Friday, June 11, 2010
There's a kayak out there for every desire
When it comes to kayaks, you have a three choices: to paddle, to pedal or to use an electric trolling motor.
What’s best for you?
If you’re a traditionalist, then all you’ll need is a paddle to slip around the backcountry, looking for fish.
Paddles and kayaks go together like Tweety and Sylvester, ham and eggs, Laurel and Hardy, Lewis and Martin. It’s a most natural marriage.
As mentioned in a previous article, your paddle should be your second costliest investment. Your kayak (obviously) should be your top investment. With that in mind, you won’t want to skimp on your paddle. It’s with you all day and does a bulk of the work.
When it comes to paddles, remember: Cheap equals heavy. And heavy equals tired arms and a miserable experience. In addition, the blades on cheap paddles usually cannot be “feathered” (offset) to counter the effect of a head wind. When you feather the blades on a light, strong paddle, they will slice through the air horizontally and easily.
A good paddle can be a friend forever. Only extreme abuse will result in enough damage to warrant purchasing a new one.
Price tag on a good paddle will run from $150 to $400.
Pedal kayaks have become very popular in recent years. There are many positives. They’re propelled via leg power. Most peoples’ legs are stronger and have more endurance than their arms. So, you can cover more distance with less effort that you might be able to with your paddle.
Pedaling allows for “hands-free” fishing. Well, for the most part, it does. However, realize that’s more of a marketing ploy than anything else. Any good paddler will tell you he or she can fish and adjust the kayak’s position without having to let go of the rod and reel. But that’s a maneuver that’s learned through experience.
For fly fishing, the pedal mechanism can get in the way when it comes to your fly line. And remember the old law: The fly line will tangle on anything it can.
Hobie manufactures the most popular paddle craft. It features “wings” that move from side to side when the pedals are turned. The mechanism reportedly works well. There is no reverse of which I’m aware.
I am sponsored by Native Watercraft. Their “Propel” version of their popular Ultimate features a regular propeller that can be reversed. That is important when fishing docks and under mangroves when you hook a large snook or redfish. You can simply pedal backwards to prevent the fish from pulling you under the structure and to pull the fish out of the same.
Some manufacturers make kayaks that are moved via electric trolling motor. Kinda slick when you think about it. You can cover vast amounts of water in a shorter period of time. Certainly no cardio-vascular advantage here.
A kayak with an electric motor might be perfect for someone with minor health problems, however.
But I think I’d just go ahead and get a flats skiff with an outboard motor.
Remember, I’m a purist.