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Choosing your first fishing kayak? Don’t make these beginner mistakes

Written by Fiona

July 03 2020

It’s understandable how poor decisions happen amongst those new to kayak fishing. You’re excited to dive into a fabulous hobby, you’ve got 20 tabs open in your browser and you’re getting worried looks from your other half as you reach for that wallet. Well-posed pictures of lovely kayaks influence your buying decision, making it easy to rush head-first into an investment for the wrong reasons.

But it’s worth taking a little more time and working out what you do need and what to avoid when buying your first fishing kayak. 

Have a read through these points, consider how they apply to you and continue to the buying stage with a more informed approach.

Quiz time: Let’s start with your basics

Before you even get into the water, there’s a range of questions you really need to ask yourself before you click order on your new watercraft. Kayaking message boards are full of wry posts from proud new owners of kayaks that they can’t transport or store, for instance.

  • What am I expecting to paddle and fish?
  • Are the areas close to me open coastline, or do they tend towards sheltered estuaries, lakes and inland waterways? 
  • How much do I weigh – and how much heavier with the gear I’ll be carrying? Can my dream kayak handle that safely? 
  • Does my kayak have enough buoyancy to keep me safe in varying conditions?
  • Is speed important to me, or would a more stable kayak that’s easier to paddle with be a more practical call?
  • Do I want to sacrifice performance for more storage space?

Checking through these, you’ll soon find a more accurate picture of your kayaking style and preference coming into focus. Be wary of advertising text when you’re browsing sale sites – it’s easy to get swept up and not every supposedly fantastic selling point will be relevant to you. 

Be wary of short kayaks

You’ll often see kayaks that are listed as “suitable for fishing”. These tend to be towards the so-called budget side of the price range – and they’re misleading. Many of these aren’t suitable for fishing kayak conditions and the ways and places you’ll be paddling in.

A kayak less than 10ft in length isn’t going to handle anything but the calmest of conditions. Worse still, they’ll be extremely limited in storage space – and if you overload one on gear, you’ll be very unsafe in the water.

Time to talk cost

Kayaking isn’t the cheapest hobby in the world and it’s important to respect the need for quality gear. Sure, you can get in the water for £500 or less, but it might be a poorer idea than you’d think. 

Firstly, be wary of knock-offs. There’s nothing wrong with overseas or Chinese manufacturers by default – they can build quality items when they need to. It’s the budget area where problems crop in. Low-quality knock-off kayaks are often made from Low Linear Density Polyethylene (LLDPE). It’s not as durable as medium and high-grade equivalents and it melts, scratches and warps at a lower temperature. 

The old sayings are true: You get what you pay for and if you buy cheap, you buy twice. Although your costs will vary depending on the type of kayak you want and its intended use, it’s better to plan closer to the £1000 mark or more.

Always remember you’ve got gear on top to think about, including GPD, drysuits, anchoring gear, VHF radios and more. It adds up. Keep in mind that you can rent higher-end kayaks alone or as part of trips and experiences to help you to find out more about the hobby and equipment more before you invest fully.

Now you can start your hobby

A set of practical pointers to ensure you make the right call on your investment into this wonderful hobby. Keep these considerations in your mind as you browse that list of fishing kayaks and good luck! You’ll be paddling and fishing in no time. 

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