Why Your Fishing Kayak has Scupper Holes

 scupper holes in a fishing kayak

All sit-on-top kayaks have scupper holes (photo courtesy of @jddesrosiers)

Bending Branches’ ProStaffer Gene Jensen, the Flukemaster, gets asked this question often when he’s at a boat ramp: “Won’t your kayak sink with those holes in it?”

In this video Gene talks about scupper holes—what they do and why your fishing kayak won’t sink even though there are holes in your boat:

What Are Scupper Holes?

Scupper holes are intentional holes in sit-on-top kayaks, like fishing kayaks. It seems counter-intuitive to have holes in a boat, but they serve a couple important design purposes:

  1. They help give structural integrity to the kayak…
  2. They operate as a drain hole when you get water in your boat. This is especially key in rapids or waves when water can come in over the top.

When Would You Plug Your Scupper Holes?

If you plug your scupper holes, the water is prevented from coming up in the holes, as well as prevented from draining out of them.

When you plug the scupper holes, your kayak will sit higher on the water. When they’re unplugged, you’ll sit a bit lower on the water. So plugging them helps you paddle faster when you’re on your way to your fishing destination or heading back to the launch.

On the flip side, if it’s windy you’ll want those scupper holes unplugged so you sit lower on the water. That way the wind will have less boat to catch and move around.

How Many Scupper Holes to Plug or UnPlug?

The average kayak has 6-8 scupper holes in various sections of the boat. Gene likes to keep the rear holes plugged because that’s where most of the weight is carried. Plugging them helps give the boat a bit of lift out of the water. It also keeps that area drier.

Whether you plug the holes in the seat area may depend on your size and weight. If you need extra lift, then plug them. If you’re a lightweight and need more depth in the water, keep them unplugged.

scupper holes in a fishing kayak

If Gene is getting water in the boat due to waves or rain, he’ll unplug the holes to let the water drain out.

Gene uses his forward scupper holes as his main drains and leaves them unplugged almost all the time…except in colder weather. When Gene fishes in cold weather he keeps his holes plugged to keep that cold water out of his boat. A drier boat is more important in that case.

For more info about scupper holes and plugs read this article from our friends at AustinKayak. Here’s a conversation about scupper plugs on BassResource.com.

Let us help you choose your next kayak fishing paddle! Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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