Tag Archive: electric trolling motor

Standing On Top Of A Fishing Kayak From A Stability And Safety Standpoint

Some fly anglers practice sight fishing: They paddle their kayak standing up, and scout for big fish. They prefer to to stand as high as possible, because it expands their range of vision. Once they spot a fish, they cast a fly at it as fast as they can.
Many fly kayak anglers and reel anglers sight fish while standing comfortably in their W kayaks. However, Ted, the kayak fly fisherman seen in these pictures, wants to stand higher, so he can look further.
Unlike Kevin, another fly fisherman who fishes the flats standing on top of his W kayak saddle without using outriggers, Ted added both a pair of outriggers and a frame to his fishing kayak. This setup puts him about 15″ higher than he would have been if he stood on the bottom of his W fishing kayak hulls, and this way he’s perfectly stable.
The drawback of paddling from such a high level is that you lose some leverage on the paddle, so you can’t go very fast. However, if the water is shallow enough, you can push pole – It’s slow, but what’s the rush?


This setup calls for an electric trolling motor, or an outboard gas engine, but those are not allowed in some areas, which leaves stand up paddling and push poling as the only solutions for propulsion.

Safety Concerns, and Solutions:

Standing as high on top of such a tiny vessel as a kayak means that sooner or later, the fly fisherman is going to lose their footing, or lose balance, or both – It’s a statistical fact, and every experienced angler, paddler, surfer or sailor knows that “Stuff Happens” is the rule on the water.
So the real question is not “What if” but “What happens when” –
When you stand up on top of a conventional fishing kayak (SOT, sit-in, or ‘hybrid’), you need to somehow manage to fall on your knees, or on your behind, and regain your balance immediately. It’s almost impossible, and although it doesn’t hurt to try, you’re more likely to find yourself swimming.
However, things are considerably different when you’re standing high on top of a W fishing kayak, as Ted does: He can drop on his kayak’s saddle, with a leg in each hull, and stabilize himself while he’s in the ergonomic kayak paddling posture known as Riding, which is similar to riding a jet-ski, a snowmobile, an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) – or a pony. In other words, it’s the most stable, and most powerful position you can hope to be in when you’re trying to regain balance and control in your kayak. When Ted wants to switch from standing to sitting, it’s just a matter of hopping down –


The pictures in this article were contributed by Ted Stevens, courtesy of Gene Andrews, W fishing kayaks dealer in Palm Coast, Florida.

Thoughts About The Future Of Kayak Fishing

Conceptually, kayak fishing is a great idea, but in reality, this relatively new sport is facing serious hurdles that impede its growth. These are technical problems related to performance and user-experience, and they can be solved only by a major shift from traditional designs such as sit-in kayak, sit-on-top kayak, and hybrid kayak (a small, flat canoe), to W kayaks – a patented twin hulled design.

From a new article about kayak fishing:

“Kayak fishing ceased to be a novelty, and it’s safe to say there’s hardly anyone in America who fishes that hasn’t been exposed to the notion of fishing out of kayaks, one way or another.
Still, for the huge majority of American anglers, the notion of fishing from a kayak is by far more appalling than appealing, and those who fish from shore and from all other watercraft outnumber kayak anglers by a thousand to one ratio -“

The numbers presented in this article are interesting, especially in view of the fact that kayak fishing is at least a decade old, in its modern form, which is heavily promoted by the kayak industry.

The article presents the major, unsolved problems that have dogged kayak fishing as a recreational activity and sport since its inception. These problems both limit the number of people who join the sport, as well as cause many participants to drop out of it. The problems are, in order of importance: Unacceptably poor ergonomics, lack of adequate stability, poor tracking, limited range of travel, limited storage space, restricted mobility.

