Showing posts with label gear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gear. Show all posts

Kayak Gear Guru

As Payne's Paddle Fish has developed over the last two years, a couple of different paths have emerged. I have realized that there are topics that are umbrella like and should be talked about time and again. Safety is one of those. Other topics like gear are sought after as well but because of the format of my blog and so many topics to cover, gear reviews and kayak reviews often get lost in the shuffle.

This was an opportunity. For the last 11 years I've been in the kayak fishing game and have seen the emergence of the community. The sharing of ideas, products and rigging have allowed our sport to grow. Unfortunately, our sport is at a deficit when it comes to straight talk about gear. Most of the reviews that are out there only speak highly of the products. This is where Kayak Gear Guru comes in.

Kayak Gear Guru is a website where products will be talked about just as I'd tell you about them around the campfire. If a manufacturer doesn't want constructive notes on how to improve, they should stay with their staffers to do the reviews. If a product is great, I'll call it that. If it's not great, I'll tell you why, give points for improvement and then make a recommendation that is better.

New reviews will come out each Monday. In May there will be videos that accompany each review so you can see it, read about it and feel like you've seen the product before you lay out your hard earned cash for it. When buying a kayak we say demo, demo, demo. Why should gear be any different? You should at least see some pictures and get an overview video. Right?

If there is a product you'd like to see covered, let me know and I'll see what we can do. Not all products will be able to be reviewed (I'm just one guy) but we will try to cover the array of gear you want to know about.

Please go by the Facebook page and give it a like and be sure to read some previous reviews already available on While you're there you can subscribe (also on the right) and get an email when a new review is posted (no spam, I promise!).

On the right hand side, there is a list of upcoming product reviews. Make sure to tell your friends. When the video channel is ready to go, you'll be the first to know.

Thanks so much for continuing to help Payne's Paddle Fish grow, for your support in these new projects and for telling everyone you know about how awesome kayak fishing is. ------Chris Payne

Gadgets are Not the Problem

Yesterday I posted up an intriguing letter to the editor entitled "Gadget Fire". Comments varied across the different social media platforms and people across the country weighed in on this potential problem.

After mulling it over, I don't believe that the root cause of our potential community divide between the "haves and have nots" is gear. The problem is people.

When large groups of people are intertwined at a public venue, ours being a lake, ocean or other body of water, you find not everyone had the same upbringing as you. Some people were not raised in the friendly, wave to everyone, mind your manners, don't embarrass your parents way that I was. Some people were raised by a parent or parents who chose to offer little guidance when their child acted outside the accepted societal norm. So much of the American culture now is "Get Yours", "More is Better", "Bigger is Better". We have become obsessed with stuff. But does having stuff make you bad? Reading many comments you would think so.

Here is my confession: I am a gear head. I like to try new things.

It doesn't come out of greed, it comes out of curiosity. I am always looking for innovations that catch more fish, give a better experience, solve a problem etc. I'll often buy things knowing if they don't work out I'll resell them. I like to try new things. Does having lots of gear and gadgets on my kayak make me a bad person? Does it make me a snob? No. My kayak and its additions are inanimate. They can't speak or act.

I control how I act. I decide to talk to people. You do the same. You are in control of you. A common declaration I hear is "You made me angry with what you said!" Wait, what?! I made a statement. You chose to get angry about it. Your emotions are the ones overflowing. How did me stating how I feel make you angry? It's an opinion. Everyone has one and guess what? They don't all have to be the same. It's easier if they are all the same but it's not reality.

As humans we expect assimilation subconsciously. We want and expect everyone to act a certain way (the same way we do). When something goes against that, we feel that it is different. That is where we choose how to act. Do we yell and scream? Do we shake our heads and mumble? Or do we just shrug it off and keep moving? Each reaction is different as are the actions. We are humans.

Here is where we need to make an unofficial law. The only jerk on the water should be a bait. If you think you are superior to everyone because you have the best stuff, be polite and wave at least. Or even a head nod. This works both ways though. Don't judge me bro! I have a lot of stuff but if you want to chat, I'll chat! I'm going to leave you alone in your space when you are fishing but might wave or ask how you are doing. I can take a hint. If the answer is short, I get it. You don't really want to chat and that's cool. If you start talking and asking other questions, I'm going to take some time and talk. Just please don't assume I'm a jerk because I have a certain fish finder or camera or rods.

The point of all this is to be kind to one another. Don't judge others until they've proven they are a jerk. Gear and gadgets don't make a person good or bad. Their attitude is everything. So is yours.

Be kind to one another. Share the water and remember, this is supposed to be fun!

Gadget Fire: A Letter to the Editor

I get emails each week asking questions, chatting about gear or fishing and general correspondence. Last week I received some thoughts that have been expressed more and more each day on various forums. It seems as more gear and gadgets come out, some choose to indulge and others prefer simplicity. The question is, will it form a wedge in kayak fishing like it has in power boat fishing? I'd be very interested in everyone's thoughts on this. A great thanks to Art for sending in his thoughts. He has graciously agreed to allow me to share. I hope you find this as thought provoking as I did.

