Kayak Fishing Personalities Converge for ACK Demo Days in Austin

Meet Big Names of Kayak Fishing at ACK Austin this Weekend

I was scrolling through the list of representatives that we have coming to our ACK Austin store this weekend for Demo Days when I realized how many awesome people we have coming together for this event. If you’re a local Austin paddlers who is looking to further your kayak fishing knowledge and skills, you won’t want to miss this event. Here are some of the people you can expect to see:

Fil (far left) at the Aransas Pass event earlier this month.
Fil (far left) at the Aransas Pass event earlier this month.

Captain Fil Spencer will be here representing Ocean Kayak, Necky and Old Town Canoes and Kayaks to discuss how he utilizes their line-up of different models on the coast. Fil has been a big presence in the IFA Kayak Fishing Tours over the past couple years, placing 3rd in the recent Aransas Pass event and grabbing up the biggest redfish. He’ll be showing off his personal rig, talking about the new Predator kayak and answering any questions you might have about kayak fishing.

Thomas showing off a fly fishing catch.
Thomas showing off a fly fishing catch.



Husband and wife team, Thomas and Megan Flemons,  run the show at local Austin kayak manufacturer, Diablo Paddlesports, and kayak fly fish in their free time. They will both be out showing off their lineup of ultra stable kayaks, including their new roto-molded Amigo kayak which has been generating some buzz since it was announced a few months back. Thomas will even be holding a “Fly Fishing from a Kayak” clinic Saturday at 10:45 and Sunday at 1:30 PM.


Angler Prostaff Ryan McDermid showing off a recent catch.
Angler Prostaff Ryan McDermid showing off a recent catch.

Native Watercraft’s Tom Jester along with angler prostaff Ryan McDermid and Jose Jimenez will be on site and talking about how models like the Manta Ray, Ultimate, Versa Board Angler, Mariner and Slayer serve the different needs of kayak anglers. Don’t expect to see their new Slayer propel or Ultimate FX yet since those aren’t released until later in the year, but they’ll be able to answer any questions you might have about the new models.


Joe Poole at giving a clinic at San Marcos earlier this year.
Joe Poole at giving a clinic at San Marcos earlier this year.

Wilderness Systems angler prostaff Joe Poole will once again be on the scene. Joe has been a favorite resource for Demo Day event goers regarding kayak fishing for many years now and operates his GoinCoastal kayak fishing charter service in Corpus Christi. He’ll have his personal rig to show off and will hold Kayak Fishing clinics both Saturday at 1:00 PM and Sunday at 12:45 PM. His clinics have been known to draw a crowd and are not to be missed for those getting started!


Cully & Ester from Hobie Kayaks will be on hand to discuss the Pro Angler, changes coming to Hobie models for 2014 and how the Hobie Mirage Drive makes kayak fishing easy. Cully and Ester are long time Hobie veterans and have participated in a wide range of trade shows and events, including the Hobie Fishing World Championships (as staff). See the video below from the beginning of this year where Cully discusses the Pro Angler:

You can also expect to see representatives from companies like Feel Free, Scotty and Optic Nerve who will be sure to have some products on hand that will interest anglers. Hope to see you there!

Johnson Outdoors’ New Adventure Team Website Coming Soon

AdventureOnTheWater.com is coming soon.
AdventureOnTheWater.com is coming soon.

Johnson Outdoors, makers of Old Town, Necky and Ocean Kayak, will be releasing a new website called AdventureOnTheWater.com that will act as a platform to showcase what their Pro Staff and Adventure Team Members are up to. It will feature photos, videos, personal kayak rigs of the teams, events and much more! While the date for the official launch is not yet released, we are still very excited about this upcoming outlet and expect it to be full of great information for anyone interested in the Johnson family of brands. Be sure to stay tuned for more!

Take Charge of Spring with Savings from Johnson Outdoors

Details about the Ocean Kayak Promotion
Details about the Ocean Kayak Promotion

Spring means it’s time to get out on the water and we are very excited to pass on a special promotion to help you do just that! From May 3rd through June 2nd when you purchase an new & eligible Ocean Kayak, Old Town or Necky kayak you will receive a $50 or $100 Visa® Cash Card. This is a great opportunity to get the family their first kayaks or even to just expand the fleet!

To qualify for this offer, you will need to mail in a copy of your ACK receipt showing the eligible kayak purchase(s) as well as a completed offer redemption form (see below). The offer ends June 2nd, so keep in mind that this opportunity will not last forever!

