Fishing Kayak Review by Jose Fernandez, Arizona

The hours on end I used to spend paddling along the coast, around lakes and down rivers looking for thinks to photograph, enjoying the views or drowning some worms became a painful experience after half an hour of sitting in a standard kayak in the infamous “L” position.I could not find a comfortable position and after about one hour I could not get out of the kayak in a graceful manner (actually I had to roll out on the dirt) and was unable to straighten for several hours.I had to either stop doing what I enjoy, or find a different way to do it.

I have been looking for a kayak or canoe that fits my needs for quite a while.

I love the sport, and find it a relaxing and useful mode of transportation. However, as I get “older” I found that the body does not necessarily wants to do everything my mind wants to do. I am 65 years old, 5’9” and 190 lbs having had back surgery a few years ago.

Stand up paddling in fishing kayak, Mission Bay, San Diego

Jose stand up paddling in his W500 fishing kayak, Mission Bay, San Diego

The hours on end I used to spend paddling along the coast, around lakes and down rivers looking for thinks to photograph, enjoying the views or drowning some worms became a painful experience after half an hour of sitting in a standard kayak in the infamous “L” position.

I could not find a comfortable position and after about one hour I could not get out of the kayak in a graceful manner (actually I had to roll out on the dirt) and was unable to straighten for several hours.

I had to either stop doing what I enjoy, or find a different way to do it.

After a lot of web surfing I found Wavewalk’s website and was intrigued by the new design and its claim of ergonomic delights. I was disappointed that there were no dealers or a place where I could actually try it (or even see one,) other than in pictures and You-Tube videos, but my back kept screaming to try it and get my mind off my back, literally, so I called Yoav and ordered a W500.

Fishing kayak in Arizona

As soon as it arrived, I went to one of the lakes north of Tucson, AZ and gave it a try. The lake was very busy with many motor boats so the water was choppy with lots of wakes. The W handled well and although at times felt a bit unstable, after getting used to it, it became easier to handle and I enjoyed the outing.

Touring Arizona in a fishing kayak

FIRST TRIP TO SAN DIEGO

The following weekend I made a trip to San Diego and took the W with me to give it a more thorough workout. In the calm water of Mission Bay it felt a lot more stable and easier to handle. I paddled for several hours without discomfort to my back.

Only when I tried to turn inside the kayak to paddle the opposite way (just like Yoav does it) I lost my balance and the W flipped… As I said, the body does not necessarily wants to do everything my mind wants…

I purchased a Solo Canoe paddle 280 cm. [9’1″] which is light, and can be broken down and reassembled at different featherings. After all, I am not going to do any extreme kayaking…

Herron on river bank - Photo shot from Jose's fishing kayakHeron on the river bank

LONG CAMPING TRIPS

I went camping in a long and narrow lake in the northern mountains of Arizona. I loaded it with a lot of camping equipment, water, food, etc for a 4-day trip, which was too much, and the overloaded W was riding too low on the water, and felt unstable. So the following day, with an unloaded and lighter W, I was able to paddle 14 miles in it and for about 6 hours, including breaks, side trips, etc. without discomfort, something I have not been able to do in other kayaks.

MY WIFE’S EXPERIENCE

I also tried using my W as a romantic canoe “a la Venice” with my wife in a small lake south of Tucson. However, she was very tense, and the W felt unstable since I had to compensate for any movement she made. It turned out not to be such a romantic event after all. My wife also tried going out with me in tandem one more time in San Diego, but we flipped at launching and she won’t get back in it unless I put on some outriggers … They are on order. She is going with me come hell or low water!

[Editor’s note: You should not attempt paddling a W kayak in tandem unless both paddlers are well acquainted with operating it as solo paddlers. Unlike canoes, kayaks are basically solo boats, and therefore tandem kayaking is usually considered an advanced application.]

CONCLUSION

I am using and enjoying the W very much. It is fun to be able to spend long hours on a kayak again and do the things I enjoy such as photography, fishing and sightseeing in the water. Overall, I am happy with the W.

Those are my first, second, third and fourth impressions. I hope they help!

Jose


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7 Comments

  1. admin

    Thanks Jose,

    This is a great, comprehensive review, and the photos are beautiful!

    Yoav

  2. Paul Z

    That’s a good read, and the pics are a pleasure to the eye.
    Paddling kayaks in tandem is generally tricky, and seasoned kayakers sometime refer to tandem kayaks as ‘divorce boats’ 😉
    Unlike canoes, you can’t have an adult ‘passenger’ on board in the sense of passive extra load because their presence on board the yak would greatly change its performance, especially its stability. So the additional person needs to be able to deal with their own balance, and not rely on the other paddler to compensate for them.
    They should also paddle, preferably in a coordinated manner with the other paddler, because propelling a kayak with two adults on board is much harder…

    Paul

  3. April Leder

    Very interesting, detailed review.
    I have two comments so far
    1 A softer paddle is sometimes easier on the paddler – because it absorbs the energy, it can also reduce the physical impact of the stroke on the paddler. The downside of this being that such paddles are less efficient, and therefore slower than stiff paddles are.
    2 The W500 offers an enormous storage space, which is tempting when you’re going on a long trip, and need to take plenty of gear with you. However, this can easily result is overloading, as Jose tells in his review.

    The pictures are marvelous, especially the natural scenery ones!

    April

  4. Rox

    Jose, first congrats on the New W500.

    You gave us a great review, and a great lesson.

    Lets hope you are learning this lesson.

    Slow down, take your time to learn your W500.

    You should hold off on any tandem trips, until you and your wife are paddling and handling the W500 on your own with confidence.

    Hopefully your wife isn’t to scared to get back in the W500.
    The outriggers will be training wheels, after that you won’t need them.

    Tight Lines and Paddle Safe all.
    Rox

  5. Marco

    I don’t know about the others, but when I read about a Venetian Gondolier style trip in the W, I thought “well, that’s pretty extreme!” 😉

    Marco

  6. Carmi1

    My husband is unable to paddle due to many disabilities. However, I have 2 paddles and when he is along and we want to turn, I holler rudder right or rudder left and he puts his paddle straight down and we can turn “on a dime”. I enjoy his company and sure, it is extra weight, but I do not feel unstable. I am getting a little extra workout but that is a benefit in my opinion. I also have the joy of sharing the beautiful environment with the guy I love most and that means so much.

    As for tandem kayaking, it depends on where you are. On the intracoastal in a mild wind, 8 mph, my friend and I do not need any experience except more muscle in our forearms. The W is very stable and everyone who has been in my W has enjoyed it immensely.

    Almost 70,

    Ann

  7. W kayak

    Hi Ann,
    It’s good to hear from you! 🙂
    Your comment deserved a special blog post of its own, so here it is: http://wavewalk.com/blog/2011/01/20/paddling-the-w500-in-tandem-kayak-review-by-ann-hubbard-north-carolina/

    Thanks, and please keep us updated!

    Yoav

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