Stealth 101: Sniper-Grade Kayak Casting

Stealth 101: Sniper-Grade Kayak Casting
Why The Marine Corps Will Not Let You Be A Sniper If You Have Tourette’s Syndrome

by H2Oz

Casting. Mention it, and the first thing that pops into almost everybody’s head is accuracy. Skinnywater sniping or under-the-mangrove sidearming alike, the guy who can put it on the button has a distinct edge over the guys who don’t understand how you get to Carnegie Hall.

But there’s another dimension to casting from a kayak — one of those things that few seem to notice, let alone make a conscious effort to improve upon — that can up a kayakfisherman’s hookup rate significantly, and that’s your ability to make any cast without broadcasting the fact that it is a cast.

A sniper-grade sightfishing cast — or any cast aimed at a specific, narrowly-defined potential holding spot — is pretty useless without a sniper-grade approach. The true craftsman is preternaturally patient and dead silent, and exploits things like the sun angle, background contrast, outline breakup, Snell’s Window, crinkle light and a hundred other factors. He doesn’t merely consider them, he actively exploits them whenever possible. He rigs for silent running, sculls up with a small hand or canoe paddle, draws his bead, and……. and then blows it.

Oh, nothing dramatic. He makes perfect lure placement, but for some odd reason, his target (worst-case) spooks (even though the lure shouldn’t have been close enough to cause such a spook), or at the very least simply refuses the take. The would-be craftsman forgot the final piece in the puzzle of skinnywater sniping skills — he didn’t pay attention to where his cast was coming from.

Try a little experiment. Paddle into some nice, sheltered, glassy water, with enough casting room around you that you don’t have to worry where even your longest cast is actually going. Make a cast directly forward of your boat (within a few degrees of straight over the bow), but don’t pay any attention to where the lure is going. Pay total attention to what your kayak is doing to the water. Now reel in and do the same thing, but this time cast directly abeam (that’s straight off to the side for you Chief Brody’s out there). Yeah. The look on your face is going to be priceless when you actually watch that totally-unnatural-frequency mini-tsunami you just created.

Forget the surface “wave”. By the time that reaches the spot over your fish, he’ll already be in the next county. In the military sniper analogy, imagine a world where the target is already nervous, and the muzzle blast gets to the target well before the bullet.

Underwater sound waves propagate (travel) at about 1500 metres per second (five times faster than in air) and at a lower attenuation at a given distance (reduction in the strength of signal). In plain English, that little “whoosh” from your rodtip firing (or any other sound you make above water) travels through the air to the spot above your fish five times slower and five times less loud than the disturbance caused by your hull. It’s not the displacement of water, it’s the energy imparted to the water. The water didn’t make a hull slap on your hull, your hull made a slap on the water. (Actually, more of a shove.) This frequency is totally unnatural, and the amplitude is totally unnatural, and whether a fish understands what made it is irrelevant. Its very nature says danger to any aquatic organism whose prime directive is “Eat — but don’t get eaten.”

At the risk of belaboring the sniper analogy one more time, you just spent three days crawling up on your intended recipient, got a good weld, and just before squeeeeeezing the trigger, jumped up and yelled “I’VE GOT YOU NOW, JACK!!” at the top of your lungs. Take a good look at that comparatively teeny-tiny disturbance from an over-the-bow cast again. Try a few other angles. Try a snap, try a lob.

And then, the next time you’ve got tails to port or starboard, take that little extra second to quietly scull that stern around. then be The Button Man, capische?

Go now, and sin no more. ^o^

“The Gradually-Accreting Compendium of Arcane Rigging Brain Seizures for
the Modern Kayakfisherman and Other Self-Propelled Aquatic Sociopaths”,
U. Phemism & N. DePlume, Journal of How Not to Move In with Davey Jones,
Vol. 1 No. 1, 1947, p. 328

Kayak Fishing: Keep It Simple!

Take a look at this kayak that’s “fully rigged” for kayak fishing.  What’s your initial response?


Some might say “Awesome, everything you could possibly need.”  Fair enough.  But to me, this looks like utter chaos, stress, and an OCD nightmare.  This is called a “garbage barge”.  Not only is it anxiety-inducing, but what happens when you fall in and need to remount?  Good luck with that.

