A New Look At Motorized Fishing Kayaks and Portable Boats

Elderly fishermen welcomed the kayak fishing trend that became popular about a decade ago, mainly because they felt jaded with having to deal with big motorboats and cumbersome canoes, and they welcomed the promise for physical exercise that came with paddling kayaks.

Nowadays, many senior anglers perceive the reality beyond the hype, and they are not as enthusiastic about kayak fishing as before. The reasons for this are primarily ergonomic, namely the discomfort and fatigue associated with staying seated in a kayak for long hours, and the risk of developing sciatica and other back injuries as a result.

Pedal driven kayaks have failed to provide solace to senior anglers, and in fact they proved to be harsher on the operator’s back and legs than regular, paddle propelled kayaks.

Electric trolling motors proved to be a good solution for ponds, small lakes and slow moving rivers, as far as shorter fishing trips are concerned. Whether trough assisted paddling or as an alternative to paddling, electric motors have become quite popular with older anglers who can tolerate being seated in the L position, or similar uncomfortable postures.

Wavewalk is a manufacturer of patented kayaks that solved the back pain problem in this field, as well as a host of other physical problems that plague kayaking and kayak fishing. Wavewalk also solved the motorizing conundrum, namely the insufficiency of electric trolling motors as means of propulsion for long fishing trips and for traveling in fast currents and in choppy water – something that only outboard motors can do.

Wavewalk offers three products lines of different sizes, all of which can be easily and effectively paddled and motorized with either electric motors or outboard gas motors.

The Wavewalk 500 is a lightweight (60 lbs) super stable and back pain free twin-hull (catamaran) kayak that anyone can car-top, launch paddle and beach anywhere, including people in the late seventies and even early eighties, as well as people with serious disabilities.

The Wavewalk 700 series is a lightweight (80 lbs), super stable and back pain free twin-hull tandem kayak and portable skiff. Anyone can car top a W700 on their own, as well as carry it and launch it. It can take powerful portable outboard motors, and it’s fun to drive, even in choppy water.

 


 
The same skiff serves as a fishing kayak in places that can be accessed only by the smallest and most nimble paddle craft:

 

 

Wavewalk is now offering a third line of small craft named Series 4 (S4). This portable (car-top) skiff can take on board two big and heavy anglers, a strong outboard motor, and plenty of fishing gear. It can also serve as a paddle craft (canoe, tandem kayak) when its crew needs to go in extremely shallow water, or in no-motor zones (NMZ). Being more stable than bigger boats makes it an ideal solution for elderly anglers who fish in a variety of waters, and do it either solo or together with a fishing buddy.
 

Good news for elderly kayak anglers

It’s as simple as that: Thanks to a new generation of fishing kayaks, which are lighter, stabler, and more comfortable than common kayaks are, anglers in their sixties and even anglers in their seventies can spend long hours on the water, and enjoy paddling and fishing without suffering from wetness, instability, back pain, leg numbness and cramps, or premature fatigue, which are all symptoms that are commonly experienced by people who fish out of kayaks, especially if they happen to be middle aged and elderly. They can even motorize their kayaks and by doing so travel long distances, and fish in remote locations, without being constrained by the limited physical power they have when paddling is concerned.

Gary is a retired biologist who worked for decades assisting Indian tribes throughout the country in managing their fish and wildlife resources.
He’s in his seventies now, and he lives in Florida.

Says Gary –

Fishing has been my passion since I was young, and I prefer to fish in saltwater, where I go for redfish, sea trout, snook, and other popular local fish species. I practice catch and release, unless someone close (wife or neighbors) orders a particular fish from me for dinner. I fish alone and with other kayak anglers.
Over the years, I’ve owned various fishing boats, and I stuck to the Wavewalk for several reasons; its unmatched stability, comfort and dryness, and the fact that unlike other kayaks it doesn’t hurt my back even if I spend the entire day fishing in it. I can stand up and unkink anytime I want, or lay down on the saddle and stretch.
It’s also lightweight, and that makes it easy for me to take it from my pickup truck to the beach, and back, even with all my fishing gear loaded inside its hulls.

Paddling my W is easy for me, even in harsh weather as it tracks perfectly without the need for a rudder.
In recent years, I’ve discovered the pleasures of wildlife photography out of my W kayak.
I’m planning to add a motor at some point so I can cover even greater distances. I had first opposed the idea of motorizing my kayak, but the numerous videos posted on Wavewalk’s blog have changed my mind.

All in all, it’s the most comfortable and functional fishing kayak I’ve seen.

