fishing kayaks

Fishing kayaks are designed primarily to fish from. Such kayaks are rigged (outfitted) for fishing, usually by the anglers that own them.
A fishing kayak is required to offer better stability than other kayaks do.
The overall performance of a kayak in fishing terms is often called ‘fishability’.
Comfort (ergonomics) is as important as stability, since anglers spend long hours in their kayak during their fishing trips.
Storage space is important as well, since typically, kayak anglers carry a lot of fishing gear on board.

Most fishing kayaks are too wide and heavy to offer easy paddling, and the stability they offer leaves much to be desired. Like most kayaks, they’ve become synonym to back pain and other problems, due to the poor level of ergonomics they offer, which is why most anglers would still refuse to fish out of a kayak. Storage wise, an average angler isn’t likely to appreciate such kayaks.

The cockpit area is the part of the fishing kayak that’s most important to its user, since this is where they sit, paddle, and fish from.
Sit-in kayaks (SIK) feature a semi-closed space in their middles section that can be described as a cockpit, while sit-on-top kayaks and ‘hybrid’ kayaks do not have a real cockpit, and their users sit in the middle section of the kayak’s ‘deck’, which is essentially the top side of its hull.
These configurations offer the angler little room and even less comfort in handling their gear. Anglers who fish out of such kayaks have to land fish practically in their lap, which is neither practical nor comfortable. Typically, the cockpit of such kayaks is cluttered with accessories and gear, and offers too little fishability to appeal to a serious angler.
In comparison, W kayaks have a full-featured cockpit offering ample room for the user and their gear, and all the range of motion they need. An angler who lands fish in their W kayak can easily let the fish they caught at the bottom of their kayak’s deep hulls, and then handle them in full comfort and and safety.
Anglers who fish out of Wavewalk fishing kayaks consider this type of kayak to be the only one that an average, reasonable person can fish out of. Some of them who have owned several types of small boats consider this kayak to be the world’s best personal fishing boat.

Wheel for Fishing Kayak Long Distance Transportation

Dennis Vircks is a saltwater kayak fisherman from California who wrote a review on his Wavewalk fishing kayak. Dennis rigged his W kayak with a simple and effective means for long distance carrying:

Fishing kayak with wheel on deck

-“I have to take the Wavewalk over long stretches of sandy beaches in order to launch and retrieve.

Even when empty this is a chore.

Here is my solution: One large low inflation tire placed between the stern hulls.

Wheel for fishing kayak

I chose a Wheeleeze WZ1-30UB.

The axel is a ¾ inch aluminum cylinder 29 inches long.
Holes were drilled to accommodate two hitch pin clips.

Here is how I attach it:

Take about nine feet of the anchor line (it’s already there so you might as well use it).
Make a double loop around the end of one axel.

Run the line through the provided “EYE”.fishing kayak wheel
Run the line across the hull through the other provided “EYE” make a double wrap around the other end of the axel and tie off to the cleat, part of the additional kayak wheel
Lift the craft and bounce it to get the slack out of the line and secure the
anchor end to the cleat. fishing kayak whell

Here is the good part:

Prior to launch, remove one of the hitch pin clips and the wheel from the axel.

Insert the keeper end of the axel through a bow (or stern) caring strap.Fishing kayak wheel

Slide the wheel  back on to the axel, run the axel  through the other caring strap and replace the kayak wheel

You are good to go even into Newport Harbor Channel.

-Dennis Vircks”fishing kayak wheel

Florida Flats’ Shallow Water Kayak Fishing – New Movie

Jeff McGovern’s reports from Florida:
-“I shot quite a bit today in just a short time.  The fishing was off the chain, in other words, outstanding.  I had only a few hours but was able to make the most of it. Catching fish with topwater lures is nothing but loads of fun – The W kayak allowed me to cast like a deck gun and really get some distance.”

And here is the movie that Jeff shot:

A Floridian Kayak Fisherman’s Paddling Trip on the Charles River, Massachusetts

Those of you who are familiar with this blog already know Jeff McGovern is an expert kayak fisherman from Northeastern Florida, and a Wavewalk Kayak fan who has contributed great kayak fishing articles and reviews, as well as pictures and movies to our website.

When Jeff told me he was coming to Boston on a business trip it was clear we had to meet and go paddling together, rain or shine. Well, it so happened that it rained abundantly thanks to ‘hurricane’ Kyle, but that didn’t deter us, and we grabbed a couple of W kayaks and headed to my favorite spot – the Charles River Reservation.

Well, I won’t tell you any fish tales, and this alligator we’ve encountered on the bank is not a real one. It’s an amazingly realistic sculpture that a local resident put there for everyone to enjoy:

Alligator in the Charles River Reservation

Jeff had read about Treehouse Island in the W kayak review that Adam Bolonsky’s wrote on Wavelength Magazine, back in 2005, and he wanted to visit the place, so we paddled there under torrential rain.

We got to Treehouse Island and landed, and discovered the place was undergoing some renovation, and was a bit of a mess.  The third floor of the tree house had collapsed, and its second floor was pretty much gone too, so we couldn’t climb up and watch the Charles River scenery, unfortunately.

