Welcome back yak fans. This month the old stumbling gypsy wants to share a story written by my new friend Brian Mueller. He’s an administrator with the Tampa Bay Kayak Club and on the Pro Staff with Vibe Kayaks. The story works well as a prequel to next month’s “Pedal Power or Paddle, What’s Right for You.” And, it’s also very similar to my very first article with Coastal Angler nearly 12 years ago, back when I was younger and better-looking, LOL, well at least I was younger.
If you’re new to kayaking, or want to upgrade, but need some help; below is a guide to assist you. Nothing here is set in stone. Note: There is no perfect kayak–you will most likely be sacrificing one thing to gain another. If you ask 100 people, “what kayak do I get?”, you will get 100 different answers. There is, however, the kayak out there to suit your needs.
1. What types of water will you be using it in (inshore, offshore, rivers, lakes, etc.)? Typically, that will determine the length you want. Normally, you’d want a shorter kayak in rivers for quick maneuvering, and a longer one in large bodies of water to handle any chop.
2. What will you be using it for? For recreation, go with a narrower kayak for more speed. For fishing, most seek a wider kayak for stability. The tradeoff for speed is stability. So, a fishing kayak will most likely be slower.
3. Weight/capacity. Consider how much it weighs and how you will transport it. Kayaks range in weight from around 40 to over 100 pounds. Can you load and unload a 100-pound kayak up on the roof of your SUV? Also, consider the capacity of the kayak (how much weight it can safely accommodate). That’s your weight plus the gear you’re bringing.
4. Must haves/preferences. By now you probably have an idea of what you want. Now you just need to fine tune it to three types of vessels. A sit inside, a sit on top or a stand-up paddle board. If you’re on the river in fast current/white water, you want a sit in. They also make angling sit ins as well. If standing is a must have, you’ll want a wide open deck stable sit on top, or a paddle board.
5. Paddles. Cheap paddles are ok. They get the job done. But cheap paddles are usually constructed of aluminum, and are heavy. They can tire you out rather quickly, and that’s no good on a long journey. If it’s not in the budget at first, save up for a really nice light weight paddle. Instead of upgrading to a slightly nicer one every so often, just buy the nicest one you can afford. Save the money from upgrading through several. My personal limit was $150, and I feel like I’m paddling a missile with a feather.
6. Research, research, research. YouTube alone is a fantastic resource for reviews, and walk throughs for tons of kayaks.
7. After you’ve done some research, demo, demo, demo. You’ll probably have several if not more models in mind to try out. Go to kayak shops, ask this group if anyone has what you’re looking to try. With all these members, chances are someone will have what you’re interested in, and be happy to let you demo their yak. And, they can tell you their pros and cons on it as well–win-win.
I hope this helps. Search the group page for keywords–ask questions. If you have someone looking to get a kayak, this info will be very helpful and for you old timers. Hey, I’ve got to put something out for the new guys now and then. Tight lines and calm water.