What Your Kayak Dealer Won't Tell You E-mail
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 20:58

The purchase of a fishing kayak might be one of the more expensive consumer purchases you might make, more importantly it is a purchase that will effect your very important recreation time. Unlike choosing the wrong refrigerator, where you might have to deal with an ice maker that cant keep up with demand, the wrong kayak can make time on the water miserable and possibly unsafe.

Owning and operating a kayak shop has given me the incite to some of the mistakes the consumer makes in choosing the right kayak, not getting stuck with a lemon and getting the most bang for the buck. I have seen many a mistake made by people who have used the wrong guidelines in making their decision. I also have spent too much time correcting the mistakes made by other shop owners in pressuring people into kayaks that were clearly not the right choice. Of course, all kayak shop owners are there to sell kayaks and pay the bills, but I never lost track of the person who would be sitting in that kayak, and on many an occasion gave up an easy sale because the kayak best suited for the person was not available. One of the most important resources for me has been the feedback of kayak users who purchased from us, understanding the problems of certain models after extended use is invaluable to the education of what kayaks work for different people. Below are guidelines for helping make sure you don't make a mistake.

Research : I know most of us don't like doing homework, but you will have to hit the web and see what others are saying about the most popular fishing kayaks. This is a great place to start because these popular models have been time tested by many people of varying sizes and environments, hearing their experiences is going to speak volumes. If you are 6'5" and 280 pounds, hearing what other larger paddlers are using for similar fishing areas is going to mean a lot to you. For instance, if you are a person who plans on launching from the surf and fishing the ocean with a bait tank, it is important to hear what others are using and their feedback. One thing I have seen over and over again, is new kayak buyers are drawn to shorter kayaks initially, then they quickly realize that they are limited in their range and upgrade to a longer and faster kayak. Even if you plan to fish places that are within a mile of the launch this seemingly short mile can be a tough ride in a 10' foot kayak with a stiff wind or rough water. Your kayak shop can be a great resource of information in helping choose the right kayak but make sure you go in there with a little knowledge beforehand, and make sure you are actually talking to a person who fishes from a kayak and has some time on the water under their belt. If you think you are going to walk into a Dick's Sporting Goods, REI or another big box store and find a person that has a real incite into the best kayak for your situation - you are mistaken. Even a dedicated kayak shop has sales people who don't really know all the product lines so make sure you are talking somebody who speaks kayak fishing.

Demo : I have taken part if many demos in my old shop and I can't begin to tell you how many people have chosen the wrong kayak because of them. Don't get me wrong - trying before you buy is important and valuable but in the past I have seen paddlers put way to much emphasis on the stability of the kayak, this is especially true of new paddlers who really don't have an idea of what they need, it is like somebody testing the performance of Indy 500 race cars, without a driving license. Back to the previous example of a person looking for a kayak for the ocean fishing and rough water, demoing kayaks on a little pond might not give the person the corrects results to formulate a usable comparison. So do take advantage of any chance you have to try different models but don't let it be the end all in your decision making process - feedback from others who are in similar fishing environment can be just as important.

New Models : Kayak manufacturers do a great job of promoting and hyping new models, in most cases long before they're available. It has been my experience that more times than not, these models will have some problems that the company will fix with their next manufacturing lot. I am not sure why this happens and why problems with these models don't surface until the consumer is actually using the kayak, it's probably because manufacturers are always under the gun to get shipments out to the dealers. It is always best to wait and see how the kayak holds up and what the initial review are; I would say there is a 50% chance of some problem in first run kayaks that will be redesigned and fixed later. Some of the problems I have seen in new models have been leaking, hulls that deform, rusting hardware, collapsing seat areas and even a company's "big man kayak" that when first released could only handle people under 5'11". For most of these problems the company does their best to either replace the kayak or remedy the problem but some problems in the actual design you might just get stuck with and might not ever know that the company has tweaked the original mold and that the new versions are improved. Don't be afraid to call the manufacturer and find out if there are any issues with new models and how any known issues will be handled. Sometimes the dealers are left out of this loop and it is always best to deal with the source directly. Be careful here, if there is an issue with a kayak model, just because you have waited for the new manufacturing lot to resolve the problem, a shop might still have the older models in inventory; ask at both the dealer and company level to make sure you don't get the older model. All kayaks have a serial number that corresponds with when the kayak was made, this will be a big help in figuring out if you have not gotten a bad kayak.

