How To Outfit A Kayak For Fishing

The advice to those who want to start fishing from their kayak is to bring a rod the next time you go paddling. There is truth to this! In order to get started, you really don’t need a lot. Aside from a way to carry your rod on the kayak and wearing the appropriate attire, all you need is some storage space for any fishing gear that might be needed. Fortunately, most angler kayaks on the market now come equipped with everything you would need to start fishing today.

There are, however, a few extra details you might want to consider before launching into the open water. We will cover the specifics in this mini-guide on outfitting a kayak for fishing for the day.

How To Set Up A Kayak For Fishing

There are five things you need for putting together the best fishing kayak setup: 1) rod holders, 2) a comfortable seat, 3) a way to carry and store your fishing gear, 4) an anchor to keep your boat in place, and 5) a paddle holder and leash. Let’s examine each item in closer detail.

Comfortable and adequate seating

If we are to find ourselves on the water for long hours, we may as well sit back and relax. A comfortable seating that is wide enough for the kayak will be one of the most important considerations to make. Seating should have a support and padding for the back and butt. A strong backrest is important.

Not only should they be comfortable for long hours of sitting, but also a few inches high off the deck when water gets onto the boat. It goes without saying any fishing trip would involve some water getting on board. Certain seat models can also come with some storage pockets to carry safety equipment in like a flare or a flashlight. For those that don’t, you can attach a backpack for some extra storage compartments. Learn more about the most comfortable kayak seats in our review guide.

If you are in a seat-in kayak, a spray skirt can also be considered to prevent water from getting into the kayak.

Rod holders

Most fishing kayaks come with rod holders or at the very least mounts for attaching rod holders. These are important because they help keep the rods separate from each other so that the lines are unlikely to tangle and to carry the rods in a way that won’t damage them. One of the last things we want is for our rods to fall off the boat and sink to the bottom of the water. Properly installed holders can help secure fishing rods to ensure you never lose them.

There are three types of rod holder mounts:

  • Flush mounted: These are the typical, lower-cost alternatives to holding rods. Flush mounted are essentially the cup holders that you can toss the handle of the rods into.
  • Secure mounted: Secure mount holders grip the handle of the rods. Unlike flush mounted ones, these can be locked or fastened to hold a rod in place.
  • Tube rack: This is the more old-fashion, do-it-yourself version of securing your rods. Plastic tubes attached to a milk crate or tackle box can be used to hold rods during a fishing trip. We should note the rods are typically placed very close to each other, so some care should be considered.

Tackle storage

No fishing trip would be complete with a tackle crate, box, or tray to carry lures, spare lines, hooks, and other must-have fishing items. There are several solutions you can opt for carrying your fishing gear:

  • Tackle trays: Great for beginner or casual fishers. They fit well in most bungeed storage compartments on the kayak or can make use of any under-seat or side-of-seat spare space. They might carry a variety of fishing items, but if you can be selective in what you bring along the light-weight trays can make life easier with less to carry.
  • Tackle boxes: For the more enthusiastic fisher, these come with more storage compartments and allows you to carry a variety of tools. They can be either soft or hard boxes and can have fold-out trays for easy use. Both soft and hard boxes work great. Hard boxes provide more durability whereas soft bag boxes are light-weight with extra pockets. You should make sure that the bungeed tank well of your boat can hold the box.
  • Plastic crate: If you opt for a milk crate, find one with metal rims (or attach your own). The metal rims to provide durability as the plastic tends to break over time. The rims will ensure that if the plastic does break, it’s unlikely that everything will fall out. Plastic crates might not be the most organized fishing gear storage space, but they can work with a well-bungeed tank well. Of course, you can always add an attachment like this to turn your crate into a soft bag tackle box.
  • Deck hatch lure storage: If your kayak has a hatch storage compartment, you can replace it with one that allows you to store a number of lures. It might not be enough space for fishing enthusiasts, but it can save some space and let you make use of an unused dry hatch in some way. Make sure the deck hatch comes with a seal to prevent liquid from getting into the storage compartment.

Anchor

Nothing feels better than to land the holy grail honey hole filled with fish. When we locate the fish, we want to be able to keep our boat in position to start catching. The best way to do so is with a small anchor and some rope. There are two types of anchors you can consider:

  • Folding: A popular choice because it saves space and is easy to transport. The moving joints can make it susceptible to breaking.
  • Claw: Great for soft beds. The solid one-piece claw design and durability ensures the boat will not be going anywhere anytime soon.

If you want to move the anchor around between the stern and the bow of the boat, a trolley can be useful. This device runs the length of your kayak and has a rigging with a ring and rope attached to the anchor.

Avoid getting an anchor above 3 pounds in weight (1.35 kilogram). Unless you are looking to stay still in some serious moving water, this weight should be sufficient to keep your body steady for some good fishing. If you are using an inflatable kayak, 1.5 pounds (0.68 kilogram) can be sufficient for calm bodies of water.

Paddle holder and leash

One of the worst thing that can happen is to be out in the open water without a paddle. Going up a creek without a paddle isn’t fun. Whether you are using a motor or not, having a paddle handy lets you maneuver in the body of water as needed.  There are two things to keep in mind for holders and leashes:

  • We want a paddle holder along the side of the kayak. The latest kayak models come with a bungeed paddle holder to keep the paddle out of the way and within reach
  • We also want a leash to attach the paddle to the boat in case it ever falls into the water. Some kayakers like to attach it to their life vest, but we wouldn’t recommend it in case you find yourself overboard and struggle to float

Our Final Thoughts

Fishing in a kayak is an enjoyable activity out in the open water. Kayaks offer a great mobility on the water while keeping you out of it and for carrying fishing gear. We hope this mini-guide on outfitting kayaks for a day of fishing is helpful to you. Happy fishing!