How To Pick A Kayak For Fishing (How to Choose a Kayak 2018)

How To Pick A Kayak For Fishing: A fishing kayak is cost-effective as compared to buying a motorboat. Kayaks are also easier to transport, maintain and offer better stealth. Let us look at the different factors to consider while picking up a kayak for fishing.

How To Pick A Kayak: Introduction to Fishing Kayaks

What is a Fishing Kayak?

A fishing kayak is different than other kayaks. A fishing kayak is way more convenient to use than touring or recreational kayaks. Another important difference is that other kayaks are not well equipped enough to mount rod holders or other fishing gear. The fishing kayaks also have storage compartments for tackle and bait and have better seating. Additionally, the good ones contain enough space to stand in. Unlike recreational kayaks, fishing kayaks are stable enough for a more wholesome experience.

How Much do Fishing Kayaks Cost?

Cost is always one of the most important consideration. How much you are willing to spend is one of the greatest factors determining what you are going to buy and it is same with buying a kayak. It is unnecessary to say that better kayaks cost more. You can get the most basic kayak for around $200, while the better ones cost around $600. Most buyers are able to find good kayak as per their need within this range. Although there are fishing kayaks which cost as much as $1000.

Polyethylene sit-on-top kayaks are usually cheapest and need about 2-3 days to build. Composite kayaks, preferred by advanced paddlers, cost almost double.

What are the Different Types of Fishing Kayaks?

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Unlike sit-in kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks lack an enclosed cockpit. The sit-on-top kayaks have drain holes in the bilge which allows water entering the cockpit to escape. Most sit-on-top kayaks come with a double hull construction. These kayaks have an enclosed air space between the two hulls, making them almost unsinkable. Molded polyurethane plastic used for making most sit-on-top kayaks is tough but heavy. Sit-on-top kayaks are wider and have a higher degree of initial stability. The length varies from 10 to 16 feet. Sit-on-top kayaks are the most popular type of fishing kayaks.

Sit-in Type Kayaks

The sit-in type kayaks are good for sheltering your lower body from the wind and water. Thus sit-in type kayaks are great for paddlers who plan to fish to fish in cooler waters. Sit-in type kayaks can help you stay dry as well as warm while fishing. Also, they have large cockpits which are suited for storage. But, these kayaks don’t offer the freedom to move in and out of the kayak as and when you want. And if you flip for some reason, the water would most likely enter the kayak. Water entering the kayak would make recovery difficult for most beginners. Thus, you can use these kayaks for fishing in stagnant waters. Stagnant waters are sure to be cold and not have enough waves to flip your kayak.

Pedal Drive Kayaks

The pedal drive kayaks are suitable for areas where you need to travel long distances to reach the fishing area. The pedal drive allows you to keep your hands free paddling. With your hands-free of paddles, you can move around better and put your fishing skills to use. The pedal drive is one of the most innovative ideas which helps fishing in waters far from the coast.

But whichever type of kayak you choose, don’t forget to wear a personal flotation device, like an inflatable life jacket, for safety while fishing from a kayak.

Further Reading: Fishing Basics for Beginners (Learn to Fish: Part 1)

How To Pick A Kayak: Factors to Consider While Choosing a Fishing Kayak

Where will you be fishing and how far would you be traveling effects your choice of the kayak.

Fishing on Still Water Vs. Moving Water

One of the first things to consider is whether you would be fishing on still water or moving water. ‘Still Water’ could be anything from a small pond to the largest of lakes. If you would be fishing on a small water body then you should go for a kayak that has a high degree of initial stability. But if you would be fishing on a large lake, then you may need to travel a bit to reach the prime fishing location. This requires faster travel rather than ease of maneuverability. In such cases, you should go for long, slim and fast kayaks with a lower degree of initial stability.

When fishing on moving water, you need to deal with the water current that may propel your kayak backward or forwards. There is also a need to manage any water obstacles that may surface. Thus, keeping maneuverability in mind you should choose a short and wide kayak, with a higher degree of secondary stability and rocker.

