There are plenty of articles and websites all about how to pick a fishing kayak so I'm not going to be just another one. Nor do I hold myself out as a kayak fishing expert with only 4 years in the sport. However, being still fairly new to the sport yet having some experience under my belt there is one question that people are constantly asking me that I want to address in this article: How fast and how stable is a fishing kayak?
The bottom line is: Depends.
The factors that make a kayak stable inherently make a kayak slower in the water and visa-versa.
A kayak that is heavy, wide and deep will be more stable than a light, narrow and shallow kayak. The weight, wide "foot print" in the water, and depth that it sits in the water all add to stability factors. But at the same time the greater weight takes more paddling energy to break the inertia.
The greater surface (hull) area in contact with the water adds greater drag in the water.
Conversely, a light kayak takes less energy to get moving. A long, thin, shallow kayak has less hull in contact with the water for less resistance and this therefore faster. But being lighter means it has less mass to absorb the energy from waves and tends to roll more. Being shallow and thin gives less surface distribution to hold steady.
This not to say some kayaks are unstable! Not at all. Simply that it's a trade off of more stability features for speed or speedy features for a bit less stability.
Which is better? Again: Depends.
When I bought my kayak I had heard so many stories of people who tipped over (rolled) at the slightest turn that I chose to go for the greatest stability I could get. My kayak is very stable and I feel very secure in it. But it is slow and extremely heavy. I don't regret at all getting the Goldfish but if I ever need to get a new kayak I will go for a more speedy design instead.
But in the end, choosing a fishing kayak is much a personal choice is so much else in fishing.
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