Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016 ICAST Kayak Wars Part 1

2016 ICAST Kayak Wars
When attending ICAST each July, I look forward to seeing all the new fishing kayak innovations.  This year was no exception.  Before I share my 2016 ICAST experience with you, let me regress back to 2004, the year I purchased my first kayak.
Before I decided to purchase my kayak, I was a surf and pier angler.  I fished beaches and piers from South Carolina, to California, to Long Island to the Florida Keys.  As the years came and went, my sweet fishing spots became more crowded.  Today most of the good beach and pier fishing spots along the Space Coast are overcrowded on the weekends when most people fish.  So in 2004, after reading a few articles in Florida Sportsman and online about kayak fishing, I decided to get a kayak.  After I made my decision to purchase a fishing kayak I had a bigger decision to make.  What kayak should I get? Following a long and painful online fishing kayak search I decided on the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140.  My next challenge was where I can find one to rent. You just have to try out your choice before you purchase.  I was able to rent one at Village Outfitters in Cocoa, FL.  To test out this kayak I chose the 1000 Islands Ramp Road Park which had a great kayak launching area and rest room.  After one morning on the water testing a 2004 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 I was hooked. One month later, I drove all the way to Jupiter Outdoor Center in Jupiter, FL to purchase my kayak.  I drove that far to get a 15% discount that brought the cost of a new 2004 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 to $850.00.  What a bargain at that time.
Fast forward to twelve years 20016 and ask yourself how has kayak fishing and fishing kayaks changed.  Today’s state of the art fishing kayaks all decked out with accessories from any of the major brands can run you well over $3,000 if you get peddle / Mirage drive, a full set of electronics and a Power Pole.  Most major brand paddle kayaks start around $730 going up to $1,500.  A Wilderness Systems fishing kayak comparable to my Tarpon 140 will run you about $1,500 today depending on where you buy it.    That is almost double in price in just 12 years.  If you want a peddle drive or any one of the Mirage drive Hobie Pro Angler kayaks, be prepared to shell out $2,000 - $2,500 just for the kayak without any accessories.  Because kayaks loaded with gear are too heavy for a one person lift or to be carried on the roof of your car, one will need a pickup truck or a kayak trailer to get your kayak to a launching ramp. 
By visiting or participating in any of the top kayak fishing tournaments you will see what I am talking about.  In the parking lot you will see different kinds of rigged kayaks that will help you make a decision.  To help you out, Scotty has a paddle sports catalog with kayak fishing accessories.  You can see some rigged kayaks by clicking HERE. A few years ago my fishing kayak with all my Scotty accessories use to be posted to their web page and in their catalog.
Now back to the 2016 ICAST.  This year’s show was the show of peddle drive kayaks just like it was a few years ago when it was all about the aluminum and nylon mesh seats. Many of the brands that did not show their new peddle drive kayaks had battery powered motor driven kayaks.  What makes ICAST so interesting is that you can see all the new kayaks under one roof.  Average kayak angler who is looking to purchase a new yak, has to travel to different stores to view what’s in the store. Being able to do this is such a treat.
At the 2016 ICAST these kayak brands exhibited their products.

Hobie Fishing
Wilderness Systems
Nucanoe Kayaks
Jackson Kayak
Old Town Kayaks
Native Watercraft
Eddyline Kayaks
Viking Kayaks USA
True Recreation Kayaks
Bic Sports Kayaks
Feel Free Kayaks
Crescent Kayaks
RTM Fishing Kayaks

All and all, the 2016 ICAST was filled with great fishing kayaks from all the major brands.  There are sure a lot of choices available in a price range from $600 - $2,500 for kayak anglers.  If I was purchasing my first fishing kayak I would not know where to start.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day n the great outdoors.

1 comment:

  1. New fishing innovations are usually exciting, even if they sometimes seem expensive. The best gear makes it easier for kayak anglers who want to get away from the crowd and return home with a nice catch. As you pointed out, selecting the kayak can be a bit overwhelming but renting the model that interests you gives you the chance to see if it would be a good fit.