While on the subject of front hatches, sometimes bigger is better.
If you live in a place where people don’t respect personal property this can be important.
I spend a lot of time in the NY metro area. When I launch off the beach I’m often far from my vehicle. To launch a kayak in the surf I need to transport it across soft sand. The tires needed on a cart to roll across the sand are quite large. Often the beach is quite wide. I don’t want to leave my kayak unattended with a lot of valuable gear on it.
There’s a possibility some of it won’t be there when I return from taking my cart back to the truck. It is best to store the cart inside the kayak.
The hatch has to be large enough to allow wheels to pass through. Besides wheels you may want to store rods in the front hatch. It’s the best way to protect them in surf launches.
If you’re an angler who likes to bring fish home with you then you need to keep them somewhere.
A tank well is the best place but that depends on the size of the fish and how many. Again it’s best to consider this before buying the kayak rather than after.
Pedal Driven Kayaks (PDR) - fishing is a hand on sport and paddling a kayak is too.
So there’s a conflict of physical requirements of your hands.
PDRs solve the conflict by using your legs to propel the kayak.
This works extremely well in current or wind and utilizes the largest muscles in the body, so they increase range too.
About the only environment they don’t work is shallow water. When the depth starts nearing a foot they’re out of commission but you can still paddle them.
Electric Kayaks (EKs) – while anglers have been attaching electric motors to kayaks for years it hasn’t been until very recently that they’ve become an important option.
In the past you either had to attach a boat trolling motor via a mount or be an engineer.
That’s all changed now as Hobie, Legacy and Ocean Kayak each offer EKs and there are two add on systems available from Bassyaks and Torqueedo.
You might think why not just get a boat, but an EK is still a kayak with more versatility.
Anywhere you can fish a regular kayak you can take an EK.
The motor gives you increased range and the ability to fish in wind and currents.
I can tell you from experience I’m already doing things with my EK that have expanded my fishing and have resulted in more fish caught.
A tandem refers to two seats whereby the two people propel the kayak and multiples more or alternative seating might have a jump seat or more than seating for two.
The ability to take another adult or a child or two along is nice especially for families but it’s not restricted to a compromise.
Sometimes a tandem is preferable. Two adults can use a tandem kayak like a flats boat.
The person in the bow can stand and sight fish while the person in the back propels the kayak.
I like tandems that have a dedicated center seat option so when used alone they act and feel like a single seat kayak.
Multiple seat kayaks can be used alone, as the case with a rear facing jump seat for bring a child along.
They’re limited by the age of the child and your height because their feet and yours will occupy the same space.
A triple would make a great two person kayak.
Having a person sit in the bow and the other in the stern would add a nice amount of space between two people fishing simultaneously.
A child in the middle of a triple works well with two adults. A quad is a big kayak but you gain lots of room too.
Demos – there’s a lot of discussion about demoing or trying out kayaks online.
Some people will tell you to try as many as you can. I’m not of this genre.
If this is your first kayak you don’t have a point of reference.
In my experience most beginners at a demo end up purchasing the most stable kayak and end up selling that kayak within a month.
That’s a more expensive way to get into the sport.
If you learned how to ride a bicycle as a child you probably had training wheels to start.
You didn’t use them very long. The learning curve was fast and it’s even faster with a kayak.
Also when demoing models where’s your point of reference?
You don’t know what to look for yet. It’s like test driving a car before you learned how to drive.
Used Kayaks – are a great way to join the sport.
If you shop wisely you’re going to be spending about half of what a new fishing kayak would cost you.
It’s a great way to learn the sport and determine what you want from it.
The great thing is if the kayak model you buy isn’t the kayak you see yourself with long term you can basically sell it for what you paid.
SOT and SIK Kayaks – I haven’t really discussed the attributes of these two designs. I’m a big fan of SOTs. They’re a lot more versatile.
Often people who buy SIKS do so because they say they want to be protected from the elements. The problem is though should you have a problem you will have a much bigger issue than with a SOT.
Recreational kayaking for most participants is a fair weather sport. The majority of the kayakers do so in nice warm weather.
Fishing encompasses a much wider range of climactic conditions because the fishing is often excellent when the weather is cool.
When fishing in such circumstances you need to dress for the water temps and the false security of a SIK could spell disaster if you aren’t properly attired.
In a SOT you will be more in tune and in contact with the water and because of this better dressed and prepared.
Also SOTs because of their construction allow you to launch through the surf and fish the ocean.
They’re easier to get in and out of since you’re getting off and on.
They’re much easier to get back on should you have an issue in deep water.
They are my preferred kayak choice but in some situations a SIK is the better choice
Anglers running fast flowing rivers prefer larger white water kayaks for example and in protected mangrove backcountry I like a hybrid SIK.
I’ve tried to outline some things to consider when choosing a fishing kayak.
It is much better to consider these things before purchasing rather than once you already have the kayak.
This isn’t an exact science. As I stated earlier go with a kayak that has a fishing pedigree for your first kayak.
Don’t be an experiment. Don’t fall in love or get a kayak that nobody is using to fish from.The reason is probably it’s either to new a design or it hasn’t worked well.
In either case you’re not in a position to evaluate it and make a good choice.
If you take advice qualify where it is coming from. If the person offering the advice doesn’t fish then why listen.
The kayak is a piece of equipment just like a rod or reel. If the person offering the advice is a kayaker and doesn’t fish I wouldn’t bother.
I would only listen to a person who fishes and preferably does so from a kayak.
#6 Cooscroosn 2010-06-05 19:45 Lots of good info. Thanks.
#5 jssteve 2010-04-12 19:34 Jon - Complements...You've done a nice job providing a factual and unbiased presentation of the benefits and tradeoffs.
Hats off. After reading a very similar article my 2 friends got Sit-ins, I got a SOT.
Here's observations after 5 years:
1)open saltwater lends well to longer, stable SOT pedal drives if fishing is your primary interest
2)for streams, rivers, estuaries or beaches where you stop alot to fish-especially where the banks may be steep/deep or difficult to access easily, SOTs provide ease of exit/entry,especiall y in waders.
3) Sit Ins are often "cleaner" on deck with less to tangle up on, but you do sit lower which makes it more difficult to cast for a fly fisherman.
4) Sit Ins appear to be alittle faster than SOTs of the same lenght (hull designs).
5) For the "average" person who kayaks 10-20 days per year, when (not if) you dump, many find a SOT easier to walrus wallow back on to than righting a sit-in, especially in choppy or windy weather and certainly in a relative quick river or rip current.
6) If you "ferry" kids, beach stuff, coolers,etc, and then after you've performed your vacation duties you get to go fishing for a few hours, SOTs are great.
7) it all comes down to needs and tradeoffs - 650hp 2 seater or suburban, something in between...whatever floats YOUR boat...enjoy
#4 Bobby Reep 2010-02-25 19:13 Thanks for the info. This will make my decision a lot easier.
#3 Doug 2010-02-24 22:32 Thanks for a great article to help me select my first kayak..
I'm looking for a kayak to fish small lakes in MN, maybe with some portaging involved so weight will be important to me.
I also have a small car so I need to consider the overall length also. Can't wait for spring!
#2 eric.hyman 2010-02-20 01:01 Lot of good information for me. help me make my choice.
#1 2010-02-10 21:44 Lots of great info!