Thankful Goodbyes

Dear PPF Readers,

Today I come to you with mixed emotions. 

I am saddened because this will be my last official post on Payne's Paddle Fish. The last two years has been a wonderful time of growth, friendships, business relationships, expanding horizons and frankly a huge lesson in humility. (Nothing quite humbles you and/or angers you like internet trolls.)

I have been blessed in my time to work on my craft, make a plethora of new friends and help others learn from my mistakes. That's all this little blog was ever really about. Many of you have been with me for most of the journey. I am thankful for you. You kept me motivated when a block would set in. You kept me motivated when discouraged. You reminded me it's just fishing. 

Through the hard work, the stubbornness, the refusal to bend the truth for sales numbers or freebies I developed a bit of a reputation. A truth teller. I will always call a spade a spade. I firmly believe there is no perfect product, no perfect tournament and no perfect angler. We all have our flaws. Some of us (I'm looking in the mirror) have more than others. It is important to be tactful in recommending improvements. It is also important to avoid heaping praises upon something to remain objective. 

To that end, I am ending this blog to better myself. Not having anyone editing your work can cause you to become lazy, comfortable and benign. I don't want that. I want to continue to progress in my communication. I want to talk about issues as a mediator in the industry. I want to introduce you to products I have previously not had access to. I want to take it to the next level. 

That next level is what I am excited about. The little engine that could is getting an upgrade. I will continue my weekly column "On the Line" over at YakAngler and as of next week will be a weekly contributor at Kayak Fish Magazine.  In order to do both, and do them well, I need to be able to dedicate time for writing, editor revisions, covering events and the like. This is time that PPF would not allow me. 

Along with the transition is a new branding that I will be using on all of my items produced as I continue to grow in the outdoor writing world. This is all very new and in its infancy as of yet but combines all of the many things I do in the outdoor media fields under one header, a roof if you will. 

Moving forward, rather than my branding being PPF it will be Chris Payne Outdoor Media. This encompasses writing, product testing, videos, photography, workshops, design, consulting and public speaking. Previously all of these were done from various names, groups and scattered branding. 

Hopefully you will see this mark more throughout the next few years.

I am grateful to all of you who have been reading over the years, to my business partnerships and affiliation for their tireless support and for my friends who keep me balanced, humble and strving to be better. 

Thank you for everything,



Chris
  

Choosing a Camera for CPR Tourneys



If you fish in kayak tournaments, Catch, Photo and Release (CPR) is not a new concept. It’s also not such an easy task. The taking of the picture can often be the hardest part of the day. Choosing the right camera can help ease that burden.

Some tournaments allow cell phone pictures but you have to provide a cable, have to have battery left over after eight hours on the water (who gets that?) and it has to be high enough quality. When $1,000 or more is on the line, I don’t want to risk it.

The things I like in a camera are simple but often not thought about. Look them over and see what you might be missing.

Night Portrait Mode

Probably the most often overlooked, night portrait mode is made for shooting close shots when it’s dark. Have you ever caught a fish before first light or during a night tournament only to have the picture be whited out or too dark to qualify? Night Portrait mode will fix that. Giving just enough light to show the fish and the board, it controls the light emitted from the flash and gets the picture you need.

LCD Screen

I like a two inch or bigger screen on the back of the camera. This allows me to see the pictures well and quickly without a ton of zooming so I can verify if the shot is good or I need a retake. It also serves as a big viewfinder for lining up the shot.

Wide Lens

A wider lens means an easier time getting the whole fish in the frame and less having to raise the camera way above your head and get a shot. Look for something in the 20-22mm lens rather than the traditional 28mm.

Burst Mode

Fish move. You need a good picture. A fast shutter and capturing 6 pictures per second will help get a clear shot of a moving target.

SD Card

Most computers are equipped to take an SD card. Find a camera that is too. Worst case scenario you can get a MicroSD card and an adapter. The last thing you want to do is carry a bunch of cables and disks around with you so you can weigh in. Ease your mind and get a camera that uses SD.

