Picking out your first kayak can be a bit of an overwhelming experience. I’ve decided to document my thought process, and why I ultimately chose the angling kayak that I did. I am choosing from angling specific kayaks, since they have angler friendly options already included. I narrowed down my main needs for my first angling kayak down to three.
1 – Easily removable electronics.
2 – Ability to stand/Walking deck.
3 – Efficiency on the water.
Since I plan to instruct from my new fishing kayak, I’ll need to demonstrate everything I teach. This includes tipping over, and safely getting back onto my kayak while in the water. I will be adding a fish finder to my new kayak, and I want to be able to remove it easily when I need to demonstrate in-water skills. Wilderness Systems offers the Flex Pod OS Removable Console in their premium fishing models. The Flex Pod OS provides mounting of the fish finder display on the top, battery and cable storage inside, and transducer mounting on the bottom. All of your electronics are in a removable pod, so no drilling into your new kayak to mount electronics. The pod easily attaches and detaches with 2 clips. This set up will be perfect to leave on shore when the time comes to flip my kayak, and demonstrate a self rescue in the water.
The Wilderness System’s Flex Pod OS
Knowing I need the Flex Pod OS my second focus is on standing friendly models with this system. Wilderness Systems has a couple of models designed with decks that have standing in mind. Those are the ATAK series and Radar Series. The Tarpon 130X and Thresher 140 have the ability to stand, but not a flat walk-able deck. The Radar series is the first fishing kayak with a flat center hatch designed to be stood on. The Radar would be a bit more friendly then the ATAK in the beginning for standing. After spending years in different kayaks, you get used to the one you paddle. Time in the boat, with practice, will ultimately let you buy the right kayak the first time. Stability will be increased with every outing, as long as I work on it. I’m ok with either the ATAK or Radar at this point.
The center hatch on a Radar 115 (You can stand on it!)
Now onto efficiency. You get tracking from the length of you kayak. The longer the boat, the straighter it tracks. You get maneuverability by having a shorter boat, so shorter means tighter, quicker turns. You can make a long boat act short, but never make a short boat act long. By improving paddling skills you can make that longer kayak maneuver better, but a short kayak can never improve it’s tracking. The 2 fishing series kayaks that fit my need so far are the Radar and ATAK. Both have an 11-12 foot and a 13-14 foot model. I want the added tracking, so I will be going with a 13-14 foot model. If we were going on pure efficiency, I would have ended up with a Tarpon 130X or Thresher 140. The Tarpon and Thresher don’ have the walk-able deck so they are out. Kayak height out of the water also affects efficiency. The more of the kayak exposed, the greater wind will affect you. The ATAK has the lower profile deck between the two.