Fishing kayaks like the Ascend FS10 make it possible to reach destinations which would not be possible by motorboat or foot.
The Ascend FS10 is a sit-inside kayak, a type of kayak in which the paddler slides into an enclosed cockpit and sits inside the hollow hull of the kayak.
The Ascend FS10 is a stable kayak with a V-shaped hull that cuts through the water with decent speed and tracking without sacrificing stability. It has a large cockpit for easy entry and exit, a comfortable seating system and plenty of storage. For these reasons, and more which will be explored in this Ascend FS10 review, the FS10 makes a great kayak fishing partner.
Ascend kayaks are a brand under the banner of the White River Marine Group. The White River Marine Group is owned by Bass Pro and is the world’s largest manufacturer of boats by volume. As such, Ascend kayaks are most commonly available at Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and motor boating retailers who carry White River Marine Group brands.
On the water with the Ascend FS10
Ascend FS10 Specs
Length: 10’ / 3.05 m
Width: 30” / 86.4 cm
Weight: 57 lbs / 25 kg
Capacity: 325 lbs / 147 kg
MSRP: $599 USD
When it comes to the performance of the Ascend FS10, users regularly compliment the kayak’s stability. The FS10 achieves this with a pronounced keel running down the center of the hull. Moving away from the keel the hull flattens out providing a larger surface area, then rounds up the sides of the kayak.
There are two types of stability we regularly measure in kayaks. The first, initial stability, is how stable the kayak feels sitting flat. The other, called secondary stability, is the kayak’s stability as it rolls to one side or another, or as waves roll underneath it.
The Ascend FS10 does a good job of combining these two elements of stability, by providing a hull design with a suitable amount of surface area making contact with the water at all times. This is evident through the testimony of Ascend FS10 fishing kayak reviews.
This same pronounced keel running down the center of the hull joins both a tapered wedge-shaped bow, and a skegged stern to provide the Ascend FS10 with its tracking characteristics. Tracking is the kayak’s ability to travel in a straight line instead of spinning from left to right with each stroke.
Specifically for kayak anglers, the Ascend FS10 fishing kayak has great open storage for a sit-inside kayak design. Sit-inside kayaks are often built with hatches, letting paddlers stow gear beneath the deck of the kayak. The FS10 has an interesting layout with a large open tankwell on the stern. Tankwells are the recessed, open storage areas on the deck of a kayak. This is a feature usually found on sit-on-top kayaks, and one of the reasons sit-on-top kayaks are popular with kayak anglers.
The tankwell on the stern of the FS10 is huge, with enough room to store a cooler or milk crate and a five gallon bucket. Even better, this gear is accessible without going below deck. Points to Ascend for incorporating this angler-friendly feature of sit-on-tops into a sit-inside design.
Market and demographics
The Ascend FS10 kayak is a recreational sit-inside fishing kayak intended for kayak angling day trips on calmer, sheltered waterways. Recreational kayaks are a loosely defined class of boats which value stability and comfort over speed and performance in harsh water conditions. The FS10 is geared toward recreational kayaking with additional features that are advantageous for kayak fishing.
There are a couple of reasons why the Ascend FS10 sit-in is best suited for calmer and sheltered waterways. The most obvious is that there are no bulkheads within the kayak. Bulkheads are internal walls that isolate different areas inside the kayak. This compartmentalizes the hollow inside of the kayak, and keeps the entire boat from filling up with water should you capsize.
Without bulkheads, the Ascend FS10 will take on a lot of water if you capsize. You want to be sure you are not very far from a shore should you need to pull the kayak to the side and empty it. This is a reason to avoid rough or open water conditions with the FS10.
Along with kayak fishing from the Ascend FS10 , there are other sporting pursuits you can enjoy from the seat of a kayak. Duck hunters enjoy the FS10’s quiet approach to hard-to-reach places for hunting waterfowl. The tan color option of the FS10 is another reason it can make a great duck hunting kayak.
About the Ascend FS10
Material and construction
Ascend constructs the FS10 and their entire kayak line from rotomolded high-density polyethylene. Polyethylene is a plastic commonly used in kayak manufacturing. This polymer compound is also regularly used to make other common plastic goods.
