I get back pain from sitting in other kayaks, but never in this one, even after eight hours offshore. It’s really good for your back.
You sit in it like on the saddle of a jet ski, but sometimes I sit sideways, with two feet in one hull.
Casting and sitting sideways
South Florida Kayak Fishing Club Dania Beach FL 4-29-2016
My biggest tuna ever
I store my fishing tackle in boxes inside the hulls.
I outfitted my Wavewalk 500 kayak with a 2.5 hp Suzuki outboard motor. I was one of the first guys with a motor in the South Florida Fishing Club. Sometimes I fish almost 3 miles out with my motorized Wavewalk 500, so I had to put adjustable outriggers on it for more stability. Before I added the outriggers I flipped it about 60 yards from the pier, and it was not cool, so I don’t recommend that you drive it offshore and in the currents without stabilizers.
The world’s most stable kayak is the Wavewalk S4. This kayak is so stable that three anglers can fish from it while standing in full confidence. Three adults paddlers can paddle standing in it, and they can travel in it at speeds exceeding 15 mph when it’s outfitted with a powerful outboard motor.
The purpose of this article is to elucidate the general principles of kayak stability, and to explain what enabled us create the world’s most stable kayaks for fishing, paddling, and motorizing, based on the invention described in US utility patent number 6871608 entitled ‘Twin Hull Personal Watercraft’.
Before going further, we recommend that you watch these two short demo movies:
1. Boat-like, absolute stability offered by the W700 series:
2. Before the W700 showed up, the W500 was the world’s most stable kayak :
WHAT IS STABILITY?
Stability is defined as resistance to change, deterioration, or displacement, and it is synonym to reliability and dependability. In naval terms it means the ability of a watercraft to maintain equilibrium or resume its original, upright position after tilting as a result of the action of waves, wind, or passengers.
This article discusses lateral stability and not directional stability namely tracking, which is discussed in other articles on this website.
WHY IS LATERAL STABILITY SO IMPORTANT?
Lateral stability is a key factor in kayaking and kayak fishing since it enables prevention of accidents as well as increases the well being of kayakers and kayak fishermen.
This article explains the basic terms used in kayak design in the context of stability, and how the patented W kayak offers a degree of lateral stability previously thought to be unattainable in kayaks.
Before going further the author of this article would like to stress that in his opinion the idea of relying on the kayaker’s skills in performing the ‘Eskimo Roll’ as a primary resource in safety terms has largely failed since the overwhelming majority of people who paddle kayaks in recent decades has ignored it, and increasingly so. The reason for this is that rolling is basically a method of recovery and not a means of prevention. This explains why most manufacturers and kayakers apply common sense and prefer to prevent accidents rather than focus on unreliable recovery techniques.
PRIMARY (INITIAL) AND SECONDARY STABILITY
Primary (Initial) stability refers to what the kayak feels like when used in flat water – Does the kayak convey a basic sense of ease and confidence as far as its stability goes?
Secondary stability refers to how easy it is to stabilize and control the kayak once it’s already heeled, or generally speaking in adverse conditions where it is either constantly and/or suddenly being tilted on its side – either because of an external force or because of something the kayaker did.
Both primary and secondary stability are important but while primary stability relates mainly to how the kayak passengers feels, secondary stability is what mostly affects their safety and performance in paddling and fishing.
Any further discussion about these terms would be futile without determining who’s inside the boat, since in most cases the passenger weighs several times more than the kayak itself, and he/she is the key factor that affects the way the boat reacts to destabilizing forces, whether external or internal.
Flat water racing kayaks can be as 18″ or 19″ narrow, while some fishing kayaks have a beam that’s over 40″. The first are designed for use by highly skilled and relatively small kayakers that can’t stabilize such kayaks without keeping their paddle in the water, while the latter are required to offer good stability mostly to bigger and less skilled paddlers that occasionally happen to be fighting big and strong fish, and often stand up in their kayak when paddling and fishing if they happen to be using W fishing kayaks.