Battery Type

This one is often overlooked and can work either way but needs to be planned for. Cameras that take AA or AAA batteries will burn through them fairly quickly, especially if you are using the LCD screen. Carry spare batteries with you at all times.
The other option is a camera that uses Lithium Ion batteries. These will run a lot longer than AA but often spares are very expensive. If you make a pre-tourney checklist and charge your camera the night before, you’ll be good. Just make sure you charge it. You will almost always catch that kicker fish right after the battery runs out.

Waterproof, Resistant or Dry Pack

You can buy cameras that can get a little wet or even some that you can submerge but you will pay more. A more price friendly option is to put your camera in a clear dry pack. If you do this option, make sure to take a few test photos to check quality before tourney day.

Pro Tip: Add Flotation
Add some form of flotation to the camera. Fish flop, cameras drop. Don’t lose your win because of it.

I don’t sell cameras but have owned quite a few. These are some cameras that have performed well for me or someone I know spread across some different price ranges. Also, don’t forget to check clearance aisles, EBAY, and pawn shops for even better pricing.


Under $100

Sony - DSC-W800



Manufacturer's Statement: This incredibly easy-to-use camera slips right in your pocket, ready to capture a memory at a moment's notice. Get close to faraway subjects with 5x optical zoom, then snap gorgeous 20.1MP photos or record beautifully detailed HD video. Your pictures will come out crisp and clear thanks to the professional-grade Sony lens with Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization. For even more fun, enhance your stills and video with built-in creative effects like Toy Camera and Pop Color. Or try Beauty Effects to adjust skin tones, remove blemishes and even whiten teeth-it's perfect for portraits.


Under $150

Canon PowerShot ELPH150 IS
Manufacturer's Statement: Some events are just too important to trust to the image quality of a smartphone camera. For those times, slip the ultra-slim, brilliantly stylish PowerShot ELPH 150 IS camera in your pocket. With the 10x Optical Zoom, you can reach right into the action to frame a shot just the way you want it, without blur or loss of resolution. The camera's 20.0 Megapixel sensor captures even the smallest details with superb clarity, naturally vivid color and beautiful luminosity. When you enlarge and print frame-worthy moments from weddings, important celebrations, vacations and more, the result is truly impressive: images that not only preserve your memories, but render them with all the lifelike, emotive nuance of great photography. For all its sophisticated imaging capabilities, the PowerShot ELPH 150 IS camera is extremely easy to use. Smart AUTO ensures you'll always get the best shot by automatically selecting the perfect camera settings for 32 shooting situations, so you can focus on capturing the moment. And Intelligent IS keeps photos and videos clear and steady, controlling camera shake even at the long end of the zoom.




Under $200

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-850 16.0 MP Digital camera - Silver



Manufacturer's Statement: Outdoor adventures spice up the lives, and the TG-850 is the perfect camera for preserving the memories. A super-wide lens takes in more of the beauty. A sophisticated sensor/image processor combo ensures vivid image quality. And features like a 180 degree flip LCD, time interval shooting and pro-quality video make the TG-850 as refined as it is rugged. Whether you're heading to the ends of the earth or just the end of the hiking trail, the TG-850 is up for the journey. Water doesn't affect it. Falling out of your pocket won't faze it. Cold? No problem. You know how sometimes you can't decide whether to bring your camera? With the TG-850, you don't have to think twice.


Under $300

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5


Manufacturer's Statement: The rugged, waterproof and WiFi-enabled LUMIX TS5 compact adventure camera delivers go-anywhere flexibility with state-of-the-art imaging performance. Unwire your creativity with WiFi technology that allows you to share your pictures instantly from your smartphone. The LUMIX TS5 is the ultimate tough camera, so no matter where you find yourself... diving with sea life, hanging from a mountain, or exploring the winding alleys of a foreign market... you will take the best shot possible without worrying about your camera. Waterproof to 43 feet, shockproof from 6.5 feet, freezeproof from 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and pressure resistant to 220 lbs, the LUMIX TS5 really is the tough-man of the compact camera market.