When you make your choice of which kayak to buy, this will bring up some new decisions.

Where to Buy : Many businesses have gotten into the kayak fishing boom, from big box stores and online retailers to small tackle shops, there are many places to get the kayak you want. Operating a business that specialized in customer service and getting people into the right kayak, I am always in favor of buying from the business that spent the time to educate you and help you through the process, sometimes you might have to pay a slightly higher premium at one of the places, but supporting these businesses is an investment that insures you get on the water the right way. Buying kayaks online has become increasingly popular, especially for those who don't live near places to buy. In some cases buying online can save you state tax, which can be a lot less than shipping costs. There are some risks in buying online but if you deal reputable companies there will not be a problem. Before you buy online make sure you iron out all the details of the shipment, such as damage issues, we shipped many kayaks in the past and if we ever had a problem with a kayak getting damaged during shipping, once the customer refused the kayak we sent another out even before we got the damaged kayak back - this insured the customer didn't have to wait any longer to get their product. For some, the idea of a kayak being shipped to their house is a little scarey but 99% of the time it is a pretty painless process. It is important to note that if you have a warranty issue down the line, you do not have to send the kayak back to the dealer you purchased it from, any authorized dealer can handle the warranty problem- regardless of where you bought it. A smart dealer will look at it as way to win over a new customer, even though they will sometimes not like the idea that they have to give you a new kayak and have to store a defective one, but it is what a dealer is obligated to do.

Getting the Best Deal : Lets face it, most of us care about price and a kayak is an expensive investment, many times with a little research you can shave off as much as 10 to 20% off your purchase. Most kayaks are sold by dealers with a profit margin of between 30 and 50% - this usually depends on the volume of kayaks the dealer is buying. Some dealers are open to bargaining, especially on models that might not be selling as well or last year's models. By far the best time to buy is as the season comes to an end, kayaks are big and take lots of space - the last thing a shop wants to do is go into the off season with a bunch of last years models hanging around. Another way to get better deal is to ask for any "blem" kayaks. A blem is just a kayak that either has some manufactured defect or a kayak that got a little scratched either in shipment to the dealer or banged up in the store. Most times the manufactured blems are just comedic imperfection, like colors that are not quite blended right or perhaps a decal that is off center. Then there are more serious manufactured blems, like kayaks that might have repaired scupper holes, scupper holes or channels are the most likely place on a kayak for leaks to appear, they are usually just repaired by adding a little extra sealant after the kayak comes out of the mold. Usually all blems still carry the same warranty as first grade kayaks but it is always a good idea to ask and have the dealer write on the receipt that the full warranty applies. Some companies sell blems that have no warranty and these can be a bit riskier but in the past I have seen few problems - even in these. I would always suggest that you inspect any kayak you are planning on buying, turn the kayak over look at the hull for any deformities, waves or anything else that does not look right, again sometimes in transit the kayaks when stacked on top of each other will deform in some areas - these are usually temporary and will come out in the sunlight or the heat but offer you a great bargaining tool. If you cant get anywhere in getting a better price on the kayak, then ask for some better prices on any accessories you might buy with the kayak, paddles and clothing carry much better profits than kayaks and getting an upgrade paddle tossed in or at a discount is not that hard.

Some companies are now are making models that are "angler" versions, usually a few rod holders and maybe an anchor, these can add another $100 or more to the cost. You can save by buying the non-angler model and outfitting later at a savings and having flexibility in the layout.

