In August this year I bought my first fishing kayak. I had wanted to buy something to fish out of for a while. Something I could transport easily, didn’t take up a lot of space and ideally it needs to be something that would allow my daughter and I to fish together. From ideation to actually purchasing the boat took about 2 years - what can I say I am chicken shit and cheap!
Breaking it down a little further I was quickly able to rule a few things out. A small aluminum boat would be to big for my purposes. I didn’t think a canoe would work on the occasions I would fish solo. A float tube or small pontoon seemed to be only suited for small lakes. After some reading, youtube surfing and an on the water test I decided a kayak was the way to go.
Now you are probably wondering how I could fish out of a kayak with my daughter? Basically she also got a kayak, at first I was worried that it would be tough to try to help her (snags, tangles etc.) but over the summer, I realized that she had become quite the competent little angler and we would be fine.
So how did I choose my particular kayak? Well it started with a lot of reading. In the last few years kayak fishing has really boomed and there are tons of good resources out there. American Paddler click here Yak Angler click here both have great articles but more importantly reviews of different brands and models. If you prefer print Kayak Angler is a great magazine which also features reviews. And finally if watching videos is your thing youtube is full of reviews and buying tips.
After doing some reading I really narrowed down what I wanted. For me it needed to be a sit on top, weigh under 100 lbs, 11 to 13 feet long and be rated as very stable. I also had a budget of $1500 CDN. With these selections I had narrowed the field a lot; Pedal or motorized kayaks were out unless I found a steal on the used market and a few of the high end brands like Hobie and Old Towne were in the same boat.
Next up was visiting some retailers to see some of the models that would fit the bill in person. If you live in the GTA like me this meant visiting Sail click here, Fogh Marine clock here, the Complete Paddler click here and also MEC click here. All are great and carry a few different brands. I would like to point out that Fogh also has a classifeds board for used yaks and the Complete Paddler does sell demo models. At the same time I went on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace and created some alerts so that when a kayak brand or type was listed I got an email and could check it out.
After a few months of making the odd visit to a retailer, doing a few tests I was still undecided. I have a wonky back and found that the seat system was huge for me. Really I needed a model that featured a large lawn chair style seat that would allow me to fish for hours at a time. This put me in the upper end of my price range and really narrowed down the brands I was interested in. In July while at my brothers cottage I was able to take his Hobie Pro Angler 14 for a run. While this kayak was out of my price range it did reinforce the value of a good seat - that Hobies are very comfortable and the Mirage Drive is awesome. So the search continued.
In the middle of August I happened to check MEC’s website (for like the 1000th time) and noticed that certain models of the FeelFree Lure 11.5 were on sale and now in my budget. Not many stores had the kayak in stock but a quick call to the Burlington location confirmed that they indeed had one in stock. The FeelFree had been on my list and so that night I spent another few hours (told ya chicken shit and cheap!) looking at reviews, youtube videos and even a few reddit threads about the boat. The next morning my daughter and I headed to Burlington to check it out. Overall I was impressed and then impressed even more when I after talking to the very helpful store manager that if I picked up the boat the very next day they would knock off another $250! Sold. Here is a link to check it out.
So far I have been out roughly 5 or 6 times in the FeelFree and so far so good. The seat is super comfortable, it tracks fairly well and is stable to boot. It has a good suite of features out of the box and I liked that if I really feel like I want a Pedal system I can add it after the fact.
Not wanting to turn this into a novel I will quickly mention that we ended up getting a 10 Foot Pelican Sit in kayak for my daughter. It was a great sale at Canadian Tire and so far she really likes it. Dad also loves the fact that it is really light and so moving it along with my bigger, heavier boat isn’t to cumbersome.
I will eventually cover off in a video or post on how we transport the kayaks but as Hammy the Hamster said “That's another story”