Inshore Fishing Vs. Offshore Fishing

If you wish to try out saltwater fishing, then you need to consider the depth of the water while choosing your kayak. Inshore waters usually have depths of 70 feet or less. The paddlers face significant distances with stiff winds and waves. Thus long, slim kayaks with a moderate degree of rocker are best suited for inshore waters. Look for kayaks with good secondary stability and efficient hull design. Most fishermen prefer sit-on-tops kayaks as they are difficult to sink. Also, a sit-on-top kayak is easier to re-enter even if it capsizes.

Offshore waters generally mean oceans and seas. Fishermen usually face adverse conditions such as high winds and stiff waves while fishing offshore. As conditions are quite similar to inshore fishing, you may go for a kayak with similar structure. Long, slim kayaks with a moderate degree of rocker are the best for this type of fishing. Choosing a kayak that is a little longer would make you feel more secure.

Further Reading: Fishing Tips for Beginners (Learn to Fish: Part 2)

How To Pick A Kayak: Features of a Fishing Kayak

Initial Stability Vs. Secondary Stability

Initial stability is the measure of how the kayak feel when sitting upright on the keel. Wider kayaks have a higher degree of initial stability while narrow kayaks have a lower degree of initial stability. Also, in general, soft-chined kayaks have a higher degree of initial stability. While the hard-chined kayaks have a lower degree of initial stability.

Secondary stability is used to measure the feel of the kayak when leaned onto one of its sides. Narrow kayaks have a higher degree of secondary stability while the wide kayaks have a lower degree of secondary stability. Also, soft-chined kayaks have a lower degree of secondary stability and the hard-chined kayaks have a higher degree of secondary stability.

Length Vs. Width of a Fishing Kayak

Kayak with a longer hull would be faster than a shorter kayak of the same width. This is because longer kayaks have a longer waterline length. But, the longer kayaks are less maneuverable than the shorter kayaks. Although wider kayaks are slower, they have a higher initial stability. Thus shorter kayaks are very stable on flat water but not suitable for rough seas. Longer kayaks have a higher degree of secondary stability are able to handle rough seas better.

Maneuverability Vs. Tracking

‘Rocker’ is a measure of how much the hull of the kayak curves up from the center to the ends of the hull along the keel. Thus kayaks with a low degree of rocker are straighter along the keel. Kayaks with a high degree of rocker are more curved along the keel. Kayaks that have a low degree of rocker are able to track better but are difficult to turn. But those with a high degree of rocker are easy to maneuver but do not track as well. Also, the kayaks with a lower degree of rocker are slower due to the higher surface area while the ones with a high degree of rocker are faster.

Your Skill Level

Your skill level is an important factor while choosing a fishing kayak. For beginners, it is a good idea to start fishing on still waters. Thus beginners should go for a kayak that has a high degree of initial stability. These are easy to maneuver and make you feel secure. Sit-on-top kayaks are good for novice fishermen on still water.

Type of Construction

The type of construction also matters. Polyurethane kayaks are heavier, but tougher and are very good for fishing along rocky shorelines. Wood or composite kayaks are slower and need more effort to paddle. But, they also are much less expensive.

Outfitting a Fishing Kayak

Paddle

A paddle is needed to propel the kayak. You can paddle a kayak even with a single blade, but double blades are more effective. Double-bladed paddles are available in different lengths and different shape and size of the blades.

Single Paddle

Single Paddle

Double Paddle

Double Paddle

Paddle Park

The paddle park is a plastic clip that mounts to the deck. The paddle park allows you to clip the paddle so that it can be securely held out of the way while fishing.

Rod Holder

A rod holder is designed to provide a handy place to put your fishing rod while changing lures or bait or while handling a fish. Rod holders allow the rod to be placed at arm’s length in front of the paddler.

Tackle Storage

The tackle storage is used for the storing basic fishing tackle in the kayak so that the tackle can be easily retrieved.

How To Pick A Kayak: Conclusion

Many fishing kayaks come with pre-outfits such as cooler wells, bait wells, rod holders, rod racks, paddle parks and anchor trolleys. Thus, it is a good idea to consider pre-outfits while choosing a kayak for fishing. While such pre-outfits are good, they are not a must. These outfits can easily be added to any fishing kayak with little effort.

We hope this article helps answer the question How To Pick A Kayak For Fishing. You can use this knowledge to choose the right fishing kayak.

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