Big Kayak Myths for First Time Buyers

The kayak fishing market is continuing to explode and new kayak anglers are purchasing kayaks every single day by the thousands. Many, however, are making assumptions about their purchases that just aren’t true. Many are not informed. Whether placing the blame on the people that sold them the kayak or the customer for not asking the right questions, these myths should be dispelled.

My Kayak Should Not Have Any Water In It After A Long Day of Fishing

Granted your kayak shouldn’t have gallons of water in it but a couple of ounces isn’t hurting anything. So many new anglers obsess about the little bit of water that gets in the hull. Stop. No kayak is waterproof. Heck, submarines and battleships can take on water so the kayak is going to be ok with half a cup of water after you’ve been fishing all day.

If you want to locate the leak you should think about hatches first, whether they were open or sealed properly all day. Next you can check for cracks and after that, deep scars on the keel. If you had a major problem, you’d know it. A little water isn’t going to hurt. Returning your kayak for one you think will never get a drop of water inside is a bit of pie in the sky. This is a water sport after all.

My Deck Shouldn’t Flex

Maybe. Deck flex is a combination of a few things. If your deck is sagging in the middle it could be that the flat floor in front of the seat needs some extra support. It could also be that the kayak has a 350 pound weight limit and you weigh almost 300 pounds. It could be that the scupper holes are too far apart in the kayak without another point of support under deck. It could also be that your kayak is made of thinner plastic.

I’m not saying a deck should flex but it’s not abnormal. Especially if you weigh more than 250 pounds. Weight capacity is distributed throughout the kayak. When you put 70%+ of that weight capacity on one little 24 inch square it is going to sag. To overcome this, try to put your feet as wide as you can get them on the deck, even against the sidewalls of the kayak or place your feet near the scupper holes. These are the most rigid parts of the deck and won’t flex as much. Storing additional foam underneath is also an option. If you want a deck that isn’t going to flex at all, look for a kayak with a weight cap of at least twice your weight. It’s no guarantee but it will give more rigidity in almost all cases.

I Need A Fast Kayak

I always scratch my head at this. It seems that on the list of wants, people want to stand up and fish and for the kayak to be fast. My question is why? Why do you need a kayak that is going to be able to be paddled at four miles per hour or faster? Some folks might say for tournaments which I understand a little bit but a lot of the people asking aren’t tournament fishermen. Maybe the real desire is for something easy to paddle. That is different than speed however. My Diablo Adios glides across the water and is easy to paddle but it isn’t fast because once you stop paddling it will glide where the wind pushes it. (You can somewhat correct this with a skeg but that’s a different story).

In a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 you can cut through the water and it will hold a line pretty well. It would be considered a fast kayak. Efficient hull design comes into play. Weight comes into play. Rocker design comes into play. Lots of things really. The problem that most people are going to face is that few kayaks that are fast are also kayaks you can stand up and fish in and usually have fewer options. If you want speed, get a sea kayak but if you want to fish and stand, maybe you should look at ease of paddling rather than speed. Save those arms for hooksets.

Standing in a kayak

Chris Payne fly fishing in his Diablo Adios

Anybody Can Stand and Fish in Molly Jones Kayaks

Bull. Of all the myths I hate this one the most. I have watched skinny acrobats jump around in a video on a kayak to show the world anybody can do this! Bull. I have watched people fish from the nose of their kayak and then tell the world anybody can do this. Bull. Just the picture to the right of me standing and fly fishing might convince you that a Diablo is the way to go. While I love it, I’ll never guarantee that everybody can stand up and fish. I know people who have fallen off of them. Your balance is as important as kayak width and hull design if you want to stand.

Each and every person is built differently. Centers of gravity are different for everyone. Stability on the water is different for everyone. The only way to tell if you will be able to stand in a kayak is to actually try it. Do not take the word of anyone else. They mean well but if you buy a kayak to stand and fish and it doesn’t work, you’ll be upset. Avoid the upset (and the depreciation on a resale) and try one out.

I Bought the Kayak For $800 So I Should Be Able to Sell For That

Kayaks, just like cars, depreciate once they are used. I see a lot of guys buy a big box store kayak, add a bunch of accessories to it and then expect to sell it for the price of a new one. Unless you added some major electronics to it, that rarely is going to sell for retail. Kayaks are not houses. You can’t buy one, do some upgrades and expect to flip it for a profit. It doesn’t work like that. Why not?

Fishermen almost always want to choose their own stuff. Sure lights are nice, that paddle is cool and yeah I need a PFD anyway but I won’t take sloppy seconds for the same price as retail. I’d rather buy one brand new and upgrade over time. When I sell a kayak I’ll look at the age and subtract 20% for the first year and 10% each additional off of retail, ignore the value of the accessories and post up a price. It works pretty much all the time as long as the kayak is in good shape. You can try to get back some money on the price with accessories but it will usually take longer to sell.

One Kayak Can Do Everything Well

This is another false statement. Buying one kayak that can do saltwater, freshwater, marshes, rivers, big lakes, swift water and beyond the breakers well just isn’t going to happen. You can buy one kayak and do all of those things in it but to expect it to be great at all of them just isn’t a reality.
Short, flat bottomed kayaks are great for rivers and maneuvering tight spaces. They get sluggish and tiresome in a big water situation. Long, skinny kayaks that hold a line and cut through waves beyond the breakers are going to be a tough fit for rivers where agility and change of direction are needed.

My recommendation is to find a kayak that can do a little bit of everything you want to do and don’t expect it to be awesome at everything or buy multiple kayaks, each suited for a particular purpose.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a perfect kayak. They will all have problems at some point. If you are looking for a budget friendly kayak, expect that it may not be completely perfect. Heck, that even happens with some high end ones too. The things I look for may not be the same things you are looking for. Prioritize what you want in a kayak and start at the top of the list.




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About Chris Payne

A lifelong Texan, Chris Payne has been an outdoor enthusiast his entire life and has spent the last 15 years fishing mainly from a kayak. He is known for his thorough and helpful reviews as well as how to articles for nearly everything kayak fishing related. If you have questions or comments, you can leave them on this post or email Chris at:

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4 thoughts on “Big Kayak Myths for First Time Buyers

  • Keith McCray

    Excellent article. There is no perfect kayak. Also, spending thousands of dollars on a kayak doesn’t guarantee you will be happier or catch more fish than someone in a $500 kayak.

  • Jeff Little

    “Fast” kayak is a misnomer. “Efficient paddling hull” is more appropriate. It just feels good to paddle a boat that requires little effort to start moving and next to no effort to keep moving. These boats are not standing boats.