About fishing kayak design, innovation, upgrades, accessories, etc.

This article is based on questions emailed to us by Dan from Southern Australia, and on our response to his questions.

Dan wrote us: -“Hi guys at Wavewalk. Congratulations on a great product. I am a recent convert to this kayak fishing scene and am still in the process of deciding what yak will suit me and my fishing. After trolling the net for weeks I found video of your craft and was very excited – OK it’s not the sexiest rig around but seemed to be the smartest design… So my problem is you guys have built this thing and stopped!… Where’s the upgrades, where’s the factory accessories, what’s the deal with the foam noodles everyone?…”

And this was our answer to Dan’s questions:

Thanks Dan,

Indeed, the kayak business is extremely competitive.
We’ve started selling our kayaks back in 2004, and since then we’ve seen most of our competitors either disappear or change owners –
This includes small, medium size and big kayak companies.

Our competitors offer products that are essentially the same, namely variations on sit-in and sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks.
If you look at the designs (forms) themselves, you’ll find no noteworthy change in the past 40 years since such kayaks were first roto-molded.
None of our competitors has any technological advantage over the others, so they are forced to compete by offering many accessories, whether that makes sense or not, plenty of unnecessary detail in their designs, intensive promotion (hype), and price.

Wavewalk has a proprietary technology that puts us in a different category.
Following a few, tested principles has helped us thrive in this highly competitive environment –
These principles are:

1. You can’t argue with success

We keep expanding, and we’re very attentive to what our clients say. Our clients spend long hours on the water, and they demand a system that’s robust, comfortable, and works perfectly in all circumstances, so this is what we offer them.

2. Simplicity rules

Nothing beats simplicity in design, and since our kayaks beat any other kayak in terms of functionality, there is no real demand from us to add accessories and detail to what we offer.

3. What’s best for the client is best for us

We used to offer anchors, stake-out poles, paddle clips, a variety of deck mounted rod holders, and even more paddles, until we reached the conclusion that our clients are best served when they buy such accessories in fishing and boating stores after they got the kayak from us, and know exactly which accessories they actually need. We may be losing a few dollars on each sale, but at least we know that our clients face a better choice than what we could have possibly offered them, and they’re not pushed to buy products they might not necessarily need, or may not be the best choice for them.

4. Focus on what you do best

Our clients consider the W kayak to be the world’s best fishing kayak (see customer reviews > ). Clients who’ve fished out of other craft including motorboats consider the W to be the world’s best personal fishing craft. Our recently introduced motorized W kayak successfully competes against small motorboats (see: http://microskiff.us ). This is to say that we keep leading in true, substantial and meaningful innovation, because that’s what we focus on.

“I have caught more largemouth bass from my W500 kayak than in the previous 50 years+ combined…” By Michael Chesloff, NY

I’ll add that I have had 7 previous boats but that this year I have caught more largemouth bass from my W500 kayak than in the previous 50 years+ combined due to the unlimited access it provides to launch in every and any size body of water.

I have been out in my W500 a lot, each time resisting making any permanent modifications as much as possible until I get the feel for the best way to rig it.
I am very pleased with the W.
I’ll add that I have had 7 previous boats but that this year I have caught more largemouth bass from my W500 kayak than in the previous 50 years+ combined due to the unlimited access it provides to launch in every and any size body of water.

I have outriggers as part of my W fishing kayak set-up. I had this hardware already as I used it on my square-ended canoe.  I use them when I deploy the Honda 2hp because of the need to turn sideways and make sudden, hard pulls on the starter rope. Hopefully they will prove to be nothing more than “training wheels” after a while. I should note that I use an aluminum mount, my pontoons are foam (lightweight), they are set to ride above the water and are only used with the motor. The bar is bolted to the W500 (just 2 tiny holes at the apex of the spray skirt) and the pontoons snap on/off in 5 seconds.
I encountered promotional videos for kayak outriggers that I believe serve as good advertisement for your amazing kayak.

I still haven’t had the opportunity to go out in the W500 in a bathing suit and test the “tipping point” (actually make the boat capsize). I think it would be very useful to see a video of someone deliberately and carefully tipping the W500 as another way (versus the dramatic, jumping and rocking videos) to show how far you can go. Maybe right next to typical SIT and SOT models of about the same length (with brand ids hidden!) to highlight the differences.

I’ll provide some pics of my “Banana Split” soon as I think I am done with the configuration. The boat is very deliberately named Banana Split partially because of the color I chose, but more due to its multiple personalities! I think people will find the solutions to my fishing requirements useful.

After seeing Sungjin assembling a meal on board his kayak, maybe I’ll try chao (stir-frying) something in the W500 at some point!

