The Truth About Scupper Plugs

| November 20, 2010 | 33 Comments

I’ve always had customers ask me about scupper plugs, more specifically, they are not sure if they need them and in some cases wonder if  they may be a necessity because they were told so by someone else. Scupper holes are found in sit-on-top kayaks are are designed as a safety feature to drain water out of the kayak, from top to bottom, keeping you from sitting in a puddle or worse making your kayak a bathtub full of water that could then be prone to capsize. Scupper plugs are designed to stop up these scupper holes which stops this water from draining out. The real intent of scupper plugs is to keep water from coming in through the scupper holes. This can happen in choppy water or when there is significant enough weight in the kayak to push the hull deep enough in the water to force water into the cockpit. Now don’t be alarmed, this doesn’t mean your boat is going to sink. It is perfectly normal for some water to enter your kayak via the scuppers. However, if you have water that is consistently in your kayak, it can become somewhat bothersome. If you don’t experience this problem of water coming up through the holes, then you don’t need scupper plugs.

Of course if you are using a kayak, regardless of the brand, capacity and use of scupper plugs, water will enter the cockpit one way or another. This can be from spray, paddle splash, waves or by entering and exiting your kayak. If you are using scupper plugs in these instances you will need to empty this water out of the cockpit. If you prefer not to remove the scupper plugs to drain the water, simply use a sponge or if there is a significant amount of water use a bilge pump. Accumulating too much water in your cockpit or deck area can affect the performance and possibly safety of your kayak. Besides, it’s never a bad idea to carry one or both of those products with you for safety and convenience purposes.

So the truth is, no matter how hard you try, water will always find its way into your boat. Dealing with it is really just a matter of personal preference. Most people don’t enjoy sitting in a pool of water while others don’t mind getting a little wet, especially when it is hot outside. If you do have a little water entering your cockpit and want the convenience of the automatic draining, consider only plugging the scuppers closest to or around your seat area and leave the ones by your feet open.

Dave Graves
Assistant Manager
ACK – San Marcos

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Category: Kayak Fishing, Kayaking, Knowledge, Resources

Comments (33)

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  1. Monica says:

    I have a sit-on-top kayak and the last time I was fishing in the bay, two very small fish entered my boat through the unplugged scupper holes. Needless to say, they were the only fish I “caught” that day!! I prefer not to use all the plugs, just the ones closest to my seat.
    Happy Kayaking!!

  2. jbwilli says:

    I made ONE WAY scupper “valves” out of pvc and round fish floats for my kayak! They work great! Basically it is a float trapped inside a small 2 inch long pvc pipe. The pipe has o-rings mounted in grooves on outside, that are sized to fit the scupper holes very snuggly. Anytime water tries to come up through the scupperholes, the float inside the pipe rises and seals off pipe via an internal “seat” design inside. If watercomes into the kayak interior from any other source, splash, waves, rain, etc; everytime the float goes back down in the pipe (and it is down over 90% of the time) water drains freely out through the pipe! It is a ONE WAY water drain valve! I have the best of both worlds! That little float bobs up and down all day long, blocking water when it tries to come up through the pipe and letting water out every time it goes back down! I swear I can hear a vacuum sucking the water out everytime that float goes down if there is water covering it. It acts like wave powered bilge pump!

  3. Nicholas says:

    jbwilli that sounds like an awesome Idea! Do you have any photos or a youtube showing the design? I would love to replicate this for my yak. Thanks!

  4. David Sturm says:

    You should patent this idea. This is a completely sell-able item.

  5. Joe says:

    Your one way valve idea is AWESOME! You really,really should patent that!

    • Matt says:

      They already use this idea on buses in countries where it is hot inside the buses and they pressure wash them , the water on the top deck of the bus rises and the ball floats in the pipe to let the water out through a pipe that runs through the side of the bus . Water height goes down so does the ball making a air tight seal again until the next time . Basically there is already a patent on this , don’t waste your time and money with the patent office.

  6. Kathryn says:

    We got a double sit-on- both of us are same weight (approx 13st) My partner was sitting in water in stern- I had no water. All plugs were in, some come out easy some feel stuck- we didnt try removing them whilst paddling- I had a bottle so tried to empty but kept coming in back….any advice?

  7. Rick K. says:

    jbwilli, I would live to see a drawing or pictue on how you made them. I would be willing to buy a few sets. Any chnace oin getting some pics or drawings?

  8. John says:

    The Necky Vectors come with this type of a scupper plug….one way valvle only letting water out. You may be able to just buy a replacement set of them and use them in any kayak with scupper holes…assuming all scupper holes are the same size.

  9. Andy Rice says:

    jbwilli Would you like to contact me re your design I would like to further discuss it and see its workings with a view to production.

  10. Triffid says:

    Just a thought: Have you ever considered that when flipping over with your Yak that the vacuum created with those plugs installed is much bigger, making it considerably more difficult to turn it back to it’s normal position…

    Those scupper holes do also have that function.

  11. neil says:

    All scupper holes are not the same size, as I found out after purchasing some at Bass Pro. The ones they sold didnt even fit the kayaks they sell

    • Hi Neil, thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right. I found this out from personal experience when I was trying to find a scupper plug that fit my Diablo Chupacabra. I tested different sizes at an ACK store until I found one that worked well. -Sam

    • Ken says:

      Neil, I found the same problem with Bass Pro Shops and the fact that they don’t sell the scupper plug that fits my FS12T. Did you find a replacement yet? Dicks sells a universal plug that works.

  12. George says:

    I have a sit on top, know nothing about them. Do you need to fill kayak with water so it sits in the water lower? I had a hell of a time trying to stay on her and finally gave up after 10 minutes. HELP ME. I want to use it but I keep falling off. It just don’t seem right.

    • Genna Tardi says:

      Hey George, kayaking can be challenging at first, we understand. I assure you, you will be a pro in no time! No need to fill the kayak with water, a persons body weight alone will be all the kayak needs to sit in its proper place in the water.

  13. It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you simply shared
    this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date
    like this. Thank you for sharing.

  14. J.D.MAYA says:


    • Devyn Stewart says:

      I would say that it will depend upon how much weight is in the kayak. If there are some large waves a considerable amount of water can come into the kayak. Scupper plugs will limit this but if water comes in over the top of the kayak, it does not have a way to drain unless you use this Scupper Valve.

  15. Denise Newman says:

    Just have normal plugs do I need them for stability

    • Devyn Stewart says:

      Nope, they’re for preventing water from coming up through the bottom of the kayak from choppy water (or to avoid frigid water) when you want a drier ride. Your stability won’t be impacted from scupper plugs.

  16. James Allsbury says:

    Just use bathroom sink plugs must be the insert kind ..mine is a heritage angler10 kayak.. i plugged mine with. 1 1/8 works great and cheap

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