Tag Archive: rudder

Kayak fishing facts

Things you need to know before choosing a fishing kayak

Your overall kayak fishing experience depends first and foremost on your physical well being – You want perfect comfort regardless of where you fish, and for how long.
Fishing kayaks can compete with bigger boats in price, portability, maintenance, ease of use, and in some cases mobility, but they fail when it comes to comfort and other ‘fishability’ factors, with one exception: our patented, well tested Wavewalk kayaks.
Comfort is multi-dimensional – like yourself, and it starts with stability and ergonomics. This article discusses fishing kayaks from a particular standpoint – yours.

What can you really expect from kayak fishing?

-And is it what you really want?…

Native people have been using small, personal paddle craft for fishing out of necessity, as means for survival but this is probably not your case, so what is it that draws you to kayak fishing? Obviously, you like fishing as an outdoor, fun, both relaxing and exciting activity.  That makes you a candidate for traditional fishing from shore or from a motorboat, so why consider fishing kayaks in the first place?
Compared to bigger boats, fishing from a canoe or a kayak offers the following advantages:

Portability– unlike bigger and heavier boats, kayaks can be car topped and do not require a towing trailer, unless they’re ‘barges’, which means so big and heavy that you’d find it hard to move them on land as well as on the water…
Convenience- the hassle of launching and beaching is considerably reduced.
Mobility you can launch and beach kayaks in more locations, and access very shallow waters. However, motorized boats have a bigger range of operation, and they’re more comfortable. Unless you consider the new Wavewalk™ 700 »
Low Cost– both cost of purchase and cost of maintenance of kayaks are minimal.
Physical Exercise -something you get from paddling but not from motor boating.

Why is it that some people prefer kayaks to canoes, and why choose a kayak over other, traditional fishing paddle crafts?

Good question indeed, considering most people who fish from paddle crafts still prefer canoes and other traditional boats for fishing since those are usually made bigger than kayaks… Nevertheless, fishing kayaks offer some advantages that most canoe and other traditional boats don’t:

  1. Ease of use- speaking, paddling and controlling your boat with a double blade (‘kayak’) paddle is easier to learn than paddling and controlling it with a single blade (‘canoe’) paddle, especially if you’re paddling solo.
  2. Less windage – Most canoe models are quite big and have an open cockpit stretching all the way from bow to stern, which tends to cause a windage problem: The user finds it difficult to progress and steer his/her boat under wind conditions.  Kayaks are generally less problematic when it comes to wind, unless they are very long and/or wide: Being long increases the wind’s leverage on the boat, and being wide makes it hard to propel it efficiently as well as track and maneuver.  Unfortunately, a reasonably good fishing kayak must be wider than recreational and touring kayaks in order to offer more stability and support.
  3. Portability- sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks are smaller and lighter than the average fishing canoe models since canoes today are usually made for more than one person.

How do you fit into this picture?

You’d probably want to ask yourself a number of basic questions, which are:
-Who am I, and what experience am I looking to have?
-Where am I going to fish, and what am I going to fish?
-What else would I like to do with my kayak besides fishing.

Who am I and what experience am I looking to have?

Sounds pretty obvious, but after all this is about you wanting to enjoy a lasting, good personal experience, and not about you conforming to an image created by kayak vendors:
Factors like your weight, height and age are important as well as physical condition, experience in paddling and experience in fishing from small watercraft.  Needless to say, that the same boat can confer a totally different experience to different paddlers or fishermen. Remember – most adults suffer from some issue with their back, and these same factors (size and age) work against you when you have to spend long hours in a kayak.

First of all, a few words about your personal safety:

The height and weight factors are often discussed but age and physical condition not so- You need to be aware of the fact that in case of very small watercraft ‘expecting the unexpected’ means that sooner or later you may have to face some hazardous situations on the water.
Naturally, the best strategy in planning for such cases is prevention and not reaction, which means you should first think in terms of minimizing the probability of accidents happening.
Reaction is your second line of defense – the one you don’t want to have to reach.  Reaction is a strategy designed to reduce the potential damage in case an accident already happened.
This is where it is useful to understand the term Redundancy in planning:
Redundancy is all but unnecessary – On the contrary, it is a critical factor that must be integrated in any planning for unexpected problems, which eventually never fail to materialize.

Two examples may clarify this:

  1. Redundancy in prevention:  The best example for applying redundancy as part of the first strategy is your fishing kayak’s stability:  You may be a seasoned kayaker and used to paddling fast (i.e. narrow and unstable) kayaks, and you may even be able to use such kayaks for fishing.  However, you are likely to find that the unfortunate yet perfectly expected combination of a moment of inattention when you are casting or landing a fish (and therefore not holding your paddle) with either a wake coming from a bigger boat passing nearby or a sudden lateral gust of wind or wave can easily lead you to lose balance and capsize.  Such event can be perfectly harmless, but in case you’re not in good physical condition it might be dangerous, especially in cold waters and/or weather that can lead to hypothermia and even cardiac arrest. Other factors such as underwater rocks that might injure you as well as marine predators, jellyfish etc. need not be taken lightly.  Planning for redundant stability is your best policy against having to need to use emergency tactics and second lines of defense (i.e. reaction strategies) that may or may not work.  Interestingly, what is the prevalent approach in evaluating the seaworthiness of watercraft of all sizes and types is contested by some in the kayaking world, whose reasoning is that you should rely on the extreme and in most cases inapplicable recovery (i.e. post accident) technique known as the Eskimo Roll…
  2. Redundancy in reaction: The obvious example for applying redundancy in your second line of defense is wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD):  It doesn’t contribute a thing to your paddling performance or experience, but in case you fall overboard and need to get back into the boat or stay in the water for a long time this seemingly redundant object becomes highly necessary, and sometime even vital.

See and be seen:

A kayak is not just a very small boat for others to see, it is also very low above the water and therefor even more difficult for others to perceive.  Your kayak can easily disappear behind the waves, especially if light conditions are not optimal.  As for radar, you shouldn’t count on those devices to detect you since they can’t always do it.
Furthermore, sitting so low limits your own field of view and puts you in double jeopardy…
In view of this you should consider fishing from a boat that’s either yellow, orange or bright red – the three most visible colors on the water.
You may also consider the advantages of fishing standing or sitting in a higher type of kayak.

