- So You Want To Get Into Kayak Fishing | Here’s What Your Kayak Buying Process Should Look Like
So You Want To Get Into Kayak Fishing | Here’s What Your Kayak Buying Process Should Look Like
By: Kyler Branaum
Rumor around town is that you want to get into kayak fishing. You’ve looked online, talked to multiple people, even went into a Cabela’s or local shop to see one in person. Let’s be real here, there isn’t any better gauge to know if it’s “the one”, unless you actually try it out on whatever body of water you fish or are deciding to fish. Most of the time, with big brick and mortar stores, there is no try before you buy option. Hopefully this article makes the research/buy process a lot easier for you.
This isn’t your typical fishing article. Today, I want to take the fishing details aspect out of this conversation as much as possible because at this point in the evolution of kayaks, the only things that really change about that is the mentality of how you fish an area, and where to fish. Which is something we won’t cover.
Before you actually even begin to look into buying a kayak itself, look into any and all state and local laws on personal watercrafts. Here in Kentucky, a kayaker MUST have a PFD on at all times, IF it’s a self inflatable or manual Inflatable PFD. If you have a traditional foam coast guard approved PFD then it must be in your kayak and easily accessible at all times.
So whenever you walk into any shop looking at kayaks, before you even lay your eyes on those bad boys, walk straight over the PFD’s and find one that suits your needs, try it on, make sure you are comfortable and it’s snug. This is the MOST important purchase of this process. I do not have to tell you how many deaths occur each year because someone did not have a PFD while kayak fishing on the water. I get it, it’s hard to be patient and to learn something that you believe doesn’t need a manual, but I promise it will save your life.
IF you plan on kayak fishing in the winter, I highly advise you to look into getting a dry bag and fill it with dry clothes and a towel. I would also look into getting a safety whistle, because other boaters on the water will not be able to hear you if you fall in the water. Also if you have the extra cash to spend, invest in a Dry-suit. If you fall in, you can stay dry and be able to make sound decisions about getting to shore, or re-entering your kayak.
YOUR FIRST KAYAK
Now we are at the juicy part, and why you started reading this in the first place! Choosing a kayak, no matter the brand, is all about budget, and fitting your needs for the type of water you are wanting to fish. For this, I will not include the Walmart lifetime kayaks at all. Too many people will see the two hundred dollar price point and they are sold. Let me educate you a bit. If you are anything like me, 6’1 250 lbs of pure American awesomeness, that 8 ft long kayak is not going to hold you.
ASK YOURSELF THE REAL QUESTIONS
Where am I going to be fishing the most?
This plays a huge role in which route you go on buying a kayak.
Ponds - If you’re pond hopping, you don’t really need a pedal kayak, with that in mind, you have almost cut your price point in half. There are a ton of modern, innovative paddle kayaks between the 1k-2k price range that are loaded with features and most of the time, you can find one used for under 1k.
Rivers - This really depends on how big the river is, or how shallow, but to keep it simple, I think the paddle kayak also works great in this scenario. Keeping the weight down to a minimum is crucial, because most of the time, you will be carrying the kayak down a slope into the river or may get lucky and have a small ramp of some sort.
Lakes - This is where things change and my personal biased opinion tends to lean towards a pedal kayak, just from the simple fact of being able to fish at the same time as you’re pedaling is a big advantage. Pedal kayaks tend to be on the more stable side of kayaks overall, not to mention you can cover more water, quicker.
How rough am I with outdoor things that I use already?
Durability comes into play a lot depending on how rough you are on gear. Kayaks are no different. I would do some research on Rotomold vs injection mold builds, most kayaks are Rotomold, such as Jackson, Crescent, Bonafide, Hobie, etc. Pelican has a few injection mold builds for more budget friendly as it takes less material, but it’s also thinner material.
CHECK THE DETAILS
A good place to start is the length of the kayak. There are a wide range of sizes, but the standard for anyone looking for their first kayak should be a 12 ft long kayak and around 36 inches wide. This will be stable enough to stand up, and light enough to carry depending on the kayak itself.
Take a look at the built in accessories, ask yourself how much are you going to put into this kayak. One thing that Kayaks and conventional boats have in common are the accessories and features. We always want to build something from the ground up, for example, I have a Hobie Pro Angler 14; I chose this boat because of the horizontal rod storage, and the comfortable seat. I also trick it out to the max, with a graph, and other really great features. I’m not saying that’s what you should do. I am just helping you realize the possibilities when buying your first kayak.
To make things even easier for you, I created a few formulas for you to look at and help you point in the right direction for specific kayaks and make a decision. All of the kayaks below, you can look up and see the features.
- River + paddle + feature loaded = Jackson Coosa X, Crescent Shoalie, Nucanoe Flint, FeelFree Moken 12.5
- Pond + barebones + Pedal = Nucanoe Flint, Jackson Bite FD, FeelFree Flash
- Big Lake + Pedal + Tournaments = Hobie PA 12, Hobie PA 14, Jackson Knarr, Nucanoe unlimited, Native Slayer, Native Titan
* NOTE - if you find a local kayak dealer, MOST of them will let you take that kayak out on a local pond nearby and let you try it out for free to help you make a decision and sometimes even work with you on price, based on your budget.
IF there isn’t a local dealer near you, try to find a facebook group such a Bluegrass Kayak Anglers. There are great anglers who love nothing more than to help you and would take you out to a lake for you to test their boat out, fully rigged. There are tons of resources available in the kayak community to help you choose the right one for you. Yeah people will be Biased, will say “Buy once, cry once” don’t give into the marketing pressure, find one you’re comfortable with and start there. Personally it took me around 6 years to build up and see what works and what doesn’t, and since then a TON of new kayaks have hit the market loaded with great features.