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Thread: Fishing Kayak reccomendations

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    Member mntransplant's Avatar
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    Default Fishing Kayak reccomendations

    I'm looking into getting a yak mostly for fishing but also for just cruising around the rivers and sloughs here in the interior. i don't plan on doing whitewater or ocean. I was wondering if anyone with experience could recomend a good kayak for me. I would prefer to buy one more for fishing without making it a fishing only kayak. Also would you say a SIK or SOK would be better? thanks for your help.
    James

  2. #2

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    A sit in boat will be much warmer on cold rainy days. I have 5 kayaks and I prefer my 2 person Perception Keowee 2 tandem kayak for fishing. I sit in the back and have plenty of room for gear up front. I also have a spray skirt for this boat, but it's awkward due to it's size, I only use it when it's raining

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    Member jmg's Avatar
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    I have a Wilderness Systems "Ride" kayak that I use. It is a sit-on-top yak. I prefer sit on top just because I feel like I can move around more, hang my legs out over the edge while fishing, etc. I also think they are easier to get back onto/into than sit-in yaks in the event of a spill.

    As for which yak, I would say try them all out. Some are better for bigger guys, some for smaller, etc. My Ride is extremely stable. I have stood on it in the ocean before and been fine. Not to fish, just to try it out. But I have caught striped bass, salmon, rockfish off the CA coast in it, and have not dumped out. Haven't fished it up here in AK yet.

    With stability though, I lose speed. This yak is pretty darn slow. because of its width. Probably not the best yak for going distances at a regular clip if that is your plan. If I had it to do all over again, I would go with a Hobie Outback of some sort. They have a pedal system that allows you to move along with pedals when you are fishing with hands or your arms just get tired of paddling along. I would love to have one to troll areas wth.

  4. #4

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    A few questions/comments.

    What's more important to you ... stability or speed? Different kayaks trade these factors off.

    What sort of water conditions do you expect to encounter on the rivers and sloughs? You said not whitewater, but what sorts of currents and obstacles? Shorter gives you more maneuverability if needed.

    Regarding warmth. IMO, whether you are on a SOT or in a SIK, you should dress for the possibility of entering the water. This means that the water temp should dictate what clothing you wear. With this in mind you'd wear pretty much the same type of clothing in either case and be more or less equally warm and comfortable.

    SOT or SIK can be a personal preference. Some people just don't like the enclose feeling of a SIK. Some people don't mind it. If you intend on being in/on the kayak for long periods of time, the SOT may be more comfortable, but again, this is a personal preference. I like being able to stretch my legs into different positions when on a SOT. It's more comfortable to me.

    -Allen

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    Default

    I will add that for a given hull design and width, the SIK should be more stable, as you sit lower. SOT kayaks are generally wider to reintroduce some of the missing stability, so they are often slower. They are however, a lot more stable than people think they should be.

    If you get a SIK don't get one with a small keyhole, they are too hard to get in & out of. Also, a SOT can be a whole lot easier to get back on in deep water than a SIK, so I think a SOT is safer unless you learn to do a roll with one.

    Polepole mentioned that shorter is more maneuverable, but longer is generally faster. Also, longer can carry more, and for a given width should be more stable as well. Another option if you're not paddling far is an inflatable kayak. Even the fastest of them are slow compared to a hard shell, but they are amazingly stable, and easier to get back into.

    It's all about compromises of one value traded for another. You get choices, and that's a good thing.

    As far as dressing for the water temp, I find that excellent advice. You never know when something might tip you over when you are not expecting it. In AK waters that often means the best choice is a drysuit, Too bad they're not cheap. Wetsuits are generally a poor choice because once the get wet they take forever to dry out, and keep acting as an evaporative cooler until they do. Wearing wetsuits in a boat is a hypothermia accident waiting to happen.

    One low cost solution for cool weather & water is neoprene chest waders with the feet cut off. Removing the feet will keep them from filling up, and allow you to get yourself out of the water without superhuman strength. The closed cell neoprene that they use, unlike the open cell of a wetsuit, will not absorb water, and will keep you warm both in & out of the water even when you're soaked.

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    i just got a tributary strike two ik and love it. it weighs 45 lbs. and has a 450 lb capacity but i feel it may be quite more on flat water. it is stable enough to have one person standing and one person paddeling while trying to bowfish for pike. i got the strike two because i could take two fishing or have enough room for all my gear on an overnight float trip. and it all fits in the back of a civic!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    As far as dressing for the water temp, I find that excellent advice. You never know when something might tip you over when you are not expecting it. In AK waters that often means the best choice is a drysuit, Too bad they're not cheap. Wetsuits are generally a poor choice because once the get wet they take forever to dry out, and keep acting as an evaporative cooler until they do. Wearing wetsuits in a boat is a hypothermia accident waiting to happen.

