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Waka Kayaks Tuna Review

- Friday June 19, 2015
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Bliss-Stick Kayaks originally designed the Tuna. It was a boat that arose from the need for a kayak that could maneuver at high speeds to revolutionize the creek-racing scene. Over the next couple of years, this new design dominated the international racing scene. However, a limited number of boats and mediocre plastic made it hard to find boats for your average local class V boater here in the States.

I was able to paddle a Bliss-Stick Tuna for the first time December 2012 on Cane Creek in the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee. This boat exceeded all expectation, again and again! As I whipped it in and out of small eddies and through low water “mank” that no other 8’6” boat would have fit in, I could immediately tell this boat was something special. The Tuna brought a new level of control to racing boats. For the first time a boat with the speed of a Mamba also had the control and forgiving nature of a Shiva or Stomper.

Fast forward two years to January 2015. After two years of being in love with the Tuna, it was no longer easy to find them in the states and I was stuck with another boat, the XL Burn. A great and fast big water boat in its own right, the XL still wasn’t the Tuna. I found myself longing for the Tuna's strong rocker profile and the loose fast hull.

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I had been hearing a lot about the new Waka Tuna's over the past year. The name, Tuna, was the same because Waka Kayaks had actually purchased the Tuna mold. Manufactured in the Czech Republic now, this new line of my favorite boat was rumored to be made with stronger, lighter plastic and to have had some slight hull changes. As my Burn started to develop some cracks, I began looking for a new boat. The opportunity arose to purchase a new Waka Tuna due to a fresh shipment coming in to the PNW from overseas and in mid-April, it arrived. I nervously got in the river wondering if this boat would be as good as the old one.

Some things are definitely different with the new Tuna, but the more I paddle it, the more I appreciate these changes. To explain the changes it helps to understand the changes in the molding process. As it has been explained to me, the mold is exactly the same as the original Tuna; however after the boat comes out of the mold it has air blown into it while it is still hot. This causes the boat, hull and deck, to expand slightly adding a slight displacement to the other wise flat hull. This new design is not only stronger than the old one but the natural displacement makes it even easier to paddle for novice boaters. For the experienced boater, it softens the impact off waterfalls that were so jarring in the old Tuna.

Changes from Bliss-Stick:
- Softened edges
- Increased overall volume
- Lighter outfitting
- Lighter plastic
- Stronger plastic

Things that didn’t change:
- Rocker Profile
- Hull Speed

I have always recommended the Tuna to experienced kayakers looking to step up their Creeking and Racing game, but now I recommend this boat to every medium to larger boater (they now make the Tutea for smaller paddlers. Check out the specs below). This Tuna not only boofs big but it also rolls easily and the softened edges make it much more forgiving than the original.

- Displacement/planing hybrid hull
- Strong bow rocker profile
- Long stern (increased speed and punches holes better)
- Lightweight

- Softened edges
- Makes all the other boats seem slow and sloppy

Tuna Specs:
Length - 259cm - 8'6"
Width - 67.5cm - 2'3"
Weight - 21kg - 46lbs
Volume - 300L - 80gallons
Recommended paddler weight - 60-120kg - 130 - 260lbs

Tutea Specs:
Length - 250 cm - 8'2"
Width - 66 cm - 2'2"
Weight - 21 kg - 46lbs
Volume - 270 L - 71 gallons
Recommended paddler weight - 50 - 75 kg - 110 - 165 lbs

Visit for more information on the Tuna and Tutea. 

Check out some headcam footage below of Ben, both in the Tuna and Burn.


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