Guest blog written by Andrew Moczygemba, Railblaza
This year, we have seen multiple big water kayaks like the Viking Reload and the Wilderness Thresher introduced to the market. While these are both all-purpose kayaks, they are designed for appeal to the offshore, beyond the breaker (BTB), kayak fishermen. Like these kayaks, their rod holder counterparts are technically all-purpose rod holders, some of which are designed for and appeal to the offshore kayak angler such as the Railblaza Rod Holder ||.
About the author: Having learned freshwater kayak fishing from books, videos and a part time working relationship with the Yak Gear Paddlesport Company, Terry Sturtevant has moved past the shoreline and canoe fishing to a new obsession, kayak fishing. Terry states he has never fished the ocean from a kayak but he would like to someday. You can find Terry at @kayakfishingfvr on Twitter.
Here in Upstate New York, there are not many kayak stores selling big name kayaks and accessories. My first fishing kayak was purchased about 7 years ago. I bought some leashes and paddle holders for it from Yak Gear. Time past, so I checked their site again and BAM! I wanted The Railblaza System.
I did internet research and also spoke to Bill Bragman, owner of Yak Gear, on the phone. At that time, Yak Gear was the only US seller. If you don’t know, Railblaza is imported from New Zealand. With Yak Gear’s recommendations and the product’s install instructions included, I was setting up for kayak fishing versatility!
Let me show you the heart of this system:
These are the regular base mounts, called StarPorts. Notice the multi-point star recess. The entire system is centered around the star shape in the port. This means every accessory that Railblaza sells will fit any of the ports. As an alternative to the basic Starport, there are also SidePorts and RailMount mounts. RailMounts fit kayaks with round side bar handles, like the Hobie Pro Angler has. They come in two different sizes: a 19 mm wide and 32 mm wide.
On my first kayak, I mounted one mount at the bow and another at the stern. At the stern I can insert the day time Safety Flag. I have never felt safer daytime fishing as I do now. High speed bass boats can see me long before they can get to me.
This is a great shot: you have a stern mounted safety flag using a RailMount with additional RailMounts and basic StarPort Mounts along the sides of the kayak as well. But here is the interesting thing…that flag and the rod holder could swap positions. Okay, who in there right mind wants a rod holder at the stern? But two flags for safety on busy waters might not be a bad idea…
On the bow is a rounded base with a Adjustable Extender and a square Rotating Platform. Put a GoPro there. Actually, the camera can go anywhere because of the star mounts. ACK offers a variety of camera mounts and booms – put them anywhere you want for the angles you need.
On that same Rotating Platform, you could install your fish finder, GPS, or a forward mounted rod holder. I hope you’re getting the versatility thing here. I love this stuff. In the water, I can move my camera and rod from port to starboard – in about 30 seconds!
Here is a good side note about the Railblaza Rod Holder II: they sell only one model because it’s the only model you’ll need. It accommodates fly rods, bait casters, spinning rods and surf casting rods with butt sizes up to 1.2.”
Here my old kayak has two G-Holds in the base mounts. G-Holds can strap down your pole anchor (one of my favorites,) a spare paddle or push pole. Some duck hunters hold their shotguns in the G-Hold’s while paddling to their favorite spot.
I often place a flash light or battery operated red green navigation light on the forward G-hold for evening outings. Check your local regulations for paddle powered boat lighting requirements.
How about rod for security when you smash through the breakers?
Railblaza has applications for canoes, SUP and inflatable Rib Boats! Yeah, even your ATV needs a safety flag.
I’m constantly thinking of new ways to move my accessories around the kayak. Like pointing the rod holder to the stern and slow trolling a Jitterbug near the shoreline. If you can’t tell yet, I love this system as much as I love fishing! The versatility, the quick changes, the one style rod holder, and relocating my GPS.
After dreaming and obsessing about it, I finally made my mind up to purchase a new Slayer Propel. Left work early stopped by ACK, no second guessing or wondering, just “Hi, I’ll take one of these, in lizard lick, is it in the warehouse and when can I have it?”
ACK got it in from their warehouse the next day and installed 4 flush mount rod holders behind the seat because I really liked that layout on my Manta Ray, and don’t really care for milk crates. Also had ACK install the anchor trolley (because their costs for installation are insanely cheap, so why not?). Since I didn’t want any issues with messing up the rudder, or having to worry about carrying a heavy boat, I opted for the C-Tug kayak cart, and it works great and the color compliments the boat.
I was able to pick it up the early following day with the installations completed. I was spending the weekend with my boys so didn’t spend much time on the boat, only rigging was installing the front hatch cover and rearranging the bungies in the rear well the way I like them. I debated my lighting options for a while and decided that I’d rather have green LEDs, mainly because my blue LEDs are on white strips, which would look like crap, even thought the lights might be brighter. I had 24″ strips on my Manta Ray and noticed that I was always trying to lean forward to see the lit up areas under the boat, because the lights were all up front. For the Slayer Propel, I decided to install 48″ light strips on each side, which brings the lights back almost to the cockpit.
