DIY Wooden Paddle For Poling and Paddling Standing In Fishing Kayak

I finally finished that paddle I’ve been building forever, and have paddled it a bit. It’s working out quite well for the W kayak.
I laminated the shaft out of one layer of poplar in the center for stiffness, and a layer of cedar on each side.
The blade is a lamination of two different colored cedars along with a maple tip to take a bit more abuse.
The blades have fiberglass cloth epoxied over both surfaces, and the shaft is finished in Tung oil (China wood oil) over the bare wood.
I also included a ferule for the shaft so I can break it down, as well as feather the blades left or right.
The paddle is nice and light, and really moves the boat along well. I’m liking it a lot so far.
I’d like to build one with carbon fiber paddles at some point, but who knows how many years that would take a the rate I put this one together.

Kevin

DIY wooden paddle for fishing kayak

DIY wooden paddle for fishing kayak, front side

DIY wooden paddle for fishing kayak, back side

DIY 2 piece, adjustable wooden paddle for fishing kayak

Kevin is a fly fisherman from Florida who fishes mostly standing up in his W kayak. He paddles and poles his fishing kayak.

Kayak Fishing In Tandem – Is It Possible?…

Not an easy question to answer, since a kayak is essentially a solo boat, which doesn’t lend itself easily to tandem applications –
In principle, it’s possible, since many kayaks are big enough to take two passengers on board. But practically, having two anglers fishing out of a small vessel such as a kayak is problematic with regards to several aspects that command serious consideration:

The first problem is Safety – two passengers moving about in the cockpit or on the deck of a fishing kayak in an uncoordinated manner can easily destabilize it, with the result being one of them overreacting, and causing the kayak to capsize. Obviously, having fishing rods, lures and fish flying around in all direction in such a limited space isn’t the best a recipe for safety.

The second problem is Convenience – Every angler wants and needs to have an unlimited range of motion, in order to perform basic things such as casting, reeling, landing the fish, unhooking, etc. Angler also need to have a comfortable workspace for attaching lures and bait, and doing other technical work involving the manipulation of fishing gear, including sharp objects such as fishing hooks and knives.
The last thing you want when you’re fishing in tandem is to get your fishing lines entangled with those of your partner, or get poked in the eye by a misguided fishing hook, etc.. -The possibilities for a disaster are so numerous that it’s practically impossible to list them all in this article, but we assume the reader gets the point…

Unlike paddling a kayak in tandem, kayak fishing in tandem is more complicated, and more difficult, and as a rule of thumb we don’t recommend it, unless the crew is composed of one experienced adult kayak angler and one junior kayak angler, such as a child, who needs guidance and often even technical help with handling their fishing gear. In such case the obvious choice for a kayak is the W500 that features a 6 ft long cockpit, and a longitudinal seat that makes it possible for the two anglers to sit separated by a long span, but also to approach each other effortlessly and safely when they need to do something together, such as in case the experienced angler has to instruct the novice, or help them hands-on perform a fishing related task.

As far as standing up while kayak fishing in tandem, this is even more problematic, and should be practiced only after both anglers have practiced tandem kayak fishing before, as well as stand up kayak fishing. Needless to say that the kayak used for this type of fishing should be fit such such activities to begin with, and vendors’ claims about their kayaks’ stability should be taken with a good dose of caution, common sense, and sufficient skepticism. It’s good to remember that it’s you and fishing buddy that are going to be out there in the real world, and not some guys who get paid to demonstrate fishing kayaks in front of a camera…

Kayak fishing offshore in tandem is even more difficult, and hazardous, and we do not recommend it, unless both anglers are lightweight and very experienced fishing together out of small boats, such as dinghies and canoes. Fishing in tandem out of a kayak equipped with a powerful motor, such as an outboard gas engine adds yet another level of risk, and in such cases you may consider outfitting your kayak with a pair of large size outriggers, such as this South Korean couple is using on an offshore fishing trip:

Couple fishing in tandem in the ocean, in South Korea

Choosing a Fishing Kayak: The Mobility Factor

When you come to choosing a fishing kayak, some important factors are simply not discussed by kayak vendors, just because the kayaks they produce rank so low in them. Mobility is such a factor that you won’t find mentioned anywhere, except on sites related to Wavewalk fishing kayaks, which are the only truly mobile fishing kayaks out there. So what is Mobility in the kayak fishing world, and why is it worth your attention when you think about choosing a fishing kayak?

