Category Archives: Equipment & Product Reviews

Choosing a kayak paddle

Choosing a kayak paddle

Paddle selection is a critical decision, just as choosing the right fishing kayak, your needs are important.  Performance, comfort, durability and safety are good measures to go by.  Most of the equipment you select should be evaluated by these four measures to ensure you get exactly what you are looking for. The paddle is no exception.

  • Performance
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Safety

A paddle needs to be matched to both the kayak and the paddler.

Paddles come in various blade shapes and shaft lengths usually 210 through 250 cm.  Say you have decided on a kayak that is 14 feet in length and 26-inch beam (width). You are 6 feet tall and your knuckles do not drag on the ground. A 220 or 240 should be just right.

Kayak width and your height are main 2 factors for Paddle Length.

The blades of the paddle should enter the water without you hitting your knuckles on the kayak or you reaching for clearance.  Does it feel comfortable?

Paddle Blade design

Most paddles on the market have blades that are of asymmetrical plane form or shape.  A narrower blade is generally used for long-distance or touring. They put less strain on your shoulders and back on the long haul.  A wider blade is useful for more powerful paddling or shorter kayaks.  Every Kayak will track and glide differently based on a lot of factors, hull design, rudder vs. no rudder, cargo etc.  Tracking – Is how straight the kayak will travel without a correction, Glide is how fast the kayak feels..  A general rule a longer kayaks track and glide better.  What type of performance are looking for?

Paddle construction & durability

Most blades are made of a strong, lightweight plastic. Some are wood, fiberglass, or fiber glass-carbon lay up. The plastic is more forgiving should you strike an oyster bed and are less prone to cracks or breakage.

Paddle shafts are made of aluminum, fiberglass, graphite carbon or wood.  Aluminum is generally the more durable of the lot but can make for a heavier. Fiberglass and graphite are lighter and plenty strong but may crack over time. I have seen this happen with some Kayakers that I have known but have not had it happen to me yet. I think it is more due to neglect than a material flaw.

Paddle Technique

When you paddle, you place the blade into the water near your foot and with a slight twist of the torso pull the paddle back behind you while pushing with your other hand against the paddle shaft. The other blade comes over on the other side and is placed at your other foot where you begin the next stroke. When placing the blade in front of you at your foot to begin the stroke. You should not have to lean forward or into the stroke. If you are finding that you have to do this or the paddle or shaft strikes the kayak a lot, then a longer paddle may be the ticket.

A whole day of paddling with the wrong paddle will make the going not as good as it should be. So a general rule of thumb– a narrow kayak- shorter paddle, wider kayak- longer paddle but fine-tune it to your body make up (long torso, arms, legs etc) If you have never paddled before then have a professional instructor show you the ropes  Go for a long paddle with the kayak and the paddle to make sure that it performs comfortably for you.

The knowledgeable staff at any good paddle shop will listen to what you need and set you up with the kayak and paddle. Just like a kayak you should test/demo a paddle as well.  Once you get all this together, speed, maneuverability, comfort, and endurance will be all you can expect from you paddling experience.

Two-Piece Paddles

If you purchase a two-piece paddle be sure that after every trip you take it apart and rinse with fresh water otherwise you will soon have a one piece.  Do this even if you paddle fresh water.  Do not add grease or any other type of lube as they will attract sand and dirt, just the thing to ruin it in short order.

Leash it or Lose it

Last. Be sure to get (or make) a leash. There is nothing worse than being up the creek without a paddle (literally!!!) A leash can also be purchased from the place you bought your kayak/ paddle. Most of them are either a coiled plastic (like a phone cord) or shock cord affair and work very well. Or you can simply make one from some spare small diameter rope with a hangman’s or barrel knot tied into it to form an adjustable loop to go around and tighten against the paddle shaft. Works very well for me. (Cheap too!)


List of Paddle Manufactures


Scotty Fishing Gear, Kayak Rigging done right

Scotty Fishing Gear they have it all.

When trying to  choose a Kayak Fishing rod holder or any Kayak Fishing Hardware you need something designed to hold up to the saltwater and rough handling.  Constructed from Heavy Duty Plastic and Stainless steel hardware, with fully adjustable mounting adapters, Scotty has the solution to your kayak fishing problem. With a universal mount, you can change accessories for what ever the fishing situation calls for.

