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Kayak Flag, thoughts are they necessary?

Long time lurker, first time joining and posting.

I have a 12'3" SOT fishing kayak(Third Coast: Avalon 120). I have had it for over a year and have it rigged with a fishing crate in the back.

My kayak crate is orange and my paddle blades are orange(Bending Branches: Angler Classic).

One of my fishing hats is bright orange.

I fish mostly slow FL rivers and quiet mangroves in/around Tampa Bay, with an occasional long distance fishing trips to LA and AR.

I have yet to be in a situation where I thought that I needed a Kayak Flag. As a matter of fact, I wanted to keep as low a profile as possible, to the extent that I did not want to become a target via the flag.

I have seen videos of boats almost hitting or even bumping into kayaks with and without a flag.

What is the communities thoughts on flags?

Have they benefited anyone? e.g. I know that I wouldn't get struck by a boat because I have one...
Even with my flag up, some drunk @sshole still kept coming at me @ full speed...

Or even...as some stories that I heard while on a few bayous in SW LA, where shots are fired at the flag, as it is a Target for target practice.

I was eyeballin' a 'Bell' bicycle flag at a local box store. It was less than $5, about 48" long with a small pennant bright orange flag on it. I though t that this would be a cheap alternative to a YakAttack Flag, plus it is taller. However, that is what prompted this thought.

Any input would be appreciated.


  • Where I paddle in and around mangroves including many mangrove tunnels, I wouldn't want a four foot flag mast sticking up in the air

  • @JackL said:
    ![] Where I paddle in and around mangroves including many mangrove tunnels, I wouldn't want a four foot flag mast sticking up in the air

    Yes, I found that out the hard way.

    I forgot that I left my pole in the trolling position and went into a Mangrove tunnel while at the Upper Tampa Bay/Double Branch Bay area. Broke the tip clean off.

    However, it's the getting to and fro within the bay that has me wondering.

    As I said earlier, I have never felt the need to have one. However, I also carry a first aid kit, tow rope, and other safety equipment...better safe than sorry mentality.

    With that said. If I make a quick attach point to my crate, I could set up and take down a flag as needed.

    Other than low over-hangs, which I fully relate to, is there any drawback from a pennant style flag? I read, in another thread, that sometimes the flag acts like a sail, but I assumed it was a 'sock' type of flag. Also, some complain about the 'whipping/fluttering' sound. Does any of that transmit into the water? If so, then that clears up this whole mess and makes it a 'no' for a fishing kayak.

    Lastly, while crab fishing on some weirs in southern Louisiana, my buddy said that it is not uncommon to get shot at while in the marshes and that a flag would be 'targeted'. We heard gunshots, but nothing was close to us, and random gunfire is commonly heard down that way.

  • I like flags because when I am in court adter being run down, I do NOT want to hear the speedboat driver tell the judge, "well, your honor, he was in a dark green kayak close to the water wearing a cammo life vest in the middle of the lake, of course he was invisible.."
    Of course, when the wind come up, a flag is a definite liability.

  • edited June 2018

    About two weeks ago I had a scary experience. A power boat plowing through the water at a distance, bow way up in the air, on a collision course with me. I thought for sure they'd see me when they got closer but they stayed on course. When they were close enough for me to make out the tops of their heads over the bow, I was getting very concerned and started taking evasive action. I turned my boat perpendicular for maximum visibility, raised my paddle high in the air and began slowly waving it side to side.

    Very quickly after this, they changed course. Did they see me before that? I can't be sure, but I think not. Would a flag have helped? Maybe, but for me a flag would get in the way too much with rolling and rescue scenarios.

    Note that this was in perfectly clear weather, calm as you can imagine. My boat is yellow (mango), with a PFD the same colour. I was wearing a bright yellow hat at the time as well.

    I think the moral is that you need to be hyper-vigilant, aware, and ready to take action to get yourself out of the way. After all, YOU are the one that will end up seriously injured or dead, not them. If a flag is what it takes for you, go for it.

  • I think a drunk operator or inattentive operator will run you down flag or no flag. When a power boat is running with the bow high in the air, the operator's visibility is impaired unless he/she is standing up. The guy who hit the fishing boat a while back is a prime example as the three fisherman were yelling and waving and he still ran them down.

    I think a flag pole attached to a kayak can create some unintended consequences in case of a capsize or winds. If I had to use such a marker, I'd go for a helium filled balloon. But even that has drawbacks as it may cause curiosity and draw other boaters to you. Wearing very bright hunter's orange or lime green will make you more visible, as will adding reflective prism tape or shiny stickers to both sides of your paddle blades. But you still have to look around often, especially behind you.

    With power boats, I can generally figure out their intended trajectory and stay clear. In some areas, lake lice are ten times as dangerous and each time I've had to wave my paddle in a defensive action, it involved a jet ski.

  • The more boat traffic there is the better idea a flag is, tho it is not a guarantee of safety

  • For safety reasons, I think they are highly necessary. It is important for visibility even it it seems redundant,

  • Bottom line - you have to be proactive about your own safety. To me, that means not expecting anyone to see me - flag or no flag. Since there is no time that you can safely drop your situational awareness, and you must always be ready to perform collision avoidance, a flag is just excess cargo or appendage that inhibits good boat handling.

    I never put one of those things on a bicycle either....

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