What you really need on the water
These are the kayak fishing accessories you will need for paddle fishing.
More and more anglers are discovering the benefits of kayak fishing these days. The shallow draft and compact nature of the kayaks allow them to return to secret honey holes that larger boats simply cannot reach. There’s something about battling a big fish in such a small craft that can reinvigorate the love of fishing in someone bored with the old ways. Plus, they’re much more affordable and easier to store than a large fishing boat that comes with tons of extra expense like a trailer, insurance, and registration fees. Modern fishing kayaks have become so advanced that some anglers will even use them for saltwater trolling.
The only problem is the condensed space inside a kayak. It is considerably more difficult to store your fishing rod, tackle box, lures and other fishing tools in such a confined space. In the past, this has forced kayakers to either make tough choices about what vital gear to leave behind, or come up with convoluted DIY-style solutions to storage issues.
Fortunately, kayaks have become more popular and manufacturers are starting to make kayak fishing gear specifically for paddlers. Now it’s easy to buy a kayak that’s already fully equipped or customize a simple model into the ultimate fishing machine. Today we talk more about the latter. We are going to go over the right kayak accessories to consider for your watercraft in order to stay organized and have the best fishing experience possible.
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I’ll start with this because I’ve seen far too many kayak anglers slowly destroy the hull of their boat by dragging it on the ground at the start or end of a long day on the water. I learned the hard way that this will eventually wear a hole in even the toughest plastic kayaks. A lot of people drag them around because it’s rather difficult to haul a 50-70 pound kayak from your vehicle to the water’s edge. There are tons of options. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just a sort of compact dolly or cart that makes getting your kayak in the water a breeze. Trust me, you’ll be grateful to have one once your buddy starts complaining that his kayak is leaking because it’s being dragged on the ground.
Fishing rod holders
We’ve already written a complete guide to kayak rod holders, so we won’t go into too much detail here. However, quality rod holders can make or break a fishing trip. You want them to be sturdy, easy to use, and easy to place or remove from a rod, especially when the brackets are behind you. It also depends on the style of kayak. Recessed rod holders are generally reserved for sit-on styles, while sit-on-top kayaks are best suited for rod holders with a swivel base mounted. Also consider the types of reels you will be using and fishing style when choosing a rod holder. Some rigs are geared specifically for fly fishing, if that’s what you’re into.
Just because you have a small boat doesn’t mean you have to go blind fishing. Many manufacturers now produce small, portable fish finders with transducers that can be used literally anywhere to locate fish. These sights are usually portable like the Lucky Portable Sight above, or they are compact enough to mount in a bracket on your kayak where they won’t get in the way of fighting or landing a fish.
Some sights, like the iBobber Wireless, don’t even require a separate display unit. This one connects directly to your smartphone to show you what’s hiding under the surface of the water. The other advantage of electronic devices designed for kayakers is that they are inexpensive. You can often find a unit for less than $100 if you catch a sale at the right time.
Paddle Holder / Paddle Leash
They are two separate things, but both serve important purposes. A quality paddle holder will keep your paddle out of the way when trying to fish. These are especially important with a pedal kayak, as you probably don’t want your paddle in your lap when trying to fish. Paddle leashes are a good idea for navigating choppy waters, whether you’re fishing or not. They are generally considered a saltwater fishing accessory, but they are also perfect for freshwater. The Great Lakes and some rivers can be choppy. The last thing you want to do is lose an expensive kayak paddle.
One of the great things about kayaks is the plethora of ways to power them. You can do it by hand with paddles, with your feet using a pedal system, or you can attach a small motor. Most kayaks are easily powered with a small trolling motor like the one above. It doesn’t take much to propel a kayak, which means you don’t need to break the bank when buying a motor for a kayak either. One of these can really extend your fishing day and take you farther from the launch point than you normally would. The only considerations to keep in mind are where the battery will be stored and the legality of a “motorboat”. Most states do not require registration for kayaks. However, for the most part, it’s needed the second you attach a motor, even if it’s just a simple electric motor.
Coolers and tackle boxes
Again, we won’t go into too much detail on these items as we have separate guides for coolers and tackle boxes. We will note that most anglers will need a cooler or tackle box specifically designed for kayaking. Many are intended to fit into the loading areas of the best kayaks on the market. When it comes to holding your gear, milk crate tackle systems are especially popular. The man of these tackle boxes also includes rod holders, as well as places to store a fishing net, fishing pliers and other small tools for easy access when you need them.
Anchors and drift tubes
Technically, you don’t necessarily need a kayak anchor. In fact, some forms of fishing are better off. However, there are circumstances where you will want to hang around an area for a while without being pushed out of that perfect spot where the fish are hanging out. Luckily, there are plenty of kayak anchors on the market and most are very affordable. They are also lightweight, usually coming in at under four pounds. They will last you for years of fishing adventures. Another popular option for kayaks is a drift sock, which allows you to slowly traverse an area with minimal effort on your part.
For more outside content from Travis Smolabe sure to follow him on Twitter and instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outside with Travis YouTube Channels.