Regardless of how you feel, I think it is worth a read. This discussion has caused me to reflect on the past as well as the future and what I hope things will be. We are indeed on an upward climb in the popularity of kayak fishing. Hopefully when it all settles out, the cozy village feel of our community remains as it is today despite who has what toys, boats and even vehicles.


Ok, so I’m reading about all this stuff that guys are putting on their kayaks. And I’m wondering where it ends. 

Things like crates and sonar I get. Personally, I like to create a lot of the stuff I use on my yak, and I’m pretty good at it. But we all have different talents. For many, purchasing these items is their best option. Obviously, creative writing isn’t my strength. But I was attracted to this activity by the pureness of it, and especially the closeness to nature. I’ve been an avid fisherman for over 4 decades, and I’ve owned a boat for almost every day of the last 35 years. I still own a bass boat, and I love the visceral feeling of skating across the lake at eye watering speeds, but these days my kayak fishing trips outnumber my bass boat fishing trips at least 7 to 1.  I can still catch many more fish from my boat than I can from a kayak, and bigger fish, too.

But at 60 mph, or even 40, there is so much that you miss. The things I see when I’m in my kayak I haven’t seen since I owned a jonboat with a 25 hp Johnson. I had forgotten those things, and they are what helped hook me on fishing so solidly when I was young. It’s the biggest draw for me in this “addiction” that I have come to embrace.

And the only camaraderie you experience in a bass boat is with your fishing partner. Most bass boaters that I meet I don’t want to associate with. Not so with kayakers. They are a great lot. A man that I had known for 10 minutes helped me carry my heavy-as-heck Commander 200’ down the boat ramp at the recent GTG at Grapevine. Another that I had met twice helped me carry it back up. And another that I had never met handed me a NIB camera pole and base because someone else said I was looking for one. That almost never happens at a bass tourney. I know, because I’ve been there.

But now I’m seeing the ‘gadget fire’ beginning to burn in the kayak fishing community. I saw this happen about 18 years ago with bass boats, and it has gotten completely ridiculous in that arena. Will it attract the same self-centered, me first group to kayaking? I sincerely hope not. I may have 15 good years left on the water, and I want to spend it with good people that love life outdoors. I believe that many of those people will be in kayaks.

Here’s to seeing you on the water.

Great Gear or Gimmicky Gadgets?

One of the perks of tackle and boat shows, whether working them or just spectating, is the abundance of gear and gadgets in one place. Instead of having to visit five or six stores spread out all over town, I can peruse more than 100 in no time at all without having to waste all that gasoline. (That's more money for gear, right?)

Last weekend I was at one of these shows, the Texas Tackle, Hunting and Boat Show in Mesquite, Texas. Vendors covered the floors as expected and I found a little bit of time to check out some cool new stuff. The question for everyone to decide, is it great gear or a gimmicky gadget?

Secure Outdoors

I visited Secure Outdoors because I had seen a forum thread that they would be at the show. I approached and saw the banner that said Secure Outdoors Asset Tracking. That got my curiosity up so I asked what kind of assets? Derk quickly gave me a demo. When he moved the small pager sized box it sent an email and text message to him. He only moved it about two feet. They come in small units that hold a charge for a couple of days or in a weatherproof case with battery that can last about eight months. You can change the assets it is tracking to really anything. He showed me golf carts, trucks, trailers, and boats so I naturally asked about kayaks. He admitted he hadn't thought of that. Imagine being able to track within a few feet of where your kayak, truck, trailer or other assets are. Kind of cool. Two years subscription will run you about $18 a month, subscription and equipment included. So check it out and you tell me great or gimmicky? Would you buy it?


CastAway Invicta

This new rod was tucked in the corner of a booth on a rod rack. It is basically a 40Ton carbon fiber blank that is super light and has a new style grip on it. The best way to describe it is a golf club grip style. It is soft to the touch, offers good cushion and feels good in the hand. It is also sporting a new reel seat.The real question is how will it do when wet and then when slimed. My guess is it will get slightly tacky when wet but I'm afraid slime might make it tough to keep a handle on while casting. It felt nice but what do you think. Is it great or a gimmick?


Power Pole Micro

One of the most talked about new accessories, the Power Pole Micro is designed specifically for kayaks. They will begin shipping a portion of the pre-orders  later this month. At $595, the Micro isn't cheap and some say overkill but others seem to disagree. Mounting brackets made by YakAttack are being customized for most major kayak models. An added bonus I learned at the show is your existing YakAttack Park-N-Pole can be used in the unit. This will allow you to not travel around with a permanent pole sticking up in the back of the kayak. The cost and added cause some to be wary but others were quick to lay down their money to be first in line. What say you? Gimmick or great?


Hydrowave Mini

Another recent arrival to the market, the Hydrowave Mini is a more compact, simpler version of its predecessor. Utilizing a 9v battery and external speaker the Mini has four fish attracting settings. Early adopters have warned against short battery life in the portable unit. Since we had a couple of days at the show, we put it to the test. We were able to get 13 hours out of the unit before the battery needed to be changed. Hopefully a 12v wire-able option will be available in the future but for now, on a device that isn't left on the whole trip, it's an option many are considering. The $139 price point is also an attractive reprieve from it's big brother's $400 price. The question is, does it work? Is it great gear or just a gimmicky gadget?