Personally, I first got into kayak fishing for the simplicity.  After owning a fishing boat for many years, constantly fretting over maintenance, and always having-to-have the latest gadgets and toys, the whole setup became extremely distracting.  It nearly ruined what should be the primary focuses: fishing, enjoying the outdoors, relaxing, and camaraderie.  And early on, the community was full of just that: guys/gals that simply wanted to enjoy the sport and each other’s company, ignoring the pull of commercialism and materialism that had long since invaded fishing.

Of course, that still exists to a certain degree.  Kayak and canoe fishing’s benefits remain, and its participants tend to be the polar opposites of our glitter-boat brethren.  However, I’d argue that the commercialism has started to take over some kayak anglers’ mindsets.  We’re bombarded with ICAST this and YakAngler-says-I-can’t-fish-without-it that.  Rigs start looking like the above photo, drowning the owner in gadgets.  Further, some anglers will only fish with their prostaff teammates or owners of the same brand of equipment.  Someone fishing from a simplistic kayak, bought from a big-box store, with a minimal amount of gear can be looked down upon as inferior.  Absurd.

In the end, I guess it doesn’t really affect each of us — personally, we can still enjoy the sport however we want.  However, I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed and sad that others can’t simply enjoy the sport for what it is.

Any thoughts?  Comment below!


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:

How to Get Back/Self Rescue Kayak in Deep Water

Getting back into a kayak “aka” self rescue kayak technique, after falling in or tipping over, it can be a pain in the rear if you’re out deep.  There’s definitely more than one way to do it, but we recently stumbled across this video that presents a couple effective techniques.

Getting Turtled is something that is probably going to happen to everybody at some point. It comes down to risk management. In other circles

ATGATT: All the gear, all the time

is the saying.

You can’t plan accidents, they just happen. What you can do is be prepared for one, and have the right safety gear, and test your safety skills.

  • VHF Radio
  • Whistle
  • Signal Mirror
  • PFD
  • Pump
  • Ditch Bag

During the summer months, we’d highly recommend going out and practicing this at least a few times.  You don’t want to waste time figuring it out in freezing temps, when each minute counts…

How to Self Rescue in Deep Water

(Thanks to Spencer Jones @ for the video!)

I carry a Rescue Stirrup exactly for this situation. Its a continuous loop sling that you use as a step.

And please be careful, carry the required safety equipment.

DIY Rolling Kayak Storage Rack (2x4s and caster wheels)

Until we’re able to buy property and build a pole barn (please, God, let that be soon), we’re stuck with a 2 car garage. With all our hobbies combined, space quickly became an issue. And with the necessary layout, wall and ceiling space is extremely limited.

After getting fed up shuffling the kayaks around on the garage floor, and not wanting them outside, we quickly threw together this rolling storage rack. It’s incredibly simple to make and is cheap — nothing but 2×4 studs, locking caster wheels, screws, and a handful of nuts/bolts/washers.

This setup has the added benefit of having plenty of board space to screw in rod holders, bike hooks, etc.  Before you know it, half your garage storage is rolling around on a franken-rack.


  • 6 ft. tall (the upright posts, not including the caster wheels or board they’re mounted to)
  • 4 ft. long (no need to make it longer)
  • 32 in. inside width
  • 28 in. inside height (bottom)
  • 16 in. inside height (middle)

Obviously, adjust the dimensions as needed.  16″ tall and 32″ wide is plenty for most hulls.  The 28″ height on the bottom allows room for the fish finder and rod holders.


  • Do not skip the slanted supports between the posts and base.  Without them, the frame flexes quite a bit (since the only thing holding it on, otherwise, are 2 screws going up from the bottom of the base into each post).
  • I’m just using drywall screws.  Good enough?  Sure.  But decent wood screws or lag bolts would be stronger.
  • You’ll see that the cross bars holding the kayaks rest on top of the lengthwise bars.  This is also important, doubling up the amount of screws holding up the weight.  Of course, if I used proper bolts, this would be moot…
  • The caster wheel positions are pushed a ways into the base, rather than directly underneath the posts.  Now that I think about it, I might recommend putting them under the far corners, getting longer bolts, and driving them straight up into the posts.  This will put all the weight directly on the wheels, in addition to being far stronger than the 2 screws.
  • I may replace the wheels.  The ones shown are 2 1/4″ casters.  They handle the weight fine, but far garage/barn uses, you’ll want something bigger.  These small ones tend to catch everything and stop, rather than roll over it.  3″ might be a better minimum.  Better yet, spend the extra $ on pneumatic ones.
  • As is, the rack is not tippy at all (surprisingly), as long as you keep the heavy kayak on the bottom.  If you add another level, I’d probably expand the base in both directions, at least somewhat.
  • Some guys will wrap the support bars with carpet squares or remnants.  Fair idea, but I’ve found it to not be all that necessary.  Pine is so soft that it doesn’t scratch or rub off anything.
  • I just left the top bare, but you could easily make a shelf with another level of cross-bars and a sheet of plywood.  But, with the garage door rails overhead, there wouldn’t be any room to get much up there.


