Totally Overwhelmed...

I have been looking at getting a SOT fishing kayak for over a year…? is what to choose…I know that I need to “test drive” whatever I choose, but where do I start. Opinions are that…opinions…looking for truths about the different kayaks as far as versatility. Here is what I am looking for…

A yak that I can fish on rivers in the Ozarks class 1 & 2.

A yak that can handle lakes like Table Rock/Stockton/maybe Lake Erie (relatively close to shore/standing) and…

A Yak that will also when I am near salt be able to stand the conditions there. (not looking for speed so much…but stability).

My thoughts were a Cuda/Coosa, Big Tuna, Big Rig, and was kinda surprised with the Old Town Predator Kayak…(All over the map on this…just tired of searching) I also want to be able to have room for camping gear if I go on a longer trip…

Just begging for help and honest thoughts…(Bass Pro sells an Ascend 128T that I can take the time to seal up/brace…but will that even function for what I need?)…

Not personally qualified…
to offer good advice but here’s a couple links that might be of value:

just to create chaos
How about an inflatable such as an innova safari? It would do pretty much all you want.

compromise is hard

– Last Updated: Mar-20-14 11:09 AM EST –

I am currently paddling a small SIK but window shopping with a list similar to yours, though salt water and breakers is likely to be something I see with some regularity so I may give up a little up front in exchange for a little better performance. A couple I am looking at are the OK Trident(hate to add to your confusion, but that boat fits your requirements pretty well) and the Necky Vector. If you look at the specs, they are very similar. But look at the profiles. The Vector is "pointier" which makes it a little faster and it has less of a trough up front for breakers to fill. In other words it would cut through waves better and if a wave breaks over the bow it will have less effect. But that means the front has less cargo capacity also. And you can stand a lot easier in a Trident. My point is to think about the specific things that are the tradeoffs. Boats that are easy to stand in generally are slower and harder to get through breakers without swamping (self draining is not immediate). You will expend more energy getting them from place to place, it may take longer and as a side effect reduce your range slightly. But you can take more stuff with you and they are more comfortable to fish out of.

The way I look at it, there is no denying that the best boat to do the fishing out of is a big stable barge. But you have to make some tradeoffs to be able to safely and reliably get it to the places you want to fish without an unreasonable amount of effort.

oh and one question

– Last Updated: Mar-20-14 11:12 AM EST –

When you mention "handling salt" do you mean in shore (sounds, bays, etc) or going through the breakers? If you read my first reply, going BTB (Beyond The Breakers) into the open Atlantic is a big factor in my choice. If you will go BTB, which coast is a factor. The west coast paddlers need bomb proof boats; they take a serious pounding. The folks on the Gulf? 200+ days a year the breakers are a joke; people surf launch jon boats some times. On the east coast, we are in between those extremes. Still, I am drawn more toward the Vector. But looking at your list again, it screams Trident or Prowler 13 to me. I know a few owners that are very happy with them and they do go BTB, but it can be a little tricky getting out and in if the surf is up.

Why overwhelmed?
We are lucky to live in a time and in North America, where there is such a variety of wonderful choices.

Long before the days of “kayak fishing SOTs” there was only a very limited handful of decent Sit-On-Top choices out there…I owned a bare bones Scupper Pro that had none of the fancy goo-gaws and accessories of today’s so-called standard fishing kayaks. I caught plenty of fish with it. And I did everything with it then, that you seem to want a boat to do today(Class 1-2, rivers, lakes and ocean). My brother in law down in Florida now has the boat, and I still use it to fish from when I’m down there from time to time. It also still paddles better than many of the SOTs out there today…Point: It is not about the boat when it comes to fishing. The boat is just a platform. Sounds like, you just need to start with something, anything to get you out on the water.

The Jackson boats(Cuda and Coosa)are very well made and great for what you want to do. But also very heavy. This is only a problem getting on and off the water if you are of advancing years(I myself don’t pick up any kayaks anymore, with an unladen weight that’s over 55 lbs. If you are relatively young, big or strong–This is not a factor. Buy whichever hull appeals to you.

In fact, buy ANY SOT that appeals to you the most. Use it for a couple years. Learn what you like and dislike about it. Then put it on the used market(there are always buyers. I’ve had dozens of poly kayaks-- the majority of them used.) Then go buy yourself a new boat with desirable attributes your previous boat lacked. Point Two: There is no one boat out there that can do everything. They all are a compromise. And thankfully, because we live in a market economy, you are not stuck for life with your first choice.

More opinion, I know…But that’s all you’ll get till you make a decision and put your ass in the seat of a boat. Then you discover you’re own opinion.

I’m with you
on the weight issue. I have an old SOT that was originally built as a diving platform (OK Scrambler), a heavy (57#) sit in rec yak, and recently a pack canoe that weighs in at 33#. All work well for fishing and general shore exploring. The one getting all of the use these days is the canoe. I can toss it on top of the car and go with no struggle. It carries everything I need for a day out, stuff stays reasonably dry, and it handles OK. It is a compromise and the best one as far as I’m concerned.

Go simple.
You don’t really have a clue what you are getting into.

By a simple Ocean Kayak like a scrambler, prowler, scupper pro, learn to paddle it out through the waves and then take it fishing with simple gear, the least you can get by with.

Learn some seamanship/kayaking skills if you are going to paddle on the great lakes or ocean. The paddler is much more important than the boat.

If you need a ton of gear and a specialized boat, do something else.

seems to have lots of clues

– Last Updated: Mar-20-14 6:26 PM EST –

But I agree that shopping that long it is time to get something and go from there. I stand by my earlier recommendation for a Prowler 13, not because I am sure it is perfect but because I know people who use them in places like the OP wants to fish and they are pretty universally happy with them. Also they aren't all that expensive and you can often find them used. Anyway, I think it is unlikely that you would be highly disappointed with one. At worst, it will help you figure out what tweaky differences you want in the next one.