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Even if you have fished your entire life, fishing from a kayak can leave you feeling like the fish out-of-water. Your space is minimal, your gear has to be precise, you have to carefully choose where you will fish each trip and you will exert more energy from a kayak.
The tradeoff, however, is a far more intimate experience with the water and the different adrenaline rush you get catching a nice fish from up close and personal. You can reach far more 'secret' fishing spots than with a traditional boat. But, like all new adventures, there can be a steep learning curve when it comes to fishing kayaks.
Before we jump into five questions most new kayak anglers ask, let’s break down the basics of a fishing kayak.
Sit-on-top Kayak Terms Defined:
Bow: The front of your kayak. Or, to put it another way, the part of your kayak that is pointed in the direction you are going when moving forward.
Stern: The rear section, or, the back end of your fishing kayak.
Hull:The hull is the body of the kayak and provides the main structure for the boat. Sit-on-top kayaks typically have a wider and flatter hull design than traditional kayaks, which makes them more stable in the water.
Cockpit: The area where the paddler sits. In a sit-on-top kayak, the cockpit is open to the air, as opposed to traditional kayaks where the paddler sits inside a closed cockpit. This design allows for easy entry and exit and makes the boat more comfortable in warm weather.
Seat: The seat is where the paddler sits and provides support and comfort while paddling. Sit-on-top kayaks typically have molded seats with backrests and sometimes adjustable footrests for added comfort.
Footrests: Footrests are adjustable pedals that allow the paddler to brace their feet and control the kayak's movement. They also help to maintain proper posture and reduce fatigue while paddling.
Deck: The deck is the flat surface of the kayak that surrounds the cockpit. It provides a place to store gear and accessories like fishing rods, coolers, or dry bags.
Scuppers: Scuppers are small holes in the bottom of the kayak that allow water to drain out of the cockpit. They help keep the boat dry and prevent it from filling with water.
Handles: Handles are located on the sides of the kayak and are used to carry and transport the boat. They are usually made of sturdy materials like nylon or rubber and are designed to be comfortable to hold.
Bungee Cords: Bungee cords are elastic cords that are used to secure gear to the deck of the kayak. They are often located near the seat or at the bow and stern of the boat and can hold items like paddle floats, dry bags, or water bottles.
Now, let’s go even further and explore some questions you may be asking yourself as you consider a sit-on-top fishing kayak.
5 Questions all Kayak Anglers Ask at One Time or Another
1. What hull shape is best for my needs?
We’ve discussed this topic before because it is a really important question to ask and explore before you buy your fishing kayak. What type of water you fish on not only can, but should have an impact on your decision. Read our full breakdown in our Fishing Kayak Hull Guide with included suggestions. Here is a summary of the two main fishing kayak hull types and which is best for different waters:
Like its name, a V-shaped hull comes to a deep V from the sides of the kayak to the hull point. The defining characteristic of V-shape hull kayaks is straight line speed. Due to the V shape, these kayaks ‘knife’ and ‘cut’ their way through the water with minimal drag. When taking on rougher water, this kayak hull shape performs well by knifing its way through choppy water. Paddlers looking to reach higher speeds with less effort and excellent tracking will like kayaks with this hull shape.
What these hulls offer in speed and efficiency they sacrifice in stability in calmer water. If you are new to kayaks, you may find that v-shape kayaks feel ‘tippy’ when you first sit in them. Much like riding a bike, these types of kayaks feel more stable as you gain more speed. If you will be fishing water that is typically calm or has very little chop, a V-shaped hull may not be for you. V-shape kayaks are also more difficult to turn.
As you probably gathered, the pontoon-style hull mimics that of a pontoon boat. Pontoon hulls are sometimes also known as ‘tunnel’ hulls because underneath they have two channels for the water to move through. Pontoon hulls are popular on fishing kayaks because, much like a pontoon boat, they offer incredible stability. Many anglers prefer to stand and cast from their fishing kayak. With a pontoon-style hull and more stability, anglers can stand with more confidence.
To obtain that level of stability, however, pontoon-style hulls sacrifice speed and precise maneuverability. Like a pontoon boat, pontoon-style kayaks take an extra paddle stroke or longer pedal stroke to turn.
Pontoon-style hulls are good all-around fishing kayaks that provide stability in multiple water conditions such as rivers, lakes and open water. They can handle bigger waves, but they sacrifice speed and do not ‘knife’ through rough water as well as a V-shaped hull.