KAYAK MOBILITY DEFINED

Anybody can understand that a 4×4 off-road SUV is more mobile than a common, two-wheel drive car. Most people realize that a skin-on-frame Inuit kayak is less durable than a modern plastic kayak, and you couldn’t paddle it in some of the places that you’re used to paddle in. But what does mobility mean when it comes to today’s fishing kayaks?
It basically has to do with whatever limits kayak anglers from going where they want to:
Such limits include spots that are too difficult to launch your kayak from, or too difficult to beach it in. Other limits can be water that’s too difficult to paddle in because of currents, waves, ice, vegetation or submerged obstacles such as wooden logs or rocks.

Weather conditions can limit you as well: Canoes are difficult to paddle on windy days and so are most kayaks, including touring kayaks.
So, if for whatever reason you’re prevented from using some beach or going somewhere on a fishing trip with your kayak, it means your fishing kayak’s performance is limited in terms of Mobility.

WHY IS MOBILITY IMPORTANT?

Your fishing kayak’s mobility goes two things that matter to you:
Safety: You won’t drive a two-wheel drive car in a snowstorm or on ice because it’s unsafe to do so. Similarly, you wouldn’t paddle a kayak with limited mobility in water or weather conditions that are not suitable for it, and you won’t launch or beach it where you might capsize.
Freedom: You don’t think of a two-wheel drive as a great outdoors vehicle since its limited mobility would restrict your freedom of movement. This argument may be circular, but apparently too few kayakers pay attention to this issue, especially touring and sea kayakers.
What’s a fast kayak good for if it requires special places for launching and beaching? Why can’t you paddle a fast, expensive touring kayak in a fast stream or have fun with it in the surf?
And if you’re a kayak angler the advantage of replacing your big, trailed motorboat by a car top fishing kayak is considerably reduced if you can’t launch it, fish with it, and beach it anywhere you want.

KAYAK MOBILITY REDEFINED

The W kayak offers a level of mobility that’s unprecedented, and may even be inconceivable for some.
Mobility is a feature that’s easy to demonstrate, and a picture tells more than words, especially if it’s moving. Therefore, it seems like the most appropriate thing to do at this point would be to have the reader watch this online movie showing kayak anglers and touring kayakers can go above and beyond obstacles in shallow water:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YgN6NkYyMY?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

SUPER MOBILITY

When Wavewalk talks about Super Mobility, or Extreme Mobility, many people find it hard to imagine what it could mean.
When Wavewalk says ‘Launch anywhere, go anywhere and beach anywhere’, some think it’s just another marketing phrase, but it’s not – The W500 kayak keeps expanding kayak fishing in every dimension. When compared to other types of kayaks, it is not just the world’s best kayak for fishing – it’s in a league of its own, and it’;s worthwhile tom take this fact into consideration when you’re trying to choose the next kayak you’re going to fish from. Actually, it’s a no brainer…

The Benefit vs. Hazard Of Resting In Your Fishing Kayak

After you spend long hours in your kayak paddling and fishing, you’re likely to get tired. Stretching while standing up or lying down on the saddle of your W500 fishing kayak can be invigorating or relaxing, and will help drive away fatigue and keep fresh.
Resting while lying down on the saddle (longitudinal seat) may be tempting due to the stability and comfort offered by the W500, but it’s not necessarily recommended because it’s so cozy that you might actually fall asleep, and that could be very dangerous.

If you think there’s even a small chance that you could fall asleep in your kayak, you’d better be anchored in water that’s very shallow, that is enough for you stand in safely and comfortably in case you lose balance and fall overboard.  Shallow water means not more than knee deep. It’s always good to remember that “stuff happens” is not just an empty phrase – it’s real life, which can be cruel. Deep water is dangerous enough even when you’re fully awake, and for your information, it is actually possible to drown in water that you can stand in.

