Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Review: Stealthy and Super Comfortable

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

You’ve just arrived at your ultimate stop for knowing all the important aspects of the Perception Pescador Pilot 12. For those anglers looking for a really comfortable fishing session, with some other exciting features like a stealthy and fishing friendly propeller system and great maneuverability with a rudder, you can’t go wrong with the Pescador Pilot 12. Perception has been on the kayak manufacturing business for more than 40 years, successfully. That alone is a good sign to tell us that they know what they are doing.

In this article we will go right on spot with the good and not so good of this yak, so you can make and informed decision. From the propeller system, passing through the chair, the rudder control, its performance and stability, up to its awesome gear tracks and some other cool features. If you have a specific question or feature you are interested about this kayak, is very probable that we have covered it. Please check the table of contents down below or start reading to know everything you need about the Pescador Pilot 12.

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Pescador Pilot 12 secret weapon: The Pilot Drive

The Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is a fishing kayak with a pedal propeller system. It’s called the Pilot Drive and is specifically engineered to provide the perfect balance between simplicity and comfortable all-day hands-free fishing. It might not be a feature looked after for those yak anglers new to pedal systems, but once you get the added benefit of hand-free propelling, it would be hard to pass this one out. It is a lightweight and removable system, that will allow you to propel your yak effortlessly forward and also in reverse.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pilot Drive

While fishing and handling your rod, you will be maneuvering with your feet, and maybe performing adjustsments to the rudder system (more on this later). This will allow you to use both hands to fish, and use less time on paddling.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pilot Drive

One of the greatest benefits, and that we love about the Pilot Drive, is that it let’s you approach the fishing spot with great stealth. More often than not, paddling will scare the fish way when you want to approach a specific spot, having to wait silently for some time before they come back. The same happens if you need to maneuver or come to a halt. The Pilot Drive has you covered, as is swift, silent and smooth, letting you go right where you want to be without scaring the fish away.

Another great feature of the Pescador 12 Pilot Drive is that it can quickly be lifted and stowed in the hull of the kayak for a zero draft in shallow waters. This means that you are not constrained to deeper places, and you can safely pass spots that are really shallow with your paddles.

The installation of the Pilot Drive is easy if you take the time to understand it properly. If you are interested in learning more about all that’s involved in the installation of the Pilot Drive, you can get the written Installation Instruction Guide here and watch the following Perception’s Pilot Drive Instructional Video:

Perception Pilot Drive Installation Instructions

The “comfy “Pescador Pilot 12 Captain’s Chair

The Pescador Pilot 12 is made for long fishing sessions, that can span an entire day if you desire so. The captain chair has been designed with superior cushioning, ergonomic support, a zonal mesh that allows cooling airflow to pass. Not only that, but also you count with on-the-fly seatback and front adjustment, that will allows to tilt your back and the position of your whole seat with ease.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Captain Chair

All these features combined into one seat is great news for your body, specially your back. It will provide all the comfort you need to stay focused and entertained in what you love the most, fishing from your yak. This is a valued seat by many yak anglers, and we still have to find any single person that had comfort issues with it. Say goodbye to sit bones pain after a few minutes on a hard kayak seat. No more back pain due to improper backrest position, adjust as you need, even in the water. Your leg distance to the pedals needs adjustment? No problem, adjust on the go to the most comfortable position. And no more sweaty back and wet t-shirts, cool airflow will keep you even more comfortable while fishing.

And this is not all there is to the captain chair. It is a removable part of your kayak, so you can transport it easily from storage or truck to the water and vice versa.

The captain chair of the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is certainly one of its outstanding features that you cannot pass lightly.

Great maneuverability with the “One Hand” Rudder Control

In addition to the Pilot Drive propelling system, the Pescador Pilot 12 comes with its own Rudder System. It is a low profile and one hand control, that allows a pretty neat 360 degree turning radius. When you seat on the kayak, to your left and next to your captain chair you will see the rudder control, a small lever that that pivots left-right and is what will allow you to control you turns while moving.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12

To get most benefits out of the Rudder Control System, you have to install it properly. The rudder itself is not attached when the kayak is first delivered from the manufacturer, so you will need to perform the installation yourself. Don’t worry, as it’s not complicated, but you will need a few minutes to go over it and carefully read the instructions. We provide the link to the instructional material again here: Pedal Drive and Rudder Installation Instruction Guide. Be sure to make the cables tight, as this is key to get a precise control from the lever to the rudder.

The steering with the lever should be smooth and give you a good control over your direction while pedaling. Also the rudder is a great addition if you decide to paddle too, just keep the rudder in a straight position, and control the kayak as you are used to when paddling. It will give you an outstanding tracking.

