REVIEW OF THE WAVEWALK W500 FISHING KAYAK BY GARY RANKEL
The Wavewalk W500 twin-hull kayak is not your traditional sit-inside or SOT kayak, but, rather, what I like to call my SOTI (sit-on-top-inside) yak. It combines the spaciousness, large storage area, comfort, high seating and freedom to move about like canoes and jon boats, while maintaining the stability, maneuverability and versatility of traditional kayaks.
None of the several fishing kayaks I tried before buying could compare with the W500 for comfort, stability, storage, roominess and stealthiness. Its twin-hull design allows for stand-up paddling and improved site fishing. All stored gear is within easy reach. Most importantly, for a 75 year old guy with a few discs beginning to bulge out in all the wrong places, it allows me to sit in comfort, stand up, lay down, stretch, move around and return to shore pain-free and able to emerge in a full upright position after a full day of fishing. If I occasionally lose my balance while looking for feeding redfish in a standing position, I simply sit back down on the high saddle for a second before resuming my search.
Applying self-adhesive pads on the W500 saddle provides a bit of cushioning for my behind and a soundproof surface in front on me for changing lures and keeping other items handy. The foam noodles rigged around the cockpit rim allow for repeated casting and paddling in total silence, allowing me to sneak up on feeding redfish in a foot or less of water. With the help of a magic marker, these noodles also can be used to measure fish at the side of the yak while they’re still in the water
The twin hull design tracks well with no need for a rudder, and I can keep up with most mono-hull fishing yaks. Anchoring is a breeze. Unlike mono-hull yaks, in windy conditions, I can move fore and aft along the 6-foot long saddle, thereby raising either the front or rear hulls, and allowing the wind to catch the raised section to turn me in the direction I want to go. When pushing off from shore, especially in cold weather, I can enter from between the hull tips, often staying dry or with just one slightly wet foot. Beaching the W500 while sitting toward the rear of the cockpit will elevate the bow, often allowing for a dry exit between the forward hull tips. The higher saddle and enclosed cockpit provide good protection against wakes and water spray. I can wear comfortable, warm clothing with little fear of getting wet
The W500 is fairly light (60 pounds) and easy to carry or drag around with comfortable handles on each hull tip. Each hull tip also serves as a large, easily reachable storage compartment. Additional storage can be arranged on top of and between the hull tips, which I use to mount my anchor, compass and other items to free up more room in the cockpit and help keep it dry. I also taped a fish ruler between the hull tips allowing for measurements and pictures without having to bring the fish into the cockpit. Flush rod holders can be added to the hull tips and clamp-on holders are easily attached along the cockpit rim.
I recommend the longer (9-foot), sturdier paddle available from Wavewalk to maximize paddling performance. While a bit heavier than others, it is super sturdy, and can double as a push pole.
The W500 is relatively easy to motorize with a transom motor mount available from the company. It has a load capacity of 360 pounds and, with its 6-foot long cockpit, can accommodate two adults. I’ve even had a couple of grandkids on board with me.
There is little not to like about the W500. It is a bit pricey. If you live near a Wavewalk dealership (list available on its website), you can inspect and test drive one before deciding to buy. Otherwise, you will have to order directly from the company. Wavewalk does not accept credit cards or PayPal, so you need to understand and feel comfortable with its Product and Service Policy before ordering.
Rain will fall into the large open cockpit and accumulate on the bottom of the hulls, however, a plastic tarp covering can be positioned over the opening to minimize the accumulation. I simply place a couple of large sponges in the hull tips and keep a plastic container on board to bail if need be. Cameras, and other gear stored under cover in the four spacious hull tip compartments will stay dry.
It’s higher profile makes it more difficult to paddle in windy conditions, however, sitting a foot or so higher than a traditional SOT facilitates fly fishing, for those so inclined.
While it’s possible to tip the Wavewalk on its side if you try to by leaning over far enough, foam noodles attached to the sides or around the cockpit rim keep it from tipping upside down and filling with water. Re-entering from the water is easy, even for an old guy like me; you simply swim between the hull tips, raise one foot onto each, and then use your arms and legs to lift and push yourself up and into the cockpit.
Detailed specs, articles, an informative blog, videos and other information are available on the Wavewalk website (www.wavewalk.com). I have found the Wavewalk folks to be very prompt and helpful in answering any questions I’ve had over the years.