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Choosing a Fishing Kayak
Which fishing kayak is right for you?
Confused about which fishing kayak you should buy? If you have never used a kayak before you may not be sure if you need it. Keep reading and we will try to break down the basic differences enabling you to make a study purchase.
There are actually 2 types of kayaks.
They are Sit On Tops (SOT) and Sit In Kayaks (SIK). Each type has a model that fishes well. Before we discuss the benefits and differences of each type let’s discuss kayaks for fishing in general.
What makes a kayak a good fishing kayak?
Fishermen often have different needs than people who intend to paddle. Some of the basic features that fishermen like in kayak stability, storage, and a flat surface are enough to bolt on extra fishing such as having a rod and finding depth. Performance and maneuverability, while important to many, may not be the primary factors in choosing your first fishing kayak.
Begin the decision process by answering some basic questions that will help you narrow down which kayak model is best for you.
1. First consider yourself.
What is your height, weight, inseam measurement and general condition? If you are a big or very tall person, there are certain kayaks that will suit you. In fact, this will make your decision easier because finding the right kayak will be more important to find one that can handle your size and weight more than others. Look for a kayak with plenty of leg-room and weight capacity that will handle you and your gear.
If you are a small to average person, getting a big, heavy, 600-pound capacity kayak is probably not the best choice. But if you are going to fish in the sea, a very small kayak is also not the best choice. As you will see choosing a kayak can be a compromise of sorts. As you read, consider the various factors and consider them when choosing.
2. What kind of vehicle are you going to use to transport the kayak?
If you are planning to transport the kayak in the bed of a larger pickup truck, the heavy kayak is not a problem. However, if you have a large SUV, like a 4WD Suburban, you should be aware of the weight of the kayak because it will take some extra effort to get the kayak and off the roof of that vehicle. The bottom line is that if your kayak is easy to open and unload you will use it more often.
3. Where do you plan to use the kayak?
Will your kayak be used exclusively in fresh water? If so where? Lakes, ponds, small streams, and rivers? Will you fish big and open the water with waves and chop? Do you plan to use your kayak in salt water? Do you plan to fish in the sea and launch a kayak through the waves? How do you plan to kayak into the water? Can you just drive to the water and launch or do you plan to launch in a remote area where you can’t drive your vehicle to the water’s edge? All these factors are important when choosing a kayak.
4. What kind of fishing do you like?
Do you only use one style? Do you use artificial bait, fish with live bait, or both? If you are going to use bait, do you want to use live bait or dead bait? Do you need room for a live well in your kayak? Do you plan to anchor and chumming? Do you fly fish? The type of equipment you plan to carry will influence your decision. In short, the way(s) you fish can affect the kayak that will better suit your needs.
5. What kind of fisherman are you?
Are you a catch and release fisherman, do you like to take the occasional meal home, or do you regularly take fish home? Where are you going to keep your catch? Is there room in/on the kayak you chose?
What style of kayak is right for you? A Sit On Top or Sit Inside Kayak?
Sit In Kayaks are a traditional type of kayak. When most people think of kayaks, this is the type they usually think of. They are similar to canoes that sit on the underside of a kayak. The sit in offers more initial protection from the elements, but in rougher conditions it can get waterlogged without the right accessories. In adverse conditions, it is usually equipped with a spray skirt. The skirt is the cover that covers you and the opening in the kayak that prevents water from entering. When the skirt is used you can accidentally limit access to the items inside of the kayak, but if you are a fisherman this type of bare bones can suit you just looking.
Sit On Top Kayaks are a newer type of kayak. They are like modified surfboards and you sit on them instead of on them. The SOT has what is known as a scupper hole, which allows water to exit the cockpit. This way when the water washes over the kayak the cockpit can be temporarily flooded but the drain will quickly remove the need to pump out any water. This is especially useful in places like surf zones.
Both styles of kayaks are useful for fishing and in each style there is a model that suits you better than the other. Let’s go back to some of the previous questions and see if they are important to help you choose which of these types of kayaks will be the best for you.
Fishermen do something in a kayak that most paddlers do not – they fish. That’s why having a relatively stable platform can be very important, especially for people who are new to the sport and new to kayaks. When kayakers discuss stability they talk about 2 types. Primary and secondary. Initial stability is the side-to-side rocking you feel when you sit in a kayak. Secondary stability is when the kayak is approaching the flipping point and how forgiving it is before you roll.