Fishing alone:

Sea kayakers have developed a strict and elaborate sea paddling code of conduct, and one of the essential things you learn as a sea kayaker is never to paddle alone.  In fact, even paddling in pairs is not considered very safe, and sea kayakers prefer to paddle in packs.  While fishing in groups may not seem like an appealing idea to you, it’s important to remember that the ocean is too unpredictable and powerful for tiny, under powered vessels such as kayaks, and in this aspect planning for enough redundancy is essential for safety:  Sooner or later fishing by yourself in the ocean is likely to get you in some trouble that otherwise you would have had a much better chance to get out of.

After safety come your well being and comfort.
The main questions you may want to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I feel secure and confident in this kayak, or is it good just for flat water?
  2. Am I going to be comfortable after sitting more than an hour in it? Discomfort, fatigue, leg numbness and back pain tend to amplify with time.
  3. In the likely case I don’t feel comfortable, is there anything I can do to improve the way I feel, such as switching positions or stand up?
  4. Is this kayak fun to paddle or wide and clumsy? Most fishing kayaks are wider than 30″ (76 cm) and therefore don’t paddle well.
  5. Do I want to go through the hassle of manipulating a rudder? No you don’t, but with most kayaks you’ll have to.
  6. If I feel numbness in my legs can I change positions? Some kayak fishermen feel so bad after sitting in or on their traditional kayaks that they jump overboard and swim or walk if the water is shallow enough.
  7. Do I feel any pressure points when sitting? And what about after an hour? Foam cushioned back rests don’t prevent back pain, they just delay it for a while.
  8. Is this kayak easy for me to launch, or do I have to struggle to enter it?
  9. Is it acceptable for me to step in water each time I launch and beach? Well, let’s say you want to be able to decide if and when you’ll step in water, but regular fishing kayaks don’t offer you such choice.
  10. What kind of gear am I going to take with me, and are storage solution offered by ordinary kayaks acceptable for me?  You want to be able to take whatever gear you feel like, and access it anytime you want, but storage hatches won’t let you do that.
  11. Where am I going to fish, and what am I going to fish?  Is that fishing kayak going to protect you in bad weather? wind? cold? surf? Is it stable and reliable enough to enable you to deal with strong fish?

Where and what am I going to fish?

Once you’ve established what the answers to the first set of questions are, you need to think about the type of fishing you’d like to do.  The conclusion may be that you don’t need or want a kayak at all, and you may be better served by another type of paddle craft (e.g. canoe, pirogue), or even a small motorboat.

In case you’re thinking about kayak fishing at sea you need to make sure you understand the risks involved, and realize that ‘stuff happens’ – sooner or later, in a mild or severe form.  Most fishing kayaks don’t handle the surf well, which means you’re likely to capsize either on your way in or out, and even if you don’t capsize you’ll be soaked from the first moment throughout your entire fishing trip:  Traditional kayak fishing experts would tell you that fishing from sit-in kayak (SIK) is not practical since you’d have to use a spray skirt that would limit your access to gear inside the cockpit. They would recommend that you use a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak that has offers practically no protection against the elements and lets water penetrate the cockpit through its scupper holes… In sum, whether you fish from a SIK or a SOT a ‘wet ride’ is a fact you have to accept, unless you wear waders, which can be very dangerous if you go overboard in water that’s too deep for you to stand in.

You may also want to consider the fact that traditional, native kayak fishing was done mainly in protected waters such lakes, rivers, estuaries and bays, while native arctic fishermen were more likely to use large-size and stable canoes called Umiaks for their Ocean fishing and whale hunting expeditions.

The ocean is challenging not only in the surf zone, but practically everywhere and at any time:  While you’re sitting peacefully in your kayak a motorboat passing nearby may fail to perceive you and either run you over or what is more likely simply cause you to overturn by the effect of its wake hitting your kayak.  Such event may turn out to be anything from funny to fatal.

Another factor that should not be taken lightly is marine life:  Every year there are divers, surfers, swimmers, wind surfers and paddlers being attacked by sharks.  Fishing in shark infested waters from a small watercraft that offers no protection at all is risky by definition, especially in view of the fact that sharks are attracted by the shape of the kayak that similarly to the shape of a surfboard resembles that of a fat seal, and by the scent of bait and fish. Jellyfish, worms and bacteria are sometime abundant in warm waters, and may present other risks.
Cold water can be extremely dangerous, as well as exposure to cold from the combination of spray and wind – Water and weather can kill, and they do.
Currents and wind can easily carry you where you don’t want to go, without you being able to do anything about it.

Bottom line:  Unless you use an appropriate boat (primary – prevention strategy) and are perfectly capable of dealing with emergency situations (secondary – reaction strategy) you should abstain from fishing at sea and in large-size bodies of water such as big lakes, big rivers etc.

What’s a fishing kayak, actually? –

The common ‘fishing kayak’ is in most cases a wide, stabler recreational kayak accessorized with ‘special’ features for kayak fishermen such as rod holders and hatches. But while recreational kayaks are normally very affordable, fishing kayaks are considerably more expensive.  No wonder many kayak fishermen prefer to purchase recreational kayak models and outfit them for fishing with off-the-shelf fishing accessories and sometimes even home-made fishing accessories created from inexpensive materials offered in hardware stores.
So, do you really need a ‘fishing kayak’ or could you be satisfied with a self outfitted recreational kayak?
This is a question that only you could answer.

How to test a fishing kayak?

