TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

By RealBigReel
bowgarguide wrote:RBR
At this point in the build what are your thoughts good and bad on the balsa?

Balsa is excellent to work with. Very light at 6-10 lbs per cubic foot (versus WRC at 24, Spruce at 28 and Luan at 34).
Cuts and sands almost too easily.
Have not gotten a balsa splinter yet.
Easy to bruise or break until you get it covered with "glass".
Requires a little more attention to design because it is not as strong as other woods. Essentially it makes a good core for a composite boat.
The maximum nominal length is 4', so plan on lots of splicing.
Last edited by RealBigReel on Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
By RealBigReel
Tumblehome rail bonded up
Aft cooler cutout done
Nose attached and carved
Seat support struts almost done
Cooler fit check
Bait tank fit check
Lots of sanding


11/16/10 Bait tank and cooler fit check


Kevlar tape on the gunwale
Some work done on the Mirage drive mount
Seat support struts now done
Some work done on the forward deck area

Last 2 strips tacked in place in the forward deck, ready for vertical strip as soon as it cures
Some work done on the rudder installation
Rear deck ready for install as soon as it cures
More work done on the Mirage drive mount

Lessons learned:
Kevlar is really tough, but it doesn't sand cleanly. It gets all fuzzy when sanded. Not a good idea to leave edges that need to be sanded flat. Difficult to do. Better to cut short and fill instead.

12/1/10 Was on vacation last week in Tucson, AZ, so no fishing and no boat building while we were out of town. I did my get several tons of gravel moved from the driveway to the backyard.
In the last couple of days I got:
The front hatch fitted to the cooler and framed in. Outside of frame glassed.
Rear deck fitted up and ready for install.
The rudder pin hole (aluminum tube) potted in.
Bait tank pump hole, FF transducer hole and Mirage drive mount hole cut out and glassed up.
Lots of shaping, sanding and fill work.
Current weight 24 lbs.

12/2/10 For today it will be more sanding and shaping getting ready for the hull Kevlar layup. (Get out the big brushes.)
Last edited by RealBigReel on Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
By RealBigReel
Laid BASS out on the lawn this morning for a picture


Rear deck is not attached yet.

Did a lot of sanding to get ready to Kevlar the bottom:


Wife helped and we got the entire hull bottom (~3.5 square yards) laid down in less than an hour.
Took 32 oz of epoxy.
You can see the 3 hull penetrations, bait tank pump, FF transducer and Mirage Drive
Weighs under 27 lbs at this point (weighed with a digital fish scale).

Lesson learned:
Balsa will absorb epoxy to some extent. Butt and edge joints will generally get near full penetration.

Kevlar should be laid on and brushed or wiped to near shape before application of epoxy.
Need to pay attention to woven lines just like glass.
Kevlar is almost opaque before epoxy, almost translucent after, not clear like fiberglass but epoxy penetration is apparent. Bubbles can be seen if present in good light. Note how wood grain is slightly visible.
When properly wetted Kevlar won't move.
Kevlar will negotiate curves to some extent. Stiffer than an equal thickness of glass but much easier to work than Graphite. Laid down nicely.
Edge sanding Kevlar is nearly impossible. Tough as rocks.
Kevlar scissor are an absolute necessity, even with them it is difficult to cut.
Last edited by RealBigReel on Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
By gerald
Yep...lots of good information here. I love to design and build prototypes. You get to try all kinds of neat stuff. Some of it works--some of it doesn't. As for cutting kevlar I've had good luck using very heavy duty, high quality carpet shears. They dull quickly but it's just part of the cost of using kevlar. I hope to see this boat at the Roundup.
User avatar
By preacher
I can see me trying to build out of balsa . . .

Nope . . . much too clutsy . . . I'm the guy who buys a new anvil and breaks it the first time I use it.

It is an amazing build, and amazing idea.

:clap: :clap: :clap:
User avatar
By gerald
Dogpaddlin wrote:Does the kevlar come in multiple colors?