Rotomolding is the process by which Ascend takes polyethylene and turns it into a kayak. Small plastic pellets are loaded into a mold. The mold is then placed in a large oven at high temperatures and rotated at a high speed to push liquified nurdles outward to take the shape of the mold. The mold continues to rotate as it cools and when it is opened, presto, we have a kayak.
Ascend FS10 accessories and outfitting
Let’s take a walk through the different accessories and outfitting components of the Ascend FS10 fishing kayak.
The Ascend FS10 kayak features two grab handles. These grab handles are helpful for pulling the FS10 on shore or loading on a vehicle. The first grab handle is right on top of the bow, the second is back at the stern.
On the bow deck of the Ascend FS10 you will see the bow bungee cord storage area, this is also commonly referred to as deck rigging. This bungee storage is a good place to tuck away items you may want accessible but do not need to keep dry. It is also a good place to lash down your dry bag.
At the forward edge of the cockpit rim you will see a tray area especially useful to kayak anglers. The plastic tray has two recessed cubbies. A square one at center would be a good spot to prep tackle or put down your river lunch. The other is circular, and makes a good spot to keep a drink.
Also on this tray is a small hatch. The hatch is covered with a threaded deck plate, and when opened there is a recessed well to hold small items you’d like to keep dry.
On each side of the cockpit rim you will find accessory tracks for the Ascend FS10. These accessory tracks are helpful to provide quick mounts for an additional rod holder or your electronic components.
Inside the cockpit of the Ascend FS10 are the adjustable foot braces. Slide the braces to different positions to fine tune your paddling posture for a comfortable ride. You do need to reach the back of the foot braces to adjust them, so best to have them in a comfortable setting before leaving shore.
The Ascend FS10 has an elevated, removable seat made from a metal frame and nylon fabric. This style of seat is also referred to as a lawn chair or stadium-style seat, and is popular in fishing kayaks. The elevated position is comfortable and also provides improved visibility while fishing.
Another plus to the removable seat of the FS10 is the ability to easily pull it out of the kayak and have a camp or beach chair when you aren’t on the water.
Users of The Ascend FS10 have said the seat is prone to rust. As an Ascend kayak owner you will want to be sure to clean the seat with fresh water and dry it before storage to prolong the life of the kayak seat. Should you need a seat replacement it would be best to contact the manufacturer, or shop for an FS10 seat online. A work-around would be to take a stadium or camping seat with similar dimensions and place it in the FS10, resting on top of a foam pad to provide a similar seat height.
There is also some room behind the seat of the Ascend FS10 for storage. This is a good place to tuck away a small box or dry bag you will not regularly need access to.
To either side of the cockpit are short bungees and plastic hooks. These are paddle holders designed to keep the paddle locked up while you are fishing or drifting. While we are mentioning the paddle holders, it’s also worth noting the small cut outs to each side of the paddler on the cockpit rim. This is to rest your paddle across the boat, without having it roll around.
On the deck, behind the seat are two flush-mounted rod holders. These rod holders give you the option of carrying two rigged setups, so they are ready to go at the first sign of a bait ball.
Next to each rod holder is an anchor cleat. These anchor cleats provide a place to tie off a line, whether to a dock or small kayak anchor, though be careful not to load too much weight to either side and capsize the kayak. The anchor cleats also provide a place to attach a drift chute to your kayak while fishing. Drift chutes are designed to slow the speed at which wind blows your kayak across the water.
The Ascend FS10 kayak has a large tankwell between the seat and stern. Tankwells are recessed, open storage areas on the deck of a kayak. The stern tankwell gives the FS10 a large amount of open and accessible storage secured by an adjustable mesh cover. To put in perspective just how big this tankwell is, you could fit a standard milk crate and a five-gallon bucket within this storage area.
Near the stern end of the Ascend FS10 there is also a small bungee web of deck rigging, as well as the second grab handle.
Next to the grab handle we also have the drain plug. Even on a dry day it’s inevitable some splashing or paddle drip will enter the FS10. This drain plug provides a means to empty the FS10.
Opportunity for modifications
If you are like most kayak anglers you are already thinking of ways to modify the Ascend FS10.
For one, the FS10 does not have a forward rod holder. The flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat are great for storage. But while you are actively fishing it is great to have a rod holder in front of you while you juggle between casting and strokes.