    One low cost solution for cool weather & water is neoprene chest waders with the feet cut off. Removing the feet will keep them from filling up, and allow you to get yourself out of the water without superhuman strength. The closed cell neoprene that they use, unlike the open cell of a wetsuit, will not absorb water, and will keep you warm both in & out of the water even when you're soaked.

    Overall some good advice. I'd like to add some further thoughts. There was good video put out this year by Jim Sammons regarding waders. The video is called "Exploding the Waders of Death myth". In it Jim shows that regular waders with a belt, paddle jacket, and PFD are a viable alternative that let in minimal amounts of water. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYwG52p4yjs

    Regarding wetsuits. Yes, the evaporative effects can make them cold, but if the air temp is greater than about 50 degrees and it's not too windy, they actually work quite well. An outer layer of windproof wear can help cut down on the evaporation and keep you warm even when wet. Your body will heat up the layer of water that seeps in.

    Note that you have some different weather/water conditions up in Alaska ... colder. Try it out yourself and jump in the water (nearshore) to see what actually happens and how your gear handles it. Practice re-entering your kayak on the water to in case you need to. While it's not difficult, some people do have problems with it when their encounter this situation having not practiced for it beforehand. I try to practice regularly, but I've never had to exercise the skills in a real world situation (yet! knock on wood). Learn your paddle skills for good preventative measure.

    -Allen

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    Member mntransplant's Avatar
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    Talking Wow..

    Lots of points i hadn't thought of. I guess i will try to test drive a few models to see which one i like the best. After that i will definitely look into a dry suit. It sure would make for a miserable experience if i were to take a dip and not have proper gear. Thanks a million!!

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Amazing

    I have to say how amazed of the wealth of knowledge from the guys that post on here.
    Guys like Jim have so much remote travel time under their belts that any information that is shared is so very valuable.
    Not only to our comfort, but to the actual survival.
    The idea about the Neoprene chest waders, the testing of the different dry suits, wet suits, coats, and gear..
    We can all save a lot of time money and energy by listening to the sage advice of the guys that spend the time within the resources.
    What brands and model numbers of the different equipment has done well, done bad or inbetween.
    Some stuff works for one, and is uncomfortable to anouther.
    I think we can all agree that we are seeing a huge surge in the use of Kayak type watercraft. Fishing from these boats is gaining so fast its just amazing..
    I think fuel prices are going to redirect our recreational energy to using less fuel using devices, It costs hundreds of more dollars now to make the same trip we did for a hundred just a short time ago....
    I was in Hawaii a few months ago and used a Kayak to fish from out on a protected reef area....
    I was told by the locals that no one had been doing this type of fishing from a small boat like that...
    A few days later, I saw two kayaks out where I was fishing.
    I went out in my kayak to see how they were doing,, and the two guys told me that they had been beach fishing that beach for 30 or more years, and when they saw me out there fishing ,, they said " Why the heck aren't we fishing like that instead of sitting here on the beach ?"..
    so they went to costco and bought two of the little one man play kayaks and were in business... they caught more fish than they usually did from the bank, and were busy talking about rigging their new kayaks with stuff to make it work even better,,, like an anchor system, rod holders etc..
    they also said this was more fun because they were more mobile and were actually doing something besides just sitting on the beach drinking beer..
    Anyway..
    my point is that we are going to see more and more people in these small craft, using them for more various purposes than ever before..
    The added dimension is that Alaska waters are often Remote, and very very cold...
    Thank you so much ....all of you that post what you know and have tested out.. It can not only be helpful,, but your ideas can save lives,,,
    hypothermia is so dangerous..and getting wet is propably going to happen.
    The fellows that had the incident and death of one guy in the little lake here on the Kenai last week is proof that all of us are not understanding or taking serious the risks of Cold water..
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  10. #10

    Default Hmmmm.....