2. Can I Add a Fish Finder to my Kayak and How Do I Power It?
No matter the fishing kayak you choose, there are limitless possibilities for how you plan to accessorize it. Almost all fishing kayaks come with varying amounts of accessory rails, and brands like Railblaza, YakPower, YakAttack and One Objective specialize in building mounts and accessories for accessory rails. From rod holders, phone holders, camera mounts, anchor systems, fish finders and even powered motors, your kayak is a canvas you can paint however you see fit.
Adding a fish finder to your kayak is not only possible, it can be done in many different ways. Some fishing kayaks come with transducer compartments built into the hull and utilize the scuppers to run your wires up to your kayak. You can power your fish finder, and other powered accessories, in a multitude of ways.
Whether that be purchasing a smaller battery like the YakAttack battery and powering your finder without drilling into your kayak, or utilizing your storage compartments and thru hull wire ports to run wires without a cluttered look. You can mount your finders to just about anything (your tool pod, a rail accessory, a cell block, etc.) and power them with large or small batteries. One really important thing to consider is if you plan to power a trolling motor you’ll want to power your motor and your fish finder on separate batteries to prevent interference on your fish finder.
3. How Do I Transport My Kayak?
Often overlooked until you have already purchased your kayak, planning ahead on how you will get your kayak to and from the water is critical to making your initial experience enjoyable. Like the author of this blog, you may underestimate the size of a fishing kayak – both its length and overall weight.
Here are some important questions you can answer right away:
What type of vehicle do you have?
Do you plan on traveling long distances?
What are your physical limitations?
What kayak have you decided on?
Asking these questions BEFORE you buy your kayak can help you budget for the best way to transport your kayak. If getting your kayak to and from the water is too big of a hassle, going out on the water will become more of a chore than enjoyment and will greatly diminish your experience.
4. What Accessories Do I NEED?
It would be easy as a company to answer this question by saying, ‘EVERYTHING!’ But, if you are new to the sport, especially if you are buying your first fishing kayak, that answer is not helpful or even true for that matter. Once you’ve decided you are buying a kayak, it is natural to get excited and start loading up that shopping cart with cool accessories.
The reality is, however, how do you know what you need before you’ve had your kayak on the water not just once, but even a handful of times? In our experience, you spend your first season tweaking what you bring with you and how you set up your kayak for fishing on a trip-by-trip basis. It is a process of elimination each trip. Because space, and time, are limited on a fishing kayak, you can spend an entire season learning what you don’t need and accessories you don’t have that would be extremely useful. It is different for every angler, and the limitless ways you can rig your kayak make everyone’s experience unique to their style. Give yourself time to grow into your fishing kayak so you can build it the way that works best for you.
That’s not to say there aren’t helpful accessories you can start with. Here are a few accessories that most kayak anglers utilize, whether beginner or tournament-level anglers:
5. How Do I Store My Kayak?
If you don't live somewhere where there is open water year round, you will likely need to store your kayak for a portion of every year. Think ahead and have a plan for when your kayak fishing season comes to an end. There are a few different ways to store your kayak - whether it be for the entire season or when you are in-between fishing trips. Here are some recommendations from our Eco Fishing Shop staff:
In general, storing your kayak flat is always best. Whether you are between fishing trips, or putting your kayaks away for the season, it is recommended to store your kayak flat to reduce the stress on your hull and to prolong your kayak's hull integrity. For example, the Suspenz Super Duty Big Catch stand is a way to get your kayak stored flat. Like anything else, not every kayak will fit equally, so know your kayak hull shape and read the guide for any model exclusions.
Smaller and lighter kayaks can be stored in a variety of ways. While it is recommended to store flat if possible, we understand if that is not always an option due to limited garage or house space. If you find yourself in this situation, there are more options. Wall mounts come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are another option on how to get your kayak up and out of the way for the offseason.
Another obvious, but simple, tip is using a cover on your kayak if storing outside for any length of time. UV sunlight can damage kayaks over time by reducing your hull's integrity as well as diminishing your kayak's color. Keep your kayak safe using any sort of cover, even if it is as simple as a tarp.
Ask Questions & Use Your Available Resources
If you find yourself overwhelmed or still unsure which kayak or accessories are right for you, check out some of our additional resources. A great place to start is by joining our public community, The Kayak Anglers Resource, where you can ask questions of members who have real experience. Or, check out our YouTube channels for reviews and how-tos: Eco Fishing Shop and Kayak Anglers Resource.
Learn from other kayak anglers who were in your shoes and asking some of the same questions. Here are some of their discussions you may find useful to jump in on:
Browse all of our blogs and Buyer's Guides to most of our brands below. To check out our full range of the best fishing kayaks and accessories we have to offer, available to you via free and fast shipping, click HERE. We are happy to help and answer any questions. Click the chat button, give us a call or ask your questions in the public community, we will be there to answer no matter how you communicate!