Kayak fishing involves a fair amount of equipment and gear. Your success as a kayak fisherman depends on how well you can operate and maintain your kayak, your fishing equipment, and the various gear used to connect the two.
There are many options when it comes to selecting kayak gear. Almost too many options, in fact, and it can all feel a bit overwhelming at times. There is some equipment that the vast majority of kayak fishers prefer, however. While your individual needs may vary, the following list of accessories and gear is a great place to start:
1. Premier Kayak Bungee Paddle Leash
As all kayakers know, your equipment is going to go overboard eventually. A leash is often the difference between retrieving your wayward gear versus watching it sink into the depths. You want to leash your gear to either your kayak or yourself.
The Premier Kayak Bungie Paddle Leash is a durable, economic choice. The bungee leash is four feet long, which is short enough to let you pull your items in easily, but also long enough to give you a bit of maneuverability. After all, if your kayak is overturned and stuck, you don’t want all your gear bunched up alongside it.
The bungee and the fasteners are created specifically for outdoor use. The cinch lock is stainless steel and won’t lock up or corrode.
While almost anything can be leashed, most yakkers use the leash to secure their paddles and their rods. Obviously, if you lose your paddle, you’re up a proverbial creek. Likewise, if you lose your fishing rod, you’re not going to catch any fish, and you’ll also be out quite a bit of money.
Experienced kayak fisherman typically don’t leash their fishing rod while they’re using it, since the leash can get in the way. Many kayakers bring more than one rod with them, however, and they leash whatever fishing rod they’re not using. It also works great for sports cameras. You don’t even have to flip to lose gear. Low branches, tall reeds and the like have been known to “grab” gear and quietly pull it into the water. A leash ensure you’ll get it back.
2. Kokatat Men’s Gore-tex Paddling Suit
Kayak fishing involves getting wet. Whether it’s a light spray or a full submersion, you’re certainly not returning dry from a day of kayak fishing. But that doesn’t mean you have to be drenched and uncomfortable. Gore-tex a leader in outdoor wear has developed an outstanding suit.
There are two common solutions, neither of which work very well. You can put on regular waders and a T-shirt, and just hope for the best. Or you can invest in a dry suit, which is a full body, one-piece suit designed to keep you completely dry. Unfortunately, dry suits tend to start at around $800. Plus, while they do work for the most part, dry suits aren’t intended for kayakers.
The Angler Paddling Suit is a third option which is very popular among kayakers, because it was created specifically for kayak fishing. Called a “semi-dry” suit, the SuperNova uses multi-layers of water protection.
The suit consists of:
- A tough, tear-resistant outer layer which protects against abrasions
- Two inner layers which move water and moisture away from your body
The suit is made from Hydrus 3L. This proprietary three-layer fabric is both waterproof and breathable. Easy to get in and out of, the front of the suit has a comfortable plastic zipper (many suits use metal). Plus, there’s an easily accessible “relief” zipper – finally, you can use the restroom without taking the entire suit off!
Paddling suits are typically a few hundred dollars cheaper than a dry suit. For most kayakers, a semi-dry paddling suit is an effective and economic way to stay comfortable during a day on the water.
3. Crack of Dawn Apex 1 Deluxe Kayak Seat
Successful kayak fishing involves a lot of attention to comfort. You want clothing which will keep you dry, equipment which is easy to reach and a seat which won’t hurt your legs and back. Kayak seats are a necessity, but it can be hard to find a good one.
If a seat is too big, you won’t be able to sit in your kayak comfortably. Too small and you won’t have enough padding. A seat which is too soft won’t provide much support, but a seat which is too firm doesn’t provide enough comfort for a day on the water.
Crack of Dawn is a well-regarded manufacturer of life vests and kayak seat, and their Apex 1 model has a lot of yakkers sitting up and taking notice. Billed as “the most comfortable kayak seat you will own,” the Apex 1 places an emphasis on padding, support and water resistance.
While the Apex 1 is comfortable, it’s also firm enough to provide lower back support. The eight-way adjustable strap system provides support without having to be constantly adjusted. Plus, the seat dries quickly. As every kayak fisher knows, the more comfortable and dry you are, the longer you can stay out and fish.
The unit sits 19 inches tall and is very lightweight, even when wet. Easy to install, the Apex 1 is also easy to remove (which helps prevent sun damage). It remains securely in place even in the event of a flip.
Everybody has a different sense of what’s comfortable, but many kayakers find the Apex 1 to be a great choice. If you’re unhappy with your current kayak seat, this might be a good place to start.
4. Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler
Ideally, when you return from a day of kayak fishing, you’re going to be bringing some fish back with you. Even if you don’t catch anything that day, you’re still probably going to want to take some food and drink out with you.
There are all kinds of options available as far as coolers go, but most kayakers prefer a cooler specifically designed for a kayak. After all, space is at a premium in any kayak. The Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler attaches deck-side to your kayak, where it’s unobtrusive yet also easy to access.