Video of how it works (not the Mini):

NuTech Jigs

Small, affordable and innovative, the NuTech jig is said to keep the hook upright and allow for more hookups when a fish takes a taste test. I visited the booth and talked with the inventor. He was able to give me a demo of how it works and I promptly bought five to try out. At about $4 each, the NuTech jig is available in several styles and even some spinning blade versions. Sometimes thinking out of the box is necessary to catch fish and sometimes to catch fishermen. Which is it? Great or Gimmicky?


Let me know on Facebook or the comments here, which things you like, which you don't and of course whether they are great or gimmick. 

Zooka Tube Thoughts

Luther Cifers from YakAttack upped the ante when he introduced the Zooka Tube this summer. A rod holder that can manage baitcasters, spinning reels, long pole or just about any other combination, the Zooka is proving to be one of the most versatile, rugged options for securing your fishing poles.

Past the obvious use, many folks, myself included are using the Zooka as a holder for a Park-N-Pole. An anchor trolley gives a lot of flex and using the scupper holes in your kayak can do damage over time when trying to stay put in wind and waves. The Zooka allows a very rigid mounting point to your kayak with easy in and out access for quick moves on and off anchor.

The Zooka also allows lots of flexible positions because of the RAM ball. The spherical head provides myriad angles to make sure you can choose what you need for best ease of use specific for your application.

Inside the Zooka are interlocking teeth, tightened by a wing style nut and fitted with an interior spring. This is my only gripe about the rod holder. The interlocking teeth offer too few angles and deep teeth that require a lot of unscrewing, separation and re-tightening  to set the angle of the tube. While on the water, this is tough and a bit scary.

 Utilizing an existing product I have had success modifying the Zooka slightly to make those slight adjustments quicker and less difficult. I have added a Scotty Slip Disc to the interior gear set. By placing this Slip Disc inside, I only need a quarter turn to loosen the tube find the exact angle I need and then re-tighten. This slight modification is low cost ($4) and gives further refinement to an already well designed rod holder.

The Zooka Tube is definitely worth a look. I have already replaced my RAM 2007 rod holder with the Zooka and have plans for an additional one in the near future. For about $30 you can add one to your arsenal and stop limiting the rods you can take with you. This newest offering from YakAttack will fit almost all of them.

Cool New Gear I'm Looking Forward to Trying Out

I am a Kayak Fishing Gear Head. Certifiable. I like new gadgets that make my life simpler. Or cooler. I enjoy nice things too. Earlier in my life I went the cheapest route possible and after multiple failures, reworks and a few too many four letter words, I decided quality was a better way to go. I still like a good deal though. 

This summer, I've been eyeing a few things that have attracted my attention. Some have already arrived at my door. I'm hoping to get to test some of the others. Yep. Kayak Fishing Gear Head. 

Smith Optics Tenet Sunglasses with Polarchromic Lenses

Friends at Capital City Kayak Fishing and Whole Earth Provision Company really got my interest up in Smith Optics. The technologies they were saying these lenses had seemed highly advanced and at the same price point as other top brands. I did the research and this is what the Smith website says:

That's pretty cool. A glass lens that shifts with the light. No more trading out different pairs of glasses on different days and at different times. One pair to rule them all? Maybe so. I ordered the Tenet model and they arrived yesterday. Testing will commence soon. By just putting them on, the Smith Glass lens feels much lighter on my face that comparable sunglasses with a glass lens. I'm not naming names but you know who you are. On the water time is coming soon and of course a full report after a few trips. 

Hoo-Rag Bandana

This one was a Facebook discovery. I've owned protective gear like this in the past but have not been able to get the cool designs I like at such a good price. In addition to offering tons of cool designs, Hoo-Rag offers free shipping on all orders and can make custom designs for you! Want to get your softball league some cool Hoo-Rags with the league logo? They can do that. For all you Devil Dogs out there, they have licensed designs from the Marines available to. My first Hoo-Rag (the Hoowaiian Hook Atlantic) is on its way to my house as we speak. I'll be doing some day and night testing on the water and giving a full report back later this fall. The Hoos are $15.95 each except for the Mystery Hoo. That one is $8. And today my friends is a good day because I can save you some additional money. Hoo-Rag is offering 10% off the price of your order when you use this code:  PROMO45YX2  at checkout. 

RAM Universal Tough Clamp

Not available until the middle of October, this one has tons of uses as well. This clamp gives you the ability to mount lots of RAM products to lots of surfaces. The RAM website describes it like this:

An extra pair of hands is something that almost everyone has wished for at some point. The RAM Tough-Clamp is the solution. This extremely versatile product from RAM has endless applications and will certainly become one of your most valued tools. The RAM Tough-Clamp includes a 1" ball which can be used to mount a variety of products utilizing RAM's vast selection of mounting solutions. Attach your GoPro Camera, Smartphone, RAM AQUA BOX® Pro or similar light weight device on almost any surface. Capable of attaching to flat surfaces and square rails from 0.25" to 1.75" thick, and round rails from 0.5" to 1.75" OD, attach the RAM Tough-Clamp to any surface on your kayak, boat, motorcycle, aircraft, desk, or any other location where you simply need an extra hand.

