Kayak Fishing: Boat Speed

Hi, Jeff Little here. I'm the regional Pro Staff director for the Wilderness Systems Fishing Team.
In this Paddling.net video, I'm going to talk about something that a lot of kayak anglers overlook and that's speed.

So one of the reasons we need a fast boat is just because you've got to cover a lot of ground to find a pattern. Really to find fish. I learned when getting started fishing on the bay, I was used to a much smaller body of water. The Susquehanna River, which is only a mile wide, whereas the bay here, at it's narrowest at the bay bridge, is four miles. I go to places like here's Rome and Koke, and I say, okay, here's a good point that comes out into some deeper water. Shallow water point right next to deep water and I think alright I can access right there. And you know I get out there and it will take me an hour and a half. So right there is this three hours of your day eaten up just getting to the spot and that really doesn't even factor in tides,so, you definitely want a boat that is going to get you these spots quickly so you can get on the fish.

Another situation where you're going to need a lot of speed is when you look on the horizon. We do this a lot where we scan the horizon looking for birds. You'll see the birds diving down to the water, picking up bait fish that get chopped up by the fish below. So being able to have a fast boat and get on them quickly is very important.

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One really important part of speed and being able to get to a spot quickly is the boat's hull design. Basically the longer and skinnier a boat is the faster it's going travel to wherever you're going. With that being said, there's a really big part of speed in your paddling technique. So you definitely want to look at that and make sure that you're being as efficient as you can when you paddle. Specifically you want to look at your torso rotation. Are you getting your power from what I'll say from your knee to your nipple? This section, your upper leg, your stomach, your lower back.

A lot of people intuitively, especially men, male paddlers, intuitively think it's an exercise you do with your arms and your shoulders and if you do that you are just going to wear out a lot quicker. What you want to do is torso rotations where at the end of the paddle stroke you're turned to the side and your head is looking backwards. That's if you really want to cover ground; but we as fishermen aren't always paddling at full speed. And it's important to have a boat that is going to go quickly without a whole lot of effort.

Now this is a detail, I've covered it in other Paddling.net video in relation to your paddling skills, but it's worth repeating, and that's having a good catch. When you insert the paddle blade into the water you want to have a good seal on the backside of that blade before you start coming back. And that's evidence by seeing that there are very little to no bubbles, that mixture of air and water on the backside of your blade. What that can do, that cavitation, it can rob you of all your power during each of your paddle stroke. It also makes a lot of noise and spooks the fish. That requires more effort than this. So you want to make sure that you've taken that extra step when you insert the blade into the water you pause for just a split second before coming back, then you're going to be more efficient with each stroke. It makes a huge difference over the long haul of an eight or nine hour day on the water.

Now that I've shown you some tricks on the water for making whatever kayak you have go as fast as it possibly can, let's talk about hull design. I'm going to do some illustrations and show you which kayak hull designs are really going to be the fastest boats out there and which ones that you're going to sacrifice some of that speed in favor of a little bit of stability.

I've exaggerated how wide a slow boat like this would be, but it will help to illustrate and show you why the fast boats are faster. If you were to cut the kayak in half right in the middle, this would be the surface area that you would see. That's the cut away view. So it's fairly narrow as you look across. It's also very pointy up near the front here. The medium kayak that gives you a little bit more stability but preserves, you know, some of that speed isn't quite as narrow as this one. In the front, maybe it might have a little bit more of a rounded hull but what's going to happen there is as the leading edge of that, it's not going to cut through the water like this one will. It will actually push a lot of water out and as you move over to the slowest hull shapes, very wide, you know, super stable.

There's a lot of boats like this on the market now. Stability overkill. And that really is good marketing that plays to people's fears of tipping a kayak. If you're worried about that you need to do get over it and get out there and intentionally tip your kayak. These boats are great for standing up in and fishing out of but you really sacrifice the speed. I see lots of boats out on the Chesapeake Bay. Everything from the barges that run coal up into Baltimore to run power plants, to cigarette boats that are designed to fly as fast as they can across the surface of the water. And you see those design echoes, those hull design echoed in a lot of kayaks. Skinny narrow boats that are designed to go fast and wide stable boats that are designed to really carry a lot of capacity.

But I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's a lot of barge boats out on the market that are playing to the fears of kayak anglers in terms of the stability. If you're worried about the stability, do yourself a favor, don't sacrifice the speed for an overabundance of stability. Go out and flip your boat a couple of times and learn that point of no return. And really opt for something that's going to give you that higher top end speed.

But it's really not just the speed that it gives you. A lot of times it's not as important to sprint as fast as you can across the surface of the water to catch a fish. It's your ease of paddling over the course of a ten hour day and really guys who are opting for those faster boats, they are going to catch more fish just by virtue of they're going to last a full day because they're not pushing water with the front of their super wide boat. So think about that in terms of hull design when you're shopping for your next kayak. Look for something that's a little bit quicker.

This has been Jeff Little with Wilderness Systems Kayaks wishing you more time with your line in the water.

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