The Kayak Fishing 101 website is dedicated to helping the beginning kayak angler, and one of the questions that some new Wavewalk anglers ask themselves is “Do I need to outfit my W with a seat?” By seat they mean an additional seating device on top of the W saddle-seat. Typically, such thoughts about ‘upgrading’ revolve around a swivel seat “bass boat style”, or something more simple.
There is no such need in reality, unless you want to sit much higher in a position that’s intermediary between sitting and standing, but since outfitting a kayak for fishing is a lot of fun, beginning anglers are sometimes motivated to overdo things.
There is no point in discussing in detail all the possibilities for outfitting a Wavewalk TM fishing kayak with an extra seat , but if the reader is interested in getting more information on this subject, and who knows – maybe some inspiration, they can find dozens of kayak seat articles and reviews on the Wavewalk website »
This blog’s theme is rigging kayaks for fishing, and we offer in it advice and tips to new kayak anglers. However, from time to time we also discuss fishing kayak design, and recommend more reading.
This time we’d like to recommend reading an article about the design of popular SOT fishing kayaks >
The article offers a fresh insight into the particular features of SOT kayaks, which are the vertical scupper holes and narrow longitudinal tunnels in their hulls’ underside. It explains the real reasons why these uncommon elements were introduced into practically every sit-on-top kayak, and what their real function is.
The article may be an eye opener for paddlers and anglers who’ve been exposed only to the ‘official’ versions that manufacturers and vendors of such kayaks offer.
So next time you’re out there paddling your SOT kayak or fishing from it, and you wonder why water is coming up from the scupper holes onto its deck, and why it is so slow and hard to paddle – you’ll know more.
What Happens When You Load a W Fishing Kayak?
The illustration below shows a W500 kayak in three load points –
The left image shows it unloaded.
The image in the middle shows it loaded with around 200 lbs (91 kg). The load is distributed evenly front and back, so the kayak stays level, which offers optimal speed and control. The draft is shallow.
This load results in a slight splaying of the hulls, and no problem at all. Flex is built into the W design.
The image on the right shows the kayak loaded with around 360 lb (163 kg), which is the maximum load recommended for it. Assuming the load is distributed evenly front and back, the kayak stays level, and it’s still fast, agile, and easy to paddle.
-Watch tandem paddling demo video >
The hulls are noticeably splayed, but sitting on the saddle is still very comfortable, and stability is still good. This amount of flex in the kayak is still perfectly normal.
Waterline is considerably lower than the saddle’s gussets (reinforcement ribs), so there is no hydrodynamic problem, since the water between the hulls flows without restrictions.
- For optimal performance, keep your kayak level. In order to keep it level, paddle it from the middle of its cockpit, not its rear. This is especially true if you’re a heavy person.
- Do not paddle your W kayak from its rear, unless it’s just for a specific purpose, such as surf launching, beaching, or going over an obstacle.
- When motorizing, drive the kayak from the middle of the cockpit, using a long, articulated (jointed) tiller extension. Don’t drive it from the cockpit’s rear.
- When paddling in tandem, try as much possible to distribute the load evenly between the front and the back of the kayak. Do not overload the back.
- Do not overload your W kayak, whether you’re going solo or in tandem, paddling or motorizing.
- Do not paddle this kayak in tandem, unless both yourself and your paddling partner have each paddled it solo before, and gained sufficient experience as solo W kayakers.
- Take the time to learn how to paddle this kayak when it’s loaded – Like any vessel or vehicle, the W kayak behaves differently the more it is loaded.
More about fishing kayaks >
John Fabina, from Milwaukee, WI, had a hearty laugh when he came across ads by a well known, nationwide, catalog and online distributor of outdoor apparel and gear for high-end (dubbed “deluxe”) sit-in angling kayaks, and they declared the following (quote):
“For outings of a few hours in calm to light winds on lakes, ponds and protected bays” and –
“For outings of a few hours in calm to light winds”
So why did John laugh about these fishing kayaks ads?…
Simply, because John has been paddling kayaks and fishing from them for many years, and he immediately understood what the advertisers really meant to say, which was:
“This kayak would make your back hurt within a short time, and sooner than later, you’d want to end your misery, and paddle back home. Besides, don’t even think to fish from it when the wind blows, or in moving water, because eddies would fill its low cockpit with water in no time, and you’d find your butt marinating in a floating pool… On top of this, you’d find it really hard to control this kayak and paddle it, because such kayaks don’t track well, and sooner or later you’d find yourself struggling to paddle back to your launching spot, pretty much at the mercy of the wind. In other words, our “deluxe” sit-in fishing yak is just a flat water craft, and essentially, a fair-weather friend – It’s not a reliable piece of gear. And since we’re a respectable and cautious outdoor gear and apparel company, we said something about it, so don’t say we didn’t warn ya!”