Peer Pressure Kayak Purchases

Please stop.
Take a deep breath.
Count down from 10.

I'm going to save you some possible headache if you'll take 5 minutes and read this. I hope you take this advice to heart because I sure didn't. I've bone headed this scenario twice and finally learned my lesson. I'll try to save you the same trouble.

Here is how it starts:

Talking heads (yes me included), start telling you about all these cool new kayaks that are coming out. We show you fancy pictures. Then maybe you find a walk through video. "Man, that's a cool yak." You see some pretty cool features you like. "I might buy one of these!," you think while you try to figure out when the next lump sum of cash is coming in. Tax return? Christmas cash? Returning all the crappy gifts you got for your birthday and the three extra blenders from your wedding gifts.

Then you go look at the fishing forums. I wonder what the kayak guys think of this boat? So maybe you ask the question but you ask it too vaguely. Typing in "What do you think about a Great Fork Spearyak 13?" is too vague. What do you want to do in the kayak? What limitations do you have? I could go through a big long checklist here but I have already created it. Check it out:

Think about these questions and think about the answers specifically to the kayak you think is so cool. Does it fulfill my wants list? If so, it could be great. If not, better keep looking.

At this point you may be too deep in the hype and advertising to even listen. I know I was. I had decided that even though it wasn't everything I wanted and it might not deliver, I was going to buy Boat X. So I did. I bought into all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. While it is a very good kayak for some people, for me it was awful. I hated it. It didn't do what I wanted it to do, I felt some of the things talked about were oversold, and the hype sucked me in. I was more attracted to a brand name than the function. 

What could have avoided all of this headache? A demo. 

I should have paddled the kayak first. That would have told me everything I needed to know but I didn't. I was anxious, in a hurry and didn't want the deal to get away. Whoops.

People who own a certain brand will inherently recommend the kayak they paddle (or pedal). It says they really enjoy the kayak they have and it fits what they want to do. A little quieter are the people who don't really like what they are in but made a HUGE ordeal when they bought Boat X so now they are a bit bashful. Somewhere in that mix are people who are looking for something else but don't want to say anything because they so highly recommended a different boat. 

The plain truth is, sometimes when you think you know what you want, and then you go paddle it, you change your mind. The time to change your mind is BEFORE money changes hands. Getting recommendations will be easy but it will be diverse. If you are going to ask questions on a public forum, make them as specific as possible. 

"How does the Spearyak 13 handle in wind on large open water?"

That is a direct and specific question. 

Additionally, make sure the person giving you the advice/opinion has actually paddled the kayak you are talking about. I've had a couple of dozen people ask me about the Predator from Old Town. I have looked one over and only paddled it once. I make sure they know that.

If at all possible, please demo a kayak before you buy. If you need to find someone who might can help with that, message me on Facebook. I'll try to do my best to find you a shop or person within an hour or so that has that kayak. If nothing else, I can find you someone to talk to about it. 

Be smarter than I was and be happier in your kayak. Don't peer pressure kayak purchase. 


Pro Staff Casualties in an Imaginary War



This is a story based in fact but for these purposes is fictionalized. I’ll have some advice after story time.

Battle lines have been drawn. A command has been handed down. I have to comply or be banished. It’s not military combat though. It’s not just a bad dream either. This is the life of a pro staffer caught in a bad enlistment in an imaginary war. How the hell did I get here?

