U.S. Patent #6871608
Kayak Fishing - Problems and Solutions
Why Kayak Fishing, and Why Not…
For thousands of years people around the world have been using small paddle craft for fishing. In North America canoes have been popular from pre-Columbian times, and kayaks were used by native people of the Arctic Circle for fishing in estuaries and protected waters.
In recent decades kayaks have become popular in recreational paddling, and more recently recreational fishermen have started using the kayak as a fishing platform.
What's so great about kayak fishing?
The idea of kayak fishing is an appealing one: These boats present a low cost of purchase and zero cost of maintenance, and offer excellent portability, physical exercise and a pleasant way to commune with nature while fishing in places that may be difficult to access with bigger boats.
...And what's not?
For most paddlers getting in and out of a traditional (i.e. sit-in) kayak can be challenging, and capsizing such a boat a traumatic experience since the famous 'Eskimo Roll' is a recovery solution that's practical only for a small and extensively trained group of paddlers. Mainly for these reasons a simplified kayak version called sit-on-top (SOT) has become the vessel of choice for kayak fishing. The SOT evolved from paddle boards and offers no protection against the elements. Therefore it gained popularity only in warmer regions and predominantly in flatwater.
The original native kayaks had neither seat nor rudder since the people who created and used those elegant boats didn't need such accessories.
So why are seats and rudders such a hotly debated issue in modern kayaks, and how are they related to the kayak fishing experience?
While rudders are supposed to help the inexperienced paddler in tracking and turning, they are not too important for fishing. This is not the case with the seat, which is a critical component in ordinary modern days kayaks that offer you only one sitting position - the 'L' or Kayaking position with your legs stretched in front of you. This position is problematic for most adults who are used to sitting with their legs lower than their upper body: The L position is unusually challenging for our dorsal, abdominal and leg muscles, and if we are unable to switch to other positions we develop fatigue, leg numbness and pains in our lower back. Unfortunately, changing seat brand seldom helps in the long term as an altered form and additional padding may delay the appearance of those symptoms but not eliminate them.
Since we're not used to the L position our body tends to slide down the seat. This is why kayaks have braces to support our feet in our legs' effort to stop our body from sliding down. While this is an effective solution for this matter it also increases the pressure on our lower back, and consequently reduces our comfort and well being.
Since sitting still can be more uncomfortable than sitting while paddling this ergonomic problem is felt even more strongly among kayak fishermen than among regular paddlers.
Another comfort related issue is the 'wet ride': Launching and taking out a kayak normally requires stepping in water, and being in or on a kayak inevitably entails getting wet since traditional kayaks have little freeboard while sit-on-top kayaks not only lack sufficient freeboard but also let water into the sitting area through the scupper holes that are installed along the kayak as means of draining water from the deck.
Consequently, kayak fishermen experience the 'wet butt syndrome', which is not only unpleasant but can also cause rashes and infections. Needless to say that wearing waders while sitting in a kayak not likely to make you feel comfy, and can be dangerous in case you capsize in deep water.
There are no confirmed statistics on this subject, but comfort seems to be the major reason why many kayak fishermen quit this otherwise appealing activity and go back to fishing from shore, canoes and motorboats.
However, comfort is not the only challenge facing the kayak fisherman. Another issue is the kayak's overall stability and its implication on your ability to struggle with strong fish: People tend to forget that although modern fishing kayaks offer more stability than traditional kayaks do, modern kayak fishermen are bigger and heavier, and possess neither the paddling nor the kayak fishing skills that the native kayak fishermen had.
Furthermore, although fishing SOTs are wider than most traditional kayaks their users have to sit on top of the boat instead of at the bottom of its hull. This position elevates the boat's overall center of gravity (CG) thus decreasing its stability while offering no biomechanical or other means to compensate the paddler for this loss of control. As a result many kayak fishermen feel insecure in and on their fishing kayaks, especially in less-than-perfect weather and water conditions.
And last but not least, standing is an essential part of fishing, and a normalize adult cannot cast in confidence standing on or in any kayak, even on flat water.
To summarize this overview, fishing kayaks offer low comfort and limited usability.
The W Kayak Fishing Solutions
In ancient times catamarans conquered the Indian and Pacific oceans. In the last decades they have taken a leading role in the world of sailing and motor boating. Catamarans are both stabler and faster than monohulls of comparable size.
The W Kayak is a patented form of small twinhull that solves many problems in the world of paddling and kayak fishing. While traditional catamarans are operated from a platform stretching between the two hulls, the W Kayak design lets the user's feet go down to the bottom of its deep and narrow hulls, while his upper body is located on a longitudinal saddle that acts as the boat's backbone. This arrangement achieves a high degree of stability by letting the passenger make full use of his legs for stabilizing and controlling the boat. Even a small W Kayak allows a full size adult to stand up and cast in full confidence. In addition to paddling and casting standing the paddler-fisherman can switch between sitting with his/her legs under his/her upper body in a riding position similar to the one used in cross-country motorbikes, or sitting with the legs in a normal sitting position and sitting with his/her legs stretched forward. It is also possible to kneel on one knee in a position known to canoeists.
The increased stability and control improve both confidence and ability to deal with difficult water and weather as well as strong fish, while the high freeboard offers good protection from spray and waves, even in the surf. As far as rudders go, the W Kayak requires none since as a catamaran it tracks well, and turning is made easy by the ability to simply lean into the turn.
In addition to these improvements in seaworthiness and comfort, launching and taking out are simplified since you can enter the cockpit and exit it from behind as well as from the front instead of doing so from the side.
Watch W fishing kayak demo movies
W Fishing Kayak Reviews