Falling asleep in your kayak involves taking the risk of being exposed to predators, such as alligators or sharks in the water, and bears and other large size land predators on the nearby shore. Sounds improbable to you? Well, statistics include all events, including improbable ones.

Sleeping in a kayak that’s not solidly anchored can be particularly hazardous, because you might drift too far from shore, or into deep or turbulent water, or to an area that can be otherwise dangerous to you. make sure you’re well anchored, and try to attach your kayak to a branch, if possible.

Taking a nap in your kayak is extremely perilous when the water is cold, because falling in such water while you’re asleep might lead to a shock, and be quickly followed by hypothermia, which can reduce your ability to move and prevent you from rescuing yourself, and thus be lethal.

If your paddle is not properly secured in case you fall asleep in your kayak, the result could be more than awkward, since losing it would prevent you from paddling back to shore in time before darkness, or before a storm.

Sleeping in a kayak with hooks and bait around could cause you to hook yourself, or attract some unwanted visitors…

Always, and in all circumstances, leave on your personal flotation device (PFD). Wearing your PFD is your best bet against drowning, although in itself it’s not enough.

You should avoid falling asleep in your kayak especially if there’s even a slight chance of a fast motorboat going by. Even if the driver can see you and avoid a collision with your fishing kayak, the wake their motorboat leaves could make you lose balance and fall overboard, and even capsize your kayak if you panic.

Although some irresponsible kayak anglers say that wearing waders is OK when you’re kayak fishing, it is not. It’s one thing to plan testing a concept in a controlled environment such as in one’s swimming pool, and a totally different thing to have to deal with a problem in real life, which tends to catch you by surprise. Therefore, falling asleep in your kayak while you’re wearing waders is much more dangerous.

Never drink alcohol on board a fishing kayak (or any other small watercraft for that matter), and don’t use mind altering substances or drugs. Remember – drowning is easier than you think. Being drowsy while operating a small watercraft can be enough to cause a fatal accident, and many deaths by drowning are related to substance abuse.

Don’t take the risk of falling asleep in direct sun on a hot and bright day! Being asleep won’t prevent you from getting a sun stroke, and paddling while you’re sun stricken and dehydrated is much harder, and it could prevent you from making it back to shore…

Falling asleep in your kayak while you’re on your own and there’s no one else around is much more dangerous. Generally, it’s highly recommended to go kayak fishing and paddling in a group, since it’s safer.

Kayak angler lying down in his W500 fishing kayak

You need to remember that this list of recommendations can only be partial, since covering all potential risks involved in taking a nap in your kayak is practically impossible, and those risks are multiple and varied.

If there’s one thing you can remember from this article try to remember this:  Don’t fall asleep in your kayak!

Choosing A Fishing Kayak – The Role Of Aesthetics, And What Beautiful Actually Means

This article deals with the question of aesthetics, when choosing a fishing kayak is concerned. You may think that your kayak should be a ‘lean mean machine’, or the ‘best of breed’ of fishing kayaks, or whatever other notion that helps you arrange your technical requirements in a phrase, or a mental image, but when push comes to shove, a fishing kayak is both a vehicle and a working environment, and whether it does a good job is what really matters when it comes to choosing a fishing kayak. This notion of ‘good job’ is also what should determine whether a fishing kayak is beautiful or not.

What is beautiful?

According to the dictionary, we perceive something as being beautiful if it is attractive to us (e.g. a beautiful woman) or pleasant (e.g. a beautiful day), or pleasant to look at (e.g. a beautiful dress), or if it’s done or made very well (e.g. a beautiful goal in the second half), or with a lot of skill (e.g. a beautiful roast).
Beauty can be associated directly with sensory pleasure, or with indirect, social value related to monetary value, or prestige (e.g. a beautiful diamond), or with both.
In case of a product such as a kayak, the beauty we see in it is a measure of how much we appreciate its performance in terms of what’s important to us, subjectively, whether as something we’ve already experienced with this kayak, or something we believe we would experience, if we used it.

In this sense, the saying ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’ is perfectly true.

What’s important?

