Showing posts with label native. Show all posts
Showing posts with label native. Show all posts

The Stability Myth: Standing in a Kayak

Standing is the new thing.

In kayaks that is. And frankly, it's not all that new. As people flock to the sport they see commercials, ads, pictures and videos of people standing up and fishing from a variety of kayaks. I've seen almost every major manufacturer release an ad for one of their kayaks where someone is standing up and fishing. It's the hot issue. If a company doesn't have a kayak that they sell for standing and fishing they are behind the times.

All that being said, these pictures and videos can be misleading. The design of the kayak, its hull, its width and the water conditions all play into stability so that a fisherman can stand. Not enough people, especially those shopping for a "stand and fish" kayak are looking at the biggest variable: the fisherman.

People are all built differently. People also have different levels of balance. I can stand and fish on an Outback, a Slayer, a Coosa, a Ride, a Commander and a ton of others but that doesn't mean you can.

Drew Gregory from Jackson has jumped and spun around on the deck of at least one Jackson in a video. Here is the not-so-secret secret. Drew is a compact, fit guy who works in the outdoors and is in great shape. His balance is impeccable. I've seen more than a couple of people turtle a Jackson. It's more than just kayak specs that make a kayak standable. It's you too.

But wait! I can hear some of you who have been watching a different set of videos. "I'm built more like Chad Hoover and he can stand in all of the Wilderness kayaks" you say. Well, yes, Chad can. Did you also know he is retired from the Navy? I think he may have the boats, balance and water thing down better than Joe from down the street. Wildys can turtle too. All of them can.

I've seen a Hobie Pro Angler turtle and not in the ocean. It was on an calm day on a small lake. It's about the fisherman too, not just the kayak.

So what am I saying?

If you want to stand, here are some things to think about.

If you are standing on a sit on top kayak, you have to balance from your ankles up. That is a lot of core balance for a lot of people. If you are big in the shoulders or big in the belly, this is going to prove more difficult. Slight framed folks and shorter folks will generally have an easier time with this.

Think about balancing a broom handle, vertically on your palm. It's difficult, right? Add a tennis ball to the middle of the broom handle or to the top and it becomes more difficult. Weight across your body that is not evenly distributed (beer gut) will be more difficult to keep in balance when the balance point is further away.

So how do we make it easier? A few things.

Having a wider platform to stand on makes this easier. It is easier to balance when your feet are able to be shoulder width apart and slightly more. Most adults have a shoulder width wider than 20" so a deck that only allows 20" with a total kayak width of 28" will be more difficult to balance on. As the width of the total kayak gets wider, even if the deck isn't as wide it will become easier to balance. The ideal situation is a wide deck and a wide kayak. Finding a 28"+ wide deck with a 32" or larger total width will help.

Also consider the seat. More people that I have seen turtle have done so when getting into or out of the seat. A seat that is up off the deck will be easier to gain your balance. Is it easier to stand up from the floor or from a chair? The chair, right? Keep this in mind when shopping. Even a couple of inches gained is a big change.

What if we could change the balance point from your ankles? You can! The problem with kayaks is in most circumstances as they get wider, they get slower and more sluggish to paddle (the obvious exceptions are pedal and motorized kayaks). This is where hybrid kayaks come in. The Commander from Wilderness Systems and the Ultimate from Native are hybrid kayaks that are part sit in and part sit on. They look more like a canoe than a kayak to some (though the hull design is different). When you stand in one of these kayaks you have a sidewall to brace your leg against. This raises the balance point from your ankle to almost your knee. It's almost as if you've made yourself shorter. The amount of body you now have to balance is lessened and the 31" wide Commander offers more stability to most people than a 33" wide sit on top. Not only that but it generally paddles faster as well in the longer models.