Best regards,

Upstate New York

3lb bass caught on Cape Cod kayak fishing trip

Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >

A Fair-Weather Fishing Kayak

John Fabina from Milwaukee had a good laugh when he first saw ads by a well known, nationwide, catalog and online distributor of outdoor apparel and gear –
The ads were for high-end (labeled “deluxe”!…) sit-in angling kayaks, and they stated the following versions of the same information (quote):
“For outings of a few hours in calm to light winds on lakes, ponds and protected bays” and –
“For outings of a few hours in calm to light winds”

So why did John laugh about these fishing kayaks ads?…

Simply, because John has been paddling kayaks and fishing from them for many years, and he immediately understood what the advertisers really meant to say, which was:
“This kayak would make your back hurt within a short time, and sooner than later, you’d want to end your misery, and paddle back home. Besides, don’t even think to fish from it when the wind blows, or in moving water, because eddies would fill its low cockpit with water in no time, and you’d find your butt marinating in a floating pool… On top of this, you’d find it really hard to control this kayak and paddle it, because such kayaks don’t track well, and sooner or later you’d find yourself struggling to paddle back to your launching spot, pretty much at the mercy of the wind. In other words, our “deluxe” sit-in fishing yak is just a flat water craft, and essentially, a fair-weather friend – It’s not a reliable piece of gear.  And since we’re a respectable and cautious outdoor gear and apparel company, we said something about it, so don’t say we didn’t warn ya!”

And from his own experience, John knows that paddling while you’re wet and your back is sore is no fun at all, and it should be avoided.
John also knows that there’s no such thing as guaranteed fair-weather and mirror flat water doesn’t stay that flat for long, and he knows the weather has a tendency to change without consulting with kayakers, or anglers, and the wind has a nasty tendency to blow from where it comes, and not necessarily where you’d want it to go…

So why does that particular outdoor gear and apparel vendor tell its clients something about the limitations of those sit-in angling kayaks? It has to do with the terms of purchase that company offers, which include an unconditional return policy, with no questions asked. In other words, the vendor expects to have issues with unsatisfied clients wanting to return the lemons they had purchased, which is why somehow limiting the buyers’ expectations before they buy would be a reasonable measure to take.

Our article’s intention is not to criticize that particular kayak vendor, but rather the opposite (well, sort of): This vendor at least tries to warn their clients about potential issues. They don’t make blatantly false claims such as “this kayak is so stable that you can fish standing in it”, which is a common, misleading statement that both kayak manufacturers and vendors often use. This particular vendor doesn’t claim that the angling kayak they offer for sale is ‘ergonomic’, which is yet another ridiculous claim that practically all kayak manufacturers and vendors make, one way or another… Etc.

Are These “Deluxe” Fishing Kayaks Different?

No, they’re not. Those are wide, sit-in kayaks, featuring rod holders. They are no different from any other sit-in fishing kayak, and they’re not different from sit-on-top fishing kayaks, or ‘hybrid’ fishing kayaks (low canoes), in the sense that SOTs and hybrid kayaks too force their users into the notorious L posture that hurts their back, they too get their users wet as soon as there’s some wind blowing, and they also become hard to control and paddle when the wind picks up. They’re all the same, as far as sensible anglers are concerned.

Fishing Kayaks As Fair-Weather Friends

Stay away from fair-weather friends, because they’re unreliable, and they won’t be there for you when you need them. Any boat, or kayak, must be dependable, and a kayak that’s not dependable cannot properly serve sensible anglers.
We would argue that fishing kayaks are not even friendly to begin with, as far as nearly all anglers in this country are concerned, and rightfully so. Here is an article that discusses how fishing kayaks are perceived by most anglers »

The Only Fishing Kayak That’s both Friendly and Dependable:

The W is the only kayak worthy of being called a fishing kayak. This is a broad and far reaching statement, and here is some in-depth information to back it:

  1. This article explains how you can easily and effectively paddle, steer, and control your W fishing kayak in strong wind, without using a rudder »
  2. There is no need to say much about how W kayaks offer more free board, and provide more protection to their users than any other kayak out there, but here’s some information about how you can stay dry in your W kayak in waves, rain, etc »
  3. As for how long anglers use their W kayaks in single fishing trips, you can find plenty of testimonies from actual clients, in our website’s fishing kayaks reviews section » You’d find we have elderly clients who suffer from a variety of back problems and other physical limitation that spend long hours in their W kayaks, even when the weather is less than perfect  🙂
  4. ‘Ergonomics’ is a word that everyone uses, and rather loosely, but if you’re interested to know why kayaks are synonym to back pain (a.k.a. ‘yak back’), have a look at this article about fishing kayaks’ ergonomics » The article also explains why W kayaks are known as the ‘No-Back-Pain’ kayaks
  5. Stability is recognized as being a key factor when kayak fishing is concerned, and W kayaks are far more stable than other fishing kayaks, including ones that feature various stabilizers – Here’s an article discussing fishing kayaks’ stability »

Yep, that pretty much summarizes the difference between all those fair-weather yaks, and yaks for fishing in the real world, known as W kayaks: The only kayaks worthy of being called fishing kayaks, because they actually solve problems that other kayaks merely address.

