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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking at purchasing a kayak and need some advice. I want a single person kayak that can fit my gear on it. Ideally, I would like to fit a backpack or rucksack on it, couple of fishing poles, small cooler, being able to stand on it would be nice. I would like to go mostly on lakes, rivers, the sound, and once in a great while in the surf. Am I talking about two different kayaks or what would you recommend? I like fly fishing, and saltwater fishing, but am starting to get into some bass fishing.

Thanks for the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
One more thing I left off was that I would like decent speed and maneuverability. I would like to be able to maneuver rivers occasionally and sight see on longer distances in lakes, the sound, etc. I looked briefly at the Tarpon 140 and 160 online, and am still debating which one suits my needs best. Is there any place around Charlotte that someone could recommend me to so I could look in person at some of my options?
 

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There is a nice outfitter off of I-77 north of Charlotte in Cornelius. If you take I-77 north to Exit 28, turn right heading east, then right onto US21 heading south, it'll be coming up on your left hand side in about a mile. It's between a veterinary clinic and Freeman Audio's place, same parking access as Freeman Audio. Can't remember the name of it but they have MANY kayak's there, and I've been considering the one with the bicycle style pedal system...
 

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Provision Company has a Charlotte location -- Great Outdoor Provision Co. - Outdoor Clothing and Gear - Charlotte, NC. They carry Hobie, Ocean Kayak, Liquid Logic, and Hurricane boats. They ought to have some demo events coming up, you can test-drive some of their boats.

The load you describe is fairly typical for sit-on-top kayak fishing. Keep an eye on the weight rating of the boats your looking at -- you don't want your typical gear load to push you right to that limit.

For stand-ability, the boat historically mentioned first (from what I've seen) has been the Heritage Redfish (which is an angler version of their Marquesa). The newcomer on the block, though, has a whole lot of good press -- the "Ultimate" from Native Watercraft. It's a canoe-kayak hybrid, you need to check it out during your research phase -- Welcome to Native Watercraft!

Good luck -- there are a whole lot of choices out there. The initial research phase is a lot of fun, but it can get frustrating. I recommend two things, especially for buying your first boat. First, "good enough" is good enough. If you come down to three choices that you're really agonizing over one versus the other, it probably doesn't matter, they're probably all three good enough for the first boat. Second, decide as soon as possible (now if you can) to not regret the decision, no second-guessing. You're better off fishing in any of those three "good-enough" chocies than you would be sitting at home in front of the computer staring at them side-by-side, still trying to make up your mind.

Lefty
 
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Hey Reelnemin - welcome to the site. There's a handful of kayakers out here - we're not organized into a very powerful lobby yet, but we're growing...

First thing I would recommend is going out to Kayak Fishing Stuff for some research. Its the best information site I've found.

The hottest new boat for the freshwater fishing you're talking about is the Native Ultimate - its a hybrid between canoe and kayak. The seat gets raves, easily stand and pole, stores plenty of gear, and still fast/maneuverable. Not exactly "made for surf" since its not self-bailing, but its got some interesting options like partial skirts.

Depending on your center of gravity, you might get away with standing on some of the other stable kayaks out there. I've got the Heritage Redfish/Marquesa - at 6'4" I can stand in it but I can't do much once I'm up - not stable enough to make any kind of normal cast or to pole with any confidence. Sitting back down is a scary task. T140 will be about the same, T160 a bit less stable. I tried out the T160 and found it pretty wet at my weight (250ish). Definitely wetter than the Heritage.

Pedal vs Paddle is a good topic for discussion. The Hobie Mirage Drive is awesome. Super efficient (=fast) and hands-free for fishing. Has some drawbacks in very shallow water (rivers, weeds). Also doesn't paint quite the same picture for "sight see on longer distances in lakes, the sound, etc"... There's nothing quite as pretty as a kayak slicing through flat water with a paddle.

Glad to answer any specific questions you've got - feel free to post or PM.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the help. I spent some time looking at the Hobie kayaks, and like what I see. I like the idea of having feet pedals and being able to remove them if I would like to just paddle. I was thinking about a Hobie in the 12 ft. range. What do you think of the Hobie fishing kayak line?
 

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Hobies are awesome boats. Everybody that has one loves it and wouldn't trade. I suspect you could stand in the Outback - looks like a very wide & stable platform. I pedaled the Adventure (16') at a demo and it was a rocket, but a little tippy (aka "limited initial stability"). I like the Revolution best - at 13' 5" seems to have the best mix of length (=speed) and stability.

The only downside with Hobie is price, but you're paying for the Mirage drive pedal technology and it comes as a full package (paddle, pfd, gear bag, etc...). Doesn't matter how much you want to pay somebody else, you won't get a Mirage drive.

Ha - beat Lefty to the punch that time!
 

