Fishing from a kayak. Anglers fish out of kayaks in saltwater and freshwater, but this outdoor activity is more popular in warmer regions than in cold ones, due to the fact that typically, kayaks offer the angler less comfort and protection from the elements than motorboats do, and this factor is more of a problem in cold weather and water. Most anglers still view kayak fishing as too hard and uncomfortable for them to practice, and they prefer to fish out of larger motorboats that are stabler and more comfortable than fishing kayaks typically are. Such fishing boats also offer a much longer range of travel than kayaks do.
The patented twin-hull W kayaks revolutionized kayak fishing in more than one way – It eliminated the back pain and leg numbness associated with fishing out of mono-hull kayaks that force the angler to fish while seated in the uncomfortable L position. This opened kayak fishing to middle aged and elderly anglers, as well as to people who suffer from back pain and back sensitivities, and other disabilities. The W kayak’s increased stability offers practically anyone the option to fish standing in full confidence, in real-world conditions, even if they’re not small, young, or physically fit. In addition, fishing out of a W kayak is more comfortable in the sense that the angler is better protected from the elements (wind, waves, spray, etc.) than they would be if they fished out of other types of kayaks. In ‘fishability’ terms, the new W kayak also outperforms other types of kayaks when storage is concerned, since it offers several times more storage space for the angler’s fishing tackle and other gear.
In sum, the W kayak offers to transform kayak fishing from an extreme sport or outdoor activity, to a pleasant and comfortable one – for everyone, and not just for the young and athletic angler.
According to this report the 2006 US market for canoes was a little over 100,000 units sold, at an average price of nearly $550 per unit. The market for kayaks was over 350,000 units sold at an average price lower than $500. The total 2006 market for canoes and kayaks was $233,000,000.
If I understand this report correctly the data take into account neither inflatable nor used canoes and kayaks, and they reflect a relatively stable market both in price and number of units sold in recent years. A rigid entry level kayak costs between $300 and $500 while a touring, whitewater or fishing kayak can cost over $1,000. It becomes clear from this report that entry level (a.k.a. ‘recreational’) kayaks constitute the bulk of the market in terms of units sold, since the average kayak price is within the price range of this category.
What else is it possible to deduct from this report? Obviously, entry level kayaks differ from traditional designs mainly by their length to width ratio (L/W, or L/B). They are shorter and wider than traditional kayaks, namely slower and stabler. This means that the overwhelming majority of U.S. paddlers are willing to sacrifice speed for stability, and that paddlers who practice the Eskimo Roll and put their trust in it as the main means of recovery are a rarity (by that I mean even less than a minority). Entry level is in fact the norm, and contrarily to what touring manufacturers used to believe paddlers stay at that level and don’t ‘progress’ to the traditional, narrow designs. Progress is therefore represented by the stable designs, while tradition is represented by the (you’ve probably guessed it already) traditional designs…
And last but not least, it doesn’t take statistical reports to see that kayak fishing is the most active and fastest growing market in paddle sports and activities. Most kayak manufacturers have noticed this trend and offer a wide variety of extra wide kayaks (up to 42″, that’s over one meter), because fishing requires more stability than any other kayak related application. In the same spirit, traditional paddling magazines and websites are increasingly preoccupied with kayak fishing and feature more advertisements for fishing kayaks than ever.
I guess many have asked themselves what made Wavewalk modify our kayak design in the 2008 models. The answer is a bit long: First, we wanted to do counter affect the rising cost of shipping, and cutting two inches from the spray deflector’s top resulted in a 10% reduction in the overall nominal volume of the standard package we ship to the customer. Second, we’ve noticed that some people preferred a more rigid cockpit rim, so we made it broader, thicker and more robust. Now they got what they wanted. Third, we wanted to help small children (5-6 year old) paddle without having to stand up, and lowering the spray deflector offers just that. Fourth, we wanted to make it even easier to step into the cockpit and out of it, and that’s really where one can say ‘the best gets better’. Fifth, we thought that a deep and narrow hull was a perfect place to drag a powerful and energetic fish into while it’s fighting to get free. Lowering the cockpit rim enables the W kayak fisherman to swiftly ‘drag and drop’ the fish out of the water and into a hull with minimal effort, and let the fish calm down a bit before being taken care of – without causing a mess on the deck or worse – in the fisherman’s lap. Sixth, we realized that although capsize and deep water re-entries are quite rare we’d better offer the paddler a more comfortable way back in, and again – a lower cockpit rim was the solution. Seventh, a lower spray deflector enables W paddlers to move the paddle faster from side to side whether they’re canoing or kayaking their W. Eighth, well, we felt we needed to show something new…
To compensate for the 2″ of protection lost we equipped all 2008 models with a preparation for a cockpit cover. This means that W paddlers can paddle the 2008 models in the surf or in fast rivers as well as in bad weather while being better protected than they were before.
