Tag Archive: sit-on-top kayak

Fishing kayak design – the best and the rest

People looking for a kayak to fish from could get confused and think they face a broad and perplexing variety of kayak types, brands and models to choose from, while reality is much simpler and easier to address.
This article suggests a number of ‘go or no go’ criteria that anyone can apply in the process of eliminating fishing kayaks that are not worth consideration.
To make a long story short and save the reader’s time, there is currently just one kayak that normal people can use to fish from without sooner or later regretting their purchasing decision, and this is the W kayak.
The reason why there is only one such kayak and not a plethora of designs is because its design is based on a a utility patent (proprietary invention) which prohibits manufacturing or selling it without the patent owners’ permission.

What makes a kayak angler’s life miserable?

Anyone can understand that being small, frail, unstable and uncomfortable craft, kayaks are not necessarily a fisherman’s first choice. This still doesn’t disqualify a kayak from serving as a fishing boat, but it does raise a few red flags –

Safety – this means mainly stability

Kayaks, including those designed for anglers and hyped as being very stable, must be stable indeed, since marketing hype may get you to buy a kayak, but it won’t prevent it from overturning when you’re inside. Furthermore, hype can make you feel good about your kayak’s stability, but it no longer works to this effect once you start fishing out of the kayak, unless you’re a young, small size, lightweight and athletic dude… In case you are, you may stop reading this article, and go get yourself any fishing kayak out there that fits your budget…  But if you’re an average guy, or middle aged etc. – you’d better get a kayak that’s stable enough for you, and that means in real-life conditions – or you’d suffer and put that thing for sale on Craigslist after some time.
And what is the definition of a stable fishing kayak? Simply, a kayak that makes you forget you’re fishing out of a kayak even when the wind is blowing and eddies are hitting you, even in moving water, even when you’re standing up, and even if you’re an average guy and not a young, small-size athlete. In other words, a kayak that’s really stable, in real world conditions, and for a real-life people.

Protection – this means mainly staying dry

One may argue that getting wet is part of any paddle sport, and it’s also part of fishing from kayaks. We think differently, and we think most fishermen would take our side in this debate. In other words, we maintain that any boat that’s used for fishing, including kayaks, should provide its passengers with sufficient protection from the elements, including wind, spray and waves. In other words, if you have to fish out of a kayak, it should be one that features enough free board to keep you dry. No sit-in, sit-on-top (SOT) or hybrid kayak out there offers this feature, and the passengers of such kayaks are over-exposed to wetness. The only difference between these kayak types is that a SOT won’t get filled with water if it’s washed by eddies and waves, while a sit-in or hybrid kayak would. The only kayak offering an angler to fish out of and stay dry is the W, since it’s the only one featuring enough free board to protect its passengers.

Ergonomics – this means mainly comfort

In case you haven’t heard, kayaks are notoriously uncomfortable, which is why fishing out of one is a challenge for most people and can turn into a torture for some – unless of course you’re young, fit, not too big (see suggestion in previous paragraph)… The comfort criterion rules out practically all kayaks except one. This is due to the fact that except the W kayak, all other kayaks force their passengers to paddle and fish with their legs sticking out in front of them, in a position nicknamed the L position. What this position does to you is get your legs to continuously push your back against your seat’s backrest, and sooner or later, this pressure starts generating growing discomfort, and later pain. This painful condition is nicknamed ‘yak back’, and in the long run it can become chronic if you don’t slip into something more comfortable, such as a W kayak. The latter is the only kayak offering its passengers to ride a high saddle, in a position similar to the one offered by All Terrain Vehicles, Jet-Skis, Snowmobiles, etc. In other words, a position that’s powerful, comfortable, and creates neither pressure nor stress on any part of your back.

Design considerations

Nearly all fishing kayaks out there belong to one of the following common basic designs:

1. Sit-in kayak (traditional)

A kayak design inspired by aboriginal kayaks. You sit in the L position, close to the water, with no protection from spray, eddies, waves, etc. Bottom line – You’re unstable, uncomfortable, and unless the weather is perfectly calm and sunny, you’d be wet and probably cold too.

2. Sit-on-top kayak (SOT)

A kayak design whose name is somehow misleading, since a SOT kayak is little more than a paddle board outfitted with a seat and footrests. Sitting higher than in a sit-in kayak makes you less stable, which is why SOT kayaks are usually very wide, and this also makes them hard to paddle as well as slow. In other words, most SOT fishing kayaks are ‘barges’. Some readers might be surprised to learn that contrary to the common belief (hype), SOT kayaks are not self bailing, and like any other watercraft, SOT kayaks can capsize.

3. Hybrid kayak (shallow canoe)

The hybrid kayak design is a crossover between a canoe and a kayak. Essentially, it’s a shallow canoe offering little free board. The hybrid kayak is smaller than common canoes are, which makes it possible for a passenger to paddle it from its middle part with a dual-blade paddle instead of a single-blade (canoe) paddle. Hybrid kayaks can be used only on flat water, and they become impractical on windy days. Regardless of its hull’s form, a hybrid kayak isn’t and cannot be noticeably stabler than a canoe of similar size, and no amount of hype could change this basic limitation on its stability, and therefore on its overall fishability – Anglers intuitively understand the meaning of this word.

4. Pedal driven kayaks

A pedal driven kayak can be a sit-in, SOT or hybrid kayak outfitted with a pedal activated propeller. The pedals can be either rotated or pushed, and the propeller can feature blades swinging left and right, or rotating. In any case, the operator of such kayak sits in the L position, and pushing or turning pedals with their legs exacerbates the discomfort and back pain because their legs push their back against the seat’s backrest more vigorously than they would in a paddling mode.