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The folks that have them seem to like them a lot. They do seem to have an adverse effect on your ability to spell "pedal", though -- I really don't think as many people enjoy peddling them as enjoy pedaling them.

When I was shopping, I decided not to invest the additional bucks on my first yak. I mostly wanted to reduce the cost-of-entry. Because I have since made up that difference in cost :D I might give it more thought for my next yak, but I'm still not being attacked by that monkey, so that'll wait.

You mentioned that you're interested in speed and maneuverability. I've heard Hobie owners rave about their speed, especially with the "turbo fin" upgrade. Haven't heard any of them complain about maneuverability. I also haven't heard any mention of standing in them.

And for whatever reason, I haven't run into any of them on the water down here. That's not necessarily saying TOO much...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Okay, so I realized the Hobie with pedals is not worth the extra money to me. It is between two kayaks models and sizes. I like the extra speed, the fact that it is a local NC company, weight limit, and lifetime warranty of the Liquid Logic Manta Ray 14 footers. I like the Hobie Fisherman package Quest model. I like that the Hobie has a good name in the Fishing Kayak community, I like the accessory options, and add-ons like the internal storage bin that is within arms reach. I am leaning towards getting a 14 footer compared to the 12 footer, because of its speed and tracking. I think the 14 footer will be excellent in the ocean, sound, and lakes. It sounds like it will be solid in wide rivers, and class 1 and 2 rapids. I think it will be "good enough" in class 2 and 3 rapids, and narrower rivers. I was also looking at getting the towing package pole extender for about $100 that will allow me to tow my kayaks in the bed of my truck. I am hoping that you can give me some good feedback on which one to choose; size, model, and if you know of a better way to tow the "yaks" just let me know. If I do get a 14 footer do you recommend a woman getting a 14 footer as well or is it too much of a kayak? Thanks again for all of your help! I look forward to possibly fishing with some of you in the future.
 

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I like your logic on 14 vs 12.

The 14' is 7 lbs heavier than the 12' - may be a factor for her on dry land. Its also 3" narrower. This might make paddling a little easier - she won't have to reach so far outside of a natural paddling arc and might avoid banging her hands against the side handles (a problem my wife & kids had on a different yak). It will also make it a bit less stable feeling - can't say how much. 14 will track better & go faster, but the Manta is well known as a great tracking boat anyway, even at shorter lengths.

For the bed extender, take a look at Harbor Freight - Truck Bed Extender for 39.99. sometimes on sale for 19.99. Have seen it recommended on other yak boards. Double check the specs to see that your getting enough extension. If it'll hold 2x4s, it'll hold plastic kayaks...
 

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My neighbor carries a 16' canoe in the bed of his pickup using one of those extenders. But yeah, check out the dimensions and make sure it'll give you the height and length you'll need.

I've got a 12' Manta and have never felt at a loss for storage or accessories.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay, I just got back from seeing a guy that carried 5 14 ft. + kayaks using the bed extender that I was thinking about getting, and then saw a rail kit being used on a SUV. I think I am going to get the rail clip since I can switch it between vehicles by just buying different clips. Lefty have you taken the 12 ft. to the ocean? Do you think the 14 ft. would hold me back on coves and rivers or would it be "good enough" like you said before as the rule to go by. I think I like the extra speed and manageability in the ocean of the 14 footer, and the price is not that big of a difference. Also, what do you guys recommend as a fish finder I am thinking about getting one put on one of the kayaks.

Thanks.
 

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Fish finder: hard to argue with the Humminbird Pirhana series - narrow so it fits well on the console (and low cost!). Lefty's got one of those. Some of the Eagle's are similar-sized and similar-priced. Personally I like the looks of the Pirhana better - better color, more solid looking. To each his own.

I haven't put one on the kayak yet - was kind of waiting to see whether this was my permanent yak or if I would invest in something a little higher-end. I missed it a little over the winter - wanted to look for suspended fish to troll through or fish vertically. In the spring it hasn't been a big deal - mostly fishing visible shallow structure or going to the coast and finding the deeper pools in the tidal cuts. Easy enough to find those kind of spots without a finder. Once we get into the summer and need to find deeper, hidden structure I'll be wanting it bad.

I've been drooling over the Humminbird 535. I think its overkill and it won't fit as well between the legs without some kind of extension mount, but it would be a little different.
 

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Reel'n,
I've fished my twelve-footer several times in inshore coastal areas, but always inside either a jetty or a barrier island. It's done fine in the inshore chop, but I've never had it "outside". On the tourney days down with Cape Fear Kayaks, you'll generally see some of all three sizes -- maybe somewhat higher concentration of 14's and 16's than 12's, but I don't recall that I've ever been paddling the only 12' boat down there....