Therefore,primary stability has much to do with comfort and secondary stability is what helps you from getting your kayak overturned in real life conditions, whether you’re surfing with it in five foot waves or fighting a big and powerful fish.
HOW TO MAXIMIZE KAYAK STABILITY?
1. What works best
The most effective method is applied in the patented W kayaks, and it consists of minimizing the destabilizing effect of the kayaker’s weight on the kayak in traditional (monohull) kayaks, and making use of this weight and other attributes in W kayaks. In order for this method to be effective this weight needs to be applied as low as possible, preferably much lower than the waterline, that is below the surface.
In traditional, monohull, sit-in kayaks the designer who wants to apply this method would try to lower the kayaker’s center of gravity (CG) by designing a deeper hull and placing the kayaker’s lowest parts as closely as possible to the bottom of the kayak.
In this case the designer’s efforts will be limited by the fact that traditional kayaks must have a shallow draft or else they won’t offer sufficient free board, and by the modern kayaker’s need for a padded seat, which places him/her at about a couple of inches distance higher than the hull’s lowest point.
This approach is mostly passive and regards the kayaker as a load having certain physical properties such as height, width and weight.
Applying this method of stabilization in sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, which have gained roughly one third of the kayak market today is not possible because the SOT kayaker must sit several inches above waterline in order to enable water to drain down from the deck through the scupper holes, and try to prevent the deck from being often flooded by water coming from below through those holes.
The W kayak is not restricted with issues of free board and draft, and it enables the kayaker to apply his own weight directly to the lowest point of each hull through his feet, especially in the standing or riding positions (see user manual) where the legs carry most of the weight. This stabilizing method works less effectively in the sitting position, which is also less effective ergonomically and biomechanically – similarly to the traditional sitting position in kayaks.
This approach in W kayaks takes into account the kayaker’s physical attributes such as size and weight, as well as his/her physiological attributes namely his/her natural propensity and obvious capability to balance himself/herself naturally through the use of their legs, feet etc.
Wavewalk kayaks and boats feature a saddle seat that’s similar to the saddles of personal watercraft (PWC), all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and motorbikes. This high-performance saddle enables the rider to benefit from maximal balancing capabilities, in a natural and intuitive way, while causing no back pain at all.
One Simple Question You Must Ask Yourself:
For a clearer understanding of this point we recommend that the readers ask themselves the following question: -“Would I consider sitting in the traditional, L kayaking position when surfing, riding a horse, riding a snowmobile, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), a jet ski etc.?”
The answer would be “Never!“, naturally, and this is because all these sporting activities require active and efficient balancing, which is best achieved through the use of our legs, and for this purpose the L kayaking position is worthless.
This above image shows a frontal view of a W500 Kayak and its 4″ (10 cm) draft when loaded with a 200 lb (90 kg) passenger. The red arrows show where the kayakers apply their weight, with their feet positioned and acting at the lowest point in each hull’s bottom – in this case it’s case 4 inches below waterline.
2. The traditional approach: A larger kayak, XL, XXL etc.
The most common solution for increasing kayak stability is widening its beam, although the wider the kayak the less efficient it is for paddling. Those extra wide fishing kayaks are practically impossible to paddle to any reasonable distance.
Improving initial lateral stability is achieved by placing maximum buoyancy as far as possible from the kayak’s longitudinal axis. In monohull kayaks (both regular and ‘tunnel’ hulled), this is achieved through a wider beam, but even the widest monohull kayak still has most of its buoyancy placed along its longitudinal axis – as shown in Figure 2, where this buoyancy is wasted as far as contribution to stability is concerned:
1. Monohull 2. W500 Twinhull
This figure shows a monohull kayak (left) and a new, W500 kayak (right) of identical length and width – Both kayaks are viewed from the bottom. The vertical, interrupted lines represent the center line of each of the two kayak forms.
The white colored areas represent those buoyant parts in the kayak that are sufficiently distant from its longitudinal axis to effectively contribute to its stability.
