kayak info 101


Shutter Mushin' Mod
gonna try to get some of our most informative posts and put them here for the benefit of the forum.


Shutter Mushin' Mod
first bit of info from the riverpirate, thanks randy !

"Let me start by saying this may take several posts to cover the topic:

While there are whole books written on the subject, I will try and cover the basics in this post. Please excuse me for being a little technical. First let’s talk about kayaks in general. There are three basic types. Sit inside kayaks (SIK sometimes SINK), sit on top (SOT), and hybrids (a cross between the two).

Sit inside kayaks are the type most of you are probably familiar with, the type you see those people riding down white water rivers in, flipping over and looking like they are having a good time? They have a hole that you get in with your legs inside and they pretty much cover you up except for the upper part of your body. Sit on top kayaks are the kind you may have seen people at the beach playing on. You sit on top of them like a big float. Hybrids are more like a short canoe but paddled with a kayak (double bladed) paddle.

There are sit inside kayaks designed to fish from and they have their benefits. They are warmer in the cooler weather since your body is not so expose to the elements. They actually paddle a little easier. They feel like they are more a part of your body so they turn easier. If you use a spray skirt like those whitewater guys wear, you can learn to roll yourself back over if flip upside down. Without the spray skirt, it will fill with water and that is a major disadvantage in getting back in the kayak especially in deep water.

The most common type of kayak used for fishing is the sit on top. SOTs offer lots of advantages over the other types. One of the most important things in a fishing kayak is a stable platform so that you can fight the fish and not turn over. SOT’s are generally more stable than SIK. A SOT allows you to get in and out of the kayak quicker and easier, a huge benefit in a river. SOTs allow for more sitting positions. You can sit facing forward or you can throw your legs over one side and sit sideways to fish. Some SOT’s are even stable enough to stand and fish from. SOTs usually have more deck space to rig the kayak with all the stuff you need for fishing. But the biggest benefit, at least to me, is SOT kayaks do not fill up with water when flipped. If you do happen to flip over, you just flip the kayak back over and jump back on top. They have scupper holes that allow water to drain out of the cockpit area when turned upright so no water is inside the kayak. That is a big advantage when in deep water or out in the ocean.

Hybrid kayaks are growing in popularity. Hybrids are easy to get in and out of. Hybrids are fairly stable and many also allow standing to fish. But like a canoe, if you turn one over, you have a boat full of water. If you are in deep water, you have to drag it to shore to dump the water out or have a pump. In rough water, they can take water over the side and fill up. Learning to get back in a hybrid in deep water takes lots of practice. I would not recommend a hybrid in rough water or offshore.

Now that you know about the basic types of kayaks, let’s talk about kayak performance. By performance I mean stability, turning, tracking, and efficient paddling. While hull design plays an important role in performance, generally the wider the kayak the more stable it will be while narrow kayaks track better and are more efficient to paddle. Remember that stability is one of the most important factors to fishermen. Tracking is how straight the kayak “tracks” with each stroke of the paddle. The straighter it tracks, the more efficient your paddling will be but it is also harder to turn. Generally long narrow kayaks track better and paddle easier than short wide kayaks, but short wide kayaks are generally more stable and turn easier.

Now that you know about the different types of kayaks available and a little about kayak performance, which one is right for you? The first two things I usually ask when someone poses me that question is what kind of fishing are you doing the most and how much do you weigh? The type of kayak you need depends a lot on these two questions. The kind of fishing you do most will determine what kayak you should purchase first. Since there is no perfect kayak for every fishing situation, you will probably eventually want another kayak or two or three. I have 15!

What kind of fishing do you do the most? If you fish big flat water reservoirs, you probably want a kayak that tracks a little better. It won’t blow around as much out in the open water and you may find yourself paddling a little farther in big water. Paddling a kayak that does not track well across open water is very inefficient and tiring. If you fish rivers, especially rivers with shoals, stability may be more important and being able to turn a kayak easily will certainly take precedence over tracking. If you fish in the ocean, you want a fast, easy to paddle kayak so you can paddle a couple miles or so off shore. Yes we do go out that far, sometimes more. Remember short and wide is stable, long and narrow is fast and easier to paddle.

