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SIT-ON-TOPS: By far the most popular, SOTs are self-draining and unsinkable in surf. The open deck means lots of space to mount accessories and easy access to gear at all times. It’s easy to hop in and out, wade, stand and fish side-saddle.

SIT-INSIDES: Add a rod holder to a traditional recreational kayak and you’ve got a capable fishing craft. Fishermen in colder climates like sit- insides for the protection they provide from the water and weather. They are usually lighter and have more interior dry storage.

HYBRIDS: Some kayaks are neither SOTs nor sit-insides. Boats like the NuCanoe and the Native Ultimate combine characteristics of both.

INFLATABLES: Inflatable kayaks are lightweight and easy to store and transport.

a n d WI DTH BOAT DESIGN BASICS: Longer kayaks are faster and carry more gear. Shorter kayaks are more maneuverable. Wider hulls are more stable and roomy while narrow ones are faster.


WHERE DO YOU FISH? Long, narrow kayaks are best for covering large distances between fishing spots and doing overnight trips. Shorter boats are lighter and easier to maneuver in small rivers and ponds. Either way, you want a kayak with a lot of initial stability, meaning you can lean from side to side or even stand up without feeling like you’re going to flip.


SINGLE VERSUS TANDEM: Most fishing kayaks are solo kayaks, but you can also get a tandem or one that has an optional second seat.

MATERIAL: Most kayaks are made of inexpensive and nearly indestructible polyethylene. Other materials— thermoform plastic, inflatables, and composites like fiberglass, carbon or Kevlar—are usually lighter and more expensive.

STORAGE: Does the kayak have a place for everything you want to carry, inside or on the deck? Does it have waterproof storage hatches and bulkheads? Does it have a tank well?

PROPULSION: Some kayaks now come with pedal power, or are set up to take a trolling motor.

RIGGING: Does the boat come pre-rigged the way you want it with features like rod holders and a comfortable seat? Is it set up to take the accessories you’ll add later, like a fishfinder?

RUDDER: Often available for extra cost, a rudder is very useful in windy conditions and for hands-free drift fishing.

WEIGHT: If you plan to car-top your boat or carry it long distances, weight is critical. Several of the above factors will affect weight.

COLOR: Many kayaks come in natural colors like olive and tan. Bright colors are more visible in open water and high-traffic areas.

PRICE: Don’t compare prices at face value. Every company includes different standard features. A rudder adds up to $300 to the cost.


Along with the traditional lineup of SOTs, SIKs, hybrids and inflatables, this spring brings new materials, hull designs and propulsion options. Innovation to traditional kayaks is the name of the game as our sport continues its rapid evolution. Here’s a sampling of what’s in the delivery ward for 2009.

PEDAL, POWER OR SAIL Notable among new additions, Native Watercraft’s MultiSport kayaks feature a hull with a port for dropping in either an electric drive or a pedal drive—your choice is included in the price and you can always add the other later. Both are eco-friendly and affordable; the Volt costs four cents per mile to run. There’s also an optional sail, for which the drive system acts as a centerboard. This could be the most versatile craft ever, kitted out to paddle, pole, pedal, motor or sail.

THAT’S HOW WE ROLL If those are not enough ways to get around, Feelfree Kayaks’ new Moken 12—a full featured, scaled-down version of last year’s Moken 13—has an in-hull wheel for rolling it around without a trailer.


Long known for its stable and speedy tunnel hulls, Native Watercraft is joined in the catamaran category by a unique upstart. Delta Kayaks’

radical new Catfish piques our curiosity with dual hulls, a see-through underwater viewing port and a hidden drop-down rudder between its twin thermoform plastic hulls.


Ocean Kayak adds 11- and 13- foot lengths to its popular Trident Angler lineup. Now you can find a Trident Angler sized for any venue from bayous and borrow pits to the Cortes Bank.

COSMETIC SURGERY Wilderness Systems updates its respected Tarpon series with “bow lift enhancements” and bigger tank

wells, code for a higher and dryer rough-water ride and more storage. It’s also added user-friendly turn-and-lock hinged hatch covers and rails in the tank well and accessory rails in the tank well and cockpit.… 43

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