Jackson Big Rig HD Fishing Kayak Review: All You Need to Know

The first Big Rig prototype was presented at ICAST 2013 as Jackson Kayak’s flagship model incorporating the best features from their most successful kayaks. The new Jackson Big Rig HD still represents the same idea, integrating the most popular features and technologies.

With its large hull and super stable on-water performance, Jackson Big Rig HD comes pretty close to providing a boat-like experience for kayak anglers. Its stability and weight capacity cater to big kayakers as well as people who love bringing loads of fishing and camping gear on their trips. The Big Rig HD and FD are Jackson’s biggest boats, not only in size but also in terms of innovative features and rigging.

RELATED: Jackson Kayaks in 2020: Full Model Lineup and Reviews

Pros:

  • Stable
  • Lots of in-hull storage
  • Ample gear tracks
  • Straight tracking
  • Fish finder ready
  • PowerPole ready
  • Convertible to FlexDrive System
  • Spacious standing platform
  • Integrated rudder system

Cons:

  • Very heavy: requires transportation and storage gear

Size and Weight

Jackson Big Rig HD is 13’3″ long, 40″ wide and 16″ high. It weighs 118 lbs without the seat and 125 lbs fully rigged. You will probably need a kayak trailer and a kayak cart to handle this big boy.

Capacity

This kayak has an astounding weight capacity of 550 lbs. It will easily support big paddlers plus a ton of equipment and gear. However, it is best to avoid loading any kayak beyond 80 percent of its max capacity to experience its best performance.

Construction and Material

Jackson Big Rig HD is one of Jackson’s new superlinear PE kayaks. It is made from High-Density Polyethylene using the rotational molding technology. Beads of polyethylene are poured into the mold, the mold is heated up and slowly rotated so that the material fills up every nook and cranny. After the mold cools down you get a one-piece construction that is extremely rugged and durable.

Jackson Kayak is known for high-quality materials. Their kayaks last a very long time.

The downside of polyethylene is that it is a very non-stick material. If you manage to put a hole in the hull, you can’t just glue a patch to it. Repairing usually requires a piece of the same material and a blowtorch to melt it onto the hole.

Hull Design

Jackson Big Rig HD has a tri-keel system with a more elongated keel to give it even better tracking. It provides rock-solid stability for stress-free standing but surprisingly, it also paddles quite well. On the bottom, there are two large scuppers that are compatible with Raymarine’s Axiom transducers. Of course, any other brand will fit just fine.

The Big Rig HD can comfortably handle most water types except for whitewater rapids. The streamlined hull and shallow buoyancy help with your drift control and let you concentrate on catching fish. It is a highly customizable boat that brings quality and confidence to your kayak fishing trips.

Deck/Cockpit

The Big Rig HD offers a large, uncluttered standing deck with plenty of room for movement and casting. The double-layered deck pads provide comfort for the feet and dampens any noises so that you don’t spook the fish. The cockpit is very spacious and optimized for fly fishing enthusiasts and bass anglers alike.

The whole deck, from bow to stern, is a snag-free zone with excellent line management. There are no hooks to catch the line and no bungees on the front hatch. The footpegs and footrest tracks are also tangle-free.

The Big Rig HD comes with a removable stand assist strap in front of the seat allowing kayakers to quickly and securely stand up or sit back down.

The drain plug is in front of the bow carry handle. A replaceable skid plate is added to the keel behind the rudder fin for protection.

Seat

The Big Rig HD introduces the upgraded Ergo Seat featuring a more breathable 2019 fabric with MOLLE webbing at the rear and under the seat that helps you organize your gear. The Big Rig HD comes with a MOLLE Snap Seatback Pouch that allows quick access to your equipment, tools, or two Plano 3600 tackle boxes.

The new generation seat integrates improved lumbar support, more ergonomic padding and more customizable trimming for optimal sitting comfort. The seat has a high and low position and also moves fore and aft.

To configure the high/low setting, you need to pull out the lock pins from the front, place the chair into the molded notches and insert the pins again. The side straps can help you tune the seat firmness and the back support angle.

