What's Your Strangest Kayak Fishing Invention? | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A drawing of a man in a kayak, using a weedeater as a motor Illustration by Lorenzo Del Blanco

Curiosity is the mother of crazy inventions.

Down at the local kayak launch, I’m more likely to see pedals and propellers than paddles. Every major fishing kayak manufacturer has a purpose-built boat that offers motor or kick-power for a pretty penny. These modern marvels are the result of thousands of hours of research and development by teams of expert engineers. But it wasn’t always that way. 

Long before you could buy a motorized kayak at the paddle shop, enterprising anglers were trying to avoid paddling. I once witnessed an alternative thrust method designed by my friend, Dave. Dave is a sculptor who never lets reality inhibit his imagination. When the trolling motor on his johnboat died, I offered to row the boat across the small lake. But he had something else in mind.

Dave commandeered his father’s two-cycle weed-trimmer, fixed it to the propeller from his electric trolling motor and devised a tilting mounting bracket to hold it onto the back of the boat. At the boat ramp, the tiny green motor perched absurdly high on the six-foot shaft. He had to stand to yank the start cord. From a distance it must have looked like he was punching a birdhouse. He messed with the choke, yanked again and it blatted to life.

Dave, now immensely pleased, grinned back at me, revved the engine, and nodded confidently as he lowered the whirring propeller in the water. Instantly, the motor jolted and died.

“Must not have the choke set right,” he said, and yanked it back to life. Again, as soon as he lowered the unit to the water, the deafening noise abruptly stopped. 

To the dismay of a couple of anglers on the pier, he once more started the beast.

This time he raced the engine to its peak weed-eating rpms. And kept it there. Gently, he lowered the propeller so that it just barely licked the surface of the water.

In a way, the results were spectacular. It was a bright, sunny day except for a 16-foot radius around our boat. A cloud of thick blue oil smoke formed above our heads. Spray from the propeller exploded 20 feet in the air and rained down on us. We were creating our own thunderstorm, complete with a faint rainbow.

As long as Dave kept the propeller just barely licking the water, the engine would continue to run. Through the deafening noise, acrid smoke and storm of spray, I saw that we were in fact moving forward!

Several agonizing seconds later, over the ear-splitting “rombpllllltrompbplllllt” Dave yelled at me, “Do you think this is scaring the fish?” Then the engine died for good.

Dave abandoned his creation and sat quietly. I began rowing, and soon we were fishing and mostly dry. That evening, when we started back to the boat ramp, I tried to console Dave for his efforts. He looked up and smiled.

“Next time”, he said, “I’m bringing the leaf blower!”

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