Fishing Kayak Buyer’s Guide and More
Before you decide on a kayak for your particular needs, you’ll first need to determine what kind of fishing you want to pursue because all kayaks are not created equal. Because of this you need to be aware that the fishing kayak is divided into a couple of different categories which consists of saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing. Additionally, both of these categories are divided into categories. As an example, a freshwater model is divided into fishing on moving water or calm water. Saltwater fishing is divided into offshore fishing and inshore fishing. Because of this, it’s also important to understand that each type of fishing on a kayak presents the fisherman with different types of paddling conditions, so you’ll need to determine which model is the best fishing kayak for your specific needs and style.
Freshwater fishing on still water can be any type of body of water from the size of a small pond to one of the Great Lakes, but when you’re paddling on smaller bodies of water, lightweight, short kayaks that feature a high degree of stability and a medium degree of rocker are typically the best choices.
Therefore, both sit on top and recreational models usually require paddles to cover longer distances in order to reach fishing hot spots. When you’re fishing on larger bodies of water, the kayak’s ability for speed is often a priority compared to maneuverability or ease of transport. For this type of fishing you’ll want a sit-in, long, slim kayak that has a lower degree of rocker and stability.
Kayaking on moving water can involve a swiftly flowing river or sedate black water. There are certain types of kayaks that are more suitable for this type of water. When fishing on moving water, you’ll be faced with a current that propels the kayak forward and you may also have to deal with a number of obstacles in your way. Because of this, a kayak’s maneuverability will be a priority. A sit in model that’s wide and short with a high degree of stability and soft chines will be suitable for this style of fishing.
Inshore fishing in saltwater involves all water that’s adjacent to the shoreline and has a depth of seventy feet or less. However, when it comes to fishing kayaks, this type of fishing usually consists of bays, inlets, creeks in saltwater marshes, flats and sounds. The user will be commonly required to paddle over large distances and can also be forced to face steep waves or stiff winds all throughout their trip. A slim, longer model that features a moderate degree of rocker will be a good choice for this fishing style. Keep in mind that most kayak anglers prefer sit on top models because they have a reputation for being unsinkable and allow the rider to re-enter the kayak easily should it capsize.
Offshore kayak fishing is typically defined as all water that has a greater depth than seventy feet. In a kayak, this style of fishing usually means big water, in an environment where the rider will feel pretty small. Because of this, offshoring in a kayak will require the angler to paddle over larger distances, facing high waves and stiff winds. A slimmer kayak with a moderate amount of rocker will work well.
Next, you’ll need to determine which is the best fishing kayak based on water type. The biggest difference between a sit in and a sit on is that the sit on models lack a cockpit that’s enclosed. A sit on is also designed with drain holes located in the bilge. This will allow water that enters the cockpit to escape. Sit on models are also constructed using a double hull design, so that there’s an enclosed air space between the outer and inner hulls. This will trap air inside, making the kayak unsinkable. Most sit on models are made using a molded polyethylene plastic, which makes them incredibly durable and heavy. Additionally, most sit on models range from ten to sixteen feet in length and feature a wide beam for a higher degree of stability. Because they’re equipped with open cockpits and have a reputation of being very stable, they’re probably the most popular type of fishing kayak. But these models are also known to have poor secondary stability and lack a rudder that can work to aid them back on course. They’re more ideal for calm waters because they don’t handle large waves, high winds or tough currents well.
This style is pretty affordable, durable and offers a high degree of initial stability, they’re also easy to re-enter and exit and often come equipped with rod holders, live bait wells and trolling motors. However, they also feature a low degree of secondary stability, poor speed times and require a ton of effort to paddle due to their extensive weight.
A recreational kayak will differ from a sit on model because they come with enclosed large cockpits, a moderate degree of rocker and soft chined hulls. Most models designed for recreation are made from molded polyethylene plastic and are pretty tough but they’re also very heavy. Additionally, because they feature a single hull design, they’re more ideal for fishing on calmer waters. But when this style of kayak is properly outfitted they can make excellent fishing vessels because they offer a higher degree of stability. Their bigger cockpits also make them easy to exit and enter, but they also have a reputation for a higher degree of secondary stability. This style ranges from eight to fourteen feet in length and offers a more efficient hull design than a sit on model, making them a great option for close range fishing.
Affordable, their enclosed cockpits provide the angler with more protection than sit on models and can make excellent fishing kayaks, but their low degree of secondary stability and the fact that they require more effort to paddle makes them a poor choice for longer distances.
A touring kayak differs from recreational models in that they’re slimmer and longer and typically range in lengths of fourteen to eighteen feet. Because this style of kayak is slimmer and longer they are equipped with a more efficient hull design compared to recreational and sit on models. They also provide the user with a faster speed and require less effort to paddle. Because of this, they’re an excellent choice for long range fishing on calm waters. Designed specifically to manage rough waters and travel over long distances, this type of kayak is equipped with a very small cockpit. Additionally, they also come with holds, bulkheads, watertight hatches and a dry storage space for gear. Just keep in mind that the smaller cockpit can make the angler feel cramped and they also have a lesser degree of stability compared to sit on models.
Also, you’ll need to choose a kayak that meets your specific needs.
Initial stability is a term used to measure how stable a model feels when the rider is sitting upright on the keel. A wide kayak will have a high degree, while narrow models will have a low degree. Soft chined models have a high degree and hard chined kayaks have a low degree.
Secondary stability will measure how stable a model feels when leaned on its side. A narrow model will feature a high degree, while wide kayaks will have a low degree.
Kayaks with a long hull are faster compared to their short counterparts of the same width because they feature longer waterline lengths. Long hulls are not very maneuverable compared to kayaks with shorter hulls. A wide model is slower because they feature a greater wetted surface area. However, wide models offer more initial stability.
Rocker is the term that involves the measure of how much the hull curves. Hulls that have a low degree of rocker will feature a straight design along the keel while hulls that have a high degree will be highly curved in this area.