Hi there. There are many factors to keep in mind when selecting a fishing kayak. I can personally only vouch for Hobie Fishing Kayaks and absolutely love them. The primary difference between most of the Hobie kayaks and all others is that Hobie invented the Mirage Drive system, which let's you propel the kayak with your feet, making it hands free so you can focus on your original purpose of getting the kayak, fishing
I've never used a hobie, but I have to admit that I've seen them in use and they have some tremendous advantages, as Dave pointed out. If you can afford them then definitely check them out.
My personal experience has been with an Ocean Kayak Trident 13 angler, and I really like it. It is stable, can go just about anywhere and has a lot of features that I like. Plenty of cargo space above and below deck, lots of space for customization, sonar shield to protect electronics from spray and from the bright sunlight, etc.
There are a lot of factors in choosing a fishing kayak. What type of fishing are you planning on? If you want to spend the majority of your time in little streams and small backwaters then a shorter kayak is generally better for maneuverability. If you prefer larger water (including salt) then a longer boat is generally better. Also if you are in bigger water and/or bigger current then a lot of people like to have a rudder to help control their tracking.
Do you prefer sit-on-top or sit-inside? (that is a huge debate itself) I've heard lots of arguments for both sides. sit inside advocates point out that they have a much drier experience, and that with colder waters in Canada that is a huge advantage. Often the sit-inside are narrower and track better. The sit on top are generally wider and more stable side to side. Some you can stand up in for sight fishing. I like that you can move around in them more, especially if you are prone to stiffening up after sitting for extended periods of time. You never have to bail a sit-on-top as they have scupper holes to drain excess water - in fact if you do flip one you just need to turn it right side up and it will drain all of the water out so you can then climb back on.
As a heavier person I find that the weight capacity of the kayak is important. If you are at all near the rated limit then you will find the performance of the kayak will decrease. If you like to have a lot of gear with you then of course you need to include that in your calculations. I like to be at least 100lbs below the listed capacity, but that is just an approximation.
If you have back problems and need an extremely comfortable seat, there are a few companies out there that have seats that are raised up and are supposed to be extremely comfortable (Native comes to mind).
If you have health issues with your arms then the hobie might be a very good alternative. Ocean Kayak also makes a kayak with an electric motor (the Torque).
There are so many options, and really so much depends on you and what you want to do with it. While I find my Trident 13 a very good generalist kayak, I haven't tried out many different kayaks. I recommend if you are able, to go to your local dealers and see if you can try some out. I know that Eco-Logical Adventures in Oromocto is right on the water and you could probably take out a number of different models for a test run. They sell Ocean Kayak, Necky and Old Town brand kayaks.
Regardless of what you go with, I am confident that you will completely enjoy it! and hey, there are a couple of kayak fishing tournaments out there so come on out and join us! great times and great fun.
Good write-up, Bob! In fact, I really like the Ocean Kayak Tridents as well, though I don't personally own one.
Let me tell you a bit about my Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120: Bought it in April 2009. I start using it while there is still some ice on the waters a lot of times, fish all the time with it in lakes, rivers, and even the ocean. I even hunt ducks with it, I can shoot 3 1/2" magnum shells out of it and don't have to worry At ALL about flipping over, and can carry a douzen decoys no problem! mine is cammo colour, so when I moore in the grassy shore, it blends in well. I use it as a blind and shoot out of it. Handles terrific!,
The rudder is an excellent addition if one is going to fish in moving water or with a back wind, but isn't really necessary for just paddling around IMO, although it does making paddling in swells a lot easier.
The flip-open bulkheads are something else! My buddy has a 2008 and doesn't have this type of bulkhead (just the traditional wrap-around lids) and envies mine. I don't find the seat to be terribly uncomfortable unless I'm paddling more then 3 hour at a time, at which case I'll need a pee break or whatever anyway. Lol! Speaking of pee breaks, in calm water I can stand up on 'er and have at 'er! (I weigh 165 lbs), but in summertime when it's hot out and I'm paddling in my bathing suit, those scaupper holes come in handy!