Now that you are either confused, angry or nodding your head in agreement, let me offer a suggestion. If you want to stand and fish out of the kayak you are shopping for, stop looking at marketing material. Find a demo day near you or a get together or Boondoggle and go try to do this yourself. Find out how hard or easy it is to stand in all of the models you are looking at. Demo. Demo. Demo. If you absolutely can't do that and you have to shop online by specs and videos only, look at total width and width of the cockpit. The bigger they are the more stable. Is it a guarantee that you can stand? No. Will it be more likely? Yes.

It will almost always be easier to stand in a kayak that is 40" wide than one that is 20" wide. Just keep in mind the balance points and demo if at all possible and you should be good to go.

If you want to stand in a kayak, make sure you can before you buy it!

Pedal vs Paddle

America, and most of the world, craves polarization. Whether it's subconscious or completely knowing, people want to know where you stand on certain things.

Are you Republican or Democrat?
Are you Pro Choice or Pro Life?
Are you pro carbs or anti-carbs?
Are you Baptist, Aetheist or Catholic?
Are you a pedal or paddle kayaker?

As you can see, while we want everyone to be one or the other, if we are answering for ourselves, you might be a third or fourth option which isn't given. I know Libertarians, moderates, Methodists and folks who can enjoy both sides of the pedal vs paddle showdown.

Having a bit of research scientist in me, I did a little experiment over at a few weeks back to see if my hypothesis was correct. I set up a poll and asked if money were no object and you could have any one kayak which one would you choose.

With all the us vs them, pedal vs paddle rhetoric that floats around, I was expecting the paddlers to step up and stay firm. If they truly felt paddle kayaks were "truer to the sport" and pedal yaks were "not even a real kayak" as I had heard, the polls should be widely distributed among Wilderness Systems, Ocean Kayaks and others. I expected the pedal guys with Hobies and Natives to of course choose those. I expected about 15% to be Native and Hobie combined if the rhetoric were to hold true.

It didn't.

41% of the people participating in the poll chose a Hobie with a Mirage drive. Another 16% chose a Native with a propel drive. The comments were valuable as well. So many of them talked about money. "Well, if you're giving me $3,000, I'll take a PA," (Hobie Pro Angler).

57% of the people participating chose to get a kayak with pedals. Interesting.

So what do I make of this?

While we all have ideas around what we think kayaking is, when the rubber meets the road, what actually plays a large part is money. Of course! If I asked 100 middle class folks if they were in favor of raising the taxes on the rich so the tax burden could be lessened on those less fortunate, I'd bet a large pizza that most of them would say yes. But after they answered you explained that rich meant above the poverty line, their tune would change. Anytime you add or take away money from an equation it changes how people feel. By taking money out of the equation in the poll question, die hard paddle for life guys would purchase a Hobie or Native.

It happens everywhere in life. Think about driving down the highway. I see $125K sports cars and think to myself, "I would never spend my money on that!" if I were to ever have that kind of expendable income. But maybe I would. If I won the lottery to the tune of $350 million dollars, would I think about that car differently? Maybe so. Maybe not. But, when the money is neutralized in the situation, I am much less quick to dismiss the idea.

Kayaking isn't that much different. We have become a community of haves and have nots. Some guys use a $99 fish finder, some use nothing, and some have $2,000 units on their kayak. Is one right or wrong? No, but $99 guy usually has an opinion about $2K guy. Notice I said the guy. On the water we often draw conclusions about people based on appearance. A pedal kayak with an 1198 Humminbird, all Daiwa Steez equipment and nice clothes means a guy is unapproachable and a rich snob to many. Is that fair? No. But it happens every day. It's almost a reverse segregation.

Chances are the guy in that "fancy kayak" doesn't look down on someone in a $200 kayak. Almost every single person I know that has a decked out kayak goes out of their way to be friendly. I have had them show me their graph and point exactly where to throw, during a tournament! I have had these same guys show me rock piles and road beds as well. They only ask I don't broadcast it.

It's prejudging. We've all heard don't judge a book by its cover. Do many of us live by it? No, not really. We have a desire to compartmentalize people and things. We want to profile with just a glimpse. Have you ever assumed someone was a certain gender or age while they drive in front of you? Maybe saying something like," Get out of the way grandpa!"? I have. And then I pass them and lo and behold it's a 16 year old, nervous out of their mind with Dad in the passenger seat. Suddenly I have more compassion and empathy for the situation and may even feel a little bad for being upset. Why? What changed? It was because I could relate.