Eligible Ocean Kayaks at ACK.com to receive a $50 Visa® Cash Card: Venus 11Tetra 10Tetra 12Trident Ultra 4.7Trident Ultra 4.3Trident 15Trident 13Trident 11, Torque, Frenzy & Malibu 2XL. For more details, click here.

Eligible Necky Kayaks at ACK.com to receive a $100 Visa® Cash Card: Looksha 14, Chatham 16, Chatham 17, Eliza, Elias, Vector 13 & Vector 14. For more details, click here.

Eligible Old Town Kayaks at ACK.com to receive a $50 Visa® Cash Card : Heron and Twin Heron. For more details, click here.

To download the redemption form, click here.

Top 10 Kayaks For Cold Weather Paddling

A few months back, I wrote a short piece that caused a bit of a stir. Apparently “storing your kayak for the winter” didn’t resound well with many, especially those residing in more temperate regions (tongue in cheek of course). But the reality for many is that the idea of putting a kayak out of commission for a few months is unheard of because of either mild winters or the utilization paddling gear designed for cold weather paddling. I recouped some of the fury through a visual presentation highlighting cold weather paddling apparel and now, in an effort to continue this positive momentum, I’d like to offer some recommendations on kayaks that are ideal for paddling during the coldest months of the year.

The concept actually, is simple — get a kayak with a combination of a higher freeboard (hull that remains out of the water while paddling) and elevated seat that will stay dry or a kayak with a cockpit that can be fully or partially covered by a skirt. Continue reading Top 10 Kayaks For Cold Weather Paddling

Kayaking 101: Drop the what? The Kayak Skeg Defined

No one likes to fight the elements just to paddle straight. The problem is that once that wind starts blowing even the most experienced paddlers have trouble keeping their bow pointed in the direction they are heading. Sure, there are a number of ways to prep a kayak to lessen the effects of a windy day (like distributing weight along your kayak, packing items below deck, and bringing the right size & shape of boat, etc.) but even after doing all that there’s one feature to consider when shopping for a kayak — the skeg.

To those who aren’t familiar, the skeg is similar to a rudder (more on this here) in a lot of ways. It’s a small blade built in and deployed beneath the rear of the hull (ex. see the Liquid Logic Remix XP below).  Unlike a rudder however, the skeg does not pivot from side to side. In fact many skegs only offer two settings, deployed and not deployed.

So what is it good for?

What it comes down to is tracking. Tracking is a term that refers to keeping your bow in a straight line as you paddle. The skeg helps you track by lessening the effects of wind or rough waters as they push on the hull by connecting it to deeper, more stable water.

So why do some kayaks have them and others not?

Not every kayak has a skeg built in. Skegs are usually found on those that are meant for touring or longer distance paddling and for boats that need the extra assistance. Some kayaks such as the Liquid Logic Remix (pictured below) offer it as on option for boats that may be used for playing around rapids but may also need help for long distance paddling. If you happen to find yourself skegless and in need of one, you aren’t necessarily out of luck. A few of our kayaks do offer optional skegs that can be purchased and installed separately (like the Diablo Chupacabra skeg pictured above). Another, more common optional feature is a rudder, which can offer even more directional control of your kayak.

In the end, whether or not a skeg is right for you can be a personal preference. For first time shoppers, consider the benefits and for long time paddlers who find themselves consistently frustrated and over exerting oneself just to keep straight, a skeg might be something to consider when deciding on your next kayak.

Thanks for reading and happy paddling! – Joseph@ACK

PS. Came across this recent video from Necky Kayaks explaining their unique skeg system. Enjoy!


Mix and Match Special, Buy Boats, Get $100

Summer means it’s time to get out on the water and we are very excited to pass on a special promotion to help you do just that! For the next 5 weeks, when you spend $799 and up on one or more Ocean Kayak, Necky, or Old Town boats (canoe and/or kayak) you will receive a $100 Visa® Cash Card. This is a great opportunity to get the family their first boats or even to just expand the fleet!

To qualify for this offer, you will need to mail in a copy of your ACK receipt showing the boat purchases (at least $799 must be from boat totals and does not include accessories and taxes) as well as a completed offer redemption form (see below). The offer ends soon on May 31st, so keep in mind that this opportunity will not last forever!

For complete details, click here. To download the redemption form, click here.

Garner State Park. Awesome. Colorful. Fantastic.

