The Old Town Sportsman 106 powered by Minn Kota is only 10 feet, six inches long, but this little boat is a big deal in the world of motorized kayaks. In fact, the Sportsman’s diminutive size and basic rigging make the boat special.
Sportsman 106 offers high power, no hassle
Old Town Sportsman 106 MK Specs
Assembled Weight: 121 lbs
Capacity: 525 lbs
For years, motorized kayak manufacturers have raced to go faster and farther, appealing to the elite user who considers a fishing kayak nothing more than a mini bass boat. Old Town covered that category with their Sportsman AutoPilot, which features every bell and whistle including one of the most advanced electric motors on the market.
For the 106, Old Town went another direction: smaller. With motorized kayaks becoming more popular, a market has opened for an electric boat that is easy to transport, store and own. Users looking to get into kayak fishing without investing a lot of money and space to own a full-size motorized miniature boat will find the Sportsman 106 Minn Kota a perfect fit.
Last year, Old Town introduced the new Sportsman line of seven boats ranging from offshore fishing machines to shallow water puddle hoppers. Based on existing hulls and expanding on current trends, the Sportsman 106 MK fills an important role in the lineup.
According to Alex Shrebinow, marketing manager for Johnson Outdoors Watercraft, “the Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota is for anyone looking for fishing features in a boat that will run all day while working just as well for sunset cruises with the dog.” The boat is focused on convenience. Shrebinow adds, “The Sportsman 106 can be cartopped, too.”
Shrebinow credits years of experience designing motorized kayaks for Old Town and Ocean Kayak, along with partnership with sister company Minn Kota, for developing a reliable motorized fishing platform that won’t break the bank.
“We’re avid users of our kayaks, so we know what makes a great product,” Shrebinow explains. With the focus on designing a compact motorized kayak, the team demanded great storage and rigging features along with a powerful and compact 45-pound motor. Shrebinow says, “The elegantly simple and intuitive design is a favorite of everyone.”
Motor power for the everyday angler
The combination of convenience and motor power is actually a novelty. Most motorized kayaks are focused on anglers who want a full-size boat capable of carrying a full arsenal of rods, reels and tackle. Now that motorized boats are allowed in fishing tournaments, the most competitive anglers are going for factory built or customized motorboats. While Shrebinow touts the competitive qualities of the 106, this boat is more suited for anglers looking for an easy way to get to the fish.
As a self-described paddling purist, I’m always skeptical of claims of easy kayaking. Sure, zooming across the water with the push of a button is great, but the process of rigging, unrigging, carting, trailering, charging, maintaining and dealing with a heavy, awkward, battery-operated kayak hardly makes the convenience worth the trouble.
After we received the Sportsman 106 at the Kayak Angler office, I was impressed with how easy it was to drag around the yard and stash beside the garage. The motor tucks into the tankwell, making it possible to store the boat and motor together.
When it was time to go fishing, the 106 was easy to rig. I chose a Group 27, 100 amp hour marine battery. After several days of fishing, battery range hasn’t been a problem. The Sportsman 106 can also be powered by a 12-volt lithium-ion battery that will further save weight and improve power.
Cartop and cart this kayak with ease
The boat fits easily in the six-foot bed of my truck. At only 87 pounds, I can also load it on the Yakima roof racks on my Subaru, making the Sportsman 106 one of the few motorized kayaks that doesn’t require a trailer or pickup truck for transportation.
At the launch, the Sportsman 106 is easy to move to the water. Tunnel hulls are tough to fit on a cart, so I grabbed a set of wheels with a flat cradle to accommodate the unusual shape. Even fully rigged, I could cart the diminutive 106 to the water.
Leaning towards convenience, the boat goes together quickly. The battery box tucks in a deep well under the seat. The seat clips into two clamps on the deck and attaches in the back with a strap and buckle.
Plug the battery into a pre-rigged outlet under the seat. The leads run through the hull to another outlet near the bow.
At 17 pounds, the motor is one of the lightest we’ve tested. The system drops into an opening in the deck and connects with two latches. A wire kickstand keeps the propeller propped up until the boat hits the water.
Adding gear isn’t limited by the 106’s short waterline. There is enough room for a full-size crate, cooler or livewell behind the seat. Molded spaces under the seat and along the gunwale hold small tackle trays and tools like scissors and pliers I like to keep close at hand.
Feature-rich and fish finder-ready
Old Town gave the 106 some of their most popular features. One of my favorites is the through-hull transducer rigging. The hull is pre-rigged to route the cable from the transducer mounted under the hull to the display. I can install the fish finder on a track mount or use a permanent base in the center of the console.
Old Town splurged on the seat, designing a new, highback throne with cushy 3D mesh made of breathable, fast-drying Textiline for a dry, comfy ride. The seat can be configured in high or low positions for improved comfort and a better view of the fish.
One of my favorite features, when the motor unit is lowered, it fits flat to the deck providing plenty of space for standup fishing. The Minn Kota motor has 45 pounds of thrust, plenty of power to confidently move the 106. Combined with a large rudder, the boat is easy to maneuver with razor sharp tracking on the straightaways.
Because the 106 is light and short, when I reach the fishing grounds, I can switch to paddle power to work my way into tight places. For quick grab and go trips, the Sportsman 106 comes with a deck plate to cover the motor opening and turn the motorboat into a paddle kayak.
To fire up the power plant, insert a kill switch into the clip and the motor is live and ready for action. A lever, like the throttle on a motorboat, controls forward, reverse and speed. Foot pegs in the cockpit turn a huge rudder capable of spinning the small boat in tight circles.
On the water, the system works seamlessly with solid construction and smooth operation. I put the boat through its paces in my favorite backwater creek motoring to the fishing spot then paddling from hole to hole. The motor and battery keep the boat rock solid while the short waterline makes the Sportsman 106 Minn Kota surprisingly nimble.
Sportsman 106 MK is a mighty mini motorboat
Probably the best example of the Sportsman 106’s easy-going nature occurred during a recent photo shoot. Our photographer, Roberto Westbrook, who is an enthusiastic but inexperienced kayaker, was filming from the Sportsman 106. I looked up from fishing to see Westbrook standing backwards and motoring ahead at a good clip while clicking photos. This proves the Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota is a convenient and capable platform for fishing, sunset cruises, photography and whatever gets you on the water.
Where to buy
Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota
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This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 45. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
Small but mighty, this mini motorboat is big news. | Feature photo: Roberto Westbrook