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Kayaks I’ve Known and Loved

After six decades of fishing out of every possible water craft I entered the kayak world. Seeking a new challenge and after a little research I test paddled a Jackson Kayaks Big Rig at my local dealer Caney Fork Outdoors and was sold. While you might think my focus was fishing, I always put safety first.

The original Big Rig offered safety, stability, stand up capabilities and appeared to be fishing friendly. The width, over 34 inches, length, over 13 feet and weight all were factors in the rock solid stability of the Big Rig. All that being said this kayak paddles well but isn’t a “river rocket.” My initial trip in the new kayak was to a major lake in February to compete in a tournament, kind of a bold undertaking. Caught a few fish and the kayaking “bug.” Just like a golfer who carries different clubs for various shots over the years have acquired several models of Jackson Kayaks to suit my situations. I’ll always have a Big Rig in my fleet.

Here’s my Jackson Kayak history:

After the Big Rig(s), I picked up a Coosa HD, which was ideal for river fishing. The Coosa HD was easy to launch, nimble and again stable. The HD version took the bumps of boulder rock, slide through submerged stumps and did all this with ample storage and simple transport in the bed of my truck. As with all my kayaks the inherent stealth of the “glide” is often the key to the catch. This proved to be a super solid boat and a good fishing choice.

The stand-up paddle board came next for summer fun and transporting my German shepherd Samurai. The SUP O-Fish-Al offered a completely open deck, space for a cooler securing snacks and also acting as a seat which made this boat fun and functional. We floated and paddled shallow creeks all the while enjoying the view and the occasional dip in the water. As with every kayak there are potential modifications but we went for the bare bones approach. This is a fun boat that I haven’t fished from.

The appeal of an open, clean deck with side and under seat storage peaked my interest in the MayFly. While I do flick the flies in the spring and summer months the MayFly offered a versatility and again the stability to safely stand and fish for all my favorite freshwater species. With addition of a casting brace on most of my kayaks you can pitch baits and set a paddle in the cross section of the brace and minimize movement. This kayak is a great choice for small waters of any kind and gets you there and back comfortably.

A hit with the kayaking crowd the Bite is a great entry level kayak. Dollar for dollar the best value in the kayak world. Light enough to handle off and on the water, the Bite is a good fishing craft. Everything you need to start or a great second boat for certain situations like local creeks, ponds and small trolling motor only type lakes. This boat is also a good starter kayak and good for the occasional friend that wants to join you for a day on the water. Customizable but good as it sits, the Bite is fine fresh from the factory.

Always on the search for the next best boat next up the Liska. Again priced reasonably, stable and handles well, this kayak is liked by people who fish and paddle many types of water. I enjoy the moving water experience and this kayak is at home in that environment but handles lake water equally as well. Stable and easily propelled the Liska glides through the back water sloughs and many of the smaller rivers that snake through the USA (and across the globe). Sit or stand this versatile kayak is another good choice as a primary or back up boat.

The Yupik was my next choice and I found it to be fast and fishable. Narrower it doesn’t deliver the same stability of some of the other models. There’s room for gear and even for medium size pet in the front deck area. When traveling light I carry two one sided tackle boxes and generally at least three fishing rods. Again a paddling pleasure the Yupik delivers a good platform for the adventurer or the fishing folks.

The introduction of pedal drive had a Bite FD following us home. Ideal for my fishing partner Debbie, it is perfect for the person who lacks up body strength and wants the leg work. She can easily keep up with me in a pedal versus paddle situation. A rudder accessible from either side of the kayak allows for positioning and path correction. The retracting propeller is convenient for exploring shallow or weed choked waters. As a redundant propulsion method a paddle is a wise companion for the shallow, rocky, weed choked areas that we like to fish. I’ll always have a paddle kayak at my disposal.

The most recent addition to our family of kayaks is the Big Rig HD FD. Additional width (40 inches) adds weight to this model but it is built for big water and getting the user around safely and efficiently. Multiple modifications are possible on this model. It’s a “gearheads” dream micro power poles, electronic and any additions are all in the mix. Super stable and a blank slate for the tournament style crowd the Big Rig HD FD can be just about anything you want.

As in any choice there exits individual preferences. I always say, “That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla ice cream, everybody like something different.” Do your research, test “drive” the kayak if you can and then decide. Fish, fresh or salt water, explore, hunt pedal or paddle, the options are endless, you can customize your kayak or just pulls the plastic wrap off the boat, grab a paddle and start your own adventures.