Posted by: socalsalty | March 12, 2011

Gear Report: Diablo Paddlesports

Diablo Pro: Tyler Reisig

Yesterday I had the pleasure of fishing with Temple Fork Outfitters (Gary Loomis’ new rods) and Diablo Paddlesports pro-staffer Tyler Reisig.  I had been in correspondence with Diablo founder and chief designer, Thomas Flemons for several weeks.  I knew I was going to be in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest conference, and reached out to Thomas about checking out one of his distinctive hybrid stand-up paddleboard (SUP)/fishing kayaks.  Thomas was headed to Lousiana for a show, but hooked me up with Tyler to do some local fishing (freshwater, but I’m all about new experiences ;-))  Tyler picked me up late Friday afternoon and we went to Lake Austin to see if we could entice the bass to show Salty some Texas style love.

New TFO rod with one of Tyler's creatures

After unloading the SUP/Yaks from the truck, Tyler rigged up the poles, while I rigged up some cameras.  Tyler said the bass bite would hit right around dusk.  In the meantime, he’d show me around the lake and it would give me some time to sort out this new fishing platform.

It was a beautiful day out, the only potential issue being a light wind.  These boats are like nothing I’ve ever used.  I only started kayaking last summer down in the San Diego harbor.  I just rented them at the Shelter Island pier.  The only other spot I’ve yak’d was in the Dana Point harbor.

Both times, I rented whatever was available from the local pier/dock.  I was immediately hooked on kayaking for fish.  I like the sport of it.  It seems so primeval and basic…so Old Man and the Sea (one of Salty’s all time favorite reads).  It’s old school…just working different

Cap cam makes it's debut #FAIL

areas, observing the water, and making guesses about how to fish it.  When you have success, it really feels like you’ve accomplished something.  Unfortunately for me, after a youth spent battling in the trenches and in the paint (O-guard/tackle and power forward), Salty gets REAL SORE fishing for several hours in a traditional kayak.  My knees throb from cramping into a space smaller than an airline seat.  Then after getting in a vigorous paddle, I can’t get in a stretch which messes with my back.  Just the idea of being able to stand up and change positions was something I was looking forward to doing.  Tyler is a big guy (2 fiddy PLUS), so I was encouraged that if he could be comfortable on this boat, I would be comfortable.  To help me out even more, Tyler brought me a Larry chair to use.

As we set out onto the lake, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we basically owned the place.  There were a handful of shore fisherman, but no other craft on the lake except the local rowing club.  I haven’t taken any sort of kayak lessons.  I plan to at some point, just haven’t done it yet.  So it was great to have Tyler give me some rowing basics (like the right way to hold the paddle).  Shortly after we put in, the wind kicked up a bit.  We had to cross some water to get to a less windy spot, and once I found a rythm, I was able to move the boat easily through

Mine is on the left with the camera

it.  Once we got to the other side, I was emboldened to get off the Larry chair and stand up.  I was surprised at how stable and easy it was to do this.  It was great from the physical standpoint.  I found I could get up off the chair, stand up, kneel down, adjust the camera in the bow, drop my paddle, pick up my paddle, retrieve my creature from shoreline trees etc….all without falling into the water!  Tyler said, “You’ll never do that in a kayak.”  I agree.

Once I got the hang of sidearming the rod, and using spin tackle (coffee grinders as we salties call them), I started to have these inner dialogs of a voice over on one of my morning fishing shows or in one of my iPhone fishing games.  In other words, I really lost myself in the fishing, despite the fact I was standing in something the size of a small area rug in the middle of a body of water.

Unfortunately, the actual fishing part of the day was less than stellar.  I got one legit bite.  All my ocean sportboat crews  stress slow and steady (“you pump ’em, you dump ’em).  I apparently didn’t swing hard enough on the rod to set the hook.  I guess all those Southern gentlemen on their bass shows aren’t just showing off for the camera.

It was still a thoroughly enjoyable day…definitely a nice break from the nonstop schmoozing for my real job.   I still have some questions about using this craft for the kind of fishing I do…like the next time I am in San Diego harbor and an 80 foot sportboat chugs by, “Will I find myself swimming in said harbor?”  Questions to be addressed another day.  I definitely want to try.  I can picture how perfect this platform would be for certain spots.  Thanks Thomas for setting up a great day.  Thanks Tyler for taking me out and showing me a good time.   Check out the Diablo website and give it some thought for your home water.

