Kayak Fishing is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of fishing on the planet. At heart, it is not much different to land or boat based fishing, but there are a few essential pieces of equipment and gear you will need.
Outfitting for fishing on a kayak, with the right gear, will make your experience a better one and ensure you have the best chance of landing fish. Once you have your kayak, you need to kit it out with essential gear for fishing.
Below is our check list of absolutely essential gear for fishing off of a kayak.
Whether you are fishing on flat water or out on the ocean, things can go wrong and you don't want to lose your rods and reels. Your gear is expensive and you need to know it is relatively safe when you are paddling. Rod holders are typically made of plastic material and can be mounted with bolts or rivets. Here are three of the most typical rod holders for kayak fishing:
Flush Mounted Rod Holder
This is a tube that is inserted into your kayak or sometimes molded into the boat. The end of the rod is simply inserted into the tube and can then be secured with a rod leash. Flush mount rod holders are usually installed behind the seat on the top deck area. Most common holder for kayaks.
Secure Mounted Rod Holder
These provide a more secure hold than a flush rod holder because it 'grasps' your rod and reel. You’ll typically find them installed on the centre of the deck between your lower legs and sometimes behind the seat. The adjustability of these make them a popular choice when you want to keep your rod tips pointed lower than the flush mount option allows, which is ideal for fishing on a kayak.
Kayak Crate/Tackle Boxes
Another popular option for kayak fishing, combines both tube-like rod holders with a lidded crate or boxed in area to store and protect your gear all in one package.
If you are fishing on flat water, or fishing on a reef for bottom fish, you will need to keep your fishing kayak in one place. This is for when you are not trawling. To stay in one place, your fishing kayak will need a small anchor and line. Since you are limited on space and capacity, don’t get anything over three pounds.
Folding anchors tend to be the most popular design for kayak fishing, due to portability and their ability to provide a good hold in most environments. It will also fit in the storage areas of larger fishing kayaks - like our Black Bass - so it is out of the way when not in use.
If you want an anchor that can hold you in place while fishing, even in the softest bottoms, this is the anchor you need. It may not be as portable as a folding anchor but you can rest assured you won’t be going anywhere.
When a fish is on, the last thing you want to think about is your paddle. While some kayak fisherman have mastered the art of one-handed paddling, if you have a solid fish on the line you are going to need both hands.
When a fish strikes while on a kayak, you need to secure your paddle. We’ve all heard the term “up the creek without a paddle” — avoid it. By installing a simple device that secures your paddle to your boat, you’ll never have to worry about losing a paddle while kayak fishing ever again.
The paddle leash simply ties to a connection point on the fishing kayak, most will have this, and the other end tethers to your paddle shaft. The leash is typically coiled or made of a “bungee” material. Most fishing kayaks also have built in paddle tie downs, but leashes are easier to deal with when in the moment.
Fishing Kayak Dolly
Most fishing kayaks are light enough for two people to carry. A dolly helps if you have to carry your fishing kayak a distance or if it is too heavy. A couple of wheels can turn your kayak into a wagon that can carry all of your gear. You don’t want to be tired before you have even started kayak fishing.
If you encounter soft sand, mud, or rough terrain you may need a dolly with all-terrain wheels. If you have returned from a good day of fishing, your kayak is going to be even heavier and this is where having a dolly will make the workload lighter.
Fishing Pliers and a Fish Grip
So what do you do once you've caught a fish while out fishing? To the seasoned kayak angler, this may seem like a silly question. But for those who have never fished off a kayak, it’s a very important one.
Once you reel your fish close enough to land it (always leave some slack in your line), please take care in how you handle the fish, especially if you plan to catch and release. Fish have a protective coating, so try to avoid holding the fish with your hands. If you do be gentle. We always recommend a fish grip designed to do just this, and carry a pair of pliers to remove hooks. This is an essential piece of kayak fishing equipment.
When choosing a fish grip, you will want to make sure that you choose a smaller model for kayak fishing. This will make it easier to store on your kayak and to handle while out on the water. We also recommend getting one that has a built-in scale, so you can weigh your fish. If you are releasing on the water, you will want the weight of your fish and a photo to go with it.
There is a huge variety of pliers to choose from. We recommend choosing stainless steel models, as they don’t rust. Almost all your gear for fishing should be made from anti corrosive materials. Also having a longer pincer with sharp points will make getting hooks out of the fish’s mouth much easier.
Kayak fishing more than a few hours strains any angler’s butt and back. Especially when paddling long distances on your fishing kayak. To stay on the water longer, upgrade your seat. Find a seat with adjustable back support and a high-quality foam or gel seat. Although not cheap, a good seat means more comfort while fishing, which means more time on the water doing what you love.
