Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today we are going to take a good look around our vessels as we run through my 11 kayak accessories for fishing. Why? Well you might remember me talking about my good mate Steve and his exploits in his new kayak. We went out again the other day and he was looking over my rig and checking out what accessories I had and what he doesn’t. I went through them all I explained to him why I have it and why he needs it and as we chatted, it quickly became evident that I purchased almost all of these after an ‘issue’ or need whilst fishing on my kayak.
So for those of you who are just starting out, or experiencing the same mishaps I did, let’s see if we can avoid some of these problems and get you set up properly from the beginning…
1. Life Jacket
Ok, this first one definitely fits into the ‘must have category’ mainly due to the fact that in many countries (such as where I live) it is a legal requirement to wear a life jacket whilst in a kayak. In others, they are required to be on the vessel at all times even if they don’t have to be worn. Regardless, it is recommended that a life jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD) be worn, or at the very least, on board at all times when fishing on a kayak.
There are a number of options here and many choose to use an inflatable PFD as they can be worn without all that cumbersome foam or padding getting in the way. Before you purchase however, check with your local regulatory authority to make sure it is the correct ‘level’ or standard for both use on a kayak and the body of water (open or closed) in which you will be fishing.
Now, if you only take my advice on one item here today, then please make it this one. If your kayak does not come with some sort of cart/carrier then get one, get one now! These are those little two wheeled contraptions that kayaks sit on as you pull them across the ground to your launch point.
Think of it this way, you get your kayak off the car, place your rods, paddle, net and anything else you are taking with you in and on it and then try and lift it to where you want to go, or worse, carry a cumbersome and bulky kayak over and then come back for everything else. Kayak wheels just make it easier to manage… period!
I use the type with the two little poles that insert into the draining holes on my sit on top kayak however there are carriers suitable for all types of kayaks.
This next one is definitely a requirement I learned the hard way. You see where we fish we chase a particular species called a Flathead. These are long and flat with a big mouth and are particularly good at spitting the hook out as you try and lift then into the kayak.
After losing a few I realised that, after the kayak trolley above, that a net was my number two need for the kayak. Not only do they stop those pesky Flathead getting away, but if you have ever tried to balance yourself, a rod and a paddle whilst a rather annoyed fish tries to circle your craft, then you will know you need a net. Plus they are a good way to get the fish in without stabbing yourself on any protruding spikes or fin bones (of which Flathead have both) as well.
Hands up if you have ever had to jump off your kayak to collect your paddle that has slipped off your lap and into the water! Me too! The solution? Get your hands on a small leash that will attach the paddle to the kayak. They are lightweight, don’t get in the way and will certainly stop those unplanned mid fishing swims.
And of course they can also be used to keep track of anything else you don’t want to lose such as tackle boxes, tools, fish finders and even rods when not in use. Put it this way, if you capsize, what is going to come loose and sink to the bottom? Anything you identify needs to be either placed in a compartment, under the elastic netting, or attached to a leash.
5. Water proof bag
This was a big (and expensive) lesson for me with a simple solution. Even if your kayak comes with some sort of dry storage section, don’t trust that some water will not get in there. A simple dry bag is priceless when it comes to keeping valuables such as your wallet, car keys and cell (mobile) phone etc. dry.
I got one for the above 3 items after an untimely storm whilst I was out on the water certainly got moisture into places that I did not realise it could get. My keys were saturated and it eventually cost me $100 to get a new set (yep, they have to be programmed these days to work – who knew?). That said, a simple air tight container will work here too and in fact another friend of mine puts his keys in with his tackle in one. I just prefer the dry bag as it takes up less space.
6. Knife and Pliers
This next one is a must in the same vein as it is when fishing on a boat or even dry land. When it comes to working with fishing line, tackle and even fish, there is not substitute for a good set of pliers and a knife. The thing to keep in mind however here is that on a kayak, you obviously don’t have the freedom of movement that you do in other fishing environments so I highly recommend options with clips or ‘holsters’ to increase accessibility and reduce the risk of them falling overboard.
