Kayaks and kayakers are difficult to see at the best of times. Add swell, white caps, fog, bad light, etc, and the situation gets much worse. In a battle between a kayak and a power boat it is not difficult to imagine who would come off worse. It doesn't matter who is in the wrong, the result is the same ... ugly.

Many people on the forum mention that being in a kayak on the water is like being on a motorbike on the road. You have to expect that everyone else out there is going to hit you. Why? Because they simply won't see you. We have all been guilty of being blind to road bikes. We should not blame others of being blind to kayakers.

A sensible biker will wear bright clothes, and ride with their lights on. The same principals should apply to kayakers. A colourful kayak helps, but it's not enough. A colourful PFD helps, but it's not enough. A light helps, but not in bright daylight. Perhaps the most visible object available to a kayaker in daylight is a safety flag. Some members have stated that kayakers can be invisible 100m away, especially in a swell. However, a safety flag can be simple to see a km away, or even more.

Yes, they are dorky. Yes, they can be a pain when it comes to trolling or fighting fish. But would you leave your PFD at home for the same reasons? Studious placement can ameliorate many of the fishing hassles, but you're just going to have to put up with looking like a dork. My 10 year old daughter laughed at me when I bought mine, but at least I'm still around for her to laugh at!

Flag Types and Requirements Edit

Safety flags aren't a legal requirement. You don't need to carry one, and no-one on this forum is likely to frown upon you if you don't. In some situations they may be completely unnecessary (such as power free lakes), or more trouble than they're worth (like thin creeks or rivers with overhanging branches). However, in most situations, especially in open water where there is a mixture of power, paddle, pedal and sail, they are a practical addition.

The main features of a Safety Flag are:

  • It should be a bright colour. Most are safety orange, including the mast.
  • It should be detachable for kayak storage and transport.
  • It should be shorter than your rods. 3' to 5' flags are most common.
  • It should have a flexible mast to prevent damage to it or the kayak from beach landings or tree branches.
  • It should be out of the way to minimise accidental hooking and tangling.

The last point can be difficult to achieve. It is most common to mount the flag behind the cockpit to prevent interference when casting. Provided it is shorter than the rods, it shouldn't interfere too much with trolling. Fighting a fish as you or the fish circles can be an issue, regardless of placement. Search the forum for ideas as to what may suit you and your kayak the most.

Do It Youself Installation Examples Edit

Ado's Hobie Safety Flag Install

Return to Do It Yourself.

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