My nickname in the pest control industry is “Gadget” since I am always looking for the latest, greatest thing or making improvements to what is already out there. My favorite part of the job is speaking to large audiences across the country and I always bring lots of “Show and Tell.” I am no different when it comes to my passion-fishing.
Long before kayaks hit the fishing world here in Florida, canoes ruled the shallows in many areas. When I started canoe fishing here in the 80’s, there were a number of folks doing it, but it wasn’t well publicized. Then we discovered outriggers for canoes and things started to change. I could stand up in my canoe and see the fish I was stalking. Plus, I could go into water that was too shallow for a motor or into zones that were designated “no motor zones” like the ones near Kennedy Space Center. I love my canoe, but I wanted something I could just toss in the back of the truck and go. So we started shopping for kayaks.
Photo: Jim Green
We looked at sit inside, sit on top, rudder, no rudder, big, small, skinny, HEAVY. My wife, Kate, is small and wanted something small and light. I am not small. I am 6’3″, 245 lbs. and have size 15 feet. We started with two small sit insides. I enjoyed fishing from them-even won a fully loaded 13′ sit on top kayak catching a winning flounder during my club’s tournament-but I missed being able to fish standing up. My quest for a stand up kayak began. Then one day, surfing the web, I found a video clip of a guy jumping up and down in a kayak. I knew that I had found my dreamboat-The W.
I am not small. I am 6’3″, 245 lbs. and have size 15 feet.
The W has ruined me for other kayaks. My wife will tell you that the fleet (did I mention we now have 5 kayaks?) stays on the porch and the W goes fishing every Saturday morning. I do need to mention that there is a learning curve similar to learning to ride a bike when it comes to handling and fishing the W. I was discouraged the first couple of outings-but then I got the feel of it. Now I use it exclusively, even in tournaments.
When other yakkers stay home because of high winds, I’m out paddling around.
The W allows me to fish virtually all the time. When other yakkers stay home because of high winds, I’m out paddling around. In the W, your lower half is protected from the wind and the spray shield keeps water off you as well. A set of Frog Togs ensures that you stay dry and comfortable all day. I’ve spent as much as 5 solid hours in the W in cool weather and lots of wind. Padding is easier and requires less effort than in a regular kayak. I use a long stroke at a slower pace and have no trouble keeping up with longer kayaks that are using double the amount of short strokes. The W’s height allows that and helps me. Also, I “push” the stroke rather than “pull” it. The high hand and arm push the paddle through the water with the lower hand only pulling enough for guidance. This allows you to paddle longer because it’s less tiring.
The W also handles waves much better and far drier than other small boats and kayaks. We have a number of large yachts on the Intercoastal that kick up huge waves. Other kayaks and small skiffs get spun around or tossed badly. The W rides it like my CraigCat-up and down without a problem. Last week I found it also slips up and down over the backs of very large and too curious manatees. The boat tipped to one side, but remained upright and we both went home with a story of the one that got away.
Fishing is a sport of tactical knowledge and a feel for the area you are fishing. I own hundreds of rods and reels and have designed a few kayak/canoe rods. I also test new rods and reels for a number of companies before they go onto the general market. The more you fish, the more specialized your gear gets. The most important thing is to understand the area you are trying to fish. I envision the travel patterns the fish use to get from place to place. I think about where they can ambush a meal with the least effort or how the tidal patterns affect where they rest and feed. I have to understand how the light hits the water and how I might be exposed or hidden by it. The W allows me to move into their house and position myself to the best advantage. I wish I could come up with a way to describe the feel of the W. Sitting down, it’s like riding. Standing up-well, until I figure some way to put floats on my size 15 feet and walk on water, standing up in the W is the next best thing.
I would venture to say the W offers improved casting with any gear. From the riding position, I get more power with my casting and spinning because I can put my whole body into the cast and use my legs. The solid feel of the boat gives you a great sense of security. Netting fish is also easier because you can bring the net handle up and across the noodles and just hold in until you net the fish alongside. This allows you to compose yourself and arrange things to remove the hook without tangling your gear or hurting the fish. WARNING: It is very important to fill the handle of your net with spray foam. This is so that when manatees and sundry aquatic creatures borrow your net, you can get it back. I know from personal experience these critters are very inconsiderate and will leave it on the bottom where you can’t find it. I would venture to say the W offers improved casting with any gear. It’s a great exploration kayak and there’s a great sense of adventure for the user.
My favorite scouting position in the W is standing up. I can spot fish and then move in stealth mode with a push pole or paddle blade. There is a serious advantage to being able to stand and see over grass or oyster beds. Being able to peak over cover is a big deal. Sometimes, like when I was working my way along the Ocklawaha River, I was moving through snag (and gator) infested waters with logs, bed pads and deep, dark places you might not want to get into. The W handled that type of paddling better than our other craft. You could stand quick to see ahead, duck and move around things. It’s a great exploration kayak and there’s a great sense of adventure for the user. No craft is perfect for all things, but sometimes I have so much fun with the boat, I forget to fish.
