Tag Archive: push pole

Flats boat or bass boat, or something else?

“My father is retired, and he owns a sixty thousand dollar bass boat that he takes out maybe twice a year, but he fishes out of his Wavewalk nearly every day.”
-Clint Harlan, Missouri

Different boats with many similarities

Bass boats and flats boats have a lot in common, and they also differ from each other in some details.
Depending on their size and the speed required from them, these two families of small to medium size motorboats are propelled by one or more outboard gas engines, and they are relatively wide for their overall size.
The decks of both types of fishing boats are generally flat, and they don’t feature a cabin. Both types of boats feature a special casting area in the front of their deck, where one and sometimes two anglers can sit or stand, and cast comfortably.
Both bass boats and flats boats are stable, and their hulls are designed to have a shallow draft, which is why they are generally more flat than the deeper hulls of boats designed to travel offshore, in rough seas.
All these boats are comfortable to travel in and fish from, and the more expensive ones offer a plethora of amenities that make traveling and fishing easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable for their crew.

Another noticeable difference between flats boats and bass boats is color – Flats boats tend to come in light colors, predominantly white, and bass boats tend to have a dark hull, with dark blue being their more popular color.

Many people who own a flats boat use it inland, in freshwater, as a bass boat, but it seems that the opposite is less commonly practiced.

Flats boats are skiffs designed primarily for saltwater, and in general, their makers strive to enable them to go in more ‘skinny’ water, namely very shallow water. They are named ‘flats boats’ after the wide stretches of flat, shallow water in coastal areas in the southern regions of the United States.

How shallow can you go?

Fishing in shallow water is the raison d’être of flats boats, skiffs, etc. This is where fishers of all disciplines, from reel and fly fishing to net casting strive to get those big redfish, snook, seatrout, snapper, tarpon and many other species that live typically in those rich fisheries.

When push comes to shove, it’s the depth of the propeller that determines how shallow the water you can go in can be, and not just the number of inches that the hull drafts.

Unless a boat is outfitted with a special outboard motor called ‘mud motor’, the effective depth where you can drive it is about one foot of water, or more. This is because even a small propeller is about 8 inches in diameter, and it rotates at least an inch below the anti ventilation plate (often referred to as anti cavitation plate), which itself is required to be immersed in one to two inches of water below the hull’s lowest point (typically, its keel). And naturally, you need some good clearance between the propeller and the bottom of the body of water in which you’re navigating, or else…
Needless to say that the water you drive in has to be free of seaweed and other types of aquatic vegetation that’s likely to snag your propeller.
These are the reasons why you need an alternative mode of propulsion for the really ‘skinny’ water, and this alternative is poling –
The quintessential element that makes a boat a flats boat is the poling platform featuring at the stern, and some flats boats are dubbed ‘poling skiff’.

Poling? Come on…

Opinions differ as to how effective poling is in terms of covering any meaningful distance, because in the first place, not too many people are sufficiently fit to pole, and even an athletic, experienced and highly motivated pole pusher cannot move a skiff at a speed that’s comparable to the speed achieved in kayaks and canoes.
As for poling against a current, even such as in a slow moving river, and let alone a faster, tidal current – good luck with that.
Being flat bottomed, flats boats don’t offer very good directional stability, and their high deck structures tend to catch wind, and for these reasons, plus the overall size and weight of the vessel, poling in unfavorable wind conditions must be ruled out.

To be fair, it would be hard for one person to move a fairly large and heavy boat such as a flats boat just by using their muscles. These boats don’t lend themselves to human powered propulsion, whether it’s paddling, rowing, or poling.

It seems like the only effective human powered mode of propulsion for boats this size could be stand-up sculling, which is a traditional method that’s still popular in Asia, especially with heavier boats. But stand-up sculling is a technique that requires a skilled and experienced rower, namely someone who’s in excellent shape and rows frequently, and let’s face it, this requirement doesn’t fit the description of our typical weekend flats fisherman…

Hey, what about me?