What do you weigh? Yes I know that question is not politically correct and can even get you slapped, but how much you weigh effects the performance of a kayak. Most manufacturers post a “maximum weight capacity” in their literature for each kayak they make. My experience has been that most of these maximums are an exaggeration. Yes it may float if you put the maximum weight in it but that may be all it will do. The more weight you have in the kayak the lower it rides in the water which will affect stability, tracking, turning and paddling efficiency. In my experience, you should look for a kayak with a maximum weight capacity of about twice your body weight. You will be adding some weight with fishing tackle and putting much more than half the maximum capacity listed will begin to effect performance.

Obviously there are lots of things to consider when looking for your first kayak, too much in fact for me to cover completely in this one post. At least now you know the basic types of kayaks available and what determines their performance and what to look for when purchasing your kayak. If you still have questions about kayaks, you can do some research on the internet. I recommend that you start at Georgiakayakfishing.com, a site that I hang out on a lot. When looking for your first fishing kayak, don’t forget to make sure that it has deck space to rig all the things on it you will need for fishing. "


Shutter Mushin' Mod
randy's excellent article on rigging.

Here is an article I wrote about rigging kayaks that you guys might find helpful also:

You have read about how great kayaks are as a fishing platform. I have told you what to look for in a fishing kayak. Now it is time to get your kayak rigged for fishing. Before we rig your kayak for fishing there are a few essential pieces of equipment that you need. Some of these are required by law (at least in this state) and others are just necessary.

First and foremost is a Personal Floatation Devise (PFD). Unlike other boat types, you don’t have to have a throwable PFD in a kayak. You only need one for you to wear. While there are several different types of PFDs on the market, I suggest a PFD made specifically for the paddle sports. You can use one of the big, old fashion orange ones but they are not comfortable for all day paddling and they get in the way of your paddle strokes. PFDs made for paddling sports have straps over your shoulders with the floatation in front and behind you, high on your back. These types of PFDs give more room for your paddle stroke and are not as hot. Further, the floatation high on your back stays out of the way as you lean back against the kayak seat. The new inflatable PFDs can be used but I do not recommend them. They make it hard, no, impossible to do a deep water re-entry in your kayak. You WILL have t take it off to get back in and that is never good. Using the self inflating kind is also a bad idea as it will get wet and it will self-inflate when you don’t want it to. One last thing on PFDs….. ALWAYS WEAR IT. No if, ands, or buts.

A couple of other escential items are a sound making device and a signaling device (required in salt water and a good idea in fresh water) . You can use an air horn or other loud sound making device made for boats but the minimum is a whistle, which I find sufficient. A signaling device can be a flare or a signal mirror. Secure your sound making device and your signaling device to your PFD so you will always have it. You will always have your PFD on, right?

The next essential piece of equipment is a paddle. Without a paddle you can’t go anywhere in a kayak. Kayak paddles are different from a regular paddle in that they have a blade on both ends. This keeps you from having to switch the paddle from side to side as you paddle. Paddles come in all different materials and price ranges. Some have straight shafts and some have bent shafts. I find the straight shafts “sit” better in my lap when fishing. The sky is the limit for materials and prices usually follow the materials. I have fiberglass paddles that cost from $100.00 to carbon fiber paddles that cost $800.00. While an inexpensive aluminum shaft paddle will work, I suggest you at least move up in price to a lighter fiberglass shaft. Your arms will thank you for it after a long day of paddling. I do not suggest you go up to expensive carbon fiber paddles unless you do some touring in your kayak or you just want to waste money. Carbon fiber, while light and strong, does not hold up well to rocks or oyster bars. Paddles also come in different lengths with 230cm and 240cm being the most common. Most people will use a 230cm but taller people or people with wider kayaks may find a 240cm length necessary.

I also suggest you get a leash for your paddle. A paddle leash will tie your paddle to your kayak. When fishing, you will lay your paddle down a lot to use your fishing rod. If it is not leashed to your kayak, you are subject to it falling out and floating away before you know it. This is especially true in rivers where the current can take it away quick. You don’t want to be “up the creek without a paddle.” There is also the tendency to hang on to your paddle if you fall out of your kayak. If the paddle is leashed to the kayak, then so are you. If not, you might be “up the creek with a paddle, but no kayak.” Neither is a good place to be.