A kayak is not a bass boat, bay boat, or a flats boat when it comes to hauling equipment. While a kayak can fill most boating roles, space is limited– so serious thought is needed as to what to carry. You outfit your boat according to the needs you have in your own fishing area. My fishing time is split between saltwater and freshwater in Florida. The gear is similar, except for the tackle changes normally associated between the two types of fishing.
Safety gear is first. You need to be safe in the water and there are some things that are mandatory and might be required by law. A PFD or personal floatation device is very important and should be worn at all times while in the kayak. A whistle is required as a signaling device and should be carried on board. Hat and sunglasses add protection and comfort from the sun. Proper clothing, either rain suit or sun protection, needs to be accessible for when the need arises. Fishing gloves protect the hands from sunburn and can aid in the landing of fish. Sun block should be worn at all times to protect the skin. I prefer at least SPF 30 or higher. Foot wear needs to be nonskid and of a type that can be worn in the water. Here in Florida, shoes with a sturdy sole help prevent cuts and slashes from oyster beds and shells. I also carry a sponge or towel to wipe my hands after a fish, as well as to soak up any water I get into the boat.
You need some way to secure your kayak while still fishing. An anchor or stake out pole is ideal for this. My preference is to use a small folding anchor on an anchor trolley rigged to the side of the kayak. If the water is shallow enough, in the W you can simply change your position on the seat to pin the hulls to the bottom–a great method for stop and go style flats fishing. In deeper water, a drift sock or small bucket can be used to slow down your drift. In addition to securing the kayak at times, you’ll also need a place to keep the paddle out of the way. You can either place it across the cockpit, resting on the cockpit noodles or on paddle hooks (as seen on the W website.)
Fishing tackle needs a place to be kept out of the way until needed. A fishing vest with multiple pockets is fine for small terminal tackle and packages of plastic baits. It also gives you a place to carry a small camera, line clippers, dehookers, and other small fishing tools. I use small gear reels or lanyards to keep the gear close at hand but out of the way while fishing. Larger lures in tackle packs and other tools can be placed in a small plastic trashcan and slid under the deck on whichever side is most convenient. A net is handy and a small one can be kept under the front deck opposite the side with the trash can. Another great tool for landing and controlling fishing at the boat is a pair of fish grabbers.
I keep drinks and snacks in a small soft cooler behind me in one of the hull spaces. If fish are to be kept for dinner, they can be stored in a cooler bag in a hull space as well.
Rods and reels are placed in the flush mount holders, if the W model you have is equipped with them. My F2 has two holders, while my standard W boat has a three-tube crate rig mounted on the deck behind me. If I need extra rods, I use multi-piece pack rods stored below the decks. Some folks like to troll while paddling and the new Ram rod holders are ideal for this purpose. Remember that, even though space is limited compared to a powerboat, there is more than enough room for a day of fishing in a kayak. It just takes a bit of thought and planning.
Knot tying is an essential fishing skill and there are entire books written about fishing knots. I am going to concentrate here on two lesser-known knots that I use constantly in saltwater, as well as freshwater fishing.
1. Surgeons Knot
I use this for attaching a leader to my main line. It works for both mono and the new super lines. For best results when using a super line (such as Fireline, Power Pro, Spiderwire, etc.), double the line before tying in the leader. This will give the connection more bite and it will hold much better. I normally use 10lb to 30lb leaders (mono or fluorocarbon) and tie to either 8 to 20 lb mono or 8 to 30lb super line. With a properly tied leader, you can fish with less connection hardware such as clips or swivels. It creates a connection point to the fish that is tougher to break than the main line and, in some cases, is less visible to the fish, and is a great handle when landing the fish. I depend on this connection and it has not failed.
1. Lay the two lines side by side.
2. Tie an overhand knot pulling the leader line (green) through the loop.
3. Make three more passes for a total of four
4. Wet the knot and pull it tight.
5. Trim the tag ends.
Photos: Kate McGovern
2. Canoe Man’s Knot
This knot is credited to the late Merrill Chandler, known for his pioneering efforts saltwater canoe fishing in Florida. It is a loop knot for connecting a hook, lure, or jig to the leader. Loop knots allow the bait or lure to move more freely in the water column making them more attractive to fish. This one is super easy and does not use up long lengths of leader each time it is retied. I use this knot as my leader to lure connection most of the time and, as with the Surgeons Knot, it has never failed me when properly tied.
Both knots should be wet before being pulled snug. This allows the knot to seat better and be more secure. It also protects the line from heat friction damage during tightening. This is especially important when using fluorocarbon leader material.
The pictures show how to tie the knots. Practice makes perfect and these two knots are well worth the time and effort. Master them and they will be simple and effective additions to your fishing knot arsenal.
1. Put the leader through the eye of the lure about three inches.
2. Form two backwards loops toward the lure in the leader.
3. Push the second loop through the first.
4. Put the tag end from the lure through the loop that passed through the first loop.
5. Wet the knot tighten while holding the tag end this allows the loop to be sized