kayak propulsion

Review of 2013 fishing kayak design trends

A meager harvest when kayak anglers are concerned, and plenty of reasons for a good laugh 😀

2013 hasn’t been much different from previous years as far as fishing kayaks are concerned. The kayak obesity trend keeps being the main one, and it drives kayaks to reach titanic proportions. For example, kayaks that are 35 inches wide and weigh 80 lbs are almost typical, and a kayak that’s over 40 inches wide is no longer viewed as an aberration despite the fact that paddling such a kayak is quite a challenge, and almost impossible to do for medium and long distances. Leviathan barge kayaks weighing around 120 lbs are still considered as kayaks (at least by some) although even a seasoned weight lifter might find it hard to car top one, and people who buy them have to buy a trailer to go with them, which is yet another way to defy the purpose of kayak fishing.
The reason behind the persistence of this trend is the poor stability that fishing kayaks offer to their users, albeit the fact that kayak manufacturers insist that the kayaks they offer are very stable, enough to allow for kayak fishing standing… Go tell this to all those disappointed anglers who purchased such kayaks and found out that reality is different from bogus reviews and staged YouTube movies  🙁

Fishing kayak hulls keep featuring all sorts of weird longitudinal channels and vertical dimples that work perfectly to create more drag and by that further impede the kayaker and make it harder for them to paddle. The infamous scupper holes that were introduced as means to prevent the deck from collapsing but have since been hyped as drainage holes keep conducting water in both directions, which means they also drive water up and onto the deck, and into the paddler’s area.

In the twilight zone, kayaks with integrated outriggers are still being offered although the concept has proved to be rather useless in practical terms. It seems like the failure of the kayak industry to present kayaks that actually work for stand up kayak fishing drives more people to try outriggers.

New designs still appear on the scene, and they make one wonder if kayak designers have any ability to learn from others’ mistakes.

Pedal driven kayaks are still being promoted as the panacea, although reality has disproved most of their manufacturer’s claims as far as practical usefulness is concerned.

Kayak storage keeps relying on hatches, which are often inaccessible to the user while they’re out there in their kayak, trying to fish from it. Such hatches have an annoying tendency to fail to be waterproof, and that’s bad news for your sandwiches!

When ergonomic design is concerned, manufacturers seem to realize that the kayaks they offer are really uncomfortable, so they keep trying to come up with new ideas for seats, although it’s the seat itself together with the L sitting position that cause the back pain and leg numbness problems that so many anglers experience.

Motorizing… well, oddly enough, some kayak manufacturers tell their clients they can outfit their kayaks with powerful outboard gas motors. Naturally, not too many people buy into this nonsensical notion. The most ridiculous case in this regard is a kayak manufacturer who offers his clients to attach their outboard gas engine directly to the kayak’s transom, which like the rest of that kayak is made from a thin, rotationally molded plastic wall… It is only appropriate to apply Hanlon’s razor to this case, and say “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” 😀

And last but not least, fishing kayak manufacturers keep competing with each other by offering an increasing range of useless accessories, from cup holders to stand-up metal frames and stand-up ropes and straps… The latter being pure exercises in futility, at least from the user’s standpoint.

No wonder the Wavewalk 500 keeps being the most loved fishing kayak out there!

Motorized DIY stitch-and-glue W catamaran kayak – the movie, by Berny Marsden

I took it on Coniston water in the English lake district.
It is brilliant! The 43 year old Seagull 3 HP motor starts 2nd pull and has lots of compression. It’s very light and the perfect size for Banana Split (the boat). On my own it will do about 7 MPH, and in tandem with my wife Andrea it pulls 5 MPH.

I have made a centre board and am making a rudder, mast and sails as my next development. Sadly, the English winter is nearly upon us so I might not get the chance to test until the spring.

I have found a seaside boating lake that should be ideal for testing the sails.

Berny

United kingdom

More about motorized kayaks >

When a fishing kayak turns into something else…

Sometimes a design offers more than the eye meets. In this case, a patented fishing kayak offering unrivaled stability and comfort as well as unmatched storage space and dryness can turn into a self-motorized water skiing device by virtue of its small size, light weight, ease of use, and tracking capabilities.

Watch this video:

Just drive around, standing up, with no motorboat to tow you… And you don’t need to be an athletic youth to perform this trick and enjoy it.

The middle aged guy demonstrating the kayak in this video is 6 ft tall and weighs 200 lbs.

The basic model of this rotationally molded Polyethylene W kayak weighs 59 lbs. The 2 hp Honda outboard motor weighs 29 lbs, and the transom motor mount adds five more pounds to the total.
The driver controls the motor and steers the craft through the tiller handle, which is outfitted with an articulated (jointed) tiller extension allowing for effective steering even when the driver is standing up.
This little wonder fits on top of any car rack, and inside some medium and large size vehicles.
It’s easy to carry just by dragging in on the ground by a strap attached to its bow, as demonstrated towards the end of the video clip.

Is this an effective solution for offshore trips? It is, and a simple and effective cockpit cover would provide additional protection from spray.

This watercraft can be outfitted with detachable flotation modules that would keep it afloat in case of a capsize accident leading to much water getting inside.