What’s important in a product varies according to what different people are interested in. For example, if you’re into kayak racing, you’d be interested in kayaks that are as fast as possible, and very fast kayaks would seem beautiful to you, but if you’re into kayak fishing, you’d be interested a number of things, including stability, comfort, storage, etc. offered to you by that kayak. In other words, for a kayak angler, the beauty of a kayaks depends first and foremost on its fishability, which is a composite measure of a fishing kayak’s performance.

For example, if you’re into kayak fishing, and you saw a kayak that’s very fast but also very unstable, it would seem useless to you, and therefore unattractive.
Most anglers fish from motorboats and not from kayaks, mainly because they perceive kayaks as being too unstable and too uncomfortable for fishing.  Therefore, for the majority of anglers, a fishing kayak is just a too small, too uncomfortable and therefore unpractical and consequently ugly fishing boat.

Beauty and love

The more satisfied a kayak angler is with the performance of their fishing kayak, the more they see beauty in it, and in fact, some kayak anglers get to love their kayak, following the good experience they’ve had with it, and the good time they anticipate having with it in the future.

False beauty

Anyone who’s interested in fishing kayaks can see that the common fishing kayak is essentially just a chubbier, more accessorized, and sometimes fancier version of its ancestor the recreational kayak.

The common fishing kayak is very wide because of the desperate need to increase its stability, even at the cost of sacrificing both speed and tracking capability, and most importantly – taking away the pleasure of paddling from the person who paddles it. This is what kayak anglers refer to as ‘a barge to paddle’, and the reason why some touring and sea kayakers still won’t consider fishing kayaks as kayaks at all…

Too much is too little

The multitude of accessories is sometimes required to compensate for a fishing kayak’s deficient functionality. The perfect example is the rudder that most fishing kayaks are equipped with, and most kayak anglers hate, but they have to use it simply because without it their kayak wouldn’t go straight, due to its poor tracking capability. Another good example are the hatches – an uncomfortable, often dysfunctional solution to the critical problem of storage, or lack thereof…

In this context, it is easy to see why manufacturers who offer pedal driven kayaks are more successful in the market for fishing kayaks than in any other kayak market: Common fishing kayaks are so hard and unpleasant to paddle that a hyped, ill conceived solution is seen by some as better than nothing, at least until they realize they’re not necessarily better off pedaling…

When fancy becomes ridiculous

A product that is essentially lacking in performance, and therefore not  attractive enough, is a problem for its manufacturer, and they would attempt to increase its attractiveness by whatever means they have, even if such means present no advantage at all to the client. The typical example for this in fishing kayaks is increasing the amount of foam in the kayak’s seat, which cannot really solve the basic problem of the passenger pushing their lower back against the backrest with all the power their legs have. But extra foam may look more ‘ergonomic’ to some people, and if it’s promoted as being ergonomic, some people could get convinced to buy the kayak – until they realize that’s not what they had bargained for, and get tired of this game, go back to fishing from a motorboat, or switch to a W kayak.

Another common example of overdoing things is the form of the fishing kayaks themselves: Some kayaks feature very elaborate hulls, or decks, or both, as if the extra detail could improve anything as far as stability, speed and comfort are concerned. To the unprofessional or inexperienced viewer, such extra details could seem like an indicator that the kayak is more ‘advanced’, but the truth is that overdoing things can only diminish actual performance, by definition. In other words, nothing beats simple effectiveness in design.

Simple is beautiful

This is the simple truth in design, and it’s even more true in fishing kayaks, which are judged by their performance: A fishing kayak is a technical product that needs to deliver results in terms of what the angler can achieve with it, and how they feel while doing so, as well as after the fishing trip is over.

If a kayak allows you to launch or beach in a spot that another kayak doesn’t, it performs better, and therefore it’s more beautiful. If a kayak allows you to stay inside it for long hours, while no other kayak allows you to do that without inflicting discomfort and pain on you, that kayak performs better, and you’re going to like it more, and therefore see more beauty in it.

These examples come to show that it’s not the amount of time invested in designing or manufacturing a product that appeals to our sense of beauty, but it’s the real life performance of that product, and our own experience with it.  When we realize that in order to get a certain level of performance, the product needed to be made in a certain way, we appreciate the way it was done. And if the result was achieved by simple means, we tend to appreciate it even more.

