by Greg Massa and Chris Payne
Some may see this as trolling, but it’s not. This is an honest plea for reason. Facebook Groups that once were giant informational exchanges (that some will claim replaced the old forums and BB systems) are now becoming advertising space, troll gathering spots, and worse.
When someone asks what the best kayak is, I assume it’s because they don’t know what considerations actually need to factor into the decision of “best”, which is really a subjective answer and should be read as “best for them”. What surprises me most is the 174 differing answers claiming one boat or another and very few people asking follow up questions.
Fortunately there are quite a few that say demo, demo, demo. This is truly the only way to decide what is best for you.
Of those that say this boat or that boat you have to wonder, are they even qualified to answer the question? I know I’m not. Have they demoed or owned every single boat past, present, and future to make that call? And in what context? Are they pro-staff for brand x or y? If so that makes their recommendation skewed. Even the non-staff folks can fall into a trap called Confirmation Bias.
What is confirmation bias? In essence, people are prone to believe what they want to believe. Seeking to confirm our beliefs comes naturally, while it feels wrong and counter-intuitive to look for evidence that contradicts our beliefs. What people seek to do is gather favor and safety by convincing as many people as possible to buy the same thing or like the same thing. Having great numbers of people recommending the same thing confirms the person’s individual choice as a good one. The desire is to surround themselves with like-minded folks as well as to recruit others so the numbers of supporters grows which will in turn dwarf opposing views which could discredit the person’s decision. (Source Link)
When it comes to choosing the best college football teams in the nation or the best companies to invest in, even the experts tend to fall for the same types of biased thinking that the rest of us do. (Source Link)
So why does all the science stuff matter? We are just talking kayaks right?
The best river boat isn’t likely the best ocean boat nor the best creek boat. The best boat for a 150lb man isn’t likely the same for a 320lb man. Without context, both the question and the answer become irrelevant. If you were to ask what the best line is for bass fishing and you are fishing in Florida around grass year round, guys up North are probably going to give a different answer because they are fishing highland lakes with 20ft of clarity. That’s not as good of an answer as someone in a similar situation to the original person. What is really needed is for folks to suppress the urge to grow your group of like-minded friends for a second and think of the best advice for the person asking the question, not your confirmation desires.
The way to get better answers is to ask better questions before you answer.
What’s worse than giving an answer to a question without context is when you give an answer ignoring context. When someone asks what the best river boat is for $1000 and someone answers Hobie PA 14 you have to wonder are they trolling or ignorant?
The guy is asking because he needs real recommendations in his budget, not responses suggesting that it’s better to have nothing at all than a boat out of their price range. Very few of us would have ever been able to partake in the addiction that is kayak fishing if the only boats suitable were several thousand dollars.
For those that give good answers thank you, but it seems that you’re definitely in the minority.
Have a specific boat in mind? Check out Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine, Chris Funk’s Youtube channel or Jim Sammons for Jackson, Chad Hoover for Wilderness, Kayak Fishing Blog for several different brands, Catch Fish or Die Trying for Nucanoe, there you can find reviews and videos of each in action. I’m sure there are others available for brands I didn’t mention but a simple search on Youtube will provide you with more content than you can digest in a week.