Our Black Bass kayak comes equipped with an adjustable, deluxe seat with upright and reclining positions, which can be positioned via the molded-in accessory track recess.
Tired of casting your rod out of your fishing kayak, praying to get even the slightest hint of a bite? Luckily, there’s a handy little tool you may know about, aptly named the 'fish finder'. This is an essential piece of gear for anyone fishing off of a craft.
It would be easy to think that all fish finders work the same, however, with a recent rise in fish finding technology, there are many different options for finding fish to suit your fishing habits.
When kayak fishing, there are a few factors to consider in your search for a great fish finder:
* You want a technically advanced sonar reading (83/200 kHz is pretty standard and will give you clear reading)
* You want a model that comes with a transducer (it’s much easier to set up a fish finder that already comes with the transducer attached)
* You want a model that fits to your kayak – some kayaks are bow/curved shape, which some fish finders will not fit onto
* You want a user friendly display (some of these features include: counteracting sun glare, waterproof housing, split screens, different accessories, smartphone integration)
* You want a model that has additional features (good bottom tracking, water temperature, battery life display)
Additionally, most fishing kayaks will not come pre-loaded with a fish finder, in which case, you will want a portable fish finder for your kayak.
Portable fish finders have a few benefits over their non-portable counterparts:
* Portable fish finders offer more variability. If you don’t like the stock fish finder on your boat, you can easily swap it out for a portable one for kayak fishing.
* Portable fish finders are – wait for it – portable! Take it to the river, off the dock, ice fishing, the possibilities are endless.
* Some portable fish finders will sync up to your smartphone, making it more convenient and keeping your tackle box light.
* Portable fish finders are ultimately beneficial in helping you locate fish wherever you are, but for kayak fishing, the results are tremendous. This will be a good investment for your fishing.
GPS for kayak fishing
One of the best parts about owning a fishing kayak is getting to explore places you never thought possible. One of the worst parts, if you don’t own a good, navigation GPS system, is not knowing how to get back home.
What happens when you cannot see
When you're out on your kayak, fishing on a large body of water, like a lake or sea, navigation can be tricky. It's easy to lose sight of landmarks and get turned around. This is especially true if adverse conditions such as poor light, choppy seas, or fog make you lose sight of the horizon while fishing. It's in precisely this situation that a reliable GPS is the most crucial piece of gear. A good GPS system allows you to navigate with confidence and, depending on the model, provide you with weather updates, satellite imagery maps, or even a camera.
Cellphones are not enough
In the days of LTE and 4G data speeds, it can be tempting to think a smartphone is all you need for kayak navigation. Out in the wilderness though, there isn’t usually an abundance of cellphone towers, and it’s not worth taking the chance.
The best kayak GPS devices offer a lot more to the intrepid kayak fishing enthusiast than a cellphone ever could. With offline maps, waterproof touchscreens and (literally) world-class navigation — not to mention kayak GPS fish finders, water maps and longer battery life — these devices are built with adventuring and fishing in mind.
Water resistance and durability
If you're taking a GPS out fishing, it's safe to assume that it is going to get wet. It might be a little splash-back from your paddle, or it might be a full-blown capsize. As most GPS systems aren't explicitly designed for paddle sports, it's always best to check to what level your GPS is water resistant. Most GPS manufacturers use the IP code system to signify the water resistance.
It can also get a little rough out on the water, especially in choppy seas or on whitewater rivers. You'll want your GPS to be able to take a few knocks, even if this is just you accidentally dropping it. Look for GPS systems that have toughened glass screens (which have been chemically treated to resist damage), and rubberized cases for maximum durability.
Depending on how you choose to carry your GPS, screen size may be a deciding factor. If you are carrying it in a hatch or pocket and plan to hold it as you use it, then having a smaller screen isn't an issue. However, many high-end GPS systems come with an option to mount them on the front of your kayak cockpit, which is much better for fishing.
If you plan on doing this, then you'll need to be able to comfortably read the display without changing your paddling position or straining your eyes while kayak fishing. Meaning, you’ll want a larger screen size.
Different GPS models come with different maps loaded onto them. Some might only have the country in which you bought it as their default map, but most include a basic world map. In the vast majority of cases, more detailed maps can be purchased as downloads or on a Micro SD card.
On smaller GPS models that only display GPS data, routes and waypoints that can be planned out beforehand using compatible computer software, then transferred to the handset using a USB or Bluetooth connection.
Some manufacturers also provide 'bluemaps' which contain detailed marine cartography, fishing contours, tidal graphs, current arrows, and even the location of marine services such as the Coastguard. These are even available on some GPS watch models too. We certainly advise one of these for fishing.
Once you have taken all of the above into account, choose the right GPS for you.
Now that you have a good idea of some of the essential gear required for kayak fishing, load up and go get your lines into the water.