Head Offshore In A Kayak

The ever-increasing popularity of kayak fishing has brought about a literal fleet of various kayaks to choose from. As the plastic armada draws in more and more anglers, major manufacturers could not help but take notice. Newly designed components on the latest kayak angler editions include integrated tackle trays and compartments, molded-in rod holders, sonar compartments, transducer recesses and even molded-in livewells. These kayaks are born to fish leaving the factory, but it is at the local kayak store where they can be turned into the ultimate fishing platform.


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Photo: Andrew Allen

In an effort to be a savvy consumer, when buying a fishing kayak the final purchase is often preceded by extensive investigation via the Web. Scouring reviews and testimonials as well as searching for unbiased opinions greatly assists in narrowing the field to a handful. Taking a closer look at your final selections at a local dealer and finally test paddling the top contenders makes for a confident purchase. Considerations include: hull weight, weight capacity, stability, storage, transport, ease in paddling and versatility of rigging options.

The innovative do it yourself-types derive nearly as much pleasure in the creation of their craft as the end usage.

Most tricked-out kayaks are continuous works in progress, derived over time as the kayak angler evolves. The frequent angler, while looking for that sometimes-elusive fish is also looking for that perfect combination of simplicity, efficiency, enjoyment and a sense of safety while on the water.

The greatest safety requirement is a Personal Floatation Device. By law, you are required to have one in possession. Wearing your PFD could save your life if the unexpected occurs. There are numerous life jackets now made specifically for the kayak angler. Primary design ideas include easy arm movement as well as reduced padding in the back of the PFD, allowing for comfort in the kayak seat. Pockets for fishing tools make it even smarter to choose a handy PFD that you will wear at all times on the water.

When it comes to rigging kayaks there are two schools of thought. The first would be clutching to the roots of the first Aleutian crafts born of sealskin and wood. Paddling out with one fishing rod crooked under your leg with a spare lure or two in your shirt pocket. The simplest adaptation in turning a recreational kayak into a fishing kayak would be adding rod holders. Early kayak fishermen would simply lash PVC tubing to a milk crate and secure the crate to the kayak. Today many options are available. The flush mount rod holder offers a clean, inexpensive and simple solution. The only drawback is that the position is fixed. Scotty® makes a holster type rod holder that can be adjusted both horizontally and vertically in preset intervals. RAM® Mounts pivot on a ball for nearly infinite settings for trolling, drifting, dead sticking or storage.

Electronics include: fish-finders, GPS, bait systems, lighting and handheld VHFs. Typically all but the latter run on 12v batteries. These are the gel-cell variety and more than one may be required if numerous devices are simultaneously in use. A VHF radio should be submersible to hold up to the harshest elements. In-line fuses typically protect these expensive electronics and are the first point to inspect if a unit is not powering up.

GPS can be integrated with the fish-finder or separate handheld variety. Mapping has become extensive and is one more useful tool, if faced with restricted visibility. Waypoints of all your favorite bits of underwater structure can be stored and cataloged right at your fingertips.

Lighting can help you rig things in the dark as well as make you visible to others. LEDs are great energy efficient forms of lighting, from headlamps to fixed lighting to flashlights. Lighting can be wired into your 12v system or can be of the independent alkaline variety.

If you choose to fish with live bait, a source of storage is important. The simplest would be a shrimp/minnow bucket tethered to your kayak, floating along with you. No wires or batteries to worry about, but the equivalent of dragging around an anchors resistance. A bucket onboard must be plumbed to circulate clean water. Pumps can be in-line with a check valve and a means of priming them or bilge pump placed over the side, or even of the thru-hull variety which require no priming.

Several kayak manufacturers have made drop-in tanks specifically tailored to their angling models. The KayaTank® is a complete bait system, custom made for all major models. Consisting of a bladder installed in an existing hatch, thru-hull pump, wiring harness, battery and switch. A timer switch is also run in-line to cycle the battery. This controls not only the ideal flow of water, but extends the duration of power in your battery.

The innovative do it yourself-types derive nearly as much pleasure in the creation of their craft as the end usage. Anglers can take advantage of the growing number of online kayak and rigging retailers such as There are also many who appreciate having an experienced and knowledgeable technician assisting in their pursuit of happiness on the water. Professional sources of installation are becoming every bit as popular as the fast-growing sport of kayak fishing. Local kayak shops, too, are a great source of information and ideas, as well as an ever-expanding inventory of kayak fishing products, parts and accessories.