Interview with Dave Hadden of Freedom Hawk Kayaks E-mail
Friday, 23 October 2009 16:50

Dave hadden

I met David early in my kayak fishing journey. It was my first year of kayak fishing. He had a booth at the Somerset Show for Walden Kayaks. We spoke kayak fishing. At the time I was fishing from my second kayak, a Cobra Explorer. We crossed paths again when I was at Ramsey Outdoors with my fly club for a Cabin Fever Day. Jack had announced on the forums that I was going to be there. I was there to support the Coastal Fly Rodders, a club I was a member of but people came in looking for me thinking I was going to be doing a seminar. So I ended up doing and impromptu discussion on kayak fishing focusing on the kayaks Ramsey carried. A gent came over, turns out he was the kayak manager, and said that they had fishing specific kayaks. I said “you’re not going to show me that Heritage Fisherman, are you?” It was the only kayak in the shop that had rod holders. He was and I laughed. My first kayak had been the Sea Dart from Heritage and the only difference between the two was the Fisherman had 3 rod holders and came in a subdued color. I asked if he kayak fished and he said yes and I knew he was a paddler who occasionally tossed a line, not a fisherman. He asked what was wrong with the kayak and I proceeded to show him all the things that were wrong with it. A couple days later I got a call from Dave as he was the sales and marketing director for Heritage then. We chatted and he later contacted me about doing seminars in shops in the region. The problem was I didn’t like any of the Heritage kayaks for fishing at the time. Neither of us wanted me to speak about products I didn’t feel good about. We stayed in touch and chatted occasionally. 

Dave Hadden

1) When did you start kayak fishing? 

My father started me fishing about the time I learned to walk. Eventually we started fishing from our family canoe and when I got my first kayak, an old fiberglass white water boat, I fished from that. While it was far from perfect, it got me on the water and catching fish. Eventually I rigged up an Aquaterra Keeowee and that was probably my first “fishing Kayak” (circa 1990). 

2) You’ve been with a number of companies. Since I’ve known you 4. When did you get started in the kayak world from an inside standpoint? 

I started off with Dagger in the early 90’s and was there 7 years. I loved it. They were really into the whitewater boats. Over time we established a nice touring kayak division. I caught my first Redfish from a Dagger Meridian 16’ Kevlar touring kayak while on an “R +D” trip to Charleston. After Dagger I worked for Wenonah/Current Designs for two years and then went to work for Walden Kayaks. At Walden we launched a new Fishing kayak called the Scout. With its oversized cockpit and 30 inch beam it was great for fly fishing the New England coast where my wife and I lived. From Walden I was recruited to Heritage Kayaks in Bristol RI. It was here that I oversaw the design for a NEW fishing kayak called the Redfish. The Redfish 14 and its 12 and 10 foot versions are still very popular.

I am now working with Freedom Hawk Kayaks (and one of the owners). While I leave the design work to Dave Cameron, our founder, I focus on the sales and marketing part of the business. (Oh yea, I still give my opinions every now and then on design and features.)

3) What excites you about Freedom Hawk? 

For the first time I’m actually working with a kayak company where everyone fishes. All our owners’ fish.

As a fly fisherman, it is the best boat for fly fishing I have ever fished…and I have fished them all.

What excites me.. Getting out on the water, meeting other fishermen, and yak fishermen, and working for and owning a company I am proud to be a part of. While we are a small company, the team at Freedom Hawk is second to none.

4) That’s got to be refreshing. I still laugh about when Scott told me how you guys snuck the frog eyes and other features into the Heritage Redfish when the owner was away. That way it would have cost too much money to change things afterwards. So how are things different at Freedom Hawk?

The biggest difference is when we set out to design a boat; our goal is to make the best fishing machine possible. We do not base our decisions on what the accountant says, how many hatches we have in stock, etc…etc. Our philosophy is simple, to truly fish from a kayak; you need the ability to stand. Although you may not use that all the time, in most situations when sighting, casting, or fishing structure it offers a distinct advantage. With that as our platform, our goal is to build the BEST STAND UP FISHING KAYAK POSSIBLE.

David Hadden – Freedom Hawk Kayaks

5) What can you tell us about what’s on the horizon for Freedom Hawk as I know there’s a bunch of stuff in the works? 

Our goal is to expand the Freedom Hawk “integrated outrigger patent” into other models and fishing vessels. Like any good designer, Dave Cameron is always thinking about the next generation of Freedom Hawks. What I love about fishing is getting on a new stretch of water, with perhaps a new species of fish and trying to figure out how to get them to bite. It is the same way at Freedom Hawk except here our goal is to make kayak fishing easier, more effective, and more accessible to more anglers. I have been in the kayak industry for almost 20 years, but now I feel the fun is just starting.

 

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