I've never paddled with anyone who complained that their 14-footer was difficult to navigate in the narrow spots. If that concern is making you consider the 12' model over the 14, then I'd probably recommend leaning toward the 14.

Hope it helps
lefty
 

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WEST MARINE is having a big sale this week on fishing kayaks, I saw it in their flyer. I know nothing about them but you can look into it.
 

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Hm... I sure don't want to tell anybody they have to do it my way... So let me just explain some of my decision-making process, in that regard. Anyone reading may choose to do it however they'd like.

In my case, I don't remember the first time I ever bought a soft drink. I don't remember how I decided whether to try coke or pepsi first. I do seem to recall some of my friends recommending that I give Mountain Dew a try, at some elementary-grade age. Today, though, when faced with a new soft drink, if I choose to try it, I won't have a problem waving good-bye to the 75 cents (or $2.50 if in a restaurant) I invested in the experiment.

When I bought my kayak, I did not have any experience upon which to base a preference of coke versus pepsi. And, in my case, $700 was more than I wanted to invest in an arbitrary experiment. If I didn't like my choice, I wasn't about to stick another $700 into the vending machine to try another one. I don't know how high the resale value is -- you may only lose $50 to $200 if you turn around and sell your yak after two outings... But in my case, I wanted to invest a little more effort up front, to increase my confidence that I'd be happy with my choice.

That investment came in the form of talking to people who had gone before me. I did not stop at "which one did you get", although that was part of it. I wanted to know the details -- why did you pick this one or that one? A lot of people choose the Hobies for the pedal drive -- I decided that was not important to me, so I was not going to spend extra money on it. That does not make it unimportant to the guy who bought it -- he made his decision, I made mine.

Ultimately, though, it is indeed your decision. If you like the Kingfisher, go for it! If you like the one that BJ's sells (don't remember what it is, but it's inexpensive as well), go for it! I certainly will not tell you that you chose poorly. If you use it for ten years and it never disappoints you, then you have no reason to regret that decision. I would encourage you to try to test-drive them ahead of time -- I really doubt that BJs will have a demo day, I have no idea whether West Marine has something set up to allow test-drives. If you can find someone who already has one, by all means, ask them for a test-drive. If you want to test-drive my Manta, drop me a PM. But personally, I still think it's wise to do a certain amount of research about what other peoples' experience has taught them, and consider that information in light of your own needs, your own experience, and your own preferences.
 
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My process: I did my research online and in local stores. Asked lots of questions, got lots of feedback, from lots of folks. Liked what I read about the Manta 14' best, but no availability even for a test drive. Test drove a few others. Stumbled across a great deal on a Heritage 14' at a truckload sale. Slightly different characteristics from the Manta but similar overall "score" in my own book. "Immediately available" trumped "first choice" (and did I mention the great deal?). Was fishing out of it the next day.

About the closest I'll come to agreeing with Rob is that you don't have to taste every soft drink on the planet to find one you like. I spent most of July and August last year doing research and shopping. If I had to do it over, I might have bought something sooner and not spent so much time thinking about it. There were several I came across that I liked, but I always thought there might be one that I would like more, given the chance. Honestly I don't think there's a huge amount of difference brand-to-brand among the Sit-on-tops in the average price range ($750-$1000). Some are a slightly more keeled or rockered than others. Some have higher or lower capacity than others. Some are slightly more maneuverable. They all float. They all paddle. They all have tankwells. They all have internal storage. They all weigh about the same. In the end I like mine fine, and I did save a bundle, but I'm no happier than I would have been with any of the other 5 or 6 that rated near the top of my list.

There is a huge difference retailer to retailer, and service after the sale is worth something. Even discounts on future purchases - the kayak, paddle & pfd won't be the last thing you buy and you might need some help/service one day. All the kayak people I've come across are good folks and I've been glad for the chance to interact with them. Can't say the same about the <insert any mass-market retailer name> employees I've come across in the last 8 months. (opinion subject to change - I'm in a service situation right now...time will tell)

One mistake I did make was to buy a small kayak for my kids at the same time. Price was too good to pass up and it made me lose some sensibility. My girls are well on their way to fully grown, and even though it had enough floating capacity for them, it wasn't a pleasant cruising boat. Should have invested a little more in something full-sized that I could also use to take full-sized friends along when the kids aren't interested. Lesson learned, and hopefully passed on.

I say ask all the questions you want, you may come across a point that you hadn't considered which makes a big difference toward your decision. Just don't get caught up in paralysis-by-analysis - the fish are waiting...
 

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Ultimately we all buy the products we like, for whatever reason. I think hearing real world experiences from other consumers is a positive. That is one of the goals of the Reviews section, to share consumer experiences, good or bad with different products. My process is to do research online, seek out reviews and Consumer Reports ratings when available, then I check products out at retailers and then make a decision. It is a combination of research, reviews and personal gut. :)
 
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