This looks interesting — and it’s certainly more attractive than pine.  It’s a bit pricey, but the reviews are glowing and it appears to be well-engineered.  If mobility is important, it doesn’t look like it’d be hard to add casters.  Plus, outside, this will last a lot longer than studs…

Of course, there’s no end to other types of kayak storage systems, as long as you have the wall or ceiling space.

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.

Kayak for “Coop”

Cooper Vollmer is a 2 year old boy from Sarasota who was recently diagnosed with brain tumor. To help out Cooper and his family, is sponsoring Kayak for “Coop”. This event will be a tournament, prize raffle and a kayak raffle. All proceeds will go to the Vollmers to help them care for Cooper.


Please click on the Kayak for “Coop” links in the menu above! The tournament will be a fun time for all, the event after the tournament will be a great time at O’Leary’s with a huge prize raffle and two people will win kayaks in the kayak raffle.

Kayak for “Coop” Kayak Fishing Tournament – Results



On April 12, 2014, held a kayak fishing tournament to benefit Cooper Vollmer. “Coop” is a 2 year old boy who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and has begun the journey through 70 weeks of chemotherapy. All proceeds from the tournament will go to help Cooper and the Vollmer family.

To learn about Cooper and read some updates on how he’s doing through this ordeal

 Cooper’s Give Forward page

 Cooper’s FaceBook page

Through the large hearts and generosity of the anglers, friends and sponsors, we raised $5,700 through a combination of tournament entry fees, prize raffle tickets and kayak raffle tickets.

The kayak fishing tournament was held in Sarasota with the morning chekc in at ken Thompson Park. Between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. 49 anglers showed up to sing in and get their goody bag with lures from Riptide and Logic Lures. Masthead Marine also provided a coozie for each angler and Hoo Rag provided a buff for each angler.

There was a pretty good breeze out of the east which had most anglers rethinking their launch spots. Quite a few stuck with their original plans and headed to Buttonwood Harbor while others went to launches over on the east side of the bay. Trout were caught in abundance by almost everyone with a few redfish, snook, spanish mackeral and pompano making it to the tally sheets.

Everyone started making their way to O’Leary’s on the Sarasota waterfront between noon and 2 p.m. We had the 49 anglers and dozens more friends who showed up to support kayak for Coop. We made it a full house and O’Leary’s did a good job of taking care of us on an already busy in-season day.

The cut off time was 2 p.m. and winner were announced shortly after that. The trophies were custom made for this event by Walt Ruda of Metalfab. Walt stepped up at the last minute and designed, cut and engraved a substantial piece of stainless steel for each trophy.

1st Place – Phinla Sinphay with 68 inches


 2nd Place – Travis Robbins with 56.5 inches


3rd Place – Robert Brown with 52.5 inches


After the winners were announced, we then held the drawing for the kayak raffle. We were fortunate to have Cooper pull the winning tickets!


The first kayak raffled off was a Skimmer donated by Hurricane Aquasports . Dino Balos had the winning ticket.

Skimmer Winner


The second kayak raffled off was a Slayer 12 donated by Native Watercraft and West Wall Boats. Laura Cooper had the winning ticket and that kayak went out fishing the next day. Here’s Laura with her husband and son.


Nativesm WestWall

Next up was the prize raffle. We have an abundance of tremendous sponsors who donated lots of fine products. Here’s a listing and I hope you will all take the time to click through the links and visit their sites.  Great products and the people behind them really stepped up to help Kayak for Coop raise a lot of money.