The more traditional ways to look at this small boat are either as a motorized fishing kayak or a personal microskiff. The difference between the two viewpoints is related to whether you’re used to fish out of a kayak or from a motorboat.

Platform for standing higher on a kayak – for sight fishing, poling, etc.

Here’s yet another example of what unrivaled stability can offer in terms of additional versatility:

Platform for stand up sight-fishing from a kayak

Creating such a platform is easy and inexpensive, and you can design its surface area to be bigger or smaller, according to your needs. Furthermore, you can move this platform fore and aft along the saddle, to fit variables such as your weight and your fishing needs.
The versatility of this platform is also manifested in the fact that you can sit on it with your legs in the hulls, and your feet resting comfortably on the bottom. In this position, you can paddle, or operate an outboard gas engine mounted at the transom.

Naturally, when standing higher on a kayak, you lose stability, which is one of the reasons the W kayak is stabler for stand up fishing than all other fishing kayaks out there, and why it’s recommended to stand in a W kayak with your feet at the bottom of its hulls. The stand-up platform seen in the above picture would place you 16″ higher than if you stood on the bottom of the hulls, so you should expect to be less stable.
BTW, you can pole a W kayak while standing in its hulls, and there’s no real need for you to stand higher for this purpose.

Standing_platform_for_fishing_kayak_01

This stand up fishing platform is based on a pair of saddle brackets, but it’s possible to make one using different structural elements, and extend the platform’s width out of the cockpit. Having said that, one should remember that an adult cannot stand on one side on the kayak, especially not at such height.

Fly fishing sometimes requires scouting, and some fly anglers like to practice sight fishing, which consists of casting a fly at a fish as soon as they spot it. Standing higher adds some visibility in such cases, but reduces the effectiveness and ease of paddling, and increases the likelihood of losing balance and falling overboard, as if you were standing on a regular fishing kayak, and not in a W kayak, in which the saddle and extreme stability enable you to regain your balance and stabilize yourself instantly and intuitively in most cases.

A barge fishing kayak is not a microskiff

Anyone observing the evolution of the common fishing kayak in the past decade has noticed that the high-end tier (not better, just more expensive) of this class of watercraft has grown bigger, that is longer and excessively wider.

Why is that? -The main drive has been the need to provide fishermen with more stability, as many of them have come to realize that sitting for hours in an unstable craft isn’t fun, and certainly not productive. After all, reeling in and landing a big fish on board is hard work, and when you work hard you don’t want to worry about capsizing your boat, do you?

As for the increase in length, it was the result of two problems: The first is the decrease in tracking capability as the kayak gets wider –  Short and wide (‘chubby’) mono-hull kayaks track more poorly, and outfitting them with rudders makes them less attractive to users as well as more expensive. The second problems is the need to offer more buoyancy, since kayaks that offer too little buoyancy ride too low on the water, and not many people like to get constantly splashed by waves and even just eddies.

So SOT and sit-in fishing kayaks have grown bigger and heavier, and this is how the term ‘barge kayak’ was born (see article: http://wavewalk.com/blog/2011/04/15/the-barge-a-new-class-of-fishing-kayak/. This increase in overall size, and especially the increase in width made those kayaks harder to paddle, this decreasing their suitability for long fishing trips. In addition, some models have become so heavy that car topping them became nearly impossible for one person.
Some anglers had hoped that pedal driven kayaks would solve the propulsion issue, but most of them got disappointed, mainly due to an increase in ergonomic problems, and mostly back pain and premature fatigue. Moreover, the pedal drive made ordinary fishing kayaks heavier for car topping, and it turned the optional rudder into an absolute necessity.
At this point, some owners of those big and bulky kayaks started transporting them on trailers, which was in a way a sign of defeat, as anyone can understand that a kayak that must be towed on a trailer defeats the purpose of both kayaking and kayak fishing.

Once the term ‘barge’ was coined, the next logical step was to compare those huge and cumbersome kayaks to small skiffs, and ask the question “if this kayak is already almost as big as a small skiff, why not fish out of a real skiff?” – a good question indeed, to which vendors offered yet another propulsion solution: electric trolling motors.
Considering the fact that the combined weight of an electric trolling motor and battery can top 70 lbs, as well as the fact that electric trolling motors offer a limited range of travel, this solution was no match for small skiffs outfitted with gas outboard motors.
From the standpoint of a fisherman who fishes out of small motorboats, an electric SOT and sit-in fishing kayak was not even something worth considering – a sub par solution, and even more so because all those huge kayaks are not really suitable for stand up fishing as far as normal people fishing in real world conditions are concerned.

In other words, the SOT, sit-in and hybrid fishing kayaks hit a brick wall on their way to replace the small motorized skiff, known as ‘Microskiff’. The solution to the challenge of ‘stay small and get motorized’ came from the W kayak, which is perfectly suitable for motorizing with small outboards, and offers existing owners of small motorboats a way to downsize and upgrade at the same time, as the motorized W kayak (a.k.a. personal microskiff) is not just a smaller microskiff or a better fishing kayak – it is a new class of small watercraft with special attributes, offering better performance and convenience, and a whole new level of fishability.