Here's a side by side comparison of the changes; 2019 on the top 2020 on the bottom.
LENGTH: 12' 3"/12' 3"
BOAT WEIGHT: 63 LBS/63 LBS
DECK HEIGHT: 13.75"/13.75"
MAX CAPACITY: 350 LBS/350 LBS
Not a lot of change in the specs other than the additional 1" of width.
The previous model Tarpon 120 was redesigned for the 2009 model year, so after 10 years of production a refresh was on the table for 2020.
Thoughts on the profile changes:
- The hull at and below the waterline(at least) doesn't appear to have changed too much as far as hard chines. Maybe a little more rocker, though that could be from slightly different camera angles.
- There are no molded in well nuts for running a rudder raise/lowering line as found on the 2019 model. I'm wondering if you can't add a rudder to this kayak? The Tarpon 105 looks appears to be rudder ready from the pictures, but neither mention it in the description.
- Even though the specs say the deck heights are the same according to the specs, it looks like 2020 model has a lower profile. Again, could be the camera angle.
- No incorporated side bungees for paddle holders. I never really use mine for a paddle holders, but I use those side bungees for securing my stakeout sticks.
- The sacrificial/replaceable rear skid plate is a nice add.
Thoughts on the deck changes (right to left):
- I'm meh on the square nose. The only reason I could think of is when you throw your kayak into the bed of the truck nose first the square nose would keep the kayak from excess rocking back and forth.
- I'm meh on the hard handles. I'm just glad they still kept the side handles which are slowing disappearing from kayaks.
- I still prefer the Tupperware style hatch lids found on older kayaks, like my Search 15, but Orbit hatches are slightly easier to use while on the water. My 2012 Ride 135 does have a slight leaking issue, but I think on the 2013 or 2014 model runs from Wilderness they modified/improved the design of the hatches. All I know is the change was enough that I can't retro fit the newer hatch design to my 2012 Ride 135.
- The small slidetrax across the deck making it easy to add a rod holder or electronic device.
- The magnetic water bottle holder seems gimmicky.
- The integrated dry box/hatch seems to be geared more towards the recreational paddler, as it seems most anglers would prefer hull access for storing fishing gear. I prefer having access to the hull there.
- Hard to tell in the pics, but in promotional videos the storage cubbies either side of the dry box look like they'll drain water. That was one of my pet peeves about the previous generation, those cubbies could not drain any water. Glad they addressed it in this model.
- The tankwell design/shape is more crate friendly in design. It looks like it was designed to hold their crate system as there are two specific attachment points for securing it.
- The loss of the slidetrax system either side of the tankwell is a bad move. My Ride 135 doesn't have them either on the tankwell and it's really something I wish was incorporated from the factory.
- I'm meh on the tankwell cover. It seems easy enough to add bungees if you'd prefer that. I'm thinking this is more for the recreational paddlers.
- The rear access hatch is nice
I like the small piece of slidetrax in the middle, the drain-able cubbies, potentially lower profile, the more square tankwell, and the rear access hatch. IMO, the three major down grades from the 2019 model are: apparent lack of adding a rudder, no center hatch to access the inside of the hull, and no slide track system for the tankwell. So, the negatives out weigh the positives for me, with the lack of a mention of a rudder being the most egregious omission. The change seem to be geared more to the recreational paddler than angler, but it should outfit nicely as a fishing platform. I'm not in the market for a new kayak, and won't be for many, many years, so take my opinion for what it's worth; nothing.
Oh, and apparently for 2020, Wilderness has finally made the Tarpon 120 dog friendly.