Although the monohull kayak on the left is wide for its length, the white areas in it still make just a small part of its overall volume. In contrast, the white areas in the W kayak on the right represent 100% of its total volume, and they are several times bigger than the white areas in the traditional kayak.
In sum, all monohull kayak designs (SIK, SOT and Tunnel hull) use just a small part of their buoyancy for effective stabilization, while the W design makes use of all its buoyancy for this purpose.
This is how the Wavewalk™ kayak is capable of offering its unrivaled initial stability and some of its legendary secondary stability.
3. Hard Chines – A Partial, Limited Assistance
Another common solution for increasing lateral stability is through minimizing the kayak’s propensity for rolling and overturning by increasing resistance to rotary motion: This can be achieved by giving the kayak a form that generates resistance from the water through the need to displace water when the kayak is tilting on its way to roll. This method is useful mainly in dealing with primary stability.
Figure 3: Comparison Of Three Kayaks’ Cross Sections
A B C
Kayak A (Left): The bottom part of this traditional kayak’s cross section is round, and such a kayak would be called ’round bottom’ (think of a virtual wheel, or a barrel). Such kayak offers practically no resistance to rotary motion, and therefore is particularly unstable.
Kayak B (Middle): The bottom part of this traditional kayak’s cross section is angular, and such a kayak would be described as having ‘hard chines’. The chine is the nautical term for the line where the side and bottom of the hull intersect. Such kayak would have to displace some water when in lateral rotary motion and thus offer more resistance than kayak A, and therefore would be more stable than kayak A.
Kayak C is a W Kayak (Right): The bottom part of this kayak must displace big quantities of water when heeling (tilting) and forced into rotary motion, and thus it offers maximal resistance to rotary forces.
A tunnel hull is a name given to a monohull with usually one ‘tunnel’ going along its longitudinal axis – from bow to stern. The tunnel is submerged, including its ‘ceiling’ (top side). Tunnel hulls have been in use since the late part of the 1870s, and the concept has already been implemented and tested in various canoe and kayak designs over the years.
Figure 4: Cross Sections of Regular and Tunnel Monohulls
Regular Mono Hull Tunnel Mono Hull
Tunnel hull kayaks are not stabler than other monohull kayak hulls (I.E. common SIK and SOT) of similar size and proportions, as will be explained here.
A tunnel hull kayak is another form of monohull (I.E. single hull) kayak – It is not a multihull kayak (see figure 2), so unlike a multihull, the tunnel hull does not distribute more buoyancy on its external sides than a regular monohull does (see figure 2). In other words, most of the tunneled hull’s buoyancy is wasted when it comes to using it to increase lateral stability, which is also the problem in other monohull designs (E.G. SIK and SOT).
It’s easy to see that with its sides considerably less buoyant than the sides of a multihull kayak a tunnel hull kayak cannot possibly be as stable.
Primary (Initial) and Secondary Stability in Tunnel Hulls
1. Primary (Initial) Stability:
If the monohull kayak’s tunnel is made deep and wide enough, and its vertical sides have the right form (see example in figure 4) they can act as additional ‘hard chines’ and thus add some initial resistance to rotational motion. This is far from being comparable to such effect in a catamaran kayak because the tunnel’s sides are shorter than the boat’s overall length while in a catamaran kayak (E.G. W kayak) the hulls’ length is equal to the boat’s overall length.
In stability terms it means that when going on flat water, certain tunnel hulled kayaks could feel more stable than comparable common monohull kayaks, that is offer a little more primary (initial) stability than a traditional SIK or SOT design. However, this potential advantage is likely not to be perceptible since it would be offset by the tunnel hull’s deficiency in buoyancy.
2. Secondary Stability:
A tunnel hull kayak may not provide additional stability for significant weight displacement of its passengers, and it wouldn’t be useful in moving water, waves and other adverse conditions: The secondary stability of a tunnel hull kayak does not exceed that of a regular monohull kayak of the same size and proportions, I.E. it’s considerably less stable than a multihull kayak.