Bound for Glory

Those are just a few of the words that would describe my weekend camping in Garner State Park back in the fall of 2011. With good friends, gear, and kayaks in tow, we set off for the Hill Country for a gorgeous autumn weekend of camping, paddling and hiking. Although we departed a bit later than we had originally planned, we were still able to set up the campsite in the dark, lickity-split, thanks to our Princeton Tech head lamps. I had just recently purchased a Mountain Hardware Drifter 3 tent and was surprised, even in the dark, how easy it was to pitch. Not only was it easy to pitch but it was great to have for some of the inclement weather we experienced overnight. It was crazy windy and rained for a few hours just before sunrise but not a drop made it on our gear.

The View from Old Baldy

After the rain ceased around daybreak, I broke out the skillet and sent the smell of bacon frying on cast iron into the morning air. A short time later, not surprisingly, the campers started emerging from their tents and there was a call to arms. As soon as the grease was runnin’ hot in the pan we made some eggs and the breakfast tacos were born. With our hunger quenched and our spirits high, we began our ascent up Old Baldy. We reached the top after only about 30 minutes but boy did that climb get the blood flowing. Although the ascent was quite challenging at times, the view from the top of the Texas Hill Country is unrivaled, especially with the foliage during that time of year. We snapped some pictures and then it was time to head back to base camp for lunch.

Amazing Garner Vistas

We made it down the Old Baldy Trail and put a few Frankfurters on the barbie. By then the sun had burned off the patchy fog that was covering the campground and we were ready to put some roto-molded plastic in the Frio — the time to paddle had finally arrived!

I was anxiously awaiting this moment because I had the Bending Branches Navigator paddle with me for the weekend but hadn’t had the chance to use it yet. After a quick trip back to the campsite for some refreshments, I shoved the Necky Rip 12 into the Frio and we paddled the dammed up part of the river for about an hour. I had paddled the Rip 10 plenty of times previously but this was my first go ‘round with the 12 foot version and it did not disappoint. In my opinion, it is a better version of the 10ft because it tracks better, still has ample cockpit space, and is very comfortable. For as much as I enjoyed the kayak, the paddle was even better. The paddle strokes were effortless and I was very impressed with how light the swing weight of the paddle was. It was nice to have the Rockguard on the paddle blades as well because the Frio River’s water level was much lower than normal due to the extreme drought we’ve had here in Texas. There were quite a few exposed rocks in the shallow water so it was key to have the protection on the paddle blades.

The Crystal Clear Waters of the Frio River

As dusk approached I fired up the skillet once again and we had a fabulous meal of beef fajitas with all the fixin’s and topped it all off with a healthy helping of s’mores. We recounted the adventures of the day and carried on long into the night and then it was time, yet again, to retire to our tents. On this evening, however, I was sleeping in style with the Kelty Recluse sleeping pad. It took no time at all to inflate the pad with the hand pump, but I finished it off with the iron lungs just for good measure. Everyone in camp was jealous of the sleeping pad and for good reason, as it took tent camping to another level of comfort. I can honestly say I will not be camping without the Recluse after getting the chance to sleep on it for just one night.

One thing was for sure when we awoke the next morning, we will be planning another camping trip to Garner sometime very soon.

Have you been here before? What was your experience like?

Kyle @ACK

Product Review: Necky Vector 13

Performance, Stability, and Style.

Story and Photos By Vincent S. Rinando Jr., Necky Kayaks Pro Paddler and Team Ocean Kayak Founding Member

At first glance, you can tell that this isn’t your Dad’s sit on top. The new Vector 13 from Necky Kayaks blends performance, stability and style into a stable sit on top platform that tours and performs like a sit inside kayak. Starting at the bow/top-side of the kayak, the new Vector is sleek and sharp but retains volume and wave punching ability. You will also notice the rounded style of the top deck of the bow instead of the stock flat top on top of a “v” shaped bottom. This helps retains little water keeping your bow dry. The front grab handle has a molded area that accommodates your hand while carrying the kayak. Personally I prefer a hard plastic grab handle built into the kayak (kayak anglers live by Murphy’s Law, “If you can hang a hook in it, you will”).

The front end of the Vector has a sharp keel and makes constant contact even in rough water. I took the Vector out with moderate 15mph winds and chop that measured up to 2ft and was impressed at how dry it remained. Despite the conditions, I didn’t take on any waves over the bow or side rails. The Vector also maintained contact with the water and didn’t create hull slap under a strong paddle and moderate chop.

The bow hatch is ample in size and uses the Crosslink Buckle for easy one-handed opening. What I really like about this hatch was the lid. You can really “feel the seal” when you push down on this hatch. The combination of the Crosslink Buckle and tight seal on the lid kept the inside of the kayak dry through rough waves and even pressurized car wash blasts.

