Canoe or Kayak: Interview with Appomattox River Company

 

I keep wanting a kayak. Tons of research constantly has my head buzzing about whether to get a kayak or stick with my trusty Old Town canoe. I decided to get in contact with a company that I have been told is a fantastic kayak and canoe shop in Farmville, Virginia,Appomattox River Company. Vince from the Company shared his perspective between canoes and kayaks, as well as some advice of what I need if I buy that first kayak. Here is what he had to say.

Appomattox River Company has been in business since 1977. I am sure it has been part of the trend from canoes to kayaks as the preferred fishing vessel for paddlers. Personally, I am still a canoe guy. Why should canoe guys like me consider a kayak for fishing?

We all grew up fishing out of canoes, and they are still great for packing and hauling kids, gear, etc. We started as a canoe retailer and remain one of the largest specialty retailers out there. Canoes, and family canoe trips, get at the very heart of what we have always been about. There are even new companies sprouting up, like Wingman Outfitters, out of Roanoke Virginia, who are designing outrigger style platforms to turn your river canoe into a ridiculously stable fishing platform.

That said, today’s fishing kayaks are designed to offer the angler an almost infinite amount of possibilities when it comes to rigging out your fishing vessel. There are innovations popping up on the daily in the kayak fishing world. So, the selling point of a fishing kayak comes down to the ease of rigging. There is also something to be said for the comfort of the camp chair style seating and the stability in most of today’s fishing kayaks as well.

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On the flip side of the first question, why should paddlers think about a canoe over a kayak?

Back to the aforementioned ability to really pack it in. Canoes are amazing for true wilderness adventure. Being able to pack in a ton of gear for fishing and camping, that’s where the “river truck” excels. Many of us at Appomattox River Company also use canoes for our family river trips. I love a good day on the river, piled into our family canoe with all my girls (2 daughters and wife), fishing, floating and having fun.

What are some things that people overlook or shortcut when buying their first kayak that they should really be mindful of?

There is a lot out there about how the novice kayak angler need not purchase a high dollar kayak. That is true. Shop used kayaks, demoed kayaks, clearance sections, etc. But don’t just buy a kayak because it’s cheap.

Talk to some people who kayak fish. Call retailers with employees who kayak fish. For me, fitting someone to a fishing kayak is a lot like fitting a long distance hiker into a new pair of boots. I find out what size the individual is, where they are fishing (rivers, lakes, coastal?), what their paddling experience level is, what they’re fishing for, and how they fish? All this information helps me to help our customers. If you’re shopping for a fishing kayak and the folks you’re talking to aren’t asking these questions, then you are shorting yourself.

What are some accessories that you feel are must have’s for the kayak fisherman?

An anchor trolley and at least two rod holders. Those are the first things on my kayak when I get a new one. Many fishing kayaks come with two flush mount rod holders behind the seat. Those are great. Add an anchor trolley and an anchor or stake out pole, and you’re ready to get started.

Past that, there are a ton of things you can rig up. I take a lot of photos, so I have a ton of camera mounts, etc. If you are going to fish at night, you should get a light pole, like the Visi Carbon from YakAttack, so you’ll be seen. Yak Attack is a company that manufacturers kayak fishing accessories and they do this about 25 minutes down the road from our shop here in Virginia.

For fisherman who can only afford one kayak and want one that is the most versatile for different types of waters, what are your recommendations and why?

I tell folks that a 12ft kayak is the best option. It gives you enough length to track well in bigger water and enough maneuverability to operate in a tight river. Outside of that suggestion, I come back to my previous parameters. I’d need more information from the fisherman to narrow down the options.

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Where do you see fishing kayaks going toward over the next 5 years?

Fishing kayaks will continue to get more specific to the different styles of fishing. We’ll see more fly fishing specific models, more river specific, more ocean specific, etc. We’ll also see the continued push towards alternative modes of propulsion. Pedal kayaks are hitting big this year. Motorized kayaks have been hitting the market. I think in the coming years we will see more innovations in the propulsion area of kayak fishing. Pedal kayaks give the angler more time to fish because your hands are free from paddling.

Why should people buy their next canoe or kayak from you? What sets you a part from your competitors?

There are a lot of great retailers out there. Shop where you are comfortable, valued and taken care of, no matter where that may be.

As for as who we are? We are unique. We’re a small business with a big inventory. Our strength comes from our ability to stock like a big box store, while maintaining our small town, small business philosophy. We’ve been in business since 1977. My father-in-law, Bob Taylor, started this business in the basement of his house. And while he’s relinquished many of the managerial duties over to our GM, he’s still here most days. Our warehouses are the same warehouses that have been in the family since 1926. We bring that down home history to every interaction. We have husbands and wives, mothers and sons, brothers, cousins, etc all working here. We’re a family, and we try to treat everyone as such.

I want to the end this article by saying Vince’s last answer was Perfect! This is the type of answer that makes me want to drive from PA and visit Appomattox River Company. It also resonates with everything I have heard and read about the Company.

Please know I was not paid for this article nor do I rep their company. Though if a free kayak shows up at my door, I wouldn’t say no…just kidding…kind of.

Seriously, Appomattox River Company represents the kind of quality business that I love learning more about and passing on to all of you. So, go visit them at PaddleVa.com, which has a great blog with lots of info or check them out on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.