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Trends in Fishing Kayak Design

As the popularity of kayak fishing increases more kayak designers and manufacturers are drawn to offer their solutions to kayak fishermen. Interestingly, if one can judge from the solutions the main problem that needs addressing is the fishing kayaks’ poor stability.

Out of three recent, original monohull designs all three are explicitly designed to be stabler than regular fishing kayaks, and two out of the three represent experiments in combining canoe features into the kayak design – for the purpose of increasing overall stability.

The two canoe-like or canoe hybrids are different by the fact that one is a SOT and the other a SIK. Both are very wide, and are offered as solutions for flat water fishing. This could mean that either their manufacturers estimate the offshore kayak fishing market to be too small to be worth addressing, or their boats not to perform well enough in the surf. This brings up again the question of seaworthiness, and whether these designs are indeed stable, comfortable and and safe enough to be used for standup fishing.

The third new fishing kayak design is a monohull as well, but it departs from the conventional approach of trying to increase stability by making the hull wider. This design offers a mechanism enabling splitting the rear part of the kayak in two and pulling the ends sideways, thus creating a stabler platform for the fishermen to fish from. The obvious problem with this design is that once the fishing configuration is deployed the ‘kayak’ becomes nearly stationary since paddling it does not meet any standard of efficiency. This fishing kayak is not offered for offshore fishing either, which again implies that its manufacturers may have some concerns about its possible performance in the ocean.

In this context it is interesting to see that another manufacturer of fishing kayaks now offers outriggers to accompany their kayaks, which is yet another fact that shows stability to be a problem at the core of the kayak fishing concept.

Overall, the appearance of new designs and solutions that address the stability problem is a sign showing that some kayak designers and manufacturers are attentive to the real problems that kayak fisherman face. Whether any of the solutions offered are viable in the long run remains to be seen.

A Little Honesty About Kayak Fishing

A couple of days ago I visited the website of a rather known figure in the world of kayak fishing. The man who resides in Florida published a book on kayak fishing and produced instructional kayak fishing videos as well.

This is what he wrote on his website:

No matter who you are — or what physical condition you are in—-eventually, if you sit in your kayak long enough— you will eventually begin to experience back pain. It will creep up on you at first, but eventually, it will be noticeable enough to erode your enjoyment of the outing even if you are catching fish.”

Why was I surprised to read such an honest statement from a kayak fishing professional? Because kayak fishing pros are in many cases so passionate about this sport and are so keen to promote it that they tend to close an eye to the difficulties that most kayak fishermen face in practicing it.

In many cases kayak fishing pros would brush aside issues such as back pains, leg pain, leg numbness, wetness and other symptoms of discomfort resulting from poor ergonomic design because let’s face it: their livelihood depends on kayak fishing, and telling the full and sometime not so pleasant truth about this sport would be against their interest – whether they sell kayaks, rent them or offer outfitting, instruction or guide services.

In some cases kayak fishing pros would advise you to cushion your seat with some foam or other soft material such as a gel bag, or add foam under your knees – as if such means could provide more than a temporary and partial relief. Some of them are unaware of the real causes for kayaking and kayak fishing back pain, but it seems others simply chose to ignore these issues.

And why do we keep talking about the ergonomics of kayak fishing, back pain and other such painful issues? Simply because we think they are real and widespread problems, and kayak fishermen deserve to hear the whole truth about them. And last but not least, we happen to offer a solution to these problems – Read more on kayak fishing ergonomics »

Overcoming Windage Issues – Paddling and Tracking in Strong Wind

Once you get used to your Wavewalk Kayak you’ll find that you’re likely to be out paddling it and fishing from it on windy days, when other kayakers and kayak fishermen prefer to stay at home or simply can’t use they kayaks because of ‘windage’ problems.

Thanks to its exceptional, ‘catamaran’ tracking capabilities the W kayak has less windage issues than traditional SIK and SOT kayaks, including sea kayaks. In addition, your ability to move fore and aft along the saddle as well as lean sideways give you effective means to counter affect the wind.

  • Side Wind

You’ll be able to track well while a strong side wind is blowing once you’ve mastered the following things:
1. Position yourself in the middle of the cockpit (not in the back for this matter). In case of exceptionally strong side wind you can even position yourself a notch forward and by that let the stern ‘trail’ behind the bow. Generally speaking, you will find that your location along the saddle can help you in more than one way.
2. Lean into the wind, similarly to leaning into the turn – You can use the difference in the hulls’ height to act as a powerful ‘rudder’ that would help your W kayak track.
3. Apply the appropriate paddle stroke on each side of the kayak, that is use a weaker and regular style stroke on the side from which the wind is blowing, and a stronger, longer stroke on the lee side. By doing so you will compensate for the wind’s tendency to deviate your boat from its intended course.

  • Head Wind

Interestingly, much of the headwind passes between the W hulls, and eddies have a lesser effect on it than they have on monohull kayaks that have broader hulls.

You can paddle against a strong head wind in the Riding position (recommended) or one of the Kneeling positions.
The more you lean forward the more power you’ll be able to apply in your paddling.

The paddle itself might become a mini ‘sail’ when a strong wind is blowing, therefore it is advised to keep the paddle at a low angle above the boat, regardless of the direction from which the wind is blowing.

Read the full article about paddling and tracking in strong wind »

What Color and Form For My Fishing Kayak?

Twin hull fishing kayak bottom view

The color question keeps coming back and probably would forever.
If you’re just paddling you probably want a bright yellow kayak that will be the most visible to fast motorboats drivers.
If you’re hunting or bird watching you’d better choose a dark green or camouflaged kayak, for obvious reasons.

The answer becomes more complicated when it comes to fishing – From an underwater perspective the color of a surface object is a minimal issue. Flash and shine are more likely to cause a reaction among fish, as well as sudden motion and noise. Having said that, you can try and improve the odds:

Regardless of what colors various fish species are capable of discerning, what we know and can test for ourselves is that when you’re in the water you usually perceive the bottom to be dark, and when looking upward you’re actually looking at a source of light – whether it is strong of feeble, depending on circumstances.
In fact, nearly all fish have their back darker than their bellies, so that they would blend in with the bottom when looked upon from above, and blend in with the sky when looked upon from below.

So far, the answer seems to be ‘choose a fishing kayak that has a light bottom’, doesn’t it? -Well, not necessarily, because color (or brightness, actually) is only part of what fish can see and react to.
The other thing (besides motion) is the basic form of your kayak: Like all animals who fear predators, fish can instantly discern a pattern that looks like a predator and react to its presence automatically by either swimming away or hiding. There is no thought whatsoever involved in such pattern recognition process – It’s just a basic physiological reflex.

Your kayak’s contour on the bright sky background can easily fit into a ‘Predator’ pattern because the form of a traditional monohull kayak is basically one of a fish. In fact, one of the two basic monohull forms is called ‘Fish’, and the other is called ‘Swede’ and it is identical to the Fish form except for the fact that the kayaker is facing the other way…
So, it would make sense to try and ‘break’ this fish-scaring pattern by camouflaging the bottom of your kayak to make it look like something else, such as floating branches or flotsam.

From this aspect, the bottom of a Wavewalk kayak looks like two straight and parallel objects not alike a fish form. This is a somehow better start, and whether you choose a bright colored Wavewalk Kayak to blend with the bright sky background, or a dark Wavewalk Kayak to make its contour resemble even less to a predator fish, is up to you.