Austin skyline from the middle of Lake Austin

SUP crew ladies?



  1. That’s insane! I could imagine one bug landing on me, freaking out and falling off into the lake… Awesome kayaks but do they come with a pair of swimmies?

    • FF – 2 reasons I prefer the salt…bugs and trees. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the @reply on twitter too. I’m proud of this post. I feel like it’s some of my better stuff.

  2. Great article! There are a lot of guys out here in the east that are doing some amazing things with kayaks. Some of them target Tautogs and Sheepshead , Stripers etc. around the bridges. I do know of one guy who was being ” Mother Shipped ” out to the Gulf Stream for Tuna.

    • Hey Josh, the mothership thing really intrigues me. I can’t seem to find very many though. There’s one though, I think it’s next month or May, that does San Clemente Island. San Clemente is a naval installation. There’s an artificial reef offshore that has the biggest kelp bed in SoCal! Sounds ‘target rich’ 🙂

      • It’s definitely something you should check out. Here in the east I’ve heard catching something BIG from a yak referred to as taking a ” Nantucket Sleigh Ride “. I’m really curious to see what you could catch in the Pacific from a yak or from the surf. I need to set you up with a heaver.

  3. Josh, “heaver”? Is that a surf rod? How long of one do you use? I was asking Dave Maynard (Fish the Baja) about his surf gear and I think he said he used a 10 footer! I usually use a 7′, but I have an 8′ bait thrower for when the party boat is crowded and I need to get over the crowd.

  4. HA! Yeah , a heaver is what we call a surf rod here in the east. The rod I use most often is 12′. It lets you cast “8 n bait” (8 oz sinker with a fish head for bait) a lot farther than would be possible with a shorter rod. There is a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to casting one , but I think you could handle it!

    • “Heaver” and “8 n bait”…I like it. I’m learning to talk like an OBX Salty 😉

      • LOL , next I’ll have to try to explain why most fish over here have about 5 different names. I could also fill you in on the finer points of fishing in a conga line , but that’s more for when you’ve mastered the ancient art of heaving 8 n bait.

  5. I think it’s awesome that you were able to find time to sneak away from this SXSW madness and get some fishing time in! Talk about making the best out of a situation.

    On another note, if you’re looking for a camera that can work while you fish, you should maybe check out Looxcie. You wear it like an earpiece, and it can connect via bluetooth to your mobile. Supposed to be amazing. Then you don’t have to duct tape another camera to your hat 😉

    • Are you still out there? It was great to meet you. Thanks for checking out Salty and the tip on the cam.

    • Silly rabbit, I have a harness for the cap cam. The issue had to do with the camera operator 😦 Got good video on the bow cam though. That’s my next video project.

  6. Great post Joe. I’m glad you had a good trip and a great time in the Lone Star State and you could enjoy some of our cuisine. I hope it wasn’t too spicy for you. 😉
    I never fished Lake Austin but it’s on top of my To Do list.
    I have read a lot about the Diablo SUP’s but never had a chance to try one myself. I enjoyed reading your honest opinion and experience about them.
    Sorry to hear you couldn’t catch any of the Texas Monster Bass. LOL But if someone tries to tell you, they always catch ’em here so that person is simply filling your pockets with a big lie.

    Btw, thanks for your email and for visiting my site. As soon as I will find the time again I will add even more content again.

    • Rick, too spicy? C’mon, I live in SoCal. I made some tasty Mexican tartar sauce (homemade salsa blended with sour cream) last night for my filets, that was hotter than anything I ate there. Besides, Stubbs is more sweet. Unfortunately, no Salt Lick on this trip. Next time.

      • Too bad you had no chance to smell some salt air. the Big Uglies – Black Drum – run is on along the coast. I had no chance yet to go down to the Gulf but a friend of mine who lives only minutes away from the Texas City Dike reported they caught some really nice size fish in the 40″ range on crabs.
        I hope I will get over my darn cold and can make a trip sometime next week.
        With water temperatures being on the rise the trout action will be on again too.

  7. Joe

    Had a BLAST! Sorry we didn’t get on to any fish. Next time you’re in town we need to block a longer trip and paddle the Colorado! I fished it the Saturday after we met, and caught a nice 4.5lber!

    Anyway, It was great to meet you and I hope we can get out again!


    • Cool man. Was wondering how you did on Saturday. Thanks for stopping by! Would definitely love to do another ride/fish with you. Thanks again!

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