Kayak Angling From a Woman’s Perspective….Pt.1 “Choosing the Proper Kayak With Safety In Mind.”
Florida has such an abundance of stunning rivers, bays, ponds, lakes and springs to explore and fish via paddle craft. Angling by paddle or pedal craft is truly advantageous for many reasons, primarily leaving a zero human footprint on our fragile ecosystem. Also, for angling purposes, paddling allows us to get into skinny water and areas where fish love to congregate with ease and stealth. Being a female kayak angler has definitely been a challenge in many ways. I would like to address some of the main problems we encounter, and provide options and advice to my fellow lady paddlers. Hopefully this will give you the confidence to get out and explore without any apprehension. I want to help build confidence in yourself and your capabilities, for with confidence comes empowerment!
As a female paddler and avid angler, we face a few more challenges as opposed to our male counterparts. We face obstacles such as loading, launching, choosing the proper kayak and gear, not to mention the myriad of accessories that the market is saturated with. We oftentimes get lost in the pretty colors and enticing prices of lower end kayaks from “box stores,” and I must say, TRY NOT TO FALL INTO THE TRAP!!!
When choosing the proper vessel for your needs, you must first consider the areas you’ll be fishing. Whether it’s freshwater, saltwater, lagoons, rivers, or ponds, you must think about your comfort, how long you plan to be out, as well as if there is any sort of current, tides, wind, etc. This will help you determine which “style” of paddle craft would work best for you. If you plan to go long distances and across boat channels, you may want to consider a faster paddling craft, or even a pedal style craft to get you moving through those high traffic areas without getting pushed around by the current and boat traffic.
Also, an important aspect you must consider about the area you are planning to explore, you must ask yourself; is there a boat launch? Is it a “primitive launch?” Do you have to park far away from your launch site? How deep is the water? This is why loading and launching capabilities must be highly considered. The 8-foot pretty pink kayak on sale in your face in the sporting goods section of the store is certainly enticing, however, you are sacrificing many important things you’ll need to be a successful kayak angler, and in turn, can spend even more money to outfit that store-bought sale kayak to suit your fishing needs.
When selecting the proper kayak for yourself, you must also consider how you will be transporting your kayak; whether it’s roof-top, the back of a truck, or a trailer, there are many options to help us nowadays with this conundrum. Keep in mind the weight, width, and length of your paddle craft. There are many products available to aid us, such as particular kayaks that come with a wheel in the keel. Also, there’s hoists, boat rollers, roof top carriers, kayak carrier wheels, as well as hitch extenders that will aid in giving you your independence to transport, load and launch your own kayak. USE THEM INSTEAD OF A NEIGHBOR OR HUSBAND!! (And don’t hesitate to call us for help!)
Next, I feel that seating is very important when choosing the right fishing kayak for yourself. Many of us have back problems, neck problems, shoulder issues, or even a weight limit for lifting. Keep these things in mind when shopping around. However, there is an over-abundance of appealing seats that appear to look, “comfortable,” that may or may not take a toll on you after a few hours. FeelFree Kayaks offer an array of high back seats, as well as the, “Gravity Seat,” that feels like you are sitting on your couch. I admit, I’ve become a bit spoiled with said seats, for I can be comfortable fishing and paddling for many hours on these kayaks without any sort of pain. Make sure you try it before you buy it! What appears to look comfortable, may not be the case when you’re actually sitting on it in the water. I highly advise to demo your paddle craft in a similar environment to that in which you will be paddling before making any decision to take out your wallet! Note: You can’t choose a proper kayak by sitting in a pool!
Also, keep safety at the top of your mind when choosing your water chariot; Have you ever fallen out of a kayak? If not, why not? Also ask yourself, “is it stable?” Are you capable of re-entering it or flipping it? It is mandatory that you have the ability to get into your kayak in the event you fall in. It is imperative that you be familiarized with the tecnique of self-rescue in the event of an accident. We offer classes for correct paddling and self-rescue, and I highly reccomend taking the class if you plan to be out on the water…period! Knowing what to do, and how to do it, also creates a sense of ease and confidence when you are out doing what you love!
In conclusion, chosing the right kayak to suit your needs can be overwhelming. There’s so many variables to consider, however, I hope these tips can help you refrain from an impulse purchase and think before you buy. Kayaks are investments, they can provide you an epic experience on the water every time, as long as you keep these points in mind when shopping around. Definitely don’t get a kayak off the internet! Support Local shops and your family owned businesses. Your community will benefit from it tremendously! Lastly, don’t forget we do free demos of kayaks, so definitely take advantage of it!
By Natalie Manrique