Flashback Six Months


A new company has seen my hard work. I've been blogging, making videos, fishing in tournaments and several of the companies I buy products from have reached out to ask me if I‘d be interested in being on their fishing team. I grew up watching my fishing heroes have strong affiliations. This is kind of like that. Right? Sure. Close enough. I accept. Now this new company is asking too. I tell Misty Kayaks that I am also working with Brand 12, Company 14 and JumpUp Lures. I ask if that’s a problem and they say no. Some of them sent me a document that lists some expectations. Some didn't. Whatever. I just want to fish.

Three months into it things are going well. I've shown lots of people my gear I bought at Company 14. I’ve also helped quite a few people discover JumpUp Lures and Brand 12.  Lots of people are buying Misty Kayaks that I’ve recommended.  I’m getting phone calls, emails, messages, comments and tons of inquiries about the blogs and videos I’ve been working on. Life is good.

Back to Present Day


Misty Kayaks has a problem. No one is really sure where it came from (or at least fessing up to it) but it has lead to a demand. Anyone associated with Misty Kayaks must terminate any existing relationships with Company 14. Company 14 sells kayaks but not Misty Kayaks. They don’t make kayaks like Misty but this is somehow a problem. You have friends at both places but this decision has to be made. And quickly.

Regardless of my ability to discern what company can best serve the customer, regardless of my tireless work to help both companies, one of them is demanding a decision be made. One of them is happy for me to be me and promote the sport so many love.

I’m beginning to understand why so many people have given up on company affiliations. These imaginary wars that one company wages while the other is content with being inclusive rather than exclusive is mind numbing and universally cyclical. I can hear the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” blaring even though the stereo isn’t even on. Maybe I’ll just quit it all.

How Can You Avoid This?


Stay Unaffiliated


That works for some people but others like the affiliations, love to promote products they are passionate about and don’t miss an opportunity to tell folks about a product or company doing a good job.

Have Very Clear Conversations and Get it In Writing


Your agreement is only good in court if it’s in writing. With signatures. Gentlemen’s agreements are only good as long as both parties keep the original agreement. And both remain gentlemen. Sometimes that doesn’t work out. When conditions change, you might be put in a bad situation. Be prepared.

Analyze the ROI


Return On Investment is something lots of pro staffers fail to calculate. Think about the time you are investing in blogs, videos, boat shows, speaking and tournaments. Think about the money you spend traveling, eating out and preparing for activities that you are not reimbursed for. Add all that up. Now look at your discount that has been realized. (If you bought $100 worth of stuff for $75, your realized discount is $25).If your expenses are greater than your realized discount, your ROI is negative. That means you are losing money to do all this work. For some folks that’s ok because they are that passionate. The only other way to offset negative ROI is by adding additional income from the company. Even then, it will rarely offset the expenses. Still worth it?

More Than Money Benefits


Some companies can offer something other than money or discounts. They can offer you exposure, a platform and mentoring. To really make a name for yourself you have to treat your name as a brand. You have to grow it the right way, you have to be your biggest critic and biggest advocate at the same time. Having a mentor and a developed, proven platform to work from to build you is important. Ask any company you deal with if they offer any such opportunities.

Interview Potential Suitors


You have a lot to offer. Don’t give it away for free. Get what you feel is a fair return for your work. Ask them lots of questions and ask suitors to be specific and then expect it in writing. Ask what the availability to work on projects you are passionate about is. Ask about any conflict of interest companies. Ask what the possibility of advancement is.

Have an Exit Strategy


If everything goes south, make sure you can walk away. Don’t dump hours investing in a company’s success without developing YOUR brand. Everyone has a brand, most just call it character and reputation. When you look back, is your name yours or are you so entrenched people don’t know the real you. If a company asks you to change who you are yet offers nothing for the change, walk away. Scratch that. Run.

Business is Business.


Real friends understand choices have to be made and no one situation fits everyone. Real friends also care more about you than your affiliations. Several of my good fishing friends rep for different companies. It doesn’t matter. It’s about the sport and we each make our own path. Business is business. Real friends understand the choices.

