All Kayaks Are Not Created Equal!
BY Jen Ripple
Last year at ICAST I was introduced to the new “fly fishing kayak,” appropriately called the MAYFLY. Now, let me just be completely honest here. I do not kayak. I’ve been in a kayak maybe twice in my life, and we’re not talking a KAYAK…we’re talking those watercrafts that call themselves kayaks that you can purchase at your local Walmart and come with a paddle.
Normally, I would have skipped by the kayaks and went directly to the skiffs, but something caught my eye. Maybe it was the color, maybe it was the booth layout --- nope, it was the crazy people in the booth causing a scene. That’s something I can get behind. When I found out that they had a new kayak made specifically with the fly angler in mind, I was intrigued! And…then I saw the prototype and my idea of kayak fishing was forever altered.
So I ordered up my very own MAYFLY in Mahi (a combination of blue and green) and drove down to Sparta, TN to tour the plant and pick my new baby up. I knew that Jackson Kayaks were made in the USA and that the people who worked there had a love of fly angling and were awesome people. What I didn’t realize was how dedicated they are to creating the best kayaks on the market and keeping as much of the process in Tennessee as possible. The process itself is fascinating and it is a sight to behold. Walking through the plant, seeing row upon row upon row of amazing kayaks, it’s like being in an alternate planet where lollipops are dancing and people are extraordinarily happy. As green as a company of this type can be, they even have figured out a way to take the “imperfect’ kayaks and break them down and reuse them again. You have to see it. It’s pure brilliance.
After a harrowing ride home (harrowing because I felt like I should be holding onto the rope of my new kayak, perched securely on top of my car), I took the new baby for a try in Kentucky Lake. This stand-up/sit on kayak is amazing. So steady that even I can stand up and sit down on it, cast and not fall off! (I’ve fallen out of two driftboats…so there is that!) As I mentioned, I’m not a kayaker, so paddling is not in my normal routine. I haven’t worked out, lifted weights or spent my days paddling in whitewater, but I fished from this kayak for five hours and it was a BREEZE!
I was kind of stunned, to be honest, that I wasn't exhausted paddling this kayak around. Let's just say this is NOT a small kayak; this is a significant kayak. I figured I'd put it in the first time and be tired after an hour and have trouble getting it back to shore. THIS was NOT the case AT ALL! And....I don't even have a decent paddle, I was using the $20.00 fiberglass one that comes from Walmart while I'm waiting for mine to arrive. In addition, my PFD is not in yet either, so I was using a lifejacket that was big and bulky. I fished for five hours, until it started to get dark, and caught my first Kentucky Lake fish from that kayak.
Now, I do have an issue with this kayak. It was so much fun that I'm working on my second one so that the DUN staff can go out with me. It is only a one person kayak and it would be much more fun with a friend...so watch out Jackson ... I'm coming back!