Umbrella rig for downwind sailing while trolling, by Chris Henderson

Just a note to show you my umbrella rig. I was needing some forward momentum while I deployed the downrigger. So I figured that if I turned down wind that should solve the problem. However, when you deploy the downrigger you necessarily have to be in the front of the kayak which causes it to turn into the wind, thus defeating my purpose.

I saw someone on here that regularly used an umbrella but I needed mine to be hands free.

So this umbrella rig fixes that, with the added bonus of being able to troll down wind without paddling. I will be looking for a clear golf umbrella for the final rig.

Having used it in very light winds, I can actually see how it can actually be used to make some great progress if the wind is right.

Just thought I would share as part of the ongoing conversation about the unique ways to equip and use a Wavewalk kayak!

Loving the Wavewalk!


More kayak rigging, fishing and bow duck hunting with Chris >

8 thoughts on “Umbrella rig for downwind sailing while trolling, by Chris Henderson”

  1. Cool!

    Maybe the solution is to attach the umbrella in place while it’s still closed, and open (or should I say ‘deploy’) it after it’s attached? 🙂


  2. Thanks!

    The problem is not with the umbrella but with the downrigger. If I am facing into the wind and deploying the downrigger and fishing line,(with the wind pushing me) it will be trailing out in front of me instead of behind me. Then when I begin to troll, it will have to completely change directions usually resulting in a mess. I am fishing with a 4lb downrigger ball and usually in depths between 25-60 feet.

    The umbrella gives me forward motion in the right direction!

  3. That’s pretty interesting, Chris. I’ve actually been looking at kayak sails as a means to propel my W, and serve as a quieter and cheaper alternative to motoring. There are several on the market, and some look like they’d mount and operate easily on the platform I affixed between the front hulls. Most require holding the top lines to keep the sail up and functional. Your setup allowing for a hands free operation would permit paddling and turning while being propelled by the wind. Lots of umbrellas are available, of course, including the huge patio umbrellas. It would be nice if the umbrella mount could be turned to catch the wind coming from the side. It would also be nice to have a clear window in the umbrella, like the sails do, to help see where you’re going. I think the key is to find a serviceable umbrella mount to secure and turn the umbrella as desired. I would think it could be functional for winds coming from the rear, right and left, just not from front.

  4. Gary,

    Unfortunately, an umbrella is a downwind only sail that can effectively propel you when the wind blows generally from behind your kayak (4pm to 7pm). It can’t do that with frontal wind or side wind. In fact, if the umbrella is big enough and deployed when strong side wind is blowing, it’s likely to prevent the kayak from going anywhere, and could lead to some serious balancing problems.


  5. PackerYaker

    The mount can be turned any way you want including adjusting the angle because it is a scotty rocket launcher on a scotty base. You could even tip it straight up and use it as an …. umbrella!

    You might be able to quarter the wind if it were not coming from exactly where you wanted it. I am certainly going to get a clear umbrella for the visibility thing. As far as wind speed goes, I will be looking for a nice warm and blustery day and see what the limits are on a nice little lake. 🙂

  6. Thanks, Chris and Yoav. Wind predictions here are pretty accurate so that if there is a west wind predicted for a given day and I’m 3 or 4 miles offshore, I can pretty much plan a trip so that I could use the umbrella to return to shore. I understand its limits, but it might serve my purposes more than adding 30 or 40 more pounds to the W with a motor, batteries, etc. If the wind shifts unexpectedly, rendering the umbrella useless, I simply get more exercise that day.

  7. That is exactly the kind of thing that I am thinking about. Most often in Puget Sound the wind is coming either out of the South or the North. In any event, if I plan it right I can use the tide and opposite wind to get me where I want to go, and or get me back with less paddling.

    I am going to do the permanent mount front and a little left of center (so as not to interfere with my downrigger). I will be able to pull the rocket launcher when not in use, but just fit it in when I use it.

    Post up your finished effort, love to see how it works for you!

  8. Thanks, Chris………it will be awhile b4 I decide anything, but will post anything I try. Good luck with those Puget Sound salmon – I worked with the Indian tribes in that area for many years, and love that area.

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