There is a big wave of interest in kayak fishing these days and just about every keen angler has tried fishing from a yak or wants to try it out.
I am in the same boat (or should that be yak) as a lot of anglers. I am a keen lure fisher that likes actively searching out fishy areas and throwing lures into them in the hope of extracting a fish or two. Over the last 10 years I have become accustomed to travelling around in a 4.2-4.5m tinnie with an electric, standing up and casting and hopefully catching. But kayak fishing changes all of this. For starters you have to do all the travel work yourself. Then you are sitting virtually in the water and if you need to adjust your drift or back out of a snag or pontoon while hooked up, then you had better have a plan. It almost seems like hard work.
But it is the problems you have to overcome when you first step into a kayak for lure fishing that makes the experience such a challenging and exciting one.
Let’s look at how Viking has overcome these issues with their Profish 45 and Tempo Fisherman kayaks, two craft that have been designed with anglers in mind.
One of the big bugbears for anglers new to kayaks is paddling and if you’ve spent more time watching the footy than playing it in recent years then the thought of paddling might be a bit daunting. But paddling a kayak these days is not the hard work it used to be because modern design, lighter materials and better paddles have all combined to make a trip in a yak almost easy.
I am not suggesting that paddling through a bar crossing or directly out through surf is easy, I am talking about paddling around an estuary or lake being relatively easy, certainly easier than I thought it would be. On the water Greg Livingstone and I took turns in both craft so we could compare which craft paddled easiest. We both agreed that the slim lines of the Profish 45 made getting underway easy, but the extra wide body of the Tempo Fisherman made balance just that bit easier. Balance is important when paddling as the better balanced you are, the better transfer of energy there is into forward movement. Overall I rated the Tempo as just that bit easier to paddle in my inexperienced hands and I could race Greg and win when I was in the Tempo and he in the Profish. Greg found the Tempo just a touch easier to paddle too, but loved the way the Profish cut the water and resisted the wind, something its slim design was made for. The Profish was also a little lighter and sat lower to the waterline than the Tempo so cut through the water well.
Fishing from a yak is unlike any other fishing you are likely to do. For those used to a casting deck and standing, getting your casts right can take a little time as you adjust to the new release height. Also retrieving lures is different. You can’t point your rod tip to the water so you end up fishing to one side of the yak, which is a really comfortable way to fish I found.
For the majority of my first trip in these yaks I fished a light spin outfit with the omnipresent Ecogear SX40 lures. These little lures are major danger for bream everywhere and I hoped this would be the case on our trip. As it turned out the SX40 was the only lure to land fish that day and fishing it yak style seemed to make little difference to results.
For all the new casting angles and retrieve angles you will need to get used to, it is when you hook a fish and have to fight it, avoid collisions with trees, pontoons or boats and then land it that you really discover the challenges yak fishing throws at you.
The first bream I hooked was a modest 30-32cm fork length fish and didn’t it give me some curry. The wind didn’t help matters as it was blowing about 15 knots and with a fish rampaging around on 4lb leader, the wind pushing mew towards a boat worth more than my house and some mates giggling and laughing at my ineptness, I thought that perhaps I should have thought about things a little before casting. Oh well!
With the fish burrowing away to get under said million dollar boat and the wind intent on making me pay for a new gelcoat job my decision was to hold the rod and paddle at the same time and give half a dozen quick strokes out of trouble, then land the fish. That probably sounds as funny as it was and I am sure there is a professional way to do it, but I’ll get onto that after I land a few hundred more fish.
After all that the fish was obviously landed and released, a job that is super easy with a pair of pliers and your close proximity to the water. Overall a fun experience that made the landing of the fish every bit as challenging as getting it to bite in the first place.
The features that are included as standard on both the Tempo Fisherman and the Profish 45 make the actual task of organising yourself for trip a breeze.
Looking at the features that both craft have first sees a list of cunningly designed rod holders, tie downs and storage areas that illustrate that an angler has played a big role in their design.
The rear rod holders in both craft are located in areas that mean when you are travelling your rod/s is out of the way of your backstroke with the paddle, yet you do not have to be a contortionist to reach the rod when you need it for fishing. They are brilliantly located and one of the best features of both craft.
The paddle strap is also a fantastic feature. On both yaks this strap can be found on either side of the craft so lefties and righties will feel right at home. In operation these straps simply get stretched over the paddle handle and clipped into a hook. Brilliantly simple.
Both yaks also make great use of the wet wells by having well designed elastic straps and hooks that will cover these spaces holding anything stored in them safely. We stored things like landing nets, tackle trays and cameras in these areas and never felt like we were going to lose them at any stage.
And let’s not forget the most important accessory you simply must buy to go with your craft: the seat. The Viking seat is custom designed to fit in their range of yaks and even after as little time as 15 minutes you will find the seat and absolute Godsend. Fitted by the use of four clips and adjustable straps, the seat has a high back and provides just enough support to stop any back aches after an hour or more paddling and fishing. I pulled my seat out after the first hour and after 10 minutes put it back in, that’s how much pressure a good seat takes off your lower and idle back.
Individually the Profish 45 has more angler features worthy of special mention. For starters the Profish has a dedicated sounder area and a dedicated livewell/ice bin for fish. These two important pieces of design are located between the angler’s legs well within easy reach. The Profish also has adjustable foot rests that means whatever size you are you can comfortably rest your feet while paddling and fishing. A rudder system or electric motor can also be attached to the stern to make those long paddles and difficult drifts a thing of the past.
The Tempo Fisherman is a bit wider and its stern is built so that an electric motor can simply be attached with stainless hardware. This attachment area can also sport a rudder, but my preference would be for an electric outboard.
Both craft are constructed from Viking's tough superlinear polyethylene. This means they can take a bit of punishment and dragging them up a beach or riverbank is not a problem. You can scrape them over rocks and the like without too much worry, but like any product the more you bash it the quicker it deteriorates.
I am probably the last person who should ever review a kayak because I never thought it would be my thing. But after spending a couple of fishing sessions in the Tempo Fisherman and Profish 45 I am starting to see why so many people really enjoy yak fishing.
For me yak fishing is still challenging and demanding. I am yet to build up that core of work on the paddles to take on the wide blue yonder, but I am now comfortable in an estuary or river or lake. I am sadistically looking forward to the time I hook something big enough to really tow me around in the sticks – something like a big impoundment barra or a big trevally in the estuaries, just to see how I handle it. I have no doubt the Viking yaks will take it all in their stride.
If you have been teased up by all the yak press lately and want to check it out first hand, log onto Viking Kayak’s website at www.vikingkayak.com.au or give them a call and discuss what you want to do. They do a range of craft that means there will be something just right for your needs. Call them on 07 5456 2366.
ModelLengthWidthHull WeightLoad CapacityPrice (SRP)
|Profish 45||4.35m||0.77m||28kg||130kg||$1495 (exc. seat and paddle)|
|Tempo Fisherman||3.9m||0.82m||29kg||160kg||$1095 (inc. seat, exc. paddle)|