Need help deciding on a yak....

I’m new to paddling (been on a few rentals, but never owned one) and I’m in the market for a new yak. I’m about I’ll mostly be paddling small rivers on single and multiday trips and fishing (mostly fresh, but occasionally salt). I think I’ve narrowed it down to an OK Trident 13 Angler or a new Wildy Ride 115/135. I’m leaning towards the Ride because the rod pod on the Trident looks like it would bother me after sitting a while (but at the same time I could use the easy storage access for fishing and camping). On the Ride I can’t decide if I need the 135 or if the 115 is enough. I’ll be doing a good bit of camping so I need storage space, but at the same time I don’t want a boat that is too big to maneuver and transport easily. Any suggestions from experienced paddlers is appreciated.


– Last Updated: Sep-20-11 9:42 AM EST –

I have both kayaks and a canoe and for the use you are describing I would prefer a solo canoe. More storage space and load capacity, a more comfortable fishing platform, lighter and easier to load and carry, faster to paddle, also a more dry ride (sit on tops are wet). Have you considered that at all? Don't get me wrong, I love kayaking, but if I am doing a lot of camping and fishing I would take a canoe every time.

If you are definitely intent on kayaks, what's your height and weight? That has a great deal of bearing on which model will work best. And some more detail on exactly where you plan to paddle would help with recommendations, like in what state/climate and which waters. When you say "salt water" what sort of coastal waters are you considering?

I really haven’t considered a canoe because everyone in the group that I’d be paddling with uses a SOT yak and I was under the impression that kayaks handled better solo than a canoe. I’m 6’ about 200 lbs. I’ll be paddling local (south Mississippi) creeks and rivers mostly. Occasionally some NE Alabama runs (Class II or lower). Probably in the Spring and Fall more than Summer and Winter. It isn’t cold down here in the Spring and Fall (water is cool in the Spring). We really don’t have any whitewater in our creeks and rivers so I can plug the scuppers to help keep dry if necessary (and wear the appropriate clothing). I have family on the Alabama and Florida coast and would occasionally fish in the bays and maybe the gulf on a flat summer morning but that would be an exception. Comfort and easy handling are high priorities.

Paddle allover Jackson, George, Stone
Mostly 14 ft tandem canoe that I’ll turn around and paddle solo. Camped on Red creek, did 28 miles down the Pascagoula last weekend, Davis Bayou, GINS,Grand Bay NERR, Even canoed from Ocean Springs to Deer Island, though a kayak is better for that. Manueverability has never been an issue. One thing about Red and Black creek, they are stumpy and will beat the crap out of your boat so don’t go high dollar if that’s where you’re planning to paddle. Personally I’d be creeped out in a SOT some places I paddle, snakes and gators, I like the idea of having a wall to defend. Lot’s of good options on Craigslist right now for whatever boat your interested in.

I’ve paddled Black creek several times and never had any trouble (except 6 months after Katrina one time). Wolf and Bogue Chitto are two places we’ll go a good bit for multi-day trips and I can see paddling to Cat out of Gulfport for an overnight as well.

Paddling to Cat Island
While it’s possible to paddle anything to the barrier islands, most with experience would recommend a SINK and probably in the 17 foot range to go 12 miles offshore.

cat island
I think CAT is around 8 miles out of Gulfport, but that’s still a long paddle and probably better suited for a SINK. It was really just a thought. I’d like to get a yak that can handle a little gulf paddling as well as rivers and storage for overnights.

one canoe drawback
Hmm, yeah, one drawback if you were to be the only guy in your fishing group with a canoe amongst kayakers they would make you carry the beer cooler and bait buckets. Though having custody of all the beer can be mighty handy.

A SINK (sit in kayak) is more versatile in terms of open water use and maneuverability and gives you more secure dry storage. A buddy of mine in Connecticut is a fishing guide who teaches clients to spincast from a SINK, but it would have some drawbacks in a warmer climate.