By Mike Schmitz ~
When I wanted to start fishing out of a kayak, I did what most people do. I found a kayak that seemed like a good deal, looked cool and I bought it. That is the biggest mistake of my kayak angling career and all to often, everyone else’s.
There is much more to choosing the right boat than something that looks cool and is within your budget or what other people choose as their favorite. If you buy the wrong yak for you, you’ll regret it and be trying to sell it soon after your purchase, usually at a loss. Don’t be that guy.
There are several big manufacturers out there that make great kayaks, but not all kayaks are designed to fish from even though it may be possible. When selecting the right kayak for you, consider the application first. For angling kayaks, there are many factors in the basic design that need to be addressed before looking at other areas.
The type of water that you will be fishing is the first consideration. Offshore fishing versus small-enclosed bodies of water is a huge difference just as moving waters like rivers and streams are different than a large lake. Different hulls are designed for different purposes and each has its specific application with some being able to crossover better than others. Shorter, narrower hulls are designed for maneuverability where as longer, wider hulls provide better tracking and stability.
Once you’ve settled on the appropriate hull design, it’s time to address your other options such as creature comforts, seating, consoles, payload capacity, dry versus wet storage, sit on top, sit in or hybrid styles and the list goes on and on.
When it came time to decide on which was the best kayak for me, I had to weigh in all of these factors in addition to which one worked best for my disability. Did I want the security of a sit in style kayak or the openness and flexibility of a sit on top? Would a small, lightweight kayak be better for me over a larger and heavier one? How much storage would I need and would I be able to access it while on the water? Which seat would offer the best stability for me while still being comfortable? Would I be able to reach the rod holders while seated, could I turn to access the rear of the kayak and if something happened and I fell out, could I safely reenter the kayak from the water? These are all important questions to consider when investing in a kayak.
After I narrowed it down to a few different kayaks, it was time to test the waters. This is the most important piece of advice when choosing your next kayak. Paddle, paddle, paddle! All of the greatest features and designs in the world don’t mean a thing unless they’re put together in a configuration that works for you.
Once you have an idea of what you want, paddle as many different kayaks as you can and make sure you know what works for you the best. Most dealers will be happy for you to demo a few boats and you can usually find friendly members of the kayaking community that would be happy to let you try theirs. This option is invaluable and can quickly help you pick which one is right for you as well as which one is not.
After paddling different makes and models, I chose the NuCanoe Pursuit for myself and haven’t looked back since. At 13.5 feet long and 35 inches wide, the Pursuit is incredibly stable, fast and can be paddled for long distances with little effort. It is also trolling motor ready should that be a desired option in my future. It turns on a dime, tracks straight and glides like a dream.
The wide open deck is a blank canvas and leaves a plethora of options when it comes to rigging and setting things up that fit me, not a preconceived design created by an engineer that has different needs than I do. In addition to a crate space where tackle and rods can be stored behind the seat, there is also a crate storage space in front of the seat. Another great feature is the integrated rod tubes that allow me to carry up to four rods right at my fingertips at all times making it very handy to quickly grab the rod I need when I need it in addition to two flush mounted rod holders located just behind the seat.
Other great features of the NuCanoe Pursuit include front and rear gear storage vaults, over 175″ of Freedom track that allows me to easily attach an infinite number of accessories as well as locate the multi height seat where I need it and integrated side handles and paddle holsters on each side of the hull. Oh, and did I mention that the seat can swivel a full 360 degrees enabling me to easily spin around and reach anything that I need and how it makes it easier for me to get in and out of the Pursuit whether it be on land, a trailer or in the water? An excellent feature for an individual with a disability that is a rare find!
Watch my walk through video NuCanoe Pursuit: Why I Chose it and Love it that demonstrates the features of this kayak that meet my specific needs.
Bottom line, there are a lot of different brands of kayaks out there and even more individual models. Most are great yaks and fit a multitude of uses and needs. What it all boils down to is which model best suits your needs and can be configured into a manner that allows you to safely and comfortably enjoy time on the water whether it be fishing, touring or just splashing about. For me, it was the NuCanoe Pursuit because of its stability, flexibility and ability to be set up exactly the way I needed it to be. Everything I could possibly ask for and the ultimate fishing kayak!
Mike Schmitz is an avid fisherman and kayaker and is on the National Pro Staff for NuCanoe. You can learn more about Mike from his video Freedom: The Mike Schmitz Story. Checkout Mike’s Facebook group Disabled Kayaking Enthusiasts.