A fishing kayak is a small vessel designed and outfitted to be used typically by one angler for recreational fishing. In most cases, the angler propels their kayak with a dual blade paddle (kayak paddle), and in their cases, the kayak is motorized, typically with an electric (trolling) motor powered by a battery carried on board. Most fishing kayaks are inadequate for fishing due to several reasons, including insufficient stability, poor ergonomics (lack of basic comfort), wetness, and lack of good storage space. Some bigger fishing kayak models are too wide, heavy and slow for an average angler to paddle. Such kayaks are commonly known as ‘barges’. Their large size also makes them too hard to car top, and they often require to be transported by trailer, which defies the purpose of kayak fishing. The only kayak that’s stable, comfortable and dry enough for an average person to fish from is the W kayak. It is also the only kayak offering adequate storage, as well as easy entrance into the cockpit and easy exit from it.
“Due Diligence” is a term you learn in business school. It’s used in the context of public accountants who must investigate a company’s situation seriously and responsibly before issuing a report on its situation.
In the world of kayaking and kayak fishing it would mean testing a new kayak with an open mind and a will to learn it thoroughly, while allocating sufficient time for the job. It means to distance oneself from possible preconceived ideas about the boat, its capabilities and the proper way to use it, and report one’s findings fairly and accurately.
On some occasions I’ve seen some professional paddlers and reporters express themselves in a way that showed overconfidence in their ability to learn, judge and evaluate the W kayak instantly or within a very short time – too short for due diligence.
The following pictures show Topher Reynolds (c), who took part in a series of tests for Paddler Magazine (see: Testing The W Kayak by paddling guru Ed Wesley). The reason I like these pictures is because they show Topher successfully performing tests that I’m incapable to perform myself, and that’s what I’d call a good example of due diligence.
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.
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.