Detachable Flotation For Fishing Kayak

Flotation is a useful means of recovery for kayaks. Depending on where it is added to the kayak, and how much of it is used, it can assist you in recovering your W kayak, and preventing it from sinking if it gets filled with water, in case you capsize it.

When attached below the kayak’s saddle (Fig. 1-3) the flotation will keep the kayak floating in case it is overturned, and water gets into the hulls. When attached on the kayak’s sides (Fig 4) the flotation modules may prevent the kayak from overturning, could help the kayak right itself if it’s laying on its side, and will assist you in turning it back, and recovering it. Wavewalk kayaks are offered with closed-cell polyethylene foam side flotation modules that you can attach either below the saddle, or or on the kayak’s sides. Each kayak flotation module is 5 ft long (150 cm), and 2.5″ in diameter (6.5 cm), and features a bungee cord going through it, with hooks on both ends.

Flotation is a useful means of recovery for kayaks and other small craft.
Depending on where it is added to the kayak and how much of it is used, it can assist you in recovering your Wavewalk 500 kayak, and in preventing it from sinking if it gets filled with water.

When attached below the kayak’s saddle (Fig. 1-3) the flotation will keep the kayak floating if it gets overturned, or if water gets into the hulls.
However, having the flotation attached to the sides of the craft is more effective:
When attached on the kayak’s sides (see Fig 4) the flotation modules work both to –
a. Stop the kayak from overturning, and –
b. Help the kayak right itself, even without your help.

If your W500 kayak kayak is lying on its side (it should right itself, in principle), side flotation will assist you in turning it back, and recovering it.

If you happen to flip your W500 kayak over, side flotation would make it easier for you to flip it back:
While you’re flipping the W500 kayak back, you use one of its twin hulls as a ‘pivot’, and in the beginning of the rotation, this hull will have to be lower in the water than its twin. At this initial point, side flotation attached to the lower hull keeps the kayak floating higher, and thus reduces the amount of water the lower hull scoops in.

Side flotation has been in use for many years in hunting and fishing canoes, as well as in some rescue watercraft. It is an effective means of recovery, but it improves neither stability, nor load capacity.

Flotation made from foam noodles (‘Pool Noodles”)
Each kayak flotation module is 5 ft long (150 cm), and 2.5″ in diameter (6.5 cm), and features a bungee cord going through it, with hooks on both ends.

Fig. 1 – Kayak Overturned With Pair of Flotation Modules Attached Below Saddle:

Top View

Flotation modules in fishing kayak

Fig. 2 – Kayak Overturned With Pair of Flotation Modules Attached Below Saddle:

Front View

Flotation modules in fishing kayak

Fig. 3 – Pair of Flotation Modules Attached Below W Kayak Saddle – Attaching:

Flotation modules in fishing kayak

Fig. 4 – Pair of Flotation Modules Attached to the Sides of a W500 Kayak

Flotation modules in fishing kayak

Fig. 5 – The Effect of Side Flotation on a Capsized W500 Kayak

kayak recovery: side flotation

How does side flotation work to make it possible for the W500 kayak to right itself, and how does it make it easier for you to turn the W500 kayak back in case it is overturned?  Learn more about kayak recovery and side flotation »   and How to use detachable flotation to right a capsized Wavewalk TM kayak »

Does Flotation Increase Stability or Load Capacity?

One shouldn’t confound flotation with either stabilizers (a.k.a. outriggers, pontoons, sponsons) or with buoyancy, I.E. load capacity. Flotation is a means designed to facilitate a boat’s recovery in case of an accident, and it adds nothing to the boat’s stability, or to its load capacity.

Extra Large Flotation Modules

Many stores offer standard pool noodles as described above, as well as extra large (XL) flotation modules.
Learn more about the extra large flotation modules >>

kayak accessories: flotation modules
Extra large (XL) and standard size detachable flotation modules

20 thoughts on “Detachable Flotation For Fishing Kayak”

  1. If I attach the noodles under its saddle, would it increase my w’s carrying capacity?

  2. It would, if the kayak is overloaded to begin with. However, it would also mean that your W is already drafting too much, and therefore going too slow, etc.

    Generally speaking, having the flotation modules attached below the saddle means that they should stay above the water, unless you’re going through breaking waves in the surf.

  3. Can I attach more than one pair of foam noodles under the saddle?
    Would the eyelets be strong enough to hold the extra pull?

  4. Yes, you can easily attach 2 pairs of flotation modules under your W kayak saddle, and the eyelets in the front and back of the cockpit would hold.

  5. The larger diameter (4 inch) noodles should also provide more floatation than the regular sized noodle. These larger noodles also slip snugly over the cockpit rim where they can serve other purposes such as creating stealth when frequently switching between fishing rod and paddle (by laying them on the noodles), providing a head rest, providing a ruler for measuring fish (using a magic marker), and securing hooks for quick lure changes.

  6. Nice idea Yoav. I normally don’t use the foam noodles but this new approach is one I will try. That is once I figure out what I did with the last set you sent down to me. They are tucked away somewhere in the tackle room. Right now it’s more like a tackle cave than a tackle room, been a long cold winter here in Florida.

