Home Kayaks Kayak Fishing Setup: The Complete Guide to Everything You Need

Kayak Fishing Setup: The Complete Guide to Everything You Need

Kayak Fishing Setup

You might be intimidated at the prospect of outfitting a kayak for your next fishing trip, but preparing a kayak is not much harder than outfitting any other boat. The only major difference is the smaller size of the watercraft.

Today we'll show you how your kayak fishing setup should look like, what you can leave behind and what gear you can't leave home without.​

Rod Holders: Store-bought and Home-made

It is obvious that you are unable to hold a fishing pole while paddling. That is why rod holders are essential to fishing from a kayak. Most kayak anglers have multiple rod holders with one or two in front. You might want to consider using removable holders to allow you to take them down when you're not using them or during transportation of the kayak.

Place the holders within easy reach but far enough away to prevent interference with paddling or landing fish. Most anglers place at least two rod holders behind the cockpit on either side. Flush mount holders are best for this location.

You might also like a rod rack that holds multiple rods to attach to a milk crate with either zip ties or stainless steel nuts and bolts. The tank wells of most kayaks will easily accommodate a crate secured in place with bungee cords.

If you wish, you can make your own rod holders from PVC piping. Cut it down to the length of the handle of your rod and attach to the the side of the crate using zip ties.

Should You Invest in Electronics?

Although some fishers prefer to use traditional methods, others find that the angling electronics available for purchase are helpful. For example, GPS units are handy for safe navigation of low-light or foggy weather conditions.

You can also store the coordinates of your favorite fishing spots in the GPS for future reference. Watertight, portable units are best. Consider a GPS/sonar combination unit for convenience.

Fish finders are helpful in finding your targets more efficiently. Small fish finders can usually fit near the console of your kayak. If you have a large fish finder, you might want to use a larger mount for an adjustable set-up.

How to Store Supplies in a Fishing Kayak

There is virtually no limit to the storage options available for kayak fishing. "Dry bags" are useful for keeping delicate items safe from contact with the water. Secure them on top of your kayak with bungee cords to keep them from rolling off. Bow and stern hatches are other useful storage places for fragile items in hard plastic watertight containers.

The milk crate is an invaluable piece of equipment for storage in a fishing kayak. This household item is inexpensive and surprisingly versatile. The open sides of a milk crate are useful for attaching items such as rod holders and cargo nets and allow water to drain.

The most effective location for a milk crate is right behind your seat. A piece of foam padding beneath the crate will make it level with the top of the kayak for securing purposes.

Bait Buckets and Where to Place Them

If you are bait fishing, the tank wells in most kayaks include notches to hold bait buckets. A bait bucket with an aerator is perfect for keeping your bait fresh and lively until you're ready to use it.

Anchors Away!

Without an anchor, you will drift around and be unable to maintain a steady position. Sea anchors are helpful in remaining steady in wind and rough water. Trolley anchors are best in allowing you to fine tune the position of the line and permit you to anchor from virtually any position on your kayak.

You can make your own for about $10 from parts you can purchase at any hardware store. This video will show you how.

You can also use an anchor pole. Anchor poles are ideal for fishing in shallow water that is 15 feet or less in depth. Anchor poles can be made from just about anything from broom and mop sticks to copper piping. Attach one end of a line to the pole and the other end to your kayak. Bingo! You have an anchor pole.

Safety and First aid: The Essentials

Each state has its own on-the-water requirements for the safety and first aid items that you must carry. The following is the bare minimum.

  • A whistle
  • Signalling devices( flares, mirrors)
  • Flashlights
  • Throw rope
  • Bilge pump
  • Bail or sponge

A small first-aid kit should be in your boat whenever you leave shore. Keep it close at hand inside a watertight container. You might want to consider taking a course to learn basic first aid as well.

Sun and Insect Protection Necessities

These essentials can be kept in one of the watertight plastic containers in your tank wells. Sunscreen and SPF lip balm are two things you should include along with some form of insect repellent.

Life Vest and Auto-inflatable Flotation Vests

Life vests are critical to keeping you safe if you fall overboard. Kayak-specific life vests allow you room to move your upper body without restrictions. Some vests are equipped with pockets for storing things like portable VHF radios, pliers and small tackle boxes. Auto-inflatable life vests are also popular among kayak anglers as they add virtually zero additional bulk.

Trolling Motors Make Life Easier

Whether you are trawling or just want to take a break from paddling, a motor will make it easier to cruise along with minimal effort. A 12-volt transom mount motor is best for a kayak. You can install the transom on the stern or the midsection of the kayak.

If your kayak's seat makes it difficult to reach the stern, opt for the midsection mounting option. Place a 2x4 across the width of the kayak as your mounting locations. A milk crate can house the battery for the trolling motor to permit easy access to the controls.

Small Supplies on a Lanyard

Lanyards are useful in keeping small supplies close at hand. Some examples include forceps, a multi-tool, a hook file, clippers and scissors. These small things can make your entire fishing experience more enjoyable.

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