By Neil Taylor, March 2011
Choosing a Kayak or “The Up-Grade”
It could be a canoe. It could be a discount store kayak that paddles like a waterlogged two-by-four. That first paddle-craft got you on the water, and you had some fun but eventually you’re hearing about and seeing other options, many of which are far better than what you already have. If you are in this situation, you might want to trade-up to a new paddle craft. Changes in fishing kayaks in the last six to seven years translates to improvements in boat handling, fishing layout, comfort, durability and stability. Many of these things were mentioned in a past article I did: “Myths About Kayaks.” A kayak of today is 1000% better than what was available just a few years ago, particularly when it comes to fishing kayaks.
The beauty of The Trade-Up is that your existing boat has value. It is usually pretty easy to sell off what you have and apply that money toward a new boat. This is something I’ve seen people do for years. Most kayak anglers are what are “marine buy-ologists” and they have owned a wide variety of paddle craft. Eventually people identify their favorites and that is what they keep and use.
If you are in the “Trade-Up” category, or you are completely new to kayak fishing, you should try various kayak options before you make your boat selection. My own preference is the Native Watercraft line of boats. With their fishing kayaks, look closely at the Ultimate 12 and 14.5, the Versa Board, Mariner and the Manta Ray series. Different boats suit different needs. Some are built for rougher water conditions, for standing and others you would simply not want to use in the more turbulent situations. Kayak anglers who do a variety of fishing will often have multiple boats appropriate to those varying situations.
When kayak owners use the Native Ultimate for the first time, they realize this boat provides extra opportunities. Standing to sight-cast to fish, fly-fish or all the extra deck space are things that expand their opportunities. Definitely what sets that model boat apart from every other option: The seat. The other performance factors are important but, for sure, you do not want to be uncomfortable sitting in your kayak.
There are things you won’t know about how the kayak fits your needs until you actually get out on the water in different boats and see how they work for you. Space utilization, how the boat handles for you and other small things that add up to the overall decision on which boat will be best for you. Often overlooked, kayak anglers need to consider how they will be transporting their watercraft and how easy it is to lift by themselves. While there are excellent loader systems that eliminate a lot of the effort, for the people who want to keep their costs down, they need to make sure they can safely lift their boat up and down off their vehicle.
Inexpensive options for “being mobile” on the water: Kayaks are much different than they used to be. Like any decision in your fishing equipment choices, you have to figure out the kayak you like the most- and this is quite simply a very fun process.