Is It Easy To Flip A Fishing Kayak? [Prevent Tipping & What to Do]

Tipping over in your kayak is one of the scary parts of kayaking, and if you’re inexperienced on the water, you might be feeling nervous about this possibility. You might also be wondering how likely it is to happen. Do fishing kayaks tip easily? How can you right your kayak if it tips over?

Is It Easy To Flip A Fishing Kayak?

Fishing kayaks do not tip over easily. They are larger than typical kayaks, and have a wide, flat base. Therefore, they don’t readily flip in the water. However, like any kayak, they can tip in the wrong conditions. If this happens, remain calm and hold onto your paddle. Then, swim to the shore with your kayak in tow, and get dry.

How To Avoid Tipping

It’s obviously best to avoid tipping over in the first place if you can because if your kayak tips over, you and your gear will get wet. 

Here are a few things you should do before setting out in a kayak that will minimize the risk of capsizing.

Tip One: Don’t Overload The Kayak

An unbalanced kayak carrying too much weight is much more likely to flip over in the water. 

If you pile too much gear in, the boat will sit low to the surface and will more readily roll if a wave unbalances it. It will also be harder to flip it back over if you have a lot of heavy gear strapped inside.

Know the weight limit of your fishing kayak, and don’t go over; this will help keep you safe and stable on the water. You should also try to balance the load so that heavy items weigh equally on either side of the boat or are fastened down in the center, where they won’t make it unbalanced.

Tie your gear down to prevent it from moving around and destabilizing the boat while you paddle. This will also help to keep the gear safe if you do capsize.

Tip Two: Don’t Lean In The Kayak

Your body weight is a vital part of keeping your kayak balanced. If you stay upright and central, you are more likely to keep the boat stable. Practice sitting up straight and don’t tilt to one side or the other while paddling or sitting still.

Staying low in the kayak is also an excellent way to keep it balanced and prevent it from tipping over. In addition, your weight will help with the kayak’s stability.

Tip Three: Keep Paddling

Moving kayaks are less likely to capsize than still ones, so if you feel your boat is at risk of tipping over, keep moving. Don’t panic or try to rush across the lake. Instead, just keep paddling slowly and steadily so that you aren’t motionless in the water.

Tip Four: Paddle Into Or Away From Waves

According to ReleaseReels, you’re more likely to capsize if a wave hits your boat from the side. This makes sense, as it will push up under the broad surface of the boat and send you tumbling over. 

Therefore, you should aim to paddle directly into or directly away from a wave so that it catches the narrow ends of the kayak.

Tip Five: Learn The Low And High Support Stroke

These strokes will both help you to brace the kayak and stop it from tipping if it starts to capsize. So it’s essential to master at least one before you get on the water alone. They involve using the paddle strokes to regain balance and stability.

You should get somebody to teach you these strokes and practice them in a safe space. Choose a calm day in quiet waters, and deliberately tip the kayak so you can get a feel for righting it safely and reliably. 

This will really help you if the water gets choppy.

Tip Six: Ensure You’re Using The Right Type of Kayak

Some people will be tempted to use a recreational kayak for fishing. There are no laws that state you can’t do it, however, typical kayaks are not as stable as the fishing variety.

If you are planning a fishing trip with friends and don’t want to invest in a fishing kayak, consider fishing on the bank. You could also rent a fishing kayak for the day.

Using the wrong type of kayak for fishing, increases your chances of flipping.

What To Do If You Tip

If your kayak does tip over for whatever reason, don’t panic about it. Instead, get your head above water and take some deep breaths to stay calm. 

Usually, you will be kayaking in shallow, calm spaces, so you aren’t in any danger. Then, follow the below steps to deal with a capsized kayak.

Step One: Surface And Stay Calm

If you are wearing a life jacket, make sure it’s keeping you afloat properly and is topped up. It is a good idea to wear a life jacket while kayaking, even if you are a confident swimmer; it could save your life.

If you aren’t wearing a life jacket, you should focus on getting your head above water and taking some deep breaths. It can be a shock to suddenly capsize, even if you are an experienced kayaker.

It’s essential to hold onto your paddle when you fall out; don’t let it wash away. 

However, if you have lost the paddle, don’t abandon the kayak for it; a kayak will easily be blown away by the wind, while a paddle usually floats nearby. A paddle is also cheaper to replace than the whole boat!

Step Two: Call For Help If Necessary

If you need help while out on the lake, call out to others and bang on the underside of the kayak; this will produce lots of noise that should draw people’s attention. KayakingVenture explains how other kayakers can use the bow of their kayaks to help you get out of the water and back into your boat.

Don’t try to get back into the kayak without assistance; it is better to swim for shore if there is nobody around to help you.

Step Three: Abandon Your Gear

If you’ve lost gear from the boat to the bottom of the lake, leave it for now. It is better to get yourself and your kayak to land. Instead of spending your time diving to the bottom, looking for it. Your kayak will probably float away while you’re doing it, and you may wear yourself out.

This is a good reason for strapping gear down securely, to begin with. Then, if you capsize, gear that has been properly contained should stay in the boat – or at least most of it should.

Step Four: Swim To Shore

Swimming for shore is the next step. If your fishing kayak is still upside down, don’t waste time trying to turn it over. 

You will need to pull it with you, and it’s easier to pull it upside down because it will have air trapped under it that will prevent it from sinking. If you try and turn it over, water inside the boat may push it below the surface.

Swim for shore slowly, and don’t rush yourself or panic. Swimming with a kayak is hard work, but you should keep the boat with you even if you have some distance to go. 

It will help keep you afloat if you get tired, and it’s easier for rescue teams to spot if you do end up needing rescue.

Final Word

Kayaking is great fun, but you should always observe safety rules while out on the water. While fishing kayaks don’t tip as easily as some other kinds, they can be capsized by rough water or poor handling. 

Hopefully, this helped you understand what you need to know about how to get yourself and your boat back to land without risking your life. 

Follow the above tips to reduce the chance of capsizing and help you out if you do flip over.

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