With so many fishing kayaks for sale, understanding the dynamic of length vs. width is a critical step to ensuring you find the right kayak for your needs
For the most part, fishing kayaks are simply standard kayaks with a few add-ons for gear, rods and other supplies. While there are kayaks for sale built specifically for fishing, most anglers will simply buy the ideal boat for their circumstances and add the few items needed to make it a fishing kayak.
If you’ve begun your search for the ideal fishing kayak though, you’re probably a little confused by all of the available options. You can learn more about the various types of kayaks here, but one vital issue you will need to consider when searching for the perfect fishing kayak is efficiency and stability.
Not all kayaks are built the same – some are better for short distances on small streams and ponds while others are made for traveling longer distances on bays and other large bodies of water.
Before you start shopping though, one cardinal rule about kayaks you will need to remember is that shorter, wider kayaks offer superior stability while longer, narrower boats provide speed. What type of fishing kayak you choose will depend on where you plan on using it.
While shorter kayaks may not offer the speed and efficiency of a longer boat, they are more maneuverable is small areas…
Known generally as a “recreational kayak,” shorter and wider kayak models average between 9 and 12 feet long and are made for short distances. If you’re on an open body of water trying to go more than a mile from your launch site, you will soon learn that it’s very hard to make a recreational kayak go in a straight line.
However, for certain environments like a narrow river or small pond, the shorter kayak is better since it’s easier to turn around. If you’ve hit a good fishing spot or have accidentally thrown your lure into the trees, you will find that the shorter kayak will do a better job of abruptly turning around.
Longer “touring” kayaks on the other hand average between 15 and 18 feet long and are made for traveling longer distances. They do a much better job of going in a straight line and can travel much faster than a short kayak. For this reason, longer kayaks are better for navigating large lakes, rivers, bays and even the open ocean. Longer kayaks also come equipped with more storage space, so if you plan on fishing all day or staying out overnight, touring models may be the better choice.
However, if you’ll be fishing in a small river, creek or pond, the longer kayak will not respond as well. It will take much more effort to turn the boat around if you want to go back to a particular spot you’ve passed or have to get into a tight spot to retrieve your bait.
Where shorter kayaks fall short in speed, they make up for in stability…
Besides the efficiency of moving over a longer distance or maneuvering in tight spots, stability is another key question you will need to address.
If you’re new to kayak fishing, you may want to go with a wider, more stable boat. If you’re fishing in waters infested with alligators for example, you’ll breathe much easier than you would on a kayak that’s faster, but not as stable.
While discussing stability, you should also know the difference between initial and secondary stability.
Although we said earlier that wider kayaks are more stable, that’s only partially true in the end. Yes, wider kayaks have better initial stability, which can be described as the stability of the boat when it’s on calm water or a flat surface. Kayaks that are greater than 28 inches wide have the best initial stability – some have such good initial stability that you may be able to stand up if you have good balance.
Longer kayaks on the other hand will have better secondary stability, meaning they will perform better if you’re out in rough waters. They will be able move or tilt with the waves much easier, especially ones coming in from the side.
So while a longer kayak may seem tipsy when you’re in calmer waters, it will perform like you need it to if you get out on a big lake or the bay.
A shorter kayak will be more stable in calm waters, but if you encounter any waves, it will flip much easier.
Initial vs. secondary stability is a vital consideration when checking out fishing kayaks for sale. You have to ask yourself where you plan on going and for how long – if you’ll be fishing in smaller creeks and rivers and for short distances, you should consider a shorter “recreational” kayak. However, if you’ll be going longer distances (…greater than 2-3 miles) in large bodies of water with waves, a longer “touring” kayak will provide the right kind of stability AND speed you’ll need.
This quick video from Paddling.net provides a great overview of speed, maneuverability and stability in fishing kayaks.
Some kayaks known as a “crossover” try to blend the stability of a shorter, wider kayak with the efficiency of a longer, narrower one. They average between 12 and 14 feet long. It may be an ideal choice if you think you will ever venture into larger bodies of water.
The question of efficiency and stability is something anyone searching for a fishing kayak will need to consider. To learn more about fishing kayaks for sale, visit http://www.eddy-gear.com/Fishing-Kayaks.html or head on out to the water and ask any kayak fishermen you come across why they chose the particular boat they have.