Choosing A Kayak
For anyone new to the sport and wondering which kayak to invest in, there are plenty things to consider before shelling out your hard earned money.
A few of the general things being:
1.what do you want to do with the kayak?
2. what size kayak should you buy?
3. how much should you spend? do you have a budget?
4. Do you have anyone to paddle with?
5. Will you have enough money left over to buy safety equipment?
6. Your size and weight are very important when choosing a kayak
For many, available money will be top of their agenda but buying the cheapest kayak will not always be the wisest choice so the other points really need to be considered first.
Generally if you wish to fish inland waterways, most kayaks on the market are capable of handling this. If you wish to fish/paddle a kayak in the sea it’s a different matter altogether. You should research which kayaks are capable of handling conditions at sea by either reading trusted reviews or asking forum members and contacting suppliers/makers of the kayaks that you are thinking about. The following will assume you wish to use your kayak in the sea.
Does size matter? Choosing a kayak of the right length is a bit of a minefield. as long as the kayak you are looking at has a hull design fit for purpose on the sea, any size will be okay but it will have its advantages and disadvantages. Shorter kayaks may be ‘twitchy’ and need a lot of paddler input to remain stable in the surf or choppy seas. They will generally not be as quick as a longer kayak nor track ( paddle as straight ) as well as a longer kayak. Being smaller they have less room on board and may not be able to carry as much weight (paddler plus equipment) but they will be easier to handle lifting and carrying wise out of the water.
In general, a longer kayak, 12ft or longer will be a more suitable size for sea fishing. They will paddle straighter, quicker and easier and will handle conditions at sea a lot better and have more room and weight carrying capacity for the gear you may wish to take with you. The cockpit will be roomier and the craft should be easier to remount if you capsize.
As said before, a longer kayak has its benefits for sea fishing, amongst them the ability to cover more water with ease and generally the ability to withstand rougher conditions at sea.
As a rule (not to point out specific kayaks, as 10 kayaks of the same length may all differ in this due to hull design and general dimensions) when you paddle with a longer yak, more of the effort goes into propelling the kayak forward because the greater length makes the kayak resistant to turning which is where a rudder comes in extremely handy!
Conversely each paddle stroke in a shorter yak tends to want to turn the yak diverting some of the forward motion sideways so the yak loses track
this factor alone means you will be able to cover more water , paddle longer distances and be able to fish in more difficult sea conditions with a longer yak.
Money! always a hard one. You work hard for it so don’t spend it unwisely. A new kayak should not always be the first choice. You should research your intended yak then buy as keenly as you can. All the popular kayaks are also for sale second hand these days as the sport is growing rapidly. If you do buy something not fit for your purpose, you will quickly feel the pinch. It may be unsafe, it may not do what you want it too and you will find yourself selling it and shelling out more money! The popular kayaks also hold their value very well so they may actually be an investment over time which may not be true for others. When you do find the type of kayak you think you want, look carefully at comparable yaks. Some will do what you need them to do, maybe just a little better than others. A lot of the lads on here will let you try their kayaks and a visit to a waters ports shop/kayak dealer will be a great place to try prospective yaks.
Will you need a dedicated angling version of a kayak? This depends on what your going to do with your kayak and seeing as your reading this in a kayak fishing site it’s assumed your going to be fishing from it. However, you may also want to tour or simply paddle along your coast so buying a basic kayak without all the rod holders and extras will save you money. Fishing accessories can be fitted later at minimal cost with a modicum of physical effort (please ask advice about this before doing it as plenty will be given).
You will need to factor into your budget the cost of safety equipment and appropriate clothing. These are essential and there is plenty of advice here in KFUK. A PFD ( personal flotation device, also known as a buoyancy aid) is an absolute must as are paddle leashes but do read the safety page and look at what others take out there with them.
No-one is telling anyone which brand of kayak to choose. When you decide on a length/type there are many available. This is where user reviews and anglers personal experiences come into it. The KFUK forum is a great source of advice so use it freely and never be afraid to ask a question! You will always get a sensible reply no matter how silly you think it is. When you do eventually make your choice of kayak, get to know it. Try it in the conditions you expect to be in (maybe leave the fishing gear at home at first) and learn how to self rescue. Learn what your kayak will and won’t do and only use it within the limits of your knowledge and personal ability. Fitness will come and is very important. You will certainly not end up looking like an Olympic athlete (unless you already do) but paddle fitness and stamina will build over time.
This information is intended as a general guide and is by no means an exhaustive complete list. It is not meant to favour any size or brand of kayak, it is just giving information generally for your consideration.
It has been said that you should do something every day that scares you – [b]please do not apply this philosophy to kayak fishing![/b]
Please choose wisely and be safe! Be safe and enjoy your sport
The Kayak Fishing UK team