The person who activates the push pole in a flats boat can help their fishing buddy by identifying fish from the height of their poling platform, but they are pretty much prevented from taking part in actual fishing action. Too bad for them…

Stranded

Whenever you fish in skinny water that’s affected by tides, you risk getting stranded as the tide ebbs, and this means you and your fishing buddy would have to spend many more hours together, and in the company of mosquitoes. Lots of them… In other words, skinny water capabilities are not just about fishing.

Putting in, taking out, etc.

Being full fledged boats, you can launch neither a bass boat nor a flats boat from a beach, let alone one where rocks and oyster beds are present, and you can’t launch from a dock either. You need a facility known as a boat ramp that allows you to access water that’s deep enough with the trailer on which you transport your boat. Such boat ramp has to have a parking lot too, for you and other boat owners like yourself to park your vehicles and trailers.
Driving to a boat ramp takes time, waiting for other boaters to launch and beach may take additional time, launching takes some extra time, and so does parking. And none of these activities is something to look forward to, because they’re not fun.
Taking your boat out is equally frustrating in terms of time wasted on doing other things that are not fishing.

In dollar terms

Buying, operating and maintaining a bass boat or a flats boat isn’t cheap. However, we will not discuss these well known issues because we assume that if you’re reading this article, you can afford such expenses. Whether you would want to spend this money if you had a good, cheaper alternative to owning such a boat is another question.  After all, owning a big and expensive boat offers other advantages that are not directly related to fishing.

In sum, neither bass boats nor flats boats are very practical for really shallow water and for shorter trips. 

Not an alternative, really

No sensible angler would consider a SOT or sit-in kayak (SIK) to be an alternative to a full fledged motorboat, because of the obvious shortcomings of fishing kayaks, which are that they are extremely uncomfortable, wet, and slow, and paddling or pedaling them takes too much time and energy. A kayak’s range of travel is limited, even with an electric trolling motor, and besides – why did we even bother to mention these kayaks in the first place?…

Canoes are OK for a crew of two paddlers (well, sort of), but they don’t work well for one paddler, and motorizing a canoe is problematic.

As for Jon boats, dinghies, and other smaller fishing boats, you need a trailer to transport them, and you can’t paddle them effectively.

Inflatables? Nah…

A pretty good alternative

The patented twin-hull, 60 lbs Wavewalk™ 500 can be easily outfitted with an outboard gas engine, and easily driven across long distances. It’s back pain free, dry, and it offers plenty of storage. It paddles better than any other kayak out there, including in strong wind, and one person can car-top it effortlessly in less than thirty seconds. 
You can launch a motorized W500 from any dock or beach, including rocky beaches, and you can paddle it in water that’s just a few inches deep, and even go over obstacles. The W500 is the most stable kayak out there, and anyone can paddle it standing, and fish standing in it.

But there’s an even better alternative:

The best alternative

While the W500 is unrivaled in the world of kayaks, it is limited as far as load capacity is concerned. Its 360 lbs capacity is fine for one large size fisherman, an outboard motor, and plenty of fishing gear, but that’s about it – no carrying capacity for another large size fishing buddy, and this can be a problem for many people who are used to fish in crews of two.
And this is where the perfect alternative can be introduced: The Wavewalk™ 700.
This new boat does more than effectively bridging the worlds of kayak fishing and regular fishing from boats – It offers a range of benefits that in some cases make it a better solution than bass boats and flats boats –

The ultra lightweight (80 lbs) W700 can carry on board 580 lbs of passengers, motor and gear, which is enough for two full size fishermen, their fishing gear, and a powerful outboard. The 6 hp outboard featuring in our demo movies is overkill for it.
The W700 offers all the advantages listed above for the W500, namely easy car-topping, easy launching anywhere you want, easy paddling, skinny water mobility, easy stand up fishing, comfort, storage, stand up paddling and fishing, etc., plus full tandem capabilities, for both short and long trips.
This makes the W700 both a full solo and a full tandem car-top boat and paddle craft, and if you tried to go on a fishing trip in a bass boat or a flats boat by yourself, without a fishing buddy, you’d probably agree that neither of these full-fledged boat types are optimal for one person to use on solo fishing trips. It can be done, but it’s not that much fun.