Here are some pictures of Gary and his senior fishing buddies Bob and Dick:

 

First WaveWalk Paddle Trip, Kayak Review By Retired Gentleman From Texas

Took my WaveWalk out this morning for my first paddle and decided to take a trip thru some of our marshes down here. According to a google earth retracing of my steps I covered about 5.7 miles in 2 hours at a leisurely pace (as would be expected from a Retired Gentleman of Leisure).
The wind was blowing about 8 mph when I started and picked up to 15 to 20 towards the last half of the trip. We had a thunder storm moving in with the usual increase in winds, cloudiness and slight drop in temperature. Literally “no sweat.”
This gave me a chance to compare how the WaveWalk handled the wind as compared to my experiences with both sit in and sit on top kayaks. I think that I can sum it up as WOW! All I had to do was shift my position to raise the bow or stern enough to give me enough weather vane effect to keep me pretty much on a straight course. It took a little experimentation, but I picked up on it pretty quick. I also think that the wind being channeled between the 2 hulls helped me stay on line to a degree. The main point is that I did NOT have to paddle just on one side to keep my heading in a quartering or broadside wind, even when crossing open water. Just scoot towards bow or stern and keep on truckin’.
I had a tug pushing a load of barges up the Neches River throw a pretty good wake at me when I was fixin’ to cross on my way back to the launch. I was pretty nervous, but I shifted my weight all the way to the back of the cockpit and took the 1.5 to 2 foot wake head on. No problems once I got over the initial “oh crap” moment, and the boat took the waves just fine.
I got caught in the rain for the last 40 minutes or so, but I was having so much fun that I decided that if Indians didn’t have ponchos then I didn’t need one either. I wonder if Hyawatha got as nervous as I did when the lightening started popping…
I had a great paddle.
Snuck up on birds, fish, a boat full of fisherman and the one small gator who wasn’t paying much attention. (choot ‘em, Lizabet) Got a few blisters and my muscles are a little sore (hey, I’m 60) but no yak back and my shoulder with arthritis feels pretty good. I was kind of surprised when I stepped out onto land at the end of the trip and staggered around for a few minutes. It’s true – you do use the muscles in your thighs when you paddle a WaveWalk, you just don’t notice it.

Being able to change positions while paddling also helped my knees tremendously. Years ago I shattered one knee cap twice (full of screws now) and tore cartilage in the other, so that was a big plus for me.
I only have one question – how come nobody thought of a catamaran hull concept for paddling craft a long time ago? Ok, so the Polynesians may have figured it out first on a larger scale. It needs less energy to paddle than a sit in, is much more stable than a SOT, your back doesn’t hurt and your butt stays dry! What more could you ask for?
I want to thank both of you for the amount of time that you spent giving me and my friend a test drive and a few tips. The only thing that I would suggest so far is a couple of tie downs inside the hull to tie a small dry box or whatever to securely keep your ID, cell phone, fishing license and maybe a few bucks from going swimming if you get swamped or capsize. Just a thought…

Anyway, thanks guys! I’m having a blast! I’m gonna infect my son with WaveWalk fever the first chance I get, as he is still using a SOT. I think Village Creek would be a good place to start him out.

Lee,
Nederland, Texas

Addendum:

I did a lot of research on the W500 – read all of the blogs and watched most of the videos – before I started saving the funds to possibly purchase one. I had the “book knowledge” on the W500 but not the practical experience. The purchase was totally dependent on a test drive to see if it was as advertised. It didn’t take long to get the basics down.

Although I do plan on doing some fishing from the W, I realized that I need to get more practical experience learning the boat before I do some inshore fishing in it. Plus it’s really great to get back to cruising the marshes & bayous like I used to do years ago. If you’re going into unfamiliar territory, especially back in the marshes, take the time to use GoogleEarth to print a map of the area. A compass is great, but the bayous twist & turn quite a bit and you often can see where you want to be but can’t get there without a map on board. Man, do I love GoogleEarth!

So I’m looking forward to spending some more time just wandering around and getting better with the W and enjoying the sights before I actually go fishing. I’d rather be in a narrow twisting bayou than just about anywhere. Thanks to the wealth of info at the W web site, for making retirement even better than it already is.

More fishing kayak reviews >

Elderly Couple Fishing Offshore, In Tandem Out Of Their Motorized Fishing Kayak. December, South Korea

This is a most unusual, yet most revealing story.
It says a lot about kayak anglers and the sacrifices some of them are willing to make for their love of fishing.
It also shows that propelling fishing kayaks with outboard gas engines is picking up, has a future, but it also faces certain limitations.
This story also shows that pedal drives for fishing kayaks simply can’t substitute a motor – any motor, in any way, and that when push comes to shove, they can’t replace the paddle.
And last but not least, it shows that two elderly people can go out for a long, offshore kayak fishing trip on a cold day in December, catch fish together, and enjoy each other’s company while doing so, without suffering from back pain, leg numbness, discomfort, wetness, or any other undesirable phenomenon that elderly anglers suffer from when they attempt to fish out of kayaks.

Members of the South Korean Sea Dreamer Kayak Fishing club, who are all courageous and avid anglers, outfitted their fishing kayaks with outriggers and outboard gas engines. These unusual people went out for an offshore kayak fishing trip December 31st, in cold weather. The fishing expedition included a few traditional SOT kayaks, and a W500 kayak, which unlike the other kayaks, was operated by a crew of two: And elderly couple who loves fishing, and enjoys fishing together.