The Scotty Rocket Launcher is perfect for trolling while kayak fishing, fully adjustable two fishing rods can trolled at once, angled away from each other.  Both a spinning rod or casting rod can be used in this fishing rod holder.

Scotty Rod Holder set for Trolling
Scotty Rod Holder set for Trolling
Pair of Scotty Rocket Launchers
Pair of Scotty Rocket Launchers
Scotty Flush Mount Kayak Rigging
Scotty Flush Mount for Kayak Rigging
Scotty Fly & Baitcaster Rod Holder Kayak Rigging
Scotty Fly & Baitcaster Rod Holder Kayak Rigging
Scotty Fly Rod Holder
Scotty Fly Rod Holder

I used some of the competition only to frustrated by the bulkiness, parts slipping, and just not performing as designed.  Scotty I can honestly say has great products that gets the job done. Take look at this list of what kayak fishing accessories they offer.

Even a cup holder! and the list goes on….

Choosing a Battery for Kayak Fishing

Awesome new kayak for fishing?  Check.  Sweet fish finder?  Check.  Figured out the correct battery type and size to power the new rig?  It’s not as straight-forward as it should be — picking a battery requires a small amount of basic electrical knowledge.  But no sweat.  It’s actually pretty simple.  Here goes:

Basic Electronics

To choose a battery, we need to start with the absolute basic electronic concepts.  Electrical power comes in two forms.  Direct current (DC) is power generated by a battery, always flowing in the same direction (positive -> negative).  This is the type of current needed by most fish finders, so we’ll be focusing purely on that.  However, for completeness’ sake: alternating current (AC) is what powers your home, generated by a power plant.  The current alternates directions 50-60 times a second and, without getting into too much detail, is easier to transmit over long distances.

When discussing electronics, there are four units to understand: voltage (volts), current (amperes), resistance (ohms), and power (watts).  The easiest way to grasp these is to think of them in terms of plumbing.  Voltage is like the water pressure, pushing water into the pipes.  Current is similar to the rate of flow within the pipes (gallons per min., etc.).  Resistance is like the size of the pipe itself.

Power (watts) is a little harder to grasp.  Think of it like water, coming out of a pipe, hitting a water wheel and causing it to spin.  If you want the wheel to spin faster, you have two options.  1.) Increase the pressure coming out of the hose, hitting the wheel harder.  Or, 2.) increase the quantity of water coming out of the house, spinning the wheel faster purely due to the extra water weight.  Similarly, power is the product of the voltage and current (power = current X voltage).

Head spinning yet?  To sum it all up, voltage = force, current = rate, resistance = transmitter size, and power = capability of the voltage and current.

There’s one final item to consider: battery capacity.  When discussing smaller contexts, such as fish finders, this is usually expressed in “amp/hours” (Ah).  Think of this as the cistern providing water to the hose.  If the water is flowing at a specific rate, how many hours would the supply last?  Similarly, if electrical current is being consumed, how long will the battery be able to supply power?  We need a big enough “bucket”.

Fish Finder Power

Most fish finders need DC battery power.  Typically, they require 12 volts (again, the amount of “pressure” exerted by the battery).  But, technically, many fish finders can safely use as low as 10 volts and as high as 20.  However, since 12 volt batteries are the most common, I’d recommend just sticking to them.

Most fish finder specifications will list the “current drain” in the manual or on the box.  For instance, my Lowrance ELITE-4X HDI lists a current drain of “Typical: .75A”.

In other words, “typically” it’ll pull .75 amps of current per hour.  Two things to note here: 1.) Some companies will list this in milli-amps (mA).  1000mA = 1A.  So in this example, it might be 750mA.  2.) Lowrance is listing the “typical” (average) pull, as opposed to the “peak”.  Traditionally, most companies will use the latter.  For instance, the greatest amount of consumption on the Lowrance might be closer to .8-1.0A.  If you have the average available, great.  If not, it’s best to assume the “peak” when calculating your needs.  Worst case scenario, you’ll end up with a few extra hours of fishing time… Ok, enough jibber jabber.  What exactly does that mean?  Well, it all comes down to how long you want the fish finder to last per outing.  Keep in mind that higher battery capacity always translates to more physical weight.  Personally, I try to trim down as much as possible when I’m out, even if the battery weight seems relatively minimal — every bit helps.  So for my purposes, assume 8 hours is enough.  That means I would need a 6 amp/hour (Ah) battery (.75A X 8hr = 6Ah).