More interesting are the conclusions, which stem from comparing the effect these problems have on the sport to the performance of the W kayak class relatively to the other common kayaks used for fishing:

“Does kayak fishing have a long term future?
We think it does, but only as a sensible sport and outdoor activity that would attract many more anglers, and not as the kind of unrewarding experience it currently is, which repels new participants while expelling existing ones.
The only venue is through an increase in use of W fishing kayaks rather than SOT, sit-in and hybrid kayaks. This is because W kayaks offer the solutions to all the problems discussed in this article, and some others, and these are the problems that make kayak fishing that marginal activity it has been so far in the much broader world of fishing.
Simply, as soon as realize that they can fish out of a watercraft that’s as small, nimble and lightweight as a regular kayak (not even a huge ‘barge’ fishing kayak..), and yet is as stable, dry and comfortable as a regular motorboat, and even has a similar travel range as a motorboat – they would adopt kayak fishing in growing numbers, and stick with the sport. The watercraft that combines the advantages of kayaks and motorboats, while offering better mobility than both, is the W kayak.”

So basically, the article presents an optimistic view for the future, when many anglers who are displeased both with other kayaks and small motorboats would benefit from the advantages offered by W kayaks – both human powered and motorized.

Front Motor and Front Steering In Motorized Fishing Kayaks

When rigging your W fishing kayak with an electric trolling motor, you face the choice of attaching the motor in the front of the kayak, in the rear, or on the side – next to you.
Each of these locations offers certain advantages, and presents disadvantages as well.

The motor’s location can affect safety, stability, speed, steering, tracking, entry and exit, reentering, as well as fishability, since the location of the motor and steering handle could limit your range of motion when casting baits and lures, reeling in the fish, and landing them. This is why you’d better study whatever information is available on these subjects, and see what configuration best fits your personal transportation and fishing requirements.

Front Motor and Steering

Having the motor in the front can produce a fun, ‘scooter’ feel, as you can see in this video of Dan Carroll’s motorized W300 – one of the first projects in this field:

More info about this W300 kayak outfitted with with an electric trolling motor >

Having the electric motor in the front can produce a ‘chopper’ motorcycle effect as well, as Richard Dion’s motorized W500 has:

fishing kayak, New Hampshire


This ‘road bike’ look and feel is partly due to the lowered seat and generous cushioning.
See more about this motorized offshore fishing kayak >

It’s possible to install the motor in the front and steer by means other than a handle.
In any case, attaching the motor in the front of the kayak can create a safety issue when navigating in shallow water, as the motor won’t bounce up if it hits bottom, or a submerged obstacle. In such case, the motor could be damaged, as well as its mount, and even the kayak itself.
As far as steering is concerned, the driver being located away from the motor limits their effective range of turning. This is not necessarily a problem, unless you want to make sharp turns, or in case you need to navigate through fasts streams and turbulent waters.

More info about motorizing your fishing kayak >

The First Motorized W Fishing Kayak

England was the cradle of many inventions, including the motorized W fishing kayak, and by that we mean outboard gas engine, and not electric trolling motor  🙂

It was Jim McGilvray, from Wroxham, UK, who had the idea of outfitting a 2007 W300 fishing kayak with a 2.5 hp Suzuki outboard motor. He realized his idea, and this is how it looked:

The 2007 W300 was a small, narrow W kayak, and Jim needed to add a pair of outriggers to his motor-kayak, since that thing was going a bit too fast for its size, or one may argue that it was flying too low… 😀
Safety first!

More about this DIY kayak motorizing project project >>

More about motorizing fishing kayaks >>

Jim’s kayak outriggers are his own design, and he made them all by himself.

Steering A Motorized Fishing Kayak With Cables

John Zoltner, an engineer and kayak fisherman from upstate New York, outfitted his W500 fishing kayak with an electric trolling motor system (Read More >)


Using his knowledge of prior art in this field, he created a remote steering system using cables. And finally, he improved upon it:

-“I’ve also been fine-tuning my trolling motor concept: I crossed the cables between the TM cross shaft and where it enters the yak. What this does is give me steering that responds directly to the direction I push the control handle. I no longer have to reverse my direction logic when I choose to turn in either direction. I also wasn’t satisfied with my TM crank pulley, so I ripped it out and now have a horizontal reel crank that works much better. .. I also want to try adding a rudder directly to the body of the trolling motor…”

This is a great example that shows how design processes are never final – There is always something new to learn, something new to test, and something that you don’t like  🙂
It’s possible to find many examples for this in reviews of fishing kayaks contributed by anglers.