Tag Archive: outrigger

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?

fly_fisherman_standing_on_top_of_his_kayak_with_outriggers_Florida

stand_up_fly_fishing_kayak_with_outriggers_Florida
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 –

fly_fisherman-sitting_in_his_kayak_waving

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

Leg Propulsion For Fishing Kayaks

Using your legs for propelling any human powered vehicle offers the advantage of relying on a bigger, more powerful set of muscles than our arms. Our legs are also good in balancing, if given a chance to perform this job.

Currently, three manufacturers offer pedal drives for fishing kayaks.
Two of these devices feature rotary paddles and propellers, which makes more sense than the third one that features push pedals and wings flapping from side to side as a propeller.
In any case, pedal drives do not provide a suitable answer for touring and fishing kayaks, since operating involves a variety of problems starting from reduced stability and control over the kayak, reduced maneuverability and the loss of the ability to travel in shallow water, to more important, ergonomic problems that include increased discomfort and back pain.
More about pedal drives for fishing kayaks

So far, no one has ever seen a reason to outfit their W kayak with a pedal drive, for pretty obvious reasons. However, should anyone be interested to tinker with such project, the following pedal drive setup seems applicable to W kayaks,

rotary pedal drive for fishing kayak

jb_on_canoe

More ideas, information and opinions about this pedal drive setup can be found in the comments section of the article about pedal drives recommended in the previous paragraph.

Here is another direction that seems applicable to W kayaks:

It seems like there used to be such a commercial product on the market several years ago, but we were unable to trace it. More information about it would be appreciated.
This particular setup is based on a crank shaft being used for pedaling and activating both paddle wheels at the same time. Therefore, the operator has to steer by means of a hand activated rudder (or paddle), which is a problem similar to the one facing kayak anglers attempting to operate a commercial fishing kayak pedal drive of the above mentioned types.
The rotation of the paddle wheels on the boat’s sides somehow compensates the operator for the initial loss of stability resulting from raising their feet in the air. In this regard, this seemingly clumsy setup is not as bad as the pedal drives featuring in fishing kayaks.
As far as shallow water mobility is concerned , this setup seems to be less inadequate than the above mentioned kayak pedal drives, and it looks like removing entangled seaweed from its blades is not complicated as it is with those kayak pedal drives.
Obviously, the paddle wheels add unwanted weight to the boat, and the recumbent position is not ideal for pedaling, as explained in the article mentioned in the first section.
In Fishability terms, the paddle wheels are similar to outriggers, in the sense that they can easily snag your fishing lines.

Having said that, if the reader feels like trying to implement such concept in their canoe, kayak or W kayak, they may want to consider separating the rotation of the two paddle wheels, namely have each leg rotate the paddle wheel on its own side – independently from what the other leg is doing. Such version would solve the steering problem created by relying on one’s legs for propulsion rather than on a paddle, eliminate the need to operate a unwanted rudder, and add both to the tracking and steering capabilities of the boat.

Fishing Kayaks With Rowing Oars

Rowing allows us to use the larger muscles in our back and legs, and thus we can generate more power with a set of oars than with a paddle. Rowing is a low impact sporting activity, and it’s far less likely to hurt your back and legs than traditional kayaking in the L posture would. Since paddling W kayaks in the Riding posture doesn’t hurt your back, neither does rowing them.
Rowing offers you to exercise your legs, back, arms, abdomen and chest.
Despite the mechanical advantage of rowing, it is not popular for recreational touring and for propelling small, recreational fishing boats such as canoes and kayaks.
This can be attributed to rowing requiring a better technique, to the fact that in most cases rowing implies that you face the direction from which you came rather than the direction to which you’re going, and to the fact that rowing boats need to be bigger and often heavier than kayaks.
But rowing has its fans among people who fish from small boats such as canoes and dinghies, and even from kayaks.

The W kayak naturally lends itself to rowing, due to its unrivaled stability, and its high saddle that allows for the effective use of the passengers’ legs.

Paddle / Rowing Oars System For Quick Kayak Position Adjustments For Fishing Fast Species, By Brandon Cutter

Here is an example of a rowing setup for a W300 kayak used for offshore fishing in Cape Cod, Massachusetts: The oars are made from a two-piece, extra long, double-blade canoe paddle. When the angler wants to paddle, all he has to do is assemble the paddle. Town people can paddle this kayak using the two pieces of this paddle separately, as single-blade (canoe) paddles.  More about this fishing kayak rowing system >>

fishing kayak oars rowing position

paddle perpendicular storage

Rowing Oars For W Fishing Kayak, by Jim Luckett, SailBoatsToGo

Jim Luckett is a professional designer who offers an out of the box rowing oars kit for the W500 fishing kayak.
Jim’s product is lightweight, efficient, and easy to install. More about this W fishing kayak rowing oars setup >

