My Wavewalk 500, by Steve Lucas

I live in Southeastern Florida, close to the Everglades, and I fish both freshwater and saltwater.
I have been buying and flipping a lot of different boats in my endless search for a car top, light weight, shallow draft, stand up fishing, flats poling, gas motoring, electric motoring, great paddling, straight tracking, comfortable, gear packing, easy launching, rugged fishing boat that I don’t have to worry about scratching gel coat at ramps and Everglades launch sites.
I knew this was a lot to ask from one vessel but I am nothing if not stubborn.
I kept looking and looking and recently got a WaveWalk W500 Kayak. I am not done testing or learning about this boat but I think I may be able to check off the box that says “all of the above”.

First test

I took the W500 over to Chokoloskee for a test paddle I was well pleased with the boat’s paddling, tracking, car topping, comfort and stand up fishing capabilities.
The W500 is not a “barge”. It tracks extremely well and moves quickly through the water. You can put a really powerful stroke on this boat using a long shaft paddle.
There’s a learning curve to paddling a W500. You “ride” this boat as opposed to sitting in it. You can stand up and feel very stable doing so anytime you feel the urge.
This boat is only 29 inches wide. It’s the same width as my [15.5 ft long touring kayak].

I’m nowhere near done messing around or rigging/configging the W.

In my opinion the W 500 is not a kayak, canoe or catamaran. It’s a horse of a different color. I really, really like this boat so far.  It’s also a dream to carry and lift. I just tip it up, walk under it and let it fall on my shoulders.
Weight is relative. All my boats have been near to 100 pounds. Most of the fishing kayaks that they’re selling now are near to 100 pounds, and therefore 60 pounds for me is very lightweight.
So the W 500 lets me stand more easily at about half the weight of the barges.
I’m not fully versed on the W paddling yet but from what I’ve done so far I’m impressed with the tracking and speed.

The storage on the W is huge but it’s a different kind of storage space. You just need to rethink how you stow stuff. I carried my 8 foot stake out pole in the bottom of the hull all day and never stepped on it.
It’s going to be fun to rig this boat because you can get to every area like a canoe.

Laying down to rest on the W saddle when the rods are in rod holders is a no brainer. It’s something you can do in a W500 that you probably would have a hard time doing in any other paddle craft. You can lay down at will, completely horizontal with no problem. There’s no gear or seat to move out of the way – just lay down. I’ll be watching the next meteor shower stretched out under the stars I think.
You can also easily use the W 500 and not get your feet wet at all, or your butt or your legs or your crotch.

When I got back the launch I figured I try dis-embarking without using the ramp. I stood up and got out on the floating dock. I grabbed the boat and dragged it up on the floating dock without any effort at all. Then I took it one step further and dragged the boat onto the marina from the floating dock. It was easy as pie. No bull. Drag over possibilities with a W 500 are numerous.

Another thing you can do in a W 500 is move forward or backward to lift or drop the bow. It lets get up on obstructions or anything else quite easily. You can’t do that in a regular SOT. I can’t wait to plow into some skinny and just move backwards to get off the flat without ski poling.

I was really surprised at how well the W paddled. I was looking at some video I took while heading in to the launch and I noticed that the W has a lot more glide than my [fast 15 ft long kayak]. This is from a dead stop. Watch the bow of the boat when I drop the paddle and pick up the fishing pole.


Note that I’m 230 lbs.

 

Chokoloskee-park-fishing-kayak

rigged-fishing-kayak-chokoloskee-park

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View of the bottom of the hull – small draft

 

view-from-fishing-kayak-cokpit

 

30-inch-snook

30-inch-snook-in-the-kayak's-cockpit

30 inch snook

docked

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scenic-view-of-the-park

scenic-view-of-the-park (2)

sitting-sideways

sunshine-on-the-water

view-from-the-cockpit

 

More testing

I took the W 500 down to Flamingo to test out paddling seated and standing on the flats. I am really impressed with the way the W paddles. I was going to try poling but it’s so easy to stand and use the paddle that I’ll save that for another trip.

I did some fishing but mostly I wanted to get into some currents and paddle the flats. I really enjoyed the comfort of the W as well. Not being stuck in the L position and being able to stand at will was such a pleasure.

bow-with-two-rod-holders

jack-crevalle-in-hand

scenic-view-of-the-water

stake-out-pole-in-the-water

unhooking-a-fish

 

Speed

I met up with a fishing buddy at Flamingo. We launched early and paddled out to Snake Bight. The skeeters were nowhere to be found and sorry to say so were the fish. We got a couple of hits and jumps from small Snook and Tarpon but nothing boated.
The day wasn’t a total loss because I got to stand and paddle the flats in complete comfort. The W500 is a true flats machine.
It was fun seeing my buddy Pete again and getting out on the water. The weather was very nice early on but we could see the clouds getting fluffy as we were heading back to the marina. I hit three or four storms on the road back to civilization… if you can call it that.

