How hard is kayak fishing?

Fishing kayaks have become a permanent feature of ponds, lakes, rivers, and estuaries, typically in the southern parts of this country, and although kayak fishing stopped growing as a sport years ago, it is practiced by thousands of anglers, of which many believe that the fact that fishing from a kayak isn’t easy to say the least, makes them an elite group of anglers.
There also are many anglers who are looking to start fishing from a kayak, and they are considering both advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
This article is for them –

So how hard is it to fish from a kayak, really?

The answer depends on who’s asking –
If you’re young and in good physical shape, and you fish flat, protected water, and you don’t have to paddle or pedal long distances to get to your favorite fishing ground (and back from it…), it could make sense for you to try kayak fishing, and see if you’re capable of adapting to this very demanding and often unrewarding sport.
But if you’re middle aged or older, and/or not in good shape, kayak fishing is likely to prove to be too hard for you, for multiple reasons, most of them are related to safety, and to kayaks’ poor ergonomics –

Safety first

Most boating accidents in the US happen to people in small vessels, and kayaks (and canoes) are the smallest vessels out there.
On top of this basic statistical fact, most kayaks are human powered, and not equipped even with an auxiliary motor, such as a trolling motor. This means that in real-world terms, these kayaks are seriously under-powered, and their users can easily drift away in unwanted directions, or be prevented from finding their way back to where they started their fishing trip due to fatigue, coupled with unfavorable wind and/or currents and/or waves.

Kayaks are notoriously unstable

Except for the W700 catamaran kayak-skiff, even the biggest and widest fishing kayaks on the market are not stable enough to guarantee that the anglers who stand on them would be able to keep standing if something unexpectedly destabilizes them. It can be a motorboat’s wake hitting the kayak, a big fish they hooked who’s swimming in the wrong direction, a sudden gust of wind, drifting towards the branches of a tree that’s growing on the bank, hitting a submerged object, or simply losing stability due to a person’s miscalculated movement. Being stable standing up on these inherently unstable vessels is hard, no matter what, and “Stuff Happens” is the rule, not the exception.

Kayaks are notoriously uncomfortable

But if you don’t stand up on your kayak, you’re sitting down on its deck in the L Posture, which is notoriously uncomfortable, and sooner or later leads to back pain and leg numbness. And as much as you love fishing, it’s hard to enjoy it if your legs are numb and your back hurts. Sitting in the L posture is so prone to generating back pain, that it led to the coining of the popular expression “Yak Back”, which means backache.
Yak Back seems to be the primary reason why most people who try kayak fishing end up quitting it. You can settle for a limited range of travel and limited choices in terms of fishing grounds, and you can accept the fact that you can’t fish standing up, but fishing while being in pain is too hard, and it defeats the purpose of having fun. And by the way, back pain is the number one source of disability for American adults.

Practical considerations

On top of the above mentioned considerations, kayak fishing is exceptionally hard compared to fishing from skiffs and boats due to the combination of sub-optimal fishing posture and the small area of the deck that the angler can reach.
Landing a fish in the deck space between one’s legs is not easy, and not exactly where you’d prefer to deal with a fish, especially if it’s big and powerful.
Reaching for fishing gear stored in various parts of the kayak’s deck is hard, and sometimes even impossible, which is most inconvenient.
The same is true for motorizing SOT kayaks, since in most cases their motor is stern mounted, and the back tip of a conventional kayak (not in the W700) is several feet behind the driver’s seat, which is too far.

Bottom line

If you’re attracted by the low cost, portability, low maintenance, and shallow water capabilities of fishing kayaks, but you’re deterred by the fact that fishing from a kayak is too hard and unsafe, you may want to take a look at the Wavewalk 700 catamaran kayak (W700), which offers all these advantages that other kayaks offer, without any of the hardships and inconveniences that come with them.
And if you’re attracted by the W700 kayak-skiff idea, and you’d like to take it even further in terms of performance, seaworthiness and comfort, you’re looking at the S4 cartop microskiff (seen in the picture above).

How To Trim Your Microskiff For Optimal Speed

The Key To Optimal Speed

The above diagram of the parts of a portable outboard motor will serve to explain the steps we recommend, and those that we deem “advanced”, namely optional, as their contribution to speed improvements is not guaranteed.

The Problem To Overcome

Typically, a small boat weighs more at its stern than at its bow. This is because its motor is mounted at its stern, and the driver sits next to it.
The combined weight of the motor and driver  pushes the stern downward, and consequently, the bow upward. The faster the boat goes, the lower the stern and the higher the bow will be, because of the wave that the boat’s hull generates while it moves in the water.

The problem with this tilted position of the boat is that it tends to generate more resistance from the water than if the boat is level, with its bow and stern at the same height from the surface of the water. The result of this increased resistance is a decrease in the boat’s speed.
Therefore, the challenge of the small boat’s owner is to get their boat to a position that’s more level, namely horizontal, while it goes in the water at full throttle.