The next essential piece of equipment is a seat. Some kayaks come with a seat. Some of those have good seats, some don’t. If your kayak comes with a good seat, you’re in luck. Most people find they have to buy an after-market seat. What is a good seat? It needs two things, good back support and good bottom support. Back support is the most important because you use your back as you paddle. The seat needs to support your back, keep you sitting up straight, and allow you to push against it. The bottom is not so important. That is not to say that comfort on your rear is not important but I have found a way to resolve that issue. As long as your seat has a good back, you can buy one of those self-inflating turkey hunting seats to provide comfort for your rear. They are relatively inexpensive and very comfortable. You will be sitting on a cushion of air all day.

Now that you have the essentials, go fishing. “But Pirate, what about rod holders and all the other stuff?” Go fishing. Take your PFD, your paddle, your seat, your rod and reel, a few lures and go fishing. Or at least go paddle for a little while. While you are out there paddling around, notice where your paddle stokes are, notice how far you can reach in your kayak while you are sitting down. Think about where a rod holder will work and where it will get in the way. Think about how you can turn around and get to stuff in the tank well behind you and where you can’t get to it if you tried. Just paddle and cast a few times all the while watching where your rod has to be to make a cast. Now that you know where you can mount things and get to them yet have them out of the way, it is time to mount a few items on your kayak.

You have your essential equipment that we discussed last month. You have gone out a paddled the kayak and as you paddled you considered where addition equipment might be located to stay out of your way yet be accessible. You are now ready to consider what other equipment you may want to install to make your fishing trips more enjoyable. So what other equipment do you need?

Before we discuss additional equipment, let’s talk about rigging techniques. The first thing I need to say is a kayak is just a big plastic float. As long as you stay above the water line and seal all holes you drill in the kayak, your kayak will be fine. Don’t worry about drilling holes in your kayak and installing additional equipment. Always attach equipment to your kayak using stainless steel hardware and seal all holes with a good marine grade silicone sealant. The best attachment method is always stainless steel thru-bolts with washers and lock nuts. In order to thru-bolt you must be in an area where you can access the inside of the kayak from a hatch. If you cannot access the inside, stainless steel screws, well nuts or rivets can be used. I do not advise screws or well nuts since their holding power is not very good. Rivets hold pretty well as long as you use the right rivets. Regular rivets from your hardware store do not work. Rivets that have “wings” that flair out are the best. These rivets along with other stainless steel hardware can be found at kayak accessory shops or suppliers. I will give you a few places to find this equipment later.

Probably one of the first pieces of equipment you will want to install is a rod holder or two? Your kayak may have come with a rod holder on it and it is probably behind you. If that works for your type of fishing that’s fine, it does not work for me. I cast all day long so a rod behind me sticking up like a shrimp boat outrigger will certainly hang me up and cause a backlash (yes I use bait casters). I also found out that if you fish in the river, the river gods or trees on the bank will reach behind you and take your rod out of the rod holder and drop it in the river without you even realizing it is gone! I prefer my rod holders in front of me so I can keep an eye on them. There are several types of rod holders on the market but I prefer the ones made by Scotty (Scotty.com). They make adjustable rod holders for just about every kind of fishing rod including fly rods. Rod holders are simple to install. Determine where you want them, use the base for a template, drill a few holes, put some sealant around the holes and use the thru-bolts to attach them.

After the rod holders you will probably want to install an anchor trolley and anchor of some kind. An anchor trolley is just a loop of small rope anchored at each end of your kayak with a steel loop in the middle to attach your anchor to. You can then slide the loop to either the front or the back of your kayak to anchor off at the front or rear. About anything can be used for an anchor but I suggest you make a drag chain. A drag chain can be made by purchasing a retractable dog leash, make sure it has a lock, and attach about an 18” piece of 3/8” galvanized chain to the end. The lock will allow you to adjust the length of line you have out. I have found that about 18” of chain will hold most people in a light current. If you only let out a little bit of line it will just slow yourself down, enough line will stop you. I always cover the chain with a piece of bicycle inner tube. The inner tube keeps the chain from kinking up and keeps it quiet when bumping on the rocks. A word about using an anchor, be careful. Do not anchor in strong current and always anchor form the front or the back of your kayak. Anchoring off the side will most assuredly mean you will flip when the current pushes on the side of your kayak.