Final Thoughts

Companies that put tight restrictions on their team are not interested in you growing as much as they are in growing themselves. Find a company that is interested in you the person, the whole package and not just your promotional abilities. Sometimes circumstances change, a company starts a one sided, imaginary war that most people are unaware is even happening and there is fall out. It’s unfortunate but it happens. In those times, you need to have a clear picture of what you want, what your plans are and the best path to get there. Blaze your trail. Some companies will walk with you but none will do it for you. Find a partner, not a boss.


My Love-Hate-Love Relationship with Braid



A little over six years ago I was introduced to using braid on spinning reels by Gary Yamamoto. He explained it to me, talked about tying a flouro leader and proceeded to catch a lot of fish with it. I picked his brain a while and decided I needed to make the switch from mono to braid on my spinning rigs.

I loaded up my reels with some 50 pound braid that was on sale and went to the lake. It was a pretty good trip and I gained some confidence that fish weren't as afraid of braid as I thought. After years of being told I needed invisible line I was learning there was more to it than that. I could have both with a leader. I also quickly learned that a leader really only made a difference in clear water.

The first few trips went well and then it got windy. My first experience with wind knots was a bad one. I managed to foul up that cheap braid on two reels. I cursed the whole way home and got out my knife as soon as I took the reels out of the truck. I cut that braid off with a vengeance and swore to never go back.

Fast forward to Spring of 2014.

I had the opportunity to fish a 35 acre lake in Central Texas. I was told most of the fish were small but they would be plentiful. Looking to knock off some winter rust, I took my spinning reels, loaded with mono, as they had been for years to enjoy some quantity fishing. As always happens when I underestimate, I found a wolfpack of fat, hungry female bass and watched four in a row go airborne, bury deep in some grass and break me off. I was toast. Pissed off, disappointed and tired I loaded back up and drove home.

That night I talked with some friends and they recommended braid. The water I fish is mainly clear so I needed to cast for distance and use a leader. That combination meant spinning reels loaded with braid. That evil devil had crept back into my life. I shared my story with them and they laughed. Apparently the brand of discount braid I had used was awful for knots, casting and the like. I buckled down, bought some Power Pro Super 8 Slick and took another bit of advice. I downsized to 10 pound braid, I thought they were crazy but hey, I've already gone back to braid so why not downsize and see if it works? I still had a knife if I needed it.

A couple of weeks later I got my revenge on those fish at the 35 acre lake. Six years later, the wisdom I was given still holds up, as long as I don't go cheap and make sure my gear meets up with the quality of fish and quantity of fish I'm chasing.


Why High End Sunglasses are Worth It


For the last decade I’ve been on the search for good fishing sunglasses. They needed to be polarized, help me see fish in shallow or clear water better and not be fatiguing to wear for more than a few hours.

I bought most of the brands that you know and some you might not. In total I tried 12 brands in 10 years. I started fairly cheap ($40) and worked my way up as brand after brand disappointed.
Most polarized glasses reduce glare. Some are comfortable. Only two high end lenses from two different companies ever gave me the “water vision” I wanted. 

The Costa 580 lens and the Smith ChromaPop lens are those two. Three years ago I got my first pair of Costa 580G lenses. They gave me the vision I wanted but a problem remained. Of the three frame styles I had, I got fatigue after an hour. The glass lenses were heavy and the frames weren’t kind to my head. The aching above my ears and below my temples was awful. 

I met a guy in Austin, Jesse, who talked about and taught about sunglasses for a living. He gave me the run down on several different things to look at. What he explained was exactly why high end glasses were worth the money.

Any $10 pair of sunglasses can be polarized but only the really high end ones have color filters.
In the spectrum of color that the human eye sees, all of those colors are made up from reds, greens and blues. The problem is the colors are blended. 




The colors blend into each other making many other colors. When you filter the mixed in colors, so you really only see the blues, reds and greens, it is much easier to pick out those colors, contrasts and thus, fish. Costa and Smith are the only two I tried that had the color filtering technology. 

