I’ve owned many boats over the years. My first “real” boat was a 14 foot Delhi aluminum jon boat with a 9.9 horse Evinrude motor. That was replaced by a slightly larger 16 foot boat and larger motor which quickly got replaced by an 18 foot boat when I started as a catfish guide.
The boats kept getting bigger every time I’d buy a new one and now I’m fishing out of a 24 Ft SeaArk ProCat 240 with a 225 HP Suzuki 4 Stroke outboard. It’s a BIG boat that works great fishing in deep open water and shallow water as well. It takes me anywhere I need to go on the local lakes and reservoirs. I love my ProCat but there 240 but it’s much too big to use ponds, creeks and other small bodies of water.
In recent years I’ve paid close attention to the growth of the world of kayak fishing. The popularity of kayak fishing has exploded in recent years and for good reason. They’re a relatively inexpensive way to get on the water and give you access to a wide variety of water bodies to fish or just paddle around and enjoy mother nature.
Last spring North Texas was hit with some torrential rain and experienced severe flooding which shut many of the local lakes and reservoirs down for an extended period of time. I started to think during that time that I needed a kayak so I could still get on the water and began noticing many smaller bodies of water that I’d love to get on and fish as well.
I June I spent a few days in the Flora-Bama area and rented a kayak to paddle some baits out into the surf. I really enjoyed it and that kind of sealed the deal that I needed a kayak.
Days later I was working at ICAST with Whisker Seeker Tackle promoting my Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rods and was amazed by how many companies were there with kayaks and related products. I had a little time to look around and check out all of the kayaks and was really impressed with the line of products that FeelFree had available at the ICAST show.
I came back to Texas, started researching various kayaks and what was available with the goal of having something ready for this spring.
Choosing The Right Kayak
I did a LOT of research into the options available and put a lot of thought into what I wanted before choosing the FeelFree Lure 13.5 kayak.
In the end, it all came down to this.
- Well Equipped: I wanted a kayak that was well equipped with the majority of the features I needed already on the boat. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time rigging and modifying things to make it function. I wanted a dry storage area, rod holders and an easy way to mount a sonar fish finder if I chose to do so.
- Size (and Stability) I wanted something that was larger and very stable. I’m a really big guy at 6’8″ tall and 225 pounds. I’d tested out a smaller kayak and constantly felt like I was going to turn it over. I needed something that was very stable and still small enough for me to handle on my own.
- Comfort I needed a good comfortable seat that allowed for adjustment. Many of the boats didn’t have seats. Many of the boats that did have seats were fixed level with the floor and didn’t feel right because of my height.
- Ease Of Handling Combined with everything else already mentioned I wanted something I could easily load, unload and launch by myself and I could carry in the bed of my truck without having to add any sort of crazy carrying racks or other devices on my truck.
After careful research I decided the FeelFree Lure kayaks were the perfect fit. I called the guys I’d met from FeelFree, asked a few questions and finally decided on the Lure 13.5 based on their recommendations.
Why The FeelFree Lure 13.5?
Of all my research FeelFree seemed to have the market cornered on “turnkey” kayaks with their lure series. Their boats had all of the features I was looking for and came from the factory ready to fish. Their boats also had a much more ergonomic feel to them as well.
The FeelFree Lure 13.5 shipped from the factory with all of the key items I was looking for:
- Dry storage area
- Easy way to mount a sonar fish finder
- Easy way to stow a cooler or fishing tackle
- Extra storage areas
- Track rail for adding accessories
- A comfortable and adjustable seat
- Upright rod holders
- A wheel to ease in loading and unloading
Being able to pick it up and just start fishing was what I knew I needed but the seat system in the FeelFree Lure 13.5 sealed the deal for me. It was super comfortable, easy to adjust and gave me the ability to raise and lower it to my comfort level.
The overall feel of the boat was great as well and seemed to be the best fit for me and my size. I’d tried several other boats that were really uncomfortable and it was clear there had been no consideration for tall guys like me when they were designed.
The FeelFree Lure 13.5 was the clear winner.
A few months later I had a FeelFree Lure 13.5 kayak sitting at Mariner Sails in Dallas waiting for me to pick up.
Here’s the specifications on the Lure 13.5
- Length: 13’ 5″ (411 cm.)
- Width: 36″ (91 cm.)
- Weight : 95lbs (43 kg.)
- Capacity: 500 lbs (227 kg)
- Patented Wheel in the Keel
- Molded in handles
- Recessed fittings
- Molded in paddle park
- Drain plugs
Model Specific Features
- Patent Pending Gravity Seat w/pockets
- Removable Sonar & Electronic Pod
- Front oval hinge hatch
- Front console/cooler with integrated cutting board
- Large standing platform
- Front Uni Track rails
- Rear Uni Track rails with tie down system
- Molded-in crate recess with attachment points
- 2 Fishing rod holders with rod leashes
- Stand up assist leash
- Adjustable foot rests
- Transducer recess and port
Hauling The FeelFree Lure 13.5
I drive a Chevrolet Silverado Z71 Crew Cab with a short bed. It’s the smallest bed that Chevrolet offers on this truck and the only truck I’ve owned that didn’t have a full size bed on it. The bed size can be a challenge at times and I wasn’t sure what the best route was for hauling the kayak.
I did some research online and wasn’t sure what the best route was. I knew the whole kayak wouldn’t fit in the bed of my truck and I didn’t want any sort of huge permanent rack on my truck.