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About Pescador Pilot 12 Speed, Performance and Stability

Let’s talk first about the stability of this kayak. The Pescador Pilot 12 is 33.75” (85.73 cm), not the widest among kayaks, but nonetheless it is very stable. Perception put some effort in designing and engineering the Pescador Pilot 12 to be stable and secure. You will be able to stand up and fish from this position if you want, very easily. And it will take really some serious water and wind conditions to tip you over in it. Rest assured that you will have secure and stable paddling, pedaling and fishing sessions on the Pescador Pilot 12.

Words are sometimes not enough and certainly this is the case when we talk about kayak stability. This video testing the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 stability will remove all your doubts, if you still have any:

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Stability Test

Regarding its speed and performance on the water you will have to consider here that you have two means of propulsion, the Pilot Drive and your paddles.

Let’s make a quick note here about paddles, you MUST go out with paddles even if this kayak has the Pilot Drive. There might be situations where you might need to paddle to quickly get out of a complicated situation, or when trying to maneuver through a very shallow area.

While using the Pilot Drive, you can get a slight speed without to much effort, of 3-4 nots (5-7 kph / 3-4 mph). Is not much, but on water, and for a steady and prolong time is good. You can even go faster if you are in shape and like to put some more energy into it.

Tracking and maneuverability while pedaling is good, provided you installed the rudder system correctly and tight enough for the cable cords to be straight and tense.

On the other hand, when paddling with the Pescador Pilot, you should keep your rudder straight, and maneuver with the paddles as you would in any other yak without rudder. Tracking this way is very good, and experienced paddlers can go really fast this way, even faster than with the Pilot Drive.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12

If you try to paddle without the rudder in the water, you will notice the difference. This is not a bad thing in itself, as the kayak is supposed to be used with the built in rudder system. But anyways, we thought it was important to let you know.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that this yak is very well balanced, so keep an eye open when you load your gear in the storage spaces. Try to distribute the weight in a balanced position, because if not, this certainly will affect the tracking, maneuverability and stability of your kayak.

Effortless customization with the Gear Tracks

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Gear Tracks

This is one of the features that it really gets me excited about the kayak. It’s not the most important one, but when it comes the time to customize your yak, there’s nothing like having an already built in railing system for mounting accessories. The Pescador Pilot 12 provides you just that, a universal mounting rail system, on both sides of the kayak, and at arms reach from your captain chair.

The gear tracks allow you to insert all sorts of accessories to customize your kayaking experience, from fish finders, GPS and cool rod holders, to camera holders, trays and even sun covers and flag poles. Check the awesome RAILBLAZA mounting system, my favorite accessory system, I’m sure you will find anything you are looking for, and even more.

And let me go over this idea again, and explain why I think this is such a great feature. Almost all of us would like to customize our yak at some point. When you start looking for accessory mounts systems, you will stumble across the first inconvenience: how to mount it properly and firmly to your yak’s hull? You will have two choices here, either drilling holes for the attachments, or finding a mounting system that allows you to stick the base of the system to the hull with some type of glue.

Drilling holes almost certainly voids any warranty that the manufacturer offers, you can check the warranty conditions on your yak’s manual. This is something you should avoid at all costs.

RAILBLAZA Starport Kit
RAILBLAZA Starport Kit

And sticking it with glue is not as easy at it sounds, and not as firm and long lasting as you might want. Even though the awesome RAILBLAZA suit of mounting accessories has this option, I would prefer to leave that type of sticking mounts to inflatable boats, where I have no other option. I would go the old-and-proven attaching method with screws, washers and nuts all the time if I had the option.

So you get my point now. Anytime I see this kind of railing systems, and moreover when they are ready to accept my favorite RAILBALZA accessory mounting system, and I’m happy paddler!

And more features!?

We talked already about some of the great features this kayak has, like the Pilot Drive, the Captain Chair, the rudder and the gear tracks. But this is not all the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 has to offer.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Storage Space

Storage wise you have lots of options and lots of space to take all your fishing gear with you. With a large front and rear open storage you will be able to carry a cooler, all your tackle boxes, and many other gear. The back storage area comes with bungee cord lashes to secure gear of any shape or size. The front space comes equipped with a Stretch-Mesh cover that is easily removable and will provide sleek and extra security for any gear and equipment you carry on that space.

You also have storage slots on either side of the seat for staging tackle boxes. In addition to these, you also have small item storage and shallow recesses near the seat, which serve as a temporary placing pot for small items like weights, pliers and baits.

As usual on fishing kayaks, the Pescador Pilot 12 comes with four molded-in rod holders to place your rods and have a nice hands-free paddling or pedaling experience. The paddles won’t be loose neither, you have a convenient attachment point for keeping your paddle safe while fishing or pedaling. And let’s not forget about the molded-in drink holders, to keep your favourite beverage safe and spill free!

