Top 5 Factors to Consider When Buying a Fishing Kayak
After years of owning a retail shop, attending trade shows, and of course, kayak fishing, Chad Hoover puts together his list of five factors that you need to consider when buying a fishing kayak.
So the first factor that I think you should consider when buying a fishing kayak is stability. Actually before I jump into the reasons let me quantify this a little bit. I owned a retail shop for several years, so I'm basing all of this information on the things that customers said to me and I've worked over 500 trade shows in my time, in this industry, and in this community. So this is a mix of people coming into my shop, me talking to folks on the water, direct messages, comments here on the channel or on social media, and all those interactions with anglers at trade shows. Again this is in order based on the things that anglers ask me about. And I'll tell you where I agree or where sometimes I might have a slightly different personal opinion. But I'm basing this on that experience, so let's jump back into it.
Stability is the number one thing that kayak anglers want to know about. Is stability okay? How stable is it? And I'll tell you a way to measure that (especially if you can't try the boat before you buy it, which I always recommend) . If you can't try it out, do some research on the boat by looking it up on social media, reading reviews here on paddling.com, or doing google searches and look for those images of anglers using that boat. If they can stand in it, it's stable enough. Okay, “if they can stand in it” is what I like to refer to as “stand-ability” and I do think you should be able to stand. It makes the boat more comfortable and more versatile. There's a lot of reasons why you should stand to fish. In fact, you guys can go check out my channel where I have several videos on standing and fishing and the benefits of that. But to keep this video short I'm not going to get into that. But stability is the number one factor that you should consider when buying a fishing kayak.
The next one is comfort. Now I had a cardiac incident two years ago. For the year after that, after having a stint put in my leg I couldn't stand as much as I wanted to and as well as I wanted to, so I had to sit down. And when you sit down, your comfort factor is based on the seat, the configuration of the seat, and how it positions you in the boat. It's more than just the seat itself. It's your your leg angle, your height, how it puts you in the boat, etc. So, again, if you can try before you buy, try sitting in that boat for an extended period of time. It is the only way to know that. Now when you can stand in the boat it increases the comfort factor. Because when you can change positions you can stretch your legs or you can stretch your back. In in my opinion you can get away with a little bit less comfortable boat by having a boat that you can stand in because changing positions and standing up means you don't have to sit in that seat as long. But the number two factor that I think you should consider is comfort.
Now the next one could arguably could be interchanged anywhere in the list but for me it's “rig-ability”. I don't even think that's a real word but “rig-ability” means the ability to rig the boat for your specific type of fishing. Are you going to use a depth finder? If you're going to use a depth finder, does that boat make adding that depth finder or rigging that boat that way easy and reliable? And you know something that just fits right, something that just works. So considering whether you're going to saltwater fish, freshwater fish, do both, river fish, lake fish- whatever type of fishing you're going to do the boat needs to be able to be rigged for the type of fishing and the and the components that you're gonna put on it. If you're gonna put a power pole on it, then a boat that's power pole ready is the way to go because it is a nightmare trying to mount a power pole with all of the different configurations out there on a boat that's not power pole ready. So things like that are your considerations. How do you intend on accessorizing that boat? So “rig-ability” is the number three factor I think you should consider before buying a fishing kayak.
Now this next one a lot of people are going to disagree with, especially manufacturers, because I think a lot of times the manufacturers want to consider this first and then think that all the other stuff is secondary. I can just tell you from my experience, both personally and professionally, as well as from interacting with anglers out there that this is not the case and that's why I put this factor at number four. And that is performance. I can tell you that there are a ton of kayak anglers out there that would rather have a boat they can stand up in with a boat that's comfortable and a boat that's easy to rig than one that paddles well. Now when I say paddles well, the other thing that you have to consider, and I put this in the performance category, is propulsion. So it's stability, comfort, “rig-ability” and then performance/propulsion.
Because performance is dependent on the type of propulsion that you're going to use. So if you're going to paddle the boat you need a boat that paddles well. If you're going to pedal the boat you need a boat that pedals well. And if you are going to propel the boat with a motor you need to make sure that the boat's going to perform well when under power. Now, by and large, if a boat paddles well that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to motor well because that is a different performance dynamic. A boat that paddles well is a displacement hull and a boat that pedals or propels well under a motor is a planing hull. We'll get into that in another video but it's just something that you definitely need to consider. How are you going to propel that boat? If you're going to propel that boat with a pedal, by and large, pedal boats arguably perform better with a motor because they're already designed for a different type of propulsion other than being paddled. So you know, boat for boat, a pedal drive boat performs better with a motor on it than a boat whose primary purpose is to be paddled.
Now you're going to say to yourself, “well, Chad, we've seen you for years and paddling and motoring but you very seldom use a pedal drive boat.” and to be honest with you, “rig-ability” was a big factor in that. I just purchased my first pedal drive boat ever. It's actually a Native Watercraft. I'm gonna have to play around with that boat because my favorite boat of all times was the Wilderness Systems Commander 140 and this is the closest boat that's still on the market and it is a boat that you can paddle and you can pedal. And I'm going to throw a motor on it and see how it performs, so we'll jump into that in a future video, but performance and propulsion is that fourth factor that I think you should consider.
So before I tell you what the last one is let's do a quick recap:
- Stability/ Standability is the way that I like to refer to it
- Comfort - all-day comfort because if you're miserable you're not concentrating, you're not focusing, and you're gonna pay for it for 3-4-5 days if you're in a boat that's not comfortable with how it makes you feel
- “Rig-ability” - if you can't rig and outfit that boat for the type of fishing that you're doing. What's the point of having a stable, comfortable boat if you can't set it up for the way that you want to fish?
- Performance - and again the first thing you need to consider in the performance category is if you are going to paddle it, pedal it, propel it with a motor, or any two of those. And that is a factor you have to consider.
Alright, so the last one. And as soon as I say this a lot of people are gonna be like, “well, dude, that definitely should be the first one.” and Maybe it should but what I'll say is this last factor should be factored in at every one of the other levels. Which means get the best, most stable, most comfortable, most “rig-able” boat that you can get in the best performance boat that you can get at affordably. Affordability is that fifth factor and I get it. It’s like, “well, man, if I couldn't afford it it don't matter how stable it is. Whether it's comfortable or if I can rig it or if it performs. Blah, blah, blah.” so what I'll say is this: I put it last because I think a lot of times people price shop first and so here's what I'll finish with. I hear this all the time: “what's the best fishing kayak that I can buy under $500 that I can stand in?” I always hear that question and there aren't very many options, if any real good options, in that category. And then I hear this one a lot: “hey, man, I'm about your size (oh, you're a big old boy, huh?) . What's the best boat under $500 for somebody like us?” and I'm like, well, there really isn't a great boat for somebody like us under $500. The best boat for somebody like us under $500 is a diet (and I'm working on that) . So listen, affordability should be considered after you decide what you want and then you may have to go to facebook marketplace, the paddling.com classifieds, or you may have to look for a used boat. You may have to do something to get what you need at the particular price point.
But there you have it, the 5 factors you need to consider when buying a fishing kayak:
These are the five things that I think you should consider. Remember to take that affordability factor and factor it in at every level, get the most bang for the buck that you possibly can.