Ergonomics as a stability factor in small boats
In a tunnel hull kayak the paddler or fisherman sits with their legs stretched forward and the trunk only a few inches higher than the ankles. This position hardly differs from the notoriously non ergonomic L kayaking position, and therefore hardly offers any improvement as far as the ability to use the legs for balancing, control and power generation while it still forces the passenger to rely on a back rest for support, consequently causing fatigue and discomfort, which are additional dis-balancing factors.
What can a tunnel really do to make a kayak better?
Incorporating a tunnel in a monohull design can be an effective means to improve tracking, as the tunnel enables water to flow in a straight line (I.E. not deflected or ‘curved’) along the hull, in parallel to the direction of the boat. This can be helpful in very wide monohull canoes and kayaks (E.G.fishing kayaks) that track poorly. However, similarly to a rudder, the tunnel has a negative effect on speed.
In motorized boats the tunnel can help the hull plane but this is irrelevant in low speed boats, especially human powered ones such as canoes and kayaks, which are the slowest.
‘What if’ – a quick reality check
Introducing a tunnel in a monohull kayak places the passengers higher than in a regular monohull kayak without having them benefit either from significant increase in stability or significant improvement in their paddling or fishing position.
If the tunnel hull kayak design offered any real advantage in terms of stability it would enable producing narrower (I.E. faster) yet stabler monohull canoes and kayaks. Since in reality the tunnel does not produce such effect the various tunnel hull canoes, kayaks and hybrids are among the widest kayak designs on the market.
In comparison, the W kayak design offers both increased initial and secondary stability as well as improved ergonomics resulting in Hyper Stability: The ability to perform things that are impossible with any other form of kayak, and an overall better user experience than that offered by any other kayak, including the widest and most stable ones, and kayak outfitted with outriggers. Such Hyper Stability is currently achieved with a hull that’s only 29″ wide, which is the width of some touring kayaks.
Food For Thought About Truth In Advertising
Well, it’s more of a snack really, but the following anecdote may shed some light on this subject from a different angle – that of ‘marketing hype’:
The tunnel hull design for small, paddle powered watercraft has gained some new life in recent years with one company that promotes it quite energetically. We found that company’s website describing the tunnel hull as being ‘extraordinarily stable for a single hull boat’, while the same website claims that another small watercraft that company offers ‘incorporates a V hull design to provide stability…’ It doesn’t take a boat designer to realize intuitively that a kayak hull whose cross section is shaped like a deep V is in fact unstable, and the only reason one would incorporate such a form into a hull design is to try and improve its tracking capability.
More Food For Thought About Truth In Advertising
About Add-On Kayak Outriggers and Integrated Outriggers
Advertisers often cross the line between fact and fiction, and sometimes they cross the line between true and false. For example, the owner of a company who makes a fishing kayak that features outriggers that fold-in at its rear has claimed on a promotional video that his product (quote) : “…offers the equivalence in stability of an eight foot wide boat” (I.E. it’s as stable as a goo-size bass boat…) Such claim is so blatantly disconnected from reality that anyone can easily understand that it’s false. But generally, crafty marketing hype is everywhere, and too many people fall for it, and then fall out of their kayak.
What is the effect of small outriggers attached to the kayak’s stern?
Generally, small outriggers offer some initial stability but too little secondary stability. This means they give the kayak user some sense of security on flat water and when the kayak is not tilting on its side, but this sense of security is misleading, since a small outrigger is not sufficiently buoyant to support the heavy weight applied on it when the kayak is tilted on its side, and therefore such outrigger may not prevent an accident.
Practically speaking, as soon as the kayak user seriously loses balance, for example in case they’re attempting to stand up, or if the kayak is hit by a motorboat’s wake, they cannot rely on extra lateral stability that’s enough to prevent their kayak from tilting further. This problem is particularly acute in SOT kayaks, since their user is already seated or attempting to stand on a deck that’s several inches above waterline, and therefore they’re insecure and less stable to begin with.