The first idea that cropped into my mind was a GoPro camera. I don't have lots of them but like a variety of shots. If I attach a GoPro to the Tough Clamp, I can attach it to my net for the landing shot, then move it to my Park-N-Pole for a nice release shot without risking dropping a handle bar mount or screw in the water. I can also change it back to the net, attach to a tree, attach to a paddle or somewhere else with just a squeeze. I don't have one of these yet but I sure look forward to getting one. 

Have some additional ideas to share about cool products coming out? Let me know! Leave a comment here or on Facebook

Outdoor Retailer: 3 Gadgets Under $25 You Should Know About

Outdoor Retailer is underway in Salt Lake City this week and new gear abounds. While I’d love to have the new solar powered tent from Eddie Bauer or the Vibram LED shoes, the price point is going to place that out of the realm of possibility for, well…most of us.

Three useful new items are rolling out this week however, (though some have had 30-60 days of market presence), that I felt were definitely worth mentioning. The best part is, you can get all three for less than $25! Skip the movie with the significant other, cuddle on the couch with a Redbox or Netflix and BOOM!, $25 for a new gadget.

This emergency “knife” is safe to carry on your hip, lightweight and has a blunt end with protected blades. Great for cutting fishing line, rope, trot lines, and other tangled messes, this could be the new safety knife that becomes a kayaking favorite. Right at $25, it is significantly cheaper than other safety knives on the market and may be safer and more user friendly. If I had the Trilobite a few years ago my hands would have a lot fewer scars.

Zippo Firestarter

Kayak camping demands planning but the weather can often make it difficult. When everything is soaked, it’s good to have a back up plan. The Firestarter is that plan. At $10, it has a small lightweight package but includes all the things you will need in a damp (or dry) environment to get a fire going and your gear to drying. Small and easy to pack, this should be a consideration for all your overnight trips.

YakAttack GTSL Gear Tracs

This newest addition to the Gear Trac family from YakAttack has changed rigging options once again for kayaks. This high performance polymer trac comes in a variety of colors, can curve easier than its anodized aluminum brothers, and has a lower price tag than any previous trac offering. From as low as $8 and available very soon, you can get trac and show off your personality at the same time. Rigging just got easier, more affordable and has a new personalized look.  

Gearing Up in Phases

As I talk to folks both new and experienced in the kayak fishing world, gear and rigging bubbles up as a subject constantly. Having been in the kayak for more than 10 years now, I have rigged quite a few boats. I have done the "all in, all at once rigging" and then the "little bit at a time because it's all I can afford" rigging. 
I don't really have a preference. It's more of a money thing. If I have the extra cash, more toys is more fun I guess.

What I wanted to do is give a break down of what, in my opinion, are the three phases of rigging. Not everyone does it this way but time and again, it's what I see and what people share they are doing. You can skip phases, do them all at once, or whatever suits your fancy but if you are looking for a starting point, try Phase I. Progress as you see fit. 

Phase I

Tracks- $10-$50- Some kayaks come with it already, some don't. These are or at least can be the base for all attachments. These also allow you to strip off attachments before transport. I use the YakAttack GT175 heavy duty tracks. Tracks come in all shapes and sizes so finding one that fits your needs is fairly easy. 

Adjustable Rod Holder- $20-$40- Flush mounted, molded in rod holders are great but typically mean you need leashes and there is only one angle to choose from. I just upgraded to the Zooka Tube as it handles multiple reel types and lengths. 

360 Degree Light- $40-$85- A must in many states from dusk until dawn, a 360 light lets other boaters know you are there, makes you legally compliant and gives you some light to see by should you need it. The VisiCarbon Pro is my light. I've had the others and this is far superior in every way if you can spare the coin. 

Net- $8-$125- Net styles vary as much as fishing pole choices now. The cream of the crop nets have yet to win my pocket book. I use my $10 Frabill net from Academy and sometimes regret it. I'm thinking my next purchase may well be a better net. 

Anchor- $0-$60- Depending on where you are going to be fishing, anchors have a variety of styles and weights. This is usually one of the first things people purchase who are going to be fishing in saltwater or big freshwater lakes. Some folks even make their own from an old barbell. Whether you are a bruce claw guy or not, an anchor is a quick way to stay on a spot. 

Hawg Trough- $15-$25- Quickly becoming the go to measuring device for Catch Photograph and Release anglers and tourneys, a Hawg Trough should be up there on your list. Need some pointers on how to get it setup? Go here.

Phase II

12 Volt Battery- $20-$30- Lots of ways to do this one but the easiest and most common is a deer feeder battery. 7.5A and rechargeable. Why do you need this? To power the next thing on the list!

Fish Finder- $60-$1500+- Dozens of options for this one. Get the best you can afford and upgrade as you want/need. I use a Lowrance Mark 5X-DSI. It isn't tip top of the line. It's not even color but I'm color blind anyway so yay for saving a few bucks!

Push Pole/Anchor Stick- $50-$100- These can be different or the same. If you fish frequently in water less than eight feet deep, this is a good way to go. I use the Park-N-Pole. I have the 6ft version and wish I had bought the 8. 

