kayak outfitting

Outfitting kayaks is making them more suitable for a particular application, or use. For example, rigging (outfitting) a kayak for fishing typically involves adding rod holders, paddle holders and fishing electronics to it.
Outfitting a kayak can be a one-time project, or an ongoing process that evolves as the kayak owner’s learns more and discovers new and better ways to improve they kayak’s performance, as well as better suit their personal needs and liking.
Kayaks an be outfitted with special seats, motors, outriggers (stabilizers), fish finders, downriggers, anchor trolleys, sails, and more…

More kayak outfitting and rigging information »

What Color and Form For My Fishing Kayak?

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 W 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 W Kayak to blend with the bright sky background or a dark W Kayak to make its contour resemble even less to a predator fish is up to you.

Getting Trapped in a Kayak

Kayakers call this type of accident ‘Entrapment’ (which in regular English is a juridical term…)
However, in the world of kayaking entrapment is described as a situation where the paddler’s lower body, or a part of it (E.G. leg, foot) is caught inside the hull while the kayaker is trying to retrieve it from there during a ‘wet exit’, that is while attempting to leave his or her kayak and swim.
Imagine yourself in turbulent water, your kayak overturned, you’ve been ‘pumped out’ of it (by gravity) or you’re just trying to perform a ‘wet exit’ – and you’re ‘entrapped’.
It’s not merely a stupid situation – it’s actually a very dangerous one.

How can such thing happen?
It’s a fact: Whitewater, sea and surf kayakers who paddle monohull sit-in kayaks (SIK) attach themselves to their boats with a watertight accessory called ‘spray skirt’. This garment is made from strong fabric, usually Neoprene reinforced with  rubber, and it’s tightly secured both to the kayak as well as to the paddler’s body by various mechanical means in order to prevent water from leaking in, or the skirt coming out of its place. Being well secured is especially important during a recovery maneuver that such SIK kayakers perform called ‘Eskimo Roll’ – when their kayak is upside down.

As in other outdoor sports the rule of thumb in kayaking is ‘Stuff Happens’. Since kayaking accidents are by definition events characterized by the reduced control the kayaker has over what’s going on, it can happen that SIK kayakers remain attached to their kayaks against their will, I.E. they are ‘entrapped’ inside to some degree.
Such situations are particularly hazardous if the accident occurs in turbulent water (E.G. big surf) and ‘rock gardens’ (beaches with underwater rocks), which is often the case.

Why am I talking about this?
W Kayaks are not equipped with such spray skirts, and W kayakers don’t perform Eskimo Rolls, and so far no one has ever reported any W Kayak accident involving any degree of ‘entrapment’.
Nevertheless, I feel it’s important to explain this issue and discuss it because it highlights the necessity for accelerating the paradigm shift in paddlesports safety: Most paddlers today wouldn’t even consider using kayaks equipped with spray skirts anymore, and they have chosen to paddle stabler kayaks rather than ones requiring paddlers to have a ‘Bomb Proof Eskimo Roll’ (I.E. 100% reliable under all circumstances).  In other words, people have generally voted against those sit-in monohull kayaks (SIK) that demand a high level of expertise in this overrated recovery maneuver that too few people can actually depend on.  The problem is that too many kayakers out there still use that type of spray skirt without possessing a ‘Bomb Proof Eskimo Roll’, and by that are exposing themselves to the danger of being ‘entrapped’ in their kayaks.

Electric Trolling Motor For Your W Kayak

Sometime you feel like trolling – just dragging your fishing lines in the water along a known or new course, and you don’t feel like doing it paddling.
In such case it’s really easy to outfit your W kayak with an electric trolling motor. If you choose a basic model it could cost less than $100, with the deep cycle marine battery and charger you could reach $250.

A weaker motor would drain your battery more slowly. Make sure the battery you’re planning to buy fits at the bottom of the hull, where it would not destabilize your W kayak.

Attaching the motor to your W kayak is quite easy:
You can make a transom style preparation for a mount from a simple wooden board and four bolts, as shown in this illustration. Just drill, attach the board and fix the motor to it using the standard transom mount that comes with your motor.

trolling motor preparation

NEW: read more about motorizing fishing kayaks >>

Outriggers for W300 Kayaks

Some activities like sailing and fast motorized boating require extra stability.
Products called ‘kayak sail’ are of little practical use because you can’t use them to go upwind, which is your main reason for using a sail in the first place.
Therefore, if you’re thinking about W kayak sailing you’d need a canoe or dinghy sailing rig that can take you upwind and is powerful enough to make sailing fun. Because it’s powerful, such rig requires a stable boat, and that’s where the outrigger/s solution can be applied.

Similarly, you can outfit your W kayak with a small electric motor, in which case it would not necessarily require extra stability.
However, if you’re planning to motorize your W kayak with a powerful gas engine (1.5 horsepower and up) you’d need to consider increasing your boat’s stability because when going at high speed it would become unstable.

Generally speaking, adding a pair of outriggers provides more stability, but a single outrigger can offer sufficient stability while being more practical in other ways.
The first problem with having an outrigger on each side of the boat is that in certain cases it limits the passengers’ access to and from the cockpit, for example when docking.
The second problem is that if you’re fishing an outrigger can come in the way of your fishing lines, and in case you have outriggers on both sides your freedom to cast all around the boat will be limited.
For these reasons we recommend using a single, large size outrigger rather than two small ones.
Such outrigger should be as long as possible so as to add minimal drag. It should also be voluminous enough to provide the buoyancy your W kayak needs to be stable even in extreme cases. Being heavy enough and placed away from the main hull/s will make it useful when the boat leans to the other side. The outrigger’s hull should not be as high as the hull in order to prevent the boat from leaning on its side.
The distance between the outrigger and the boat should allow you to paddle comfortably – we recommend at least 4 feet (120 cm).
This illustration represents a good single outrigger solution:

W kayak with single outrigger

Yoav