Friday, June 5, 2015

Kayak Atttack

Open pod bay doors
Though I purchased a "Future Beach Trophy 126" kayak several years ago, it spent years at a time taking up space in my mom's garage when I lived in a small apartment. It hurt my ass and was a pain to take places on my car. Now I have my own garage to make a mess of and a vehicle that can transport the kayak without trying to lift it over my head. I've also since become a depraved, fly fishing addict or "passionate angler" as I like to put it. Stream trout are not enough when a good tug can be coaxed out of bass, panfish, pike and other warm water species.

I loved my float tube, but I can't get it to stop deflating. Its also slow and leaves something to be desired when my bare legs are dangling amongst the milfoil and muck of some of my local lakes.

So the kayak is once again seeing the light of day, though there is still the issue of pain from the under engineered seating. A cushion can be added but back support was the real issue. Anytime I spent over an hour in this thing, angry parts of my body would start screaming at me. Nevertheless, Memorial Day weekend sent me looking for bluegill at a local lake. And I found many of them, and many more crappie. The bite was so good that I kept at it all weekend, sometimes for 5 hours at a time. This is well beyond my 1 hour threshold... but they were still biting!!!

When all was said and done, my vacuum sealer got a hell of a work out, bagging nearly 100 fillets that will end up at some epic fish fry in the near future. This came at the price of a sore tail bone or something down there that lasted a week or so. (But they were biting!!!)

It was time to enter kayak upgrade land. A YouTube search will reveal that there is a well established culture of kayak fishermen that are into tweaking their modest (or not so modest) watercraft to be just a little better. Anchor trollies, fish finders, trolling motors, GPS, milk crates and bungie cords... plenty of fuel for a full on geek out. And I love to geek out. But, the vast majority of these tweeks do not consider the fly fisherman. Rod holders and tubes sticking out of those milk crates make the kayaker look like an FCC agent trying to triangulate the location of a pirate radio station. One errant back cast and you'd be toast.

I filtered the upgrades down to what matters the most: the comfort of my back, and its sidekick: my ass. But while waiting for that stuff to be delivered, I couldn't help but defile the hull of my kayak a pair of self tapping screws and a "zig-zag anchor cleat" which, I learned, is that thing you can weave a rope though to hold it. I don't have an anchor yet, but in the lake I've been fishing, there a a lot of partially submerged logs along the shore, which also seemed to be the place where the crappie were hanging out. With any amount of wind or current, I could take a rope and tie myself to one of these logs to stay put. Having an anchor cleat allows me to lengthen or shorten the rope so I can drop into a casting position like rock climber might repel down a cliff face, sort of.

Another quick cheap fix I found online was using pipe insulation around the cockpit. This dampens the noise made by your paddle, for example, when it bumps against the kayak. Its also makes it more comfortable to lean your legs against.

When my new kayak seat arrived, I was like Eddie Rivard: "so happy". The seat is called the "Manta Ray" from Yak Gear. Being that I have a "sit inside" kayak, I need to add a couple of pad eyes to the hull so I could install the forward connecting straps. Installation was pretty breezy. After drilling in my new pad eyes, it was only a matter of clipping the new seat on and making adjustments to strap lengths.

Additionally, I've added a taco style paddle clip that allows me to place my leashed paddle somewhere out of the way, though in practice I've noticed that I rarely use it. Having the paddle on my lap, though it seems in the way, allows me to make minute adjustments in the position of my kayak while I'm fishing. This is only relevant in still water and calm winds, where just dipping the paddle into the water a few inches and moving it slightly makes a difference.

I've not yet put the new seat to a 5 hour test, though after an hour or two the difference is pretty encouraging. This is especially noticeable when I stand up at the dock at the end of the night. There is a noticeable lack of cryogenic-level atrophy.

Kayak fly fishing will be a big thing for me this summer. As for the kayak upgrades, my next project will probably be an anchor trolley. I would also like a dolly to wheel the kayak over longer distances if parking is a ways away from the put in. Transporting the kayak using a proper roof rack would be nice too. I'll have to buy new rails and cross bars for my Jeep though...
Those Hobie Mirage kayaks with the pedal drive look pretty sweet...
Lets not forget those Old Town Predators with the pedal controlled, integrated Minn Kota trolling motors....

Nice bass and comfortable ass


  1. Nice, simple suggestions for upgrading a 'yak. I might need to invest in some pipe insulation, and more time in the kayak.

  2. I'm making a new post dedicated to tasty and healthy recipes made off fish. I have some ideas on that topic and decided to write a new topic at the blog of Writers Per Hour. There are so many interesting recipes all over the web that it is sometimes difficult to choose the best.

  3. Ive got the same yak and my back kills me thanks for the info on the back rest