My fishing buddy paddled alongside me in the boat and I thank him for his first hand opinion. I asked him to paddle at a normal pace in his [16 ft long and 27″ wide, fast kayak] to see if I could keep up with him. Of course his kayak is a faster boat but I was able to stay with him. That’s the true test… not racing but paddling normally with a buddy.
I guess the twin hull cat design is the reason the W boat paddles so well although it isn’t even 12 feet long.

W500-kayak-next-to-16ft-long-kayak

beautiful-sunset-on-the-lake

inside-the-cockpit-01

view-of-the-water-and-mangroves

Night fishing

I wound up paddling the W 500 a lot and got to test her in some strong currents and a bit of occasional wind. So far the W has been a dream to fish from and paddle. If any of you ever get a chance to paddle one do yourself a favor and hop in the saddle.

beached-at-the-ramp-at-night

kayak-on-the-beach-01 (2)

kayak-on-the-beach-01

rainbow-on-the-water-between-two-rod-holders

trout-boated

 

About Wavewalk’s marketing…

Before I got my W500 I looked at everything I could find on the internet concerning the W500. I waded through tons of [verbal trash] posted by people who had never tried a W500, and I read all the marketing from WaveWalk. The two things that convinced me that the boat was a great flats fishing design were the videos and talking to Yoav.
Some of the videos are over the top but they don’t lie. The W500 can do everything that you “see” for yourself in the videos.

The bottom line is…

I really like the W 500. The comfort factor is a giant plus for me. I have no back, butt or leg pain after a trip in the boat. The ability to stand or even just sitting higher on the water is a huge advantage.

Steve Lucas (I Fishhead)

Florida

More from Steve »

10 Comments

  1. PackerYaker

    Great, great report, Steve. You put us other bloggers to shame.

    You may want to try pushing a couple of the large foam noodles (with the larger inner holes) over the rim to create stealth as you alternate between your paddle and fishing rod when you’re trying to sneak up on the snook and reds.

  2. fish kayak

    Thank you Steve,

    This is one of the most comprehensive and interesting kayak reviews I’ve ever read – a magnum opus! 🙂
    I appreciate the time and effort you put in documenting your learning curve and first experiences with your W kayak. Now that the worst is behind you 😉 I’m sure you’ll keep discovering things that you can do with it, and possibly some that you shouldn’t… 😀

    As for those who have nothing to say about the W kayak but keep posting their uniformed and often senseless comments on various kayaking and fishing forums, they are a nuisance, but no more than that. We’ve learned to live with this phenomenon.
    Ironically, some of the dumbest and nastiest comments out there have helped us craft a more informative and user friendly website 🙂

    Yoav

  3. Fish Wiz

    Great review, great pictures, great videos!! I very much enjoyed reading this thing.
    Yoav, how can stupid and uninfomed comments on other websites help you build a better website for WaveWalk?
    FW

  4. Michael Chesloff

    Hi Steve-

    Great recounting of your experiences!

    A major issue with telling people about the Wavewalk is simply that it does too many things better than any other human-powered fishing vessel. Of course, this is the whole point of owning one.

    Many kayaks are now being made as wide (or wider!) than your front door (36 inches) in an attempt to increase stability. As you make clear, this has the consequence of making them harder to paddle, heavier, more cumbersome, impossible to car-top or carry, etc. If not the simple solution would be to just make them as wide as the ocean.

    And the list of non-solutions goes on; make them longer, add more bungees, increase the size of the hatch covers, add automobile-like consoles, upgrade the seats (out of which you cannot move) and so forth. One company is even offering trailers in a total admission that their product is really a boat (ship?) and not a kayak.

    The ideal fishing kayak is defined by a “sweet-spot” where the effects of all the attributes combine at a point of intersection that produces the best real-world experience. You have done a masterful job of relating this to the readers of this blog. Welcome aboard!

    -Michael

  5. Michael Chesloff

    Steve-

    I know you have a Torqeedo electric motor (the Travel 1003 I believe) and I can’t wait to hear from you as to performance (speed, distance, “ease of use”, etc.) on a W500. They are expensive so the standards are high.

    Thanks,
    Michael

  6. fish kayak

    FW,

    Without getting into an analysis of the psychological and/or commercial motivation behind an idiotic and sometimes absurd comment, we assume that the person posting it wouldn’t want to make a complete fool of themselves, even if they’re shielded by the anonymity of their username. This leads us to look for what may have caused this presumed misunderstanding, and we often find that we can fix the problem by bringing forward technical information that was too hard for that person to find on their own, due to laziness, stupidity etc.
    For example, we read a few comments about the W500 (quote) “It looks like it would be a barge to paddle because it’s so wide heavy…” 😀 This isn’t a joke! – people actually posted such nonsense on a couple kayak fishing forums!
    So we asked ourselves how could anyone say about a kayak that’s just 29″ wide and weighs only 60 lbs that it’s wide and heavy?… We concluded that the dimwits who posted such comments didn’t read the tech specs, and in fact many people don’t. But what made them reach the ridiculous conclusion that the W500 was wide and heavy? …
    We couldn’t know, of course, but we assumed that they watched the various videos showing how stable the boat is, and in their mind a boat’s stability is strongly associated with its width. This notion of “wide means stable and therefore stable means wide” prevented them from seeing that the kayak featuring in our demo videos was actually narrower than most fishing kayaks out there. Such cognitive fallacies are well documented. This cognitive error was likely followed by an unfounded conclusion based on the fact that excessively wide kayaks are also heavier.
    Basically, these people watched videos showing an extremely stable kayak, and that made them perceive it as being very wide and therefore very heavy too. Based on these false notions, it was easy for them to come to a conclusion that since the kayak was very wide and very heavy, it’s also hard to paddle, as barge kayaks indeed are.