  7. Hey Jeff,
    Before you became a pro in the tackle business you had some 300 fishing rods stored in your tackle cave… Now that you’re an Emmrod distributor and global support guy, I guess you have more than that 🙂


  8. Yoav,
    Thanks for the referral to this site and your description of the floatation noodle solution. The noodles would help to keep the boat afloat if my wife went with me, but I bought the boat to find solace, so I really don’t want enormous carrying capacity.
    My question was about filling the hull tips with foam floatation. “Has anyone explored the filling of the hull tips with poured foam? It would stop the tips from filling with water should the boat be swamped and maybe make it easier to climb back aboard. I know that the tips are touted as great storage spaces, but I don’t really think that I would need that much storage, and I wouldn’t want to fill the tips all the way out to the cockpit. Water getting into the hull would still act to right it, but wouldn’t get all the way into the tips to weigh the ends down. Or, could that be a positive?”
    As with so many of my clever ideas, someone else has usually gone before!
    The perceived advantage of filling the hull tips would be to reduce the volume of water in a swamped boat which would/should make it more easily handled and recovered. Water weighs 62lbs./cu.ft.
    A big factor to consider is that, of all the comments on the W300 and W500, I don’t recall a comment about the boat being swamped. easily swamped, un-swampable? Input from experienced users will help me get a better idea of what might be feasible and what’s just tilting at windmills.


  9. Jim,
    You need a lot of bad luck and a series of mistakes to get the W kayak swamped. The best prevention against both overtrurning and swamping is side flotation. it’s also the most effective means of recovery.
    Cast flotation comes at a price of reduced storage space, as well as added weight. It’s not an optimal solution.

  10. I’ve had mine set up like that for some time with the large diameter noodles. I’m going to add a couple of more this spring for a total of four. I’ll be doing some pool experiments with the set up when the pool hits 80.

  11. If I added flotation on the sides of my w500 would it increase its stability?

  12. It won’t. Side flotation is effective only as a means of recovery.
    It adds neither stability nor load capacity.

  13. will adding the flotation underneath the saddle increase stability?

  14. It won’t, but it could increase load capacity in case the boat is overloaded, and is low in the water, as you can see in this video:

  15. Is it possible to make the w self bailing just by attaching those noodles?
    Thank you,
    Ezra Hale

  16. The Nautical Dictionary defines self bailing as: “Feature of a boat with drains that empty water automatically, either by gravity through scuppers or by Bernoulli effect.”
    Thus means there is no way to make the W500 self bailing, since you cannot install scuppers in it, and being non-motorized, it can’t go fast enough to use the Bernoulli effect. This is true for all kayaks, with the exception of SOT kayaks that use scuppers to drain their deck, but have no means for draining water out of their hull in case water gets inside it, and more importantly, lack means for early detection of such hazardous situations (see article: )

    If you outfit your W500 with a sufficient number of flotation modules attached in the right places (I.E. the boat’s sides and its top), you can make it ‘bomb proof’ as far as capsizing and recovery are concerned. This means it will become increasingly hard to capsize it, as well as increasingly easy to recover it.

  17. SOT kayaks are paddle boards. As such, they don’t need scuppers to drain the water from their deck, since it would spill from the deck sides anyway.
    The real reason why SOT kayaks feature scuppers is twofold:
    First, it’s a structural element that reinforces their roto molded hull from within.
    Second, it makes the craft more appealing to clients who believe what vendors tell them, and don’t see that water can go up the scuppers as a result of the kayak moving up and down because the passenger does, or because of waves.
    I wouldn’t call SOT kayaks self bailing to begin with. I think this can mislead people to think that their SOT’s hull will automatically drain if water gets inside, or that water couldn’t get there in the first place.

  18. Over the years, I talked to more than one yakker who thought the drain plug in their kayak drains water out when the kayak is in the water. This is a mistake of course, since all these plugs do is help you drain water out of your kayak by gravity, when the kayak is on dry land.

  19. If you created a foam insert that filled the hulls side to side and front to back and slanted back towards the rear at say a 5% ( 2% for a normal “flat” roof ) slope ending just above the maximum water line at the rear, you could then drill holes above that line and using simple rubber flaps ( that exist in boating supply stores ) that only opened out, Or just leaving the holes open, you could create a “self draining” kayak out of the W. Now, before everybody freaks out and has a kin-nip-tion fit remember, I’m only stating what is possible. And don’t think I’m not going to try it either.

  20. This is in response to Jim Addison’s question regarding filling the tip of the hulls with foam for additional flotation. Jim, I recently acquired a W boat were the previous owner had done just that. He sprayed in “Great Stuff” the foam insulation in a can.
    BIG mistake!!! His reasoning was well intended, but that’s about all.

    There are after market products that you can install ( shove into the hull )that “inflate” with air that are designed to displace water should it ( the kayak, W boat ) take on water so as to not sink the craft. Those do work.
    Spraying the foam into the tips of the hull will actually create problems, not solve them. The foam insulation expands three times it’s volume and will actually distort the shape of the hull and puffs them out making the boat track differently.
    There is also a weight problem. Dry, the foam really doesn’t add that much weight. But when it gets wet and soaked with water, it retains that water in all the nooks and crannies and that’s where the weight adds up. The foam does not dry “dense”. Picture if you will a dry rock hard sponge. That’s how it drys. It also takes up storage space that you never regain once the foam is there. The stuff is near IMPOSSIBLE to remove once it’s sprayed in!!! It bonds to the plastic hull and you can damage the hulls trying to get it out. I tried wood chisels and metal paint scrapers and have not gotten it all out … I was told that gas will dissolve it but haven’t gone that route yet.

    I would suggest if you feel the need to put the additional flotation in the hulls, you opt for the inflatable type you can pick up at most sporting goods stores. You could also try an old fashion beach-ball you could inflate and stick in there or a tire-tube. I would put them in first and then inflate them so they take on the shape of the hull as they are inflated. This way you can decide when to use them or if you need them and still take them with you on the water and not loose the storage space if you don’t use them …
    Well Jim, I hope that helps and I apologize for any typos!!


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