The high seat setting is a few inches higher than before to relieve the “bent knee” numbness for those anglers who prefer casting from the sitting position. Sitting down and standing up from the seat is effortless on this kayak.

To move the seat fore and aft, all you need to do is loosen the track bolts, slide the chair to your best position, and tighten the bolts again.

Storage

Jackson Big Rig HD offers generous storage space. At the bow, there’s a splash-proof large trapezoid hatch that opens access to the in-hull storage. It is equipped with a plastic bin for smaller items that can get lost inside the hull. The hatch has a large volume and can take most of your camping gear inside. Here you can stow rods longer than 9 ft. The ABS lid is snag-proof, has a hinged opening mechanism and two rotating latches that allow quick-lock and easy access.

The floor of the standing area is where the Big Rig HD presents its most significant innovation. Now you can easily upgrade your kayak to a pedal drive and even the electric drive! The whole floor module is replaceable, giving you unprecedented flexibility.

The rectangular semi-dry storage pod in the paddle version offers a lot of room for gear, fish, lures, etc. The lid is in line with the deck and opens with two rotating latches for quick access.

When the seat is in the high position, you can store up to four standard-sized tackle boxes underneath it.

In the rear, the boat offers a large tank well for your cooler or crate. It is secured with three bungee tie-downs that slide on the side gear tracks.

At the stern, there is another hatch with the same ABS hinged lid and two rotating latches. It opens access to the rudder mechanics and provides another storage compartment for stowing more gear. This hatch does not include a cargo bag or bin like the one in the front does.

Gear Mounts

The Big Rig HD offers a total of seven gear tracks positioned in the cockpit and stern area to provide ample choice for mounting custom gear.

Yak Attack aluminum gear tracks support any gear you wish to add to the kayak. Two tracks are located on each gunnel at the knee level, one behind the chair between the flush-mounted rod holders and two more on the sides of the tank well. You can also install a GoPro mount onto one of the RAM inserts provided in front of the cockpit.

When purchasing the Big Rig HD, you also get a high-quality Yak Attack Omega Rod Holder, an Orion Tumbler holder, and an Orion Tumbler.

Jackson Big Rig HD has a larger transducer scupper that can accommodate the latest, total-scan models of fish finders. This allows anglers to use a wide range of down-vision and side-scan sonar units.

At the stern, the boat already includes all the inserts for a quick PowerPole Micro Anchor installation. Your preferences are the only limit to what kind of custom gear you wish to mount and where you need it.

Rod Holders

The Big Rig comes with two flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat that are suitable for casting rods and with an Omega Rod Holder.

A unique feature of the Big Rig HD are four molded-in rod tip protector tubes. These were so popular on the previous model that Jackson decided to double down on them. Dual-tier rod stagers beside the seat keep all four rods secure, with reels turned upwards to protect them from splashes.

You also get two fly fishing rod stagers with specially designed reel pockets to fit rods up to 9 foot long.

On the bow, there are several molded rod stagers that are very useful if you need to put the rod aside briefly.

The whole kayak is designed to provide stress-free fishing, with special attention paid to managing your fly fishing gear.

Footrests

The Big Rig HD has adjustable footrests that slide on sturdy metal gear tracks. These are long enough to provide comfortable leg position to kayakers of all sizes. The footpegs are also used for rudder control.

Paddle Holders

The Big Rig HD, like some other Jackson kayaks, comes with a Hypalon paddle park on top of the bow hatch, enabling you to tuck in your paddle blade easily. The material is UV and temperature resistant, while the design is snag-free – no need to worry about catching your treble hooks.

On either side of the boat, there are two plastic clips that can safely hold your paddle without the need for bungees. They keep the paddle out of the way but easily accessible.

Handles

Jackson Big Rig HD comes with four rigid but comfortable handles. The handle at the bow and two on either side of the cockpit are sturdy, ergonomic, and include silicone padding to enable better grip.

The handle at the stern is molded in and can serve as a good spot to strap your boat for transportation.

Stability

Stability is paramount on this kayak. The 40″ beam keeps the boat unwavering, under control, and safe to move around the deck. Getting on and off-board is a breeze. Jackson Kayak’s engineers designed this particular model for passionate fly fishermen to feel confident standing and casting lines. The Big Rig HD is the right choice for people who are insecure or fearful about standing in a kayak.