Anchor Trolley- $20-$40- So why is this in Phase II and not with the anchor in Phase I? Lots of people simply clip or tie the anchor wherever they can. Not until later do folks discover the advantages of this device. You don't need one to run an anchor but once you use it you will love it. I have the Hobie anchor trolley but several companies make a good one. With a couple of pulleys and some paracord, crafty folks can make one for a few bucks. 

Transducer Mount- Not everyone can or wants to do a through hull mount.Even fewer have a transducer ready boat. For those who like to hang the 'ducer off the side and remove when off the water, the options are few. I use the Mad Frog Liberator and it works well for my needs. 

Gear Box/Milk Crate- $0-$125- If you like to pack lots of baits, you'll need somewhere to put all of those boxes while still staying organized. For the DIYer, a milk crate is often used. I prefer a more rugged, UV protected, solid state box with a lid and attachable hardware with rod holders. For my money, The Black Pak is one of the best accessories I've ever purchased. Think it's a milk crate? Read more here.

Phase III

GPS- $100-$300- If not included in your fish finder, these devices can be helpful to mark those magic hotspots. If you don't mind using your cell phone, you can download the Navionics app and do this for $15. 

Video Camera- $100-$400- GoPro, Contour, Playsports and more are ready to capture your every single move. With a variety of mounts available the sky is the limit. I use a GoPro Hero2 currently.

Camera Pole- $30-$80- So you got a camera but need a unique way to get those cool angles. I use the PanFish mount from YakAttack and a couple of Dog Bones as well to mix up those shooting angles. 

LED Lights- $30-$250- Whether it's visibility or baitfish attraction, LED lights can be the ticket at night. You'll want to do a little research and comparisons to make sure you get a durable product. Need some help? Check here. I prefer 5050 LEDs from SuperNova lights.

VHF Radio- $65-$300- Depending on your destination, a VHF radio could be on your needs list. If you plan on going beyond the breakers, this should be in Phase I. 

Cooler- $20-$500- Again, this is all about taste. How rugged does your cooler need to be? Do you like the popular brands? Yeti, K2, Polar Bear and others offer a wide variety to choose from. 

EPIRB/GPS Locator- $100-$700- Another BTB Phase I item, this can also be useful to help family know exactly where you are at. 

Upgrades- Do you need a rudder? Want to try out some Turbo Fins? How about a better seat? Usually these are some of the last things added though usually intended to do up front. Are they necessary? No. Do they make life on the water easier? Yes. 

Keep in mind every person will prioritize differently but these would be the starting points I would recommend. Think it over, make a list, check your budget and then get after it! 

As always, if you have any questions or comments, let me know! 

The Boca Treatment from Papa Chops

This story starts with a reel.

My reel.

I returned home from a few days in the salt and my Abu Garcia Orra Inshore seemed sluggish. Surf fishing and reeling in 30 pound Stingrays tends to do that to a mid-range reel. 

Me, being the penny pincher I am (try to be), decided to buy a cleaning kit, watch a How To You Tube video and clean the Orra myself. Bad mistake. I managed to keep all of the parts (small miracle) and then posted a distress call on Facebook.

Beau Reed of Papa Chops Rod and Reel Repair said he could get it back and going again. We were going to be fishing at Lake Austin with a bunch of folks in a few days so I bagged it up to take it to him.

I got to chatting with Beau around the campfire that weekend and he asked me if I wanted to do a bearing upgrade with Bocas while he was fixing my reel. I had always heard about Boca Bearings but never really understood what they would do for me. Beau talked me through it and I agreed.

A few days later I get a notification on Facebook that I have been tagged in a new video. The video was Beau, showing my reel completed, upgraded and then I saw it. Holy Freaking Moses I saw it! He spun the spool on that Orra and it just kept going. I could have made a sandwich in the time it took it to stop. He made a $150 reel spin better than any $300 reel on the market! (For those keeping score, Beau can do most bearing upgrades with a cleaning for less than $70 total.)

I got the reel back that week and got to fish with it. After the first cast, I had to relearn what adjustments needed to be made. Usually I would adjust the drag to where a bait would slowly fall and cast it without much worry. I learned to do that on my reels because my spool would stop spinning before it would overrun. With Bocas, the spool keeps going so different adjustments needed to happen. I tightened down a little more and minded my thumb a little more and threw that bait, a 4” weightless Hag’s Tornado (plastic worm) twice if not three times farther than normal.

Two to three times farther!

I have always kept a small arsenal of spinning gear because I liked the distance I could get when casting weightless soft plastics. I am seriously reconsidering that now. On Thursday, I have more work being done by Beau at Papa Chops Rod and Reel Repair and you’re absolutely right if you guessed Boca Bearings will be involved. Want to see a video with the reel he Boca'd? Check it out here: Facebook Video Link
(You'll need to either friend me or like the page to see it. )

Do you have a favorite reel that needs a make over? Do you have a newer reel that you want to sing when you cast it? Give Beau a call at 512-294-3155. Ask him for the Boca Treatment. Saltwater reels? No problem. Freshwater reels? Of course!   