I've seen brown, yellow, and a mix with carbon fiber (and some other exotic fibers as well. I'm sure if you google it you might find more.
Don't forget the basic exponential cost factor:
e-glass = 1
s-glass = 2
kevlar = 4
carbon fiber= 8

...and then there are some exotic fibers that are even more.
By RealBigReel
Looked on the net for some way to sand the edges of the Kevlar to make it lay down flat, without finding anything useful.

Laid up a small sample and took it to work to find something that might work. Tried a wire brush wheel, Cotton based and Scotch Brite based abrasives with no success.

Tried a hacksaw cut with some success. Leaves only a little fluffy on the edge.

Tried a fine grinding wheel in a Dremel. Thar worked, right up until the Dremel broke.

Tried an abrasive cutoff wheel in a die grinder. That worked fairly well. Wheel turns clockwise against the edge if the fabric is to the right. (The other way piles a fuzzy up on the edge of the Kevlar.) Wheel should be approximately centered over the edge of the Kevlar.
This is an aggressive blade so any slipping off the edge will result in damage to the underlying epoxy, wood etc.

I am currently using 2 3.5" blades in a arbor with 3/8 AC drill. The is working OK. I did 8' of edge in about 45 minutes. The cutting speed of the drill is about 1/4 that of a die grinder.

Acquired another Dremel.
More Kevlar edges reduced.
Aft deck tacked in place.
Forward hatched framed in and glassed.
Rudder carrier tacked up.
Another coat of epoxy on the rudder.
Some work done on the Mirage drive mount.
Aft keel Kevlar completed. Used Saran wrap to keep the Kevlar tight. (Checked later and it laid down good.)

More work on the Mirage drive mount. Side pin holders started.
Aft deck shaped sanded and glassed down.
First glass on the rudder carrier.
Second side of rudder coated.
Aft keel Kevlar came out good. Cleaned it up with the Dremel.

12/9/10 Was going fishing today but the winds were predicted to be 30. Checked a little later and it was changed to 35. Looked out the window and it is kinda gusty out there.
Tacked up the foot decks (deck area around the Mirage Drive mount) with 5 minute epoxy, and little later laid a layer of glass down on it.
Made some progress on the Mirage mount. Put Kevlar in the side pin holder slots (for the 1/2" pins on the Mirage drive) clamped it up with a 1/2" dowel to get the shape right.
More glass on rudder carrier and the rudder.
Patches of epoxy and glass here and there.
Little more work on the rudder. Almost done.
Monday I was getting 2 epoxy sets, but it is getting cooler now. Lucky to get one, even using 635 3:1.

12/10/10 Laid the 6" Kevlar tape out on the kayak to see how well it would fit and found a 1 yard section of bad about 3 yards into a 7 yard piece. What to do now? I want to get this glassed up next week. Will take a little revision of the layout.

Got some work done on the rudder and the rudder carrier.

Renamed this project today to HYBRID.

More work on the rudder and the rudder carrier.
Some Dremel work on the Mirage mount. Mirage drive fit check.
Bait tank mount is ready for the 1" motor shank hole. I'll leave it like this so it won't leak for the first on the water test.
FF transducer well is now complete. Ready to receive the transducer.
Some epoxy and fill work on the Mirage mount.
Have Kevlar on the sides and the tumblehome from the rudder mount forward to the seat back. (Got 2 epoxy sets today.)
By RealBigReel
Got up before 4:00 this morning:
Laid down some more 6" Kevlar tape on the tumblehome edge.


Note how the older Kevlar is already darker.
Got some more work on the rudder and carrier.
Tail piece done.
Bias Piece of Kevlar worked well on the underside of the bow. It negotiate that compound curve fairly well and with a little Saran wrap it laid right down.
Note, Mirage drive fit check after yesterdays mount work.
Did a little edge clean up on yesterdays edges with a Surform Surface Forming Shaver. It sort of did the job but the blade is now destroyed, clogged up with semi hard epoxy.
Not much more to float this boat.

