There are many ways to transport a fishing kayak to the water and get it into the water you’re fishing after arriving. Some folks keep it simple. Others more elaborate. And the options might make choosing one or the other confusing. So we’ll give you some things to think about to see how easy it is to transport your kayak to your next fishing destination.
TRANSPORTING YOUR KAYAK
Most fishing kayaks are less than 15 feet long, most commonly around 12 to 13 feet. This means that they have more boat in the truck than sticking out, and the balance point allows you to simply slide it in and tie it so that it doesn't slide out. Remember, once you put it in, you’ll want to load any gear on the boat inside the bed, keeping as much weight in the bed as possible to prevent the kayak from tipping down. A simple strap through the grab handle to the truck will keep it from sliding out. One person can do this easily.
This is my favorite as the trailer can be removed from the car/truck when you return and you can leave the boat loaded and ready for your next outing if you have the space. There are many lightweight and low cost trailer options. A $250 trailer is about the lowest cost, and $1,500 will get you into a high end trailer, like the Sylvan Sport - Go Trailer for example. A trailer also gives you more room in your vehicle for your gear and makes the entire process cleaner.
This is the most common way kayaks have been transported over the years. The upside is that you have your boats on the roof and out of the way, but the downside is you will need roof racks. There are always available options for any vehicle. I use Thule Racks as they are strong, have lots of options, and it is easy to find the right racks for your vehicle with a quick search.
Always use cam straps in good condition. Simple cam straps work better and are easier than ratchet straps.
Make sure at least one strap goes through a handle of some sort, so the boat can’t slide off even if the strap gets loose.
A “bow line” that runs from the front of the boat to the front of the truck/car is a great safety line that takes pressure off of the racks for high speeds or wind.
GETTING IN THE WATER
Transporting kayaks involves getting the boat to the water, but it also involves getting out of your vehical and into the water … and back again. There are three main ways to move a fishing kayak to and from the water.
This is best done with two people, one in front and one in back using the grab handles. It is always easiest before you load it with gear, of course.
While your kayak will wear down over time if you drag it far on abrasive ground like gravel or pavement, it is made of durable plastic that is designed for that kind of abuse in moderation. Jackson Kayak and some other models have a “skid plate” on the back of the boat that is replaceable, so you can drag it and not worry about wear.
Drag by holding the grab handle with your hand, which requires lifting an end in the air. This is good for short distances.
Drag by putting a cam strap or rope through the grab handle and making a loop, stepping into the loop and wearing it around your waist. This allows you to simple walk with it, pretty neat.
Kayak carts are wonderful inventions. It effectively turns your kayak into a lightweight trailer. The wheels attached a variety of ways depending on the model you get. The two main ways are a strap that goes over the boat and holds the cart to the kayak, or two prongs that stick up into the “scuppers” of the kayak and hold it in place.
Wide wheels are best for sand and mud, while narrow bicycle type wheels are best for hard surfaces for minimum resistance.
For safety reasons, make sure your kayak secures firmly to your vehicle or trailer and stays that way. Strapping through secured handles ensures the kayak can’t get completely lose of your transportation setup.
Straps that only go over the top of the boat can loosen up and the boat can slide out from under the strap. Remember that plastic kayaks are malleable in the heat and if you are tied tight in the cool morning, but it sits on the roof on a hot day, the boat will bend and the straps will loosen up.
It is always a good idea to have a safety flag on the end of the kayak to prevent drivers from running into it on the road. After all, many of the kayaks are camo colors and designed to blend.
Finally, you have to decide how much of your gear you want to store in the kayak. Since I typically put mine in the back of my truck, or on a trailer, I tend to keep my seat on the boat as well as tackle inside my dry hatches. Rods, and other keep dry items, I keep in my truck until it is time to unload and fish.
Now, get out there and enjoy the fun you can have fishing out of a kayak!
See you on the water!