Rowing_oars_for_W_kayak_May_2011
Rowing_oars_for_W_kayak_05-2011

W500 Fishing Kayak Rigged With Rowing Oars, by Dave Baumbaugh, Pennsylvania

Dave Baumbaugh tried paddling his W500, and even stood up and paddled, but he also a set of oar locks on it, and was amazed by how fast and effortless rowing it was:

Fishing_kayak_with_oars_for_rowing_PA_W500

More about Dave’s fishing kayak with rowing oars >>

Bass Fishing Kayak With Rowing Oars and Outriggers, by Wayne Taylor, Florida

Due to his advanced age and balance impairment, Wayne needed a fishing platform that’s both extremely stable as well as comfortable. Back in 2006, when he purchased his W300, the W500 series wasn’t available, which is why Wayne added a pair of DIY outriggers to his kayak. Here is a movie showing Wayne’s rowing fishing kayak in action:

Interestingly, Wayne uses the oars to row ‘forward’ –

More about this fishing kayak with rowing oars >

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.

Stability: The Key Factor In Fishing Kayak Design

Abstract

This article describes the challenges facing the designer of a stable fishing kayak, the factors contributing to kayak stability, and the optimal solution achieved by applying both classic naval design and Micronautics in the design of W fishing kayaks.

Background

Stability is a key factor in kayak design, judged by the number of kayaks designed to offer more stability compared to kayaks designed with little or no regard to stability. The latter types are kayaks designed for rolling, and they sacrifice stability for maneuvering capability in the case of whitewater kayaks, and for speed, in the case of racing kayaks and sea kayaks. These applications are practiced by a relatively small number of kayakers, and they do not show a tendency to gain in popularity. It’s possible to argue that in a broad perspective, the unstable kayak is a failed experiment, or an evolutionary dead end.
All other kayaks are not designed for rolling, and their main safety attribute is the stability they offer, to variable extents. This stability is what helps the kayaker and kayak angler prevent their kayak from flipping in case they lose balance.

The kayak market opted for stability in the recreational, day touring, and fishing applications. Together, these three segments constitute the bulk of the kayak market in terms of sales and participation.
The attempts to paddle kayaks and boards in the standing position (SUP), as well as talks about stand up kayak fishing reflect a need for stabler kayaks.
As for fishing kayak propelled by pedal drives, since this method of propulsion results in the kayaker losing some control over their kayak, including over lateral its stability (balance) to a certain degree, it demands kayaks that are stabler, by definition.
Needless to say that as motorized kayaking and kayak fishing gain in popularity, so will the need for stable kayak designs increase, whether it’s for recreation, touring, or fishing.

Initial (Primary) and Secondary Stability

This article avoids discussing the difference between Initial (primary) Stability, defined as what the kayaker feels in normal circumstances, on flat water, and Secondary Stability, which is what they feel once the kayak has been destabilized, and it’s tilting on its side. The reason for this being that we think of stability as one quality in various conditions, and we maintain that under normal conditions, the kayaker should not be required to make any effort to stabilize their kayaks, or even pay attention to their being in a kayak. This approach is different from the traditional kayak design approach that’s applied mainly to the design of very unstable kayaks such as whitewater and ‘sea’ kayaks. This approach assumes that passenger would roll the kayak if they got destabilized, rather than simply right it.

How To Design A Stable Fishing Kayak?

Regardless of hull type, a kayak is a small boat that features certain universal characteristics, and therefore challenges, including:

1. Kayak Are Narrower Than Other Small Boats

Compared to other small boats, such as canoes and dinghies, kayaks are narrow, by definition, because they are mostly solo boats that are paddled from their middle section, by means of a dual blade paddle. Kayaks that are too wide become too hard to paddle, not just as a result of the paddle strokes becoming less efficient, and therefore less effective, but also because such kayaks are slow due to poor hydrodynamics, they track poorly, and they require the use of a rudder, which further slows them down, as well as makes operating them more complicated.

2. Kayaks Are Lightweight, And For A Reason

Making a heavy and cumbersome boat and labeling it ‘kayak’, or ‘hybrid kayak’, may be a good marketing tactic for some manufacturers who want to address the kayak fishing market, but it makes no sense in plain, technical terms, and from a user’s perspective. At some point, it becomes too hard and complicated to paddle such ‘barges’, or car top them, and that’s when they lose the right to be called kayaks, and earn the right to belong to another category of small boats.

3. Kayak Propulsion Is Weak, In Most Cases

Kayaks are mostly human powered, which means they suffer from a severe power deficiency, which restricts their hull design to forms that are sufficiently efficient in a displacement mode – No planing and no hydrofoils for the common kayak used in the real world for everyday applications, by people who are not kayaking champions… This power restriction also limits the use of outriggers as stabilizers, since outriggers generate much unwanted additional drag, thereby making it to hard for the common paddler, or angler, to paddle kayaks outfitted with such devices.

4. Fishing Kayaks Need To Be Stabler Than Other Kayaks

Fishing out of a kayak involves performing hard physical tasks on the sides of the kayak, such as casting, and landing fish. While doing so, the angler cannot use their paddle in order to balance their kayak, and they have to rely entirely on the kayak’s basic stability.

