Innovation implies advancement in the sense of improvement, but it often means little or nothing in practical terms.
The early years
The first kayaks designed mainly for fishing appeared on the market about ten years ago. They were basically very wide sit-in or SOT recreational kayaks outfitted with fishing rod holders and storage hatches.
Ten years ago is also the time when the first W300 series of W kayaks appeared on the market. And while those first W kayaks were not as good as the W500 series that replaced it in 2010, they revolutionized almost everything in kayak fishing.
Anglers who bought those kayaks had to outfit them with milk crates because the storage solutions they offered were inadequate. They still are.
Since those kayaks appeared in the market, they were touted as being extra stable. Well, this may be true in comparison to recreational kayaks and touring kayaks, but it fishing terms (I.E. ‘Fishability’) they were not stable enough to offer fishing in moving water for everyone, including anglers who are over 40 years old. They still aren’t.
Many sit-in and SOT kayaks today feature outriggers, whether as add-ons or integrated within their hull. While these outriggers add stability, they don’t add enough of it, and the problems they create both for paddling and fishing make them unpopular.
When it comes to stability, the W500 kayak series rules without a doubt.
Kayak ergonomics – yak back is still here for most
The dubious ergonomics of those early fishing kayak models was discussed all over the kayak fishing media, and since then, new cushioned seats as well as adjustable seats are being offered every year. However, the new seating solutions for sit-in and SOT kayaks are as inadequate as the ones that manufacturers offered ten years ago, and symptoms such as back pain and leg numbness plague practically any kayak angler who’s middle aged or elderly who fishes out of such kayaks. Depending on the angler’s age, level of fitness and back problems, the symptoms appear sooner or later.
Here too, if you’re over forty years old or elderly, and if your back is sensitive, the only solution that would work for you is offered by the W kayak, which is back pain free.
Kayak fishing standing
Interestingly, nearly all kayak manufacturers today offer kayaks they describe as ‘stand up fishing kayaks’, which they aren’t, unless the angler is young, physically fit, and willing to take unnecessary risks on flat water. In other words, while the volume of hype has increased manifold, actual performance in stability terms remained largely unchanged.
Luckily, regular people (I.E. non-athletic and not very young) who want to fish standing in their kayaks in real-world conditions can do it from a Wavewalk.
Fishing electronics technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and nowadays kayaks outfitted with high-res fish finders are a common sight.
Human powered propulsion
Human powered propulsion has shown some progress as well – While the same lame pedal kayaks based on flapping fins still get promoted as offering hands free fishing that they don’t, other pedal driven kayaks offer rotating pedals and propellers, and this at least this makes this segment of the market less boring.
Motorized fishing kayaks
Ten years ago, fishing kayaks outfitted with electric trolling motors were rare, and today they’re a common sight. Furthermore, new Lithium-Ion batteries extend the range of travel for anglers who use such kayaks in both time and distance terms. However, when it comes to outfitting fishing kayaks with outboard gas motors, the only brand that offers a reasonable and effective solution is Wavewalk.
Ten years ago, the most common human powered boat for fishing was the canoe. It was more stable as well as more spacious than kayaks, and it offered better protection to its passengers. But it was too big and too heavy for one person to carry, and too hard to paddle unless it carried a tandem crew. Then came the hybrid canoe-kayak design, which is essentially a shallow canoe offering little free board. These new kayaks are usually too heavy for one person to carry, especially if they’re middle aged or elderly, they are sluggish and hard to paddle, less comfortable than canoes, and prone to get filled with water from waves and eddies. This is to say that although innovative, hybrid kayaks offer little benefits in real terms.