Are Fishing Kayaks Too Expensive?
Are Fishing Kayaks Too Expensive?
Today we're gonna talk about a topic that's everywhere- have fishing kayaks gotten too dang-gone-expensive? Alright so this question is everywhere- it's on every Facebook group you go to, it's on every Instagram thread when somebody posts a picture of their fully decked out kayak, it's actually in articles everybody is talking about the fact that kayaks have gotten too expensive.
Here's the point that I want to make before we get into this: when I got into kayak fishing over 20 years ago, 22 years to be exact, the first kayak that I bought was a hundred bucks. Okay I bought it used from a gentleman who used it to paddle out shark bass. The first retail kayak that I purchased was a little over $750. Fast forward 20 years later and you can still buy premium fishing kayaks for under a thousand dollars. 20 years, less than 250 or less than twenty five percent increase in price. But here's the thing that I wanted to bring up: competition and innovation breed a scenario where the consumer wins.
So here's what I want to talk about: expensive. Right, the definition of expensive is crazy expensive means that something's overpriced. For the most part when you start adding features like hatches that open both directions, removable pods super high-end seats, crazy nice traction pads, you know, and all of those features you're gonna get into a scenario where you get what you pay for but you pay for what you get. Now do you have to have all of these features? Absolutely not. For years I've fished out of a kayak that didn't have a removable center console. For years I fished out of kayaks that I had to epoxy or actually to, like, sail or silicone the transducer inside the hole or use an arm that goes over to the side and things along those lines. So it's definitely doable to get away with it but as we push the design envelope and as we try to make things better, the price is naturally going to go up. Adding tracks, nice pedal systems, hollow seats, adjustable functionality and features, removable skid plates, etc. All of those things add price because there's cost of tooling, there's the cost of the manufacturing of the components, there's the cost of research and development. So all of that drives prices up. But here's what happens when you have a scenario where the upper end moves up and prices go up and the consumer population accepts those price increases: what ends up happening is you have to have a value proposition at the bottom end of the offering and that's where capitalism kicks in. So right now, 22 years after I got into my first sit-on-top fishing kayak there are now more kayaks under $750 than there were when I got into the sport. So every time I see the comment "fishing COGS have just gotten too dang expensive, you might as well buy a bass boat." Okay so because you spent $3,000 you might as well spend $30k or $12k or even $6k?! That's ludicrous! And I see that comment all the time and it's silly.
When Competition Breeds Innovation, the Consumers Wins.
But I also want to point out that the the thing that most people don't think about with the increase in price is the increase in the advancements of fishing kayaks also leads to more premium features being available at the entry level. Because competition breeds competition. And more competition breeds more competition. And when innovation kicks in and competition kicks in, we as the consumer always win, always. So the scenario here is that now multiple companies are always trying to one-up each other. But what's happening now is the trickle-down effect is happening now more and more. Premium features are coming on price point boats more and more premium functionality and performance and durability, reliability are coming in price point boats. But not only that, it's also created an ultra low end, right? There was no ultra low Ian when I got into kayak fishing, even on the recreational side. And now there are super cheap kayaks that you can buy at big-box stores- at Walmart, you can even buy them at Ace Hardware, and even a tractor supply company. So when I see the comments about "kayak fishing has gotten too expensive", I think it's ludicrous because there's more cheap kayaks now or more inexpensive kayaks than there ever have been. If you look at the features that come on the mid-tier boats it's actually better than it was 5, 6, 7, 8, even ten years ago. To me, I wanted to address this topic. I wanted to weigh in on it because I do believe that as things advance, it makes our life easier. Then boats come with tracks, adjustable seats, hatches that open both directions, removable consoles, motor mounts and power pole mounts. With all of those things it does price out some consumers, but what it does is it creates a competitive environment where that consumer who is budget-minded and who has restrictions on what they can purchase still benefits. And that's the part that nobody thinks about. That's the part that nobody talks about. It's the part that I wanted to make sure that we covered right now, that there are more price point tiers than there have ever been in history and I'm excited about the future. I thoroughly believe that this trend is going to continue; we're gonna get more and more expensive, these kayaks are gonna have better features. And as those more and more expensive features and advancements come out into the higher-end kayaks, more of these premium features will work our way down into the mid tier and the lower tier in the entry level ,or, what we like to call "gateway products" in the industry.
It's a Great Time to Be a Kayak Fisherman!
So listen. I understand that some things are out of some people's budgets. The same thing happens in the automotive industry. I'm not driving a Tesla but I think what Tesla's do for the industry are needed. I'm not driving a BMW but I think what they do are needed. I think that all of these advancements that happen to consumer products creates technological breakthroughs. Through research and development, accomplishments ends up permeating the market and we all win. So when you start thinking about whether something is too expensive or not expensive enough, you have to look at the big picture. And the big picture is it's a great time to be an angler. It's a great time to be a kayak fisherman. It's a great time to be a consumer in the ultra-competitive space of producing roto-molded fishing kayaks. It's a great time to be out there in the middle of the pedal vs. paddle vs. power-drive because right now we are sitting on the cusp of what is going to be one of the biggest things that has ever happened in the sport of fishing.
Yes, I'm excited to be part of helping it happen. But I'm also excited to be one of the people that benefits from it happening. Because after all, that's why I got into this in the first place. I am Chad Hoover from Kayak Bass Fishing, but first and foremost, I'm a kayak angler and I can tell you I'm more excited about where we're headed and where we are than where we came from. And I don't think that we've priced anybody out. I don't think that we've created a scenario where it's unrealistic to get into the sport. It's actually the other way around. I think, now, there's more opportunity than there's ever been!