I've used mine for various activities including overnight camping. The only complaint I had was that it's a little slower then the others in the group I was with (theirs were the faster type, like ocean hybrids and what not) but the fact of the matter is that mine was the only sit-on-top with the most cargo space and so I was the workhorse of the crewe. That no doubt contributed to my slowness. But hey, I had all the beer, so what's the hurry, right? (I think that having all the beer may have also contributed to my slower destination arrival). On board my yak was my sleeping bag, self-inflating air mattress, tent, large ice-chest full of everybody's "supplies"
, a large cast iron cooking pot and cooking utensils, and my fully loaded backpack. Innitially I thought it would be top-heavy and would flip-over, but there was absolutely no problem, even in the 3 foot swells we hit halfway through the largest part of the Kennebecasis River. Speaking of swells, aren't those scauper holes something else, eh? Who needs a pump with those babies?!
When the weather is colder, I wear neoprene fishing waders and a water proof jacket, with my PFD over the jacket. When it's kind of cool but not cold I wear waterproof splash pants and a water proof windbreaker. (waterproof mostly because of water drips from the paddling, but also for the occaisional swell that comes over the bow).
I did a lot, and I mean A LOT of shopping around and reading up on yaks before I decided on the Tarpon 120. I think for my needs I couldn't have made a better decision. I would honnestly give it an 11/10!
some excellent info from the guys there. as a hoby i build custom kayaks, mostly for fishing, so i'm a bit biased.
try the chair. it is often the poorest designed part of the kayak. if you hate it, don't buy the yak or make sure you can immediatly replace it with something you do like. as a new kayaker, pick up the rudder if you like but it is recommended you don't use it the first few years or you will not learn to paddle without it. they do come in handy on long distance trips in open water. anything hanging down from the yak can cause problems fishing. i would suggest leaving the anchor at home too untill you have some experience - anchoring is one of the trickier things to do in a kayak depending on conditions. pick up or make some paddle and rod leashes. i rarely use them now but they saved me a lot of gear while i was learning.
the main things when looking at a fishing kayak are comfort, how you are going to transport the kayak and will it work for where/what you are fishing for. you don't need much storage room for trout but if you are fishing mackerel you need some place place to put them, so keep that in mind. a 16' yak takes up a lot of space to store it, so length can be a factor too.
sis - sit in side kayaks weigh less than sot's - sit on top kayaks, so depending on how you are transporting and moving the yak, this way make a difference. wood is normally lighter than plastic, but not always. plastic is normally considered better for bumps and grinds, but are also harder to fix. most available kayaks are plastic with the wooden commonly more expensive but can also be built personaly (mine are about the same price as plastic). as mentioned above, sot's are a lot more exposed in most cases, but a low slung sis can be just as wet in chop. look for depth in the sis and height in the sot.
small light 8-10' kayaks are easy to get on top of cars, fit well in trucks, can be moved around easily by just one person, and turn in small streams better. for these reasons, and cost, most first time buyers get these. most will also be looking for a bigger yak the next year. so i would look at a minimum of 12' long for adults unless you are only going to fish small streams. if you are only ocean fishing i would up that to 13 or even 14' minimum, even though i fish the ocean in a 12.5' yak.
most fishing kayaks are wide, which does slow them down. this gives some better stability and way more room for gear and moving around. some sis's have almost no room to move your legs. look for a kayak with about a 28-32' width, with 30' being a good size for most fishing unless you are looking to fish standing up all the time.
there are very few actual "fishing" kayaks, there are a lot of kayaks rigged for fishing and lots of kayaks that people use to fish from. i fish from all 3 types, and they have their points.