Maneuverability and Tracking

Jackson Big Rig HD can be paddled by almost anyone regardless of their size or experience. Helped by its foot-controlled rudder, the Big Rig HD is surprisingly easy to turn, paddle backward, or avoid obstacles.

Less surprisingly, the kayak tracks well. The 13’3″ length and the pronounced keel help it maintain its course.

Speed

At 40″ wide, it’s hard to expect a kayak to be fast. However, the shallow tri-keel hull with an elongated middle keel, the efficient rudder fin and the length of 13’3″ work together to help the Big Rig HD maintain decent speed. It is not a racing boat by any means, but it will get you to your fishing spot without much trouble.

Here is the official Big Rig HD walkthrough from Jackson Kayak:

Care and Maintenance

Rotomolded kayaks are extremely durable and require minimum maintenance. However, here are some useful kayak maintenance tips:

You need to do some maintenance when you take your kayak out of storage before the season. Check the hull for damage, inspect all hardware and rigging, replace anything that is worn out, check and refill the emergency gear. It is also a great time to get the new gear you were dreaming of last year.

During the season, it is a good idea to quickly spray down your kayak after each trip (especially in salt water). Store the kayak away from direct sunlight or use kayak covers. Avoid dragging the kayak on its hull if possible. A kayak cart is a great and inexpensive accessory that can prolong the life of your boat.

When it’s time to put the kayak away for storage, turn it upside down and wash it with mild soap and a sponge. Make sure you get any sand, dirt or dead bugs out. Dry the boat thoroughly. Check the rigging and see what needs replacement. Loosen any bungees or straps that can be loosened. Apply some corrosion protection (like WD-40) to metal joints, screws and bolts.

Storage

Jackson recommends to store your kayak indoors standing up on its end and secured by a strap so that it does not fall. If that’s not possible, store your kayak hull up on some flat surface. Worst case, just put it somewhere there’s no direct sunlight and use a cockpit cover to protect the kayak from dust or critters.

About the Manufacturer

Jackson Kayaks was founded in 2003 by world champion and Olympic kayaker Eric Jackson, design partner David Knight and friend, Tony Lunt. Based near Rock Island, Tennessee, Jackson Kayak is well-known both in the kayak fishing world and among freestyle kayaking athletes. In fact, many of the world’s leading freestyle kayakers use Jackson kayaks.

Warranty

For kayaks bought in 2019 and earlier, Jackson offers a 3-year limited warranty. For kayaks bought in 2020, the warranty period has been increased to 5 years. The warranty covers substantial defects in materials and workmanship in the hull and outfitting components made by Jackson Kayak.

The warranty applies from the original date of purchase from an authorized dealer. For demo boats and used boats, the warranty begins from the date the kayak was shipped from Jackson.

Unlike with some other manufacturers, Jackson’s warranty also applies to subsequent owners of the kayaks, not just the original owner.

Depending on the year of the warranty period, Jackson will repair or replace the hull and/or outfitting components, as follows:

Watercraft Purchased 2020 and After

  • First Year of Warranty: We’ll replace or repair the hull for free (or we’ll replace the complete boat for 10% of the current MSRP), Free Shipping
  • Second Year of Warranty: We’ll replace or repair the hull for 10% of current boat MSRP (or we’ll replace the complete boat for 30% of the current boat MSRP), plus shipping.
  • Third, Fourth and Fifth Year of Warranty: We’ll replace or repair the hull for 30% of the current boat MSRP (or we’ll replace the complete boat for 50% of the current boat MSRP), plus shipping.

Note that some components are manufactured by independent companies and are covered by separate warranties. You can learn more by contacting Jackson.

To submit a warranty claim, you will need proof of purchase. Jackson may require you to provide photos of the damage or to return the product at your own cost.

International warranty claims are handled via Jackson’s distributors. Warranty terms may be different in different countries. Please contact your local dealer to learn more.

For full Jackson’s warranty terms, click here: https://www.jacksonadventures.com/warranty/

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