Are you into kayak fishing and want to kit out your kayak with all the accessories and gear you think you need?
Today I’m going to talk about all the kayak fishing accessories and gear that we use every single time we’re out on the water. Hopefully, this will help guide some of you to purchase the right accessories and gear so you don’t waste your money on unnecessary items.
A Sit-On Top, A Sit-In Kayak or A Pedal Kayak?
First order of business is to get yourself a good kayak you can use for fishing. There are many kayak options out there but you need to figure out the right type for you.
Pretty much all kayaks are capable of being customized to your own specific need, so the options are very wide. Some of the key factors to consider are:
- What type of kayak to choose? Main options are sit-on top kayaks vs. sit-in kayaks. An expensive option is a pedal-drive kayak. They are propelled using your legs to pedal the kayak
- Length – ideally the kayak should be 10ft and above so it can track very well
- Width – a wide kayak gives you stability, especially on occasions when you want to stand and fish
- Weight Capacity – choose a kayak that weighs considerably more than your weight and all your accessories and gear combined. A starting guide is approximately 100Ibs and above
It is also very important that you learn the proper way to protect and store your prized fishing kayak. Learn more about how to protect and store your kayak here.
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Life Jacket (Personal Flotation Device)
The next gear I’m going to touch on is your life jacket or personal flotation device (“PFD”).
As in any water adventure, safety comes first and a life jacket is one such safety accessory you definitely need to incorporate into your kayak fishing. It is a must for me and I always use it when I’m paddling but especially on the water that has really bad currents. So you should definitely have your PFD on you at all times.
Kayak Fishing Paddle
Unless you opt for a pedal kayak, then you do need a decent kayak paddle. Afterall, you need a reliable means to get back onshore/home and your paddle is key to that.
The general rule when choosing a paddle for kayak fishing is the wider your kayak is, then the longer the paddle has to be. Furthermore, when choosing a kayak paddle, these are some of the key factors to keep in mind before purchasing one:
- The weight of the paddle. Heavy paddles will make you fatigue quickly and can also hurt you
- Length of the paddle. If the paddle is too short, you may (1) Hit your knuckles on the sides of your kayak and (2) Continuously reaching to put the paddle blade in the water. If the paddle is too long, then you will find you are unable to paddle straight for a long stretch.
Do not get cheap paddles. Good and lightweight affordable kayak paddles are typically fiberglass paddles or carbon fiber paddles. They typically retail from a range of $50 and above. As with most things, the higher the price, the better the quality (usually).
Fresh Drinking Water
This is from experience. I once forgot to take along drinking water when I went fishing. I’ve never made the mistake again.
You’re definitely going to need some drinking water. You need hydration while you’re on the water because we are usually out there a long time. If possible, pack a small meal to take along also. Not necessary but it doesn’t hurt.
Next item I’m going to talk about is a milk crate. You definitely need a milk crate. It’s one of the first things you need to pick up if you’re getting into Kayak fishing.
There are several options to what type of milk crate to go for. You can also make your own milk crate if you are so inclined. It is not difficult and gives you the flexibility to customize it to your taste. For example, you could mount a camera video etc on it.
Part of the main reason to have a milk crate on your fishing kayak is to enable keep things intact in one place. You can keep your lure box, your stringer as well as all your tackle in your milk tray.
Another advantage of the milk tray is that it is pretty easy to access it behind the seat. You can just turn around, reach in and get any gear that you need out of it.
Also, if you’re keeping fish, you definitely want your stringer inside of your milk crate, because you don’t want to forget and not be able to keep fish that day. I like to keep some spare bungees in my milk tray also, just in case I need to bungee something down to the kayak that I don’t want loose.
First Aid Kit
I strongly advise you to have is a first aid kit with you every time you are out fishing on the water. You can either keep the first aid kit in the milk crate or in the front hatch of the kayak.
I also highly recommend you also take along some sunscreen and bug spray along with your first aid kit. You can’t go wrong with the EltaMD UV Clear sunscreen and the sweat-resistant Cutter Backwoods Dry Insect Repellent are my go-to options for sunscreen and repellent. Definitely helps when you’re out on the water, small things mean a lot, too.
I find hook outs important to have when out on the water because I want to be able to get hooks that are deep in the fish and I don’t want to hurt the fish, so definitely have a pair of hook outs.
Alongside the hook outs, I recommend a fish grip. Fish grips are helpful in situations when you need some extra grip to handle the fish. It makes handling fish easier, and I definitely use these.