Leg numbness, back pain etc. are problems that usually appear after some time.  Don’t think that because you felt comfortable paddling a certain kayak for half an hour and casting from it a number of times that you’ll be comfortable after two or three hours in or on that kayak.
Test kayaks in real life conditions i.e. wind, and if you’re planning to fish at sea you must check how you’re doing with the kayak in the surf and with some real waves… -The reason for this is that even if you decide to fish only on beautiful and windless days the weather may change by the time you go back home, which can mean difficulties in the surf zone and even at sea.  Remember – the wake of a motorboat passing by can overturn your kayak, especially if you didn’t notice it because you were too busy fishing, which means you can’t stabilize yourself using your paddle.
Check if the boat is stable enough to support you when you’re struggling with a strong fish -Do you feel safe and confident enough?
Ask yourself in all honesty:
-“Am I going to like this in a year from now?”  (many don’t)
-“How do I really feel about sitting there in wet clothes for hours?” (few would admit it, but nobody does)
-“Do I miss casting standing?” (yes, of course, but don’t try standing in or on a regular kayak, or you’ll learn the hard way that pictures on vendors’ websites and forums are one thing, and your reality is another)
-“Do I really get along with paddling, carrying and car topping this wide, heavy, 14′ long kayak?” (you probably don’t)
-“Would I rather spend this time in a more comfortable boat?” (indeed you would)

After all, fishing should be about you enjoying your free time safely and comfortably, and not about trying to accommodate yourself to an inadequate and greatly over hyped craft.

What else would I like to do with my kayak besides fishing?

Go on long touring, camping (and fishing) trips, take passengers on board, play in the surf, stand up paddling (it’s fun!) and more. There’s no reason why such an expensive toy shouldn’t offer more than just fishing, but most fishing kayaks barely do that.
This the dimension we call Versatility. After all, when you own a motorboat you don’t just cast lines from it, but you’re supposed to do other things as well. Although kayaks are smaller and cheaper than motorboats, they should be versatile enough. A kayak that’s not versatile is an under performing one, and nearly all fishing kayaks on the market are such.

***

List of Busted Fishing Kayak Myths:

First fishing kayak myth busted:-“A kayak can get you where other boats can’t”

-This statement is not very accurate since those who claim so ignore a wide range of small water crafts including motorized and human powered pirogues, canoes, dinghies, rafts and more. Both whitewater canoeing and down river canoeing are still practiced by many, and so is fishing from canoes, dinghies etc.

Second fishing kayak busted: -“A kayak is faster than a canoe”

–This statement is based on an erroneous comparison between some faster kayak models and the most common canoe models that are usually large and very stable, while in fact fishing kayaks are rather slow by nature and some racing canoe models are very fast.

Third fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayaks are more stable than canoes”

-This statement is false, and canoes are still popular for fishing, mainly because they are usually wider and offer more stability.  You can sometime see people casting standing in a canoe if water and weather permit, but have you ever seen someone fishing standing in a kayak?  (in reality, not on a vendor’s website or brochure) -It is said that very small and lightweight people can, but this is certainly out of the question for the overwhelming majority of people. Try it (in shallow, clean and warm water…) and you’ll see for yourself.

Fourth fishing kayak myth busted: -“The Sit-On-Top (SOT) is a new type of kayak”

–Wrong. The first commercial SOT models were introduced on the US market in the beginning of the seventies. Native peoples all over the world have used small sit-on-top paddle crafts for millennia, often with double blade paddles.

Fifth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayaks were the fishing boats of choice for native people of the arctic circle.”

-In fact these people preferred large and stable canoes called Umiaks. Kayaks were used more often in protected waters, and mainly for hunting.

Sixth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Modern kayaks are both stabler and faster”

-Totally false: Paddle sports are generally slow, and the slowest kayaks are those designed for fishing.  The reason for that being that the monohull design is constrained by the laws of hydrodynamics to a trade off between speed and stability, and since fishing kayaks are required to offer more stability than other kayaks they are slower.  Furthermore, Sit-On-Top (SOT) kayaks are even slower than sit-in kayaks are since their scupper holes substantially increase drag.

Seventh kayak fishing myth busted: -“A good kayak seat is very important”

–In fact, the original native people’s kayaks never had seats, and the whole concept of kayak seat is rather misleading since leg numbness is the result of bad circulation in the legs coming from being seated in the “L” kayaking position, which most of us stopped using since we were toddlers.  As for lower back pains, they result from the legs pushing your body against the seat’s backrest (AKA ‘lumbar support’) in an attempt to prevent your body from sliding down.  Expensive, cushioned seats advertised as being ‘ergonomically designed’ or adjustable-height canvas seats may delay these annoying and potentially dangerous physiological symptoms, but eventually they will appear simply because kayaks offer you just a single, unusual and non ergonomic and therefore problematic sitting position, without any option to switch to other paddling or fishing positions. More reading about kayak back pain »

Eighth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayak fishing is a water sport and therefore you have to get wet!”

-Not acceptable. First of all kayak fishing doesn’t necessarily have to be wet if you use a sit-in kayak on flat water.  Second, getting wet and staying wet for long hours is not an option in colder climates and waters, that is in about half of the US territory.  Third, being wet for hours is unpleasant even in warm climates and waters, and can cause rashes and infections.  Conclusion: You don’t have to listen to SOT manufacturers’ excuse for not having found better solution to “wet ride” and “soggy bottom” problems that are plaguing people who fish from SOTs, and are a main turnoff for those who want to fish from kayaks.  And just for the record, you don’t really want to wear waders while in your kayak, not just because it’s uncomfortable but because it’s dangerous.

Ninth fishing kayak myth busted: -“SOT kayaks are self bailing.”

False. ‘Self Bailing’ means equipped with a special device that allows water in the hull to be sucked out through a valve at the stern, as a result of negative pressure applied there while the hull moves swiftly forward. Such devices are used in motorboats and sailing boats.
The hulls of SOT kayaks are not self bailing, and there’s no means to drain water out of them unless you pump it out, or drain it out through a hole while the SOT is on dry land.
The only part in a SOT that’s continuously drained is its deck, through water flowing down its sides and down the scupper holes, which in many cases conduct water up onto the deck… By the way, those vertical tunnels’ real mission is to serve as support for the kayak’s deck so it won’t collapse under the weight of the user sitting on it. Those support elements were misleadingly dubbed ‘scuppers’ for some unknown reason, probably to make the paddle board dubbed ‘SOT Kayak’ more like a boat.
SOT kayaks’ hulls are neither self bailing nor offer proper means for seeing water that gets in through the hatches, deck rigging holes, and cracks, and this means you could find yourself paddling a sinking kayak when it’s already too late to do anything about it.
More reading about SOT kayaks’ safety, or lack thereof »

Tenth fishing kayak myth busted:   -“Kayak stability is important only for beginning fishermen.”