The folding outriggers in that fallacious promotional video are integrated with the hull itself, and therefore offer less stability than outriggers added on the kayak’s sides.
Why is that? –
The reason for the poor performance offered by outriggers integrated with the hull’s rear end (stern) is that the buoyancy they add on the sides of the stern is in fact taken away from the stern itself: When the outriggers are deployed sideways the stern splits in two, and its two halves are repositioned outwardly, so the kayak no longer features a proper stern that may support the user’s weight when they lean backward.
This means the user benefits from no additional support whatsoever when they lean forward (hours 10 to 2), or sideways (hours 8 to 10 and 2 to 4), or if they lean backward (hours 5 to 7). The only gain in (initial) stability is in case the user happens to lean in the angles in which the outriggers are deployed (hours 4 to 5 and 7 to 8).
Bottom line: The gain in initial stability when the outriggers are deployed is in a range of angles that add up to about 1/4 of the total circle (just about 4 hours out of 12) around the kayak user. This almost insignificant advantage is offset by the fact that it is impractical to paddle that kayak when its outriggers are deployed, since the amount of drag they add is considerable, and the main hull in this position loses most of the hydrodynamic advantage offered by its initial length (I.E. hull speed). The combination of these two negative factors is critical to the kayak’s speed, or lack thereof. It is probably the slowest and most difficult fishing kayak to paddle, and this is no small feat in a category of kayaks generally known as ‘barges’… Interestingly, since the little stability added to this kayak also makes it so hard to paddle, anglers are effectively prevented from using it for sight fishing and fly fishing in case they intend to cover any significant distance.
About the “Leaning Bar” … –
Some SOT fishing kayaks, including the one discussed in the previous paragraph feature a tall vertical metal frame dubbed “leaning bar” or “lean bar”. It is supposed to provide some support for the angler who attempts to fish standing up. Practically, such vertical metal frame adds leverage to the angler’s weight if they lean on it or grab it, which can cause the kayak tilt further in case the angler loses balance and the kayak is tilting sideways.
Again, the only fishing kayak that really offers fishermen to stand up and fish with 100% confidence and safety is the Wavewalk® as demonstrated in the movies on this page »
Additional articles on the subject of kayak stability:
An outrigger is defined as a framework supporting a float extended outboard from the side of a boat for increasing stability. In kayaks, outriggers usually come in a pair mounted at the rear, so as to interfere as little as possible with the kayaker’s paddling and fishing activities.
Why are fishing kayaks required to be so stable?
A fishing kayak is required to be stabler than other kayaks for a number of reasons –
The first reason is because the kayak’s operator is often busy fishing, which means they cannot pay much attention to balancing their kayak as they scout for fish, operate their fishing gear, and handle a fish they just caught.
The second reason is that people who paddle sit-in, SOT or hybrid kayaks do it while being seated in the L position, with their legs stretched in front of them in a way that prevents them from being effective for balancing. This is the reason why the paddle is the principal means such paddlers have for stabilizing these kayaks, and this means that it’s easier for them to keep their balance while they’re holding their paddle and preferably using it for paddling.
The third reason is that people who pedal a kayak find it even harder to balance it, as their legs activate the pedal drive from the kayak’s center line, with their feet l moving high over the deck. In this awkward position the legs are prevented from contributing even the little help in balancing that they could have contributed in a paddling mode. This makes the notion of a hands free pedal fishing kayak part of the realm of fantasy (a.k.a. hype).
The fourth reason is that some people who believe sit-in and SOT manufacturers’ hype try to fish standing in or on their kayak, only to find out that in reality they don’t feel stable enough, and balancing their kayak comes at a price of a continuous effort, both in physical and mental terms, i.e. micro-adjustments and focus.
The fifth reason is that some people have balancing problems resulting from a deficient sense of balance, a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS), artificial knees or hips, or simply because of old age or just because they’re big and tall.