Found that the 6" Kevlar tape selvedge edges are not the same. One of the edges laid down rather well the other laid down like bacon. Got one of the gunnels with the good edge up and the other one was the bacon. The abrasive cuttoff blade in drill left a mess. Ground both tumblehomes with the Dremel grinding wheel running parallel to the edge. The Dremel worked pretty good at least it is not quite so bacony.
Laid down a second piece of bias Kevlar on the bow bottom. This layer completely covers the first one and is about as broad an area as Kevlar can be stretched to. 2 layers should be strong enough.
Light cleanup and epoxy around the 3 hull penetrations.
Glassed the top of the pin mounts for the Mirage drive.
Epoxy on the leading edge of the rudder.

Another piece of Kevlar fabric lain down on the bow. Using Saran wrap to keep the edges flat.
Mirage cam lock bolts potted in. Getting ready for pin holder install.
Fill epoxy on the both tumblehome edges. May require some more cleanup with the Dremel.
The boat, all over inside and out, now has fabric (either glass or Kevlar) with the exception of a small area at the nose.

Weighed HYBRID tonight. Just over 30 lbs, and there are still several items to add that must be considered part of the "hull".
My 3" tape, 6" tape and Kevlar cloth all have different textures. Looks like a patchwork quilt.

More Dremel grinder work to get the edges of the Kevlar smoothed.
Installed the side pin holders for the Mirage drive mount.
One more piece of Kevlar on the bow.
Last edited by RealBigReel on Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:29 pm, edited 12 times in total.
User avatar
By gerald
Excellent report. We're all getting some good information from this build. At this point, I'm almost waiting on edge for you next project. What will you come up with?....and I really like the details you come up with which are sometimes stuff I wouldn't even think about.
By RealBigReel
Been trying to figure out how to jig up the Mirage Drive mount. So using the drive as a fixture. Put tape and Saran wrap on the drive to make sure it doesn't get stuck. The Bungee cords hold the fins up against the bottom of the hull ensuring that the drive is level with the bottom of the hull. 2X4s and shims hold the pin mounts up against the bottom of the pins. The weights and blue foam, lever the pin mounts against the bottom of the Mirage drive pins and press the pin mounts against the side of the Mirage drive well.
Cam lock bolts are covered with masking tape.


Mickey Mouse but it worked and it save me from having to buy additional tooling.

Once this epoxy hardens I will be able to fit, trim and finish out the foot deck. Finished the SOT area gets 2 layers of 3 oz glass.
Last edited by RealBigReel on Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By RealBigReel
bowgarguide wrote:Did you use any hard wood around the drive or do you think it will be ok with the epoxy and glass over the balsa?
Looking great

No hardwood in this area, but the pin seat is Kevlar and the rest of it has glass on most surfaces. 3 Layers of glass on the back side where the Cam Lock bolt is potted in and comes up through.
I have a piece of WRC in the nose region where I will be screwing padeyes down. And I have a piece of pine between the bait tank hole and the cooler hole. Just what was laying around.
Last edited by RealBigReel on Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:47 pm, edited 9 times in total.
By RealBigReel
12/21/10 Evening (After fishing)
Rudder trimmed
Worked around the nose region to smooth the Kevlar out
Foot Deck installed (Area around the Mirage Drive)

12/22/10 Had to work just 4 hours today. Oddball Holiday schedule
Got home and mixed a little epoxy
Did a little smoothing working around the nose.
Sanded the foot deck.
Filled the area around the foot deck with a mix of epoxy glass micro balloons (bright white) with a little phenolic mixed in for color. Epoxy mixed with micro balloons till the volume equals about 2 times original is still just barely pourable. Just a little more makes a paste. Less for a paintable mix. The more micro balloons in the mix the less adhesion.
Did not wait for it to cure. Immediately laid down 3 oz cloth and the epoxy over it. Next the whole SOT area gets a layer of 3 oz cloth.

Worked on the Mirage drive mount.
Put a little more fill around the Mirage drive mount. Let it harden some.
HYBRID looks like a patchwork. There are 3 different textures of Kevlar. The broadcloth is rather course and the 2 tapes are much finer.
Turned it over and painted the bottom with a mix of epoxy and phenolic micro balloons. The broadcloth Kevlar (FG-KEV538) is very porous. This material with only the epoxy that it was laid down with feels like very heavy sand paper. I bet it could tear skin. And painting it is like painting heavy sandpaper. Took 15 oz of epoxy mix with Phenolic micro balloons to do this first coat. This equals just a little over 1 lb added to the boat.