–Not when it comes to fishing kayaks, since the overwhelming majority of North Americans have neither the skills nor the physical attributes that Inuit and other native kayak fishermen had, and SOT kayaks are essentially less stable than comparable sit-in kayaks since their center of gravity (CG) is higher. Therefore, modern, recreational kayak fishermen are exposed to a much higher risk of capsizing than the original, native kayak fishermen were.  You may get used to fishing from an unstable kayak until the inevitable moment comes when you’ll capsize in unsafe or unpleasant conditions. –Some people can ride a mono cycle quite easily but that doesn’t mean you should try it…

Eleventh fishing kayak myth busted:  -“SOTs are more versatile than Sit-in kayaks.”

–Not if you would even consider fishing with a SOT in cold water and/or cold weather, -conditions that are common in much of the US and Canada, and present even in the South in winter.  Also, SOTs offer you little or no protection in the surf, and are less maneuverable than sit-in kayaks, which elevates the risk of injuries and accidents even in warm waters (e.g. shark bytes, jellyfish etc.)

Twelfth fishing kayak myth busted:  -“You can roll a SOT.”

-In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who paddle kayaks nowadays can’t even roll a sit-in kayak, although it’s basically easier than rolling a SOT, so it would be a waste of time for you to try to roll a fishing SOT, considering the fact that in order to do so you’ll have to strap yourself to your boat, which is unsafe, especially in the surf where capsizing is more likely to happen.

Thirteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“You can fish standing in a kayak.”

-Do you really believe this one? Few people do, and rightfully so.
In fact, most kayak fishermen don’t even feel that confident just sitting in or on top their kayak.
This myth keeps being mentioned on Internet forums in discussions about stable fishing kayaks, and some fishing kayak manufacturers go as far as claiming that certain models they offer enable it, and even show pictures.  Technically speaking, children and small size adults can sometime stand in a kayak, usually a wide sit-in since it has a lower center of gravity than a SOT does, and always on perfectly still, flat water.       However, no full size adult can stand in any monohull fishing kayak confidently enough to cast in full comfort and seriously fight strong fish. As hard as you may try you won’t be able to find any proof to substantiate such claims, because they are not true.
The problem is simple, and has a lot to do with ‘what if’: Some people can cast standing in large-size canoes, some can fish standing from kayaks outfitted with a pair of fairly big outriggers on both sides, and practically anybody can cast confidently and comfortably standing in a Wavewalk kayak, as our demo videos and customer reviews prove.
So what? -Stuff happens (that’s the rule in boating), and sooner than later any stand up kayak fisherman is bound to find himself destabilized by a fish, a wave (or boat’s wake), wind or simply a wrong move in a moment of distraction – and things like that happen all the time, and to everybody.
Since neither SIKs nor SOTs offer any ‘plan B’ solution for such cases, such stand up fisherman is bound to go overboard, and is likely to do it while overturning his kayak. Such accident could be quite unpleasant, cause loss of equipment, etc.  Even those rare daredevils who insist they can fish while standing on top of their wide SOTs admit they ‘go swimming’ from time to time, or in other words: have frequent accidents, which is not acceptable because sooner or later one of those accidents is likely to turn ugly.
In sum, you’d better trust your basic intuition and common sense in this case.
Things are very different in Wavewalk kayaks not just because they are much stabler than other kayak designs are, but also because in case of destabilization while standing you’re likely to simply drop down on the 14″ high saddle, and find yourself in the Riding position with both your feet planted at the bottom of the hulls, several inches below waterline – as stable as possible. More reading about stand up kayak fishing and paddling »

Fourteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Rudders solve your tracking and maneuvering problems.”

–Although many would like to believe so, the reality is more complex and not particularly encouraging one to use a rudder:  Native kayakers never used rudders but Kayak manufacturers introduced rudders with the intent to improve kayaks’ directional stability (i.e. tracking) and maneuverability.
Keeping any monohull including kayaks going straight (i.e. tracking) is a problem, and zigzagging makes the boat go a longer distance. Constantly correcting the kayak’s course requires energy and time from you.   Moreover, tracking becomes more difficult as water and weather conditions deteriorate.  But looking only at (unpublished – one can only wonder why…) results of hydrodynamics tests shows that rudders increase total drag by up to 10%, and considering the constant mental and physical effort that manipulating the rudder requires from the paddler it is possible to say that rudders reduce effective speed by about 25%.  Naturally, the more experienced the paddler the less effort is wasted, but the less the rudder is required the better.
As for maneuvering, a rudder can make a noticeable difference especially if the kayak is very long (e.g. 16’-18’ long sea kayaks) and the paddler inexperienced, but its effectiveness is dubious in shorter (i.e. more maneuverable) kayaks.
W kayaks require no rudder, and you can get them to track perfectly even under strong wind »

Fourteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Modern fishing kayaks are so stable you can hardly tip them over, even if you try.”

-This is an absurd falsehood:  The only people who are not in danger of tipping a modern fishing kayak are small children who sit and behave nicely in their kayak.  In fact, when you need to struggle with a big fish kayaks are impractical since they can offer little support to your pulling effort.  Only few kayak fishermen are capable of catching big fish from their kayaks without any assistance. Red more about what makes a kayak stable »

Fifteenth fishing kayak myth busted:  -“Most kayak fishermen fish at sea.”

–This image doesn’t fit reality, where most people who use kayaks for fishing tend to do it in protected waters such as estuaries, rivers, flats, lakes and ponds – and for obvious reasons.

Sixteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Kayaks are very mobile.”

