Tag Archive: fishing kayak

Paddle, pedal drive, or motor for my kayak?

This article examines different modes of propulsion available for kayaks today, and discusses their relative advantages and shortcomings.

Different modes of propulsion

Kayaks can be propelled by various means, which include paddling, pedaling, and motorizing*
Most people paddle their kayaks with dual blade (kayak) paddles, and rarely with single-blade (canoe) paddles.
Most pedal drive manufacturers today offer kayaks equipped with rotational drives (rotational pedals and rotational propeller), and one kayak manufacturer offers a pedal drive with push pedals and flapping blades.
Motors for kayaks range from weak electric motors (trolling motors) to powerful outboard gas engines (outboard motors).

Assisted paddling

This is the name given to paddling while an electric motor is working to provide extra power and increase the kayak’s range of travel. Assisted paddling is becoming increasingly popular, especially among kayak anglers whose fishing kayaks are typically not easily to paddle, and are often loaded with heavy fishing gear.
Assisted paddling is particularly useful in moving water (rivers, tidal currents), as well as in big lakes and the ocean.
This hybrid mode of propulsion is particularly useful for paddlers who aren’t necessarily in top physical condition due to weight, age, and physical disabilities.

Pedal drives

For a couple of decades, the niche market for pedal driven kayaks had been dominated by push pedal drives, but it the last few years rotational pedal drives have become increasingly popular in this market, as numerous kayak manufacturers (especially fishing kayaks) started offering kayaks equipped with such drives. This transition is due to the fact that rotational pedal drives for kayaks are more efficient than push pedal ones.

It’s worth remembering that operating pedal driven kayaks is limited to water that’s neither shallow nor rich in vegetation, and a pedal dive won’t get you where a paddle could, which is why pedal kayak users always carry a paddle on board.

From an ergonomic standpoint, the effect of operating a pedal drive is even worse on a person’s back than the effect of paddling a SOT or sit-in kayak, because the continuous horizontal pressure that their legs exert on their lower back while pushing it against the seat’s backrest is bigger than the pressure exerted in a paddling mode in the L position.

Suggested reading –

 

Paddling

Paddling in the common L kayaking position works for younger people who happen to be physically fit. Such people rarely suffer from back problems, which are the number one cause of disability in America.
For all other people, namely middle aged and elderly, and/or people who are overweight and not in top shape, paddling in the L position is a source of  discomfort, pain, and even injuries, hence the expression “yak back”.

Since so many people in America suffer from a sensitive back or from more serious back problems, many anglers view kayaks as uncomfortable boats to fish from, and for a good reason, unless one considers Wavewalk’s patented kayaks, which are back pain free.

Motors

Electric motors

Electric motors are weak, which is why they’re often called trolling motors, namely motors for slow motion.
Having a motor on board is a good thing, as it adds safety in adverse conditions such as wind and current, or paddler fatigue, and it adds to the kayak’s range of travel. However, electric motors fail to deliver the performance that outboard gas engines offer when it comes to power, speed, and long trips.

There are two types of electric motors – Integrated (built-in) motors, and add-on motors that the user attaches to their kayak.
Ironically, the motors purchased separately from the kayak work better than the ones that come already installed in it. The reason for this absurd situation is that it’s easier to mount an electric motor on a kayak in a way that would effectively protect it in case it bumps against the bottom, while integrated motors have no effective protection for such cases. Since every body of water has a bottom, and the distance between the bottom and the surface is not always perceptible or predictable, such unfortunate events are most common. Rocks, fallen trees, oyster beds, coral reefs sand bars and just plain junk are a constant threat to the motor’s propeller and shaft.

Outboard motors

Even small outboard gas engines are too powerful for SOT and sit-in kayaks, including the widest models. Simply, there is no way to outfit a SOT or sit-in kayak with an outboard motor in a sensible manner. Any SOT or sit-in kayak outfitted with an outboard motor is neither comfortable nor safe to drive because of inadequate means to control and steer it.
Wavewalk kayaks are different from SOT and sit-in kayaks in the sense that they offer the user full control over the boat while they drive it, direct access to the motor, and much more stability than any other kayak does.
In fact, the Wavewalk S4 is more seaworthy than most small skiffs and Jon boats, as can be seen in these short videos:

 

 

 

Wavewalk kayaks offer unrivaled stability, and especially the new 13 ft long S4 that allows big and heavy people to drive it without any problem, facing either forward or sideways –

 

 


* This article discusses neither kayak sailing nor poling

Improving steering of motorized fishing kayaks and small boats

Here is some exciting news – Wavewalk is offering a new joystick steering system for its 700 series of two-person car-top fishing boat and microskiff. The new system makes steering easier and more comfortable, and safer too if you happen to use a powerful outboard motor such as the 6 hp Tohatsu featuring in this video:

 

 

Attaching and detaching this system is a breeze, and it takes seconds, literally. This means that an angler who wants to get the joystick and cables out of their way in order to make room for casting and landing fish can do it effortlessly and in no time, and later reattach the joystick and cables with the same ease.

Read more about this new joystick steering system for motorized fishing kayaks and small boats »

A white fishing kayak? Well, you don’t have to call it a kayak…

When you think of a color for a “Fishing Kayak” you typically tend to associate the word Fishing with colors such as dark green or a camo (camouflage) pattern. Color has always been an important consideration in kayak design, and surprisingly there are hardly any white fishing kayaks out there, although most offshore fishing boats (namely motorboats), microskiff and flats fishing boats are white…
Intriguing, isn’t it?
The reason why so few fishing kayaks are offered in white is that most of these small craft are rotationally molded from Polyethylene, and producing a clean white color in this technology is harder than producing other colors.
As for the bigger boats, those are often made from fiberglass and painted white, a color commonly associated with leisure and offshore pleasure boating – You won’t find a camo yacht out there!