The sixth reason why people look to outfit their fishing kayak with outriggers is because when they outfit it with a powerful motor the higher speed increases the chance of accidents, which calls for improved stability.
How do outriggers work to increase a kayak’s stability?
An outrigger’s float is a buoyant object who’s much lighter than water. As such, an outrigger can resist downward pressure that’s pushing it into the water. Being attached at a considerable distance from the kayak’s longitudinal center line gives the outrigger’s float a mechanical advantage over whatever that pushes the kayak’s main hull downward on the same side, such as the kayaker’s own weight. This mechanical advantage enhances the outrigger’s effectiveness in stability terms. I other words, the bigger the outrigger’s floats are and the further away they’re attached from the kayak’s center line, the stabler that kayak is likely to be. In contrast, small outriggers that are attached close to the kayak’s hull, or outriggers that are part of the kayak’s hull and are deployed sideways by a lever system have a small effect on the kayak’s overall stability.
How effective are outriggers in terms of increased stability?
Small outriggers offer some initial (primary) stability, so they can have a psychological effect of diminishing the paddler’s fears and boosting their confidence. But when push comes to shove, that is in case of an accident or even a common case of lost balance, small outriggers offer too little secondary stability to prevent the kayak from seriously tilting, which is enough to dump its passengers overboard. This is especially true if the kayaker happens to be standing up or elderly, big and tall, suffering from balance disabilities etc. – In other words, people who have a better reason to use outriggers in the first place are also more likely to lose balance and fall overboard because the outriggers they use are not big and buoyant enough. This is to say that between using small outriggers and using none, the latter option has some advantages…
Folding outriggers that are integrated into the rear end of the kayak’s hull and deployed outward by means of a lever have the same effect as small outriggers. Such kayak offers little stability when its folding outriggers are not deployed outward, and when its outriggers are in the open position the overall stability it offers is comparable to the overall stability offered by a regular wide SOT kayak with no outriggers. This means that if you have no intention of fishing standing on the deck of a big regular fishing kayak, you shouldn’t even consider a kayak that features outriggers that are integrated into its main hull, even if the manufacturer of such kayaks is seen stating in a promotional video that their product offers (quote): “the buoyancy equivalence of an 8 ft wide boat” (end quote)… BTW, the beauty of such a statement is that because it’s so obviously and ridiculously false, it probably fails to mislead anyone.
Light rigs – Outriggers built from thin, small-diameter aluminum tubes might bend or snap when exposed to strong pressure. This is especially true if the floats are big and located at a big distance from the kayak itself. Outriggers made from thin steel rods can bend, and outriggers made from thin wooden beams can break. Outriggers poorly attached to the kayak could get torn out of their place in case of an accident.
Can outriggers create problems in paddling and fishing?
Indeed they do, and these problems are worth consideration:
1. Extra drag
Typical outriggers are several times shorter than the kayak’s hull itself. This means that as the kayak moves, the outriggers move at speeds that are many times higher than their own hull speed (Froude number). This generates a disproportionately large amount of Residual resistance (Rr) as well as extra Frictional resistance (Fr), and the kayaker feels their combined effect as extra drag on the kayak, which makes it slower and much harder to paddle. But this is not the end of the drag story, since the outriggers also generate their own wakes, which interact with the wake generated by the kayak’s main hull in a manner that increases turbulence and works to further increase drag. This additional unwanted effect is especially strong in outriggers that are mounted close to the kayak’s hull. And if this wasn’t enough, outriggers also increase the kayak’s exposure to the wind, and this tends to reduce the kayak’s directional stability. In other words, it’s almost impossible to paddle a kayak outfitted with outriggers if you don’t outfit it with a rudder as well. But since rudders reduce the kayak’s speed by 10% in average, it’s possible to say that a kayak outfitted with outriggers is not one you’d like to paddle simply because paddling it would prove to be to hard for you, unless you’re out for a short trip on flat water.