The Pescador Pilot 12 comes equipped with proper mounting point and hull access for the Power-Pole anchoring system. Keep in mind that this kit is sold separately.

To manipulate and transport this yak out of the water, it provides front and rear soft-touch carry handles. But this boat is a bit on the heavy side, with its 85 lbs. (38 kg) you might need the help from another person to carry it. Or if you like to be alone, a wheel cart would be a great addition to your toolset for moving this baby back and forth your car or truck.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Happy owners? What customers say?

At the moment of this writing, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 had 23 reviews in Amazon, with an overall rating of 3.8 stars over 5. It is a good rating, but really not outstanding. I do believe that this rating is a bit misleading though, and let me explain why.

Just only 3 of the of the reviews are on the 1-2 range. One of these critics mentions a “design flaw” and rants about it without explaining or giving details about it for others to know. It takes the time to write, purposefuly evading the description of the problem… really? At this point I’m really disappointed that Amazon only has a “helpful” button to rate a review! It also should have a “not helpful” button like so many other websites. This reviewer was asked several times to explain why/what was the design flaw, but never cared to answer or give details.

The other two low rating reviewers had problems with the delivery of the kayak, and not with the kayak itself. We touched on this topic on another article, so I’m not going to expand on this further here, but only say that this is damaging the kayak rating, when instead that bad rating belongs to the people or company handling the delivery.

With so few ratings and reviews, just a pair of them can really affect the overall score the product gets. I think this boat deserves to be at the very least at 4.5 or above really. That’s why we take the time to go over the reviews an each comment for you, and let you know what we think after balancing all out. This is a outstanding kayak, and you have high chances of being satisfied like most of the reviewers that shared their experiences online.

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What about Perception’s warranty?

The Perception website claims that the Pescador Pilot 12 is backed by a 5 Year Limited Warranty. But if you download the Perception Owner’s Manual, it mentions that the warranty is for 3 years long. I’m almost sure that this difference is due to the manual being a generic one for all their models, or maybe not updated properly after a recent change in their warranty policy. Anyways, even if its 3 years, it is a decent amount of time to be covered in the event of manufacturing failures or defects.

To be eligible for the warranty coverage, you must register your purchase with Perception within 30 days past the original purchase date, and also would be very wise to keep your purchase receipt too. So do not forget to fill out the registration form and submit it accordingly, you can do that easily at the Perception Website.

Please read your Owner’s Manual Warranty section to know more about the details and what is involved in the process of claiming a warranty service, and what are their limitations.

What’s in the box?

When you purchase the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 you the package will include:

  • The kayak itself, obviously
  • The seat
  • The Rudder System
  • Owner’s manual and warranty.

Keep in mind that the product does not come with paddles nor personal flotation devices, and you should be getting these separately. Although you might find some promotions or combos made at specific retailers that might include them, this is not the default option from the manufacturer.

If you are interested in paddles and PFDs, you can check these good options from

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Specifications

Length12′ 5″ / 381 cm
Width33.75″ / 85.73 cm
Boat Weight85 lbs. / 38 kg
Deck Height16″ / 41 cm
Max. Capacity475 lbs. / 216 kg

The Verdict

Are you an angler looking for very comfortable fishing sessions, no matter how long? Are you also concerned about moving effortlessly and stealthy while fishing? What about having a great and controlled maneuverability? Then, you won’t go wrong choosing with this kayak. Provided you have the cash to invest on it, this is one of the best options in terms of value and features you can get for your money. At the moment of this writing the price is around $1800, but it can vary depending on what deal you could get.

You will be totally in love with how comfy the seat is, giving you hours after hours on your fishing session without feeling uncomfortable. Also you won’t be losing fish any more because you paddle a few more times than expected, the Pilot Drive system will let you approach the right spot as stealthy as you can be. You will maneuvering as a champ and angling even standing if you wish. Plenty of space for storage and new gear to attach. This yak is certainly a great option and you won’t be disappointed.

But if your budget doesn’t quite reach this level, don’t be discouraged as there are other great options. You can check one of our best overall kayaks, the Ocean Prowler 13 Angler that is definitely less expensive, with awesome fishing features too.

Another great option for those looking for something a bit less expensive, but with a great comfy seat, see the Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Angler, a great comfortable alternative.

For those with a really tight budget, you can look at the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS or the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100, great options for starting up angling from your yak.

About the author

    Martin Tripodi

    Software Engineer, husband, father, and avid enthusiast of outdoor activities! Total fan of great quality and functional gear, spends part of his free time researching and compiling loads of information in the form of guides, product recommendations and reviews.