I’ve been at this rigging game for a while now, you and me. We saw it grow from a do-it-yourself hobby to a mainstream industry. We were there for the emergence of leashes, no longer just a dog walking accessory. We were also there for the broad use of rigging forums in the reporting of accessory innovation, and seemingly countless redesigns of the Scotty, Ram, Railblaza err… externally mounted rod holder.
In such a rapidly changing space, it’s hard not to get pulled into an ongoing analysis of where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re headed next. In this most recent round of analysis, a handful of trends have caught our attention. And, unlike the loss of the bulky wire-based telephone cord leash, we feel pretty confident about these trends. Let’s take a closer look at how rigging is changing…for the better.
1) Paddlers are looking beyond the shelves of Home Depot
In the beginning, customization was all the rage. Paddlers were happy using oversized boating accessories or homemade PVC concoctions to freely accommodate all of their paddling needs. What the accessory lacked in practicality, the customer gained in the freedom to customize their kayak to suit their specific needs.
Unfortunately, most people never realize they are a part of something good until it is over. When it comes to paddling accessories, this has never been the case for us. We are used to the days when an anchor cleat was 7 inches and rod holders were sawed off pieces of PVC from Home Depot. Doesn’t that make our current predicament of choosing to use a triple rod holder or double rod holder on my Build A Crate series milk crate seem almost insignificant? Paddlers now can continue the customization of their rigging while not sacrificing the quality of kayak specific accessories they choose from.
2) Rigging is gaining weight as a necessity
Recently, rigging has enjoyed a firm footing as an added bonus for the skilled paddler or angler. But more and more, paddlers and anglers of all skill levels are finding ways to incorporate it. This is making paddling a safer, more practical, and more enjoyable experience to the point of accessories becoming a necessity. In fact, kayak manufacturers have even incorporated an increasing amount of accessories to come stock on their boats. Come on, when is the last time you paddled a completely unrigged kayak?
3) Innovation is continuing to grow
Through countless years in the paddlesport industry and surrounding ourselves with paddling and angling friends, we have come to the conclusion that paddlers are very similar to little kids. Our attention span indoors is ridiculously shorter than most, we love getting dirty, and, most importantly, given the choice, we would bring all our equipment with us everywhere we went.
Innovation in the kayak accessory industry is catering to us, maybe even promoting our odd attraction to over-doing it with gear. Accessory companies are developing ways to mount, store, rig, and secure anything and everything to a kayak.
A customer asked me to rig a Hobie Pro Angler-14 this week. Hobie Pro Anglers are nice boats that usually give off a vibe of “Don’t touch me, I’m perfect!” to most customers. To my surprise, I was asked to rig it with a Railblaza TracPort Dash with three Railblaza Rod Holder II’s, two Railblaza StarPorts with Rod Holder II’s, two Yak Gear Rod Holder Extenders, and a YakGear Build-A-Crate Double Rod Holder Kit.
You’re telling me, you want to bring 9 rods out on the water with you? Enough is enough, right? I’m not even counting the iPad he had mounted and the three different storage places for tackle trays.
That’s the beauty of it. A sport once plagued by the lack of storage space is now catering to the syndrome of hoarding gear around town. Similar to this customer, I am proud to suffer from this syndrome. A syndrome I hope doctors never find a cure for and kayak accessory companies keep feeding.
4) Social media is becoming a primary way to access the vast realm of rigging possibilities
Adding accessories to a kayak used to be like a plain hot dog —boring. Fifteen years ago, a rigged kayak consisted of a compass, a crate, and maybe an anchor cleat. There was nothing to share, nothing to brag about. We have already covered the fact that evolution has given paddlers something to brag about and turned rigging into a well done Chicago-style hot dog.
Instead of focusing on this Cinderella story of the hot dog world, let’s instead place some value on the fact that social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogs allow us to all share our hot dog recipes at the click of a mouse, taste test some ingredients, and continue to try to make a better hot dog than the last guy. After all, you’re lying if you say you aren’t envious when admiring other kayak angler’s posts. Yet, before the envy subsides, we all find a way to rig our kayak better and continue the vicious circle.
Who’s excited? The pace of change in rigging can make your head spin these days, but that’s exactly what makes it such a forward-leaning channel for the overall growth of paddle sorts.
We want to know what you think! What other ways is rigging improving? How can you relate to any of these improvements? Comment below or tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the #YakGear hashtag!