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Should I Include Speed in my Kayak Selection Checklist?
Just because you’re in an uncomfortable place does not mean you have to be uncomfortable.
Jeff Suber Kayak fishermen, when you hear someone say, “That’s the fastest kayak out there”, what do you think about? Do you think: "I’m in a kayak, I’m going no where fast." "I’m in no hurry." "I’m all about stability." I paddle the Tarpon 160, because I'm big, its big, and its fast. Well how about this, if a kayak is fast, then it must be easier to paddle than a slow kayak. And by easy I mean it requires less work. Work equals calories burned, energy sapped, exhaustion kicking in, and your getting ready to bonk (depleted of all energy). So ask yourself do you want to have enough energy to fish a full day, and paddle back with ease, or do you want to fish a half day because you can barely paddle your slow stable kayak back to the Hill (Boat Ramp).
Well of course you want to enjoy a full day of fishing, and that can be 4 hours or 8 hours or 12 hours. But you want to be in a kayak that is comfortable, stable, and fast. Fast, means that the kayak is more aerodynamic and has less friction area in contact with the water. This means you can use less energy to paddle one mile that it would require you to paddle your stable, comfortable, slow kayak. Before you lift that flag protesting ‘I’m not looking for speed”, think about the fact that you get more fun per hour out of a fast kayak than a slow one. Just because it can be paddled 6 mph hour does not mean you have to paddle it 6 mph. You can paddle it 4 mph with the same energy your using paddling your slow stable kayak 3 mph. You can paddle it 3 mph with even less energy than it took to paddle the slow kayak.
Fast kayaks are also a lot more comfortable to paddle into the wind, and most of the time the hill is located in the exact same location the wind is coming from. So in the future, when making your kayak selection check list out, include speed in there. Because even if your not going to paddle fast, it may be that you want to paddle long, and not worry about bonking before you get to the hill.
Find your balance between stability and speed, and most important should be comfort. Because there is no reason to have enough energy to be in a fast stable kayak all day long if your not comfortable. So next time you make it out to demo day, find a kayak your comfortable in, make sure its stable, then seek out the one you can paddle the length of time you plan on being on the water. It may be that it comes in three lengths and one of those is the one that will fit you need. If your fishing a farm pond then you will be very happy in a 12 foot kayak, but if your fishing the banks of the Gulf of Mexico, then you might want to look at the 14 or 16 foot model. Whatever you decide on, try it, before you buy it.