Man powered versus battery powered? It’s a question that will bring out some serious debate on both sides of the aisle. Some believe that kayak fishing is and should be man powered without question. Many feel that adding a trolling motor of any kind simply deletes the purity of kayak fishing. Kayak fishing had long been man powered, an angler making his/her way to their favorite fishing hole, propelled by a paddle. Purity is what most call it when paddling your kayak. Evolution then entered the mix and we were introduced to the amazing concept of pedal power. Hobie introduced us to pedal power, and Native Watercraft followed suit with their version.
Even though still man powered, I’ll admit I stayed firmly as a traditionalist and preferred to paddle my kayaks when out on the water. Something about staying true to the roots, if that’s what we wanna call it. Of course, that mindset went out the window when I purchased a Native Watercraft Slayer 13 Propel kayak, and I was quickly introduced to a completely new style of kayak fishing and experiences.
The next step in the evolution of kayak fishing quite simply had to be battery powered or motorized. It was inevitable and we could all see that clear as the water down in the Florida Keys. This is where I had to put my foot down, a staunch traditionalist that kayak fishing should be and remain man powered. My thinking was simple. If you put a motor on it, then doesn’t it then transform from a kayak to a boat? It makes sense right? I’ve had this conversation many times with various colleagues in the sport of kayak fishing. Granted, I always stood firm in my way of thinking, no matter how archaic it may have been.
Evolution is going to happen whether we agree with it or not, quite simply, it’s inevitable. Now we’re introduced to Torqeedo and Minn Kota on our kayaks. Old Town introduced the Predator XL at iCast in 2014, and many were blown away. Fast forward to the 2015 iCast show, and Wilderness Systems adds the Torqeedo to their already impressive ATAK 140 kayak. Of course, motorized kayaks aren’t truly all that new to us. We’ve all seen or known someone who did a little DIY and added a trolling motor to their kayak. It was inevitable that kayak manufacturers would grow as we’re constantly hungry for new styles of kayaks and features.
The question still lingered with me though as I fought with the notion that battery powered kayaks took away from what kayak fishing is supposed to be. Many will argue that a motor on a kayak is simply a boat. Many will argue that battery powered kayaks are ok, but should never be allowed in kayak fishing tournaments. Many will say, who cares if an angler uses a battery powered kayak, it’s not about how you get to your fishing spot, but how you fish that’s important. Heck, many kayak anglers participate in boat tournaments while fishing out of their kayak, and perform quite well, oftentimes winning or placing high in these tournaments.
My simplistic way of thinking was put into question recently. I was fishing in a local backwater creek and came across a couple of kayak anglers who’d installed trolling motors on their kayaks. I paddled past them, but the urge to ask the question made me come back to chat. The question was rather simple. I asked why. Why put a trolling motor on your Wilderness Systems Ride or Jackson kayak? Why not just go buy a boat or a gheenoe? I was pleasantly surprised with the response. The angler that I spoke with was John. John simply stated that the trolling motor allows him to get where he’s going at a faster clip. He can still paddle with ease once he hits shallow waters. The next part made the most sense to me. He stated that he was able to put a trolling motor on his kayak for much cheaper than going out and buying a small boat. He could cover a lot more water in lesser time, and he could avoid the high costs of repairs and fuel costs. A kayak rigged with a trolling motor is also easier to store versus a boat, and you also don’t have to worry about those pesky HOA rules and regulations. The answer was extremely simple, but held strong substance.
When it’s all said and done, evolution is a great piece to the growth of the sport of kayak fishing. There’s no denying that fact, and honestly, there’s no sense in fighting it. What’s important is that our sport continues to grow. Ultimately, the most important piece of this puzzle is that regardless of how you get out on the water, whether it be paddling a kayak, pedaling a kayak, or trolling motor driven, you’re out on the water. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Simply getting out on the water, enjoying the great outdoors, and catching fish?