Fishability – How Fishable Are Fishing Kayaks?

What is Fishability?

Dictionaries define fishable as an adjective meaning ‘that may be fished in’. By extension, the noun fishability can be used to describe the usefulness of a fishing craft for catching fish, from the angler’s well being and performance standpoints.

Basically, you can catch fish just sitting on a log in the middle of a pond, or a river – so being able to cast a line and catch fish from some floating object doesn’t automatically mean it scores high in fishability. Similarly, the fact you’re catching fish from your kayak, and you know other anglers who fish from kayaks, doesn’t imply your kayak or similar ones score high in fishability. In fact, they might score very low.

How to Measure Fishability?

Different anglers require different things from a fishing boat, and value different things when they rank the qualities of a fishing kayak. Such attributes and priorities can be subjective, but it’s possible to use them as well as professional design standards to create a universal fishability score system.

The Fishability Score System

Since fishability is a multidimensional notion, a fishability score should refer to the different factors that contribute to the kayak’s fishability according to their relative importance.

However, since little data are available about anglers’ exact preferences, such score system should not be portrayed as scientifically accurate, and therefore should not use numbers or other standard grading method.

Fishability Factors

Stability

Fishing kayaks are wider than average kayaks are – anyone can see that. The reason for is that being wider makes sit-in and sot kayaks more stable, and stability is a basic, very important attribute that any fishing kayak should offer. The problem is that being wide doesn’t necessarily make a sit-in or SOT fishing kayak stable enough. In other words, those fishing kayaks’ fishability is diminished by the fact they are not stable enough for most anglers to feel fully confident while fishing from them. This is why you’ll see an increasing number of sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks outfitted with outriggers, and other sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks who are excessively wide – to a point where paddling them becomes too difficult, even with a rudder.

When stability is concerned, W fishing kayaks score much higher in fishability than any other fishing kayak does, whether sit-in or SOT. It’s possible to say that W kayaks are the only kayaks that are stable enough for fishing.

Comfort

Comfort in the ergonomic sense is by far the most important attribute a fishing kayak has to offer, and the main factor which determines its fishability. This is because kayak fishing is practiced as a sport, and a leisure activity, that is for fun. As such, it is required to enable a pleasant, relaxed and non-painful fishing experience to the user, and that’s where sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks fail completely. The reason for this failure is that all sit-in and SOT kayaks feature the same sitting arrangement comprising a seat and footrests, that lock their users in a single, uncomfortable, non-ergonomic posture called the L-Position, without offering them a chance to get some relief by switching to other positions. This leads to a range of undesirable physical sensations ranging from fatigue and discomfort to leg numbness, leg pain, butt pain, and back pain (yak-back). In some cases the impact can be back injuries.

Another discomfort factor is the wet ride: Being forced to paddle and fish while getting continuously splashed and sprayed isn’t acceptable for many anglers, who won’t fish from sit-in and SOT kayaks for this reason.

These ergonomic problems are obvious, and most people perceive them as a turnoff albeit the efforts of kayak manufacturers and vendors to play them down and dismiss them. As a result of these problems, not too many anglers are drawn to kayak fishing, and out of those who start practicing this sport many end up quitting – sooner or later.

In other words, sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks’ fishability score is very low, if only for these reasons. In contrast, W fishing kayaks feature a comfortable saddle offering multiple, interchangeable positions, including standing and full stretching. This is why W kayaks are the only ergonomic fishing kayaks, and therefore the only truly fishable kayaks in the long run.

Deck and Cockpit Functionality

Sit-in kayaks have tiny, restrictive, and therefore less than adequate cockpits, and SOT kayaks feature no cockpit at all, since in essence they are just paddle boards outfitted with backrests and footrests. This greatly reduces these kayaks’ fishability, since it makes it hard for anglers to fish out of them comfortably when handling gear, tackle and fish are concerned.

Remember: In order to score high in fishability, a boat or kayak should feel great to fish from, and ‘possible to fish from’‘ simply isn’t enough.  The only fishing kayaks that feature a real, full size cockpit and deck are W kayaks, and this is why they are truly fishable.

Storage

Fishing requires gear and tackle, as well as space for storing fish. Sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks feature hatches, which are too small, not absolutely watertight, and hardly accessible to the angler once he or she is seated in the kayak.

This is clearly unacceptable in fishability terms, and the golden standard is set by W fishing kayaks that offer plenty of internal, dry, and always accessible storage space.

Mobility

Mobility is about being able to start a fishing trip anywhere, go wherever you feel like, and beach whenever and wherever you want.

When compared to most bigger boats, fishing kayaks offer advantages in accessing certain spots, mainly in shallow water, and obviously in no-motor zones.  Still, sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks don’t offer the same degree of mobility that W fishing kayaks offer, because W kayaks enable launching and beaching in places where launching and beaching other kayaks is too hard. In addition, while going over obstacles present an absolute barrier to other kayaks, W kayaks offer ways to overcome such restrictions in mobility.