Once people realize the advantage for themselves in a certain design, form, or feature, they see the beauty in it, and sometime even develop a warm feeling for it, a feeling called love.

Beauty and marketing

Being a technical product, the way to judge and evaluate a fishing kayak is by doing a feature by feature comparison, and preferably by validating the results of such comparison in a live test.

There is no fishing kayak, fishing kayak design, or concept that rivals the W kayak in any of the important requirements from a fishing kayak, which are Stability, Comfort, Ease of Paddling, Passenger Room, Storage Space, Versatility, Tracking, Handling, Mobility, and dollar for dollar Value. Value is not a technical feature, but in this case we’ve included it in the list because it represents certain technical attributes of W kayaks that reduce their cost of purchase and ownership, compared to other kayaks.

Years ago, Wavewalk’s competitors used to criticize its product by raising doubts about its actual performance, such as speed, comfort, tracking under wind, etc.  These doubts were based solely on imagination, and had no basis in anyone’s real life experience, and over the years,  as the evidence presented by Wavewalk improved, and more of its customers contributed positive reviews, this type of critic has subsided.

However, some competitors still say, occasionally, that W kayaks are ‘ugly’, and when such comments are made on online discussion forums, they are intended to create some kind of negative ‘peer pressure’ on kayak anglers who are interested in the W kayak. The problem with such tactic is that if a general and broad argument such as ‘ugly’ is brought forward without any substantial, technical evidence to back it, it sounds hollow, and basically meaningless. But if the ‘ugly’ argument is backed by a specific, technical argument, the reader could go and check its validity on Wavewalk’s website, through the demo movies, technical articles, and customer reviews, and they could then see for themselves that it’s a moot argument.

The challenge that Wavewalk is facing is to convince thousands of anglers who fish from kayaks that W kayaks are better, and worth switching to. We also need to convince millions of anglers who fish from motorboats that they need to give kayak fishing a second thought, and that fishing kayaks are not necessarily ugly, if they can provide a higher level of fishability that’s comparable to what these anglers are used to get in fishing boats, as W kayaks have proved they could.

In sum, the W kayak holds the key to making more people see the beauty in kayak fishing.

Read more about motorizing your fishing kayak >>

How To Stay Dry And Keep Your Kayak Cockpit Dry When Fishing Out Of A Kayak

Typically, very little water can get inside your W500 cockpit, because the kayak offers a high freeboard – more than any kayak does. This is true even when you’re launching in the surf, because you can lift the bow by sitting in the back of the cockpit, and thus go over the incoming waves, instead of through them, like you’d have to do with all other kayaks.

1. How to Prevent Water From Getting Inside the Kayak Cockpit

All W500 models except the R model feature a preparation for a cockpit cover system comprising a long bungee, 2 Nylon eyelets, and 12 lashing hooks attached around the spray deflector.

lashing hook and bungee for fishing kayak cockpit cover

Attaching the cockpit cover to the cockpit’s spray deflector is quick and easy, and you do it by lifting the bungee, tucking the cover between the bungee and the spray deflector, and securing it between the bungee and the lashing hooks, this way:

Fishing kayak cockpit cover

Any plastic sheet, tarp, or waterproof fabric can serve you as a cockpit cover, and you don’t have to cut or sew it in any particular shape (unless you feel like it…)

You can use the cockpit to cover any part of the cockpit: Whether it’s just the front, or all the area between you and the hull tips,  or just one side of the cockpit, or the entire cockpit, including yourself. It all depends on the size of your cockpit cover, and what you need the cover to do for you. You can even use two, separate covers for covering different parts of the cockpit.