Kayak fisherman in Treehouse Island

While we were there the rainstorm had gradually weakened, and we continued our paddling trip in clement weather…

Jeff with our two fishing kayaks

Jeff getting ready to launch

Jeff paddling his fishing kayak out of Treehouse Island

After the trip Jeff told everyone that he had so much fun just paddling the W kayak although it had been the first time in his life to be in a boat without taking with him any fishing gear…

Kayak Fly Fisherman’s Report From Cape Cod

Earlier this year, Craig Masterman, a W kayak saltwater fly fisherman from Massachusetts contributed some innovative rigging ideas in his fishing kayak review. Craig recently emailed me the following report from Cape Cod:

-“The fishing has been only fair along much of Cape Cod this season.  That seems to be the consensus of many anglers I have talked to.  There are fish around, but you have to work hard for them.  I have taken the W out in Pleasant Bay twice and on the Brewster flats in Cape Cod bay once, and I caught fish on each outing with the fly rod.  The rigging for the rod and paddle worked out really well. I did add a small cleat on one end of the boat right over the W logo to tie off the anchor line as I had planned.  The first trip on Pleasant Bay found me paddling up onto a beautiful white sand shallow flat next to a deeper trough of water on a falling tide.  I was able to stand and slowly pole/paddle along the edge and sight cast to visible stripers edging onto the flat to feed.  I hooked a 26 inch fat fish on the third cast!  Just perfect!  …I love the boat and will keep you updated as I tweek the rigging over time. Craig”

Thanks Craig, we look forward to more reports, rigging ideas and pictures!


Are Sit-on-Top (SOT) Fishing Kayaks Safe For Offshore Fishing?

A kayak fisherman recently posted his personal offshore capsize report on a Connecticut fishing blog. It was detailed and well written, and I copied some paragraphs from it that I found particularly interesting.

In his report the writer exposed the brand name and model of his fishing kayak, a top-of-the-line, 34″ wide sit-on-top, but I replaced these explicit names by the phrase “SOT fishing kayak” because the problem described is not necessarily typical to that particular brand or model – It is true for all SOT kayaks.

The writer took care of adding his advice to the detailed facts he described in his own words:

· I noticed waves splashing over my bow and around my FWD hatch, then draining into the wet well. Wave frequency was every 4 seconds, or so.
· I didn’t hear any unusual sounds, but the wind was blowing and my hood was up.
· I wasn’t worried because my [SOT fishing kayak] had seen much rougher seas and wind.

· Shortly after… I noticed that my Kayak wanted to tilt to the left twice
· This had never happened before.
· I wasn’t sure why it did this but I decided to make a direct course to the closest part of the island (15º more to the left)
· Now 30 ºoff the seas, the first small wave that hit me capsizing my Kayak.
· I remember saying to my self, “This can’t be happening, my yak is 34” wide…
· When I got back to the surface (Thank you PFD) I said to myself “What is the next step?” I turned my yak over. This was the easiest part of this self-rescue.
· After righting my Kayak I went to clime back into the cockpit (I snorkel often from my YAK) and noticed the draft was low
· Looking into the cockpit I noticed the water level in the wet well was at the bottom of the upper decal (in-front of the drive). This is about an inch higher than when I am sitting in the YAK. (estimated 35-40 gallons of water.
· At this point I realized that I was not going to be able to de-water with the small sponge I had onboard.
· (Dude has done this for a long time)
· At this point I started swimming (towing my [SOT fishing kayak]) to the Island that I was heading for. (58º water temp). Current was flowing out carrying me to the left.
· I remember that from Boy Scouts!
· As I swam I noticed that I was being set to the left, at one point I remember reminding my self to stay focused on my swimming as not to miss the island.”

After reading the entire report, the first question that comes to mind is -“How can water get inside a sealed SOT kayak hull?”

The answer is that SOT fishing kayaks have a number of typical weaknesses:

1. Parting Line:    All sit-on-top kayaks are rotationally molded. This means that molds used for molding such kayaks have a top part and a bottom part, which have to be perfectly adjusted to each other every time before the mold is put in the oven. Less than perfect fit can result in a kayak with a hull that’s weak along the line where its top and bottom parts meet, which is called the Parting Line.  In some cases a poor fit in the mold can result in tiny holes along the parting line. Parting line weakness and holes are not easy to discover. This is particularly dangerous because a SOT’s parting line is close to its waterline, and often submerged in water.

2. Scupper Holes:  SOT kayaks have scupper holes molded into their hulls. Because of the geometry of the SOT hull and problems of heat distribution during the rotational molding process, it’s difficult to achieve optimal wall thickness in the scupper holes’ area. This results in scupper holes that typically have thinner walls than other parts of the hull. Strain put on the scupper holes can cause cracks along the parting line within them, and result in water leaking into the hull. Such cracks in the scupper holes can appear after using them as stakeout pole points, attachment points for wheeled carts, through inadequate storage, and in some cases just as a result of normal use.

3. Wear and Tear:   SOT kayaks, like other kayaks, can develop wear-and-tear holes in their hulls in the course of normal usage. Such holes can be caused by cracks, cuts, deep scratches and punctures, but they are particularly dangerous when they occur in this type of kayak because its closed hull makes it difficult to detect them, whether on water or on shore.

4. Deck Gear:   All fishing kayaks are outfitted with deck gear, especially rod holders. This requires drilling holes in the hull, and attaching the gear with either bolts or rivets. Any hole in a Polyethylene hull presents a potential problem because it’s hard to seal effectively. Over time bolts can become loose and make the holes lose their water tightness. This problem is particularly dangerous in SOT kayaks for two reasons: One is because their decks are so close to the waterline, and the second being the fact that the closed hull makes it harder to detect leaks.

Unlike kayaking, kayak fishing is more of a stationary sport. This is an important fact because when you’re paddling a kayak that’s partially filled with water it handles differently from a dry one, but the difference is hardly perceptible when you’re not paddling. That is to say that the chances of you detecting a leak in a SOT hull while you’re fishing from it are smaller than if you paddled it, or if you fished from another kayak that does not feature a closed hull.

Read more about ocean kayak fishing >