Got something to add? Hit me up on Facebook! Want to know when a new article is up? Click on the Follow This Blog button on the right. Want the Monthly Newsletter? Click on subscribe to the left. Don't forget to follow PPF on Facebook at and on Twitter @paynefish. - See more at:

I Want A Kayak! But Which One?

It's that time of year. It's cold outside and people have a chance to sit inside and dream of the spring. This is also the season when people start thinking of boats and kayaks. Every winter the kayak fishing forums light up with requests about which boats to look at, which one is for me and myriad other questions.

So which boat should you get? It's not that simple.

You may as well ask which one main dish your town would like to eat every day for the next year. It just isn't that simple.

People have different expectations for everything. We are all unique individuals with very specific things we are looking for. Kayak fishing is no different.

So what do you do? No one will give you the answer. So what now?

Here are a few steps to help make the right-for-you decision.

#1 Make a List

You need to make a list of all the things you are going to do in the kayak and how it will be used.
Are you fishing in big lakes, the ocean, rivers, bays or all of the above?
Are you wanting to troll, drift, sit, stand, paddle, pedal or use an electric motor of some sort?
Are you fishing for bass, crappie, cats, specks, reds, flounder, anything you can catch or all of the above?
Who will be using the kayak? Will it be just you or will others be sharing it?
How will you transport it? Do you have a truck, trailer, car, van? Do you have a roof rack? Do you have cross bars on the roof rack?
How much storage do you want the kayak to have?
Do you fish in the cold much?
Do you fish in the wind much?
Where will this kayak be stored? How much room is in that place (size limits)?
Do you have any health issues that will play into your decision (bad back, bad heart, arthritis, etc)?
How much weight can you lift above your head? How much weight can you raise to your waist?
How much does the heaviest person weigh that will be using the kayak?
How tall is the tallest person that will use the kayak?
What weight capacity, gear and people, will the kayak need to have?

This is by no means the full exhaustive list but it will get you in the right frame of mind to discover what you need.

#2 Budget

This one is tough. Most people decide they want to get into kayak fishing with a max cap of $500. Some have a smaller budget than that. The problem with that number is that will usually only get you a kayak. Let's say you go to Academy and by the Perception Sport Pescador 12 ft kayak (the old Tarpon 120 body). It'll cost you $500. After tax you are already over budget. Now you need a paddle, lifejacket (PFD), and whistle just to be legal and able to go to the lake. This adds another $60 if you get the absolute cheapest stuff that's made. Throw in tax and your $500 budget is now at $670. This is when most people start to look at used boats and settle on a boat in their price range. Usually the kayak doesn't fit that list of things you wanted and more often than not, your $450 you spent on a used kayak turns into a loss because now you are selling the used kayak and stuff for $350 on Craigslist because kayak fishing just isn't for you.

Don't blame the kayak. If you take a date out to McDonald's and tell her to order off of the Dollar Menu only do you think you'll get a second date? Rarely. When you buy a used boat on the cheap that you've done little research on and doesn't meet your needs, your time in kayak fishing is usually, not always, but usually short lived.

Make a realistic budget for what you can do and stick to that but make sure it meets your list. If it doesn't meet your list, save up more money to expand your budget or keep waiting. Trust me here. A boat that meets all of your needs rather than just the desire to get on the water will make you much happier in the long run.

#3 Demo, Demo, Demo

Before you make a purchase, demo lots of kayaks. Technically speaking, there are demo days almost every day of the year. Lots of dealers will meet you at the lake with a few boats you want to try. Meet up with folks who have the kayak already and give it a try. Please don't buy a boat without trying it first. It usually ends in heartbreak. Take your list and check off how many of your desires each boat has. If it is out of your budget, look for a used one or save some more money and get the one you really want.

#4 Research

Talk to people who have the kayak you have narrowed it down to. Do some web research. Look at the manufacturers website. What would they change? How did they rig their kayak for fishing? Would they buy that kayak again? Make an informed decision.

Even if you follow all of these steps, it doesn't guarantee a perfect kayak for you. Chances are, you'll change boats a few times in your life and that is good too. As your preferences change, possible so will the type of kayak you need. But, the chances of you buying the right kayak the first time without any of the above steps is not a very likely scenario. To try to make it easier, I have made a sheet for you to take to the stores, dealers, boat shows, etc. Try it out and see how you like it! If you hand this to the knowledgeable folks at a kayak dealer in Texas like Mariner Sails, APT, Mountain Sports or others, they'll be able to help you find that kayak that is the right fit for you. If you are a little further east than Texas, HOOK1 in Hendersonville, TN or YakCity in Lake Wylie, SC are the best of the best and will have you paddling the right boat in no time at all.

Click to increase size and then right click to save or print

My Goals for 2013. What are Yours?

Welcome to 2013! The Mayans were wrong. We're all still here and we need to keep moving forward. The last four months of Payne's Paddle Fish has been a great one and I sincerely thank those who have visited and keep visiting the site. I couldn't have predicted what has become this truly great experience. I have met so many bloggers, fishermen, kayakers, interested onlookers and outdoors types since August and look forward to meeting, fishing and paddling with many more of you in 2013.

