‘First Impression’ Fishing Kayak Review, by Gary Johnson, Texas

I had initially thought I might want to add an electric motor for powered use - NOT ANYMORE!! Paddling the W500 is so easy and even going into a 10mph breeze it was almost effortless. For those who say the W500 won't glide and won't track straight I say you are FULL OF HOOEY!! Paddling couldn't have been easier

Gary is a 61 year old, disabled war veteran from Texas, and he’s also a fairly big guy (6’2″ / 280 lbs). Gary conducted a thorough investigation before ordering his W500, including a call to another Texan W kayak angler and wave walker …  Gary also spent some time discussing his purchase plans for a W500 with ‘members’ of an online, Texan kayak fishing discussion forum, who made some strange comments about the W500, as none of them had ever seen one, and most of them are affiliated with other fishing kayak brands, one way or another.

Read Gary’s full review of his rigged W500 fishing kayak >>

Gary writes:

“I took the W500 out for her maiden voyage this afternoon on our 14 acre lake.  The W500 was easy to launch and my feet stayed completely dry.  The launching area we have is totally unimproved and is rather steep.  Neither the steepness, nor the unimproved nature caused any problem with launching.  Landing was another story – I learned how to sit in the very back of the kayak to lift the front pontoons up out of the water.  On the 5th attempt I was able to drive the W500 far enough up onto the bank for me to get out of it – again with totally dry feet.  The 5 attempts were not caused by the Kayak not performing rather my timidity on getting far enough back on the W500 to adequately lift the front end sufficiently.

I had initially thought I might want to add an electric motor for powered use – NOT ANYMORE!!  Paddling the W500 is so easy and even going into a 10mph breeze it was almost effortless.  For those who say the W500 won’t glide and won’t track straight I say you are FULL OF HOOEY!!  Paddling couldn’t have been easier – in fact too easy – I’d like a paddle with a blade twice the size of the one I purchased.  It almost felt like I was overpowering the paddle blade and not being efficient.  I got the 9 foot paddle and I wish I had gotten the longer one.

Getting used to being in the W500 took about 1 lap around the lake (approximately a mile).  I learned quickly that when you first are starting and the kayak seems “Tippy”, grabbing onto the sides of the kayak is NO HELP.  Raising my hands and bringing the paddle up to my chest stabilized the W500 quickly.  I also found that as I became accustomed to being in the W500 (its like learning to ride a bike again) that if I would concentrate looking where I wanted to go or even looking to see if I could see fish ahead of me made all the initial “Tippiness” go away quickly. Looking at the kayak is of no help whatsoever.   I can say I spent over a hour in the W500 and I never got wet – I also haven’t tried standing up, but I have gotten comfortable changing where I was sitting, sliding up and down the seat, etc.  Don’t worry – sliding up towards the bow or all the way back to the stern will not cause any problem whatsoever and the kayak will not flip.  Trust me, I am a BIG guy (6’2 1/2″ and about 280 lbs), and if it won’t flip for me, it won’t for you either. Someone as big as 325-350 lbs should be safe in the W500, and no you won’t sit so far down in the waterline as to take on water.  Its not going to happen.  The Specs say the max load is 360 lbs – I say hooey – it will handle much more than that.

Now comes the rigging of the W500 for fishing.  I purchased 2 flush mount pole holders on eBay – no not the slanted ones like come on the W500 if you desire, but 90 degree ones.  I plan on using one very far back on one of the “stern” pontoons as the holder for my fluorescent flag and 360 degree light mast (all in one).  I am getting one of TekTite’s lights and installing it inside a piece of 1 1/4″ PVC (actually 3 pieces about 18 inches long each that will connect together using 1 1/4″ PVC fittings.  The flag will mount on a piece of galvanized rod that goes through holes bored through the PVC.  My fishing pole holders will be above deck mounts that are removable so if I am  fly fishing I can remove the ones which would tangle my fly line.  I am still trying to figure out how and where to mount my hand held GPS and where to mount my Fishin Buddy II depth and fish finder.

My wife bought me one of the huge frozen food bags from Costco to use as my fish bag.  Last I have to figure out what I am going to do for anchoring and which kind of boxes to use for storing lures, etc.  Rods will store easily.  The W500 has a large amount of storage space, it just will be a search to find the boxes, etc that are the correct size to fit the storage.

Pictures will be coming soon and please wish me good luck on trying to stand up the first time.

I have also figured out that I am going to have to get one of those automatic inflatable life jackets.  My regular one is TOO WARM for the amount of exercise you can get paddling a kayak.  My shirt was wet when I was done.  Wet means COLD in the winter, and I plan to use the W500 all winter.

Gary Johnson”

Read Gary’s full review of his rigged W500 fishing kayak >>


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6 Comments

  1. Rox

    First Gary, Congratulations on your New W500. 🙂

    That’s one purchase you’ll never regret.

    I’ve had no problems with tracking either, and after my purchase of my W500, I knew no trolling motor will ever go on it, no need for it, the W500 is as smooth as butter on the water. Plus I already have the trolling motor set-up on my W300. 🙂

    I like the fact that you are taking things slow, as you stated, that tippy feeling goes away once you get used to the Fact Its not your SIT or SOT yak.
    The Wave walks are a whole different animal, bigger, better and stable.

    Take your time, standing can wait, but once you reach that level, you’ll hardly sit down. 🙂

    Good Luck with your new W500, I look forward to more posts from you on your adventures.

    And Please remember everyone, it’s cold weather time, waters are getting colder.
    Wear you PFD at all times. 🙂

    Tight Lines and Paddle Safe All.
    Rox

  2. Marco

    Congrats, Gary!
    Btw, going to those online kayak fishing forums to get an opinion about the W kayak is like going into a car dealership and asking them for their opinion about the latest model from their competitors. Your best case scenario is that they’ve heard something about it, but you can’t really say they’re informed, and they’re certainly not objective 😉
    Those ‘forums’ are pretty much dominated by people that are either on the payroll of some big fishing kayak brands, or affiliated to them, like local dealers, regional sales reps, local outfitters and guides, kayak brands’ “team members” and so on… These people would use every opportunity to trash the W, and promote the kayak brand, or company they need to promote.
    Some of them use multiple aliases, in order to increase their “presence” on the forum.
    Some forums and websites are moderated, or even owned by businesses that sell kayaks, but they’re all posing as neutral, unbiased, free, etc.
    At least this Wavewalk kayaks blog is trying to be fair, and they make sure not to trash particular brands, or yak models by their names 😉 but don’t expect folks here to be completely balanced… 😀 😀 😀

    marco

  3. Jeff McGovern

    You’ll enjoy the W500. The boat is the most versatile paddle craft on the market. The more time you use it the more you’re going to appreciate what it can do. I tend to think of it as the pickup truck (4 wheel) of the kayak fishing world. Go anywhere, any time, and in most any conditions that you can get out on the water. The W500 of one of those products that delivers far more than can be described without getting in one. Have a blast!

  4. Simone

    Ciao dall’Italia.Ho letto tutti gli articoli sul w500 trovo sia molto bello.Mi sapete dire in Italia quale ditta lo commercializza?

  5. Shawn

    Gary,

    I live in Austin and have been thinking about a Wavewalk for awhile. I have a SOT now but it kills my back. I’ve never seen one personally and I’d love to talk or email with you directly regarding your experience.

    Thanks

  6. kayak paddle bags

    At least you can do it in Winter, up north there are very few moving waters left that are ok to use. Yet they are too dangerous for me.

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