Additionally, the really good filtering (at higher wavelengths) are the more expensive lenses.
 Not all Costas and Smiths are the same.

So back to my dilemma. Costas hurt. I needed something designed for all day use, color filtering at high wavelengths, and really made those fish standout. Enter Smith Optics.

Smith was one of the two brands Jesse had recommended. I had tried the other. Not sure of my investment dollars, I tried to be a penny pincher and went for a style of lens that wasn’t the ChromaPop. 

They were lightweight, durable, did some filtering and I was happy. That is until I tried on a pair of ChromaPops. 

Holy cats! You just really don’t know what you are missing until you spot a big fish that swims by that no one else can see because their glasses aren’t up to snuff. It happens all the time. It’s happened to me more than once this month!


Smith Dockside


I've been buying Smiths for different applications for a little over a year. I have different colors for different situations and demo them with fishermen frequently. Seriously think about what you might not be seeing. If you are just fun fishing, sure the $10 Cheapies will work. If you are tournament fishing, this is an investment you need to make. Not only that, most of the Smith Optics are $200 or less.


Smith Tenet


My two favorites are the Bronze Mirror ChromaPop lenses paired with the Tenet frame and the Blue Mirror ChromaPop lenses in the Dockside frame. These cover 95% of my fishing and go with me as standard equipment.


For the best fit and to see the difference for yourself, find a local retailer or just find me. These glasses will sell themselves once you put them on. 

Be Safe in the Cold

Fall is descending on most of the nation and even a hint of winter is showing up for a few of our folks up north. My friends in Europe have been experiencing snow for almost three weeks now. As it gets colder, carelessness with safety gets more costly than it already is. Please be safe. Have a float plan. Wear layers. Wear a life jacket.

Here is a video explaining why that life jacket is so important.



How to Pick the Perfect Kayak




I'm sorry to be the one to say it. Well... not really.

For you new guys, the lurkers and quizzers, the ones wanting to get into kayak fishing or just kayaking in general, the perfect kayak does not exist.

For you kayak fishing vets, not all of you but some of you, stop telling them Kayak XR34 is the best in the world and you have to have one or you'll be sorry!

I get it. You love your kayak. You think it's the best. And here's the thing: For you it might be!

But let it be said once and for all, there is no perfect kayak for all people in all situations.

People with a bad back will need a lighter kayak or a trailer. People with only $400 to spend can't afford the Hobie Pro Angler 14 so stop suggesting it.

People who want a river boat may not want the Native Mariner. Especially in low water conditions.

I get it. You are loyal to your favorite brand. That's good. Please understand however, not all kayaks fit all people and situations the way it might fit you.

To grow the sport the most important thing we can do is encourage people to demo as many boats as possible. Sure, you might encourage a certain brand. I think we all do but please, whenever possible, don't encourage someone to buy a kayak "dry". If a person has never been in a kayak and you are encouraging them to buy the XR34, you are rushing. Asking lifestyle questions will lead you to only a handful of kayaks to choose from.

Hey, new guy! Does it seem overwhelming picking your first kayak? I've been there. I bought the only one I could afford. It got me on the water and that was good but it could be very frustrating and I almost died once because of a bad choice of a kayak. Please new guy, be patient. We understand you are super excited to try this cool sport out. We love it too but we have all made different mistakes. I made a really bad one that almost pushed me out of kayak fishing all together.

I purchased a kayak, sight unseen, dry with no demo about five years ago. It was such a good deal I couldn't believe it. So I bought it. Later that week I took it for its maiden voyage and almost turtled a dozen times. I hated that kayak. I felt like I was fighting it the whole time. It was awful and I sold it a month later and lost money. Since then I have purchased several kayaks for different purposes. I have a small water/buddy kayak, a big water kayak, and a family kayak (tandem). All three are different brands. I like them all and they have different purposes. For anyone to tell me that I could get all of my wants in one kayak would seem a fairy tale and frankly, unrealistic. I fish a wide variety of situations. Most people do.

