Month after month, you kind folks endure my ramblings about many different aspects of fishing from paddle craft. I base those ramblings on my own personal experiences, but also on information I glean from countless fishing forums, including ours. Fishing is fishing, whether it's from a canoe, a kayak, or a boat. The same tackle can be used in any of those vessels. Our sport is still evolving, and that evolution shows itself in the design of new boats, and each year the manufacturers attempt to please most of the anglers most of the time. You can help them, and in turn, possibly help yourself.
In this installment, I want to hear what YOU have to say about a few things. I won't be the only one listening. You may be surprised how many folks in the fishing and paddling industry follow the message boards, and formulate their product development based on that input. For many of you, summer is winding down and paddle fishing outings will soon be fewer and fewer. Manufacturers use this time to retool, design new boats, and have them ready for market once winter loosens its icy grip on us. So now is a good time for the customers to compile a wish list to be sent to the manufacturers so they can build what is likely to sell - very simple. Understand that the customer base isn't made up of sales folks, dealers, or (endorsed) fishing guides and tournament champions - it's folks like YOU that make the cash register ring. Dollars spent equal votes for specific designs and features. So, let's give the manufacturers some input/feedback, and hopefully they'll take some of this data and use it to build a more functional paddle fishing craft.
By the time you read this, I will have some topics started on the paddling.com fishing forum. Post your comments there. If you aren't currently a member of the paddling.com fishing forum, sign-up HERE If you're already a member, join the discussions HERE
Here is some food for thought - bon appetite.
IT'S A WET SPORT: Many agree that our sport got jump-started by folks on the west coast that put rod holders on surf boards. They wore wet suits while surfing, so they were already prepared for a wet and chilly experience. At the same time, canoes were already being used for angling purposes. The sit-on-top kayak was soon born. Dryer than the surfboard - wetter than the canoe. What is more important to you? Higher freeboard, so waves don't come in over the side (dryer), or lower freeboard to allow for easier entry and exit (wetter)? On the forum, look for: "It's A Wet Sport".
STAND UP: Many anglers coming from the boating world insist that being able to stand and sight cast is an advantage over seated paddlers. The seated paddler is very stealthy. However, should a standing paddler fall out of their vessel, that stealthy advantage is certainly forfeited. Several manufacturers cater to the stand up crowd by offering boats specifically designed for standing. That option can have consequences though. Added weight, less maneuverability, and increased cost. In your angling locale, how important is the ability to stand while fishing? On the forum, look for: "Stand Up".
MOTORS AND PEDDLES: Kayaking and canoeing are paddle sports. I mean, there should be a paddle involved, right? Not necessarily. Several manufacturers now make models that have some sort of leg-operated drive system. There are others that are designed to accept a trolling motor. These vessels certainly have their place in angling. This is merely a classification question. When is a kayak NOT a kayak? On the forum, look for: "Motors and Peddles".
WHAT'S IN YOUR FRONT HATCH?: Manufacturers lose a lot of sleep designing front hatches and covers. They need to be water tight, and still hold some gear. Still, many folks put gear in dry bags because sometimes those hatches simply don't seal well. So why not simply have another tank well up front? On the forum, look for: "What's In Your Front Hatch?"
HIGH PRICE VERSUS LOW WEIGHT: Rotomolded plastic, that's the stuff dreams are made of, or at least that's what most kayaks are made of. It gets the job done at an affordable price. But, there are some lighter alternatives, provided you're willing to write a heavier check. Are you willing to pay more (maybe a lot more) for a lighter and more durable kayak/canoe? On the forum, look for: "Price Versus Weight".
GO GREEN: I used to make poly kayaks for a living. One of the coolest colors for a kayak happened as a result of using recycled material. Scrap happens, it's a manufacturing reality. But those hulls can be ground up and recycled, and those savings could be passed along to you. But, are you willing to spend a little less money for a less than attractive boat in order to give Mother Earth a helping hand? On the forum, look for: "Go Green".
THE LADIES ROOM: Fishing, and fishing from kayaks/canoes has long been thought to be just a man's sport. But the gear and vessels are still primarily geared toward the boys. So ladies, what do you feel is lacking when it comes to paddle angling equipment that is designed specifically for women? On the forum, look for: "The Ladies Room".
I'll make you all a deal. YOU go to the forum and let your opinions be heard. In turn, I'll allow a little time for the discussions to progress and then I'll let the major kayak manufacturers know what's going on. By no means do I think my input alone will make much of a difference. However, your collective voices just might. Sing fellow paddle anglers, SING!
See you out on the water!
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after"
~ Henry David Thoreau