How to select your first Fishing kayak

Are you confused about which kayak to buy? Do not feel alone, buying a kayak for the first time can be a daunting task. Let’s discuss some details about kayaks and their use for fishing in an effort to arm you with enough information to assist you in choosing the right kayak for you.

There are basically three types of kayaks. The (SOT) Sit on Top, (SINK) Sit in Kayaks and The hybrid.

The SOT: These kayaks are one that you sit on top of instead of inside. The inside of the hull is sealed and floats even when flipped over. These have scupper holes that allow water to drain out, so when water gets into the cockpit it will self drain. These traditionally have more storage room, plenty of options for rigging and are a favorite of kayak anglers.

The SINK: These kayaks are the more traditional kayak in that you sit on the floor of the kayak and have the sides wrap around you. They offer more protection from the elements however they can fill with water and sink in rougher conditions. In rough conditions these can be used with a skirt to seal the cockpit; however this excludes any access to any items stored inside the hull.

The Hybrid: This is a cross between a kayak and a canoe; they have the characteristics of the SINK with Storage. This one like the SINK will sink if filled with water.

 All three types allow you to fish, some models better than others. Let's discuss important features a fishermen needs and how each type of kayak addresses them.

There are a lot of people who decide to get a kayak for fishing that have never or rarely spent any time in a kayak. Most are anglers that are beginning to realize that fishing from a kayak would offer them the opportunity to fish new areas and to experience fishing from a more personal, sustainable vantage.

The first issue to consider when deciding on what kayak to buy is stability. Anglers do things from a kayak that most people do not do, Fishing from a kayak requires you to have a stable platform, especially to the new comers to the sport. There are two types of stability to be considered.

Initial stability is the side to side wobble you feel when you sit in a kayak. Secondary stability is the point where the kayak is nearing its point of no return and how much forgiveness the kayak has before it dumps you in the water. Many kayaks that are used for fishing have awesome initial stability but will have an abrupt secondary. When you reach this limit you get wet. There are also those that feel wobbly at first but are very forgiving when you hit the secondary point.

Therefore because you sit on or very near to the floor of a SINK your center of gravity is lower and they feel more stable. In a SOT you tend to sit a little higher, this makes these feel a little more wobbly. SOT designers tend to manufacture their kayaks wider to compensate for this.

Initial stability is more important to the beginning kayak angler and secondary stability is more important to seasoned kayak anglers. The reason is that the beginner has not developed a good sense of balance yet. It is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle. Once you begin to feel your balance unconsciously, it becomes automatic.

Shorter wider kayaks tend to be more stable and maneuverable as a general rule but are also slower. The longer and narrower a kayak is the faster it is. Speed is only important if you are planning on fishing large open expanses of water where you might have to travel some distance to get on fish. Some examples would be large fresh water impoundments and salt water.

If most of your time fishing would be done fishing small rivers, creeks, protected areas and ponds, then sacrificing maneuverability for speed might not be a good choice. If you are planning on fishing small tight places and need to be able to maneuver, the shorter kayaks will be the choice here.

Another factor in deciding on what kayak to buy would be weight. The first question you must ask yourself is “how am I going to transport the kayak to and from my fishing grounds?” The weight of a kayak can make a huge difference if you have to load it onto the roof rack of an SUV. If you plan on hauling your kayak in the bed of a pickup truck or on a trailer the weight is not that much of a big deal.

Another thing to consider is rigging. Kayak anglers tend to take a recreational craft and turn it into a fishing vessel. Is the type of fishing you are planning on doing only require a single rod and a few artificial baits? Or are you going to need rod holders, live bait storage, fish finder, and the proverbial kitchen sink when it comes to tackle? Some kayaks are more user-friendly for adding accessories. Lots of flat surfaces are important for mounting things, so take this into consideration when deciding.

Storage area on a kayak…It is better to have more than not enough.

Finally but no less important is comfort. Is the seating going to provide for hours of comfort while fishing? If you are uncomfortable then your trip will be short due to your comfort level.

Let’s wrap up with some pointers for your decision making process.
 1.The first factor to consider is YOU. What is your height, weight, leg length, and general condition? If you're a big man, there are certain kayaks that you need to look at. If you're a small person getting a kayak that's big and has a 600-pound capacity probably isn't your best choice. Some kayaks suit different body types better than others. All these factors are important.
 2.What type of vehicle are you going to use to transport your kayak? If you're using the bed of a pickup truck or a trailer then a heavier kayak isn't a problem. If you have a SUV you have to be conscious of the weight. How will you load and unload your kayak? Can you load in a heavy wind?
 3.Where do you plan on using the kayak? Is it strictly going to be used in fresh water, on lakes, ponds, or large impoundments? Do you plan on using it in saltwater? Do you plan on fishing in the ocean and launching through the surf?
 4.What fishing methods do you like to use? Do you use artificial baits, real bait, or both? Do you use a variety of methods? If you're going to use bait, do you want to use live bait or dead bait? Do you fly fish? The type of gear and the way you fish are going to determine which kayaks are going to better suit your needs.

These are just some general guidelines to assist you in purchasing the right kayak for you. You need to decide what you think the best is for you, THEN visit some of the local dealers in your area and see what types of kayaks they have; then go out and paddle the different kayaks and see how they handle for you. Some stores have a pool or water close to the store where you can go and demo the kayaks. But I strongly recommend that you try before you buy. Good research and an educated decision will make a happy kayak angler.

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