By Chris Payne
Kayak fishing is growing almost exponentially. Through the boom, a few different types of kayak angler have emerged, mostly stemming from economic means and attitudes. I call these segments Yellow Kayak, Blue Kayak, and Green Kayak.
The community as a whole is accepting of all segments but members of the individual groups often don't understand each other. This leads to miscommunication, bad advice and can form wedges over time. Hopefully I can put some of it to rest by explaining them to you. If you then use that when doling out gear recommendations, it can be a building block for the community as a whole. Understanding from another person's perspective is key.
Yellow Kayak is a person in a name brand kayak that cost more than $800. His depth finder can sometimes cost the same or more than the kayak itself. Yellow loves gear that helps him catch more fish, compete in tournaments and gives him the edge on competition. Yellow Kayak often pedals rather than paddles but if he is paddling, it's a choice, not a necessity. Rods and reels are an investment for him and skimping isn't considered.
Yellow Kayak probably has a BlackPak, a name brand cart and doesn't mind purchasing high quality accessories. He doesn't have time or want to make time for a lot of DIY projects. The best is expected and paid for. If he is a paddler, you can bet it's not a $29 discount model he is using.
When Yellow Kayak asks for recommendations he isn't looking for the cheapest route; he is asking for the best quality. He may set a price range in his mind. Let's say he is looking for a kayak cart. If you suggest he build one because yours is great and you love it, he will disregard. Someone has already made a better cart, he wants to buy it and be done, not make a trip to Home Depot and waste a fishing day assembling a PVC cart that might fail sooner than later.
I figure Yellow Kayak makes up about 20 percent of the kayak fishing world.
Blue Kayak is a guy in an entry level kayak. That Wal-Mart special? Yeah, he's rocking it. Sit-in, sit-on, it doesn't matter. The paddle he's swinging is whatever was available for $20 or he already had lying around. He may or may not have a depth finder but if he does, it cost $100 or less. Fishing gear is whatever he already had with a few new lures he picked up on clearance. He catches fish and loves life. If he wants something accessory wise, he'll find a way to build it from stuff he has laying around.
Blue Kayak rocks a milk crate. He's probably modified it to suit his needs and loves it. He looks at the high dollar accessories and shakes his head in wonderment. "Why buy something you can build for $4 in parts?" Purchased quality isn't the goal for Blue. Completion is. A trolling rod holder for him is often resting the rod butt under a leg while he paddles. No shame in his game, Blue is doing it and at a low cost.
When Blue asks for recommendations, he wants low cost or free. If he can build it with things in his garage, that's an even better solution. Let's say Blue asks the same question as Yellow. He wants a kayak cart. If you suggest he buy the Harmony or C-Tug at $150, he is no longer listening to you. He has only invested $200 to get on the water so far so the cart that costs the same won't be a helpful suggestion.
Blue Kayak makes up about 20 percent of the kayak fishing world.
You math majors realize 60 percent of kayak anglers are not accounted for yet. Now they are. A great majority of the kayak fishing populace fits into what I call Green Kayak.
Green Kayak is a hybrid of Yellow and Blue. According to Statista.com, a subscription data source, the average cost of a new kayak in 2013 was $578. That's right in the middle of Green's wheelhouse. He may have more expensive gear and a less expensive kayak or vice versa. Green is the glue that holds the community together. He has a foot in both worlds with Yellow Kayak and Blue Kayak. He understands saving a dollar but also likes quality and will occasionally pay for it.
Green will make some accessories and pay for others. His suggestions to Yellow and Blue are often appreciated. Green is the guy you most likely hang around with after the tourney. He's a good dude that understands different perspectives and walks in the shoes of both Yellow and Blue.
Understanding the different segments will hopefully allow all of us to give better answers to gear questions. A good practice when someone asks for advice is to ask additional questions to better understand the circumstance. If someone says, "Hey, I need a cart. Which one should I get?" the best answer is often another question or five. "What type of kayak do you have? Are you using boat ramps or rough terrain? Are you looking to build or buy?"
Seeking to give good advice based on the person asking the initial question and their unique circumstances will make sure we all give advice that is helpful. Look outside yourself, see through another's lens and help our community of kayak anglers be an even better one.