Right it’s time to put this to bed once and for all! Whether you agree or disagree these are the facts about what you can and can’t wear on your kayak to fish. With over ten years of kayaking, surfing and general experience I feel experienced, educated and confident enough to be able to give you my own thoughts and advice on the subject.
There seems to have been a recent trend on the internet of people posting that you MUST have a dry suit to get on a kayak to fish from and with so many normal, working class guys out there who maybe can’t find a job or are in one like many of us but still skint! and cannot afford a dry suit to look to get into the sport then are put off by these posts in forums and sites around the UK
Wetsuits are available in all sorts of various shapes & styles. They’re made from neoprene which is 100% waterproof. For kayak fishing the use of a 5/3mm full wetsuit is a great ‘all rounder’ with 3mm on the arms and legs and 5mm on the body for extra warmth yet enabling you to paddle reasonably freely. A 5/3mm wetsuit can be worn in all weather conditions and does have thermal qualities out of the water as your body heats the neoprene but in windy conditions you will lose body heat if not paddling. A cag or windproof/waterproof jacket over the top will add extra warmth and keep the wind off. If submerged in the water the wetsuit lets water in via the neck, arms and legs but if wearing dive boots/gloves you’ll not get as much in if any. The water that slowly circulates around the wetsuit gets heated very quickly to your body’s temperature and acts as insulation to keep you warm. One major issue with wetsuits though is the fact that they MUST fit you perfectly otherwise they won’t work properly. If the suit is too tight the water won’t have the room to circulate and if it’s too loose then the water will simple flow through without heating rendering the suit useless so you MUST try one on before buying one.
Here’s an excellent article on how wetsuits work on the Lomo site which may help people understand it better.
Another often overlooked feature of these is the buoyancy value. You quite simply cannot sink in a full wetsuit! You’ll see surfers lying on their backs in the sea waiting for a wave and the vast majority if not all do not wear a PFD as they’re being washed to shore and cannot sink but that’s not our issue. The only issue with wetsuits is the fact you need to rinse them off then dry them which takes a while even in summer, usually a whole day and longer or indoors in winter. You can wash them in the washing machine using half the usual detergent to give them an annual thorough clean out.
A 3mm ‘shorty’ wetsuit is well suitable for summer kayak fishing with plenty movement and flexibility and is ideal for inland waters during summer. You might want a quick dip to cool off or get tipped but you’ll be fine in this!
Dry pants & Cag
This is possibly the best combination of gear to wear on a kayak to fish from as it’s watertight (depends if cag is dry or semi dry), warm and removable. A rash vest or layers under the cag is a variable option depending on weather and circumstances which is what makes this a very good option.
If your relatively new to kayak fishing you’ll probably have one of these as they’re all the rage nowadays. Dry suits are the ultimate in kayak fishing wear as they do what they say,if fitted correctly, ie all the seals adjusted to give the optimum seal , but they can cause over confidence in a paddler and give the urge to go out in unsuitable conditions so please do be careful. In summer they can be too much though even with the newer breathable types. We don’t get a lot of hot summer days here in the UK but when we do the sun hits the water & reflects so you get it twice!. Be sure to check for leaks/tears after each trip and repair before the next use.
Having just created our own video of Wayne re-entering his kayak in freezing conditions we’ve proved that they’re fine to wear out there and are very comfortable. Maybe suitable for someone coming into the sport from shore fishing/bank fishing who can’t afford a dry suit. Watch the video on youtube, just put “floydtaz” in you tube. A wading belt is essential & do test yours prior to going out of your depth as fitting differs from person to person and check for leaks. Be sure to expel the air from the wader legs before launching, do this by squatting down and fasten the belt whilst in this position – stand up and the legs will be relatively air free.
T-shirt & shorts
Yes, believe it or not in the height of the british summer you can wear even just a pair of shorts and catch a nice tan out there on lake or sea but always keep a cag/jacket in the hull/crate just in case it turns cold (9 times out of 10 it does). Sun cream and sun block are also very important too!
All of the above have their place and all have good and bad points, but remember a PFD is essential no matter what your wearing. Be sure to wear a PFD that you can re-enter your kayak with as some have protruding pouches/pockets that can hinder your climb back onto the kayak. A good PFD for 2013 is the NOOKIE Explorer 2 (out in June) which I’ll have (Andy)). Look at the design of the front pouches, sleek and nothing to catch on upon re-entering a kayak.
The ability to be proficient at self rescue is paramount, and remember re entry to a bare Kayak is easy compared to a fully laden Yak on a fishing trip with rods/reels, lines, hooks, lures and numerous other item tethered to the deck all looking to tangle your arms and legs. This needs to be practiced regularly!
Stay safe no matter what you choose to wear and most importantly get someone to go out there with!