First WaveWalk Paddle Trip, By Lee Chastant

Took my WaveWalk out this morning for my first paddle and decided to take a trip thru some of our marshes down here. According to a google earth retracing of my steps I covered about 5.7 miles in 2 hours at a leisurely pace (as would be expected from a Retired Gentleman of Leisure).
The wind was blowing about 8 mph when I started and picked up to 15 to 20 towards the last half of the trip. We had a thunder storm moving in with the usual increase in winds, cloudiness and slight drop in temperature. Literally “no sweat.”
This gave me a chance to compare how the WaveWalk handled the wind as compared to my experiences with both sit in and sit on top kayaks. I think that I can sum it up as WOW! All I had to do was shift my position to raise the bow or stern enough to give me enough weather vane effect to keep me pretty much on a straight course. It took a little experimentation, but I picked up on it pretty quick. I also think that the wind being channeled between the 2 hulls helped me stay on line to a degree. The main point is that I did NOT have to paddle just on one side to keep my heading in a quartering or broadside wind, even when crossing open water. Just scoot towards bow or stern and keep on truckin’.
I had a tug pushing a load of barges up the Neches River throw a pretty good wake at me when I was fixin’ to cross on my way back to the launch. I was pretty nervous, but I shifted my weight all the way to the back of the cockpit and took the 1.5 to 2 foot wake head on. No problems once I got over the initial “oh crap” moment, and the boat took the waves just fine.
I got caught in the rain for the last 40 minutes or so, but I was having so much fun that I decided that if Indians didn’t have ponchos then I didn’t need one either. I wonder if Hyawatha got as nervous as I did when the lightening started popping…
I had a great paddle.
Snuck up on birds, fish, a boat full of fisherman and the one small gator who wasn’t paying much attention. (choot ’em, Lizabet) Got a few blisters and my muscles are a little sore (hey, I’m 60) but no yak back and my shoulder with arthritis feels pretty good. I was kind of surprised when I stepped out onto land at the end of the trip and staggered around for a few minutes. It’s true – you do use the muscles in your thighs when you paddle a WaveWalk, you just don’t notice it.

Being able to change positions while paddling also helped my knees tremendously. Years ago I shattered one knee cap twice (full of screws now) and tore cartilage in the other, so that was a big plus for me.
I only have one question – how come nobody thought of a catamaran hull concept for paddling craft a long time ago? Ok, so the Polynesians may have figured it out first on a larger scale. It needs less energy to paddle than a sit in, is much more stable than a SOT, your back doesn’t hurt and your butt stays dry! What more could you ask for?
I want to thank both of you for the amount of time that you spent giving me and my friend a test drive and a few tips. The only thing that I would suggest so far is a couple of tie downs inside the hull to tie a small dry box or whatever to securely keep your ID, cell phone, fishing license and maybe a few bucks from going swimming if you get swamped or capsize. Just a thought…

Anyway, thanks guys! I’m having a blast! I’m gonna infect my son with WaveWalk fever the first chance I get, as he is still using a SOT. I think Village Creek would be a good place to start him out.

Lee Chastant

Two paddlers standing next to their fishing kayak, Texas

Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >

The Hybrid Fishing Kayak – Facts, Hype and Plain Nonsense

Hybrid Kayak Defined

The term ‘Hybrid Kayak’ is an abbreviation of ‘Hybrid Canoe-Kayak’. It’s a type of small, typically human powered watercraft that takes from the kayak in the sense that its passengers sit in it with their legs stretched forward, and use dual blade (i.e. ‘kayak’) paddles for propulsion.
The hybrid’s canoe genes are harder to track, although it’s possible to argue that a hybrid kayak is nothing more than a small, flat canoe.
However, all hybrid kayaks are very wide, and designed to provide more stability than narrower, traditional kayaks offer. It’s likely to assume that those who design and manufacture hybrid kayaks view the canoe as a watercraft that’s stabler than common kayaks are, and the reference to canoes is therefore an implicit reference to stability.

