Stability: The Key To Good Fishing Kayak Design

A new article on Micronautical, the kayak design magazine, discusses the importance of stability in fishing kayaks, and how to design a kayak for greater stability.

It’s an interesting read for elderly anglers, as well as for those who suffer from balance impairement and other disabilities that make paddling kayaks and fishing from them more challenging.

The subject goes also to fly fishing from kayaks, since this technique is best practiced standing up when paddling and scouting for fish, or when sight fishing.

Needless to say that stable kayaks are safer anywhere, whether inland or offshore, and that there is no such thing as too much stability when motorizing your fishing kayak is concerned.

 

 

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.


A Look To The Future Of Fishing Kayak Design

There is no doubt that certain kayaks are more suitable for fishing than others. It is widely accepted that the more stable the kayak, the more ‘fishable’ it is. Since kayak fishing trips can take long hours, and sometimes days, properly designed fishing kayaks should offer their users the means to keep fishing and paddling without having to stop because of problems such as leg pain, leg numbness, butt pain and back pain, a.k.a ‘yak-back’.
Those who have tested W kayaks, especially the new generation of W500 models, would find it easy to understand why old-style fishing kayaks commonly known as sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks (SOT) are poorly designed, and do not fit the needs of the modern kayak fishing community.
Although certain kayak manufacturers have been pushing forward the notion that some of their wider fishing models are fit for stand up kayak fishing, there doesn’t seem to be a considerable number of kayak fishermen who would agree. Stand up kayak fishing is a misnomer when SOT and sit-in kayaks are considered.The main reason why kayak fishing is not as popular as it could have been, is the problem of discomfort and poor ergonomics. In other words, fishing kayaks are a pain to fish from, literally. This is especially true as the anglers get older.
Here is a link to an article about fishing kayaks and elderly kayak anglers, courtesy of the Painless kayak Fishing blog. The article has links to fishing kayak reviews written by elderly kayak anglers.

This movie shows the W500 fishing kayak. It is the second generation of W Fishing Kayaks, and offers a glimpse at the future of kayak fishing: Better ergonomics, better hydrodynamics, and better stability, enabling a good experience in both paddling and fishing – unlike the sit-in, SOT and hybrid kayaks commonly used today.

Technical Review of the Hybrid Fishing Kayak

Senior anglers are on the look for any new idea that may improve their user experience when they fish out of kayaks, and some kayak manufacturers are trying to cater to this need by offering very wide fishing kayaks of a design concept known as ‘Hybrid Kayak’ – an abbreviation of hybrid kayak-canoe.

Kayak fishing magazines are filled with reviews praising the stability of such kayaks, and the new canvas on frame seats that some of them are equipped with. Some manufacturers claim the hybrid kayaks they make are suitable for fishing standing up, and those claims are faithfully echoed in the same kayak fishing magazines and websites that survive on paid advertizing fro these manufacturers, by we’re already digressing here to another subject, when in fact we’d like to know what’s the reality behind these claims – Are hybrid fishing kayaks that stable, or more comfortable than their traditional non-ergonomic kin the sit-in and SOT kayak?

A new article goes to the bottom of these questions, as well as some others, and offers a comprehensive review of the hybrid fishing kayak from the only perspective that matters – yours. It discusses a variety of subjects from kayak design to ergonomics, back pain, stand up fishing and paddling, safety, speed, pedal drives,  and even rigging the kayak with a trolling motor. It’s a must read for senior kayak anglers looking for straightforward answers. The article is entitled “The Hybrid Fishing Kayak – Facts, Hype and Plain Nonsense”.