2. Extra weight – problems with transporting and carrying
Let’s face it – fishing kayaks are the heaviest kayaks out there. Many fishing kayaks weigh over 70 lbs, and the most barge-like of them weigh up to 120 lbs. Such size already makes it impossible for many anglers to car top their kayak, and forces them to transport it on a trailer, which clearly defies the purpose of kayak fishing in yet another way. A pair of outriggers can weigh over 20 lbs, which transforms even a kayak of reasonable weight into a barge in terms of transportation and carrying it to the beach and from it back you one’s vehicle.
3. Mobility problems
Kayaks equipped with outriggers simply don’t move as well as other kayaks do. This is true for shallow water with obstacles, seaweed or grass, for rocky beaches (‘rock gardens’), and for moving water where the outriggers make the kayak harder to steer and control.
4. Fishing problems
When you fish out of any boat including a kayak, you strive to get out of your way any object that could interfere with your fishing lines, whether when you cast, reel in a fish or land it. Outriggers are large size and intricate structures that are located close to the kayak, and as such present a constant threat to your lines – In fact, people who fish out of kayaks with outriggers are always careful to cast as far as possible from their kayak’s rear end, and since most kayaks already present typical restrictions on anglers, any additional limitations are not welcome, by definition.
What is the best type of outriggers for my fishing kayak?
Ideally, you’d want your kayak outriggers to be as long as possible, so they generate as little drag as possible when the kayak moves in the water. After all, you want to go places, which is why you got a kayak in the first place. You also want the outriggers to be as big as possible so they have more buoyancy, and thus work better to provide the required additional lateral stability. As far as you’re concerned, outriggers are mission critical! You want the outriggers to be attached to the middle section of the kayak, so they work to provide stability on its sides and not just in its rear, where you don’t necessarily need it – As they say: Location, location, location! You want the outriggers to be as small as possible, so they don’t weigh too much. Kayaks are supposed to be lightweight, remember? You want the outriggers to be attached to the kayak’s rear end, at a good distance from you, so they won’t interfere with your fishing activities… After all, fishing is what got you to buy the kayak in the first place, right?
Bottom line:There’s no such thing as ideal outriggers, which is why you need to carefully weigh the whole idea before you go forward with it.
Are outriggers even necessary with a W500 kayak?
We recommend outriggers for a W kayak being sailed, and by this we mean real sailing with a large size, powerful upwind rig (i.e. not merely a ‘kayak sail’). This is because of the considerable destabilizing lateral forces produced while sailing such a big rig in strong wind, and because we think that most recreational sailors lack the experience and skills needed to sail a W kayak under such circumstances. Furthermore, we recommend that such outriggers be sturdy and of large size so they may provide enough support to compensate for the sailor’s lack of agility, experience, etc…
Otherwise, people who suffer from a severe balance deficiency that prevents them from sensing the kayak or reacting effectively (e.g. multiple sclerosis) should consider the benefit of adding a pair of outriggers to their W kayak.
Anglers who want to stand on top of a poling platform stretching over the cockpit of their W kayak may gain stability by adding outriggers to their setup, but they would gain more stability, convenience and safety by standing inside the cockpit, on the bottom of the kayak’s twin hulls, with their feet located below waterline – like all other stand up W kayak anglers do. The W design works better than anything else as far as stability is concerned.
When it comes to motorizing (i.e. outfitting the kayak with a powerful outboard motor), outriggers might complicate steering because of the high speed involved, meaning that an outrigger hitting a wave at 8 mph would affect both the kayak’s directional stability and its lateral stability (balance). This in itself is an unwanted effect that could have safety implications. As for outriggers that stay out of the water, their effect is limited to begin with, since they are rather ineffective for adding initial (primary) stability, and by the time they come in contact with the water and start preventing the kayak from further tilting (i.e. provide secondary stability), the kayaker may have already lost their balance and gone overboard. Attaching large size flotation modules to the kayak’s sides seems to be a preferable solution.