Heat reflects off the thermally efficient exterior, while closed cell foam insulation cools the interior. The inside also has a fish bag, which is easy to remove. It’s the best of both worlds – the exterior shell of the cooler remains securely mounted on the kayak, but the removable bag lets you easily (and neatly) bring your catch inside at the end of the day.
The dimensions of the cooler are 13″ wide by 5″ high by 20″deep. Larger and smaller sizes are also available. It’s the perfect size for an individual lunch or a few fish. Obviously, how many fish it will hold depends on the species of fish and your individual average catch. Filled about three-quarters of the way with ice, the cooler should stay cold all day, even in hot weather.
5. O’Neill Superlite USCG Vest
It doesn’t matter if you’re kayaking in water you can stand in, you should always wear a Personal Flotation Device. When it comes to water safety, there’s never a point in taking any chances. Because a PFD is such a necessity, you not only want a vest which will keep you afloat, you also want something you’ll be comfortable wearing for hours at a time.
O’Neill is a well-known, international manufacturer of life vests, and many kayakers swear by the Superlite USCG Vest for its comfort, style and quality. At prices which vary from $35 to $60, the Superlite USCG is also very reasonably priced compared to its competitors.
Users praised the overall quality of the vest, down to the tiniest details such as the seams, buckles and clasps. Additionally, users enjoyed the styles of the vest. The Superlite comes in various combinations of black, gray, blue and red. Sizes range from Small to XXX-Large. Quick release buckles mean the vest is easy to remove when you want to, but otherwise completely secure.
Inside, the vest contains closed cell PVC marine foam. It’s buoyant, but not bulky. The outside is coated with a nylon shell. The vest is durable enough to be used by river rafters, and will last for many years. You can be assured of your safety, too, since the vest is United States Coast Guard certified.
O’Neil has been a trusted name in watersports since 1952, when Jack O’Neil first opened his Surf Shop. Although mainly concerned with selling surfboards, he quickly discovered surfers really took to the lightweight wetsuits he also sold. The same ideas which made the wet suits so popular were soon applied to life vests, and today O’Neal is an internationally recognized leader in personal flotation devices. All vests include a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
6. SealLine Baja Dry Bags
As yakkers know, every single thing which goes into your kayak should be treated as if it will eventually, unexpectedly, fall into the water. Nature is unpredictable, people makes mistakes and even the most experienced yakker will flip his kayak now and again.
The general rule of thumb is that your gear should either be attached to your kayak, able to float and/or leashed. For some items, however, this isn’t possible. Your keys, cell phone and wallet are three examples of valuable items you want to keep near you, but which can’t get wet. This is where a dry bag comes in.
The SealLine Baja line of dry bags are rated very highly among kayakers. They’re durable, stylish and – most importantly – they keep your items dry.
The bags are easy to use. A Dry Seal roll-top closure creates a watertight seal. You simple roll the top three times and then clip the bag closed. It’ll be sealed tight. Air can’t escape and water can’t enter. While water will eventually get in if the bag if submerged for a long period of time, you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to normal kayak flips and spills.
The bags are plenty tough, too. They range from a 5 liter to 55 liter weight. The side is 19 ounce scrim-reinforced vinyl, as is the 30 ounce bottom.
7. Malone Auto Rack
Not everyone has the luxury of living right on a body of water, so an easy, safe and reliable way to transport your yak is an absolute must for many. While there are certainly many options, including trailers, many kayakers prefer a roof rack. Of those, the Malone Auto Rack is generally considered a high quality, economically sound choice.
With a universal crossbar, this rack fits nearly all factory-installed side rails for numerous vehicles of many different makes and models. The rack is rust-resistant and coated in a durable rubber. Total weight limit for the system is 132 pounds.
The rack is available in three sizes:
- 50 inches
- 58 inches
- 65 inches
Installation is considered pretty easy. The rack system arrives assembled, and installation requires no tools. Many customer reviews noted how quickly the system took to install.
Aside from kayaks, the system works well for canoes, snowboards, surfboards and roof boxes. The rack is key lockable. When locked, the rack is permanently attached. Unlocked, and it can easily be taken off and disassembled for storage.
There are many ways to carry a kayak on your vehicle, but the Malone Auto Roof rack is very popular among kayakers. It’s generally considered durable, high quality and, at around $125, competitively priced.
What Gear Will Work Best for You?
As long as you’re safe, there’s certainly no wrong way to approach kayak fishing. When shopping for new gear, you want to consider how well it will fits alongside the gear you already have, what other kayakers have to say about it, and dependability of the manufacturer. Of course, price is always an important consideration, too.
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed when selecting new gear. After all, what works for everyone else might not be the best choice for you. But knowing what other kayakers have found to be useful can be a great first step. Besides, isn’t finding and using new gear just another part of the fun of kayak fishing? We like to think so.