Scupper Holes: Enhancing Your Kayaking Experience

By Hank Veggian

Picture this: rain trickling down, droplets from your paddle, waves crashing against your kayak, and boat wakes creating a splash. Water finds its way into your kayak, no matter how diligently you adjust your paddle’s drip guards or maneuver through waves. But fear not, dear kayakers, for scupper holes come to your rescue!

Understanding Scupper Holes

Scupper holes are ingeniously designed pre-molded openings found on the underside of sit-on-top kayaks. They serve the crucial purpose of draining out water that enters your kayak. However, they also provide a gateway for water, debris, and creatures to make their way into your vessel. Imagine a scenario where you paddle through choppy waters, and the splashes under your hull invite not just water, but also hitchhikers like invasive plant seeds, bugs, and even amphibians seeking an unconventional commute. Once, while parked near a grass bed, I encountered a small turtle peering back at me through a scupper hole. It couldn’t fit through, but its curiosity was undeniable.

The Role of Scupper Plugs

While scupper holes facilitate a two-way street for water and unwanted guests, the wise utilization of scupper plugs transforms it into a one-way thoroughfare, effectively plugging the drainage. Moreover, these plugs elevate your kayak slightly above the water’s surface. This elevation enhances your visibility and casting angles, improving your overall kayaking experience. Alas, scupper plugs are often overlooked, but with a few tips, you can maximize their functionality, correct usage, and proper maintenance.

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Tips for Optimal Scupper Plug Usage

  1. Tailor the plugs to your rig: A proper fit is crucial. Ensure there are no gaps, as loose plugs may get lost during your venture. Likewise, excessively wide plugs pose a tripping hazard. The ideal scenario is flush plugs that seamlessly align with the deck. To discover suitable scupper plugs for your Jackson Kayak, a simple search for “scupper plug” on the Jackson website will suffice.

  2. One size does not fit all: Generic plugs come in various sizes and quality. One size may not fit all, especially if your kayak features scupper holes of different sizes. (Take the Jackson Yupik as an example.)

  3. Keep spares on hand: Though scupper plugs should fit snugly and prove challenging to remove, it is not uncommon to glance down and discover a missing plug due to transportation, wave impact, or water pressure. Be prepared by stowing an extra plug or two in your gear box. A dry deck ensures other gear remains unharmed, and there’s nothing worse than reaching down to find a soggy sandwich!

  4. Adapt to weather and water conditions: Perhaps there’s rain on the forecast. In such situations, I suggest modifying your plugs accordingly. By allowing water to drain through the plug, you can prevent excessive buildup. Use a small drill bit to create a hole in the center of the plug’s cup, letting rainwater exit while restricting water entry to a minimum. Trim any excess material at the edges for optimal effectiveness.

  5. Clean your plugs diligently: Before hosing down and washing your kayak, ensure you empty and clean your plugs thoroughly. Invasive species pose a growing threat to our waterways. Exotic plants, algae, and mussels can wreak havoc on fisheries and habitats. Even a simple paddle stroke can introduce water carrying these unwanted travelers into your boat. Hence, it is essential to empty and rinse your plugs at home before your next launch. Remember, never allow the water to drain into local drainage, sewers, or waterways.

  6. Regularly inspect additional plugs and wedges: While scupper plugs take the center stage, don’t forget about other essential components like the Jackson FD Scupper Wedge, the Transducer Scupper Cover, and the Jackson Kayak Drain Plug. Give them regular attention and maintain their cleanliness.

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Scupper Plugs
Image source: UpStreamPaddle

In summary, scupper plugs act as guardians, fortifying your kayak against unwelcome water intrusions that soak your deck and precious belongings. They also lend a hand in deterring hitchhikers such as seeds and animals. When utilized correctly and creatively, these accessories enhance the kayaking experience for paddlers—reiterating the essence of any exceptional accessory.

About the author: Henry “Hank” Veggian embarked on his kayak fishing journey with a Jackson Coosa in 2011. Since 2019, he has proudly served as a member of the Jackson Kayak Pro Staff Team. Hank’s passion extends beyond fishing; he has been a tournament director for Carolina Kayak Anglers, a dedicated educator and ambassador for our beloved sport, and a successful tournament angler. His distinguished writings on kayak fishing grace numerous publications and the Jackson blog. Presently, he navigates the waters with a Jackson Bite FD.