Need a boat, but can’t afford one? Have you thought about using a kayak?
Kayaks range anywhere from $200-$4,000, but the upper end of the price point is like buying a new boat. $4000 kayaks are probably more than most of us need for fishing purposes.
Kayak fishing is a growing activity, but many people are not sure what they need in a kayak. There are a couple basic questions you need to answer when starting your search for a kayak.
First there are two models you can choose from that fit in the typical price range. Sit on top kayaks or and sit inside are the two styles.
A sit inside model offers a dryer ride for beginners and also allows the user to be little more protected from the sun and wind. I have found that sit inside models are also easier to carry and transport to the lake. These models also offer dry storage areas where you can put a wallet, cell phone, or change of clothes. However, sit inside models will fill with water if tipped over, where as sit on top models will not.
Sit on top models offer less restriction of movement because you are sitting on top and have no sidewalls against your legs. They offer a little bit easier access for your paddle to reach the water. They also cannot sink. They all have built in “scupper holes” that allow the water to escape. The water does not come in these holes, they are there only to release water back into the lake. No dry storage is built into a sit on top, so you will have to purchase a dry storage bag to take with you on the water.
I have found that both models are almost identical with stability, but sit on top models are easier to get on and off. People think kayaks are less stable than a canoe, but this is false. In a canoe you are sitting higher up, usually on a seat. This brings your center of gravity much higher in the canoe, thus making tipping easier. In a kayak, you are sitting less than an inch off the water. This makes tipping very hard to do when kayaking in most lake, stream, and pond settings.
Be careful not to choose a kayak that is too heavy for you. You want to be able to carry the kayak down to the water or load it into your vehicle. They do make kayak dolly’s that help you transport the kayak, but they are kind of a hassle to deal with and it’s just one more thing to bring with you. It is much easier to select a kayak that you are comfortable carrying.
When fishing small lakes, ponds, or streams you need a shorter kayak less than 10 feet long. These shorter kayaks are much more maneuverable and allow you to navigate in narrow waterways. These shorter kayaks also work better when fishing around boat docks, because you can squeeze into places that bigger boats simply cannot. The down fall is they are very responsive to your paddling, so they go left and right quickly. This is not good for long distance paddling.
Couple last things to look for in a kayak. Does the kayak offer rod holders? These are the 2 holes behind the seat that allow the rods to sit vertically. Also, many fishing kayaks come with a small tackle tray and a shelf in front of you to sit lures on while fishing. There are countless different models and brands to choose from. Don’t be afraid to sit inside both styles and imagine you are fishing while you are at the store.