Saturday, February 11, 2012

Time to get in Gear

How many of us have purchased an accessory for our kayak only to learn or discover another accessory that would have been a better option?  All too often this occurs, and more commonly, it happens after you have made permanent modifications or holes in your kayak's hull.........arggghhhhh!!!

Recently, YakAttack released an innovative product called GearTrac that will completely revolutionize the rigging options for kayak owners and hopefully help many like myself avoid this situation.  The concept is simplistic in nature but flawless in design and execution.  No longer is a kayak owner limited in the accessories that they can install on their kayak.  From rod holders by RAM, Cannon and Scotty to camera mounts for your Scientific American, GoPro, Kodak or other video/filming cameras - the GearTrac has you covered.  Each GearTrac kit comes with the length and quantity you ordered and the requisite installation hardware and drill bit.  It comes in varying lengths of 4", 8", 12" and 16" at this point in time, and currently, HOOK1 is an authorized seller of the GearTrac, so head on over there and order your own lengths of GearTrac to get started.

My first modification was actually an original concept recently thought up by my good kayak angling friend Rob Choi.  The premise behind the custom bracket is to utilize the milk crate itself as the primary reinforcement and support for the custom bracket where the GearTrac is installed.  After consulting with Luther Cifers, we devised one small modification to the first version of the bracket designed for Rob - we added two notches on the leading edge to allow for utilizing the tank well bungees found on most kayaks.
Once completely installed, there are seven stainless steel screws that attach the custom bracket to the milk crate, then the 12 stainless steel screws that attach the 12" section of GearTrac to the custom bracket.  Once installed completely, the bracket and GearTrac are very secure and only move when the crate itself is jostled or moved.  Very stable.

For those that know me, you know I don't like a cluttered kayak foot well and cockpit area, so the next step was figuring out where to install GearTrac in the front of the Hobie Revolution 13.  The challenge that we faced was how to ensure sufficient attachment to the kayak to minimize or prevent movement of the GearTrac and maintain a usable and clean installation. 

On several Hobie models, as well as several major kayak manufacturers like Ocean Kayak and Perception Sport, there are scalloped foot wells that may limit where you could traditionally install accessories like rod holders or camera mounts.  Most notably on the Revolution and Adventure line of Hobies, the gunnels are narrower than most kayaks even when compared to Hobie's own Outbacks, so the location of the GearTrac mounting holes had to be planned carefully to ensure a stable mounting location.  For me, the GearTrac was lined up to ensure the middle set of mounting holes and the end mounting holes would be the primary attach points.
Before we go any further, a note of caution is needed here. While a drill is needed to make the pilot holes utilizing the accompanying bit in the kit, it is not recommended that you utilize the drill for installation of the mounting hardware.  Doing so could result in a stripped out hole and compromise the integrity of the GearTrac's stability.
Once the location was verified, one pilot hole was drilled and then secured using a screwdriver to hand tighten using the included hardware.  The GearTrac was then re-aligned and checked once more before making a second pilot hole at the opposite end of the GearTrac.  Once that end was secured, the remaining pilot holes can be drilled and secured with the remaining hardware.  The included drill bit is designed to provide a smaller diameter pilot hole than the size of the included stainless steel screws.  This ensures a watertight seal at each attachment point. 
You'll notice that two of the twelve holes were unable to be utilized due to the scalloped foot well area; however, the GearTrac does not move once installed utilizing the placement above.  The paddle rest was utilized as the initial reference point, then the placement was adjusted to take advantage of the center most mounting screws and the end ones as well.  A final measurement was made to a different reference point to ensure the installation was symmetrical on both sides, and the GearTracs were installed.

Now, the fun begins - configuring your respective GearTracs to accommodate your fishing style.  For me, simplicity is the key.  My specific needs were: a place to stow a rod during the landing of a fish.  Anyone who has fished out of a kayak knows what limitations there are in the cockpit area of a kayak.  I opted for two RAM Revolution 2007 rod holders with the YakAttack 1.5" Screwball w/ a Mighty Bolt base.

The next item I needed was a 1" Screwball w/ a Mighty Bolt base for use with my existing RAM Fishfinder mount, and a Panfish Portrait w/ Mighty Bolt base for a camera mount up front for those planned hero/glory photos of all the trophy fish I plan on catching (let me know when you have pulled yourself off of the floor from your laughing spell).  The last item was actually a recommendation from YakAttack himself - the prototype securing bolts as a means of providing redundancy for securing any of your accessories mounted on the GearTrac.  A small price to pay to ensure the security of such accessories like your camera or that custom rod and reel combo from taking a trip to Davey Jones' locker.

When you plan your next modification to your kayak, I highly recommend you consider the GearTrac option.  It provides you greater flexibility in how you outfit your own respective kayak, and more importantly, provides you greater flexibility while on the water to maneuver rod holders out of your way or to position them for trolling or live lining bait on either side of your kayak.  The ways in which you can utilize the GearTrac system is only limited by your own ingenuity and imagination.  Other kayak anglers are catching the bug, why don't you?

Oh, and did I fail to mention one more small point of note - all YakAttack products are sourced and produced by local companies.  This is a huge selling point from the perspective of supporting your local economy and small business owners.  Mad props to Luther for doing this.

Thanks again for a quality engineered product that is geared to those of us in the sport of kayaking and kayak angling.  For other tips on YakAttack products, as well as discussions on general kayak rigging, check out the YakAttack Tech Support Forums.

Tight lines folks and remember - measure twice, drill once!!

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