I mentioned above that these are a must but for those of you new to the magical world of fishing, this is why you need them on a kayak:
- Knife: Used to cut braid, line or even fish.
- Pliers: Pliers can be a good substitute if you don’t have a net (yet) as you can use them to grab the mouth of the fish to pull it into the kayak. More commonly they are used to remove hooks from fish, cut hooks and sinkers if need be (most have a wire cutter type blade on them) or even repair equipment. It is also helpful if they have scissors attached to them as well as they make rigging tackle easier. If not, add scissors to this list too.
7. Fish Lip Grabber
And whilst we are talking about tools, my next suggestion is a fish lip grabber. As the name suggests, this is a little tool that grips onto the lip of the fish allowing you to hold it qwhilst you do things such as:
- Remove the hook
- Place the fish in a keeper bag or bucket
- Release back to the water
- Scale and/or fillet
Again, as with the tools above, my reason for recommending these is simply that you do not have a lot of room in a kayak once you have a fish on board. A Fish lip grabber simply gives you an option to hold the fish effectively whilst you perform any of the actions above without taking up too much room or bouncing all over the floor of the vessel.
8. Sun protection
This should go without saying but 1000s of sunburnt kayak fishermen have proven me wrong. The trick here is to make yourself a ‘sun kit’ that is stored permanently in one of the storage compartments of the vessel. This should include:
- Neck gaiter (sun proof neck scarf)
- Lip sun stick (zinc or balm)
I personally wear a proper fishing shirt (they are long sleeved and generally sun proof rated) and a wide brimmed hat. Apart from the pain and obvious long term effects, getting burnt whilst out on the kayak is just plain uncomfortable and will really ruin your day.
Oh, and pack some drinking water too.
9. Keeper bag
Ok, these last three are probably not as critical as the ones I have listed above but will certainly either make things a little easier for you whilst out there. I certainly remember the first time I caught a decent fish on my kayak. I nice big sand whiting about 40cm in length (we call them wrist slappers). I pulled it in and used my pliers to remove the hook…
Ummmmm… now what do I do with it?
I hadn’t thought of where I was going to store said catch once I had it. I ended up killing it instantly and placing it in the foot well in some water (I removed the bung from that part so that the water stayed cool). Lucky I didn’t catch too many more as where would I put them then? I thought of bucket but they are bulky and hard to keep secure on the craft.
My answer – a keeper bag. These are mesh bags where you can insert the fish into and tie it to the side of the kayak. the fish stays alive and fresh and is secure. You can also kill the fish instantly and humanely if you like and store them in these as well (just beware of blood in the water though).
10. Bait Holder
In much the same theory as the fish keeper bag above, unless you are using a lure or soft plastic, then where are you going to store your bait? If it comes in a plastic bag then you can keep it in your foot well or one of the cavities on the kayak (I sometimes use the drink holder). However, as we like to use live local crustaceans that we call ‘yabbies’, I like to use a belt bucket for them.
These are little plastic compartments that attach to your belt that allow you to keep these types of bait in so that they are a), are easy to access and b), not able to crawl all over the kayak (as some live baits tend to do).
We have even used ours with water to keep little live mullet in for when we go after the Mangrove Jack! Again, there are other options here and this is certainly not an absolute must have, but trust me, your day will be easier with it I think.
11. Folding Anchor
This last one is directly from my own personal experience. You see there is a spot in the estuary/river that we fish in called the Jew Hole (after the prevalence of Jew Fish that live there). I was complaining to another local once about how it was hard to cast to the right spot as by the time I did so I would drift past and miss it. He said:
“Why don’t you get yourself a folding anchor?”
Ding ding ding ding… of course.
Just because you travel somewhere in a kayak doesn’t mean you can’t anchor like you do in a boat. Small, folding kayak anchors are a great addition to any kayak fishing equipment list especially if, like me, you want to stay in the one spot for a little while.
And there it is – my 11 kayak accessories for fishing. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences or any other tips you may have.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time
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