    Having been an ocean kayak guide out of Seward for the last 8 years, (and a WW rafter/paddler for the past 20) I can certainly attest to how 'under prepared' most people are when entering the water; be it raft, canoe or kayak. Just two weekends ago I had to pull an old towne canoe (keyhole cockpit like a 'yak) out of a log jam in Eagle River. The person paddline was dressed in shorts, a tshirt and sandles, and had two kids with him. How easily that situation could have turned life threatening. He was just paddling along, and a moment of inattention, and got sucked into the jam and overturned.
    Cold water: extremely deceiving. While any body of water, yes, even a lake of enough size may look calm on the surface, there are undercurrents/undertows not seen on the surface. If you overturn, even in a lake, the pure shock of the cold can cause you to hyperventilate, and then get 'sucked' down. I would say those lakes and 'slow' rivers are the most dangerous in this state, due to their 'benign' appearance.
    ALWAYS dress for the water.
    Another good option is a pair of either dry pants and a dry top, or dry 'farmer johns': these can be rolled together at the midsection to form a good seal, then one has the option of taking the top off for a breather once in a while. These are not suitable for a long time in the water, as you will get some water in.
    I have had the Kokatat dry suit for about 8 years now, and love it. Yes, it's expensive, but it is also cheap life insurance.
    In my opinion, I honestly cannot believe that sot's are actually sold in this state. Period. I don't care how 'stable' they are, all it takes is an inexperienced paddler to catch their back blade in the water once and over they go.
    If you are going to be on rivers, learn how to read the water, that will be your best education.
    As for kayaks, look for a 24" beam if you are getting a sik, also anything with soft chines.
    As another poster mentioned, you just can't have one 'do everything' boat here....if you just want a fishing platform, stick with a canoe. I like the OT Guide 147.

    I will say that the most fun fishing I have ever done in this state has been from my kayak in the salt....

  11. #11
    Member mntransplant's Avatar
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    Default Soft Chines??..

    Forgive me, i am new at this. What are soft chines and more importantly why soft chines?

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by akseakayaker View Post
    In my opinion, I honestly cannot believe that sot's are actually sold in this state. Period. I don't care how 'stable' they are, all it takes is an inexperienced paddler to catch their back blade in the water once and over they go.
    Why do you say that about SOT's? The same can be said about ANY watercraft ... in the hands of an inexperienced paddler.

    -Allen

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by mntransplant View Post
    Forgive me, i am new at this. What are soft chines and more importantly why soft chines?
    Check this site out:

    http://www.nrsweb.com/kayaks/kayak_terminology.asp

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default stability

    The hull design has a lot to do with stability of any personal craft.
    Displacement, chine, rocker etc.
    One thing for certain though...... If you can get your butt as low as possible in your craft. and more importantly below the water line, or as close to it as possible.. You will be more stable than if you are even just a few inch's higher than the water line..
    SOT's by design don't provide that lower than the water advantage.
    Now you can widen the boat, and design the boat to be less tippy, but then you lose speed and agility of the less displacement hulled boats.
    ... Nothing is free.... you can gain here or there, and you will lose here and there at the same time...
    SOT's are popular,, especially in the warmer climes.
    I used one in Hawaii this winter, and it worked fine, but I could tell I was giving up stability compared to the sit in kayaks.
    I just need more research to help me see the benifits of SOT's vs sit in's
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    The way I see it, the primary advantages of a SOT are ease of use and the (somewhat false) sense of security . You don't need to learn how to do a roll, and you never feel like you might get trapped inside the thing.

    I used to own one, and had a blast in it. It wasn't designed for whitewater, but that didn't stop me from doing some fun class III+ stuff with it.

    Other than the possible loss of speed & final stability, the primary disadvantage in AK is the combination of cold water & air. You're constantly getting wet in the things, even if there is only very little chop. Also, every time you raise one side of the paddle you get dripped on, and cold is a serious disability in Alaska. However, many of us still play with inflatable kayaks, and they have the same cold issues. They're also even slower, but with even more stability.

  16. #16

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    I honestly don't think it's a SOT vs. SIK thing. It's more of a choosing the right tool for the job sort of thing. I'm sure a 7 foot squirt boat (SIK) is not the right tool. Nor is a 22' surf ski (SOT).

    I can paddle a SIK with an 18" beam, but you won't see me fishing off it. If I did, it would definitely be more dangerous than using a SOT.

    Many (notice I'm not saying "most" or "all") SIKs are made for traveling, meaning you're going from point A to point B. You usually have your paddle in your hand at all times and use it to brace, which adds to the stability. When you're fishing you spend a lot of time just sitting ... WITHOUT a paddle in you hand. No paddle, no bracing.

    So yeah, get a more stable yak whether it is SIK or SOT. There are some SOTs with 26" beams, which is not much wider than some of the wider SIK. There are also some SOTs with 34" beams. And yeah, you can stand on those that's how stable they are.