The overall deck layout consists of a mesh bag, device holder and water bottle or drink holder. The mesh bag is held in place with molded in nuts and machine bolts providing a secure attachment. The device holder is large enough to accommodate a hand held GPS or mobile phone case. All of the hardware used on the Vector 13 is first rate brass and stainless. Stainless bars replace nylon pad eyes, which are flat and provide a low profile. This prevents snags and the possibility of breaking pad eyes when carrying the kayak upside down or stacking and storing.

The foot wells are flat but have molding towards the cockpit, which aids in drainage and footing while standing. With the scupper plugs removed, the footwells remained dry and any standing water drained out once you started paddling. The draining was also quiet with no gurgling sounds.

The seat is built in and the pad is recessed to maintain a lower center of gravity. I found the seat cushion to be ample, comfortable and it remained dry. Two scupper plugs are located below the seat but I kept those on to keep the seat area dry. The seat back is adjustable, padded and very comfortable. Side straps allow for adjustment and provide additional support. The cockpit seems to sit a bit closer to the bow than most 13 foot kayaks which makes reaching the bow hatch easier. It also helps when trying to maneuver a rod tip around the bow when you have a fish on the hook.

Towards the rear of the boat, the rudder lay-up has a receiver that catches the rudder eliminating loud noises when the rudder is retracted. A drain plug is located just to the right of the rudder assembly on top. The tankwell is large, but maintains a low profile. It has two scupper plugs for drainage and the floor is designed to channel the water towards the scupper holes. The ridges also help elevate your cargo to keep gear dry when the plugs aren’t in and traction to keep gear from sliding around. The adjustable nylon cover provides secure storage and adds to the stylish appeal of the Vector. There is also a small hatch located in the rear area of the tankwell, which allows access to the rear of the hull’s interior and provides additional storage. This is very important if you ever need to make a repair on the keel or rudder assembly.

The bottom of the Vector is as impressive as the top. It has a well-defined keel and the bottom molding has a slight edge that creates additional volume and stability and also helps channel the water along the keel for straight tracking. The Vector has a removable rubber keel guard that prevents damage to the kayak’s keel while dragging.

Turning a “Touring Sit on Top” into a Kayak Fishing Machine

Being from Texas and spending 100% of my time in a kayak with a fishing rod, I decided to “RedNecky” the Vector up a bit with a few modifications. Just like the race car driver that removes door handles and window glass, sometimes you have to ugly things up a bit. Back to Murphy’s Law #1 for kayak anglers, “If you can stick a hook in it, you will”. I decided to remove the front mesh bag and place a flush mount Scotty rectangular mount between the two molded in nuts for either a rod holder or fish finder. The mount fit perfectly and allows me to replace the bag if I wanted to in the future. It also allowed me to place an Otter box on the smooth flat deck, I also added a bungee strap attached to the two molded in nuts that’s not pictured to hold the Otterbox in place. You can also loop the leash to the Otterbox around the rod holder for safety as well.

The second thing I did was replace the nylon cargo strap in the tankwell with a more traditional bungee cord. Again refer to Murphy’s Law of kayak fishing. For touring events and when I just want to show off, I will remove the bungee and put the nylon strap back on.

I placed two Scotty rectangular flush mount rod holders behind the seat next to the Necky logo in front of the tankwell. I prefer these mounts for several reasons. They are modular and allow me to place a light, conventional or spinning rod holder, fly rod holder, depth finder, camera or GPS mount into any one of the receivers and they maintain the sleek lines of the Vector. To install the mounts, I first used a piece of chalk to outline the bottom of the mount, using a non-scientific method of “eyeballing” where I thought they should go — they weren’t hard to line up. I l like using chalk because once you are done, it doesn’t leave any marks. Be careful not to punch too hard through the plastic when drilling though, as the rudder cables are located just below this area. I decided to only use two screws to secure each mount. If you prefer, rivets can also be used.

I also decided to add a bungee paddle holder. When you fish, you sometimes need a place to secure your paddle. As you can see in the picture, I used a three-point method. I probably should have spread out the triangle a bit more than I did but my first test showed it will hold the paddle in place just fine.

The new Vector 13 is quick and agile like a sit inside kayak, but is stable and tracks like a sit on top. This is one sexy kayak. I had no problem standing and fishing from this platform. I didn’t have any problems keeping up with anglers in their Prowlers on its maiden voyage. I found the Vector 13 to have great glide, good tracking, and optimal top speed with little effort to maintain that speed.

Here are some pictures of the fish we caught on its maiden voyage, total for the day one limit of trout, one limit of Redfish and one limit of Flounder. I’d say the Vector 13 passed with flying colors.

To view originally published article and additional photos, click here.