How to Outfit a Kayak for Fishing

How to Outfit a Kayak for Fishing

Imagine a day out on the open water, just you, your gear, and the fish. Sounds like a perfect plan and a serene setting for some serious fishing, right? If you’re looking to take a kayak out for the first time, or maybe you’re looking to reconfigure your current setup, look no further. Outfitting your kayak for a great fishing trip can be tricky, but here we explain the must haves, the potentially good ideas, and what to look for when buying your kayak.

How to Outfit a Kayak for Fishing

Purchasing your Kayak – What to Look For

If you’re just getting started in kayak fishing, you’ll want to take the time to get some research out of the way on the kayak you are looking to buy. First of all, find a kayak that you like, that has the basic features you just simply want in your kayak. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you should take into consideration that this kayak will be primarily outfitted for fishing. More modern kayaks may have some nice features, or the ability to aftermarket alter them, that are ideal when taking a kayak on a fishing trip.

Look for models that have a good seat option. Think about an average fishing trip. You may plan for a couple of hours on the water, but you will inevitably end up spending most of your day paddling around looking for a good honey hole, and once you find it, there’s no leaving until you have to. A great seat will maximize comfort and relaxation while you enjoy your time on the water. Keep in mind the area you plan to fish as well. If you know you will spend a good chunk of time paddling out to your spots, a great seat will allow you to paddle most efficiently to get there quicker and spend more time actually fishing. That is the whole point, after all.

Some models will have built in rod holders. If they don’t, they may be equipped with specific docks for rod holders to be attached to later. You’ll want to seriously consider these options as you want your rods to be secured as you paddle around. Storage options are also limited, so rod holders will allow you to free up some space. You’ll want to also see if any models include paddle clips and paddle leashes. When you make a big catch, the last thing you want to worry with is making sure your paddle is secure so you don’t wind up stuck with or without a great catch.

Something you may not have thought too much about is an anchor. You don’t want to find a fishing honey hole only to float away as you cast your rod. By having an anchor or tiekit, you can stay in your general area and cast without a second thought of maneuvering your vessel as well. While looking for your ideal kayak, look to see if these options are available. If not, be sure to make the choice best for your kayak itself and for the area you will be fishing.

The Essentials to Make your Kayak Fishing Trip Better

First and foremost, safety should be your top priority. You should already have a personal floatation device (PFD) or a life jacket, but if not, you need to get one before going on your first kayak fishing excursion. Kayaks can tip more easily, so you want to ensure you are safe in any event. Additional safety gear can better round out your trip to not only give you peace of mind, but it can also come in handy just for an easier trip. Bringing a compass along with your GPS device can help save your navigation in the event that the GPS were to quit working. A first aid kit is also important in the event of simple traumas that shouldn’t keep you from continuing to fish. A light device such as a small lantern or flashlight should be included with your gear in the event that you stay out after dark or in the event you needed to be spotted should you need help. Additionally, you should include an air horn or whistle in your gear just to be sure you have alternative means of alerting or making a distress signal should you need to. If you have one, a handheld radio that you can signal from would also be a wise option to have onboard in the event of an emergency. We never want to think that we would need to do these things, but it is always best to be prepared just in case something was to go wrong during a fishing trip.

Gear that will help you in your fishing endeavors should also be considered when outfitting your kayak for a fishing expedition. A fishfinder may not be necessary if you know your area, but if you are exploring somewhere new, it could be a useful tool to take along on your trip. Some obvious items to bring with you would be a knife, a fishgripper, a hook kit, and your lure boxes. It will be important to remember to take a measuring board if you plan to catch and keep.  That being said, you will need to take a cooler for any catch that you choose to keep as well. You may want to take a headlamp in the event that you take the entire day and head back to shore during the twilight hours.

Items that you may consider optional, but that you should still consider, are rain gear and dry clothes. Depending on the weather, you may want to keep a few things handy just in case. A dry bag of clothes is never a bad idea just due to the nature of your trip. It would also be wise to take sunscreen and bug spray on your trip if you plan to spend any length of time out on the water. A hat to keep the sun off of you would also be a good idea. Make sure you plan to take water and snacks or a lunch if you’re making a day of the trip as well.

Choose your Gear Wisely

All things considered, a kayak is a small water craft, so there will be limited storage space for all the gear you need or want to take with you. With that being said, you’ll face some tough decisions. Keep in mind that safety is important, so you want to prioritize those items, but maybe choose the radio over both the radio and the air horn. Try to find small items that will aid you if needed. A smaller handheld GPS, a simple compass, etc. could all be better options that are easier to store and take with you in the kayak. Keeping your safety gear all together would likely be the smartest way to store it as well, so that they are all easily accessible in the event of an emergency situation.

It is often recommended to use a milk crate as a gear station in your kayak. While an actual milk rate would work just fine with the right organization, there are some specialty crates made to be waterproof or set up with organizers that you could opt for should you be looking for something specific for your kayak. However you choose to organize your supplies, make sure you do it in a way that best uses the space you have and that distributes the gear in the most efficient way possible. Remember, a kayak is a small craft that can tip easily, so weight distribution of everything on board will be important. It would be wise to keep your supply crate opposite from a cooler if you take one for your catch or for snacks.

Keep those extra items like your rain gear or spare gear in your bulkhead compartments if you have them, that way they are stored out of the way, but still accessible should you need them. Most importantly, know where you have stored all of your different gear. If you know exactly where everything should be, you don’t risk rocking the boat when you need to get anything. Knowing that everything has a place will also make sure that you keep your kayak organized and won’t risk making a mess of things, aside from the expected messes that fishing will inevitably bring.

Whatever specific gear you choose, just be sure you are prepared without being overly prepared. Will you need all 27 lures you own? The answer is likely no. Prioritize your gear so that you can stay organized, keep from having a cramped vessel, and truly get the most out of your expedition. Remember that this fishing trip is yours alone, so take what you want with you regardless of what experts or popular sports kayakers say you SHOULD take. Have a favorite rod that may not be the best? Take it anyway. Kayak fishing isn’t all about the catch, anyway, so enjoy the trip, stay safe, and casts away.

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