Mike Bayer (Yak Fisherman) is a contributing member of the ACK Fishing Team
Until about a month ago, I thought the the Stand Up Paddle
craze was just a craze. I never felt like I was missing anything sitting in a kayak. If I needed to stand, I could but not all kayaks make this easy
or comfortable. For me, standing in a kayak helped my fishing by allowing better visibility, but it wasn't practical for covering large distances. This is where SUP
boards and kayaks have an obvious difference.
I love all water activities but don't consider myself a surfer. Like a lot of Texans, I never tried surfing enough to get good at it. Here's a sport that is just as at home in freshwater as it is in the salt. SUP
sparked my interest for several reasons. First, it's so simple-board, paddle, go. Second, I'm a kayaker but I miss standing up on the water. Third, not only is this sport a full body/core workout, but it's really fun. Finally, when I do decide to hit the surf, watch out.
After my first paddle I was hooked. I quickly tried to get my hands on a demo board, which in Austin wasn't easy. Until very recently, you
could only get them at the coast and no one was renting them. Now ACK is carrying them and has demo boards available to "test drive" . SUP boards range in size from 10 feet to 12 1/2 feet. Each board does something a little different and there are plenty of manufactures churning them out now. Not everyone is able to demo a board on their local lake and then drive to the coast to see how it performs in the surf. With this in mind, I decided to concentrate on stability and speed. I set my sights on the Hobie 12' and 11'2 ATR (all terrain ride). These are both big, versatile boards. The 12' SUP can handle big riders but what really caught my eye was the ability to strap things down, like a tackle box or cooler. Fishing from a SUP
? Yes, people do it and once again, my fishing experience changes. I'm waiting on a few important tie-down snaps before I risk dunking my gear but this is going to be fun and challenging, but fun. Fly fishing enthusiasts won't take long to see the
What I have discovered is that just like kayaks, there's no perfect SUP
board for all purposes. I imagine the higher pricing will come down, but for now a good board will set you back over $1,000 and that doesn't include a paddle. There are affordable options coming. Some of the foam and plastic boards are surprisingly responsive and they
rest in the $400-$800 range. Get out and try it. You don't need perfect balance and you don't even
have to stand up right away. You can kneel or even sit. Remember though, these aren't kayaks. They are much more fragile and this needs to be kept in mind. You drop one of these babies and you'll be crying like one.