From this point the sky is the limit. You may want to add a fish finder? Yep some of us have them on our kayaks. In fact, I have a couple of kayaks rigged with color fish finders with GPS capabilities. You may want to add a rudder? A rudder is helpful in tracking, especially in cross winds. On a river they just get in the way but on open water with a strong current or wind they really help in paddling efficiency. Some people add milk crates in the tank well area to hold their tackle. I prefer a tackle box with a sealed lid to keep things dry if I flip. If you are fishing on a big lake with a lot of those fast boats flying around you, you may want to add a flag that sticks up and makes you more visible. The only limit to rigging your kayak is your mind and of course money. Go to a few kayak fishing web sites like Georgiakayakfishing.com and see how others have rigged their yaks. You will get some great ideas and most of the people there are happy to share rigging information. Where can you get some of this equipment? Some items are available at the big box stores like Bass Pro Shop and Academy but my favorite place to order rigging stuff is Captain Dick Enterprises (Captdick.net). Stan is very knowledgeable about our sport and is one of the pioneers. Heck, he taught me everything I know about rigging a kayak.

I have given you a lot of information about this great sport of kayak fishing. I hope I peaked your interest and I hope you will consider purchasing a kayak and joining us. Remember, even if you decide fishing from the kayak is not for you, it is still a good way to move up and down the river to a spot you want to wade.

Sktr 20i

Do you know anything about the Third Coast Novi 120 Kayak? They look nice, but I can't find any reviews on them.

Thanks, John


frying fish driveler
Great minds think alike, I'm thinking of buying one myself.


Gator Bait
I'd like to add a bit of info.

Sit in kayaks are much easier to use if you are in rougher water. Your weight is usually lower that the water line so the center of gravity is lower, providing stability.

If you do have a sit in, you can also buy air bags the tuck into the front and rear ends of the yak.

Sit in yaks that fill with water are neutral buoyant... they can float anywhere in the water column or hit the bottom. These air bags keep the yak at the surface of the water.

If using a spray skirt with a sit in, it will help keep you warm and dry. But in the event of a roll over, they can also inhibit you from escaping due to their tight fit. I strongly recommend you practice rolling over and correcting while someone else observes and do it in shallow water-- just deep enough so your assistant can help you if needed.

Sit on kayaks in rougher water aren't as stable. Your center of gravity is well above the waterline so a wave or wake from another boat could roll you if hit broadside.

When choosing a sit on, consider any hatches that are a feature. Some of those hatches lead the sealed portion of the yak, so it can take on water. Make sure all hatches securely seal when closed. I've seen a lot that have no sealing quality at all, just loosely fitted mating surfaces.

Kayak carts are great. Wheel the thing from auto to water. How easy is that?
But dont use carts that have posts for scupper holes. They can easily break the seams in or around the scupper holes.

Use carts that have straps to cradle the entire underside of the yak.

Repairs to polyethylene are easy. If you have a plastic shop near you or you travel to an area you can find one, pick up a piece of polyethylene plastic for little of nothing. You can get it in the same thickness as your yak.
This is real handy for repairs but also if you need to cut holes large enough for your hand to mount something then seal it up.

I've done repairs by heating the area a little bit and placing the repair patch material on the area and heating it up. Using an aluminium knitting needle, blend boat material with patch material along the edges. Allow to cool, sand to near smooth then gently warm it up to get a seamless repair. An old clothes iron is great for this step. When possible, get patch material in the same color. After using the iron I use a coarse sandpaper belt and push into warm patch to get a nearly invisible finish. Push the sandpaper belt into warm patch and quickly remove... instant textured result

For PFD, I use a paddle sports model but also have an inflatable too. Its manually operated. I can use it for extra buoyancy or help bring up a rolled sit in kayak.

If in big water, lake or ocean, carry a portable marine radio. Be sure its waterproof.

Finally, be seen by everyone. I used a Scotty mount and an old shower curtain rod to make a flag mast for the back of all my yaks. The rod is 4ft long and my flag is permanently mounted at the top. On the top end of the rod, I mounted a multicolored flashing light, battery powered. Before heading out I put on the mast and turn on the light. I fish in the ocean so its imperative that speeding motorboats can see me.

Hope this info helps you get more enjoyment from your kayak