42 Tackle Company
RailRider Clothing
YAK Gear
Carolina Custom Rods
Breathes Like A Fish
DOA Lures
Aqua Dream
Masthead Sailing Gear
Steve Whitlock Game Fish Art
Canoe Country Outfitters
Nuts Hookers jigs
Bull Bay Rods
Hooks by Ty
Gambler Lures
Ego Nets
Egret Baits
Logic Lures
Slayer Lures
Action Watersports
Arctic Ice

Here are pictures of many of the prize raffle winners


























 After the prize raffle we ended the event with an auction. There had been bid sheets by the items for most of the afternoon but it was easily decided that all of them should go for much more than the bids already made. After a round of auctioneering for each item, they all went for a higher price which helped to grow the final donation amount for Cooper.

Tracey got a wonderful kayak pencil drawing from Steve Whitlock game Fish Art


John Chapman got a chart art print from Steve Whitlock Game Fish Art


Mike Betz bid and won a custom fishing rod from Carolina Custom Rods


Finally, this guy (someone help me with a name please!) placed the winning bid on a half day charter with Mark Nichols of DOA Lures.


They afternoon was full of laughs and smiles, fish stories and good camaraderie as everyone came together to help Cooper.  When everything was finished and we tallied up the money, we handed the Vollmer’s $5,700. After some big hugs and a few leaky eyes, we wrapped things up.

Cooper! We’re rooting for you! Faith matters!


All photos courtesy of Bill “Heywood” Howard.

PFTS #4 – “Hook, Line & Legal”

PFTS #4 – “Hook, Line & Legal” – was held at Fort Desoto on February 15, 20014. This event was sponsored by:


Llewellyn Insurance Services is a family owned and operated independent insurance agency that provides comprehensive personal and commercial lines insurance.

The format for this event was wide open. The 20 anglers who braved the wind could fish using any legal method available for hook and line fishing. Artificials, live bait, dead bait, 1 rod or 15 rods. Dead stick, troll or cast. As long as it was legal, they could do it.


We were met at the launch with 20+ mph winds out of the west, gray skies and some intermittent rain sprinkles. The weather was not at all what the weatherman had predicted just 2 days earlier. We’d planned a mass launch from that beach but a game day decision was made to let the anglers launch anywhere in the park. Most took off to launch from the lee side of the road but a half dozen hardy guys braved the wind and paddled out from the beach.


It wasn’t long before a wind shift to the north and speed increase came which put everyone in the wind. Fort Desoto is a great place to fish but there isn’t much protection from a north wind.



The points format was the inches for your three largest fish (maximum of 2 fish for any one species) plus 10 points if the angler got an insurance quote from Llewellyn Insurance Services before the event plus 10 points if the angler sent a picture via text of himself with a fish caught during the event. The token had to be in the picture and one angler, Steve Manning, came up with an ingenious way to hold the token.


Here’s a few other pictures sent in during the day.




We all met back at Boardwalk Pasta and Seafood to tell stories about tough fishing conditions and to congratulate the winners.


1st Place went to Steve “Manning” Manning. Steve’s 22.5 inch trout, 21 inch ladyfish, 19 inch jack plus texting a pic during the event added up to 72.5 points and earned him $100.


2nd Place went to Chris “ChrisR” Ravelo. His 20 and 13 inch trout, 22 inch redfish plus texting a pic during the event added up to 65 points and earned him $60.


3rd Place went to John “Ump608” Chapman. John’s 18 inch and 14 inch trout plus texting a pic during the event added up to 42 points and earned him $40.


Llewellyn Insurance Services provided some bonus cash. Derek “dbaker2332” Baker won $50 of that cash with a 19 inch jack.


Series sponsor Breathe Like  a Fish provided a couple shirts for the event. Arik “Arik81” Smith was a winner of one shirt.


Bobby “Freshly Salted” Stanley won the second Breathe Like a Fish shirt.


Series sponsor Tailin Toads provided two pairs of their phenomenal fingerless fishing gloves. The first pair was won by John “JKL” Lee.


The second pair was won by Freshly Salted Jr. Keep an eye on the Jr., Dad may try and sneak away with them!


It was a tough fishing day for all. Despite the weather, almost all that signed up actually showed up. There were a lot of tired smiles at the Pic n’ Sip and probably more than a few sore shoulders that evening.

Our next event is not yet scheduled but will probably be the last week of March of first week of April. Keep an eye out for the event announcement. This next one will be for a very special cause!

Thanks to all the sponsors and anglers! Looking forward to seeing everyone in February.

All photos courtesy of Bill “Heywood” Howard.