For my fish finder, I bought a Humminbird with Down Imaging, as I’ve been told DI is a big help in tournament fishing. You can see the power cable and transducer cable coming out of the grommet to the right. After debating where my paddle was going to be stored and how I wanted things placed, I decided to do what most do and mount the FF on the right rail up front using a ram ball mounting system for the head unit.
The battery is located in the front hatch, instead of making a box or anything for it, I just used velcro to attach it to the wall of the well, easy in and out and it holds it securely in place (power cabling also run through a Hobie grommet into the hull). I need to do a little bit of tidying up of the wires in the hull, and work in a fusible link somewhere, but everything is currently functional and the way I want it. There’s still another circuit available on the switch, so I still may do some cockpit lights later (although they always just blinded me in the Manta Ray, maybe installed below the seat they won’t blind me).
I’ll be taking it on its maiden voyage soon so I can see how to manage grass with the Slayer Propel peddle drive.
Who’s your favorite paddling partner? Wait, don’t answer that…we have a feeling we might know the answer. It’s not your friends or family, who too often have an excuse for why they can’t make it down to the water with you – no, it’s someone who’s always game for a trip outside. Someone who can’t say no to jumping onto a kayak, canoe or paddleboard and usually into the water too. Unless your dog has a fear of water, “man’s best friend” makes a great paddling partner and, just like any paddler, they need to be safe around the water. The best place to start is with a Dog PFD (personal flotation device).
What is the Benefit of a Dog PFD?
Unlike with people, there are no laws stating that dogs are required to have a life jacket when they hit the water. However, there are a number of benefits to outfitting your dog with a quality PFD that will protect the safe-being of your furry companion and as a result bring you peace of mind.
Whether it’s a distraction like waterfowl or just the allure of water, it’s hard for any dog to resist jumping overboard and doing some dog-paddling. It’s even harder for them to realize how tiring it can be. A dog PFD gives canines something to fall back on – to just sit back and float – if they need it. A quality one also includes reflective cloth for increased visibility and a handle that makes it easy and painless to pull them back on board your paddle craft, when they’re ready to of course.
What Are My Options?
We offer a wide variety of outdoor gear for you pooch, including two different dog PFDs at ACK.com. The first is the low profile Dog Life Jacket from NRS which comes at a lower price and with 1000 denier cordura material, providing buoyancy of up to 2.7-7.9 lbs. The second is the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat which would be considered the premium option of the two. It offers 4-14.5 lbs of buoyancy and is made with a thicker, ballistic nylon material.
While both have received glowing reviews, we though this recent customer feedback on the float coat was worth sharing:
“Although my dogs are great swimmers (Labradors) I bought this coat for kayaking with my dog. This coat fits all 3 of my dogs from 63 to 80 lbs with minor adjustments for each dog. However my 13 year old dog is scared of the vest, but once I get it on her she runs around happy like a puppy. I can pick her up by the handle to put on the kayak and it holds her without hurting her (like the cheap vests would). I let the dog get wet first and also dunk the vest in water to keep it a bit cooler on the dog. I highly recommend the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat. Great for aging dogs or just for safety.” – Susan L
So what are you waiting for? Grab your puppy a dog PFD for your next outing – we’re sure that he or she will appreciate it!
Looking for a family tent? Eureka’s Tetragon 5 Tent might be just the ticket with plenty of space, easy setup, quality features and, maybe most importantly, quality that’s meant to last! This five person tent from Eureka is a popular buy and has been known to hold up for plenty of years. Oh – and it comes at a great price too! Just ask ACK customer ‘Happy Camper’ who submitted the following review:
“This is my second Tetragon 5. I also own the Tetragon 4. The first one lasted for 15 years and I was so happy to see this was still sold. Exoskeleton makes setup a breeze, floor wraps up for added rain protection and rain-fly goes all-the-way-down. Every quality I want in a tent!” – Happy Camper
This tent is so great for families that we created a camping package for it! Check it out if you’re looking for some great savings & want to get the whole family enjoying some time outside.
The Ocean Kayak Nalu began turning heads when it was released about four years ago. Today, this hybrid Kayak-SUP continues to impress those who come across it. Incredibly versatile, the Nalu is meant to offer the best of both worlds with the ability to both sit and stand while you paddle.