    Following our analysis, we added a couple sentences in the first paragraph on the front page of Wavewalk’s website, where even lazy and ill-motivated visitors are likely to bump into them, and hopefully read them. We simply stated the fact that the W500 weighs just 60 lbs, and that it’s the easiest kayak to paddle.

    Ironically, this first paragraph increasingly appears like a collection of overstatements (I.E. hype), which irks some people who have a hard time looking at facts with open eyes, and relating to them with an open mind.

    But the W kayak being what it is and doing what it does, there’s no way around telling the truth about it. Eventually, a person with a clear mind can see and think for themselves. Like Steve said (quote): “Some of the videos are over the top but they don’t lie. The W500 can do everything that you “see” for yourself in the videos.”

    The question for us is how do you tell the truth about your product without sounding like you’re hyping it? This is not a trivial problem, and it’s far from being solved.

    Yoav

  7. PackerYaker

    I wonder how many of the supposedly stupid posts are from other kayak manufacturers and dealers simply trying to dampen competition.

    Also, some of these posts may be from other well-intended potential buyers who follow all of the new fishing kayak models that are regularly being introduced (most recently at the 2014 ICAST show in Orlando). The numerous extra features and accessories that keep showing up do reflect a great deal of creativity, and probably generate a good deal of interest. I wonder how many folks who look at these models with their wide array of gismos and add-ons, and then look at the Wavewalk, come to the mistaken conclusion that the W is just too plain simple, not realizing that this simplicity, with its light weight, roominess, stability and comfort, is what makes it the best fishing kayak. I recall a yaker I met on the water a couple of years ago referring to my W as a toy his little boy would float in his swimming pool, clearly implying it was not a serious fishing kayak (I think he may have had a few so I just paddled off).

    I guess you’re just going to have to add a few more gismos to your W, Yoav.

  8. fish kayak

    Thanks Gary,

    You’re right, and indeed some of our competitors use these vile tactics. Such people can be company employees, sales reps, dealers, store employees and ‘Pro Staff’, which are people who get compensated by various means in exchange of their active public support of a kayak brand.
    Certain barge-yak companies have developed these methods into a strategy, and they’ve managed to infest many online fishing forums, often in combination with ‘sponsoring’ them, which is a euphemism for paying the website’s owners for the right to spam the discussion forums ad nauseam.
    In one case the owner and administrator-moderator of a kayak fishing forum that specializes in a popular freshwater species is no other than the head of the ‘pro staff team’ of a kayak brand that knew better days 😀

    Most of the ‘excitement’ on those online discussion forums is fabricated, and generated by interested parties.

    Sensible and well intended people who look for information about fishing kayaks don’t need to participate in online discussions that reek of disingenuousness even to the most unsuspecting reader. They may glance at a few of those discussions before realizing how shallow and bogus they are, and move on.
    Many website owners and moderators ‘puff’ discussions and even start new ones (under alias) in order to attract visitors and impress kayak companies that advertise in such media. Some websites have developed these techniques into an art.
    These are not mere assumptions that I’m making – These are our conclusions from years of tracking and analyzing the content of such websites as well as statistical reports on visits from them.

    So next time you visit one of those online forums and you read posts and comments, do it with a massive grain of salt 😉

    There is nothing new or exciting about those ‘new’ accessories featuring on the barge-yaks, as there’s nothing impressive about the new class of ‘dreadnaught’ yaks except the fact that they weigh as much as their owners, and sometimes more…

    It sounds like that guy who called the W a “toy” was yet another one of those self appointed mavens talking without ever having tested one. If he did, he would have had something substantial to say about it, or at least something that makes some sense.

    Yoav

  9. Pete

    This is a master’s review. Great job!

    I’ve seen some of those uninformed and misleading comments mentioned here, and my impression was that the people who post them simply feel like saying something nasty, without much thought.
    Social media, including online fishing forums, provide countless opportunities for people to behave this way, and I think people who read online discussions and comments have gotten used to this low level stuff, and they don’t necessarily pay much attention to it.
    I don’t have any evidence to back this notion, but it just makes sense that most people would develop some sense of criticism after being exposed to such rubbish.

    –Pete

  10. baitshop boy

    I agree. This is what I call a professional review, and in a positive sense. The guy who wrote it knows what he’s talking about, and he really took the time to learn how to use this craft. Great review!

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