-While this may be true compared to boats that require towing, it’s not necessarily true within the class of paddle craft since kayaks are more difficult to get into and out from than canoes are, and consequently also more difficult when it comes to launching and taking out. Learn more about mobility in kayaks »

Seventeenth fishing kayak myth busted:  -“SOTs are stabler than SIKs.”

-Quite the opposite: SOTs offer paddlers to sit in the unstable “L” kayaking position on top of a deck, while SIKs offer them to sit it that same position at the bottom of the hull.  This difference in the center of gravity (CG) height works against the SOT and needs to be compensated by a wider hull.

Eighteenth fishing kayak myth busted:  -“Hatches offer practical means for storage.”

-Few thing could be further from the truth:  In fact, hatches are small and you can hardly access what’s inside them from your seat, and in most cases the hatches fail to be totally watertight, which can be hazardous in case you paddle or fish in moving water, such as offshore.

Nineteenth fishing kayak myth busted: -“SOTs are very safe kayaks.”

-This is partly true: SOTs are self bailing, which means they are designed not to let water in the hull even if the kayak is capsized.  The problem is that eventually some water can get in through small cracks or mainly through holes made in the hull for attaching various accessories.  When this happens you can’t notice the leakage before it’s too late »

Twentieth fishing kayak myth busted: -“Foot activated pedal drives offer hands free fishing.”

-…Unless you need to go somewhere, and then you’ll be required to steer using a hand activated rudder system, so you’ll be left with just one hand to hold a fishing rod.
But reality doesn’t stop here, and if you happen to observe pedal kayakers you’ll probably notice that in most cases they hold their kayak’s sides with their hands while they pedal, and that’s because recumbent pedaling (even in recumbent bikes) requires some kind of extra support and stabilization. Learn more about pedal driven kayaks »

Twenty first fishing kayak myth busted: -“Tunnel hulled monohull kayaks are stabler than other monohull kayaks.”

-Not really. In fact, most SOT kayaks have some kind of groove or tunnel (often more than one) at the bottom of their hulls. This reinforces the bottom and somehow helps correcting poor directional stability.
Such tunnels can be very narrow (1″) or wide (1 ft), but as long as the design is a monohull, meaning that it does not feature two distinctly, full size and fully separated hulls, the kayak will be unstable simply because nearly all its buoyancy is distributed along its longitudinal axis, where it offers minimal or no stabilizing effect at all. This myth and other ones are discussed in depth in this kayak stability article »

 

CONCLUSION

Kayak fishing is becoming increasingly popular, but many people who fish from kayaks end up going back to more traditional forms of fishing because of the problems described here.
Kayak fishermen as well as people who are considering fishing from kayaks need to be informed, and we bring this information to you as food for thought.
All the subjects mentioned in this article are discussed in more detail in specific articles and blog posts – see Full List of Articles
Our patented Wavewalk kayaks offer the best solutions to all problems mentioned in this article.
You are welcome to read what our customers have to tell about their personal kayak fishing experience with common fishing kayaks (I.E. monohull), and with our Wavewalk kayaks: Wavewalk Fishing Kayak Reviews
Seeing is believing, and you may want to watch these demo movies: Wavewalk fishing kayak demo movies

Rigging Your Fishing Kayak

Some basic practical advice about how to rig you kayak for fishing

Contrarily to you might have heard, there is no such thing as perfect rigging for a fishing kayak, and the reason for it is that kayak anglers differ by their personal needs, fishing style, fish species they go after, etc.
Having said that, there are still many opportunities for you to make mistakes, and this is why we generally recommend to go about these things slowly and carefully, without rushing into particular solutions unless you know there’s a good chance that they’d work well for you.

Practically, this means it can be impossible for you to tell in advance exactly what type of rod holders would benefit you the most, and whether you need this type of anchor or another. Same is true for positioning the rod holders, what kind of paddle holders you need, and more.

As a rule, if you fish in saltwater you’d better try to keep your fishing rods dry, which means that either you’ll store them inside the hull for when you pass through the surf, or use tall deck mounted rod holders in the stern. Some deck mounted rod holders have a long leg, which adds distance between your fishing rod and the corrosive sea water.
Tube rod holders are easier to use, because you just stick your fishing rod in, and take it out instantly when you need to. However, rod holders equipped with a latch would better secure your fishing rod in its place.

Obviously, if you’re fly fishing you may not need a rod holder at all, but you do want one, it should be of a type that fits fly rods.

As far as positioning the rod holders on your kayak’s deck, our only advice is to take your kayak out and fish from it a number of times before you decide on a new fishing rod. You’d need to make sure that neither fishing rod nor line interfere with your paddling under any circumstance, including when you use your kayak for trolling.
You can’t use screws to attach a rod holder, or any other object to your kayak’s deck. The reason for it is that the plastic isn’t thick enough to secure a screw in its place. The alternatives are either using bolts with nuts, or rivets. Bolts have more initial grip than rivets, but they lose it with time, since your kayak is made from polyethylene, which is a relatively soft plastic resin.
Remember: Deck mounted rod holders are easy to install, while flush mounted rod holders require that you make a hole in your kayak’s deck, and that hole should be of a certain size and shape. Making such hole isn’t necessarily easy for a beginner.

As for paddle holders, the problem becomes much more complicated: Some kayak anglers insist on using paddle holders that are silent, and that means using paddle holders made from foam. Other kayak anglers must make sure they don’t lose their paddle, because they fish i deep water, and far from shore. This means they must use paddle clips of some kind, or a bungee and hook to secure the paddle in its place.
Some kayak anglers like to drop their paddle in front of them while they rush to grab a rod that shows that a fish is pulling on its line, or if they want to make a fast cast because they spotted a fish. Others kayak anglers want to drop their paddle on their kayak’s side, in order to allow them more freedom of movement while they cast a line, reel a fish in, and land it.
Again, after fishing a few times you’ll know more about the type of paddle holders, or clips that would work better for you.