5. Outrigger kayaks

This category encompasses all kayaks featuring outriggers, whether added or incorporated into the hull. Without discussing every model in detail, the bottom line is that such kayaks offer far less real-world stability than the hype around them suggests. This is because in order to be effective for stabilization, outriggers are required to be big, located in the middle section of the kayak, and at a sufficient distance from its main hull.  None of the outrigger fishing kayaks meets any of these requirements, and practically speaking, each one of them is an exercise in futility, to some extent.  In addition, fishermen don’t like outriggers since these have a tendency to snag fishing lines and interfere with paddling (range of motion), as well as impede the kayak.

One fishing kayak belongs to neither of these categories and presents none of the problems listed above. It is called the W kayak, and it offers numerous additional advantages that are not discussed in this article, since it is already a bit too long…

Motorized Fishing Kayak Or Personal Micro Skiff?

From a kayak angler’s standpoint, the question is whether to motorize your kayak or, not, and if the answer is ‘yes’, the next question is related to what type of motor – an electric trolling motor, or an outboard gas engine… and so on.
This website deals with such questions, and other kayak design and outfitting questions that are of interest to kayak anglers, but the reality out there is that when fishing is concerned, kayaks are the least popular and least appreciated of all boats, and for the overwhelming majority of anglers out there, fishing out of a kayak is simply not anything they’d be willing to consider, since for them, kayaks are too unstable, uncomfortable, and wet, and they don’t offer a range of travel that’s acceptable for anyone who fishes out of a motorboat, which is what most anglers in North America are used to do.
Telling such people you have a better kayak is somehow pointless, since for them, kayaks are just below the radar.
But if your fishing craft is so good that calling is a kayak is belittling it?
Moreover – what if when motorized, this watercraft can compete pretty well with small skiffs known as micro skiffs (microskiffs)? By competing we mean not being better in everything, because that’s already achieved in the domain of kayaks, but we mean being better in certain things, on par in others, and offering less as far as load capacity and number of passengers are concerned.
This is what the Personal Micro Skiffs concept does: It presents the W twin hull watercraft in the context of small, motorized fishing skiffs, in terms that anglers who use such motorboats and other small motorboats can relate to, and understand.

So if you’re looking for a small cartop skiff that’s portable, versatile, mobile, stable and comfortable that you could use offshore as well as in no motor zones (NMZ), you’d better have look at this new website called Personal Micro Skiff:  http://www.microskiff.us

Here’s the video featuring on that site:

To Drill Or not To Drill? – Holes In Your Fishing Kayak

It seems like many anglers who rig their kayaks are concerned about drilling holes in them. Generally speaking, drilling holes in a kayak isn’t a good idea, especially in conventional kayaks (SOT, sit-in) whose waterline is so close to the deck that they hardly offer any free board. We assume that common sense rules out the possibility of drilling holes below waterline – After all, you don’t want to test your luck when the odds are stacked against you, and the consequences of being unlucky could be that you’d never get a second chance to try…

However, modern fishing kayaks offer considerable free board, which allows for drilling holes without creating any safety of structural problem. This opens a wide range of possibilities for attaching fishing gear and accessories to your kayak without having to use eyelets (tie-downs) or cleats.

Says Gary, a seasoned kayak fisherman from Florida:
-“Having seen some of the elaborate modifications W kayak owners employ to attach paddles and other gizmos to their W’s, I thought I’d share a really easy, low-cost, no-weight method that I use.”

Read more about drilling holes in your fishing kayak >>

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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.

Kayak Design: The Difference Between Addressing a Problem, or Tackling It, and Solving It

Design isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s first and foremost about solving problems.
Yes, this is not a mistake – I wrote SOLVING problems, and not addressing problems, or ‘tackling’ problems, which are expressions that are commonly found in marketing hype for all kayak types, including fishing kayaks.

And that makes a fundamental difference, because when you tackle, or address a problem, it’s still there after you’re done – You may have created a design that emphasizes stability a little more, but its users will have to pay a price in reduced speed and worse tracking, and still not paddle a kayak that’s sufficiently stable…
But when you solve a problem, it’s gone: It’s no more a problem.
Similarly, you may ‘tackle’ the problem of kayak back pain (a.k.a. ‘Yak Back’), or ‘address’ this problem by various means ranging from stuffing more foam in the kayak’s seat, or gel, or replacing the stuffed seat by a beach seat, or stadium seat adapted to kayaks, and yet, the problem of poor ergonomics will still be there, and this is bound to make the kayaker’s life miserable.

These examples illustrate the issue called the ‘envelope’ of a boat concept. In this case, it’s the broad boat concept called ‘mono-hull kayak’, or ‘single hull kayak’, and the families of solutions found within its envelope are generally described as Sit-In Kayak (SIK), Sit-On-Top Kayak, and Hybrid Kayak.

Being an extreme concept by nature (small size, narrow beam for paddling, light weight for carrying, etc.) this concept is most restrictive, which is why the serious problems it presents can be addressed and tackled, but no solved.

Does it mean such major cannot be solved? Not necessarily, but in order to solve them, the designer has to work within another paradigm, or boat concept, and explore a range of solutions available within its envelope. In the case of kayaks, such alternative concept exists, and it is known as W Kayak.
If you’re interested to know more more about how the major problems of fishing kayaks got solved, and not just addressed, or tackled, learn about W Fishing Kayaks >>