When your kayak doesn’t quite do everything you want it to you’ve got a few options. You can mod it out, trade for a better model, or design and build a brand new watercraft from the ground up. While most of us mere mortals opt for the easy options there are a few special souls out there who refuse to settle when it comes to their fishing.
We recently caught up with Adventure Designs founder Greg Ferris. He’s developed one of the most unique kayaks we’ve seen in recent times with some game-changing innovations. It’s not just the shape of this boat that’s eye-catching. It bills itself as being truly, hands free- since on the Trident you paddle with your feet. The new Trident explorer kayak is a feature laden fishing machine ready to rock rivers and lakes in 2022, and in this article, we’ll show you where it all started and where it’s going.
Modern pedal drive kayaks are hands down (pun intended) awesome. And they’re great about 90% of the time on the water. But like every boat they aren’t perfect. And there are a few edge cases where flippers and props do not always shine. Positional micro adjustments and lateral movements almost always necessitate putting down the pole and picking up the paddle.
As a long time fisherman and experienced product designer Greg immediately saw room for improvement. In addition to crafting an actual “hands free” fishing experience he had one other gripe with modern fishing kayaks – low and uncomfortable seats. While uncomfortable seats aren’t always the norm most kayak seating isn’t exactly on par with a Herman Miller.
After vetting his idea and concepts with the local lake gang Greg sought to create a new vessel that filled three key design criteria:
- Make it hands free
- Make it better
- Keep it simple
Greg knew he wanted to strike the perfect mix of stability, standability, and fishability. In theory an elongated nose and flared base would provide a stable platform for an ergonomic high-sitting chair for quick transitions from seated to standing, while still providing a sturdy base for paddling .A few rounds of noodling later and the Trident was born… on paper
Kayak design is a tricky game of compromises. Push too far in one direction and you inadvertently pull on something else. Trying to find the perfect blend of form, function, and cost is a balancing act that is incredibly difficult to pull off. The ones who do figure it out do so through a lot of hard work and experimentation.
And experimentation is easiest when you can touch and feel the thing you’re creating. Some quick cadding and lots of pink-board later the Trident was born… in styrofoam. Pink insulating board from your local depot is an awesome material for crafting prototype watercraft. It’s so popular that there’s a small population of DIY’ers that build there own kayaks out of it (replete with storage, rod holders, and drive-wells).
The first prototype was designed using a CAD program and then cut onto pink board, which was stacked up layer by layer. Once the form is built final shaping and waterproofing provide a buoyant craft that can actually be tested on the water. With a foundation to mod on tweaks, design changes, and improvements can be quickly adapted. Feedback from kayak dealers, tradeshows, and career anglers proved invaluable through multiple iterations of both digital and physical remodels. Every cup-holder, storage compartment, bevel and flare was checked and rechecked for optimization.
Pedals and Pivots
One of the most innovative, and consequently most important, systems developed was the pivot-pedal system. The pivot-pedal riffs off of the oar stay found in rowboats. A steel shaft attaches to the paddle along with two adjustable foot rests. The paddle then slides into a pivot bushing that allows for smooth and continuous articulation around the center point. The result is a foot powered paddle system that can emulate all the motions of hand-held paddles.
Paddling with your feet is a novel concept, but luckily it’s one without a steep learning curve. Just a few minutes on the Trident and scuttling around using your toes will feel like second nature. The one intrinsic disadvantage of a pivot system is that it does not capture energy from your legs as efficiently as a cycling motion does. In practice this means anybody with a Hobie or Native is going to beat the Trident in a dead sprint. But that’s a small price to pay when you can go out all day on the Trident without picking up a paddle. And plus, who needs speed when you’ve got a transom mount and a motor?
Ultimately Greg’s hunch proved right. The Trident’s wide-beam stern and narrow bow proves perfect for the pivot-pedal system and hit the trifecta he was aiming for. With a high backed high-seated chair, stable base, and accurate maneuverability anglers could comfortably get to the fishing holes quick and cast ever quicker. It was time to gear up for production.
Molding the Trident
The last step before mass-production is creating the mold. At this stage every plug, hole, and pin has been meticulously placed and tested. The final model is broken down into a series of simple instructions (Gcode) and fed to a CNC machine that carves the “plug” out of Styrofoam in exacting dimensions. Laminations of gel coat and reinforcing fibers are added to the plug to create a production ready mold.
Since the Trident is a new class of fishing kayak Adventure Designs opted for a fiberglass composite build. Fiberglass is a standard in boats for its light weight, high strength, and lasting durability. It’s not as common in kayaks as the rotomolding process is faster and cheaper at production. But the up-front costs for a rotomolded kayak are much higher. Fiberglass molds run 1 / 10th the cost of an HDPE mold. And they offer the huge advantage of allowing modifications to the mold later, something that impossible for an HDPE mold. Fiberglass kayaks also offer the option for a gel-coat finish which, aside from adding additional durability, just flat out looks better. Matte plastic just does not catch the eye like the reflection off a freshly waxed fiberglass hull.
The road from an idea on a napkin to a fully-fledged product is a tough one. It’s filled with endless challenges, pitfalls, and detours. But it’s one that Greg Ferris and the Adventure Designs Trident have navigated with gusto. The production ready version of the Trident represents countless hours of tinkering, adjusting, and perfecting. And as of Q4 2021 the Trident has officially entered production.
Along with a slick gel coat and striking color schemes the elongated nose on the fiberglass hull resembles an SR-71, although admittedly not as fast. Armed with a trolling motor or a small outboard on the transom and feet on your pedal the Trident offers anglers the first truly hands free fishing experience on the market.
Superior stability, ample storage, and built in wheels round out the Trident as a top-tier kayak. Add to that one of the highest seats of any sit-on-top kayak on the market and the Trident looks like it’s fit for a king. We’re also quite appreciative of the fact that with a beam of just 4 ′ the Trident will easily slide into the bed of any pickup (without wheel wells). Just remember to hang a flag off that nose.
The Trident is currently available for $ 2,499 and the queue is growing. A bevy of customizations including in hull storage, wiring, and colors are available to further trick out your fishing rig. More information regarding the Trident is available at adventuredesignswatercraft.com. You can also catch the Trident on its debut roadshow through the US MidWest through March of 2022.