Fishing out on the water, especially during the summer, is a great way to combine sporting and getting out into nature. It can be a bit of a hassle when fishing boats are larger, as that limits the spots you’re able to visit and doesn’t always allow you to get your friends into the activity. Kayak fishing is the best of both worlds in this respect!
Long time anglers will enjoy the new challenge of converting their fishing set up into a kayak, and those new to the sport will enjoy the portable, lower barrier option to fish while boating. It’s great exercise for both your mind and body, so learning how to best outfit your fishing kayak is key. You will need a few essential features to ensure you have the best experience possible.
Fishing Kayak Set-Up
While you don’t necessarily need a completely outfitted kayak to start fishing in it, there are features and considerations to take into account so you’re most optimally prepared. If you come from just a kayaking background, this could be particularly helpful to understand how to modify your recreational kayak. If you’re coming from the fishing camp, there are fishing kayaks you can invest in, and it’s good to know what features to look out for on those vessels.
Here are our recommendations for fishing kayak features:
Sit-On Kayak with Good Stability
While most traditional kayaks are sit-in, this design forfeits a good deal of storage space and isn’t always easiest to stand in or get out of in the case of an emergency. For these reasons, most fishing kayaks are some version of sit-on-top kayaks to allow for better mobility and stability while you’re casting off.
Anglers have found that longer, slightly wider, and more angular kayaks are best for stability. While you’ll be able to stay afloat with one or a combination of these features, you’ll be relying on your reflexes and comfort on the water to not capsize while reeling in a fish. Especially if you stand while doing so, there’s a slight learning curve with this part of the kayak fishing experience that is part of the fun for those into the experience.
Rod Holders and Extra Mounts
These mounts are key when looking for a fishing kayak that will last you a while. No proper angler brings only one rod out on the water with them, and with a kayak especially you need a proper place to keep them while you’re out. Make sure your kayak has several rod holders so you’re able to travel with as many rods as you’d like so you don’t find yourself unprepared.
Similarly, some anglers enjoy having extra mounts for things like a GPS system, their phone, or a fish tracker of sorts for easy and safe viewing. A fishing kayak with extra mounts built in will save you time and improve the organization of your vessel overall. Extra mounts are a great add-on to look for or install yourself if you’re outfitting a recreational kayak.
Kayaks are smaller boats than some used to fishing in, so it’s key to optimize the amount of space you have. Your boat should have large, enclosed hatches in the bow, stern, and midship sections underneath which are great for storing anything you’d like to keep safe from the water. Dry bags are a helpful tool to keep in these areas as well for ease of access. Other storage spaces may include various mesh pockets or tank wells where you can situate various supplies or rigs mentioned in the previous section.
How much space you need depends on how minimalist a fisher or boater you are. As long as you have room for your tackle box, rods, cooler, PFD, and any valuables you want to keep dry, the rest is up to you to customize!
This is an optional navigational tool that is helpful when combined with a trolling motor or pedal motor of sorts. A rudder helps with tracking and keeping you on a steady course through the water. This steering assist is great when the weather is rough, or if you don’t want to worry about steering or staying on course while casting off.
You can install rudders on recreational kayaks, but it’s a really nice feature to find pre-installed on your fishing kayak as it better allows you to fish with both hands.
Pedal or Trolling Motor
As mentioned in the previous section, these features are nice additions to ensure hands-free navigation while out fishing. Many anglers choose hands-free navigation to enjoy and experience the freedom of fishing, rather than needing their hands to paddle to propel the boat. Investing in a kayak with a pedal or trolling motor will allow you to more easily traverse the water while not sacrificing mobility or concentration.
Don’t be intimidated by the additional features of fishing kayaks--it’s a great activity that anyone can try. These are simply our recommendations for add-ons that make kayak fishing easier and more streamlined to have a good time.
NOTE: BKC offers many of the kayak accessories mentioned here, but also know that our kayaks can accept third party accessories like additional rod holders, a fish finder, etc. You can purchase those at https://scotty.com/, https://www.yakattack.us/.