The W700 is a unique watercraft, and you’re likely to appreciate it either as a great alternative to a bass boat or a flats boat, or simply as a new type of fishing boat that redefines the market.

 

Wavewalk™ 700

 

October flood tide fishing report

By Kevin Eastman

Well, I managed to squeak out a single fish again on my last trip of three for October’s flood tide period.
We actually had too much of a good thing. The floods were predicted higher and longer than normal and we had the addition of storms off shore that were keeping the water in the inlets for this period. That made for some difficult fishing. Water levels were about two feet above normal flood and flooding was occurring hours before predicted. Winds also made it difficult to pole the kayak. I had two unsuccessful trips earlier in the week and only saw a couple of fish that I couldn’t get set up to cast to. I had decided not to go out again because of the conditions but Sunday was sunny and the winds had subsided. At the last minute I decided to give it a go and packed the truck for a quick trip. I arrived a bit late but fortunately the tides were still fishable. I poled quite a distance and eventually found a lone fish that I could get a few casts too. Luck was with me and it was finally teased into going for my spoon fly.
Now another month of waiting for what will likely be the last decent flood to fish for the year. We usually have one in December too but the temps have dropped enough by then that there is little bait in the grass so the fish don’t feed heavily.

 

redfish-swimming-near-the-surface

 

redfish-caught-on-a-spoon-fly-in-flood-grass-2015

 

redfish-caught-after-push-poling-in-tidal-flood-grass

Read more about Kevin’s DIY rigging projects and fly fishing adventures »

 

Poling the Flooded Flats, Kayak Fly Fishing for Redfish, By Kevin Eastman

Well, thanks to the north east winds we had some unscheduled flood tides this weekend.
I could see that the evening high tide would flood one of my favorite spots though it would be after dark.
I decided to go just before sunset and see if the winds were bringing the waters up faster and as luck would have it the flood was in early.
After hustling to the first flat I only saw one tail and got a couple of unsuccessful shots at it.
With the sun setting fast I poled to another flat and was about to give up when some tails popped up but not for long. Fortunately, the water was shallow enough that I could follow the wakes. I missed the first one but stuck the second one I saw. It was a solid 24″ and put up a nice fight.
When I got that one landed and unhooked the sun had set and I figured the show was over. I scanned the flat and could still see some fish feeding as the light was fading. I got another nice shot at a cruising wake and the fish inhaled the fly. This one fought a lot harder and longer, laying out at 26.”
I was hoping to get a crack at another fish as the dark settled in but they pretty much disappeared by the time I got the fish unhooked.
There were still fish there, just not tailing as the lights went out. I ran over a few while poling back home in the dark but didn’t see any tails. I noticed the same thing a few weeks ago with the evening flood and full moon when I was hoping to fish the flat in the moon light. As soon as darkness settled in, the tailing stopped and fish activity decreased, even with the light of the full moon. Poling home off the flats in the dark is a hoot and almost as enjoyable as the fishing.
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end Father’s Day.
Kevin

The stand up fly fishing kayak at sunset Florida

Kevin's fly fishing kayak rigged with a high platform for sight fishing, and poling - no outriggers

kayak fly fisherman showing big redfish caught in flood tide shallow water at night FL

kayak fly fisherman showing big redfish caught in flood tide shallow water FL

Red fish caught by fly fisherman in stand up kayak FL June 2012

fly and fly rod on stand up fly fishing kayak

fly rod at dusk on stand up kayak FL

Ted Stevens, Stand Up Kayak Fly Fisherman, Florida

Here are pictures contributed by Ted Stevens, from Florida.