I have, for as long as I can remember, been against making a resolution on New Years. When I think about what I would resolve to do, it's often things I don't want to do in the first place and it becomes counter productive. They are great for most people, just not me.

Instead of resolutions, I like to set goals. I try not to make them too lofty but also not too easy. For 2013 I have several. A list of goals helps me forecast the year, see progress when it is made and refocus energies when necessary. If you don't yet do this, I encourage you to pick one or two things you really want to work on this next year and write them down. Even better yet, make them public. When others know what you are working on, they will often provide encouragement, ask about progress and keep that fire stoked to push through the slow times.

Without further ado, my goals for 2013.

1. Sponsored Fishing Partnerships-

As of today, I don't really have any fishing sponsors. I work with a couple of really great vendors and do some gear reviews etc but the long and short is, I pay for almost all of my stuff. Reels, rods, boats, paddles, pfd, fishfinders and other gear comes out of my pocket. I feel I have a lot to offer as an ambassador to the sport of kayak fishing. I have a platform that is both informative and has a worldwide reach to those into kayak fishing and just curious onlookers with many questions. I would love to be able to travel to trade shows and talk to more people about kayaks, rigging, finding the right kayak for each individual person, fishing in both fresh and saltwater, gear, gadgets and more. I'd like to be able to pair with a company that feels the same way I do about the sport, wants to grow the sport as much as I do and in the end, I can refer people to this company and know they will be taken care of individually and not just put in a boat. Ideally the company would be able to furnish a kayak or two for me to demo with people and then refer them for purchases. I know these opportunities are few and far between but you dream big to achieve big.

2. 300% Growth in Monthly Visits-

The site is still in a growth pattern but has averaged a few thousand visits per month. I'd like to grow that number to 100,000 visits for 2013. It's an aggressive number but I think that as our sport grows more and more people are searching for content, instruction, humor, recommendations and answers. I hope that I can be one of those places that are sought out. I also hope that visitors will visit the sites that I read. Alan, Pat, Bert and others do a great job of providing fresh new content. You can see their newest posts linked on the right column of any page.

3. Participate at Three Trade/Boat/Tackle Shows-

Helping others understand the intricacies of kayak fishing is important. Finding the right boat fit, rigging and gearing up are all important aspects of kayak fishing that are done too hastily and too cheaply at times. Being a 10 year alum of the School of Hard Knocks with a major in Kayak Fishing has taught me many things (and cost me lots of money). If I can save just one person the headaches and money pit that I endured, it would be worth the trip. This is a venue (or 3) that would allow the largest reach for a live audience.

4. Instructional Videos-

I will produce 12 instructional videos over the 2013 calendar year on different kayak fishing topics. Some people just don't like to read column after column on X or Y. They want a 5 minute video showing them what they need to know so they can go on about their business. I want to reach that market in 2013 and give those folks what they are looking for.

5. My First E-Book-

I have been working on and plan to release a kayak fishing book in the late spring. It will be an E-book so I can offer it for free. It will have some stories, some instruction, some insight and really highlight the fun and adventure kayak fishing can bring to anyone's life. It's not so much about a budget as it will give options regardless of available cash flow. I hope everyone enjoys this book and it becomes a resource for teaching others why we love this sport so much.

6. Tournament Fishing-

I plan to fish 8 tournaments this year. I won't be able to start fishing them until March so it will mean some cross trail fishing but that's okay. In fact, it will allow me to meet more people who share the passion. This year won't be about placing as much as fishing and networking. I look to fish in the NTKBF, NTKT, PKAA, KATS and KBF events this year. The NTKT will be a primary focus for me.

Maybe these goals seem out there to some or too easy to others, but the important thing is, they are out there now. If we cross paths on the water or at a trade show, ask me about them. I hope to meet even more of you on the water this next year. If you would like to partner with me on any of these goals please send me an email : [email protected].  Have a great 2013!!!

A Lesson Learned: Long Walks with a Kayak

In 2003, my new Pelican Endeavor (sit in kayak) in tow, I took my first long hike with my kayak in search of the elusive honey hole. I was very new to the sport and didn't want to spend the money on a kayak cart so I  rigged up a golf club caddy and took off down a long dirt road, a road that hadn't seen a car in twenty years. I was smart enough to bring a buddy with me and he had a very similar setup.
Not a kayak cart

The road was old, sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy and had ruts running on both sides that had been there for who knows how long. Going around turns in the road was an adventure as you usually spooked a wild hog or deer or had to work around a rattlesnake. It was as close to an American safari as I've ever come. The landscape snarled with yucca, prickly pear, mesquites and cedars. It taunted us to make a wrong move. The hike, all gear and kayaks in tow was just over a mile. Because our "carts" weren't made for this terrain, it took several adjustments and close to 45 minutes to get to the water we were so desperately seeking. We saw it up ahead. A sharp rise of about 20 feet. A berm that stretched a few hundred yards was actually the dam on this honey hole and we knew it. With renewed spirits we made the climb and saw what we had come for: the honey hole.