Money can drive a wedge in anything. It's the leading cause of divorce, lost friendships and splitting communities. I'm not convinced we will ever get away from that but we can change how we act publicly.

Money appears to be the reason more people aren't pedaling and are still paddling. This doesn't fit 100% but it does apply more than it doesn't. If given the option to purchase a Hobie Quest for $800 or a Hobie Outback with Mirage drive for $800 (see, neutralizing the money), very few Quests would be sold. Versatility is important but when it costs more, each individual has to decide if it is worth it.

The natural reaction is to defend against your current position. My Facebook feed is filled with political commentary. The problem is, it isn't filled with Republicans or Democrats saying what they have done that is helping people, but rather what the opposite party is doing that they don't agree with. We make ourselves feel better by lowering the opposing party. Kayaking is no different.

Lack of money, jealousy and prejudging cause a lot of class warfare. Paddle kayakers tend to poke fun, tease and even badger pedal kayakers about how they aren't real kayakers. The arguments of whether they should even be allowed in tournaments comes up every year too. It's not fair is heard a lot. Pedal kayakers either tell them they are jealous, try to convince them why it's awesome or just keep their mouths shut. So ask the hard question and really examine yourself for the answer. If I GAVE you a brand new Hobie Pro Angler tomorrow, decked out with whatever electronics you liked, no strings attached, would you feel differently? Oh you don't like the PA? How about a Slayer Propel from Native? Think about it. There will be a few who really aren't interested but only a few. It's a money thing.

Pedal vs Paddle isn't really a debate over what is good for the sport, what the word "kayak" really means, or who is doing it right. I firmly believe it comes down to money at the root of it all. We make ourselves feel better about our current situation by trying to reduce the status of others. Pedals and paddles have their place. So do the people that own them. Be kind on the water. Don't judge. The newbies are watching and learning from our behavior. Is it something we want to continue in the future?

Full disclosure: I have owned pedal and paddle kayaks in the last year. Currently I do not own any pedal kayaks. There are definitely days where one can be better than the other based on conditions but there is never room for hating on someone because they kayak in a different style. Share the water. Make new friends. Be kind.

Now Available: A Frame Seat Kayak for Less Than $600

It finally happened. A frame seat standard with a kayak for $549.

Manufacturers of kayaks have been scrambling to add offerings of frame or lawn chair style seats the past few years. The growing market of 35-65 year olds wantss something for better back support and kayak makers want to oblige. The problem previously was the price point. For a lot of those entering the kayak market, the $500-$600 range seems to be the ceiling. You want to make sure you like it and not be too invested if you don't right? At least that's the thinking. If you can, please demo the kayak you're wanting to buy. Sometimes that is just not an option. When it's not, consumers compare options and make a decision based on that.

Bass Pro Shops introduced an all new version of the Ascend FS12T Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak. Complete with an adjustable frame seat, large center hatch, day hatch, paddle clips, and side rails for mounting accessories. At 31" wide, with six scuppers and flattened deck, the new FS12T should be an option for those looking to stand as well. It has a 350 pound weight capacity and weighs in at 77 pounds. 

So how does it compare with other entry level kayaks? Truth is I haven't paddled one yet. Demos should be available soon at select Bass Pro Shops and I hope to be able to get to try one out. Looking at the specs, it is heavier than the super popular Perception Pescador 12. At an equal price point, the 17 pound difference is about the only advantage for the Pescador versus the new Ascend. The Ascend is 3 inches wider, has access to under deck storage closer to the seat and has two above deck wells with bungees opposed to the one of the Pescador. It's hard to tell the speed difference without actually paddling them but that will be remedied soon. 

