Kayak Fishing Addiction
Kayak Fishing with the Kayak Fishing Addiction
We have heard or ask the question what type of kayak is the best fishing kayak? What I would like to do with this article is to provide information and points of interest that should be considered in the decision making process. Over time the question has changed from a simple do I purchase a "sit on top" or a"sit in" style kayak to much, much, more. Today the fishing kayak is almost exclusively a "sit on top" style kayak and the question has changed to one of propulsion "paddle or peddle". This too has been less of major decision factor to those who fish open water with surf and windy conditions. I think many of us who started kayak fishing before the popularity of the sport can remember the barges we use to fish out of compared to today’s products. For the serious kayak fisherman who participates in the tournament trails and does not have the luxury of picking the most favorable fishing conditions, they learn the difference between a kayak and a kayak designed for fishing. For example the mirage drive system incorporated in some of the Hobie brand kayaks offers a virtually hands free kayaking experience. This enables anglers to fish in conditions where others will have to anchor or constantly have a paddle in there hand to adjust their position, in my opinion and older age this is a major selling feature.
Things to consider:
|Safety||I think the question of the type of kayak should be addressed here with the sit-on-top or the sit-in style. To maintain water tight iintegrity the sit-in kayak requires a skirt that seal in the cockpit, and occupant, it is most often found for white water or surf where access to storage is not required. One of the biggest benefits to the sit on-top-kayak is the ability to do a self-rescue. Because sit-on-tops have an open deck rather than an enclosed one, there is less risk of being trapped in the boat if it tips over.|
|Storage capacity||If you’re a big person or bring a lot of gear along you need to have a kayak that’ll handle this. All manufacturers have stated capacities. I would not recommend being near the limit.|
|Maneuverability (tracking)||This is factored by the length of the hull, and camber. Camber is defined as the is the curve from bow to stern (front to back) of the kayak. The more camber there is the easier the kayak will maneuver and handle. The shorter the more manuverable that is why the white water and surf kayak are short kayaks (less than 11 ft.).
Tracking true in the water is obtained with length, In my opinion this starts with kayaks around 12 ft and gets better with length eventhough this can work against manuverability, Tracking is required on open water for efficiency of your paddling.
|Stability||Basically the wider the fishing kayak the more stable it is going to be given all other things is equal. However the design of the hull does factor in. There are two types of stability when we discuss the subject. This is known as initial and secondary stability. Initial is how much the kayak wobbles on the water. It’s important but not nearly as much as secondary stability. Secondary is how far a kayak can tip or lean until it dumps you in the water.|
|Speed||Speed is almost the opposite of maneuverability, the longer, narrower the kayak the faster, along with a minimal camber.|
|Weight of the kayak||If the kayak is too heavy for you to move about on your own then you’re not going to use it. In most instances you’re going to need to load the kayak onto the roof of your vehicle or if you transport in a pickup truck bed or use a trailer you should be able to load it by yourself.|
|Comfort||The more comfortable you are the longer you can enjoy the outings. See also seating! But does the cockpit area layout fit your needs?|
|Seating options||You might not fit their mold. Besides how you’re built, your physical age and conditioning matter too. Will the seating area remain dry, if not will it drain? Is the seat adjustable?|
|Method of propulsion||Paddle or peddle, I prefer the hands free for fishing and using the legs and feet for propulsion.|
|Transportation||You need to consider how you’re going to get the kayak from where you’re going to store it to the water. The only time this won’t matter is when you live on a body of water and that’s the only place you plan on using the kayak. Otherwise it has to factor into your choice.|
|Storage||Where the kayak is kept might be an issue. If you only have space to store a 12’ kayak than buying one that’s longer doesn't make any sense. Another factor, will it be exposed to the sun, and heat. Sunlight and heat can damage most of the plastic kayaks ,so you may need to invest in a cover and locking devices if stored outside.|
|Visibility (color)||I have not found that it matters to the fish so the only consideration should be visibility to others. Obviously if you wish to be seen a bright color is best. I’ve found, in my unscientific way, basically through observation on the water, that the most visible colors are orange, mango, lime and yellow. Consider reflective tape, and the saftey equipment required by law.|
|Availability of accessories / mounting options||This can include things like drink holders, fishing rod holders, fish finders, Coolers, required lighting, battery storage for electronics, and as much customization as you can imagine.|
|Price / Afordability||Ok, this is probably the most important factor to most newbies. Buy as much kayak (based on the other points of interest) as you can afford. You may still find the need to upgrade later, like most of us over the years.|
Each of the items above could easily be documented with pages of pros and cons, but ultimately the decision is yours, my recommendation is for the buyer to read up on the models that have caught your eye. Ask your self what that model offers in each of the points to consider section. Ask your kayaking community, what they recommend for the area you will be fishing. Ask your friends to allow you to test drive their kayak, ask them what factors were key in their decision making process. Then consider the information to make an intelligent decision that works best for your needs!
Each year (normally in the spring) Pensacola Kayak and Sail and Key Sailing offer demonstration days where representatives from the various kayak manufactures will be on hand to answer your questions and offer many of the new models for you to test drive. I know the managers and if you are serious about purchasing a kayak, demonstrations can be offered just about any time of the year.
If you look at the statistics the Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Associations gathers from their tournaments the popularity of Hobie kayaks, is a reflection of what works best for the type of fishing we have along the Gulf of Mexico. Before I sound like a paid representative for a kayaking company, let me assure you that there are many good brands and types of kayak to choose from and what works for you may not work for someone else. I am a firm believer in “try it before you buy it” ! Now that you have an idea of what you want, don't forget to check out the used kayaks. When people are ready to upgrade, usually their kayaks are offered with some of the options you would be adding, like fish finders and anchor trollies for examples, all could be included with the used kayak.
What safety equipment is required by Florida law for kayaks?
Equipment and Lighting Requirements
Jay Kania of the Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Association created this video for your viewing pleasure. This is an example of how you can rig your Hobie Pro-Angler 12.
Webmaster at work, this is still a work in progress, I will continue to update this article as time permits.