So far for the theoretical aspect of fishing kayaks’ colors, and practically, our readers may be interested to know that Wavewalk now offers boats from its 500 and 570 series in white. And since these small craft can be easily and effectively motorized, you can call them by a name other than ‘Kayak’, such as microskiff, catamaran, boat, etc.

More on the white Wavewalk TM fishing kayak »

Don’t overpower your fishing kayak, but if you do…

Aside from legal considerations, there are good reasons why you shouldn’t overpower your fishing kayak, and they all boil down to one word: Safety. Simply, overpowering any boat, including a kayak, is hazardous, weather because the extra torque and speed make the boat harder to control to a point where the driver could lose control and capsize it, or because a powerful motor can overstress the part of the hull to which it’s attached (typically the stern), and make it develop cracks that could cause the boat to sink.

When common fishing kayaks are concerned, most online videos that show such a vessel driven while outfitted with a gas outboard motor reveal an overpowered setup – Those SOT kayaks are hard to drive mainly due to poor stability, unsuitable ergonomics and insufficient access to the motor’s controls. In some cases the kayak’s stern is dangerously low to a point  where it’s partially submerged.
As for Wavewalk kayaks, they work perfectly with small outboard motors, but in some cases their owners outfit them with an outboard gas engine that’s too powerful (I.E. exceeds 3 hp), mainly because these boats work better with outboards that feature a long propeller shaft (20″), and such motors are hard to find in the range of small-size motors.

This video demonstrates an ‘overpowered by far’ configuration – A 6 horsepower Tohatsu outboard that fits boats up to 3,000 lbs mounted on a 60 lbs Wavewalk:

Needless to say that such outfit is hard to drive, and requires extreme caution. Inexperienced drivers should not drive overpowered boats, especially such small ones.

motorized-kayak

fisherman-driving-motor-kayak-640

While it is strongly recommended not to overpower your Wavewalk kayak, if you’re determined to do so, here are some tips you may want to remember –
First, make sure the boat is properly outfitted with enough flotation. This may turn out to be critical in case of an accident. Remember that the more powerful the motor the heavier it is, and that in case of an accident, the amount of flotation you use should suffice to keep the boat afloat with the motor attached to it.
Second, make sure the motor mount you use is sturdy enough – Remember that the motor mounts offered by Wavewalk are rated for 2.5 hp to 3 hp, and they won’t withstand the torque generated by more powerful motors. Note that the TMM 20-15 mount featuring in the above video was reinforced with a double mounting plate. Reinforcing the knobs under the deck with wide plates is recommended as well.
While a spray shield isn’t required for driving your motorized Wavewalk on flat water at regular speed, it’s pretty useful when you drive in choppy water and at higher speeds. The same is true for a cockpit cover.

More on this subject »

The typical fishing kayak is a cluttered barge

This short review of recent kayak design articles highlights some aspects of the common fishing kayak.

The first, and probably most striking thing about the typical SOT, sit-in or hybrid fishing kayak that’s offered in stores or online is its size – It is huge, and consequently heavy and hard for one person to carry and car top, as well as hard to paddle, especially in wind and current.
Those kayaks seem to have crossed the line between a kayak and a boat, or a skiff, since practically speaking they require transportation by trailer. And indeed, some manufacturers already refer to their larger fishing kayak models as boats, not because of their performance or some additional functionality, but due to their size.
Needless to say that this fact alone is evidence that such kayaks defy the purpose of kayak fishing.

The second most striking aspect of those large-size fishing kayaks is the dysfunctional clutter in their cockpit and deck that seem so crowded with fishing accessories and just ‘stuff’ that the angler sitting or attempting to stand in them literally has no room to do so. These objects range in size, from small cup holders to large size lean bars, and their presence in the kayak’s cockpit is not only unnecessary to the angler, it is clearly counterproductive.

The third interesting thing about these larger than life (I.E. too large for real people to fish from in real life) kayaks is the absence of hydrodynamic design in them: They are not even close to conform to basic boat design standards or even to common sense: Not only are they much too wide for their length, which slows them down and makes them track poorly and require a cumbersome rudder – their underside features a variety of design elements that are extremely counterproductive as fare as speed is concerned. Such elements can be multiple scupper holes and molded-in channels, fins, and even a skeg.

Ironically, none of these accessories, systems and design elements offers a real solution to the fundamental problems that the average angler experiences when using them –

These unsolved problems in these common fishing kayaks are:

1.  Poor ergonomics, meaning mainly lack of comfort, early fatigue and back pain, as well as bad bio-mechanical design, which the angler feels as a restricted range of motion in both paddling and fishing. The new beach seat style kayak seats are obviously a botched attempt to address this issue, as foam filled seats failed to do so in the past.

2.  Insufficient stability albeit the fact that these fishing kayaks are extremely wide.

3.  Wetness as a result of the kayak offering too little or no free board, and scupper holes that conduct water upward onto the deck and cockpit, a problem annoying to a point that  manufacturers have to offer scupper plugs…

4.  These kayaks are as wide as canoes and as as sluggish and unfit for paddling in strong wind, waves and other real world factors.

5.  With all the stuff tucked on board a typical SOT, sit-in or hybrid fishing kayak, such craft still scores very low in terms of storage, as one or more hatches address neither the need for enough storage space nor for adequate accessibility to the gear stored inside.

In contrast, the Wavewalk 500 series of twin hull kayaks offers a high level of fishability in all these factors.

References –

More is less in your fishing kayak’s cockpit – Too much stuff and too little fishability

The secrets of the SOT kayak’s underside

THE BARGE – A NEW CLASS OF FISHING KAYAKS