One of my kayaking friends, Josh, sent me a great idea to do a multi-kayak comparison of kayaks under $600. We are hoping to pull that off early in May and will be gathering feedback from shoppers looking to get their first kayak as well as experienced paddlers. 

I don't expect this will be the last entry level offering we see with a frame seat. It also points out that manufacturers are listening and watching. Will these new Ascend offerings replace kayaks like Jackson, Native, and Diablo? Doubtful. What it will do is give people another offering to choose from. Hopefully Hobie and Malibu will follow suit. How many Outbacks would Hobie sell if it had a seat similar to the PA at the same Outback price point? Answer: A LOT! How about a lock in frame seat in the Stealth or X-Factor for Malibu? Yep, they'd sell a ton too. The trick however will be finding a way to do it without inflating the price. 

The future is looking bright for kayak design. It's a great time to be in the sport!

Four Kayaks You Should Try Under $600

Let's face it. Not everyone has tons of coin to drop on kayaks. I'm one of those guys. I've horse traded my way to where I am and it's taken almost 11 years to do it. Don't think for a second that it's all glitz and glam here. For you, the guy slugging away 50 hours a week for 50% of what you're worth, I know that money in your pocket is never enough but the sweet release that fishing gives you keeps you going. I know what getting off the banks and on the lakes could do for you. With that first paddle stroke you'll know the sweet bliss of kayak fishing. I do however want to make sure you spend your hard earned money wisely. You may have this kayak for quite a while. You'll want maximum resale if you do need to sell it and a good fishing platform if you keep it.

So here is the deal. I've made a list of my four favorite kayaks that you can get into for less than $600. I've paddled every single one of these and owned a couple of them. They are good kayaks. Do they have lots of bells and whistles? No. Will they get you on the water? You bet. People can always find used kayaks but this is for those folks who want a brand new kayak. (Please also keep in mind you'll have to buy a paddle, life jacket and whistle in most states if you don't already have them.)

Without further ado, the four kayaks you should try under $600.

1. Perception Pescador 12 Angler- $499

"This stable, easy to paddle sit-on-top kayak comes fully rigged with fishing features needed to hit the water right away. Anglers love the versatile hull design that’s good for tracking on lakes but also maneuvers easily on rivers. The extra large cockpit opening provides plenty of room to work with your tackle and offers easy entry and exit."- from Perception

2. Heritage Angler 12- $499

"The Heritage Angler 12' Sit-On-Top Kayak is designed with a Scotty Spin-Cast vertical rod holder in front of the paddler and 2 recessed, flush-mount rod holders behind the seat to offer a variety of fishing positions. The kayak also features small and large storage compartments and a stern tank to hold your valuables while you fish, while the back band allows you to stand upright."- from

3. Old Town Vapor 10 Angler- $399

"Anglers looking for a compact kayak that can carry a load will love the Vapor 10 Angler. This kayak offers a stable, yet efficient ride. The large cockpit opening is designed for a comfortable yet reassuring ride. Equipped with a comfortable seat, flush mounted rod holders, and an anchor trolley system, the Vapor 10 Angler goes beyond the basics. Perfect for anglers and sportsmen, the Vapor 10 Angler is great for those just learning how to paddle."- from Old Town

4. Native Watercraft Redfish 12- $599

"Light, agile and comfortable, the Redfish 12 can easily get you and all your gear to the best fishing spots. Explore the areas denied to larger watercraft or enjoy the open water. The scuppers even let you quickly drain away water when paddling in the surf. Performance Promise - Stable ride - Sit-on-top convenience — easy on/off - Comfortable support for rear end and lower back - Seat self-drains and vents - Boat self-bails - Ideal for flat water and rivers" - from Native

Is there something on the list you think I missed? Let me know about it in the comments section or on Facebook. The link is in the top right hand corner.

Five Kayaks Everyone is Talking About

Most of the 2014 kayaks are starting to arrive in showrooms across the country, while a few are being shown as pictures only for now. Leaking photos, excitement about arrivals and new reviews are fueling the growing buzz for several kayaks. Energized by the Holiday Shopping Fever that is so rampant this time of year, kayaks, and these five especially, are being mentioned in almost every forum and Facebook group across the nation. Innovative designs are leading the excitement and for good reason. These are not listed in rank order. You'll have to decide for yourself which is tops on your list.