Anchors differ by their weight and form: Some have more grip than others, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better, because an anchor with too much grip might get entangled in rocks or roots, and if you don’t manage to release it you’ll have to cut its line and part from it.
As a rule, kayak anchors should weigh between 1.5 lbs and 5 lbs. The heavier anchors are for moving water, such as streams or the ocean, and the lighter anchors are for ponds, small lakes and slow moving rivers.
Here too, you can add more functionality at a price of adding complexity: Anchor pulleys (vertical) and anchor trolleys (horizontal) may serve you well if they fit some specific need, but they could just make things harder for you if you don’t need them.

And what about a milk crate? What seemed to be an obvious storage solution in old fashion sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks is no longer needed in the W500 Wavewalk kayaks, simply because this new generation of fishing kayaks offer so much internal, accessible and dry storage space, as well as a lot of deck space, which make the milk crate redundant.

Should you add a seat to your kayak, and what type?  The answer to this question is rather simple:  If you happen to own a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak (SOT), you must outfit it with a seat (and footrests, in case those are not molded-in).  No kayak seat may offer what it promises, that is a comfortable ride, and the reason for it is explained in this article about kayak ergonomics »

If you’re about to get your first W-kayak, don’t hurry to outfit it with any kind of seat, because you’re likely not to need it at all, as most W kayak owners have found. Just take your time to get used to the riding position, sitting, and standing, and sooner or later you’re going to forget about your seat project.

Rudders and kayaks – an unhappy marriage…  Aboriginal kayaks were not equipped with rudders, because the people who crafted and paddled them were supreme paddlers, who spent their childhood paddling. Unless you fit this description, you’re likely to need a rudder for your sit-in or SOT kayak, because in addition to your own relatively skill level, these boats track very poorly, because their design depart greatly from the sleek proportions of Inuit kayaks.
A rudder is a pain to activate, and requires your constant attention. It also has a nasty tendency to harvest seaweed, and get stuck in rocks, roots and other underwater objects.  And if you’re planning long trips, you should be aware of the fact that a rudder would slow your kayak down by an average of 10%.
Luckily, W-kayaks do not require rudders at all. Since the first W kayak appeared in 2004, only one W kayaker installed a rudder in his W kayak, and that’s basically because he sails it.  No other W kayak paddler or angler has added a rudder to their W kayak, simply because no one saw any reason to do so.
W kayaks track like no other kayak, even under strong wind.

Outriggers – Yes, no, what type, and how many?  There is no need for you to add outriggers to a W kayak, unless you’re planning to go at very high speed, using a powerful outboard gas engine, or a big and powerful sailing rig. A normal, small electric trolling motor does not necessitate you add outriggers to your W kayak.
W kayaks are stable enough to go in moving water, as well as enable you to paddle and fish standing up in confidence and safety that you won’t find in any other kayak – including those who have outriggers.
If you decide to increase your W-kayak’s stability, remember you don’t necessarily need a pair of outriggers to stabilize it, and in many cases a single, large size outrigger would suffice.

What about a motor?  It’s possible to add an outboard gas engine to a W kayak, but in case you’re interested in doing so, you must take into account adding flotation as well, and the same is true for an electric motor.
As a rule of thumb, we would advise patience and cautiousness with any motorizing project. To begin with, you may ask yourself “do I really need this thing?” – Try to answer this question after using your new W-kayak in a human powered mode. You may reach the conclusion that your W kayak is fast enough, easy to paddle, and takes you where you want to go – and back…
Electric trolling motors seem perfect, but they add weight and complexity to your W-kayak, and may not be worth the trouble after all.
Read more about motorizing your kayak »

Learn more about how other fishermen rig their kayaks »

Please feel free to call or email us for consultation

My W kayak one year later, by Mike Moody

ND-kayak-fisherrman-holding-5-lbs-bassIt’s been over a year since I bought my W and I have fished out of it numerous times so I thought I’d provide another review.

 

 

Stability
This yak is extremely stable. I have not had a single time on the water where I was worried. Not one. I am able to stand, sit in the riding position (by far the position I spend the most time in) or stretch out my legs with ease. This ability to change positions has helped me stay on the water longer than I would be able to in other yaks. I can’t tell you how good it feels to stand up and stretch after a couple hours of bass fishing. I also love to stand up to paddle around. It allows me to see weed lines, beds and other items that help me catch more fish.

Fishability
I have to tell you that I own a 17 ft bass boat and it has sat a lot this summer. I really like being able to sneak up on fish with my W. I also enjoy the ability to get into skinny water without a concern about damaging a motor. I have 2 surface mount rod holders and I simply sit my tackle bag in front of me on the saddle but more on rigging in a moment. If anyone has a concern about stability when fighting a fish, don’t worry. I’ve caught some very large Northern Pike and the yak is very stable throughout the fight.

Transportation
I transport the W in one of two ways; in the back of my truck or on top of my wife’s Subaru. The Subaru is equipped with some crossbars and I use bath rugs to protect the back of the car and just lift the W up onto the back of the trunk and then slid it up on the roof rack. From there I just strap it down. The design of the double hulls makes strapping the W very easy. When I use my truck it’s even easier. Just two straps and away I go. I haven’t used a cart much because where I fish, I just drag it 20-30 ft to the launch across sand.

Operation
The W has been a joy to operate. The W tracks very well without a rudder. While wind may grab you a bit more since you are up a bit more than a traditional yak, this seldom poses much of a problem. Once you get used to turning the W, you won’t even think about it. Frankly, I would rather have the solid tracking. Just a note here, I did have to go up and over a log in my W to retrieve one of my favorite lures. I just sat way back and paddled up to the log and then moved all the way forward and I went down the other side.

Rigging
I have tried many things but found the minimalistic approach is best. I have 2 flush mount rod holders behind me, some rod holding hooks I made out of heavy wire, a collapsible oar and that’s about it. I do have a small tray that I sit on the saddle in front of me that I use to hold onto small items. It’s affixed to the saddle using a couple Velcro strips. I do use on inflatable pad so my butt doesn’t get too sore. I use Velcro to keep it secure.