The Hybrid Kayak – A Canoe With No Free Board

One thing that hybrid kayaks don’t have is the high free board that’s characteristic to canoes. This means that hybrid kayaks offer less protection to their passengers, be it from wind, spray or waves, and water can easily get inside their hull, even from small eddies hitting the sides of the boat.
Hybrid kayaks don’t feature scupper holes in their hulls, which means that whatever water gets inside stays inside, and will get your gear as well as yourself wet. Eventually, your hybrid kayak could become too heavy to paddle, unless you pump or scoop the water out of it.
Anyone paddling a hybrid kayak in less than perfect water conditions should be prepared to deal with a drainage problem, and for this reason it’s almost impossible to see pictures or watch videos of people paddling hybrid kayaks or fishing from them unless they’re doing it on perfectly still water.

In other words, the hybrid performs poorly in moving water as well as when the wind is blowing. It’s essentially a fair weather, flat water boat.

Paddling A Hybrid Kayak

Typically, hybrid kayaks are 32 to 42 inches wide, which makes them less comfortable for paddling than traditional, narrower kayaks. This is because the extra width limits the paddle’s range of motion , and the paddler is forced to move their paddle more horizontally.
Being very wide relatively to their length (i.e. low Length to Beam ratio – L/B) makes hybrid kayaks track poorly, much like other broad sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks.
Being typically big and heavy, the hybrid kayak is what is commonly referred to as a ‘barge’.
Hybrid kayaks track so poorly that it’s hard to paddle them, and for this reason a hybrid kayak typically comes equipped with a rudder, designed to correct its tendency to zigzag.
You will seldom find a hybrid kayak used for paddling, unless this paddling effort is done as part of a fishing trip, and preferably a short one that doesn’t require much paddling. In other words, hybrid kayaks are not suitable for paddling over long distances, including camping trips.

Inevitably, like all kayaks featuring a wide hull, hybrid kayaks lack hydrodynamic features that contribute to speed, a fact that makes them notoriously slow to paddle.

Hybrid Kayak Design Features

Hybrid kayak manufacturers seem to like carving one or more long and wide ‘tunnels’ on the bottom of their kayaks’ hulls. These ‘tunnels’ are sometime big enough to allow for calling the hull a ‘tunnel hull’, but since these tunnels ‘ceiling’ (top) is always submerged, they don’t make the hull qualify as a catamaran, or twin hull. This technical fact doesn’t prevent some vendors from claiming their hybrid kayaks feature a ‘catamaran hull’, and whether such claim is made with the intention to mislead customers, or simply based on ignorance , it is a falsehood.
A tunnel hull forces some of the water to flow straight, in parallel to the boat’s direction of motion, so it is known to improve tracking. However, and contrarily to what some hybrid kayak manufacturers advertize, a tunnel hull does not increase the boat’s stability in a meaningful way, simply because it doesn’t change the fact that most of the boat’s buoyancy remains distributed along its center line, where it can’t do much to prevent the boat from tilting when it’s off balance. This is because a hybrid kayak featuring a tunnel hull is still just a mono hull kayak, and not a twin hull ( a.k.a ‘catamaran’) kayak.

Next time you see and ad claiming that a hybrid kayak features a catamaran hull, just ask yourself if it features two distinct hulls attached to each other (i.e. twin hull), or a single hull (mono hull) with a tunnel carved on its bottom (tunnel hull).

Stability In Hybrid Kayaks

The quest for better stability is the hybrid kayak’s reason for being. It’s the only thing that justifies the existence of this relatively new type of boat, and the market where kayak stability is appreciated the most is fishing, since a fishing kayak is required to be as stable as possible, and the more stable it is, the better.
However, the additional stability offered by hybrid kayaks stems just from their being wider, and it’s not necessarily enough. In other words, the hybrid concept is more stable than the Touring kayak concept, but it’s not necessarily stable enough for fishing in real world conditions, which include fishing standing in full confidence and reasonable safety, and fishing in moving water. Sales of hybrid kayaks are often promoted through images and staged movies showing someone fishing while standing in them. Such visuals can be misleading, since standing in a kayak always means that sooner or later the person standing will lose balance for some reason, and since there isn’t enough buoyancy on the hybrid kayak’s sides, that person will fall overboard and in many cases flip the kayak. Falling overboard is the only possible reaction, since falling inside the hybrid kayak is impossible, as it is in any other kayak, except W kayaks, which are equipped with a high saddle on which the passenger can easily fall and regain their balance instantly and intuitively, and since W kayaks offer several times more buoyancy on their sides – away from the center line of their twin hull, and since the passenger standing in a W kayak have each of their feet positioned lower, at the bottom of each hull.
A tunnel hull adds a little resistance to rolling (lateral motion), but when push comes to shove, a hybrid kayak is not much stabler than a similarly broad, flat bottomed sit-in kayak. It may be more stable than a wide sit-on-top kayak just because the passenger of a SOT kayak is seated or standing on top of a deck that’s several inches above waterline, which puts their center of gravity (CG) very high without offering any means to compensate for the lost stability.