1. Native Slayer Propel

Since its first "accidental photo leak" earlier in the year, the Slayer Propel has been seen as a game changer by many. A narrower kayak than its brother the Mariner, the Slayer Propel offers the hull of the original Slayer (with some improvements) but the versatility and speed of the Mariner. Native still hasn't given the Slayer any real underdeck storage but I'm just one guy asking. The price: $2,399

2. Jackson Big Rig

At just over 13 feet long and 37 inches wide, the Big Rig from Jackson is exactly that. Designed for superior stand and fish capability, it should deliver. It's still listed as a prototype but is available for preorder now. The estimated weight capacity is between 550 and 600 pounds which should bode very well for larger paddlers who want to stand and fish. The price: $1499 w/o a rudder and $1699 with a rudder. 

3. Old Town Predator

In two models (13 and MX) the OT Predator has made a splash in the kayak market. Combining lots of sought after features, Old Town is causing people to look their way. A three position frame seat option, rod pod and six removable mounting plates bring comfort and customizability to a big water boat. The smaller MX removes the Rod Pod and is a slightly smaller boat for river running which makes a great fly casting option. The price: $1299 for the 13, $1199 for the MX.

4. Wilderness Systems Ride 115X

The 115X offers a new twist on a current favorite. The removable electronics bay in the front has been a huge hit with fishermen this year. Having a single box that all of your electronics fit on and in (for single transducer models) that are easily removed when needed has been a major draw. With an already proven stand and fish capability, this just adds another reason why people continue to buy Rides. The price: $1059. 

5. Feelfree Lure

The Lure has seemingly taken the lawn chair seating craze one step further. The leaked photos seem to have the Lure posed with a cushioned, lumbar cradling, four position seat that should rival any competitor on the market. Add in molded handles, tri-lock hatch and available rudder and Feelfree is swinging for the fences. Little in the way of thoughts and reviews are out yet on the Lure but it is burning up the internet with talk of what could be. The price: $1099 w/o the rudder, $1249 with the rudder.

Love the list? Hate the list? What should be on the list that's not? Let everyone know! 

Brand Wars

Though it has been happening for years, this summer has been the most vocal, heated and polarizing time I can remember in kayak fishing. At times it is just a gentle murmur on forums and at others it is an all out Brand War.

From the sidelines, I can see owners of a certain brand of kayak wanting to defend their purchase. I get that. You did some or a lot of research and came to the conclusion that based on your budget, needs, wants etc that this was the kayak for you. If someone says they don't like it or it is an inferior boat, tempers might flare, some words exchanged or you just decide maybe you won't converse with that person any longer. Attacks on other manufacturers however, seem way out of place. Segregating based on motor, pedal or paddle seems wrong. We need to appreciate each other, regardless of the kayak and method we propel it.

Each kayak on the market has goods and bads about it. Every. Single. One. Wilderness Owner, Hobie Owner, Native Owner, Jackson Owner, none of you (us) are exempt. You see, there is no perfect kayak for all people in all conditions. Some of the things I don't like about the Native Slayer, my buddy Michael loves. We fish differently and expect different things. Michael and I had a great discussion around the campfire about what our likes and dislikes in kayaks were. I wish everyone could have those conversations and be that open to other opinions.

This is not politics where you are typically Democrat or Republican. More than two kayak companies exist. We live in a time where innovations are made quickly. The public has a great voice in how kayaks are being designed.

We need to use our voice for good. We need to use our voice for inviting others to the sport. The gift of growth is seldom captured but we are in a blooming sport that has no ceiling in sight.

It is my opinion that people looking to get into the sport will be more hesitant to buy a kayak if they think they will be looked down on.