Durability
I have beat the heck out of my W and there are no visible issues except some surface scratches on the bottom from me dragging it all over the north woods. I mean I abuse the poor thing. I weigh 255 and I did get one of those saddle bracket deals. Since mine didn’t come with one (I think they all come with them now), Yoav hooked me up. It was easy to install and I was good. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t any sign of stress or anything, Yoav and I were chatting and he said I should have one so I got one and installed it. Believe me, these things are tough.

Overall I am extremely satisfied with my purchase and will be buying another for my wife in the future.

Mike Moody

North Dakota

largemouth-bass-ND largemouth-bass-North-Dakota largemouth-bass-standing-in-my-kayak

deer-grazing

The deer in the one picture were happily eating lilies from the shore as I was fishing.

More from Mike »

More fishing kayak reviews »

The secrets of the SOT kayak’s underside

Have you ever seen a picture of the underside of a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak? –
It’s unique, and the bottom of no other vessel looks like it.

Below is a figure showing what a typical SOT kayak looks like when it’s turned over:

underside-of-typical-sot-fishing-kayak

Understanding the design of SOT kayaks’ underside

The ‘scupper’ holes

The most striking feature in a SOT kayak’s hull are the holes in it:
All SOT kayaks feature vertical holes connecting their deck to the water below. Kayak manufacturers call them ‘Scupper Holes’ and claim they were introduced into the SOT design as means to drain water from the kayak’s deck, similarly to what scuppers do in normal boats.
The truth is different –
To begin with, these vertical holes were introduced into the SOT kayak design not as means to drain their deck but for a totally different reason: They support the deck from crashing down as the user sits on top of it –
Kayaks’ hulls have thin plastic walls, and SOT kayaks’ hulls have a general form of an empty and flattish eggshell that’s not very strong, which is why its top side (let’s call it the ‘roof’) requires reinforcement.
The way to support the roof of a large structure is by means of vertical columns, and that’s essentially what scupper holes are: vertical, molded-in plastic tubes that act as supporting columns for the kayak’s deck.
This explains why scupper holes are rather dysfunctional as drainage holes – They were not designed as such in the first place.
So next time you paddle a SOT kayak and you notice water splashing through the scupper holes onto the deck as a result of the kayak moving in the water (that’s what kayaks are supposed to do), you’ll know why the manufacturer just had to put these holes there, and why the sensible solution of letting water drain from the kayak’s deck to its sides didn’t get adopted…

The hydrodynamics of scupper holes

Any detail in a vessel’s hull that can generate a noticeable change in the regular flow of the water is unwanted since it increases drag (resistance) and makes it harder to move the vessel. In other words, it slows the vessel down.
Therefore, a hull that features multiple drag generating elements such as scupper holes is very slow, and in kayaking terms it’s hard to paddle or pedal it forward at an acceptable speed without the kayaker making an unusual effort.
Call it a barge and you’d be spot on.

Channels / tunnels

The second striking element that SOT kayak feature on their underside are channels sometime called tunnels. These are the long and narrow grooves stretching along the hull’s middle section.

Why are they there? –

Water cannot be compressed, and it doesn’t like to be forced into narrow and long structures such as these. When it does, it generates friction (Frictional Resistance – FR) and turbulence, and thereby even more drag making the kayak even harder to move, I.E. much slower.
Kayak designers know these facts, or at least they’re supposed to be aware of them, so why do they add such channels to their kayaks’ underside? –
The typical answer you’d hear at a kayak dealership is that channels add to the kayak’s tracking capability. This should be a good thing because SOT kayaks or at least those designed to serve anglers track exceptionally poorly, which is why nearly all of them come equipped with a rudder (yet another undesirable element). But if a kayak features a rudder, it doesn’t need such channels molded into its underside…
So this common explanation is false, and it masks reality –
If indeed channels are there to improve tracking, why does only the middle section of SOT (and ‘hybrid’) kayaks feature them? It would make sense to make such channels longer, so they produce a more noticeable tracking effect, wouldn’t it?
Well, the reality is that such channels are essentially yet another means to reinforce the SOT kayak’s hull, which is why they coincide with scupper holes –
Knowing that the lower end of scupper tube generates considerable drag as it comes in contact with water, the kayak designer may attempt to position it higher, that is at the top side of a narrow tunnel, such as can be observed in the above image.
It doesn’t really work, simply because the kayak sinks lower in the water as soon as it is loaded with a passenger, and if that passenger happens to be an angler, the load is heavier since it includes fishing gear as well.

Other underside elements that slow down the SOT kayak

If you thought that kayak designers and manufacturers would stop at scuppers and channels, you were wrong. In fact, in the race between kayak manufacturers to overdo each other by introducing details and accessories in increasing numbers, many SOT kayaks today feature additional elements that generate extra drag, and further slow you down –
Those include fins, keels and skegs, and pedal driven kayaks feature flapping fins or propellers.
The additional effort required to propel SOT or hybrid kayaks that feature such elements is significantly greater than the effort required to propel simple sit-in kayaks of similar proportions, and it’s much greater than the effort required to propel a W kayak.

Clearly, as SOT kayaks become bigger, wider, heavier, over accessorized and dysfunctional through clutter, we are witnessing the end of a design cycle that began sometime in the end of the 1960s, when people started outfitting paddle boards with seats and footrests and called them sit-on-top kayaks…

What makes the Wavewalk 500 faster and easier to paddle than other fishing kayaks?

Before getting their Wavewalk kayak, many of our clients had tested or owned common fishing kayaks, and they weren’t too happy with the way these kayaks performed with regards to several basic requirements which are essential to paddling. In contrast, the same people find the Wavewalk 500 very easy to paddle and handle.
This article explains some of the technical differences between the W500 and all other fishing kayaks, and how these differences work to the advantage of W kayakers.

What makes common fishing kayaks special as a class of kayaks?