I had bank fished this little spot in northwest Texas once before and had decent success but this time I was prepared with my new boat and a conquering attitude. We unstrapped our kayaks and quickly were on the water. Paddling toward a tree line that looked promising we were greeted by a pair of water snakes who seemed very curious about our kayaks, possibly the first ever on this lake. Two casts into the day we both hooked up and that pattern would continue for most of the day.

Time melted away and what had started at sun up quickly blended into late afternoon. We needed to get back. We hadn't prepared to be out after dark and had no lights to navigate back so the pace was brisk. The walk to the honey hole had been apparently been downhill because walking back to the car was agonizing. Shoulders worn from paddling and fishing all day made the kayak and gear feel like it was an elephant being pulled along on a tricycle. The boat kept sliding off and we kept getting stuck and we were only 100 yards from where we started. As I tried to pull the caddy out from another rut the scariest thing I hadn't known could happen, happened. The bearings and axle on the golf club caddy cart gave way. Broke in two. Now what!?!

After an attempted repair job and failure, I relegated myself to dragging it back. I didn't know what kind of damage it would do but I wasn't going to leave it and there was way too much gear to pack it out. Carrying it was out of the question. I had a 50 foot long anchor rope which I fastened into a harness and started pulling. It was hard work. I felt sorry for every plow horse and mule I had ever seen. My friend, being the good sport he always is, rotated shifts with me dragging this albatross back up the winding, rutted, mine field of rocks and cactus.

Nearly two hours later we reached our destination, completely exhausted and sun baked. I immediately started downing any available fluids I had. Though it had only been about 80 degrees I am sure my core temperature reached liquid steel a couple of times. We sat until dark, recovering and learning rapidly from our mistakes.

I learned so much about having the right tool for the job, preparation for the worst case scenario,  and how to plan for a trip just from that one outing. A steep learning curve leaves scars sometimes.

I haven't been back to that spot since. I have bought better equipment though. I have also been game planning with every possible scenario. Knowing what you are up against is a good battle but the unknown is the one that will ruin a day.

Plan well and invest in a good cart.


Looking for a good cart?

Here is a good option from HOOK1: (Click here to purchase)

Scotty Offset Gears and Slip Discs Review

If you could buy two items that could make your fishing simpler, more dialed in and easier would you? What if I told you that together both items would cost less than $10? It sounds too good to be true but it's not. I have the magic items and I can tell you, they are worth twice what they are asking if not three times.

Scotty No. 414 Offset Gears

So what are these modern marvels? Let me introduce you to the Scotty No. 414 Offset Gears and the Scotty No. 415 Slip Discs.

The Offset Gear is placed between the two existing gears on a Scotty mount to double the number of adjustments you can make. Finding a better angle but still maintaining that rigid hold is not only possible but extremely inexpensive. I used the Offset Gears in my Scotty Gear Head Mount Extender (No. 429) to get a better angle for my GoPro which is attached to a PanFish Camera Mount from YakAttack. I just couldn't get the angle I wanted with the standard gears. I popped in an Offset Gear and voila!I had what I wanted. I also tried it out in a Scotty rod holder which worked well but I still needed more fine tuning capability. That is where the No. 415 Slip Discs came in.

The Scotty No. 415 Slip Discs will tune as finely as you can dial it in.
Scotty No. 415 Slip Discs
A typical Scotty gear has teeth on both sides. The Slip Discs have teeth only on one side. What this allows you to do is make micrometer like adjustments up and down to find the perfect angle on that rod holder. These can be used with all the other Scotty mounts that have gears in them as well. The only thing you are really giving up is that iron clad security of teeth on both sides. With enough force the Slip Discs will do exactly that, slip. That's what they are made for. With a hand tightened nut on a rod holder or extension, in almost all applications, the 415 will be good to go.

Scotty No. 429 Gear Head Mt Ext.
I started kayak fishing with Scotty rod holders almost a decade ago. I fished them more because of the price point difference than because of functionality. There were other rod holders that had better adjustability but they were twice the cost. I knew the Scotty rod holders and extenders were clunky. The angles never seemed what I really wanted and so I eventually stopped using them. With the release of the Offset Gears and the Slip Discs, Scotty is going to get another shot on my kayak. The price point on Scotty products is already hard to beat and with these newest additions, affordability and functionality are both part of the new equation. If you are looking for a way to fine tune your Scotty products and your fishing, this is it,

If you would like to order some of these products you can go to the links below. These folks at HOOK1 are top notch and have the best prices around.

No. 414 Scotty Offset Gears (Listed at $4.49)

No. 415 Scotty Slip Discs (Listed at $4.49)

Since I mentioned it, if you needed to check out a Gear Head Mount Extender, here is a link as well:

Scotty No. 429 Gear Head Mount Extender (Listed at $24.99)

Thanks for reading. More reviews are on the way this week as we will look at some additional Scotty and YakAttack products.

All Rigged Up

Next week I'll have full details, reviews and ordering information up for most of the things you see here. Thanks for watching!

Ram Mount to Mighty Mount Rigging

Black Friday Deals on Kayak Fishing Gear

If you need some new kayak gear, check out Hook 1.You can find them at Sales are on now. Enter BLACKFRIDAY in the promo code box at checkout and watch the savings pile up!

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