I helped a man this weekend pick a kayak. He was torn between two, one of which was several hundred dollars more expensive. I asked him what he felt comfortable with, talked about all the options out there and reminded him, at the end of the day, getting on the water is the important thing. Your kayak experience is what you make it. If you decide to upgrade later, great! If not, that's fine too. You cannot know what you really like and dislike until you've spent some time on the water. He left with the less expensive kayak, all the gear he needed and felt good about his purchase.

I may get a lot of hate mail and comments for writing this. It's ok. You're just proving my point.

To grow the sport we have to create an environment desirous to people outside of the sport. If you are a brand fanatic, support your brand with all your heart and soul. Please support others who choose a different brand though. Not everyone has to be in your club as long as they are in the sport.

To those of you out there already living this lifestyle of kayak fishing love for all, thank you. To those of you who are not, please stop the hate. Conversations are good, downtalking other brands is counterproductive.

Please help me in encouraging others to create an environment welcoming of all kayakers.

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Native Slayer Final Verdict

The 12 foot Native Slayer is one of the most talked about new kayaks the industry has seen. Being touted as “the perfect kayak”, “the next big thing” and “the best kayak on the market” it definitely piqued my curiosity. I wanted to see exactly what this boat could do.

After close to 70 hours on the water with the Slayer, I have become very familiar with the ins and outs of the boat. Lots of things are going on in this new endeavor for Native. Some are great, some need refinement.

The Good

At 12 feet long, 31 inches wide and 70 pounds, the Slayer is a boat that can be car topped, truck loaded or trailered. It offers stability in the water in both the high and low seat positions (which is about a 4 inch difference).

The front hatch cover is a major improvement over the initial offering. It can be used with scuppers in or out to offer itself as dry storage or a livewell of sorts to keep fish. Put the scuppers in and add ice to make it into a cooler. Through storms, huge swells and rain traveling down the highway, the front hatch cover held tight and kept the compartment dry. This was a huge surprise and a welcome one. The versatility of the front hatch is a great feature.

The scuppers throughout the boat are larger than your normal kayak scuppers. This helps drain water off the deck quickly when in wet situations. The Slayer paddles much drier than I thought it would. With a round nose without a ton of rocker, I expected more spray in rough conditions. What I found was quite the opposite. Water was pushed away and down the sides of the boat efficiently. I stayed dry and I like that, especially for winter river trips.

The deck is open for the most part with some pre-molded areas that are covered in a small dense foam. This quiets the deck and didn’t grab treble hooks near as readily as I feared. The front bungee clips seem out of place for my uses but I could see how a nice flybox could be secured by it.

The rear well is just a tad small on the Slayer 12. I could fit a BlackPak both directions but it was snug. There is not enough room to carry a 5 gallon bucket and a BlackPak. A little more width and 6 more inches of length in the rear well could have accomplished this.

The tag along wheel on the stern has been a point of argument since its introduction. I found myself using it more and more though I would only use it when the deck is clear and not loaded as the wheel is not wide enough to keep the kayak from tipping to one side or another if loaded.

Room for Improvement

The Slayer brags about lots of track to attach accessories to. While yes, there is lots of track on this boat, most of it is not accessible without a Phillips head screwdriver. The square hatch up front has inset track which is not usable without removal of both the hatch and the track. The track around the front hatch and rear tankwell are also bookended in by bungee clips that are screwed into place. This keeps you from being able to add or remove things on the fly without screwing and unscrewing hardware. This could be resolved with a different bungee attachment system. Creating a clip that would have a pinch to release function would fix almost all of the issues. The front square hatch just needs to be reworked. Tab screws or something would go a long way to improve this.

The biggest problem with the Slayer is no below deck storage. As a saltwater and river fisherman, I need to stow stuff below deck. I can’t do that at all in the Slayer. A rectangular access hatch in the front or back would fix this. So would closing in the front tank well. Give me something I can stow a rod or paddle below deck in and I’ll show you a kayak more people will buy.