Ted is a fly fisherman who practices sight fishing: He paddles his kayak standing, and scouts for big fish (e.g. redfish, tarpon). He wants to stand as high as possible, since this extends his range of vision. Once Ted spots a fish, he instantly casts a fly at it.
Many fly kayak anglers and reel anglers sight fish while standing comfortably in their W kayaks. However, Ted wants to stand higher, so he can look further.
Unlike Kevin, who fly fishes the flats standing on top of his W kayak saddle without using outriggers, Ted added both a pair of outriggers and a frame to his W500. This setup puts him about 15″ higher than he would have been if he stood on the bottom of his W kayak hulls, and he’s perfectly stable.
The drawback of paddling from such a high level is that you lose some leverage on the paddle, so you can’t go very fast. However, if the water is shallow enough, you can push pole, like Kevin does.

fly fisherman standing on top of his kayak, sight fishing

fly fisherman standing on top of his kayak, sight fishing

Safety:

Standing as high on top of such a small vessel as a kayak means that sooner or later, the fly fisherman is going to lose their footing, or lose balance, or both – It’s a statistical fact, and every experienced angler knows that “Stuff Happens” is the rule out there, on the water.
So the real question is not “What if” but “What happens when” (-get the subtle difference?…) –
When you stand up on top of a conventional fishing kayak (SOT, sit-in, or ‘hybrid’), you need to somehow manage to fall on your knees, or on your butt, and regain your balance instantly. Good luck with that! Although it never hurts to try, you’re more likely to find yourself in the water.
But things are different when you’re standing high on top of a W fishing kayak, as Ted does: He can drop on his kayak’s saddle, with a leg in each hull, and stabilize himself while he’s in the Riding posture, which is similar to riding a jet-ski, a snowmobile, an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) – or a pony. In other words, it’s the most stable, and most powerful position you can hope to be in when you’re trying to regain balance and control in your kayak. When Ted wants to switch from standing to sitting, it’s just a matter of hopping down –

fly fisherman sitting in his stand up kayak

More pictures form Ted’s stand up fly fishing kayak >


Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >

Poling The W Kayak In The Tidal Flooded Grass, Fly Fishing For Redfish, By Kevin Eastman

As promised, here is the October flooded grass fishing report.
I ventured into some new areas this week and found some new hot spots that I’ve never seen anyone fishing in. Most likely because they can’t get to them.
This is probably the last flood tide of the season that the weather and water will still be warm. In November the water will cool off and the flooded grasses don’t have a lot of crabs left in them so the fishing slows a lot.

stand up fly fishing kayak for poling in shallow water, with poling pole

Kevin's Stand Up Poling Fly Fishing Kayak In The Tidal Flooded Grass

I was fortunate to get out a few days this week to take advantage of the flood tides, and poled the W through the grass in search of feeding Redfish. My efforts were rewarded with a couple of nice fish. It’s getting harder to get them as the season progresses. They don’t do a lot of tailing now and you must spot them moving through the grass and try to get the fly ahead of them so you can give it a twitch as they pass by. When they are tailing earlier in the season I will usually get out of the kayak and sneak as close as I dare, and get a few shots at each fish. Now I find that I have to stay in the kayak and make my casts quickly, because they are most often moving. So, the game is a little faster paced and stealthy now vs earlier in the season.

Redfish caught on a fly in stand up poling kayak, in the tide flood grass

Redfish caught on a fly in stand up poling kayak, in the tide flood grass

Once again it’s great to pole the Wavewalk kayak around the shallow water while standing high on that platform. It’s a unique experience pushing your way through miles of areas that I usually have no access to other than during flood tides. Catching the fish is a bonus.

Kevin

Kevin showing a redfish he caught while poling his kayak in the tide flood grass

Kevin showing a redfish he caught while poling his kayak in the tide flood grass

Kevin showing a redfish he caught while poling his kayak in the tide flood grass

Kevin showing a redfish he caught while poling his kayak in the tide flood grass

Kevin showing a redfish he caught while poling his kayak in the tide flood grass

Kevin showing a redfish he caught while poling his kayak in the tide flood grass