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.

The Best Kayak Fishing Channel On YouTube

So, you may be wondering which fishing kayak would best fit your needs, and you get dizzy just from reading all the blatant nonsense out there, and watching tons of irrelevant video. But seriously – you’re about to choose a fishing kayak, and you’re going to be fishing out of your kayak in the real world, and you’d still be yourself, in real life, so why should you care at all about some guy in the Pacific ocean who’s escorted by a mother ship, and is getting his SOT fishing kayak dragged for miles by a 200 lbs marlin?! …  Such staged movies are the stuff that hype is made of, like people sliding down waterfalls in their kayak, or fishing standing up on a SOT kayak – nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about – It has nothing to do with you, actually.

If you’re looking to watch some fun kayak fishing videos, check out the Zeepty channel – The Zeepty Channel on YouTube is quite a phenomenon. It features over 130 kayak fishing related movies, and since it was founded it has already had over 750,000 views, of which over 280,000 in 2011. The videos feature mainly Wavewalk’s fishing kayaks of the now discontinued W300 series, and a bunch of movies featuring kayaks from the new W500 series.
You can spend literally hours on the Zeepty, and enjoy watching these fun videos.

Kayak fishing movies on YouTube

About

Hello and welcome to my website. My name is Fin Gold, and I’m a Wavewalk S4 kayak-skiff owner from Emerald Isle, North Carolina. For years,…

Two Anglers’ Knots

By Jeff McGovern

Knot tying is an essential fishing skill and there are entire books written about fishing knots.  I am going to concentrate here on two lesser-known knots that I use constantly in saltwater, as well as freshwater fishing.

1. Surgeons Knot

I use this for attaching a leader to my main line.  It works for both mono and the new super lines.  For best results when using a super line (such as Fireline, Power Pro, Spiderwire, etc.), double the line before tying in the leader.  This will give the connection more bite and it will hold much better. I normally use 10lb to 30lb leaders (mono or fluorocarbon) and tie to either 8 to 20 lb mono or 8 to 30lb super line.   With a properly tied leader, you can fish with less connection hardware such as clips or swivels.  It creates a connection point to the fish that is tougher to break than the main line and, in some cases, is less visible to the fish, and is a great handle when landing the fish.  I depend on this connection and it has not failed.

1_Surgeons_knot
1. Lay the two lines side by side.

2_Surgeons_knot
2. Tie an overhand knot pulling the leader line (green) through the loop.

3_Surgeons_knot
3. Make three more passes for a total of four<

4_Surgeons_knot
4. Wet the knot and pull it tight.

5_Surgeons_knot
5. Trim the tag ends.

6_Surgeons_knot
6. Done!

Photos: Kate McGovern

2. Canoe Man’s Knot

This knot is credited to the late Merrill Chandler, known for his pioneering efforts saltwater canoe fishing in Florida.   It is a loop knot for connecting a hook, lure, or jig to the leader.  Loop knots allow the bait or lure to move more freely in the water column making them more attractive to fish.  This one is super easy and does not use up long lengths of leader each time it is retied.  I use this knot as my leader to lure connection most of the time and, as with the Surgeons Knot, it has never failed me when properly tied.
Both knots should be wet before being pulled snug.  This allows the knot to seat better and be more secure.  It also protects the line from heat friction damage during tightening.  This is especially important when using fluorocarbon leader material.
The pictures show how to tie the knots.  Practice makes perfect and these two knots are well worth the time and effort.  Master them and they will be simple and effective additions to your fishing knot arsenal.

1_Canoeman's_loop
1. Put the leader through the eye of the lure about three inches.

2_Canoeman's_loop
2. Form two backwards loops toward the lure in the leader.

3_Canoeman's_loop
3. Push the second loop through the first.

4_Canoeman's_loop
4. Put the tag end from the lure through the loop that passed through the first loop.

5_Canoeman's_loop
5. Wet the knot tighten while holding the tag end this allows the loop to be sized

6_Canoeman's_loop
6. Trim the tag end.

Photos: Kate McGovern

Jeff McGovern is a life long angler and fishing equipment expert, a professional consultant in the fishing and kayaking industry., and a distributor of Emmrod fishing rods.

Visit Jeff’s kayak fishing blog >>

Topwater Fishing Gear Review And Best Practice

By Jeff McGovern

Fishing with a topwater or surface lure is lots of fun.  Out of a W kayak, it’s down right exciting, since you are so close to the action.  The equipment required is fairly simple and there are many topwater lures to choose from.  For the purpose of this short article, we will look at hard baits (also known as “plugs.”)  These are lures made of wood or plastic that float on top at rest.  When fish attack them, it looks like a giant hole just opens on the water and the bait disappears.
The basic types are: walking, popping, minnow, and prop baits.  These lures have been around for years and still consistently catch large numbers of fish.  There are variations, but these are the ones most commonly available.  All four types can be used in freshwater or saltwater and for a large variety of game fish.  Let’s take a look at a few examples.

WALKING BAITS

The best example is a Zara Spook.  A newer version is the Spit’n Image.   The angler provides the action this lure has on the water.  This plug looks like it could have been carved from a broom handle, and, indeed, the originals were.   Worked properly with a side to side wiggle, fish will blow them right off the surface in their effort to grab them.  This bait requires practice to use.  The angler must work their rod hand wrist and turn the reel handle in cadence to create the walking motion.  It will wear you down at first, but the results of practice time are well worth the effort.

Walking baits

POPPING BAITS OR POPPERS

These lures are just plain fun.  With a large exaggerated mouth on them they pop and gurgle when the angler pulls their line.  Some of the cupped mouths on these baits throw water a few feet in front of the plug as they move.  Classic examples are the Chug Bug and the Rebel Pop-R series plugs.  To work these lures, you cast out to a likely spot and let the lure settle down.  Then “pop it” and hold on for the strike.

Popping baits

MINNOW BAITS

These lures are best represented by the classic floating Rapala minnow.  The history of this lure could fill a book-suffice it to say it’s every bit as effective today as it was 40 years ago.  These lures have a slim profile and resemble a minnow.   They have a small clear plastic lip that allows the lure to dive a short distance on retrieve. Their life-like wiggle is very attractive to game fish.  To work the bait, throw it out let it sit for a moment.  Then begin a slow retrieve, briefly pausing from time to time.

Minnow_baits

PROP BAITS

These lures are some of my all time favorites.  Propellers are located at the front and/or back ends of these fun lures.  Simple to work, they are represented today by the Devils Horse, Tiny Torpedo, or, in handmade excellence, by the Lil Zip from Sam Griffin. They can catch fish just sitting there.  The moment they are moved, they get crushed by aggressive game fish.   Work them by throwing to a likely area and allowing the bait sit until the water calms down from the splash.  Then begin working the bait back in short, soft jerks until you find a pattern the fish like.
Prop baits

The equipment you use for topwater water fishing can be any that throws the lure properly.  Spinning, casting, or spincasting gear will all work just fine.  Line sizes can range from 8 to 20lb test (depending on the angler’s preference) and good old monofilament line is fine for these lures.  The best piece of advice I’ve ever had for fishing topwater lures came from Sam Griffin himself.  He told me “give the fish time to read the menu.” In other words, fish them slow for the best results.  This is the best way to start out– you can always speed things up later if the fish are ready to order.  So, this season, try a topwater water lure and prepare for excitement.

Jeff McGovern is a life long angler and fishing equipment expert, a professional consultant in the fishing and kayaking industry., and a distributor of Emmrod fishing rods.

Visit Jeff’s kayak fishing blog >>