Elderly South Korean couple fishing in tandem, offshore, out of a w500 kayak outfitted with an outboard gas engine and outriggers

Sungjin Kim, Wavewalk’s distributor in South Korea, published this story (in Korean) on his Korean kayak fishing website, and his post there includes a link to the kayak fishing club’s website.

Here are the fish this tandem crew of kayak anglers caught in the ocean:

fish caught in the ocean near the South korean coast, by an elderly couple fishing in tandem out of a W kaayk outfitted with an outboard motor

The reader should be aware that imported fishing kayaks are expensive in Korea, and so are outboard motors and outriggers. For the cost of their motorized W kayak, this couple could have gotten a nice small motorboat, but not necessarily one that they could car top:

beached motorized kayaks ready for fishing in the ocean, South Korea

Another inconvenience with a bigger boat could have been the need to launch it from a boat ramp, which is neither easy nor convenient.

But let’s not forget that winters in south Korea are cold, and so is the ocean there. This means that elderly people can’t go fishing offshore out of regular SOT, sit-in or hybrid fishing kayaks: They need to fish out of a kayak that keeps them dry, which wouldn’t be the case if they used anything else than their W500:

fishing kayak with outboard gas engine and outriggres in the ocean, South KoreaAnd last but not least, elderly people need a level of comfort that can’t be found in kayaks other than the W kayak: They need to stand up easily and whenever they want to stretch, change positions, be free from any pressure on their lower back, and be able to fight and prevent leg numbness.

The reader has surely realized that fishing in tandem out of a kayak can be problematic, due to the small space available, and the reduced range of motion of the crew. But this was not the case for this tandem crew, obviously – They managed just fine.

In other words, while the other anglers who participated in this cold water and weather, offshore expedition practiced kayak fishing as an extreme sport , this elderly couple practiced traditional, cozy fishing – as it should really be. The only difference between their motorized W500 and other motorized W500 kayaks is the fact they outfitted it with outriggers, like all the other participants in this fishing trip did. This safety measure is understandable in view of the hazardous environment and the risk of hypothermia in case of an accident, the fact that two people were on board the W500 and not just one, and the fact that these were elderly people whose sense of balance might be impaired by age: Seniors are usually more cautious than younger people are, and rightfully so.

Interestingly, the other motorized kayaks that participated in this expedition were of the type that features a push pedal drive, but all the other anglers carried a paddle on board as a safety measure in case the motor stalled, and in order to propel their kayaks in shallow water, when launching and beaching. In other words, out of the three propulsion devices (paddle, motor and pedal drive), the drive was redundant. The fact they didn’t count on their pedal drives for such a long, offshore trip also shows that such devices cannot be counted on as means to extend a kayak’s range of operation, and cannot serve as a substitute for some kind of motor when currents and wind are to be dealt with.

The Future Of Kayak Fishing Is Not As An Extreme Sport

For most anglers, kayak fishing is an extreme sport. Extreme in the sense that an angler fishing from a kayak is compelled to give up the two essential things that any regular fishing motorboat provides, which are adequate stability and elementary comfort. The third requirement, storage space is important as well, but less than the first ‘must have’ two. Indeed, fishing kayaks are not stable enough, and they are extremely uncomfortable, when compared to regular size boats. As for storage in fishing kayaks, the situation is as dire as it is with regards to stability and ergonomics.

The Promise vs. Reality

Kayak fishing promised a cheaper, hassle free, low maintenance, lightweight, car top form of fishing craft, and a direct, sporty experience. However, today, out of tens of millions of Americans who fish from boats, merely one in every thousand fishes from a kayak, and this is after a decade of promises that ‘kayak fishing is the fastest growing outdoors sport’, etc.  The bulk of US anglers have followed neither the kayak fishing pioneers nor the fishing kayak manufacturers’ hype, and since growth in kayak fishing participation is no longer as fast as it had been several years ago, it is safe to say that the US kayak fishing market has matured. This is partly a result of decreasing enthusiasm from new participants, as well as a high dropout rate that has been typical to this sport since its early beginnings.

Yes, but…

But kayak fishing feels extremely uncomfortable only if you’re fishing from the old fashion, sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks and sit-in kayaks. In contrast, when you fish from a W kayak, you experience a level of comfort that’s equivalent to that of fishing from a regular size boat, and some W fans would argue that you feel even better.

When stability is concerned, the level of stability an angler experiences while fishing from a W500 kayak is on par with what they’d feel fishing in a regular size fishing boat, in the sense that they are not required to constantly address the issue of balancing, and they can fish standing up with ease, comfort and confidence that are outside the world of fishing kayaks.

The W500 is the only kayak offering storage space that’s dry and accessible any time, and as much as any kayak angler may need, even if their fishing trip includes camping, and therefore carrying on board numerous and bulky items that so far only canoes and regular size boats could carry.

The Future Of Kayak Fishing

This is to say that kayak fishing has a future, and a bright one, but not as the extreme sport it’s been for most kayak anglers so far. The future of kayak fishing as a broad base sport and leisure activity depends on the participation of regular people, who care about their personal comfort, and demand a performance level in stability and storage that is not sub-minimal.  In other words, the future of kayak fishing is W kayak fishing.