What Is Tracking On A Kayak? Made Easy

If you are a new kayaker, you may be wondering, “What is tracking on a kayak?”

Those with a little more experience will recognize the importance of tracking.

A kayak that does not track well is inconvenient because it requires a lot of effort to paddle.

But what exactly is tracking? And how can you ensure that your kayak tracks properly?

You can choose a kayak that tracks well for your needs by understanding what tracking is and how different factors influence it.

Also Read: GPS Tracking for Kayaks & Watercrafts

What does the kayaking term “tracking” mean?

It refers to a boat’s proclivity to maintain its course while moving in displacement mode.

Boats that ‘track well’ are typically easier to paddle in a straight line, whereas more-rockered boats (such as most whitewater designs) prefer to turn.

Nothing beats floating down a lazy river in a kayak, looking for the ideal spot to cast a line. As the sun rises over the horizon, it’s just you and nature.

However, if you are new to kayaking, some of the terminologies can be confusing. Even knowing what a term means, in general, can be perplexing when different people use it in different contexts.

What does “good tracking” in a kayak mean? Tracking is the ability of a kayak to move in a straight line or to stay “on track.”

The hull design has a direct impact on a kayak’s ability to track well, but the kayaker’s technique also plays a role.

An experienced kayaker can easily make a good kayak track than an inexperienced kayaker.
When a kayak tracks well, it means it goes straight when you want it to, but there is more to it than that.

If you imagine the path ahead of you as a track, then “tracking well” means being able to easily follow that path or track.

However, some kayaks that are designed to track well are also difficult to turn, which is why it is a combination of design and skill.

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What Is Tracking On A Kayak?

Tracking is the straightness with which the kayak moves through the water. Several factors can influence how well a kayak tracks.

The hull design is one of the most important factors in tracking. A longer hull will track better than a shorter hull, but it will be more difficult to turn. A rudder or skeg can also help with tracking and paddling straight.

DIY Kayak Gear Track Mount – ELEGANT and CHEAP!

The kayak gear track is quite pricey. I demonstrate the third DIY kayak gear track solution that will support DIY kayak accessories as well as commercial products. All you have to do to install this DIY kayak rail mount is cut it to size.

Why Is Kayak Tracking So Important?

There are several reasons why a kayak that tracks well is essential.

First and foremost, it is more efficient. When you paddle in a straight line, you don’t waste energy paddling and constantly correcting your course.

Second, it is less exhausting. Paddling in a straight line, for example, requires less effort than paddling in a zigzag pattern.

Third, it is quicker. When paddling in a straight line, you can cover more ground in less time.
Finally, it is more pleasurable. When you don’t have to constantly adjust your course, you can relax and enjoy the scenery.

What Factors Affect Kayak Tracking?

Wind, water currents, waves, and how weight is distributed on the kayak can all have an impact on kayak tracks.

Wind can cause a kayak to veer off course, and currents can make staying on course difficult. Waves can also cause drag and make paddling in a straight line difficult.

Another consideration is how you pack your gear or weight distribution. It will be more difficult to paddle straight if all of the weight is concentrated in the front or back of the kayak.

Alternatively, if you have more weight on one side of the kayak, staying on course will be more difficult.

How Experience Affects Tracking

A more skilled or experienced kayaker can use a shorter hull and still make it track well. This is simply a result of doing it more frequently, and, as with anything that requires some skill, there is no substitute that can change this.

If you have a few years of kayaking experience, you may have figured out exactly how to maneuver a kayak to get it to do what you want it to do. It is your skill, not the design of a longer hull, that allows the kayak to track well.

But don’t be discouraged; learning proper paddle technique and how to maneuver a kayak is a fun and rewarding experience that doesn’t take much effort.

A high-quality paddle is essential. Cheap paddles make paddling far more difficult than necessary. All of the gear I use is listed on my Recommended Gear Page.

How Does Damage Affect Tracking?

Without a doubt, damaged kayaks will exist. Small scratches and scrapes are insignificant enough to affect your kayak’s tracking.

Large scrapes and dents, on the other hand, will cause your kayak to track differently because they change the way the water flows against the bottom of the kayak.

Make sure to inspect and repair the hull of your kayak on a regular basis. It is also critical to ensure that your kayak is free of damage when you purchase it.

If you inspect the hull of your kayak and discover damage that you suspect is causing it to track strangely, read this article where I discuss how to properly maintain and repair your kayak.

While Kayaking, What Throws You Off Track?

The wind and the current of the water can both have an impact on kayak tracks. I’ll break them down for you now.

The Water’s Current

The water current will essentially do the opposite of what the wind does. Because the wind pushes the bow deeper into the water while lifting the stern, the water current in a kayak can affect the bow more than the stern.

This can also cause a kayak to deviate from its intended path. However, when fishing, you may not encounter this problem because you will want to avoid areas of higher current anyway.

This problem is not limited to kayaks; it affects all watercraft in some way.

Weathercocking or The Wind

Weathercocking occurs when the wind causes you to veer off course. When you consider how the wind affects a kayak, you will notice that it typically pushes the front, or bow, of the kayak down into the water, effectively anchoring it.

The back, or stern, will be pushed up higher, allowing the wind to push against it.

This causes the stern to be pushed away from the wind, or “downwind,” and it turns your kayak towards the wind, blowing you off course.

A skeg can be used to help with wind resistance. This is not unique to kayaks; all watercraft are affected in some way.


Kayaks are the smallest vessel on the water, and whether the boater is “right” or “wrong” is irrelevant. On the water, we are solely responsible for ourselves. REMAIN SAFE! STAY AWAY FROM THE BOATING CHANNELS.

How to Install a Gear Track on Your Fishing Kayak When You Don’t Have Access to the Inner Hull

If you don’t have access to the inside of your fishing kayak, Zack demonstrates one method of installing a gear track.


Final Thoughts

Tracking is the kayak’s ability to move in a straight line through the water. Many factors can influence how well a kayak tracks, but using a rudder or skeg can help improve tracking.

With practice, you can learn to keep your kayak on course even in windy or choppy conditions.

You might be surprised at how much easier and more enjoyable kayaking becomes when you stop paddling in circles.

Thank You for sparing your precious time to read this article “What Is Tracking On A Kayak? Made Easy”.

Please do let us know whatever you feel in the comments section below, and please share this with your fishing buddies.

Enjoy Easy Kayak Tracking! 🚣🏻🎣

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