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Kayak Buyers' Guide

Kayaks were one of the first sea-going vessels of human kind so it's no surprise that in today’s modern age you have a wide variety of kayak designs to choice from. Your particular application and preferences will determine which kayak is best for you. For the sake of this article we'll be referring only to fishing kayaks which are mostly sit-on-top (SOT) style. SOT kayaks offer more stability, gear storage, weight capacity, versatility in rigging options than sit inside kayaks. Some things to consider would be weight capacity, stability, speed and tracking. We will get into all of them, but first let's look at some basic kayak features.

Most sit on top kayaks are made of plastic. This allows for great durability, many hull design options, and easy mounting of accessories. When purchasing a plastic kayak it is important to know a couple things about the manufacturing process. Make sure the kayak has been manufactured by the process call roto-molding. This method basically pours a bunch of plastic into a mold which is spun around in all directions so that the plastic sticks to the sides of the mold and the resulting kayak is one piece. Many cheaper kayaks found at warehouse stores and elsewhere are not manufactured this way. They are made by combining two separate halves which by definition forms a weak point all the way around the kayak which is very susceptible to springing pinhole leaks or cracking after sometimes minimal use.

Pay attention to the shapes and surfaces of the boat as well. A very round-sided kayak will be able to use a thinner plastic which will reduce the overall weight but the round surfaces will make mounting accessories very difficult. Conversely, the rounder shape will be stronger because the shape of a circle holds the most force.  A flat sided kayak may be a little heavier but if you plan on installing a lot of electronics or accessories it will prove much easier and cheaper to set up. Be skeptical of heavy round boats or light flat sided boats that are made of plastic as they may not have bee roto-molded.

Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes and they all perform differently. There is no perfect kayak, but there are perfect fits. It's important to have a list of things that are important to you in a kayak design and try to match those needs. In general a round bottom kayak will be less stable than a keel design. A longer, narrower kayak will be faster but less stable than a wider boat. With that said, there are things that manufacturers have done to compensate.

One example is the Malibu Kayaks X-Factor at 33" wide with a keel design hull, it makes for one of the most stable sit on tops on the market without sacrificing speed at a length of 14’4”. If weight capacity is a concern, all of the Malibu Kayaks have outstanding weight capacity with the X-Factor leading the way with a 550lb capacity.

the New 2013 Malibu X-Factor Fishing Kayak

If surf launching is necessary in your area you may want to consider a kayak with a higher bow. When coming back in through the surf the higher bow will keep the boat from pearling (digging the bow underwater) should you catch a wave. On the way out the higher bow will help the kayak pop over the waves instead of punching through, keeping you dryer and your gear safer. The Jackson Kayak Kraken and the Wilderness Systems Thresher series kayaks were both designed with that in mind.

Tracking refers to the ability of the kayak to stay on a straight line, and also the amount that the bow "wags" back and forth with each paddle stroke. Generally any longer kayak, over 13 feet, should have no problem with tracking. Shorter kayaks will sometimes have issues with tracking with increased bow wag, but this comes with the easy handling and maneuvering that they offer.  By adding a rudder system to any kayak will greatly improve tracking, increase glide speed, and make for an easier paddle in cross current/wind conditions.

Ordering a kayak online is easier than you'd think. If you've found a kayak in our store that interests you please read our kayak shipping information and discover how easy it is to get it delivered to your residence, business, or your local airport. With all of the kayaks to choice from, just remember to take into consideration as many variables as possible to get the kayak that is right for you!