I think that the biggest mistake I have seen is that sometimes people cross the line between research and over analyzing their purchase, I have seen people that cant make a decision between a few models, or stay on sidelines waiting for the new next best thing. The great thing about kayaks is that they really don't lose much value, so if you buy a kayak this year and after a season of use, you decide to sell it you can probably not lose more than 10 to 15% - try that with a motorboat. So go ahead and pull the trigger you will be happy you did!

With the Internet the consumer has been empowered, making the right choice and making sure you don't over pay has never been easier

 

Comments  

 
0 #1 Guest 2010-04-16 13:58
Hello JOE. More great info on kayak fishing.Iam new to kayak fishing. Sadly I did not know.All this info.I had to buy a 10/ft kayak.In order to store it under my porch.But happy to kayak.And fish. At the same time. I need time to rethink. Thank you. Keep Fishing .
 
 
+2 #2 Guest 2011-03-20 11:02
Excellent advise and good timming as I'm shopping for my first kayak- Thanks
 
 
0 #3 Actiondoc 2011-07-31 22:59
Thank you for the great advice. I am currently buying my first kayak.
 
 
+7 #4 Bikedork 2012-03-25 17:36
Thanks for your insights. They may incite me to make a purchase.
 

You must be registered to post a comment.


Login

Newsletter

Subscribe here to receive FREE email issues of Kayak Fishing Magazine.

Most Popular

Choosing a Fishing Kayak
Like many kayak fisherman, my first fishig kayak was a mistake and I only used it a few times.  There wasn’t a lot of information available.  Things have...
Effective Trolling With Your Kayak
  While trolling is a mainstay of saltwater fishermen and also popular for targeting suspended fish in deepwater lakes of the northern US and Canada, it’s not the way most...
Kayak Fishing on a Budget
As we are all aware of we are in some tough economic times and even though kayak fishing is a pretty inexpensive sport relative to owning a boat or hiring fishing guides, it still...

Random

Fly Fishing from a Kayak? You Bet!
Fly Fishing from a Kayak? You Bet! At first blush you might wonder how one could possibly fly cast perched in a kayak. Impossible come to mind, or why would you? Well, I’m here...
Fishing Texas’ Saltwater Bays in the Winter
“They are sitting in that mud.  They will actually push their bellies right down into the grass and you will never see those fish from above.” Captain Dean Thomas, owner of...
Destinations - Alaska
In the first of this series (Destinations) I presented information on the Everglades.  Florida has so many kayak fishing opportunities that even with my breaking the state down...

Latest Kayak Reviews

Stealth Pro Fisha 575
 
3.0
Field and Stream Eagle Talon
 
5.0
Feelfree Moken 12.5
 
5.0
Pelican Castaway 100
 
4.0
Ascend FS10
 
4.0
Sun Dolphin Excursion 10
 
4.0
Santa Cruz Kayaks Raptor SOT
 
5.0
Old Town Predator 13
 
5.0
RTM Kayaks Tempo Angler
 
4.0
Hobie Mirage Revolution 13
 
3.0
Stealth Pro Fisha 575
 
4.0
Stealth Pro Fisha 475
 
4.0

Latest Equipment Reviews

Body Glove 3T Barefoot Max
 
5.0
Body Glove 3T Barefoot Warrior
 
5.0
Body Glove 3T Barefoot Warrior
 
3.0
Columbia Drainmaker
 
5.0
Sperry SON-R Sounder Shandal
 
4.0
Garmin VIRB Elite
 
4.0
Polaroid XS100
 
4.0
Backwater Paddles Assault Hand Paddle
 
5.0
Backwater Paddles Assault Hand Paddle
 
5.0
Stohlquist Piseas
 
4.0
Wheeleez Tuff Tire Kayak Cart
 
5.0
Boga Grip
 
4.0