The Difference Between a Kayak and a Fishing Kayak
With all of the hype about fishing kayaks I am constantly asked, “What makes a fishing kayak any different than another kayak?” The short answer is, nothing. Most fishing kayaks are “fishing” versions of another kayak. The manufacturer adds the best kayak fishing accessories to make it more fishing friendly. If you aren’t in the market for a new fishing kayak, but want to upgrade your set up with minimal effort, you’ll want to find the best kayak fishing accessories for your setup.
Adding the Right Gear to your Kayak
What one angler considers to be the best kayak fishing accessories will not work for the next. You have to consider how you fish, and what your own preferences are before determining what the “best kayak fishing accessories” means to you.
If you have a kayak that you are currently using it will likely be suitable for fishing. You just need to keep in mind that it needs to be stable enough for you safely land fish. You and only you can determine what is stable enough for your needs and of course that depends on where you intend to use your boat. But if you are comfortable in your current boat and it’s stable enough for you then it’s a fishing kayak – just add some kayak fishing gear.
Finding the Best Gear
The accessories that make a kayak more fishing friendly will depend on the type of water that you like to fish. If you like to fish moving rivers with whitewater your needs may be different than someone who is fishing small ponds. In moving water a rudder is really handy. A rudder allows you to control your bow angle so that you can cast where you want to without having to pick up a paddle.
The Essential Kayak Fishing Gear List
Most kayak anglers will have a kayak fishing rod holder, a paddle holder, a comfortable seat, some sort of anchor and easily accessible gear storage. The very best fishing kayaks, ones that are really “tricked out”, might also have a fish finder, live well, electric motor and GPS.
Kayak Fishing Rod Holder
Starting out with the basics you’ll need a kayak fishing rod holder or two to keep your rods secure while you’re paddling on your fishing trip – it’s a must have. There are two basic types of kayak fishing rod holders. One mounts on top of the boat and the other is a flush mount (flush with the top of the boat).
The most important consideration when installing rod holders is making sure that you can reach it when you are in the boat and that your paddle won’t hit it when you’re paddling. You’ll want the ability to reach your rod holder with ease, and not get caught up while paddling.
Take your time to decide where you want it because the next step is not reversible. Next you’ll need to drill the holes to mount the rod holder in order to keep it secure. This is a really good time to remember the old adage “measure twice, drill once”. From here, the installation varies based on boat design and rod holder, but you will want to use a waterproof sealant when installing the holder, to ensure the kayak remains durable.
The next thing you will want is a paddle holder. There isn’t anything more frustrating to anglers than trying to hold on to a paddle and land a fish at the same time. There are two basic types paddle holders. One is a rigid plastic that the paddle clips into and the other is bungee with a clip. The choice is yours and often based on personal preference.
However, as with the kayak fishing rod holder make sure that the paddle holder won’t be in the way when you install it. The biggest problem with the rigid plastic mounts is that your knuckles will hit them when paddling. Again, take your time when doing the installation and you’ll be fine.
Seating is often a hot topic when it comes to finding the best kayak fishing accessories. Many anglers like to have plenty of back support. There are many aftermarket seats, back rests and cushions available. All are dependent on the type of kayak you have. Do some research on your own or contact a shop that specializes in kayak fishing. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
Generally speaking, the only seats that are difficult for aftermarket applications are the ones that “hang” from the cockpit coaming and are all one plastic piece. However, with some patience, a reciprocal saw, and a plan, anything is possible.
Anchors come in handy for many situations. Again, there are many options, including simple stern/bow mount anchors and anchor trolley systems. The most important thing is to not attach it directly to the side of your kayak. If anything causes the water to move like wind, current or a passing boat you will become extremely unstable and potentially flip over. It is best to have the anchor at the bow or the stern of the boat that it can swing around freely.
Storing your Fishing Gear
Gear and tackle storage is a huge plus. You will still not be able to carry everything that you own, but you should be able to bring and protect the fishing gear you need. Sit-on-top kayaks, which are the majority of fishing kayaks, have plenty of room for gear. Many people use customized milk crates or five-gallon buckets for their tackle.
If you have a sit-inside kayak, your options are a little more limited. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to have anything in the cockpit that would stop you from exiting if you capsize. If you keep your tackle or other small items in the cockpit, secure it.
I prefer to use deck bags with plastic utility boxes inside to hold my tackle. This keeps my tackle handy on top of the boat and out of my lap – the more hands free the better. There are various types of deck bags available. You just need to figure out what you need to bring, the size box you need and then the bag that will fit your gear.
Make Your Fishing Kayak Gear Work For You!
Customizing your old kayak to turn it into a fishing machine is easy. It just takes some planning and patience. However, many anglers don’t get excited when they think about drilling holes in their boat to mount even the best kayak fishing accessories. In that case contact a local shop that specializes in kayak fishing and installations. They’ll be happy to help pick out the best kayak fishing accessories for your needs and install them.
Whichever kayak fishing supplies you go with – just don’t forget your life jackets. Happy fishing, have fun!
Original Article By Scott Locorini
About The Author
Scott Locorini has been a guide and paddle sports instructor for 20 years. He owns and operates Adirondack Exposure and Black River Valley Outdoors based in Old Forge, NY and Lyons Falls, NY. Stop by the Adirondack Exposure store in Old Forge for your kayak fishing needs and installations