I reached out to some hardcore kayak guys on Facebook to get some suggestions and they confirmed my suspicion that a bed extender was my best option and suggested one sold through Harbor Freight. My local store didn’t have one in stock so I ended up ordering the Extend-A-Truck 944 Truck Bed Extender from Amazon. It wasn’t much more than the Harbor Freight option and it was an Amazon Prime item. I ordered it and with the free Prime shipping it was at my front door the next afternoon.
Help From Mariner Sails
I headed to Dallas the next day after I tested my truck bed extender to make sure it worked and picked up the FeelFree Lure 13.5 from Mariner Sails. I’d seen their name often in social media amongst the kayak groups, they’re “the” place for kayak stuff in Dallas/Fort Worth.
I walked in and did some shopping around while they were pulling the boat from their warehouse and quickly learned there was a whole market of kayak accessories available that I’d never seen or even knew existed.
I decided to get what I needed to get on the water and test the boat while I was there. The Mariner Sails staff helped me with choosing a paddle and I ended up with a FeelFree paddle that matched the kayak. I also picked up a whistle to stay legal with the game wardens and decided I’d just use one of my life jackets off my SeaArk for the time being.
I loaded up the kayak with the bed extender in place, strapped the yak in with some ratchet straps, tied some pink flagging material on the back of the kayak and headed back home with the new boat.
Testing The Lure 13.5
I decided when I got back home that I’d leave the kayak as is until I’d tested it out and fished a few times. Being early fall, things were crazy busy and despite my attempts to get the kayak on the water I never could get the time to do so.
I had a little break for a couple of days in December and thought about paddling some. The water was cold though and I finally decided that being so inexperienced I’d wait until the water warmed up some to take the boat out. I didn’t want my first trip out in the boat to end up with me in the drink in cold water for safety reasons.
As soon as the water began to warm in March I took the boat out several times and quickly realized I should have just gone in the winter. I had nothing to worry about and never once felt like it was unstable or that I could have tipped over.
The first trip I just spent some time paddling around getting the feel of the boat and my son spent some time fishing from the kayak as well. I’ve gone out a couple more times on some small ponds and creeks in the area and done some fishing and have really enjoyed the experience.
The boat is stable, comfortable to fish from and is good to go as it shipped from FeelFree.
Additions/Modifications and Rigging
I’ve still not done or added anything to it as of now. It’s good to fish from as is with the fishing I’ve done so far.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far (and what I’m considering):
- PFD’s : My bulky foam life jackets on my boat are uncomfortable. I need to buy an inflatable PFD for comfort reasons while padding. I’m going to pick up one like this very soon. I need a couple of these on my SeaArk anyway.
- Rod Holders: I need rod holders to catfish with. I’ve tried catfishing without them and almost lost a rod both times. I’m going to have to figure out how to mount my Driftmaster Rod Holders on the kayak.
- Go Light: I’ve grown accustomed to carrying everything plus the kitchen sink on the SeaArk and that doesn’t work in the kayak. I’m going to put together a small box of some of my preferred catfish tackle just for the kayak.
- Anchoring: I need a way to anchor the boat. My box anchors won’t work, they’re way too big and heavy. I’ll be spending my time shallow if I need to anchor so I think I’m going to build some of my DIY Shallow Water Anchors.
- Brotherhood: The kayak world is like a social club. There’s a TON of people fishing from kayaks and constantly some sort of kayak only event, fishing tournament, meet and greet or “something” to do. They like to get together and “do stuff” and they help each other. if you cross paths with another yakker and they see your boat, they’re going to stop and talk to you and share tips and information.
- Finding Groups: There’s a ton of groups to get involved in holding these events. Facebook is a great resource to find groups like the DFW Kayak Fishing Group. If that doesn’t work for you, check out your local kayak shop.
- Finding Access: When determining where to fish, consider access. The first trip out (shown in the video) the parking area didn’t seem like that far from the water. I got the boat down to the water OK but going back to the truck, uphill, it was a much tougher trip. I’m really glad my son was there to carry the load much of the way back. He’s young and that kind of stuff is good for kids, it builds character.
Kayak Catfishing and Future Plans
I’ve got some big plans for the FeelFree kayak in the future. This is a crazy time of year for me while the spring blue catfish and summer channel catfish bite is so good the guide business is crazy. It doesn’t leave much time for “fun fishing”.
I’m headed to the 2016 SeaArk Owners Tournament now, have to do some work for Fox Sports Outdoors as soon as I get back. Hopefully things will settle down some and I’ll have some free time after that.
When things start to settle down I plan on spending some time fishing from the kayak chasing catfish and doing some other fishing as well. I just need to work out the kinks in my gear and make sure I have everything I need.
Here’s what I have planned so far:
- I’m going to try to break free and chase some shallow water blue catfish at some point this month on one of the local lakes.
- When the channel catfish bite picks up in May and June I’m going to make a trip to catch some channel catfish from the yak. The techniques I use in May and June are a perfect fit for fishing from a kayak.
- At some point this summer I’m going to head to central Texas and do an alligator gar trip.
- I’d like to do a paddling trip on the upper brazos at some point this summer, most likely to target flathead catfish.
What Would You Do?
I know there’s a ton of readers out there with a LOT more kayak experience than me and I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Check out the video on the FeelFree Lure 13.5 kayak and my plans for kayak catfishing and give me some suggestions. I’d love to hear what rigging or accessories you’d add to the boat and any other suggestions you’ve got as well.
Leave a comment below, chime in and let me know.