Battery Types

Essentially, you have three choices here:

        • Lead acid: No different than you car battery — acid, sealed-in.  They’re inexpensive and easily recharged, but they’re also the heavier option.



      • Rechargeables (lithium, NiMH, etc.): Much lighter than lead acid, but also much more expensive.  They can also be more complicated to recharge, frequently requiring a special adapter.



      • Alkaline (AAA, AA, A, etc.): Technically, you can use multiple battery cells at once in order to get the power your fish finder needs.  However, I’d recommend skipping these.  For example, most alkaline cells only produce 1.5V, so you’d need 8 of them to get the required 12V.  Also, your amp/hours will take a huge hit — those 8 AAs will only give you about 2Ah.  Further, these can’t be recharged and end up in the trash.


      I almost always go with the lead acid.  Even though it’s heavier, its small cost and ease-of-use trump the alternatives.

Specific Batteries

Many stores (Bass Pro, Cabelas, Gander Mountain) have 12V lead acid batteries specifically marketed for fish finders or other outdoor applications.  But, unless you find them on sale, they’re overpriced. I currently use a simple 8Ah unit I found on sale at Frye’s Electronics for $20.  But you can find several on Amazon for even less.  Don’t get anything fancy — run-of-the-mill units will suit you perfectly.


Battery Chargers

Keep ‘er simple.  A charger, like the following, works perfectly and is usually less than $10: However, I already had a larger battery charger that I use for automotive and marine batteries. If you only need it for the kayak, they’re probably overkill. But, they’re definitely handy to have around for other applications. Here are some options on Amazon. There are also inexpensive options at Menards, Lowes, and Home Depot.  Keep in mind that the amp rating on the charger describes how fast it’ll be able to charge your battery.  Large values are convenient for quickly charging a car battery, but small values are more than sufficient for the kayak. Some guys/gals will also permanently install a charger unit on their boat/kayak. The small unit gets mounted somewhere out of the way, and the wires are permanently attached to the battery leads (in addition to the fish finder wires). Here’s an example:

Micro Liberator Transducer Deployment Arm (Mad Frog Gear): Product Review

I’m a big fan of reducing the amount of drilled holes on my kayak.  When I was looking for a transducer arm, I was glad to see a bunch of them that simply used gear track mounts.  In particular, Mad Frog Gear’s “Liberator” platform stuck out.  It’s a really simple way to mount the arm, the fish finder, or both.  Since my Native Slayer already had an electronics bay, I simply needed the arm itself.  The Micro Liberator fit that bill.  It includes a mounting plate for the gear track, the transducer arm, and necessary hardware.


  • Multiple pivot points.  Allows multiple storage locations when the fish finder is not in use.
  • Easy installation (if you happen to use the whole arm length — see below).
  • One of the cheapest options.
  • Low profile.  Could mount right next to your seat, without nailing it while paddling.


  • Weak plastic.  See one of the photos for a close-up of the bubbles from sub-par injection molding.  Although this doesn’t need to be over-engineered, the arm is far more flexible than it probably should be.
  • Non-adjustable arm length.  If you need it to be shorter, you have to shorten the length by cutting it.
  • Non-locking pivot points.  Although getting caught in weeds is inherent with any arm, this one is particularly annoying.  Each pivot point is simply a bolt + nut + washer, so weeds can easily move it.  Even fast-paced paddling or current can swing it out a bit.  Easy enough to deal with if it’s mounted close, but I tend to keep things out of the way, so it’s annoying to have to get up and adjust it.
  • No integrated wire management.  Have to zip tie the transducer wire to the arm.


Although the Micro Liberator is “good enough” for now, I’ll probably replace it soonish.  When I do, it’ll probably be this guy:

The RAM transducer arm is a lot stiffer, and the pivot point locks down with a nut.  Overall, the build quality is far superior and will stand up to worse abuse.  I’ve talked to numerous owners and haven’t heard a single complaint.