How to best outfit your fishing kayak will depend upon they type the fishing you will do and the conditions you will encounter. Small streams and lakes require different considerations than offshore big game fishing for instance.
Whatever type of fishing you intend to do, kayak fishing has some unique considerations as the space is limited. It will be important to prioritize the most important items that you need to access most frequently, and have them within easy reach. Some anglers like to keep it simple and carry the minimal amount of gear: some like to carry anything that they might possibly need. There are some basic accessories that can increase the fish-ability of a kayak, or make it more angler-friendly.
Seats: Other than a paddle and your fishing gear I would say that a high quality seat is at the top of the priority list. If you want to spend your day fishing in comfort, you need to purchase a kayak with a quality seat, or install one yourself.
Rod Holders: These are convenient and functional places to carry your rods securely while paddling, fishing or trolling. Some kayaks come from the factory with flush mounted rod holders or rod holders mounted on adjustable brackets. Some kayak dealers will customize your kayak by rigging rod holders for you to fit the needs of your fishery: you may prefer to rig your own.
There are many different styles and types of rod holders from which to choose
1. Flush mount rod holders are low in profile and offer a clean deck, so they are less likely to become a line catcher (especially when fly fishing). There are adapters available for fly rods, and extensions for conventional rods. Both can be removed when not in use.
2. Adjustable rod holders that are mounted on the deck are fully adjustable up and down, and offer 360-degree rotation. They come in models for spin / bait casting or fly rods. Some can be removed when not in use, which is a nice feature if you are fly fishing.
3. There are many other options for mounting rod holders to seats, milk crates and various other custom rigs.
4. Regardless of the type of rod holders you use, you should attach a rod leash so you do not lose them overboard. If you have to make a surf entry or exit, you should store or secure your rods so they are not lost in the event of capsize.
These allow you not only to stay in one spot where you desire to fish, but also to fish a large area in a systematic way. Whether you are sight fishing, blind casting, or trolling you need to cover the area as thoroughly as possible, and the proper anchor system will allow you to do so.
You should start with an anchor trolley as the base for your anchor system: a continuous line running through a pulley on your bow to a pulley on your stern with a snap hook on each end, and attached to a ring in the middle. You can attach your anchor line to or through the ring, allowing you to adjust your anchor line from any point along the entire length of the kayak.
This setup enables you to point your kayak in any direction you desire in relation to the wind or current, able to cast in any direction with ease. If you decide to get out of your kayak and wade fish, just unhook the forward hook from the ring and pull the ring back to the aft pulley, were it will jam. Then, hook the forward line around your waist and pull the kayak behind you.
Now that you have your anchor trolley in place, how can you use it most efficiently for your type of fishing
1. Anchor: The most commonly used kayak anchor would be a 1.5 lb or 3 lb. grapple type anchor, although there are many other types on the market.
Float Tube Anchor by Keen (Amazon) – really light weight 13 oz. grappeler style anchor all aluminum.
Kwik Tek A-2 Complete Grapnel Anchor System (Amazon)
3 1/3 pound 4 fluke folding anchor will hold in mud, sand, gravel and rock, 25 foot long marine grade rope and a nylon storage case-the bouy allows you to unhook and leave the anchor without the hassle of pulling it in each time and the grapnel holds well in rock and sand.
Advanced Elements Canoe and Kayak Anchor System (Amazon) system for a canoe or kayak, 3 lb collared galvanized grapple anchor. Come with a 60 foot line, caribineer, line float and mesh travel bag. Sliding collar locks flutes open when anchor is deployed Works very well and keeps my kayak in place while fishing coves and other areas where the line is long enough. Have not had any issues with the claw getting snagged. I usually lock two of the four claws which may help too.
Seattle Sports Kayak Fishing Anchor Kit (4.7: 5) 1.5 pound folding anchor for angling … 50 feet rope includes a ring and 2 carabiners, drawstring storage sack. No sharp edges so works well with an inflatable kayak tho in faster currents or more wind, may want a 5 lb.
2. Anchor Line: You need enough anchor line for the maximum depth water where you will be fishing. Run the dead end of your anchor line through the ring on your trolley system and into the kayak. You should have a cleat or a clam / jam cleat mounted on your kayak to tie the anchor line off and adjust the length of line. If you use a clam or jam cleat, make sure you get one with a hole through which to run your line, and tie a knot in the end of your line. Now, if your line comes out of the cleat, you will not lose your anchor and rope.