It terms of fishability, W kayaks score considerably higher than sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks.

As for pedal-driven fishing kayaks, those score even lower than regular, paddle activated sit-in and SOT kayaks.

Stand Up Fishing and Paddling

Being able to fish while standing up is an important aspect in evaluating a boat’s fishability, simply because standing up is natural, and especially desirable if you have you spend long hours fishing seated.

While certain kayak manufacturers claim some of the sit-in and SOT kayaks models they offer are suitable for stand up kayak fishing, nothing could be further from the truth: Some small stature, athletic people may be able to stand on one of those kayaks, and even cast lines, but this is far from being enough to have any of those kayaks qualify for stand up kayak fishing, because of serious safety issues:

When you stand in or on a small boat you will inevitably lose balance – sooner or later, and there are many things that can cause you to lose balance, including a moment of inattention, and catching a fish… So this is not a matter of if, but rather of when. And when anglers attempting to fish standing in a sit-in kayak or on a SOT kayak lose their balance, they fall overboard, and can lose some of their fishing gear and tackle. The result of such probable accident can vary from ‘unpleasant experience’ to drowning.

Fishing standing from a sit-in or SOT kayak is hazardous, and so is paddling standing in them, and therefore these boats score zero in stand-up fishing and paddling.

In contrast, W fishing kayaks are not only much stabler than sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks, but they also feature a 14 inch high saddle. This means that a paddler or angler standing in a W kayak and loses balance is likely to fall down on the saddle, in the most stable riding position, and avoid an accident in most cases, as well as losing fishing gear.

Tracking

Tracking is a factor that’s not related directly to fishing, as it can be measured only when the angler is paddling. However, we think it should be included in the fishability score system since it is a critical factor in paddling, and by that also affects both the kayak’s range of operation as well as it safety: A kayak that tracks poorly might become too hard to paddle in strong wind, and get out of control as the paddler suffers from exhaustion.

Sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks track very poorly, to a point where most of them require their owners to outfit them with rudder systems. Such systems are by no means ideal solutions, as they demand constant attention, and impede the kayak. A rudders might become altogether unusable in shallow water, and leave anglers struggling to control their kayaks in strong wind without any assistance. that is to say that sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks are prone to windage problems, and score very low in this fishability factor.

In comparison, W kayaks track exceptionally well, both in calm weather as in strong wind, regardless of the direction from which the wind is blowing. W kayaks require no rudder at all, since anglers who paddle them dispose of a range of effective means to control their directional stability (I.E. tracking) through changing location along the saddle, and by leaning into the wind.

This ability makes W fishing kayaks score high in the Tracking factor on the fishability score system.



8 Comments

  1. Pete

    I like this article, since it goes straight to the point, but it’s still very inclusive. I believe siks and sots and bound to disappear from the fishing world in the next decade.
    Pete.

  2. apker

    well said

  3. Marco

    What Pete said 😀
    It’s the inevitable conclusion…

    Marco

  4. Jeff McGovern

    Nicely done sir. Fishability is a word applied to many things we use in the angling world. Those that work best allow the angler to concentrate on the task at hand, fishing, and not the gear or equipment itself. The W500 raised the bar another few notches. The anglers that see the boat take pause and you can watch the wheels turning since the the answer to their problems is right in front of them. You know what the tough part is, people admitting the fancy zippy do dah kayak they bought is really a piece of junk. Folks hate to face the idea that what they got is just awful, but maybe with great advertising. They got sucked in and threw down their hard earned money on a carved up paddle board with fancy holes and interesting spaces. From day one it hurt but they were too macho to admit it so they added padding. Their rear got wet so they added stoppers and wore rubber pants. The cost never ends for a sit on top kayak since the owners are always looking for an answer in foam rubber and straps. The old saying is that a boat is a dark hole in the water you keep throwing money into. That takes in sit on top fishing kayaks as we know them. But the W, nope, not at all.

  5. admin

    Thank you Admiral Jeff 🙂

  6. John Z

    Yoav,
    Whenever I’m in my electric motor modified 500 I feel like I’m a ‘stealth’ fishing machine. Having owned larger fishing boats, I’ve never felt as perfectly suited to the pursuit of fishing. It amazes me in fact how close I can cruise to a fish without spooking it. Therefore I submit ‘stealth’ as an additional factor to be considered toward a craft’s fishability. I’m even looking for stick-on letters for the side of my 500: ‘Stealth Fisher’, for that’s what the W really is.
    John Z

  7. Rox

    In the dictionaries around the world, they now need to add to the word
    “Fishabilty”
    And in the description..wave walks W500 and W300…..because it is a yak that fits all, and any meanings of Fishability.
    Storage beyond belief, Stability beyond belief, and a complete fishermen or fisherwomen Dream!!!

    Great read Yoav. 🙂

    Happy and Safe paddling All
    Rox

  8. admin

    Thanks guys,
    It’s nice to know that someone actually reads those long articles 😉

    Yoav

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