The boat paddles well though it struggles more in wind which should be expected in a higher position with higher side walls. Where the seat is positioned heavier folks will be prone to getting water in the back well. Even with two scuppers back there, I was constantly pouring water out when I came back in. I weigh 175 and the boat has a 400 pound capacity. Be aware you may have to load balance on long trips to avoid the same thing.

The other glaring issue with the Slayer is the lack of paddle holders or rod holders. With the price point of this kayak you would think they could help you out with that. It seems they truly built this boat for a minimalist fly fisherman. For the record, paddle holders of some sort should come with a boat. Even if it’s just a bungee.

Final Thoughts

Overall the Slayer is a good boat for lots of applications. For the angler that day trips and doesn’t carry a lot of stuff, this will be a great boat. For Beyond The Breakers, I would pass. If you are looking for bay flats casting, the Slayer is also one to consider. Standing won’t be a problem for most people though it could take a few trips out to get your sea legs. It is easy to get in and out of and with the great Native seat, your back won’t mutiny after a day on the water. For around $1200, it is worth a good look. 

If you want to try one out and are in the Dallas area, call my friends at Mariner-Sails. They have demos available to paddle every week (weather allowing). 

Slayer Usable Track without screwdriver

Coastal Report and Slayer Observations

The danger of planning a trip to the coast months in advance is the unpredictability of the weather. The forecast continued to worsen as our trip neared and backup plans were formed. As we arrived Thursday with kayak seating for 5, we saw that an assault on the gulf wasn't going to happen. Winds, cross currents and angry seas greeted us as we emerged on top of the seawall. The 20 minute drive west was spent scheming and looking for other possibilities. A new kayaker was in our mix and I didn't want his first time out to be a bad one. We arrived at camp and setup, checking weather forecasts, tide charts and wind predictors. There was a window on Friday that seemed doable so we planned for that.

Thursday evening was spent procuring bait (shrimp and squid) and fishing in the surf out past Beach Access 25. Within two hours we had landed a 27" redfish, a huge stingray and myriad whiting and hardheads. I nicknamed the red Homer Simpson because he had a huge gut and a donut for a spot. He is pictured over to the side. The big shark rigs squealed only once and a 20 inch hardhead was the culprit. All of the big fish came on a St.Croix Mojo Bass medium heavy rod with 15 pound HALO P-Line Flouro.

Slayer Thoughts

Thursday night I ventured out into the canals and was nearly blown off the water. The 12 foot Native Slayer has a lot of surface area above the water and it showed. I could see well in the high seat position and almost as well in the low position. I decided I would use the front well with the added hatch as a fish box if I caught fish but sadly never got the chance to use it. I discovered that the square console with the track in front of the seat does not fit a GearTrac t-bolt without removing the hatch and loosening the track. That is disappointing. The side tracks have no issue but the sides of the recessed molding on the front square come up to high. I also quickly discovered that using a Park-N-Pole in the large scuppers is a bad idea. The scuppers are so large that it allows the boat to climb the pole in wind. It was tipping the boat. Make sure you install and anchor trolley. While you are installing things, know that this boat doesn't come with rod holders or a paddle clip or bungee to strap down a paddle. You might want to pick those up as well. The front well is greatly improved with the hatch cover. Even in the driving rain coming home it did not take on any water. That's at 70 MPH in a monsoon! To give you an idea of how bad the storm was, it peeled half of the vinyl decaling off of the kayak. Paddling the Slayer is fairly easy. I would recommend a rudder for turning. I didn't have one and it showed. The secondary stability in the boat takes a minute to get used to but you quickly figure out where the points of no return are.

The Slayer is very similar to the Jackson Coosa in some respects. The chair, the open deck layout and the room/ability to stand are qualities they both have. The huge difference to me is the Slayer's incomprehensible lack of storage below deck. A hatch could be made in the front well or floor that would allow you to stow rods and gear, especially in the salt. The only access you have is a 4" hatch with a bucket in it. Not going to cut it.