If you only fish one set of ponds or one stretch of river, you might could find one kayak that works well and it could be perfect for you. That doesn't make it perfect for your buddy or that new guy on the forum.

Lots of places around the country have kayak dealers who specialize in kayaks, not just a bait store or grocery store that sells them. Ask them for a demo. Most of these places have people on staff who specialize in kayak fishing and who have paddled all the different brands they carry.Take a look around and see what you can find. If you still don't see a dealer in site, ask on the local fishing forum. Lots of people would be happy to let you try their kayak. I take new people out all the time just to share the kayaking experience with them.

So new guys, demo, demo, demo. Only you can choose for you.

Kayak addicts, encourage them to demo. Don't just be a boat pusher.

Four Tips to Find a Great Deal on a Kayak



Labor Day marks the end of summer for most folks. It's back to school time for the kids. Businesses are starting a new fiscal year soon and the holidays are within sight. What Labor Day also marks is the beginning of sale season for kayaks.


Kayaks, both used and new are at the end of their cycle for the year. Dealers are reducing old inventory for the winter months, increasing new year models, doing some trade-ins, selling off the rental fleet and clearancing out. They know the pattern. It's their business. Craigslist will be flooded with people needing to sell a kayak for this or that. There are nomadic, seasonal kayakers who often sell a boat just to make a lease payment for deer season. Then there is dad, who thought he could convince the family to kayak with him, who instead is needing to sell a tandem to get a solo kayak. It takes all kinds. Often it works out for both parties. Everybody gets what they want and the cycle continues into next year.




Commonly thought of as a summer time hobby or sport, kayaking enjoys a bolus of participants between May and September. The crowds on local lakes start to thin more and more as the weather becomes more tolerable. Hunting season has started and for some that means dove hunting and then deer hunting. For me it's always DEAL hunting. 

Over the last several years I have used fall and winter as a time to upgrade. Often, there are folks looking for a boat I have, rigged and ready to fish and are willing to pay a fair amount for it as is. I'd then turn that money into a better deal for me by finding great deals. Here are a few tips to help you find a great deal:

1. Look at Buy/Sell/Trade Sections on Your Local Forums


Chances are you belong to a local forum or six. Kayaks can often show up here for not a lot of money. Make sure you do your research though. A few unrealistic (or opportunistic) folks will try to get you to pay retail prices for a used kayak. Don't want to risk getting swindled? Check out the next tip.

2. Call a Kayak Dealer or Two


Dealers can't advertise their best prices. The kayak market for the most part has fixed pricing. If you can go in store it is even better but sometimes a phone call works if you are far away. This time of year it is very important to move inventory from the previous year. Brand new kayaks needing new homes can be had at better than used pricing very often. Don't believe me? Call HOOK 1 at (866) 486-8412 and ask if they have any deals. Tell them Chris sent you. 

3. Don't Forget Craigslist


Depending on where you live, CL can be filled with kayaks. In Texas, especially Dallas, Austin and San Antonio options abound. Just please, reread #1 and do some homework. Some sellers will try to take advantage or just really have no clue that a kayak depreciates. Take a buddy, meet at a place where you can demo the kayak. Speaking of demos.

4. Demo, Demo, Demo


Don't be a knucklehead like me and buy a kayak you've never paddled. It's exciting and sometimes the deals are great but what if you drop $500 or $1,000 on something that you hate. Good luck reselling for the same price. Demo at least the model if at all possible. It doesn't have to be the exact kayak but at least a very similar one. 

LED Lights: 5050 vs 3528

Thinking about some LED lights for that kayak? Maybe even the deck, the power boat or the dock? It is important you know that not all LED lights are the same

Most of the LED lights that are sold to fishermen and even kayak fishermen are either a type 3528 or 5050. These numbers derive from the size of the chip used to run the lights. 3528 lights have a chip that is 3.5mm X 2.8mm. A 5050 is 5.0mm X 5.0mm. See where the name came from? 

