How to choose a kayak
Outdoor Activities | May 19, 2023
April 11, 2022
Kayak fishing offers a truly unparalleled experience in nature. From this light and versatile watercraft, you can reach fishing areas inaccessible by motorboat or on foot, while gliding along the water in total silence. Bruno Clavette, SAIL’s watersports expert, explains everything you need to know about fishing kayaks in order to choose yours.
In this article, you will learn about the advantages of a fishing kayak and its characteristics in order to gear up right.
Fishing kayaks are different from standard kayaks (recreational, sea, river, etc.) in several ways. First of all, they are quite short (from 11 to 13 feet on average, or 3 to 4 meters), always having a rigid hull and most often with an open cockpit for more freedom of movement and ease of maneuvering if you are a beginner kayaker.
Fishing kayaks always offer a wide and stable platform so that you can fish from a standing position without being thrown off balance. At the front, you will often find a waterproof compartment to store your lunch, camera, change of clothes and other personal items. In the center, you can sit on a comfortable, adjustable seat (low position when paddling, high position when fishing) as well as footrests, also adjustable to your leg size, for more comfort when paddling for long periods of time.
But, the big difference between a fishing kayak and a standard kayak is the integration of many useful fishing accessories. On several models, you’ll find a ruler to measure your catches, several fishing rod holders, as well as elastic cords to attach gear and secure lure boxes and baits for example. Everything is done to personalize your kayak to your taste.
In the more elaborate fishing kayaks, you’ll find pedal-powered models from brands like Ocean Kayak and Pelican, and motor-compatible models from Bote, for example. Both types of boats allow you to get to your fishing spot quickly while having your hands on the rod and not the paddle. Some power fishing kayaks also have a GPS function to maintain your position despite the current. They are also excellent for trolling.
The main advantage of switching from motorboat fishing or wade fishing to kayak fishing is certainly to access a larger playground. Shallow bays and creeks, swampy areas, rocky areas, etc., the fishing kayak allows access to places otherwise difficult to reach thanks to its lightness and maneuverability. It is even possible to navigate in waters less than a foot deep.
As well, fishing kayaks offer a special sense of freedom and connection with the environment around you. You can glide silently through the water without the risk of spooking the fish. No engine noise, no smell of gasoline, you are alone on the water in total communion with nature.
Finally, kayak fishing can be much more affordable than boat fishing. You will find entry-level models starting at $600 and higher-end models between $2000 and $3000. When it comes to transporting your kayak, all you need is a roof rack for your vehicle or even to slide your kayak into the trunk of your SUV (depending on the size). Read our tips for safely transporting your kayak to the water.
Kayaking for fishing is perfectly safe, as long as you follow a few rules: stay in calm waters (lakes, estuaries, marinas, calm rivers, etc.) and avoid rapids and areas with strong currents; wear your personal flotation device (PFD) at all times and have the other safety items recommended by Transport Canada on hand; tell people where you are going to fish and what time you expect to be back (especially if you are going to fish unaccompanied).
Bruno Clavette recommends that you choose your fishing kayak model according to your weight, your size and the type of fishing you want to do.
In general, what interests anglers is the stability rather than the speed of the boat. That’s why it’s best to choose a wide model with a large surface area in contact with the water.
Here are some other elements to consider before buying your fishing kayak: flotation, weight (heavy models are more stable on the water, light models are easier to carry between your vehicle and the ramp), the kayak’s load capacity (depending on the quantity and weight of your fishing equipment).