I do like the wheel on the back. While it is lousy in sand, moving it to and from places on grass and concrete is easy. It can be a touch tippy from side to side if you are loaded down so be aware to keep center when pulling it. The wheel also adds a nice assist for car toppers. Combine that with the handles at midships and most folks can put this on a car solo.

To be fair and thought out as much as possible, I will be spending a few more weeks fishing the Slayer in freshwater on lakes and rivers/creeks. I want to really put it through the paces and see what it can do.

Back to the fishing report.

John on his first paddle ever
Friday saw more fish being caught in the morning including but nothing noteworthy other than some additional  black drum. Friday afternoon came quickly and we wanted to get the kayaks wet. We found what we thought would be an out of the wind spot on the far west side of the island and launched. 20 yards into the bay we felt the wind pushing us every direction. Anchors wouldn't hold so we paddled a bit, fished very little and after an hour we could see our newly initiated kayaking brother was wearing out. We all headed in with smiles and high fives though the wind was still beastly.

We arrived back to unload and decided to go pound the waves again. This time it was significantly different than the morning run. We couldn't make the third gut because of the tides so we had to settle for second gut fishing. That made a lot of difference. In a short 90 minutes we landed four more black drum, three large gafftops, another stingray (much smaller) and a 35" red. Sprinkle in another 30 or so whiting and it was a great afternoon on the water. Exhausted we turned in fairly early and planned one last assault on the surf.

Saturday found only a pair of us in the water at daybreak and we fished the second gut again. One more slot red yielded to our fresh dead shrimp and several additional whiting. After a couple of hours we called it quits with the looming storm. We cleaned our fish and headed for the mainland. It took 6 hours to reach home, two hours more than normal because of the blistering rain and I had to pull the scupper plugs in the Slayer but the trip home was fairly uneventful. Cars were still moving slowly as we traveled through Houston but right after we hit 290 the bottom dropped out of the clouds and made the news. Between the hail, floods and swamped out cars it turns out looking at the weather paid some dividends. All in all a good trip with good friends and a new kayaker. Looking forward to the next trip already.

Side Note: I have had a few additional things come into play so the paddle reviews will be later this week. 

Summer is Over and Deal Season is Here!

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.

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.

Kayaks, both used and new are at the end of their cycle for the year. Dealers are reducing inventory for the winter months, 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.

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 then turn that money into a better deal for me by finding great deals. I scour the dealer sites for clearanced or blemished kayaks daily. I look on Craigslist, and Texas Fishing Forum for deals. If you are patient, you can find a great deal.

It is important to note I paddle/fish year round so my investments don't rot away in the garage waiting for summer. My experience on the water tells me what I like, don't like and helps me create new ways to rig up for fishing. When I am looking, I narrow my field to a handful of kayaks. I do homework on widths, lengths, capacities, storage, known issues and the like to be able to wait for that one sweet deal and then pounce when it arrives.

I went to look just now and here are a few that I found:

Austin Canoe and Kayak has this one right now-

Wilderness Systems Commander 140 Kayak - 2012 Closeout >
Description: Save big on this 2012 closeout color. With even more storage space, leg room, capacity, and speed than the Commander 120, the Wilderness Systems Commander 140 hybrid sit-on-top/sit-inside is the ultimate hobby machine.
MSRP: $1149.00  Our Price: $849.00  
SAVE: 26.1%

With $49 residential shipping, that is a really good deal! has this one:

Kayak - Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 Volt - Demo
Product #: 
Retail Price: 
Online Price: 

Craigslist has a Hobie Pro Angler listed for $2000 right now with lots of upgrades and extras. The ad reads:
2012 Hobie Pro Angler 14. Olive. Almost new condition. Comes with Hobie paddle, mirage drive with turbo fins, supernova kayak led lights and battery. 2000 .

Also a pretty good deal. 

There are several used kayaks on TKF and TFF for 50-70% of retail right now. 

As the weather cools, the deals will heat up. Be on the look out and you could get a great upgrade this winter too! 

If you have some deals you would like to include here please post them in the comments section. No charge at all, just post them up! You can also email me and I will post them for you or provide links.
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