As you have probably guessed by now, a 5050 is brighter in almost all scenarios when compared to a 3528. A big part of this is because the 5050 has three LED chips in one housing as compared to the one chip per housing of the 3528. 


5050 chip
3528 chip
Because of the size of the chip in a 5050, the number of LEDs per foot could be less than a 3528 but rarely is. Most companies sell 20" strips that have 30 LEDs regardless of the chip. 

Another thing to consider is the wire that is attached to the LED strips and the extra wire that may come with it. Is it marine grade? Are the connections heat shrink sealed? Is it tiny little 28 gauge wire? 22? 16? Remember the lower the number the thicker and usually more durable it is. A marine grade 20 gauge wire will outperform a non-marine grade 20 gauge wire in water applications. It may outlast a non-marine 18 or 16 too. 

LED lights typically go one of two places: inside the boat or outside the boat.

Marine grade wire on the left
The outside lights are the ones you should think about when you ponder wear and tear. How is the casing built? What adhesive is used? Is it filled with silicone, resin, nothing or is it open air? How are the ends capped? The better made case will be the one you want. 

I ordered a couple of different strips from two different companies to do a comparison. I took the best pictures I could so you could see what I am seeing during testing. Both are blue lights. One is a 5050 and the other is a 3528. Both are offered to kayak fishermen as solutions. Others exist, these were just two I had heard of and wanted to do a side by side. Some companies don't tell you which chip size you are ordering so make sure you ask!

I have used a set of 3528s on a Cobra Navigator I used to own. I bought what I thought I could afford which was about $50. Only 5 of the 6 worked out of the box. Within two months I had busted the casing on two more. They were not the greatest but they worked. I just wished they had worked longer. But for $50, what can you expect?

I recently was fishing with a friend who had installed some 5050 lights. He flipped the switch to turn them on and it was blinding. They definitely outshined the lights I had bought. In my comparisons, it wasn't hard to tell which was brighter. 

Some final thoughts. 

Do the 5050 light cost more? Yes, they do. Are they better lights? Yes and then say it one more time for emphasis.YES! 

When you start looking for LEDs, stop looking at price first and look at components first. After you are comparing apples to apples, then look at price. 

Can I recommend a place to buy 5050 lights? I sure can. The ones I saw and then tested are actually made and sold by a guy here in Texas. He is a fellow kayaker and sponsors several kayak events every year. 

For my recommendation on getting the best lights with the best components and the ones that I tested here, visit with Dez Davis of Austin, TX. To check out his full lineup of LEDs for all applications both on water and off, go to www.supernovafishinglights.com

In addition to using all of the components listed above, SuperNova LEDs use a fully enclosed plastic jacket that's injected with resin and an adhesive lined heatshrink as well.

Dez knows his stuff and can help you with whatever you need including custom lights. 

The kit I am using now is the Extreme Kayak Kit


  • 2- 28LED Light Strips, 20"
  • 2- 13LED Light Strips, 10"
  • 4- 4LED Light Strips, 4"
  • 3M Adhesion Promoter
  • 2 Switches and Waterproofing Boots
  • 8 Pieces Heat Shrink
  • 6 Wire Management Pads
  • 10 Tie Wraps
  • 5amp Fuse
  • 6' Extra 22AWG Wire
  • 1 In-line Fuse Holder

The SuperNova Kayak Kit includes 8 strips of lights for the front, rear and cabin of your kayak, which ensures ample visability of all structures at casting distance and the cabin lights give adequate worklight, and can be switched off and on as needed.
See what's out there and most important, be seen by others on the water." from SuperNova.
Hopefully these insights will help you make the right choice for you. Informed buying is smart buying, wherever you decide to buy. 

Time to get on that night bite!