Got up this morning and checked the epoxy that I laid down on the bottom yesterday. The weather has been cool so it is not totally hard but it is beyond tacky. Mostly good coverage. Couple of spots actually approaching glassy smooth, good to go. Most of it needs a second coat with a couple of spots hardly improved at all, still has that dry look.

Got the cockpit (SOT) area covered with a second layer of 3 oz glass this afternoon.
Got the bottom coated with a layer of Epoxy and powdered graphite this evening. Took only 6 oz for this second coat on the bottom. (Can't sand the Kevlar so it all has to be smoothed with fill.)


Quick trip to WalMart for 2" brushes.
Coat of plain epoxy seal coat on the starboard side, with Saran warp end to end to make the bacon edge of Kevlar lay down. Took less than 5 oz epoxy.

Weighed HYBRID this morning @ 35.5 lbs (digital fish scale, ouch) added about 1/2 lb of epoxy after weighing. Hybrid is nearly ready to float. It will take another 1/2 pound or so of epoxy and graphite powder to finish the bottom properly. Looking like 37 lbs for a hull weight, before accoutrements. While 37 lbs is relatively light, it is a bit of a disappointment. I had really wanted a kayak hull under 30 lbs. 37 lbs blows the light weight competition as this is no doubt an easy number too beat. In consolation I did get Kevlar toughness which is what drove the weight over. Kevlar is relatively light and in a mold it makes for a light hull as several high end kayak manufacturers have attested, but hand layup requires more epoxy to fill this Kevlar fabric, as sanding Kevlar is virtually impossible. If I had it to do over again would I choose Kevlar? Maybe, but a finer weave, and I don't know if I will build another kayak, not for a while anyway. The reason I built Hybrid is to fish out of, and Hybrid will be a fishing machine. It is nearly time to take it fishing.
(Typed later. Sour grapes?) 37 lbs is not too bad for an SOT and is less than 2/3 the weight of a Hobie Revolution @ 58 lbs. It is 10 lbs less than a Cobra Navigator at 47 lbs. Much lighter than lots of other kayaks out there and tougher than kayaks anywhere near this weight and cost.

Drilled out the seat scupper hole and epoxied the edges. This hole goes into the FF transducer well and it is where the transducer cable comes up through.
Put a layer of epoxy on the Port side of the kayak, and laid it down with Saran wrap to keep the Kevlar fuzzys down.

Sanded some around the Mirage mount area.
Carved the seat pad I had for GAR to fit HYBRID
SOT area:


Rudder. This is where the control lines pass through to retract or engage the rudder.


Used the scraps from the seat bottom on the seat back to give it some curvature.
Used contact cement to apply a contoured seat back.
Mask the bottom and then put another coat of epoxy with graphite powder on the bottom. Got pretty good coverage with this coat.

I have been designing the rudder controls for weeks now with no good solution coming to mind. Think I have what I want to do now.
Put another layer of Kevlar on the front side of the Mirage side pin locks. This area has worn on GAR.
Installed seat back rod holders.
Fiberglassed most of the edge around the bait tank hole. Can't get to the back side just yet.
Filled and re-drilled holes in the rudder. Re-tapped the hi-lock holes for the rudder up/down guidance.
Drilled and installed the frog eyes for the rudder up/ down control and the stearage.
Tacked the control cable tubing in place.
Started the rudder control slider. (Goes on the port side of the cockpit in the gunnel for stearage.)

Strung the control cables (80# Superbraid) through the control cable tubing. 80# Superbraid can be pushed through 6 feet of 1/8 OD nylon tube. Hobie uses Superbraid for there control cables but it somewhat heavier.
Tested rudder functions. Rudder raises and lowers easily and Port/Starboard control is smooth.
Getting the rudder control slider ready for glass I broke one of the ends off. Reglued with 5 minute epoxy. Once it is glassed it should be tough. Glassed it up later.
Glassed the frog eyes.

