So you’ve decided to take the plunge into kayak fishing, but you’re not sure what to get. Here is something to consider. First of all, there are many, many brands out there, from peddle drives, to kayaks made for standing, to canoe hybrids. The number one piece of advice I can give you is this, try as many as you can. What might suit someone else, might not fit you at all, so TRY BEFORE YOU BUY. These are some other things to consider when thinking of getting into this addictive sport.
1) What type of kayak are you looking for? There are two major types, Sit On Tops (SOT) or Sit In Side (SIS). The deference’s are just that, one you sit on top of the kayak, the other you sit down in side of it. The advantages of the SOT, which most companies gear their fishing kayaks towards, are ease of entry and exit. If you like to get out and wade, the SOT is for you. The SIS are just a little bit more awkward to get in and out off. If you spend a lot of time on the water, this can be really uncomfortable after a while if you have a bad back or some other ailment. SOT are usually more heavy than the SIS, this is something I will cover a little bit later. Another advantage of the SOT for fishing, is that all your gear can easily be reached, meaning you have more outside storage than the SIS.
2) How are you going to transport and store your kayak? The average ideal length for a fishing kayak is anywhere from 12 to 14 feet. There are many 10 foot models out there as well, but once start getting in this range, you start to sacrifice speed and glide. The weight of a 14 foot kayak can be a deal breaker here. Let’s say you’re getting up in age, a SOT kayak might not be for you just due to the weight issue. On average most SOT kayaks weigh somewhere between 50 and 70 pounds. After a long day of paddling, these kayaks can be a handful to load up. If you have a high profile SUV, load a 70 pound kayak can be a real chore. If you have a small compact car, maybe a shorter SOT or even a SIS kayak might fit you better. Same thing for storage. Let’s say you have a small apartment, no garage or storage unit, a 14 foot kayak will be a real problem for you.
3) What type of fishing will you be doing? Do you pl an on long trips or just hang around the launch area?
Me, I usually average around 5 to 8 miles on a trip. For a beginner this is a long day of paddling. If that’s for you, then you will want a longer kayak made for speed and endurance. Something in the 16 foot range is made to order. But with that speed and glide, you will give away some stability in the process. My 14 footer is about 32 inches wide, that coupled with the design of the hull; it makes for an extremely stable kayak. So much that at 6’ 2” and 245 lbs, I have no trouble standing. Now when I traveled around the bay last year, I had a 16 foot kayak the was much more narrow, somewhere around 27 to 28 inches. That’s not much right? In the world of stability it made a ton of difference. I had to be really careful when the seas picked up, as that kayak tended to get a bit squirrelly on me. The shorter kayaks are really stable, but not much on speed, you can turn them on a dime which is something you want if fishing back country mangroves is your thing. They are of course much liter in weight, but do push a bit more water due to the design. Not enough to make a lot of difference though. If fly fishing or off shore fishing is your thing, there is kayak made for both of those as well. Again a little research will lead you in the right direction.
4) Price. In today’s economy a good price is something we are all looking for. If you’re not sure that kayak fishing is for you and you don’t want to spend a lot, check out the kayaking forums and local shops. You can sometimes pick up a good deal on a used kayak and if turns out to be something that your really not that into, it will retain a good resale price. Do your research first though and try to stick with the more popular name brands. Steer away from the sporting good stores selling off brand name kayaks; if you do decided to sell it, you’ll have a tough time. Also if you find that you really do like kayaking, you’ll be looking to upgrade to a better model which you wished you’d bought in the first place. If price is no object, then you can go with some of the composite material kayaks, which are very lite weight in construction and design, but be warned they can be really pricey.
5) Propulsion. If you get a peddle craft, then you really don’t need to worry about a paddle to much, other than the fact that you have one as a backup. But if you want to go the traditional route, do not skimp on your paddle. Once again, there are many models, from wood, aluminum, to carbon fiber paddles to choose from. Make sure that you get the correct length paddle for your body size and kayak design; the wrong size will make for a terrible day on the water. The weight of the paddle is something else to consider, if you’re into long trips, a lite weight carbon fiber paddle might be for you. If you’re just sticking around the ramp, maybe a heavier and cheaper aluminum one will fit the bill.
These are just some of the things to consider when looking towards that purchase of a fishing kayak, next week will look at the safety items you are required to carry as well other basic recommended items you should have for your day out on the water.