Hello Cuda


If you’ve noticed in my photos and videos, I haven’t been using my 2012 Yellow Jacket Jackson Cuda anymore. Reason being I sold it back in June. I had the intention to sell it and get an updated version in it’s place.

After lots of demoing other models and brands just to make sure I didn’t want to go in another direction, I ended up right back at the Cuda 14. I even demoed a few pedal-driven kayaks! But the Cuda is the perfect boat for me!

I wanted a custom color this go round. I knew that. Jackson offers the option to do a custom color on any of their boats for a small up-charge. My wife soon found me playing around with photoshop to get ideas how different color combos might look:IMG_2454 FireTiger_Cuda campfire_cuda


I decided to wait until Outdoor Retailer to see if there were any changes to the series, which unfortunately they did not showcase the Cuda. But I did see the new seat, and that was enough for me to order a 2015 model!

When it came in, on October 1st, I was pleasantly surprised by all the updates they made to it, and since Jackson didn’t really highlight the updates to the Cuda in 2015, I’ll point out the main noticeable ones.IMG_0247

First off, it got the new seat. It’s not a huge upgrade (original seat was already comfortable), but it is a nice one! The material used is a bit softer and the new Thermarest Lumbar pad is great!IMG_0245

The strap to fasten down the seat has also changed. It now comes from behind the seat, goes over the frame and through a cam buckle on the deck. This allows you to truly tighten down the seat, which wasn’t completely possible with the older backpack style buckle.

Noticeable on the 2014 models, the center-hatch had the round mini-hatch on top of it. Because of it’s existence, the paddle stager grooves became mostly unusable. Jackson remedied this over the summer by placing foam in the grooves to give it enough “lift” to clear the center-hatch.

Thankfully, Jackson has come up with a more permanent solution by placing two plastic bolt-on risers that lift the paddle up significantly!IMG_0246

While we’re on the hatch, it has also seen some improvements. The mini round-hatch is gone. The gear tracks are still there and added to it is a holder for a small flashlight/360 white light (that comes with it).IMG_0244

One of my favorite new things regarding the hatch is that the cover is now on a hinge! This was pretty unexpected because we were told it wasn’t possible because of the mold… I guess they changed the mold!IMG_0243


This is now the same hatch cover found on the Kraken!

All-in-all, the new improvements are great, and I’m super stoked about getting this baby on the water!IMG_0248

19 Comments on “Hello Cuda

  1. Eli,
    Thanks for posting pics of the 2015 Cuda and descriptions of the cool mods!

      • Eli, where do you keep your fish cooler on the new Cuda? Tank well or in center hatch?

      • I’m trying out a cooler bag behind the seat and in front of my crate. I’ve used this set-up for two trips so far and I don’t mind it, but I’m still deciding on whether it’s gonna be the layout I go with. I really like that it frees up the hatch for storing my pliers, fish grips, measuring board, etc. Once I have my mind made up and have it fully rigged, I’ll probably do an updated rigging post.

      • Will the small grey bag (that y’all sell at P&P) fit in the center hatch?

      • The Jackson bag definitely will. The AO Bag (the 24) might. It’s the right dimensions, but they’re kinda thick making them a little hard to fold.

  2. Thanks for the write up. I’m getting ready to order my first cuda14. I’m really depressed with their color selection this year! Seems really boring vs their older colors. Iv debated the sexy shad (blue/yellow/white), which isn’t too bad, but that basic white center really throws it off I think. Iv talked to my wife about the custom color route, I think I may do that, if you don’t mind me stealing your idea, I think I’ll carbon copy your color layout cause that’s exactly what I had in mind.

    How much extra wait time did your custom color add to your purchase?

    • It’s hard to say because I ordered before the 2015 Cudas were in production so I had to wait a little longer anyway. But I think it’s usually 2-4 weeks extra.

  3. Eli, I’m thinking of rigging my Cuda 14 with a GPS/depthfinder. Any recommendations on makes and models with different price points? Oh, and transducer / battery mount, location too if you please. Thanks in advance, Mike

    • Hey Mike. I’m using a Lowrance unit. Those are the only ones I have experience with but I know people who like Humminbird better. I’ve found Lowrance to work well enough for me, no problems yet!

      I’ve got my transducer going through a scupper hole using the scupper mount made by Lowrance. I’ve done the shoot-through hull idea and it worked, but didn’t give me an accurate water temperature reading.

      As for the battery, I’ve got it zip-tied to one of the scuppers just inside the center hatch. It’s secured inside one of the battery harnesses made for an Outback or ProAngler.

      • Eli,
        Thanks. One more question. I want the GPS to have capability of local aerial type charts that show current photo images, not the blue and white outlines with outdated maps.
        Thanks, Mike

      • Ok, the first two I know of off the bat that have the GPS capability are the Elite 4 HDI and Elite 5 HDI, both by Lowrance. The stock maps on these units are just outlines, but they do have a Micro SD card slot. If you have an SD card with map overlays, it can give you Google Earth style imagery while using the GPS.

        Pack & Paddle has some of those SD cards with locations like Big Lake, Vermillion Bay, Cocodrie and other Houma marshes, Hwy 1, and Grand Isle. I can’t remember the name of the company that makes these though.

    • If you’re referring to the renderings… I took a somewhat hi-rez image of a sand Cuda and cropped out the background, then made a new layer on top of it. In the layers menu, I right-clicked the “new layer” and created a clipping-mask. Making sure that the “new layer” was now inside of the original image of the boat, I highlighted it and began using the paintbrush tool to draw the different colors. Then I switched to the smudge tool to give them a good mix, something I felt looked true to Jackson’s color schemes. After I was done with those adjustments, I started playing with the “blending options” dropdown menu until I landed on one that was close to true color and good visibility of the features of the boat. Without doing that, the image should just look like a Cuda-shaped color ball. After getting the blending options to my liking, I took the eraser tool and (making sure that the “new layer” was still highlighted) started erasing the color layer over the parts of the boat that would be on top of the hull, so pretty much anything black. I erased the color layer over stuff like the rod holders, center hatch, rod tip protector, tow flag, bungees, and the seat. After that, I’m pretty sure I was done.

      I hope it’s easy enough to follow, lol

      And thanks for the compliments on the yak, I like your customs too.

      • Hey Eli,
        Thanks i will try that. I have been painting the color on a new layer over a grayscale image of the boat then turning down the opacity so the boat bleeds through. This makes the color fade out. I like your way it keeps the colors bright and vibrant!

    • I believe it will, but you may have to fashion a way to have the hinge.

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