    Speed? It's all relative. On a Prowler 15, I can maintain a steady pace at 3.8-4.0 mph. That's not too far off the pace of your average SIK. Of course on a Big Game my speeds lower to the low 3's. That's a pretty typical speed range you'll be looking at for most SOT ... somewhere between 3-4 mph on a steady pace.

    Wetness and cold? Your upper body is exposed all the same weather you are in a SIK or a SOT. If you enter the water, your exposed the same again. So it's your lower body you should worry about. But you should be dressing that warmly anyway ... dress for immersion, remember?

    -Allen

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    Default Hobie SOT's

    It is interesting to hear people say the sit on tops can be so cold and exposed. I used my Hobie Outback through the first week of December on the Kenai and the Kasilof rivers last year. The guides were freezing up on the fly rod but I cant say I was ever cold. Dress in layers and go from there. Part of the day on the river is a good work out peddling to hold yourself over the most productive water. While I'm not doing any class III's in it I've never felt 'tippy' on it either. You really can not go wrong with a Hobie Outback with todays gas prices. I've found that the peddle system works **** well when you put it in backwards and backtroll into good holding water with wiggle warts or diver rigs. Hooked and landed the first three Kings of the year from the seat of my Hobie last week and I can tell you the peddling, reeling and stearing is a rush. The beer holders are just a bonus.

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    Default

    For pure fishing versatility, it's hard to beat a SOT. This coming from a guy that only owned SIK's from '94-'06. I also have to say that when it comes to stability, you have to compare boat to boat, not SOT vs SIK. For instance, I had a SIK that flipped everyone that paddled it over the years, the sole exception being my wife. One guy stayed upright for less than 15 seconds. On the other hand, my current fishing SOT is stable enough for me to stand up on in order to scout for fish. This boat is also sleek enough to leisurely cruise at 4 mph, and fast cruise at 4.5 mph. Top speed in a sprint is 6 mph. There are a lot of plastic SIKs that don't beat those numbers. Secondary stability is good enough that I can do a sculling brace while using thigh straps. Then again, my brother in law flipped the thing this past weekend, don't ask me how. There's no way I'd recommend it as a touring boat for Northern waters, but it's well beyond competent for fishing conditions.

    The whole "dress for immersion" thing has been addressed, but I will add that depending on the environment, I've worn fleece under breathable waders with 39 degree water temps, and my drysuit when the water temp has been near 60. The waders were worn on the community lake, with shore 100 yards away. For cold/cool water ocean use, it's now drysuit, period. If I get too hot, I can splash water on my legs and chest. Jump in if needed, not that I feel all that comfy doing it here in NorCal The point is, is to evaluate risk and make decisions accordingly.

    Anyway, as to actual SOT boats for freshwater use, I've got to recommend the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13. Good layout for fishing, I'd feel comfy in it on class II+, not an overly wide pig boat either. Want more speed, get a Prowler 15. It's what I chose for my AK boat. Others on my short list would be the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120-160. I've not paddled the Trident series boats from OK, but people I greatly respect have, and they give them a solid thumbs up. There are other boats out there that have big followings, but they don't happen to fit my idea of what a kayak should be.

    Unless outfitted well beyond the vast majority of the population would consider normal, there's no way I can recommend a "recreational" kayak for cold waters. Since most folks wouldn't have float bags, paddle float or bilge pump, the most effective self rescue when they've capsized one of these, is abandon the boat and swim to shore.

    Regards,
    Scott
    Last edited by Scott Thornley; 07-09-2008 at 19:51. Reason: deleted paragraph on chines

  19. #19

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    Hey Scott,

    Good to see you here. You heading up this year? I just got back from Seward ... went on a 3 day paddling trip, although I did have a rod and caught some rockfish for dinner.

    I'll be heading back up to Valdez next weekend. We'll be at Port Chalmers cabin for 5 days. Six guys doing nothing but kayak fishing.

    -Allen

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    Quote Originally Posted by polepole View Post
    Hey Scott,

    Good to see you here. You heading up this year? I just got back from Seward ... went on a 3 day paddling trip, although I did have a rod and caught some rockfish for dinner.

    I'll be heading back up to Valdez next weekend. We'll be at Port Chalmers cabin for 5 days. Six guys doing nothing but kayak fishing.

    -Allen
    Allen,

    I've been lurking here since before the format change, when there were only 4 or so forums? I've got to get my vicarious AK fix somehow...

    I've haven't purchased tickets, but will be doing so this week. I've yet to land an AK halibut off the kayak, so will be making that my priority, along with trolling for Silvers, as I'll be up too late for Reds.

    Scott

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