I don’t always land the fish with the fish grip, but I will put the fish grip in the fish’s mouth after I’ve caught it just to control it better, and not harm the fish, as well as not lose the fish after I’ve already landed them.
You need an anchor when you’re going out, because a lot of the times, you’re will want to post up. This is most common when you’re beginning and you’re just using live bait. You’re will want to post up at a spot where you know you will not be moving.
So you definitely need an anchor. Check out the popular Airhead Folding Anchor System for ideas.
Kayak Anchor Trolley
You might decide to add a trolley to your kayak at some point. I definitely recommend getting one of these as well.
According to this article on YakGear, there are 4 main reasons you need an anchor trolley and they are:
- Eliminates the Need for Multiple Anchor Cleats
- Provides Positioning flexibility with changing winds and currents
- Anchor trolleys are compatible with most anchors
- Anchor trolleys are finally affordable and gaining weight as a necessity
It’s not necessary at the beginning, but as you get further along, you might want to consider adding an anchor trolley. However, you can’t go wrong getting one as the bottom line is that anchor trolleys enable you to change your position when anchored by simply pulling on a rope. It makes anchoring up easier and staking out easier also.
Kayak Anchor Pin
Kayak anchor pins are particularly helpful when fishing in less than 4ft of water in-shore. The anchor pin provides a very quiet way to anchor in the shallow water and together with your anchor trolley, you virtually have a top rig to anchor your kayak.
Some people don’t like using nets and they like just landing with fish grips. However, I like using nets because it makes it much easier than using the fish grips. Besides, you won’t lose as many fish when using the fishing net.
Keeping Speckled Trout
If you plan to keep the speckled trout, then feel free to use the net. However, if it’s a small trout, then just try to flip it into your boat and, keep that slime layer on the fish otherwise it will die.
I also like to recommend taking a livewell cooler along with me.
You can be creative and go the DIY route by basically converting a cooler by drilling holes into it to make a livewell out of it. You can use just bubbles, clip on the bubbler that goes through the top where you drill a hole. It’s also a cooler, so if you’re not using live bait, you can throw in a couple drinks and a sandwich in there.
So I definitely recommend getting some sort of bait bucket or livewell, and if it doubles as a cooler that’s good as well.
You can’t go wrong with a good pair of sunglasses that helps you see fish in the water. Consider getting polarized sunglasses as they will enable you to see really clearly through the water.
Unfortunately, they’re a little on the expensive side, but it helps if you’re going to go out there and side cast. So get a good pair of sunglasses if you can, or at least something that’s polarized to start off with.
These are so cheap but come in handy especially in emergency situations that there is no reason not to always have one on you when on the water kayak fishing. To be on the right side of the law in many counties, it is actually mandatory you have a whistle while on your kayak. In Texas, for example, you can get a ticket from the game wardens for not having a whistle.
$2 – $10 will get you a very good whistle on Amazon. So always have a whistle on your kayak. Also, if you’re launching before light or after dark, you need to have a 360 light on your kayak as well.
A typical example of the legal requirements for paddling in in-land waters is found here.
This is a must. Given this modern times with the average person having multiple electronic devices as well as cash and credit cards, it makes sense to protect these items while on water. You can either use one of those waterproof cases you can attach to your waist or one that you keep inside your hatch.
The hatch isn’t always completely waterproof, so it’s always good to have an extra waterproof housing.
I usually keep my wallet, my phone, and my keys in my waterproof case. These are my items that I don’t want to lose if I do take a tumble. This way I know they are safe the whole time I’m out on the water.
Another thing that you’re gonna wanna have on your kayak is a measuring device, that way you know you’re keeping legal fish.
A clever solution to this is to have the measurements painted on your fishing rod. You could, for example, use nail polish, so you know where your legal marks are for Trout, Redfish etc. Have one of those on your rod or kayak, that way you know if you’re keeping legal fish or not.
Berkley makes a pretty cheap adhesive fish measuring strip that you can stick to the side rail of your rod. It goes up to about 30 inches, thus making it easy to measure fish. I sometimes just grab the fish by the mouth with my fish grips, slide it up on the side rail of my kayak for a quick measure and throw it right back in the water
So, guys, that’s a comprehensive list of the key accessories and gear that I use every single time I’m out on the water fishing. I am curious to know from you all what fishing accessories and gear you must have when you go fishing.