Outriggers are impractical for paddling a W kayak in tandem, because the presence of the outrigger near the stern would restrict the motion of the rear paddler’s paddle.
Here are a few shots of a couple of sea trout the big one is affectionately referred to in these parts as a “gator trout” she was almost seven pounds about 24 inches. Caught her in a small lagoon off a mangrove creek out of the Indian River Lagoon where I live and where I am “master of nature’s universe” in my W for a limited time. I release most of the big fish I catch here to preserve the species, the big fish (snook and trout) they are very prolific breeders this trout will lay over a million eggs a year. I do keep one or two the mangrove snapper and younger sea trout etc. but I don’t like cleaning them and I am usually out for most of the day and don’t want to carry a cooler. I fly fish only so I don’t haul them in hand over fist but I do OK for as little time I have in my personal fly fishing machine the W.
At my age, standing that high on a poling platform feels more secure with outriggers. The extra long paddle works both for paddling and push-poling
Gear stored in the big storage space inside the cockpit and hulls
It was too windy to fish in the river so I stayed in the lagoon by where my friend lets me keep my “W” kayak on his floating dock. I had been out in the morning about 7:30 AM and caught a small snook about 14 inches – a beautiful fish and since I got him on a small foam rubber “gurgler” fly it was fun to see a fish take that surface fly less than a foot from the mangroves in about eight inches of water. It took a little while reviving him in the water before releasing him before I could go looking for his big brother. Fished until about noon got a couple of hook ups but nothing came to the boat. I went back just about 7 PM and staked out at the corner of a nice grass flat in the lagoon next to the mangrove creek that feeds in from the Indian River. It was low incoming tide one of the best times for the bigger fish to get in close to the flat in about four to five feet of water, they slip up on the grass flat and raid the little mullet fingerlings and grass shrimp and can dash back into the deeper water for cover. So I fished different flies and different sides of the flat for about an hour… fifteen minutes after sunset I was making my “last cast” for the night and bang a freight train hits my fly about thirty five feet from the kayak I am standing on my platform on top of the center tunnel and all the line starts to shoot out of my striping basket and (for once it is not tangled up) whiz all the line is out of the basket probably 125 feet or so and I am on the reel and it is buzzing. First time I am down to my backing line it is still going out to open water in the lagoon (not back to the mangroves like sneaky snook usually do). So I let him go I mean he is too big and hot to horse in with an eight weight and 10 lb tippet. Three good runs, a couple of tries for the mangroves and 15 minutes later I have him in the boat.
26″ snook WOW the first really nice fish I have ever caught out of the “W” and it was a beauty it took me almost 10 minutes to revive him pushing him through the water next to the boat. But finally he swam off before I was eaten to death by Florida mosquito’s it was almost dark but I was as high as a tree frog just paddling back to the dock whistling Dixie. I have caught a few smallish fish in the lagoon but started to think that all the nice ones are in the river. Oh yeah all you northern woodsman who are wondering why I released a five pound snook instead of eating him, there is a limit here we call “slot” fish, 28″ to 32″ inches if they are in the slot then they are keepers but he was a little shy of the slot. And after one of the best battles I have had on fly since my Trinity river steelhead days, I figured he deserved a second chance anyway.
I love my “W”… when that fish was on I was thinking he went 360 degrees around the boat did three really long runs and in general made 15 minutes feel like about three. I honestly don’t think there is any chance that this old man could have landed that fish in any other kayak but the Wavewalk. I mean I fish with a friend who has five kayaks SOT and Sit in type and he is an athlete, but I have seen how little room to move and how cramped it is and if your line snags on anything when you have a big fish on a fly (even just for a moment) it is good by fish.
OK the truth is my one man fishing machine is a blend of “W’ stability and flexibility and my friend Rick Rosenberg’s outriggers system, and I JUST LOVE IT.
Going back out now, back to the snook lagoon “Middleton Cove” named after my friend Ken Middleton who lets me store my boat on his floating dock – just lift on the bow handles and slide it in the water and I am gone Fishing !