ok, so I am new to all this, love the site and its content!
I am a big man (6’5, 400) and want to get into paddling. This boat seems to have everything I want and need. I probably won’t really fish much, it would be more for river/lake exploration and overnight camping. I will have an opportunity to run the green river/desolation canyon next year. So I guess I have 2 questions…1, what are your opinions on the fish and dive and can SOT’s handle class 3 rapids on a river? Any and all input is appreciated.
ok, so I am new to all this, love the site and its content!
The FnD is a good craft. Its not
the fastest or most maneuverable kayak around and can be sluggish to paddle as its fairly wide. But, at your weight, it may be your only option for a kayak. It has the capacity to carry you and your gear, within limits. Typically, kayaks like the FnD and most SOT’s are not rated for above class II waters. It will handle some Class III, but not easily if there is a lot of turning and tight quarters. The FnD has great primary stability…it feels very stable when you get in it and paddle it. But, its secondary stability is not as good…O.K. for most waters, but it will flip in fast water. It’ll work better in open runs. Even then, the boat is not built for that type of activity.
You may also want to look at canoes. Canoes have much better capacity limits, carry more gear, and, outfitted properly, can handle class III waters. Big D who also posts here may have other thoughts on kayaks and rivers with rapids rated above II.
Good choice with a couple suggestions
First suggestion - “I’m new at this” and “Class III water” aren’t phrases I generally like to see put together. Don’t go it alone. New paddlers who tackle Class III water are asking for trouble. That trouble sometimes ends in a recovery effort (as opposed to a rescue effort). Get some on-water experience and training. River currents, especially swirly currents of rapids, are not something you should take on by intuition. Some of the things you have to do to keep the people side up are counter-intuitive. Have people experienced with and prepared for rescue along. Those guys can keep an outing fun and turn a life-or-death situation into something that gets you ribbed about by your buddies around a campfire.
Second suggestion - Check that the scuppers (the holes that run through the deck down to the bottom) are recessed in a tracking channel. With your weight, inexperience at reading water, low water conditions across the country right now, and exposed scuppers - you’ll poke holes in the scuppers. The ridges catch on river ledges and after a few times, you’ve got a leak. It’s not the end of the world. But it IS a pain in the neck.
Both of these are given without having seen a recent picture of the F-n-D hull or knowing your river. Take with a grain of salt.
In addition to the F-n-D, you may wish to consider OK’s Drifter. The Navigator may also be suitable. All are large SOT’s with fishing pedigrees. However, the pedigrees are mostly from coastal saltwater fishing. What makes for a good saltwater fishing kayak doesn’t necessarily equate to a good river fishing kayak.
The Wilderness Systems Tarpon and the Liquid Logic Manta Ray are kind of the top dogs in the river fishing SOT world. I don’t know anything about either of their carrying capacities. You’ll have to check in to their web sites. At 400#, you’re going to need a larger craft to distribute that weight.
- Big D
I’ve a friend with a Navigator.
He’s paddled it for 5 years or so (actually, the second, Cobra replaced the first because of problems related to a manufacturing flaw after they showed up almost 4 years later). His take is that, while its stable, its not good on secondary stability and he wouldn’t recommend it as a first kayak. He’s at 230 lbs.
Of course, now he has a specially designed wooden kayak 16 ft long that has twitchy primary stability, but is like glue when pushed to its design limits. It was designed for rivers and overnight fishing trips.
Big D, I appreciate your concern about the rapids. I of course would not do the river by myself, I would be with some seasoned paddlers. Also, I will certainly become proficient with my boat before I attempt it.
I have looked at all the manufactures, and the find has the highest cap. Although I won’t be doing any real fishing, I have noticed that all of the pics of big guys paddling, most have been fishing or in fishing yaks.
I have yak’d the nanthala in a duckie, but I don’t think it got above a class 2. but all in all, I am new at this.
All the boats he listed are high on initial stability and low on secondary stability. That’s an awful common characteristic of recreation kayaks.
However, for a fishing kayak, high initial stability is a useful characteristic. Relying on secondary stability when both your hands are busy fighting a fish and you haven’t even got a paddle in your hand is not real helpful. I tried fishing from a WW kayak. I sold it to buy something with stronger initial stability for that very reason. Remember that a lot of kayak fishermen are fishermen first and use kayaks as just another tool to get them to where the fish are.
- Big D
My friend with the Navigator paddles
slow rivers and lakes. He experienced the stability problems on a lake. When not working, he is fishing and understands the need for a good steady platform.
His take on the Navigator is that is a fine fishing craft, but if conditions get a bit hairy, he'd like more secondary stability than the Navigator has. I guess what I'm saying about the Navigator is it may not be the best SOT to take down a river with rapids above Class I, maybe II, especially if you are a big guy.
You may also want to consider a canoe.
Lots of capacity.
C1 or inflatable
I second or third the canoe
You are big and tall enough to glue/velcro in a microcell foam seat and still paddle with a kayak style paddle comfortably.
Find a good used C1, add some flotation bags and take a few lessons.
If you think that you are going to stick to doing WW most of the time, this is probably the only type of hard shell craft that will work consistently.
The Jackson Mega Rocker has a max capacity of 360 lbs, but that is really a WW boat and not a SOT.
The other option would be inflatables - they can certainly handle the load and the type water you are looking at
may do it for you. I’ve heard they have a high capacity, but not sure if it is hjigher than the F n D. I believe it would be if you were to get the X factor. There is also an Extreme model. neither of these would do it for the rapids you speak of, but they would be worth checking into. It may take 2 types of yaks for you. I have a friend who won one of the Malibu kayks. He told me it was a very stable boat. He also works with kayak companies to help develop fishing kayaks. He has been fishing from a kayak here in NC for about 5 years now, mostly around the NC coast for red drum, buit has been out in the ocean also, and caught a King mackeral one one occasion.