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Stand Up Kayak Fishing in Full Confidence

Today I watched a video showing a young, athletic looking, rather short guy demonstrating fly-fishing standing in a wide, canoe-style kayak.
Although the water was perfectly still he performed casting and other fishing maneuvers while standing rather awkwardly: His feet were too far apart to offer an optimal basis, and his movements seemed too slow, not energetic and not at all spontaneous. The way he paddled was awkward too – he looked as if he was making an effort to keep his balance and repeatedly about to lose it.
He was obviously not feeling fully confident fishing standing in that boat, and I kept thinking that he had to be extra careful because had he lost his balance he would have had to swim, and possibly even deal with an overturned boat and some fishing tackle lost.
There was no way for him to land back in his seat in case something happened that would make him lose his balance. The seat was too low and the boat too unstable to offer a solution to any “What If” scenario, and everybody knows (or should know) that stuff happens when you’re out there fishing, and you should be prepared to deal with the unexpected or else risk some unpleasant consequences.
In this sense the kayak featuring on that video was less stable, less comfortable and less safe than a wide fishing canoe that offers a higher seat as something to fall back on, literally.
However, this lackluster demo movie shows that stand up kayak fishing is no longer viewed as impossibility or as an unnecessary requirement, but it’s becoming a problem that kayak fishermen expect manufacturers to solve, which is good news for Wavewalk since we already solved it completely:

Tandem Kayak Fishing vs. Tandem Paddling

You can go paddling in tandem in your W Kayak, and by tandem we mean two adults, providing none of you is a big person (see Wavewalk website for details). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can go fishing in tandem, and again, by tandem we mean two adults onboard.
Although it may be possible we would hesitate to recommend it for the following reasons:

First, paddling requires less personal workspace than fishing does, especially if one paddler or both use single blade (canoe) paddles, which are shorter than double blade ones.

Second, paddling is a regular and repetitive action with little or no surprises. Even if you paddle in moving water (E.G. river, surf) you can assign strict roles to each of the paddlers, and by doing so increase your efficiency and minimize unpleasant surprises.
In comparison, kayak fishing can turn chaotic instantly if one of the crew needs to fight a big or strong fish. It’s important to remember that when two persons are onboard the W Kayak is less stable than when only one person is.

Third, fishing involves the use of hooks and other sharp objects. If both fishermen are experienced the risk is minimal, but if they are novices there is a risk that someone might be accidentally injured.

Fourth, fishing sometime requires a lot of additional gear, and with a second adult fisherman onboard the storage space in the W Kayak becomes considerably smaller.

As for fishing in a tandem composed of one adult and one child, it is a very rewarding experience that many W Kayak owners enjoy on a regular basis.

Kayaking Back Pain and Leg Numbness (Part 2)

Again, according to Isaac Newton’s Third Law whenever a body exerts a force on another body, the latter exerts a force equal magnitude and opposite direction on the former.

This also means that when your torso’s entire weight is combined with the weight of your thighs, and together this weight pushes down against your seat, your seat pushes back up with an equal force on your posterior and lower back.
One more, instead of having your powerful legs support your body weight, you find yourself in a position where you have to support most of your legs’ weight with a part of your body that already supports your torso’s weight.
This vertical pressure is exerted during the whole time you’re seated in the traditional kayaking position. Furthermore, it is combined with the horizontal pressure that your legs exert on your lower back (see part 1), thus enhancing the ergonomic problem in your lower back.
No wonder cushioned seats and various ‘lumbar support’ solutions don’t change much.

Traditional kayaking position

Kayaking Back Pain and Leg Numbness (Part 1)

First, some basic mechanics:
According to Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Action and Reaction, whenever a body exerts a force on another body, the latter exerts a force of equal magnitude and opposite direction on the former.

In other words, when your legs push your feet against your kayak’s foot braces (or footrests) they also push your lower back against your seat – and as a result the seat pushes back against your lower back with an equal force.
Your legs have the most powerful muscles in your body, and they constantly generate this force from the moment you sit in your kayak until you get out of it.
The L kayaking position deprives your legs from their natural role, and together with the seat and footrests turn them into a source of ergonomic problems for your back.
All that unnatural pressure is bad for your legs as well, and this is why you suffer from leg numbness, poor circulation and sometime pain and even chronic injuries.

The traditional kayaking position

Following Jeff’s Fishing Trip

Today Jeff emailed me this short addendum to his fishing report from yesterday:

“I wanted to mention these two things. First not having really to lift much of anything is great. From the time I put my W into my pickup truck until I arrive home I only lift it to put it away. At the launching site in and out it’s only a pull out, lower, and drag the water (one trip by the way with all gear) then reverse when I’m done. No strain at all.
The other thing is the saddle positions you can get. I found that by bending all the way forward while seated you can stretch out the back issues and take off a bunch of strain. Nothing else allows a position like that except maybe riding on a horse, and I would guess loading a horse in my Ford Ranger would negate any gains from the position. Besides the W doesn’t eat much and you don’t have to clean it’s stall.
I had to mention this stuff because today is the best my back has felt in weeks. Maybe it’s the W maybe not.”

Why do I think this is important? It’s because you can’t overestimate good ergonomics since it is critical to the well being of any paddler and kayak fisherman, and because unlike stability and mobility it’s hard to demonstrate in a video or discuss in an article.