i love my new purpose built fishing kayak - it's warm! it has way more room and comfort, yet can handle more weather and waves. some purpose built fishing yaks have spliting sterns or tunnel hulls so you can stand to sight fish and fly fish from them easily.
the kayaks that come rigged for fishing or that we can rig up for fishing have reachable rod holders, some place to put gear, and are normally chosen for width and stability. they can still be fast yaks but that is not their main point. a lot of these have trolly rigs to run anchors from and things like the peddle drives. which go faster and let you fish further from shore. i have seen a few sis's lately that have a hole with no tube in the front deck to put a rod in. this is not a fishing kayak or rather, that hole doesn't make it a better one. use a reel rod holder or tuck the rod under one leg and over the other.
i took my kayak fishing down to the bare essentials for about 20 years, just using the lightest 12' kayak i could build. no rod holders, no room up front. it does have a raised stern deck so it hauled gear well if not always reachable. i could however get it around with just one arm, so i took it everywhere. sometimes its just the kayak you fish from.
a lot of this is very general. take a look at what is available and if you can, try them out. the guys gave a few great examples, and of course i prefer my own, so you have a good start. if you know some one that uses a kayak to fish the same way/places you do, get their opinion too. check out what you find on the net and when you get it down to a few choices let us know, we might know something additional about the models you have chosen. if you haven't decided by the time the kayak tourneys come around you can see most of the yaks there and most times either get a free use of one or a low price rental at the tourney.
was there any specific fishing you were looking to do or any area you are looking to do most of your fishing, like the ocean or big lakes?
Thanks guys, you definitely know your kayaks. I appreciate the feedback. All the points you have mentioned I've thought of, and lets me know I didn't miss anything. My main purpose will be fishing but also being able to take supplies for overnight trips. @ iPop, I live in Oromocto, so basically i'll be fishing the surrounding area. Cant see myself going to the ocean any time soon. I'll keep you posted on my hunt for my kayak.
Artyhunter... since you live in Oromocto I highly recommend you go to Eco-Logical adventures and check out what they have in stock. You can try out some of his kayaks. They are very good at working with you to find the right kayak for you. http://www.ecologicaladventures.ca/
and as a shameless plug, check out our website for the NB Paddler's Fishing Derby - a fishing tournament in your back yard designed for kayak anglers! http://paddlersfishingderby.ca/
Already been in contact with Ecological adventures. He has the contract now for Feel free kayaks. I'm really interested in the Moken 12 angler. And as for the fishing derby, already made plans to go. Hope to see you there.
Cool. I'm really interested in looking at your moken. I look forward to seeing you and your wife on the water! The Derby is fast approaching, so I'm really looking forward to hitting French lake and surrounding areas for some pre-fishing exploration.
You must be getting excited! Hopefully you will get it wet soon. I can't really give you much advice on fishfinders. I've got a hummingbird and I like it, but it is the only one I've ever used so I can't really compare it.
yeh dont go spend a fortune on a fishfinder if its the first one u own. The eagles are a pretty good bang for yourbuck. They do the basics and will put u where the fish should be. I upgraded last year to a 385ci humingbird and I still find it has way more to offer than I can handle right now. i am still trying to learn, but it takes some sit down time with the manual. #1 rule, dont get discouraged if u start using your sonar and u dont catch more fish. Once u learn how to use it, u will find yourself lost if u dont bring it along.
So bought me a new fish finder, Piranha Max 160 portable, now all I need is the kayak mounting kit. Does anyone know where I could pick one up around Fredericton area, or know of a good website that doesn't rape you with delivery fees?
check out a couple kayak fish finder mounting videos. it`s surprisingly simple for most through hull set ups. you can even do it with silly putty and a bit of water. if you want a more pro set up, or need to mount it outside the yak, i was looking at them the other day at HookOne, their web site is http://kayakfishinggear.com/ , they had a couple you could pick from there.
prices looked to be around $30-40 but you could also buy just part of the set up for a lot less money.