3. Chain: You should use an anchor that is best suited to the type of bottom that you are fishing. I use a length of chain if I am fishing over a rough bottom that would hang up a regular anchor. A chain also works well on a really soft mud bottom, because it sinks into the mud. You can adjust the speed of you drift by the amount of anchor line you let out.
4. Drift Chute: You should use a drift chute if you are in water that's too deep for anchoring, or if you are drifting across a flat and you want to slow down. You can also use a drift chute if you are fighting a large fish, to make it more difficult for the fish to tow you around. You can adjust the position of your kayak with your anchor trolley system.
Lindy Fishermans Series Drift Sock (4: 5)
• Perfect for any fisher
• Enjoy fishing safely
• Reinforced nylon prevails fraying; durable
• It is easy to assemble
• Fisherman series drift sock is reinforced nylon for quick deployment and easy return without tangling
Comes in different sizes … how to determine which 18-54 inches in 6: increments
I have been using this drift sock for three months and am very satisfied with its performance. It is a standard part of my fishing kit and is deployed to reduce my drift speed whenever the wind is pushing me along (which happens quite often). Materials are all heavy duty reinforced plastic sheeting and nylon strapping; I expect them to last for quite a while. I use a carabiner to attach the sock to my anchor trolley. The lines on the sock are long enough that a kayaker will not need an additional harness though most boats surely will. You will also need to attach a dump line to the small end of the sock to facilitate easy returnal, otherwise you will be pulling in a sock loaded with water. All in all, money well spent.
Seattle Sports Kayak Drift Anchor
• 36 "L x 6" -12 "W
• Stows flat for easy packability
• Unique drawstring opening on both ends
• Keeps you from drifting
• Helps control rudder steering
5. Stake Out Pole: A stick out pole is a short pole that you can use to pole your kayak while sitting down, or a longer pole that you would use while standing up and sight fishing. You can use either pole in combination with your trolley system. When you want to stop, just stick your pole through the ring in your trolley system and into the bottom, or clip it to a tether attached to your pole.
6. Mesh Bag: If you are fishing in remote areas and want to travel as lightly as possible, you can fill a mesh bag with rocks or sand as a substitute for an anchor.
7. Paddle Rest: You will need to put your paddle somewhere secure while you are casting or fishing. It needs to be easy to access because you will be using it frequently to adjust your position or fighting a fish. In a sit on top, you can usually sit the paddle across your lap while you fish so that it is easily available to pick up and make adjustments.
1. Paddle Keepers are bungee cords on the sides of a kayak to hold the paddle securely when not in use.
2. Paddle leashes / teters are connected to your kayak at one point and your paddle at the other end so you do not loss you paddle.
3. Deck bungees are bungee cords rigged on deck so you can stick your paddle blade under the cord to secure it when not in use.
Live Wells: If you plan to use live bait you need to have a way to keep it alive. There are a variety of live wells on the market, but you should use one that fits the contour of your kayak. A five-gallon bait bucket with an aerator offers a simple system. A trolling bait container that you can be set up to leave in the water and tow behind your kayak if you are going slowly. The top half of the container is perforated, allowing water exchange when it is submerged, and the bottom holds water if you sit it upright.
Coolers: If you plan to keep your fish, you will need a way to keep them from spoiling. Some hard sided coolers will fit in a kayak. They can be rigged as live wells, used as storage, or serve to keep your catch from spoiling. They can even be outfitted with rod holders and accessory holders. There are soft-sided insulated bags on the market that can be used for dry bags or coolers. They conform to the compartments and hatches of a kayak better than hard sided coolers. Choosing hard or soft-sided coolers is simply a matter of preference.
Electronics: The combined use of a depth recorder and a GPS can offer a tremendous advantage when trying to locate fish structure, habitat, bait or fish. There are many different brands and numerous methods of mounting your electronics. This is a whole other subject that we can address later in more detail.
Safety Equipment: Be sure to check your safety equipment prior to every fishing trip. I realize that I have covered a lot of material here and do not want someone new to the sport to be overwhelmed. If you are just getting started, let the nature of your particular foods define the degree to which you outfit your kayak. I do not want to complicate things because one of the beauties of kayak fishing is its simplicity: however, it also offers unlimited possibilities for the dreamer.