What’s a fishing kayak, actually?
The common ‘fishing kayak’ is in most cases a wide, stabler recreational kayak accessorized with ‘special’ features for kayak fishermen such as rod holders and hatches. But while recreational kayaks are normally very affordable, fishing kayaks are considerably more expensive, or at least the brands that are heavily promoted are. No wonder many kayak fishermen prefer to purchase the cheaper brands or get a recreational kayak and outfit it with fishing accessories and even DIY accessories created from materials available in hardware stores.
So, do you really need a ‘fishing kayak’ or could you be satisfied with a self outfitted recreational kayak?
This is a question that only you can answer.
How do you test a fishing kayak?
Leg numbness, back pain etc. are problems that usually appear after some time. Don’t think that because you felt comfortable paddling a certain kayak for half an hour and casting from it a number of times that you’ll be comfortable after two or three hours in or on that kayak.
Test kayaks in real life conditions i.e. wind, and if you’re planning to fish at sea you must check how you’re doing with the kayak in the surf and with some real waves… The reason for this is that even if you decide to fish only on beautiful and windless days the weather may change by the time you go back home, which can mean difficulties in the surf zone and even at sea. Remember – the wake of a motorboat passing by can overturn your kayak, especially if you didn’t notice it because you were too busy fishing, which means you can’t stabilize yourself using your paddle.
Check if the boat is stable enough to support you when you’re struggling with a strong fish -Do you feel safe and confident enough?
Ask yourself in all honesty:
–“Am I going to like this in a year from now?”
–“How do I really feel about sitting in wet clothes for hours?”
–“Do I miss casting standing?” (yes, of course, but don’t try standing in or on a regular kayak, or you’ll learn the hard way that pictures on vendors’ websites and forums are one thing, and your reality is another)
–“Do I really get along with carrying and car topping this heavy,14′ long kayak?” (you probably don’t)
–“Would I rather spend this time in a more comfortable boat?” (indeed you would)
After all, fishing should be about you enjoying your free time safely and comfortably, and not about trying to accommodate yourself to an inadequate and greatly over hyped craft.
What else would I like to do with my kayak besides fishing?
Go on long touring, camping (and fishing) trips, take passengers on board, play in the surf, stand up paddling (it’s fun!) and more. There’s no reason why such an expensive toy shouldn’t offer more than just fishing, but most fishing kayaks barely do that.
This is the dimension we call versatility. After all, when you own a motorboat you don’t just cast lines from it, but you’re supposed to do other things as well. Although fishing kayaks are smaller and cheaper than motorboats, they should be versatile enough and offer good performance. A kayak that’s not versatile is an under performing one, and nearly all fishing kayaks available today are such.