The Meaning Of These Physical Limitations For Kayak Stability

Being limited in its width, overall size, and hull form, the kayak can offer limited stability. This is not good news for kayak anglers, since fishing out any boat requires it to be stable.
The limits of the kayak’s stability are defined by its volume, and its width.
The volume corresponds to the kayak’s Buoyancy, or its ability to float and support additional weight without sinking.
As the kayak loses its balance, weight gets quickly shifted away from its center to one side, and this extra weight pushes this side downward. If the kayak side is supported by a sufficient amount of buoyancy, it will sink just by a small amount, and offer the kayaker sufficient time and support to regain their balance and right their kayak. If the kayak’s side is not supported by enough buoyancy, it will tip too fast and too low, and thus make the kayaker lose their balance, and capsize their kayak.

How Distributing The Kayak’s Buoyancy’s Relatively To Its Center Line Affects Its Stability

The further away from the kayak’s center line, the more effective the kayak’s buoyancy becomes in supporting its sides, I.E. for stabilizing it.
In other words, for every cubic inch of the kayak’s volume, the distance from the kayak’s center line works to increase the leverage and stabilizing effect: A cubic inch of the kayak’s buoyant volume located along the kayak’s center line has zero stabilizing effect, while a cubic inch of buoyant volume situated at the very far side of the kayak provides a maximal stabilizing effect, for a given kayak width.

For example: For a kayak that’s 28 inches wide, one cubic inch of buoyancy located at its far side, at a 14 inch distance from its center line, provides 14 times more lateral support than a cubic inch located 1 inch from the center line. This is means it’s 14 times more effective in terms of stability.

In other words, if we look at a given kayak volume in cubic inches as an asset that we need to allocate in a way that would maximize the kayak’s stability, we should avoid placing any units of buoyancy (e.g. cubic inches) along the kayak’s center line, or close to it, and allocate as much buoyancy to areas located as far as possible from the kayak’s center line, namely  along the kayak’s two sides. Practically, this means the kayak’s center line should not be in contact with the water at all.
In other words, we need to give the perfectly stable fishing kayak two hulls – one on each side, thus making it a twin hull.

Location Of The Center Of Gravity (CG) And Its Effect On The Kayak’s Stability

A kayak going in water has a total mass, which includes its own mass, and the bigger mass of its operator. This is a classic case in which traditional naval engineering should be complemented by Micronautics.
For the purpose of keeping this article simple, we’ll treat mass and weight as the same thing, and describe the kayak’s center of mass as its center of gravity (CG). The kaya’s CG is located above its center line, and because the kayaker is heavy and sitting upright, the kayak’s overall CG is situated quite high above waterline.  When the kayak gets destabilized, it means that its CG shifts to one side, sometimes rapidly, and in some cases to a great extent. The higher the kayaker is seated, the more leverage its own CG has on the mass combined of themselves and their kayak. This means that a kayaker sitting on top of a kayak, such as when paddling a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak, or fishing from it, is less stable than a kayaker seated at the bottom of a sit-in kayak.

Twin Hull Fishing Kayak Vs. Catamaran Kayak

Going back to our ideal stable kayak form, which is a twin hull – A traditional catamaran design would imply that we connect the two hulls by a platform, and let the kayaker operate their kayak while seated on top of this platform, as well as fish from it while being seated in the traditional L position, similarly to a SOT kayaker. This has been tried in the past, and similarly to the SOT result,  it was sub-optimal due to the fact that the kayaker’s CG was too high, and the L position offered no advantage when it comes to reacting to lateral forces, whether while paddling or when fishing.

The Traditional L Kayaking Position Vs. The Riding Position

The combined stability and ergonomic problem described above was solved in the W kayak by designing deep, hollow hulls for the ideal stable kayak, and enabling each of the operator’s legs go in its own hull, all the way down, with feet firmly resting on the bottom – that is below waterline, as low as possible.  This took some of the kayaker’s weight and redistributed it lower than it would have been if the kayaker was seated in the L position. By that, the kayak’s CG was lowered as well.
In addition, placing the kayaker’s legs in the hulls offered the kayaker better leverage on the kayak, by enabling them to use their legs intuitively and effectively for balancing and stabilizing the kayak, and doing so by applying their weight on the bottom of the hulls, instead of on the top of the deck. This advantage can be described as ‘active ballasting’. It is comparable to the advantage achieved by ATV, snowmobile and PWC drivers, who operate their vehicles from similar riding positions.

Some Fishing Kayak Stability Facts

Fishing kayaks are wider than the average kayak, but although it’s one of the narrowest fishing kayaks (just 28.5″ wide), the W500 is the world’s stablest fishing kayak. In fact, it’s even stabler than fishing kayaks outfitted with outriggers.
Due to its narrowness, narrow hulls, and improved ergonomics, the w500 is faster than most fishing kayaks, including some that are considerably longer, and many touring kayaks as well.

The W Kayak invention is protected by US patent number 6871608