Hi All,

Great site you have here! I’ve been browsing through the reviews and found some very useful info.

After renting kayaks the last few years I have decided to buy my first. I’ve done some research but wanted to get some opinions.

-I’m leaning towards the Perception Prodigy 12. I plan on doing some fishing and general touring around local lakes here in Western PA, the Ohio river (when it’s calm) and Lake Erie but not too far out. Are there any similar kayaks that I should consider?

-Does anyone have any opinions on roof racks? I have a smaller car with no racks and it seems as though Thule and Yakima are the most popular? Is there anywhere else I should look?

What should I plan to spend on a paddle? The most I have seen at Cabella’s and Field and Stream are about 100.00. That’s fine, but should I be paying more?

Thanks for reading!

You should consider…

– Last Updated: Feb-23-14 12:08 AM EST –

getting some time in lessons and demoing before buying if you are thinking about Lake Erie at all. The Prodigy 12 is a very limiting boat when it comes to bigger water. Only one bulkhead, and the boat's configuration as well as the seat back get in the way of learning what you need for bigger water.

As to the paddle, lighter is better and it is hard to get a decently light paddle for under $150. To get really light it'll be more. But your body will thank you.

Malone makes good cradle racks, but
are not suitable for wider boats.

Forget Lake Erie
The kayak you mention is fine for small lakes in PA but forget lake Erie. Lake Erie is an inland Sea. Weather can and does change rapidly on lake Erie. You need a better kayak to be safe on any of the great lakes. Other wise the kayak you mention would be fine for what you want to do. Thule and Yakima are the two top choices for a rack. Malone is also another good choice.

Everything you say is fine

– Last Updated: Feb-23-14 11:48 AM EST –

My brother in law has the Prodigy and likes it.
Thule and Yakima are both fine.
Get the lightest paddle you can for the budget that you have

Just make sure you realize that the Prodigy is a rec. kayak and is great for calm water.
Listen to the weather report before you go out and heed what they predict.

If you enjoy the boat, and get hooked, you'll probably be upgrading to a longer and better yak in a few years. If you don't get hooked, you'll at least not have lost a lot a money.
Most if not all of the kayakers I know didn't start with high end boats, and upgraded later.

Good Luck !
jack L

More on Lake Erie

– Last Updated: Feb-23-14 1:48 PM EST –

My husband has relatives who live in a town bordering Lake Erie, my sister attended a college that sits right on the lake and I spent the first months of my first job working in towns that bordered Lake Erie.

I could not in good conscience tell anyone that they could get offshore in Lake Erie safely based on weather reports.

I have stood on the shore and it change on a day with "possible thunderstorms" from blue sky to a violent dark storm with 5 and 6 ft waves in the space of 15 minutes. Motor boats were running full throttle to make shelter, and they can cover ground a heck of a lot faster than a paddler.

We vacation each summer on the coast of Maine, and we are used to watching for sudden squalls that don't behave the way the forecaster said they would. In many years of kayaking up there, I have never seen anything alter as quickly and as violently as what I have seen on Lake Erie.

The boat you are considering is fine for the right environment, but if Lake Erie is one of the environments you need to rethink how to spend your money wisely.

Where you are now is where we, and a lot of other folks, were at some point. You have kayaked in relatively tame environments like rentals on smaller lakes or guided tours, and enjoyed it enough to want to do more. This is a great thing - the more people that enjoy the water the more will be aware of how to keep our waterways safe and clean. But because you have been in contained environments, you have no way of knowing what it is like in a more challenging situation in a little boat.

If more ambitious trips like on Lake Erie are your goal, you will save a lot of money in the long term by getting to a more apt boat to start with, one that will give you room to grow. For that you are best off working with someone who will give you more grounding than a typical livery that rents out rec kayaks like the Prodigy.

If Lake Erie is not on your agenda, the Pordigy will do you fine.

Step up a level, or two.
I would strongly suggest that you go longer than 12 feet and go for at least an all fiberglass paddle. Do not go cheap on your pfd and be sure it is a paddling pfd.

Great info
Thanks all. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I’m going to scratch off Lake Erie for the immediate future and concentrate on the calm water. Fortunately there are plenty of calm water lakes around that will keep me busy for a while.

Fishing vs Touring
For fishing platforms the sit on top kayaks are a lot more popular as you have more room to store gear, they are wider and more stable – some are so stable that you can stand up on them. Wider kayaks are more stable but also slower. They are best for shorter trips or longer trips where you may stay in the same place longer. Checkout the fishing kayaks that Native Watercraft (more canoe like) or Wilderness Systems Tarpon, Ride or Commander. If you only have big box stores or on a budget then the Perception Prodigy Sport Pescador is a decent choice – it is an older Tarpon rebranded with cheaper outfitting.

If you go for a sit inside kayak for fishing you probably want to keep a larger cockpit so you have an area between your legs. Good examples are the WS Pungo or the Old Town Dirigo.

For touring people want to go longer distances so faster and straighter matter more. This also means longer kayaks 14+ feet, narrower, and smaller cockpits.

With training you can handle more challenging water in the right kayaks of this class but probably not the best kayak to fish from.

My guess is your idea of kayaking is on very mellow stuff and fishing is probably important. Take a look at the 14’ Tarpon or Pungo. Both will give you the ability to cover a lot more distance comfortably, while retaining the ability to fish or carry camping gear but are not meant for the rough stuff.

If you are just looking to paddle around a small pond and sitting to fish really any paddle will do. If you want to actively paddle you really want to look at more expensive paddles and skip the $100 and under paddles. I consider something like the Werner Skagit as the cheapest you should consider for recreational paddling.

If you are near Pittsburg, go to REI. They have a better gear selection then a Dick’s or Cabellas will have. The sales staff isn’t always the most knowledgeable but a ton better than a big box store. If you have any real paddling stores go there first and tell them what you want. Buying kayaks and paddles really is a in person activity.

Western PA options
Unfortunately, we lost probably our best local kayak touring resource when Exkursion here in Pittsburgh closed in December, BUT they still are in the guide and instruction business, so you might want to look them up to take a skills class and learn some things that would help you get started. There is also a HUGE kayak dealer in Butler, Wind and Water:

Down here in the city (Pittsburgh)there are two REI stores and an L.L. Bean that sell basic kayaks and gear.

There is also a very active kayaking Meetup group through locally that has frequent outings and many members have loaner boats you can use if you want a chance to get the feel for various boats.

Though it is hard to believe at this point (I swear I saw a Wooly Mammoth trundling down my street last week, though it could have been the neighbors hulking teenaged son) Spring is not that far off and dealers will begine having on-the-water demos.