A forward rod holder can be installed on one of the two accessory tracks on each side of the kayak. If however you see the accessory tracks as sacred space for other devices such as electronic gadgetry, you may want to install a mount for a rod holder elsewhere.
A good spot for this additional rod mount would be on the flat surface of the cockpit tray we discussed in the outfitting portion of this review. The plastic on this tray is thick enough to hold a rod mount, and is also easily accessible for drilling, tightening bolts, and sealing to prevent leaking. You can find rod holders compatible with the deck of the Ascend FS10 through component producers like Railblaza.
Another modification regularly placed on fishing kayaks are trolling motor mounts. Trolling motors turn your paddle kayak into a small motorized vessel. Trolling motors are lightweight, and have become a common add-on for fishing kayaks. It’s worth noting a trolling motor was not intended for the Ascend FS10, so there is no factory Ascend FS10 kayak trolling motor mount. Kayak anglers who use a trolling motor with the FS10 must come up with their own compatible mounting solution for the stern.
Ascend provides a one-year, limited warranty covering parts and labor to correct defects in materials and workmanship.
How it compares
For kayak anglers, deciding on which kayak to buy is a big choice, and there are a lot of options beyond the Ascend FS10. Here is a quick rundown of how a few other popular choices stack up against the FS10.
Ascend D10 vs Ascend FS10
The D10 is another sit-inside kayak produced by Ascend. At first glance, the two kayaks are similar in design. However the D10 is built over a tunnel hull instead of the V-hull of the FS10. Tunnel hulls are generally very stable, but often slow. Both the FS10 and the D10 are relatively stable kayaks, and neither are built to win a race. So you may not notice much difference in performance.
The layout of the two kayaks for storage is also similar. Both the FS10 and the D10 have a large stern tankwell, an interior cockpit rim tray, and deck rigging on the bow. The biggest difference may be the lack of rod holders on the D10 compared to the two flush-mounted rod holders of the FS10.
Ascend FS10 vs Ascend H10
The Ascend H10 is an interesting kayak Ascend has described as a hybrid. The H10 is not quite a sit-inside or sit-on-top kayak, whereas the FS10 is most definitely a sit-inside kayak.
The H10 features storage hatches in both the bow and stern, covered with a hard plastic deck plate in the bow, and plastic fabric cover in the stern. These storage areas are somewhere between an open tankwell and an enclosed hatch.
The FS10 has the large stern tankwell, but no dedicated tankwell or hatch in the bow.
The H10 system is a bit odd, however, and seems unsure of what kind of kayak it wants to be. The bow hatch is not segmented by a bulkhead, so any gear you place up there is subject to rolling around or getting wet from water entering the kayak anywhere.
Both kayaks are suitable for similar sheltered and slow-moving waterways.
Ascend FS10 vs Old Town Vapor 10 Angler
The Vapor 10 Angler is a sit-inside fishing kayak produced by Old Town, one of the oldest paddling craft manufacturers in North America. Like the FS10, the Vapor 10 Angler is a sit-inside kayak featuring rod holders and storage for anglers.
The Vapor 10 Angler has a high, pronounced bow that cuts through waves. This high bow helps keep water off the deck of the kayak. The Vapor 10 Angler has an elongated cockpit, with an opening even larger than the one found on the FS10. This makes the Vapor 10 Angler easier to climb in and out of, but also may allow more room for water to enter.
One area where the FS10 wins out big over the Vapor 10 Angler for kayak fishing is storage. The Vapor 10 Angler has a small stern hatch, limiting storage for kayak fishing. While the Ascend FS10 has the large, open tankwell in the stern where you could fit as much as a milk crate and five-gallon bucket. If carrying and accessing tackle is your priority, the FS10 offers a better option.
Where to buy the Ascend FS10
Cabela’s and Bass Pro are places to purchase the Ascend FS10 kayak. This is because Ascend is ultimately owned by Bass Pro Shops through the White River Marine Group. You will also find Ascend kayaks available at a limited number of smaller marine stores that carry White River brands.
Pros and cons
- Comfortable and versatile raised seat
- Large stern tankwell
- Pre-installed rod holders and accessory mounts
- No bulkheads
- Seat prone to rust
- Availability limited to Bass Pro and Cabela’s
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