The W Kayak Combat Position For Fighting a Big Fish

A big and powerful fish may be smaller and altogether weaker than you, but being in its natural element while you’re not gives it an advantage that may compromise your kayak’s stability, get you somewhere that you don’t necessarily want to go to in long a ‘sleigh ride’, or make you lose the fish because you’re too busy controlling your kayak.

This is a maneuver that Jeff McGovern and myself developed together as a ‘think tank’ and ‘R&D team’. It’s called the ‘Combat Position’, and it’s possible to execute only in a W Kayak:

Upon realizing that you have a business with a big fish you need to swiftly reposition yourself along the saddle in the riding position (‘Mounted’) and as forward in the cockpit as possible, with your knees tucked into the front hull tip openings – see ‘1’ in the illustration below.
As a result of this change in weight distribution your W kayak’s bow will dip in the water (see ‘2’) while the stern will come out of the water (see ‘3’).

In this position your W kayak will be ‘planted’ in the water and offer maximum resistance to unwanted change, whether such change is tilting sideways or going forward.
Being in this position will free you from the need to balance your kayak while you’re fighting the fish, and let you focus on your fish whose capability to outmaneuver you was reduced to almost zero.

All the fish could do now is swim forward or sideways, and since your W kayak will generate a lot of drag in this position the fish will soon get tired and become less of a problem to reel in.

Combat position for catching a big fish in a W kayak


  1. Ron Hughes

    I don’t get it – if the fish pulls left or right won’t it make the boat flip on its side?

  2. admin

    In this position it’s harder for the kayak to tilt on its side yet easier to pivot and go in another direction. When the fish pulls on the side it will make the boat point towards the fish but not tilt.
    It’s a maneuver that was first used by W kayak surfers to get free from a ‘broaching’ situation at the beach when the boat gets stuck in parallel to the shoreline with the breaking waves hitting its side preventing the paddler from turning back and facing the ocean.
    When the W kayak surfer uses this position the lower bow acts as a pivoting point while the higher stern acts as a ‘tail’, so the action of the incoming waves on the boat’s side makes it turn and face the ocean with minimal effort from the paddler – What a relief!

  3. John (Loves boats) Alford

    Hi. I hear you on fish having an advantage in their natural habitat. I watched this program last month where this chef was trying to catch fish with his bare hands (it was a tradition in the country he was visiting). This guy was pretty strong, but without prior experience, the fish definitely had the upper hand (or should I say: upper fin!). It was thrashing about and whacked the guy in the face a couple of times, then got away.

    Your suggestion makes perfect sense. It would be interesting to get feedback from other surfers who have adopted this method.

    take care…

  4. admin

    Once I got a book written by a guy who likes to paddle with his bare hands… Could it be a trend?

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