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I Just got my new Jackson Cuda and Coosa in this winter and I am really JACKED about getting them ready for this years fishing season! And well……. I got to say among the many things I enjoy about this great sport, one high on that list, is rigging a new boat. Since I have started the process of studying these boats to figure out how I might handle my rod and tackle management, gear storage and anchor systems, I thought it would be a good point to share some of the considerations I go through to customize and rig my kayaks. My purpose is to turn out a well thought out, high performance fishing machine that is custom rigged to my fishing style and above all else kept properly balanced and trimmed.

Company’s like Yak-Attack, Scotty, Ram, Harmony and countless others have begun to catch up with the Kayak fishing craze and providing the kayak angler with a host of great options to professionally rig their boats. And, while it’s true that kayaks have proven to be a great platform for the serious fisherman, the first thing I try to do is to work with boat’s design and its load specifications. Secondly, I know (from many lessons learned the hard way) that the key to maintaining maximum stability and the optimum paddling performance is to keep my boats balanced and trimmed as well as possible. To maintain the trim on kayaks and canoes requires all gear carried in it (including the weight of the paddler) to be balanced as evenly as possible across the length of the boat. So…. By working to maintain the largest footprint possible on the water, I can maximize my angling experience.

One of the common mistakes a new kayak angler makes (a mistake I have made myself) is to fill up the rear cargo area with tons of tackle and gear then shove off from shore. If unbalanced, the extra weight in the rear of the boat can significantly change its footprint on the water. The boat looses its glide because the stern of the boat squats in the water, increasing water resistance (drag) against the hull. Stability will be affected because it has lost the length of the footprint, which can make the boat feel more like your paddling a bath tub than a high performance fishing kayak. Lastly, a big concern for the fisherman, a heavy stern will create a weathervane effect and causes the bow of the kayak to constantly move away from the wind. This effect can be frustrating when the angler spends more time making correction strokes to stay in position than making well-placed cast to targets of opportunity as he floats by.

Thanks to Eric Jackson and Drew Gregory, my new Cuda and Coosa have one more design feature. The ability to STAND UP while fishing! Considering this, I noticed that the point where the angler stands is its natural center of buoyancy. With the largest load being the weight of the paddler himself, the angler is standing at the boats most stable point of design. For obvious reasons this is critical in order to stand up and fish, but it also requires of the angler a reasonable sense of physical balance and agility.

Finding the seating position of the Cuda and Coosa behind the center of buoyancy, I find it important to position some of my heaver items toward the bow to off set and adjust for my weight in the seated position. Being a 6’3 and 240lb angler this is especially true. My goal will be to find a sweet spot between the standing and seated position based on my weight and the gear I carry. To assist the kayak angler, a very cool feature of the Cuda is the center console area of the boat. Not only does it provide easy access to heaver items like a cooler full of drinks, it allows me to shift it forward to trim the boat and keeps the weight down below the waterline. Keeping heaver gear stored low in the hull of the boat will increase boat stability.

Now with all this established, I can begin the rigging process and think about such things as rod and tackle management, anchor systems and gear storage. I can position items on the boat for ease of access and function, while maintaining my thoughts of how it will affect the boats trim before I drill that first hole. Once my boat is rigged and ready for the season I know I will still have to play with shifting my gear to find my boats trimmed “sweet spot”, but it will ensure that my yak is custom rigged to my fishing style while maintaining its optimum paddling performance.

Tight Lines – ARS