Stick It: Test Fishing the Swivel Stick
Words and photos by Bob Bramblet
Kayak anchoring systems have come a long way in the last few years, particularly for anglers who fish shallow water. In the early days posting up on a fishing spot may have been as simple as tossing out a barbell on a rope.
Several new products take anchoring to a new level. The Swivel Stick is one, a stakeout system designed by Lucas Cesario and Michael Malle. It debuted at ICAST 2013. All of the components are made from stainless steel and aluminum.
The Swivel Stick is built around a novel hinge feature that allows the pin to easily swivel from the stowed position into place. A unique screw head allows the pin to dig itself into the bottom for a secure hold.
The pin is then free to slide up or down in the bracket. It requires no wiring or batteries and when not in use, the pin is stowed away along the edge of the kayak, out of the way of mangroves and low bridges.
I was invited to a fishing demo of the product with Lucas, Mike and Josh Harvel, who helped develop the device. The first thing I noticed as I inspected the Swivel Stick mounted was the quality of the components. There are no plastics or fiberglass. All of the installed parts were tight fitting and mounted with a steel plate inside, sandwiching the plastic wall of the kayak between two stainless steel brackets for a strong mounting point.
The anchor pole is an aluminum rod and the tip is an auger type device. The tip and cap are removable with set screws with rod extensions available. Lucas also advised there will be accessories available soon, possibly including camera mounts.
Mike and Lucas were very excited to show me the features of their product. Three kayaks were sporting the Swivel Stick, a Hobie Revo, a Hobie Quest and a Native Redfish. None of these kayaks are particularly easy to stand in, but Lucas and Mike set the poles, one on each side of the kayak, and quickly stood right up. I remarked that they obviously had practice, but I soon would get my chance to test them out.
While we were checking out the device, Lucas hooked a small redfish. In shallow water, I staked out my Pro Angler and Lucas deployed the Swivel Sticks. It was very windy, so instead of trying to position my kayak for a picture, I got out and walked over to Lucas. Within seconds, I was chasing down my kayak because my stick anchor pulled out, while Lucas' kayak stood firm. The wave action apparently caused the Swivel Sticks to ‘screw’ themselves deeper into the sandy bottom. Lucas then stepped onto his kayak for some interesting grip and grin photos.
Heading back to the launch, we stopped at some Matlacha docks. Lucas deployed the Swivel Sticks next to the dock and easily stepped off of the kayak. Anyone who launches from a dock knows that is a precarious position unless you have a very wide kayak. He made it look very simple. I was able to try this back at the launch with Josh's Revo. I placed the anchors and was able to stand up with little effort. I stepped from the kayak to the dock very easily, then back. I was very surprised at what little effort it took. Another cool feature they showed me was the sticks can be used to ‘walk’ across the flats. The device can be placed in an unlocked mode so the sticks can be used independently to push and turn the kayak in any direction with little effort.
To get the full use of the features requires two Swivel Sticks, one each mounted on either side of the kayak. Both sticks work in tandem to stabilize the kayak similar to a floating dock. That allows the user to stand up easily on even the narrowest kayaks and allows very simple egress between kayaks and on docks. The Swivel Stick is also perfect for photography as there is no movement of the kayak when both sticks are deployed allowing the user to face exactly where the lighting is best. The price for one Swivel Stick is $329, and $658 for a pair. In comparison, the price of the Power Pole Micro Anchor is around $600, but it doesn't come with a stakeout pole or battery. If purchased from Power Pole, the pin is another $100, a lithium battery $149, and mounting bracket up to $79.
There is certainly something for everyone when it comes to shallow water anchoring systems. Simple to complex and inexpensive to top-dollar, there is a customizable solution for every need and budget. The Swivel Stick is a great option that can serve many purposes.