve not seen made available on any other kayak light.
There’s no on/off switch, operating the light requires a simple twist of the clear lens in order to make the internal contact. It’s simplicity in itself and by removing a mechanical switch it has removed a potential point of failure.The clear lens is removed by unscrewing it from the light unit.
The lens itself contains a twisted diffuser to provide enhanced 360 degree light coverage. Two O-ring seals are present at the top of the light unit, neither of which are likely to fall off whilst changing batteries/LED modules. The LED module lifts out to expose three AA batteries housed within the unit.
These are easily removed and replaced as required.
YakAttack claim a battery life of approximately 100 hours with the 2 LED module. Clearly this would be dependent on ambient temperature as I’m assuming those figures were attained at room temperature. However, even if battery life was far less than quoted it’s still very impressive and would easily last several trips before replacement was required.
If I had a concern about the light unit itself, it would be the potential to loose the LED module whilst carrying out a battery change when afloat. That being said, knowing the potential risk, you’d no doubt be ultra careful whilst carrying out this procedure so the risk would be minimised.
The light output itself is quite impressive for a two LED system, though I’m now very keen to compare it to the 4 LED module.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare it to my current light as that utilises an 18 LED (21W equivalent) bulb, though it’s certainly very useable and will easily surpass the UK requirement of being visible for two miles. There is the facility to slide the flag over the light to reduce light output. Whilst this may not be particularly legal or advisable in open water situations, it may be prove useful when fishing close to structure to avoid spooking fish.
The light unit is claimed to be waterproof to 1000 feet. I kept it fully submerged in the sink for one hour and the initial results were encouraging with no water penetrating the light unit.
That said, it’s also claimed that the VISICarbon Pro floats, that will be tested when I’m afloat.
It’s currently not retailed within the UK, though in the USA the VISICarbon Pro with 1.5” RAM mount (CP2) retails at $89.95 with the RAM mounting kit retailing at $19.95. So is it value for money?. Well it’s certainly not cheap, though I’m a big believer that you generally get what you pay for in this world, and I believe that this light is no exception.
Clearly, an awful lot of thought has gone into its design. What with its collapsible mast, multi-purpose flag, multiple lighting/mounting options and excellent battery life it’s well ahead of the competition. Though that’s not all, it has full spares backup where virtually every part can be purchased individually direct from YakAttack.
What’s in the UK that can readily compete with the VISICarbon Pro?. The only real ‘equivalent’ is the Scotty Sea Light with pole that retails at around £45.I’ve seen one in the flesh and its light output doesn’t compare and its battery life is quoted at 8 hours. It’s also lacking a flag and isn’t collapsible, nor does it have the mounting options, etc. When you start bringing all of these factors into the equation the price of VISICarbon Pro doesn’t seem too bad at all.
Scotty Sea Light Kayak Deck Light
There is also a suction mounted unit that retails at around £30. The one I’ve seen is short and as a result would not provide 360 degree coverage with an angler aboard. It’s doubtful in my eyes as to whether or not a light of that design actually meets the legal requirement for night navigation. There’s also the potential issue of positioning such a unit as not to impede the anglers night vision. It’s certainly not as effective as a light positioned above head height and behind the angler.
In my opinion the VISICarbon Pro is a high quality innovative kayak light that’s well ahead of the competition. Sure it’s not cheap, though with its superb functionality and unrivalled product support it should last many years with the correct care. It comes with a twelve month warranty as standard.