Next time to see a picture or a movie of someone fishing standing in a hybrid kayak, ask yourself a simple question: -“Does it make sense?”. Your answer is likely to be something like “This is nonsense”, and if this is the case, you’d be right.

‘Ergonomic’ – A Misused and Abused Adjective

It is an established fact that being seated in a kayak hurts your back. Practically all sit-in and SOT kayak manufacturers try to address this problem by offering seats padded with extra foam (a.k.a. ‘ergonomic’ seats). Such seats can’t do do much to solve the problem, since it originates in the L position, and the combined effect of footrests and backrest, with your own legs continuously pushing your lower back against the latter, while getting leverage from the first.
The L position is a back killer, and not the material from which the seat is made, but hybrid kayak manufacturers often outfit their product with a canvas seat resembling a beach seat, and claim it is more ‘ergonomic’ than a conventional kayak seat made from foam.
A canvas seat can’t do much to solve the back pain felt by the passenger paddling a hybrid kayak, because the passenger has to push with their legs against something in order to maintain their own balance, as well as their kayak’s balance – whether the are paddling or fishing.
The fact that such canvas seat is slightly higher than the typical kayak seat, is used by hybrid kayak manufacturers to claim that it’s less hard on the passenger’s back than the typical kayak seat is. However, such claim is not necessarily anchored in reality, since a canvas seat can elevate the kayaker’s center of gravity (CG), without offering means to compensate them for the stability lost by the extra height. Therefore, passengers of hybrid kayaks need to push stronger with their feet against the footrests, and inevitably, with their back against the seat. Pushing harder while sitting higher leads to back pain and other problems that are similar to those that other kayakers experience in regular sit-in and SOT kayaks.
The bottom line is that you can’t create better ergonomic solutions to a problem without having the means enabling you to adopt a truly different approach to it, and if a different approach is not physically possible, the new solution offered may seem different, but it won’t be better.

Motorizing Hybrid Kayaks

The hybrid kayak is a barge. Period. However, since it’s stabler than narrower mono-hull kayak designs, some people use it for fishing, and among these anglers there are some who outfit their hybrid yak with electric trolling motors. This is not a bad idea in itself, except that it makes the already heavy and cumbersome kayak heavier and more cumbersome, to a point where car topping it is no more possible, and transporting it to the launching beach becomes very is hard. This effectively turns the motorized hybrid fishing kayak into a small, slow motorboat that offers far less comfort and protection than a dinghy or a small skiff, and being a small boat, it demands transportation on a trailer, and launching from a boat ramp. In other words, it loses the comparative advantage that kayaks have compared to bigger boats, which is their light weight, relative ease of transportation, and more places to launch from.

If you happen to drive a motorized hybrid kayak too fast, or through waves and even just eddies, you’ll get sprayed from the bow and the sides, and water would get inside your kayak’s cockpit.

More about motorized fishing kayaks >>

Pedal Driven Hybrid Kayaks

Pedal drives for kayak propulsion are hyped as much as hybrid kayaks are, if not more. Without getting into details, pedal drives for kayaks are not the panacea, and they exacerbate the basic ergonomic problems that are typical too all kayaks paddled in the L position. There are basically two types of pedal drives for kayaks: one featuring push pedals and flapping ‘wings’, and the other featuring rotating pedals and a rotational propeller. All we can say here is that the latter is not as bad as the first, and these complex technical issues are discussed in depth in another article, dedicated entirely to the subject of pedal driven kayaks.

The Hybrid Fishing Kayak – Bottom Line

Hybrid fishing kayaks are suitable for fishing trips that are short in distance, and of short duration, on flat water, in fair weather, and when no wind is blowing. They are suitable neither for stand up paddling nor for stand up fishing.

Typically, hybrid kayaks are used in ponds and small lakes, or on slow moving rivers. The hybrid fishing kayak is a barge to paddle, and although it is possible to outfit it a trolling motor, doing so results in some non-negligible problems.

The hybrid fishing kayak offers no solution to the yack back problem that’s typical to other kayaks in which passengers are not properly seated, i.e. must paddle and fish with their legs stretched in front of them, in the infamous L position.