If you walked into a store that sells all kinds of paddle craft (e.g. canoes, touring kayaks, sea kayaks, recreational kayaks) and you looked at at the fishing kayak models side by side with the other kayaks, you’d notice that fishing kayaks look chubbier. In other words, they are wider than the other types of kayaks, and some of them are almost as wide as the big canoes displayed in the store.
The main reason for this is that fishing kayaks are required to be more stable than other kayaks, and the only way to make a mono-hull kayak stabler is by widening its hull.
This gain in stability comes at a price, and you as a paddler pays it by having to paddle harder since your kayak is slower and tracks poorly – It zigzags and responds better to the wind that deflects it from its intended course than to your efforts to go straight forward.
For this reason, fishing kayaks have a bad reputation among kayakers, who call them barges, and rightfully so.

What makes the common fishing kayak design so problematic?

Poor tracking – To begin with, a wide kayak hull compels the low-seated paddler to move their paddle more horizontally than vertically. This drives the paddle blade in a curved trajectory rather than an efficient straight trajectory in parallel to the kayak’s direction on travel. As a result, each paddle stroke changes the kayak’s direction in a way that’s easily noticeable, and the paddler must correct it with a paddle stroke on the kayak’s opposite side, which in its turn would deflect the kayak to the other direction… Such alternation between left and right is known as zigzagging, and it’s a most inefficient way to go forward because it increases the actual length of your route, and on top of this, changing course in itself requires acceleration, which is lossy in energy terms, especially when it’s done repeatedly with every paddle stroke.

Poor tracking under wind – This is a special case in which the wind works to deflect the fishing kayak from its course, and since these kayaks neither paddle nor handle well, they become particularly hard to paddle, to a point where getting back to shore may no longer be guaranteed… This difficulty in tracking is why practically every high-end fishing kayak is outfitted with a rudder, which can help the paddler track, but further slows them down – Using a rudder slows the kayak by 10% in average.

Low speed – A boat’s speed is closely associated with its hull’s length – The longer the faster. It’s also associate with its hull’s width – the narrower the faster.
In hydrodynamic design terms, a hull whose Length to Beam (length to width) ratio is below 6:1 is considered to be slow, and a hull whose L/B ratio is over 20:1 is considered as optimal for speed. Typically, recreational boats’ hulls have a L/B ratio somewhere between the two.
To better understand this, let’s check a few examples –

  1. a typical sea kayak (fast touring kayak) can be 18 ft long and 24 inches wide. Its L/B ratio of 9:1 makes it fairly quick.
  2. a large size fishing kayak that’s 14 ft long and 30 inches wide has a 5.6:1 L/B ratio, which is rather slow.
  3. a fishing kayak that’s 12 ft long and 36 inches wide has a 4:1 L/B ratio, which is extremely slow and pretty much impossible to paddle to a long distance.
  4. a fishing kayak with a 12 ft long and 41 inch wide hull has a 3.5:1 L/B ratio, which makes it really hard for a one person crew to paddle to any distance, and –
  5. a fishing kayak that’s only 10 ft long and 38.5 inches wide has a 3.1:1 L/B ratio, which could make paddling a stack of plywood easier, if you wanted to try paddling either of these floating objects.

In other words, the chubbiest among fishing kayaks are unfit for paddling, unless your plan is to fish in ponds or in small, protected lakes.

How does the Wavewalk 500 compare?

Unlike mono-hull kayaks, the W invention offers a totally different way to make the kayak stabler without making it excessively wide. This offers advantages in speed and tracking as well –

L/B and speed – In comparison, the W500 is 11.4 ft long, and each of his twin hulls is 8 inches wide. This 17:1 L/B ratio for one hull and 8.5:1 ratio for the two hulls joined together is far better in speed terms than the fastest fishing kayak hull out there. In real life terms, this design allows the W500 to be as fast as a 13 ft touring kayak, which is a narrower and faster design than fishing kayaks of similar size and even bigger size.  More info on kayak design for speed >

Easy tracking – The W500 is just 29 inches wide, which makes it the world’s narrowest twin hull (a.k.a. catamaran). It also allows the paddler to paddle it from a higher position. The combination of these two attributes makes it easy for the paddler to apply vertical strokes and have the paddle blade travel efficiently in parallel to the kayak’s direction of travel, instead of moving in a curved trajectory. This in itself improves the W kayak’s tracking, but the fact that the paddler rides the saddle in a position that’s more powerful and ergonomic than the L kayaking position offered by other kayaks adds another dimension of efficiency and power to the paddler’s ability to handle their kayak and make it go where the  want.
Catamarans have a longer wetted length (WL) than mono-hull kayaks of similar size, and this feature makes them track better. In this sense, the W kayak is a catamaran, and indeed it tracks better than any other kayak out there, including sea kayaks that are much longer. In fact, no paddler ever found it necessary to outfit their W kayak with a rudder.

Great tracking under wind – One the the W kayak’s unique features is its long saddle that offers the paddler a simple and easy way to relocate for and aft in the cockpit. By doing so, the paddler can instantly change the kayak’s center of gravity (CG), and with it the way the kayak reacts to strong wind. In other words, the W kayak enables the paddler to use the power of the wind to help them direct the kayak, I.E. to stay on track. This simple, unique and most effective steering method is explained in an instructional article entitled W kayaking in strong wind >

Other considerations – Ergonomics and bio mechanics

Since all mono-hull kayaks offer variations on one paddling position known as the L position, these considerations are not useful for understanding differences between mono-hull fishing kayaks and other types mono-hull kayaks, such as recreational kayak, touring kayaks, etc.
In contrast, W kayaks offer several paddling positions, including the Riding position, which is both more powerful and more comfortable than the L position. This offers yet another advantage to the W kayaker, in the sense that they don’t suffer from back pain and leg numbness that are typically associated with traditional kayaking, and for this reason they don’t have to struggle with premature fatigue and discomfort, and thus dispose of more energy to keep paddling even in adverse weather and water conditions.
This is why the W kayak is favored by paddlers and anglers who suffer from disabilities, are middle aged or elderly, non-athletic, and by those who don’t benefit from a high level of physical fitness.
Indeed, W kayakers can often be seen out there on a river or a lake in poor weather conditions that drive other kayakers back to their homes, or discourage them from going on water to begin with.