Over the years the Nalu has become popular among casual, recreational paddlers just looking to have some fun in either position. A big point of interest has been the price, which is relatively low for typical SUP board. To top it off, we at ACK offer a package deal involving the Nalu which couples the board/kayak with a paddle and leash for some great savings. A recent reviewer going by the name “Beach Bum” submitted this lengthy review sharing his very positive experience with our packaged Nalu 12.5:
“I wanted both a kayak and SUP but didn’t want spend $,2000 for both. Then I came across the Nalu Hybrid. At first, I couldn’t believe that you could have the best of both worlds with one product without a lot of compromise. I spent hours scouring the web for reviews and more information. The more I checked the more I was convinced that this may be the perfect product for people who recreationally enjoy both kayaking and paddle boarding. I purchased this product around a year ago and let me tell you that I could not have been happier and the price for the package deal at ACK is was one of the best values around. I use it all the time in the creeks and ocean. It is very stable and works as expected as a kayak or SUP. Not sure if they still make the smaller version but I would recommend the larger size of 12.5 which is still very maneuverable and glides nicely. Enjoy!” – Beach Bum
See more about the Nalu in this video from Ocean Kayak:
When it comes to GSI, one should expect ingenious design. Their portable, lightweight cooksets are made to fully equip campers based on their specific needs with integrated systems that pack the maximum amount of utility into the least amount of space. The most popular of these integrated systems is their Bugaboo line, which offers high performing products at a great value. Recently one ACK customer submitted a review about the Bugaboo Camper Cookset, which is designed to outfit up to four campers for backcountry eating. Here’s what he had to say:
“I have an older Bugaboo set. It was just OK. I purchased the new Bugaboo camper set. I just spent 18 days in the Boundary Waters with this set. The improvement to the cooking set is amazing. The pots are of heavier construction and the handles are now the best I have ever used. The cup within a cup design with measuring marks is great. The new lids for the pots is what all sets have been missing, they are fantastic. The carry bag also being a sink made clean up a breeze. I could not be happier with my new set.” – Mickeal
If you’re thinking about doing some camping this summer and need a new cooking solution, definitely give GSI a look!
ACK Customer C.W. Goetz is enjoying his Eco Terra and had this review of it to share:
“Well built, rugged and sounds very good. Any more volume & bass enhancements would obviously require the size of the unit to be made larger which would make it impractical to pack in a canoe for tripping. It’s perfect as is and functions as advertised. I’ts certainly the best waterproof boombox on the market. Love it!”
“So here’s the thing- If you are looking for an all-round paddle that can take on anything from class 3+ ww to flatwater long distance touring and do it all extremely well, please let me know where you find such a paddle. That being said, this does everything fairly well and really exceeds expectations if doing a bit of both. For whitewater (had it on a trip down the Mulberry a bit ago in 5 ft of water), the teardrop blade allows for a good power stroke/pry when you need it and was strong enough to give a good lean on for a brace as well.
The only drawback is the face itself. Because the ends are wrapped, they are protected from the normal wear and tear, but the face itself already has a few gouges in it. Easily addressed, but not exactly low maintenance. On flat water, the slightly curved grip really helps with some of the more “complicated” strokes, and slices through the water effortlessly during recovery. Only con here is the weight. Not horribly heavy, but you still feel it at the end of the day. Again, if anyone out there knows of a paddle that does everything well, or for that matter, knows where to find big foot and a unicorn, please let me know. Or if you simply need a good all-rounder that won’t let you down, this one should work for ya!”
One of our customers, Brent Baldwin, shared the following in-depth review with us about his Helle Viking Knife and we thought you might enjoy it.
“This is an excellent knife, but before you order, you should know what you are getting. Study the pictures on this website, and read other reviews.
The Viking is essentially a thousand year old design. If you want modern features in your outdoor knife, you may want to pass on it. However, if you appreciate tradition along with quality, you might like it.
The Viking is very simple in design and construction. There is no guard or bolster. The blade is of modern carbon steel (not stainless), and is quite substantial in thickness. It comes razor sharp from the factory. “HELLE” is stamped on the obverse side, but there are no other markings. The tang extends all the way through the traditional Nordic curly birch haft and is peened over a diamond-shaped “washer,” which has been typical of Scandinavian knives for centuries. The handle (or haft) is slighty barrel-shaped, thicker and wider in the middle, which facilitates a good grip. the wood is lightly stained and appears to have an oil finish.
The leather sheath is also a traditional design. It is a very close fit, and retains the knife securely without additional fasteners. There is some simple tooling on the front of the sheath, but nothing silly and no maker’s mark.
The knife comes packaged in a sturdy and tastefully marked cardboard tube, along with a wiping cloth. There is no plastic in the knife, the sheath, or the packaging.
This is a very simple, strong, functional, and traditional knife, in a pattern that dates to medieval times. It is not for everyone, but those who appreciate history and tradition along with their time outdoors should find it to their liking.”