The requested kayak fishing measuring board battle is here. To keep it decently succinct, I have limited the criteria to a few areas that I think are relatable. First, the comparison is for fish measuring boards utilized and approved in most freshwater fishing kayak tournaments. Some of these boards have different versions and lengths available so I’ll be specific when necessary about the boards. I am also using categories from the customer/angler perspective, not the Tournament Director angle. I am specifically doing this because governing bodies and tournaments have a certain set of needs that may never cross the mind of an angler needing a board for competition (e.g. ability to be modified for cheating).
I have not included price as an area of analysis because everyone has different money to spend. I wanted to look at form and function, regardless of price. Price is a decision you should make, not me. I have rated the boards based on my testing and experience with them on a single day of fishing where I had every board with me, shot photos of a fish on all of the boards, and analyzed the shots for consistency, etc. The bottom line is, these are my opinions based on years of tournament fishing using measuring boards and on the other side of the fence when acting as a judge or tournament director.
The four measuring boards
The Hawg Trough, straight as it comes with a custom logo but no mods done at the retail level.
The Fishing Online Prelined Hawg Trough. This one is pre-lined, and has flotation foam added to the back channels so it floats.
The Yak Gear Fish Stik, Gen 3 with arrows and slide locks.
The Ketch Co 26″ KBF approved board with sliding rail system.
The boards are all ranked from 1st to 4th with 1st being the best board in that category and on down from there. At the end I averaged out total scores to find a winner(s).
The first category is flotation. Does the board float? How much work is needed to make the board float by the consumer?
The first place board in this category is the Yak Gear Fish Stik Gen 3. Straight out of the package the Fish Stik3 floats, nothing has to be added to it and nothing can fall off of it to make it not float.
The second place board for flotation is the Fishing Online Hawg Trough. The FishOn HT floats when purchased with the modification. Over time the foam could lose adhesiveness and fall out so it received a respectable 2nd.
The third place board is the Hawg Trough. You will have to add a float or foam to keep the Hawg Trough from sinking. No other way to say it, this will sink as purchased.
The fourth place board in flotation is the Ketch Co board. The Ketch wasn’t designed to float. It was designed for durability and is built like a tank. And tank sink. Make sure you tether this board.
How long is the board going to last before tragedy strikes? Will a 24″ bass tail slap this measuring board in half like a judo chop?
First place goes to the Ketch Co board. No other way to say it, this thing is the Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer) in the fishing universe. Throw it on the ground, back of the truck, it’s freaking stout.
Second place goes to the Fish Stik 3. I have been pretty rough on both the Gen 1 and Gen 3 boards and have had zero issues. A couple of people have mentioned hinge concerns which would be the most vulnerable potential spot for breakage however I’ve not seen those issues. A solid board for sure.
Third place goes to the FishOn HT. This is strictly because of the flotation foam. It adds a small extra little layer of thickness to hopefully avoid breaking.
Fourth place goes to the Hawg Trough. Sunny days and measured fish are NOT the friend of the Hawg Trough. It’s not if it breaks but when.
How easy is this to stow? Is it bulky or long? Will it fold or change shapes? Where will it fit?
First place in stowability goes to the Fish Stik 3. A 36″ board that folds up into a 12″ board. Yeah, that’s going to win.
Second goes to the Ketch Co board. Why? Frankly, it’s shorter than the two Hawg Troughs in length and is rugged enough to be tossed anywhere except into deep water.
Third place in stowabilty goes to the Fishing Online Hawg Trough. Why is it not a tie between the two Hawg Troughs? Because one doesn’t float. With the FishOn version, you can put it in a back tank well or wherever and if it falls out, it’s floating there for you.
Last in this area is the fragile, sinking Hawg Trough. These are made of eggshells right?
When I put a fish on it, how easy is it for a judge to see what my fish measures? Without mods remember. As it comes.
First place is the Ketch board. The lines on this board are etched into it, are straight, are a high visibility contrast line and read well. We have some suggestions but we will leave that for the board specific review next week.
Second place is the Fishing Online Hawg Trough. With the neatness of the pre-marked lines, a fish is easily measured by angler and judges alike. Black sharpie on hi-vis yellow is pretty easy most times.
Third goes to the Yak Gear Fish Stik 3. It does have high raised edges on the number and line embossment molded into the board but in different lighting conditions and weather conditions it can be difficult to quickly get a read. It does come with a marker though!
Last is the Hawg Trough. When you buy this thing, you have just started the journey to a tourney ready board. You need a surgeon friend to come line this thing if you want to be tourney legal. Fat crayon lines don’t count.
Good to Go
When I purchase it, how ready am I to enter a tournament with it? Are there any mods that need to be done or can I buy it and be done?
The winner by a nose, or better stated, some foam, is the Fishing Online Hawg Trough. You can buy it, take it out of the box and be ready to fish a tournament. Don’t forget your identifier!
Second goes to the Ketch board. If it floated as is or even came with a tether and carabiner clip we might reconsider its placement.
Third is the Yak Gear Fish Stik Gen 3. If it were prelined this might win but instead, 3rd. But hey, free marker! Am I right?
Fourth or dead last as I like to consider it is the future art project you just bought. Shop teachers around the world love this board. So do manufacturers because you gotta buy a bunch of them.
In a bass boat this doesn’t factor near as much but in kayak competitions, on board weight of your gear is important. How heavy is it? The lighter the better.
In order of first to worst is the Hawg Trough, Fishing Online Hawg Trough, Yak Gear Fish Stik Gen 3 and then the Ketch.
As you can see, based on these criteria, the Fishing Online Hawg Trough and the Yak Gear Fish Stik Gen 3 tied for first.
You know what that means?
The tie breaker for me is one born of experience in dealing with these boards (or types of these) for years. I asked myself which one I was most likely to carry with me based on all of the above listed factors and any other potential differences. For me, I chose the Yak Gear Fish Stik Gen 3. The Fish Stik measures up to 36 inches so it works well for other game fish, it floats as manufactured, it stows as small as 12 inches, and is more durable. Maybe that meets or doesn’t meet what you want or need in a board but based on this comparison, that is my winner.
Though it didn’t fair as well in this comparison, I have really enjoyed using the Ketch board. I’ll have a full review out next week on it. From a tournament director perspective it solves a LOT of potential issues so I expect it to be around and have additional revisions en route. Stay tuned for that!