Buying a Kayak

Buying a Kayak | The Process (or Lack Thereof) of Selecting My First Kayak

Ok. So let me shoot you straight from the giddy-up. I have always been slightly interested in the idea of kayak fishing but never really gave it a chance. I just didn’t think buying a kayak and hitting the water was for me. I wouldn’t say I looked down my nose at it per se, I’m just a fairly big guy coming in at 254 pounds and not really a nimble, agile, or steady person. The last thing I thought I wanted to do was get in a small boat and paddle around while trying not to fall out. 

I was wrong on so many fronts.

Buying a Kayak: Why Not Use My Bass Boat?

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting at home on a Sunday and had finally had enough. I was wanting to go fishing but frustrated with the un-sustainability of fishing out of my fiberglass bass boat. I have a ‘very reasonable’ payment by today’s standards of $350 per month. 

But add on top of that the insurance ($70 per month) the gas and oil for the boat each time I want to go fishing (say an average of $75 per trip) and then the fact that I’m usually fishing a little pot tournament each time I go fishing in the summer (an average of $50 per entry fee). Not even factoring in truck gas or any fishing gear, I’m at about $1,000 per month to fish 4 times. 

Fishing is supposed to be fun. 

That’s all it was ever supposed to be. For me, it had become a part-time job that I wasn’t even making money at. Even if and when I won a little money in one of these pot tournaments, I was still going backward in a hurry and only fishing a few days a month. I just couldn’t afford it anymore.

I work two jobs and have no kids or wife or ex-wife or any financial responsibilities really outside of my house, land, truck, and boat. And if I can’t afford to fish out of a bass boat I don’t how in the heck most people are doing it with so much more on their plate.

Buying a Kayak: The Shotgun Purchase of My First Kayak

All of this was running through my head and I said to heck with it. I got up off the couch, drove to the local Tractor Supply of all places and picked up a kayak for $299 plus tax. (The full video from that day and my first trip out in a kayak can be viewed here.) 

Buying a Kayak(3)

Y’all… I had a blast!

I took that thing to a local lake and it was a complete train wreck, but I did manage to catch 4 fish and had a brand new experience that was so genuinely rewarding and freeing that I couldn’t wait to go again. I loaded my little Sundolphin Journey 12 up in the back of my truck and fished 6 of the next 7 days out of it, an hour or two before or after work, I even fished a local pot tournament out of it. Footage from that week is all available on my YouTube channel

I’m not going to sugar coat it, kayak fishing out of that boat was backbreaking at times. You sit down in that one, and after about an hour and a half, my lower back would be in a world of hurt. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to stand up in it, so for a couple of those longer trips I was literally wallowing in my own misery for 5 or 6 hours or would get out on the bank for a minute to stretch. 

But every bit of it was still fantastic. I know that sounds weird. But it’s like that saying “embrace the suck”. Every ounce of misery that went into it made each fish catch that much more exciting and rewarding. How do you measure the tallest mountain peak without the lowest point in the valley? 

I think the arms race in the big boat world has spoiled those of us who could afford it and put those of us who can’t afford all the gadgets at such a disadvantage that it’s not that much fun anymore. I would catch a two-pounder in my bass boat and casually discarded it out the back of the boat while fixing my eyes on where my next cast should go. I’ve found myself just staring at a two-pounder after buying a kayak. 

Buying a Kayak(2)

Looking at all the detail in the fish and just appreciating the battle. It’s just different. Pure and simple.

Buying a Kayak: Looking Forward to Learning More

Now how long it will stay pure and simple is in question. There are already thousands of gadgets out there to make kayak fisherman “better”. I’ll admit several are very appealing to me right out of the gate. But the ones I’m most interested in aren’t the ones that really give me a huge advantage on the fish or the other kayakers, but instead, the ones that make kayaking a little more sustainable long term physically.

Buying a Kayak(1)

Buying a kayak… a better kayak… is going to be essential. 

The Sundolphin (aka Tea Cup as so adequately named by my mother) is a cool boat. A lot went into it for a few hundred bucks. It would be something worth looking at if you want to leave a kayak on your dock to fish for an hour here or there without worrying that someone might steal a $2,000 rig. But if you’re a little heavy set, got a little age on you, or want to spend more than a couple hours on the water at the time, I found out quickly that you’re going to need more. 

I have been very fortunate in the last week to borrow a couple of Bonafide Kayaks from a buddy of mine named Scott Beutjer, and they are awesome. I’ve only fished out of one of the models so far, the SS127, but it is a night and day difference. Customization is so key in this kayak deal. Using every inch of available space efficiently and having everything at your fingertips is essential. The layout and design of the SS127’s are so intentional.

Here’s my first trip in it! 

In time, especially if I get into the Kayak Bass Fishing tournament scene, I’m sure I’ll want a graph, motor, and Power-Pole. Even then, tricking out a kayak is so much more achievable. You’ll never be tempted to mount four 12” graphs like in a big boat, an Elite 9 Ti2 would be plenty. You don’t need 2 Power-Pole Blades for $4,500, just their $600 Micro. The Torqeedo isn’t exactly cheap around a couple thousand bucks, but we’re not talking about $20,000 for a 250 horsepower outboard. 

All that will come in time. For now I’m just loving fishing again. And that’s enough for me!


This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

Become an ANGLR Expert and apply here.

Shaye Baker

ABOUT Shaye

Shaye Baker started fishing with his dad in Alabama as soon as they could find a life jacket small enough to fit him. Competing with his father in local tournaments, Shaye quickly found a hunger for competitive bass fishing. He furthered his fishing career at Auburn University helping to establish the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club. While at Auburn, Shaye served as the President of the club and qualified to fish on the traveling team amassing six Top 5 finishes including two 3rd place finishes in consecutive FLW College Fishing National Championships. While beginning to dabble in the world of outdoor journalism, Shaye continued to fish semi-pro events finishing in the Top 5 in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Costa Series and BFLs. Finding himself at a crossroads, Shaye chose to put down the rod and pick up the pen and camera to focus on his career in outdoor journalism. Shaye has had work featured in Bassmaster Magazine, FLW Outdoors Magazine, B.A.S.S.Times and the Japanese bass fishing magazine Basser. Shaye has also had work featured on ESPN and Wired2Fish.com, FLWfishing.com and Bassmaster.com. While working with B.A.S.S., Shaye initiated and spearheaded their GoPro division which brought more video coverage to the fans than had ever been done before in competitive fishing. After his tenure with some of the best companies in the business, Shaye identified a need for competitive fishing where participation didn’t cost a fortune. By founding UPLOADED, the Online Fishing Series, Shaye established a free tournament series where anglers could film their fish catches and upload their videos to compete against other anglers for prizes.

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ANGLR Expert, Shaye Baker

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