Many recreational kayaks have incredible initial stability but have a sudden secondary. If you reach the secondary limit, you will be thrown out. On the other hand there are kayaks that rock like crazy but are very forgiving when it comes to dumping points. Most recreational fishing kayaks have a good compromise of both primary and secondary stability.
Since you sit on or near the SIK floor, they tend to look more stable. In SOT you sit in the kayak and since you have a double body you also sit more. This higher sitting position can make the SOT appear less stable. If you have SOT and SIK the same length and width SIK will probably be more stable. Because these SOT designers tend to make more kayaks. So, whatever style you choose, there will be a model that you will be comfortable with.
Primary stability may seem more important to beginners and secondary stability is more important to experienced kayakers. It makes sense. Beginners have not yet developed a sense of balance. It’s like learning to ride a bike. When you start something new so you think about it more. After a while, it becomes second nature and you don’t even think about it.
Speed: In general, longer and narrower kayaks are faster. SIK is usually faster, but there are also fast SOTs. Speed only matters when you need it. If the majority of your fishing is close to shore or in small sheltered areas, then you may not need a kayak right away. However, if you fish large reservoirs, bays, sounds, or the open ocean, the ability to cover distance may be very important to you. A SIK of the same size will usually be faster because it is narrower than a SOT of the same length.
If you’re fishing in small rivers or narrow estuaries, you’ll want a kayak that’s easy to maneuver. A long speed touring kayak will be more difficult to use in these conditions and may detract from the overall fishing experience. A shorter SOT or SIK would suit you if that type of environment. In big water making sharp turns is usually not important so longer kayaks are not a problem.
one of the joys of kayak fishing is converting a simple recreational kayak into a very effective and compact fishing boat. This is done by adding fishing accessories. How much you add depends a lot on your fishing style and your philosophy on gear. Some fishermen only take a rod and some bait and others like to bring a lot of gear. No matter what your choice, just adding one rod holder will improve your kayak’s fishing ability. Many flat surfaces are good for mounting accessories.
Fishermen tend to take a lot of gear. Managing this equipment requires that the kayak you choose has adequate storage. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it’s nice to have a few different places to put your stuff. SOT kayaks have a double hull which means there is a lot of storage potential below deck. Depending on your needs, this may be very important to you. Maybe you plan on camping or make a long journey in your kayak. This relatively dry storage area may attract your attention. If you plan to launch your kayak through the surf, this board will allow you to put a rod under the deck that will keep it safe as you go through the surf zone. Many SIKs have hatches that provide access to sealed compartments in the body. Many SIKs used by fishermen also have large open cockpits that make it easier to get gear that can be stored around you. Milk crates and other plastic containers can also be used for external storage. They fit into the tank-wells of many SOT kayaks and can also be lashed onto groups of SIKs as well.
Kayak fishing takes place in many different environments, from large bays, sounds, and even the open sea, but many of us fish some very small waters. Small, shallow rivers can be easily fished with a short, light kayak. Such a kayak will make it easier to negotiate obstacles such as logs, stuck logs, rocks, waterfalls & spillways, fast water, and rocky shallows. There will be times when you have to carry or drag the kayak around, over, or through the place. In such situations, a smaller kayak is a better option.
Some Kayaks to Consider:
Kayaks are suitable for large and tall paddles:
1. Hobby Outback
2. Hobby Revolution
3. Hobby Adventure
4. Hobby Quest
5. Ocean Kayak Prowler Trident 15
6.Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game
7. Redfish Heritage 14
8. Pribumi Manta Ray 14
9. Native Ultimate 16
10. Tarpon 160i Desert System
11. Wilderness System Pungo 140
12. Wilderness System 135 Rides
13. Malibu X-Factor
The kayak is suitable for average to small paddlers (average to small paddlers have some limitations and can use almost any sit-on or sit-in kayak that suits their needs. Here are some popular options):
1. Tarpon 120 Wilderness System
2. Pungo Wilderness System 120
3. Pribumi Manta Ray 12
4. Hobby Sports
5. Hobby Revolution
6. Hobby Outback
7. Hobby Quest
8. Malibu Mini-X
9. Understanding Koho
10. Perception of Patriot Anglers
Best of luck in making a decision – hope to see you on the water soon.
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