Went fishing today in GAR. Caught a bunch of White Bass. Tore the bottom out of GAR, it is ruined. Time to get HYBRID in the water.
When I got home did a fit check of the bait tank. The bucket that I used for the template was slightly smaller than the one I have for actual use. Makes for a tight fit on the actual.

Sanded around the bait tank to make it fit a little easier.
Finished up the control slider and installed it.
By RealBigReel
Getting ready to get wet for the first time I realized I needed a few things.
Paddle keeper
Red flag padeye
Batteries (for ballast).

Proctor was plenty cool but the air and sun was comfortable.
My son in law came with and took pictures and movies while I put forth at Proctor.


Lateral stability was just fine. Demonstrating agility:

View My Video

And then longitudinal stability. Looks like I got the rocker about right. After I had established a little speed running nicely straight, I dug the paddle in to see if I could get a good turn and it turned 90° in good order.

Dropped the Mirage drive in and took a couple of quick spins.

View My Video

Rudder is about the correct amount of effectiveness. Turns were about as tight as expected.

Haven't got this video thing totally worked out yet.

Little bit nose heavy with both batteries and the lunch box in the front. Looks like the batteries need to go in the back.
Broke the rudder uplift control line loose (knot was too small). Fixed it when I got home in a few minutes.
Need a more positive down lock, rudder wants to float up.
Rudder control was not as smooth or as positive as I would like. Have to think about that for a while. Need to make the cross link more rigid.
Still plenty to do, but I could catch fish from it right now.

Was planning on going fishing although waiting until it got above freezing. After 11:00AM the temperature was still 32°F and so I decided it would be better spent working.
Installed one of those comfortable handles from ACK.
Got a bunch of sanding done. My wife had asked me to fix the toilet leak. Played with the toilet for a while and found out it was the flapper (the easiest thing possible). Went shopping got the flapper, some SS screws and some other stuff I needed.
Came back replaced the flapper and did a bunch more sanding on HYBRID. Drilled and cut holes for Fish Finder, electrical switches, padeyes, 3 rod holders and the bait tank. Did not have the correct drill for some of these so I had to use a file and a Sureform to get the holes to fit. Front rod holders are flush, wide and flat for trolling.
Grabbed a quick supper and then mixed epoxy.
Started off with installing a shim for the Fish Finder in the bottom and then I turned it over and worked my way forward. A small piece of the cooler seal (redo), then the rear starboard rod holder, the battery holders, the bait tank holes, and then forward to the 2 forward rod holders.
Got a bunch done.
This morning at 5:30 the epoxy is beyond tacky but not quite hard enough to sand or drill. The temperature in the garage is 54°F.
A little later:
Sanded the epoxy and glass from yesterday.
Installed padeyes, electrical switches and then I had to go to the store for parts for the bait tank motor. Bait tank motor doesn't fit the same way as it did on GAR.
Came back home, installed the bait tank motor, trimmed the front 2 rod holders near flush, did some more sanding and vacuumed the whole thing out.
Put down a little epoxy and a little filler around the rod holders and the holes for the Fish Finder transducer under the seat.
Replaced the Leashes using the new padeyes in the back.
Last edited by RealBigReel on Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:38 pm, edited 8 times in total.
User avatar
By gerald
Don't give up on the lightweight competition just yet. You'll be in the 15+ class. I know of few boats lighter than 37 pounds in that class. No telling how many people will show up in that, or any, of the classes. Right now I'm just planning on entering a conventionally built 12' X 28" wood composite strip built boat to demonstrate exactly how light your target could be for such a boat.
I'm always interested in your fearless innovation and application thereof. Keep up the good work.
By RealBigReel
gerald wrote:Looks pretty good! Are you happy with how it handles?

Lateral stability is just right. Feels comfortable.
Longitudinal is also just right. Very little wiggle waggle once up to cruising speed. Rocker must be right on, thank you.
Turns quickly and easily. "light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water."
Shallow water performance is superb. Hardly a bump. If I can paddle there this boat will go there.
Bait tank self primed.
Fish finder working.

Still stuff to do but so far very happy.
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