“Toast’s Workshop” - Up a Creek Without a Paddle E-mail
Friday, 16 October 2009 18:13

For my second entry in the “Workshop” series, I thought about the most important accessories that are commonly overlooked by the kayak angler.  Obviously, the primary accessories needed for a kayak fishing outing are your paddle, personal floatation device, and fishing gear, followed by safety equipment such as an audible signaling device (i.e. whistle).  But there are other items that a well-prepared kayak angler won’t leave home without.  After recently reading a few posts on a couple kayak fishing forums on the web, the use, or lack thereof, of paddle leashes has seemed to pop up as an issue which should be addressed.  A paddle leash, which can consist of anything from a piece of string to a purchased retail lanyard, is a typically overlooked option which could save many heartaches, and possible lives.  The goal of these devices is to make sure you don’t end up “up a creek without a paddle.”
Consider the following scenario…

You are fishing alone in an area removed from boat traffic and other anglers.  It could be either a location with flowing water that has recently received a substantial amount of rain, or a tidal area with a considerable amount of current.  As you reach to grab your rod, the kayak is hit from the side by a sizeable wave.  You are thrown from your kayak, but are able to hold onto a side handle.  Well, what about the paddle?  The typical kayak paddle floats, so by the time you have regained your senses after hitting the water, you realize the paddle is nowhere to be found.  You may have remained with the kayak, but the swift current has swept your paddle away.  How are you to return to shore, let alone back to the launch location?

Let’s consider a couple options.  To avoid the previous situation a kayak angler can either use a paddle leash or carry a secondary emergency paddle.  To be even more confident, both options may be used.  I personally have a small two foot canoe paddle and a hand-made leash on my primary paddle.  If you don’t want to purchase a fabricated paddle leash, but still want more than just a piece of string, all you need is about five dollars in supplies.
An easy way of making a leash simply requires a length of string long enough to allow proper paddle motion, while being tied to a point on the kayak.  A 60 inch piece of ¼ inch diameter line works well.  I tie a swiveling clip on one end of the line that can be attached to a padeye on the kayak near my seat location.  On the other end I tie a small knot.  Next to the knot I attach Velcro tape.  About a four inch strip of both male and female sections of the Velcro are affixed to each other via the tape side, enclosing the line next to the knot between them in the center of the Velcro’s length.  The knot keeps the line from working out of the sticky areas of the tape, and the Velcro can now be wrapped around the shaft of a paddle in order to attach it to the line.  In essence, the paddle is connected to the leash with Velcro, and the leash is connected to the kayak with the clip.  This is a bit more elaborate than just a piece of line tied off at both ends, but serves the same purpose.

 


Remember, a kayak is useless without some form of propulsion.  The most common form of this propulsion is the paddle.  If you can’t hang on to your paddle, you are “up a creek” without a one.  Always be safe on the water.  Plan for the worst case scenario, and you will never be caught off-guard.  The paddle leash is an easy option, and can make the difference between a memorable day on the water, and a day you will want to forget.

John “Toast” Oast is a member of the Ocean Kayak Fishing Team and the Dunkin-Lewis / Johnson Outdoors Pro Staff, and resides in Williamsburg, Virginia.  He is the founder of the Williamsburg Kayak Fishing Association and Fishyaker.com, and is a member of the East Coast Kayak Fishing Team.  His kayak rigging videos have received thousands of views, and been linked to websites around the world.

 

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