And from his own experience, John knows that paddling while you’re wet and your back is sore is no fun at all, and it should be avoided.
John also knows that there’s no such thing as guaranteed fair-weather and mirror flat water doesn’t stay that flat for long, and he knows the weather has a tendency to change without consulting with kayakers, or anglers, and the wind has a nasty tendency to blow from where it comes, and not necessarily where you’d want it to go…
So why does that particular outdoor gear and apparel vendor tell its clients something about the limitations of those sit-in angling kayaks? It has to do with the terms of purchase that company offers, which include an unconditional return policy, with no questions asked. In other words, the vendor expects to have issues with unsatisfied clients wanting to return the lemons they had purchased, which is why somehow limiting the buyers’ expectations before they buy would be a reasonable measure to take.
Our article’s intention is not to criticize that particular kayak vendor, but rather the opposite (well, sort of): This vendor at least tries to warn their clients about potential issues. They don’t make blatantly false claims such as “this kayak is so stable that you can fish standing in it”, which is a common, misleading statement that both kayak manufacturers and vendors often use. This particular vendor doesn’t claim that the angling kayak they offer for sale is ‘ergonomic’, which is yet another ridiculous claim that practically all kayak manufacturers and vendors make, one way or another… Etc.
Are These “Deluxe” Fishing Kayaks Different?
No, they’re not. Those are wide, sit-in kayaks, featuring rod holders. They are no different from any other sit-in fishing kayak, and they’re not different from sit-on-top fishing kayaks, or ‘hybrid’ fishing kayaks (low canoes), in the sense that SOTs and hybrid kayaks too force their users into the notorious L posture that hurts their back, they too get their users wet as soon as there’s some wind blowing, and they also become hard to control and paddle when the wind picks up. They’re all the same, as far as sensible anglers are concerned.
Fishing Kayaks As Fair-Weather Friends
Stay away from fair-weather friends, because they’re unreliable, and they won’t be there for you when you need them. Any boat, or kayak, must be dependable, and a kayak that’s not dependable cannot properly serve sensible anglers.
We would argue that fishing kayaks are not even friendly to begin with, as far as nearly all anglers in this country are concerned, and rightfully so. Here is an article that discusses how fishing kayaks are perceived by most anglers >
The Only Fishing Kayak That’s both Friendly and Dependable:
The W is the only kayak worthy of being called a fishing kayak. This is a broad and far reaching statement, and here is some in-depth information to back it:
- This article explains how you can easily and effectively paddle, steer, and control your W fishing kayak in strong wind, without using a rudder >
- There is no need to say much about how W kayaks offer more free board, and provide more protection to their users than any other kayak out there, but here’s some information about how you can stay dry in your W kayak in waves, rain, etc >
- As for how long anglers use their W kayaks in single fishing trips, you can find plenty of testimonies from actual clients, in our website’s fishing kayaks reviews section > You’d find we have elderly clients who suffer from a variety of back problems and other physical limitation that spend long hours in their W kayaks, even when the weather is less than perfect
- ‘Ergonomics’ is a word that everyone uses, and rather loosely, but if you’re interested to know why kayaks are synonym to back pain (a.k.a. ‘yak back’), have a look at this article about fishing kayaks’ ergonomics > The article also explains why W kayaks are known as the ‘No-Back-Pain’ kayaks
- Stability is recognized as being a key factor when kayak fishing is concerned, and W kayaks are far more stable than other fishing kayaks, including ones that feature various stabilizers – Here’s an article discussing fishing kayaks’ stability >
- All this information is compiled on a prestigious kayak fishing blog.
Says John: -”I now carry that fishing kayak ad in my wallet, to show clients and talk about being comfortable on long trips and windy, rough conditions.”
Yep, that pretty much summarizes the difference between all those fair-weather yaks, and yaks for fishing in the real world, known as W kayaks: The only kayaks worthy of being called fishing kayaks, because they actually solve problems that other kayaks merely address.
By Gary Thorberg
Gary Thorberg, Minnesota designed this motor mount for his W fishing kayak:
Gary uses this mount to attach an electric trolling motor to his W fishing kayak, as well as an outboard gas engine.
More info on fishing kayaks >