Basic Steps –

Before Trimming

Outfit The Motor With The Highest Pitch Propeller –
The higher the propeller’s pitch, the faster it can drive the boat.
One of the reasons why we recommend the Tohatsu and Mercury portable outboards is because they can be outfitted with the highest pitch propellers for their size. For example, the 6 HP outboard that these two companies offer comes with an 8″ pitch propeller, which is fine for a boat that’s as lightweight as the S4, and it can take a 9″ pitch propeller.

For optimal performance of the propeller, Outboard Motor Manufacturers recommend to have the Anti Ventilation Plate (see above diagram) between 1″ and 2″ below the surface. Higher than this would loss of power due to ventilation, namely air mixing with the water in which the propeller rotates, and lower would cause more drag.

1. Adjust The Motor’s Trim Angle

This is done by inserting the horizontal metal pin called “Thrust Rod” in the lowest pair of holes in the Stern Bracket, namely the pair of holes that’s closest to the boat’s transom. This will force the propeller forward, and the bow downward when the boat is moving.

Trim Angle Adjsutment
Don’t worry, you’ll understand everything once you look at a motor in real life
2. Drive The boat From Its Middle Instead Of From Its Stern

A typical 6 HP outboard motor weighs around 60 lbs, and there is no way to attach it elsewhere but to the transom. In comparison, a typical driver can weigh from double this weight to six times as much, that is from 120 lb to 360 lbs.
This means that by moving the driver from the stern area forward, towards the middle of the boat, we will considerably reduce the downward pressure on the stern. This can be achieved by outfitting the motor with a U-jointed Tiller Extension. This accessory is a long tube that features a joint (articulation), and it allows the driver to sit or stand at a distance from the motor, and drive while still facing forward.
U-jointed tiller extensions are sold online, and they are not expensive.

3. Place a Horizontal Dowel In The Motor’s Stern Bracket

See diagram of the outboard motor’s parts at the top of this page: The 3/4″ or 1″ diameter wooden dowel is represented by a red dot. It is placed inside the rounded corner of the Stern Bracket, and it is held in place by the pressure of the clamp screws on this bracket.
Such dowel forces the motor into an even more aggressive trim angle than the Thrust Rod alone allows for.
This can yield positive results on flat water, but driving in choppy water and waves with the bow pointing too low can cause the boat to slam into incoming waves, and dive in front of following waves, instead of going over them.
Bottom line: Think twice before using such a dowel.

4. Outfit The Propeller Shaft With a Hydrofoil

A hydrofoil generates upward thrust on the motor, and thus forces the stern upward and the bow downward. It works, typically. The problem is that being fully submerged at all times, a hydrofoil is an element that’s not very efficient, since it generates drag whenever the boat is moving, especially at higher speeds.
In our view, if you trim the motor aggressively and you drive it from its middle instead of from its stern (see steps 1 – 3), there would be little to gain in speed terms from outfitting the motor with a hydrofoil. It could work, but you’d better lower your expectations.

5. Add Weight To The Bow

This may work, but only if the driver is very lightweight, and the fact that they drive from the middle of the boat doesn’t do much in terms of alleviating the stern and pushing the bow downward. Generally speaking, adding weight to the bow is not a good idea, because the hull of a heavier boat displaces more water, and therefore generates more resistance when it moves through it, and more resistance means less speed.



Great little boat, we have a lot of fun with it

By Drew Kirkpatrick

North Carolina

We live on the sound side, which is where we usually use our S4 skiff. Oceanside is pretty rough here at the bottom of the outer banks.

kids walking towards anchored S4 microskiff, NC

We have hopped islands a bit crossing channels and such, but mostly we roll it down to street to the neighborhood pier and slide it into the sound.

S4 microskiff in the sound, NC

Haven’t really put much gear on it, we use 6hp Tohatsu. We mostly fish from our neighborhood pier, and use the skiff to beach on the sandbars on the sides of the intercoastal waterway to dig up sand dollars.

S4 microskiff NC

Great little boat, we have a lot of fun with it.

I have a lot of folks ask about the S4 here, it certainly catches peoples attention

S4 microskiff beached 6 HP Tohatsu outboard motor, white

storage system for S4 microskiff
Storage system for S4 microskiff

Decimating blue catfish with my S4

By Captain Larry Jarboe

Wavewalk Adventures, Key Largo

Another short visit to the Mallows Bay National Park on the Potomac River.
Launched the S4 at 10:30 AM and was back on the trailer and headed home before 1 PM.
So, this is what an hour’s worth of fishing looks like when you follow the tide.

And, have a vessel to get you far enough out to the river channel where the Blue Cats are getting fat for the winter.

These fish are delicious and considered an invasive species by the Md. Dept. of Natural Resources. They want fishermen to catch and kill them all.
Been doing my part…

blue catfish caught in the S4 microskiff

(Continued): The next day…

What other kayak or micro-skiff can carry countless catfish for live delivery? The catfish carrying capacity of this boat is unbelievable.

S4 microskiff loaded with blue catfish

Had another nice day at Mallows Bay but I think I will target some other species.

Starting to smell like catfish bait…



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