Here is an example how you can use a simple, low cost 3′ x 8′ tarp as a cover for your W500 cockpit:

How to attach tarp cockpit cover the your fishing kayak

Fishing kayak cockpit fully covered with tarp cover

Here’s a real life account of a large size cockpit cover used to protect a W kayak bass angler during a rainstorm in Connecticut:

Prtecting yourself in fishing kayak during rainstorm
Outside View of Weatherproof Fishing Kayak
Dry fishing kayak in rainstorm
Inside weatherproof fishing kayak during rainstorm

Read the entire report on Rox’ bass kayak fishing trip, in which she got caught in a rainstorm, and managed to keep perfectly dry in the cockpit of her W500 >>

And this is the initial design, by a W300 fly kayak angler  from Oregon, which inspired us to develop the universal preparation for cockpit cover:

Cockpit cover for fishing kayak, protecting fly angler from snow and cold

A cockpit cover can add to your personal protection from the elements, even in cold weather, wind, snow, and hail.

This picture shows a car topped W500 in Ohio – Note how the owner covered its cockpit with a tarp:

fishing kayak with cockpit cover, on top on car, Ohio

2. What If a Little Water Gets In?

Like everything that has to do with the W500 kayak, it’s easy:

First, you don’t have to care too much about a little water getting inside, because unlike sit-in kayaks, all water that may get inside is automatically drained to the bottom of the hulls, where it doesn’t bother you. This is true for drops falling from your paddle, rain, spray, etc.  The 14 inch high W kayak saddle stays dry, and since this is where you sit,  so do you.

Keeping the bottom of the hulls perfectly dry is easy too, if you simply put a big sponge at the bottom of each hull. The sponge will absorb the water by itself, since the water will eventually reach it due to the kayak’s natural movement. By the end of the trip, or anytime during the trip,  you’d just have to  squeeze the water out of the sponges, and that’s it.

3. What If a Lot of Water Gets Inside Your W Kayak Cockpit?

Again, since the water is drained automatically to the bottom of the kayak hulls, and you sit on the 14 inch high saddle, or ride it, water in the bottom of the hulls doesn’t necessarily bother you, even if there’s several gallons of it down there.  This is true even in cold water and weather, if you’re wearing rubber booties.

In any case, getting rid of this water is simple: Just scoop it out with a hand bucket, also called a bilge bucket. Making one from a 1 gallon plastic bottle with a handle is cheap and easy, and such DIY bilge buckets are perfect for the job.

If you feel like being more sophisticated, just use an inexpensive, plastic, hand activated bilge pump,  the same as sea-kayakers, canoeists, and other small boat passengers use for the same purpose:

Fishing kayak bilge pump

4. Getting Rid of Water on Land

You may want to get rid of water that’s in your W kayak’s cockpit when you’re on dry land. Again, nothing could be easier: You just overturn the boat, and the water will get drained out through the special drainage holes at the top of the spray deflector. Normally, this is the kayak’s highest point, but when it is upside down, the holes are at its lowest point, which makes the water come out in no time, and from all parts of the kayak hulls.

5. Safety – Why Are SOT Kayaks Hazardous?

Simply, because if your kayak hull is leaking, you want be able to detect the problem immediately, in real time, since any delay might be critical. Therefore, closed hulls, such as sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks feature, present a potential hazard, because water can leak inside them without you having any way to notice it, until it’s too late. This is one of the downsides of the so-called ‘self bailing’ (paddle board) SOT kayak hull. Worst of all – those SOT hulls are rarely fully watertight, because of various reasons – The first being the basic design flaw putting their parting line too low above the water, combined with the weakness in the scupper holes area. The second reason being the fact that once the SOT kayak is molded, it has numerous big and small holes drilled in its hull for hatches, rod holders, seat etc., and such holes are extremely difficult to waterproof in the long run, and can easily leak, since the  SOT kayak deck is too low above waterline, and is often washed by waves, or immersed in case the SOT kayak is overturned in the water.

SOT kayak anglers are required to drain their kayak hulls through special drain plugs installed in them, preferably after each trip, and sometimes even during the trip, if they can find a place to beach. Read more >>

In comparison to SOT kayaks, the W kayak’s parting line is 6 to 12 inches higher above the water surface, the kayak features neither scupper holes nor hatches, and its deck is much higher too, and the cockpit part of it is protected by a spray deflector. Since it sold its first W kayak, back in 2004, Wavewalk has received no complaints about water leaking into a W kayak hull.