Choosing the best fishing Kayak for your needs can be a daunting process. When it comes to selecting the right yak, you need to consider where you will be using it, what you will be using it for and your own weight and strength. A Kayak that will be great for long distance cruises probably wont be so good at navigating a narrow river with lots of white water and visa versa.
1. Sit on Top or Sit Inside?
Although this is a big decision as both kayaks have rather different properties, the vast majority of kayak fisher folks choose sit on top Kayaks. A sit inside kayak offers a drier ride and may be more familiar for a yakker that has always used one but for the most part a sit on top has many more advantages. With a sit on top, you have ample storage for all your fishing gear, allows you to sit sideways and dangle your feet over the edge when drifting or at anchor but most importantly, wont swamp if you flip it.
2. Paddle, Pedal or Sail?
Probably not a question many yakkers ever thought they would be asking themselves 10 years ago but a relevant one nowadays! Hobie are the main innovator in these alternative propulsion methods for kayaks with the star of the show really being the Mirage Drive pedal system. If you are new to yakking and don’t have any preconceptions about how a kayak should be powered, I would strongly suggest looking into a pedal powered kayak. Not only are your legs much stronger than your upper body, letting you go faster for longer, you have your hands free to fish to your heart’s content!
Native Watercraft also offer a pedal drive system to rival that of Hobie’s Mirage Drive with the added benefit of being able to go backwards. The drawback of the pedal system that Native Watercraft offer is that it cannot be used at all in very shallow water as it will hit the bottom, or in weeds where it will get snagged. The Mirage Drive on the other hand can be twitched and not allowed to sweep down fully whilst moving over very shallow areas.
Although the Hobie can be used whist passing over shallow water by twitching the controls you really need at least 1ft depth of water to use it properly. If you want to fish in very shallow, weedy water or will be in white water often then it’s best to opt for a paddle kayak. Although the pedal drives can be lifted out or tucked out of the way, it’s not really worth paying the premium for as you wont be able to use it most of the time.
If you are thinking about heading out into deeper water, the Hobie Adventure Island comes with a furling sail and the mirage drive for the ultimate in speed and long range. If you were thinking of blue water trolling with a kayak, that would be the one to choose. Just check out this INSANE action to see just what can be done in a kayak.
3. How and Where Will You Use It?
So the next question that you need to ask your self is where will you be using it. If you are looking to use it on ponds and small rivers, a smaller boat will suit you better. As a rule of thumb a longer, narrower kayak will be faster through the water and more suited to longer distances and more open water. A shorter, wider kayak will be more suited to smaller waters and will be slower but more manouverable. An example of this would be a Jackson Kayak Cuda 14 as the long range cruiser vs. the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 as better for a bass fisherman looking to fish in rivers and ponds most of the time.
Another consideration is the type of fishing that you will be doing. If you plan to be casting baits all day whilst on the move, a pedal drive will keep your hands free and let you do that. If you are looking to anchor up in the sea or fast flowing rivers then you are going to need a kayak of at least 12ft to do this safely as with a shorter kayak you will find that it will snake around in the flow.
4. Do you want to be able to fish stand up?
Did you even think this was a question that could be asked? Design has become so good these days that lots of models are so stable that you can fish standing up. This allows you to get the best possible vantage point and see down through the water at the fish. This has revolutionized the possibilities for fly fisherman on the flats!