Fishing is a lot of fun. Catching is even more fun. But in order to make either one of those things happen, you have to be prepared.
Over the years, I've had at least 17 different makes/models of kayaks that I've fished from. Each one was my favorite at the time, and I learned a little something new every time I made plans to rig that new perfect kayak. No matter how elaborate your plan is, there are some basic ideas that get brushed over any worthy vessel.
ROD HOLDERS: Regardless of what type of craft you have, or what species you plan to target, you have to have a place for a rod. 10 years ago, to make a fishing kayak you would simply take a traditional kayak and put rod holders on it. Most of the kayaks on the market now either come with rod holders installed or at least have areas for aftermarket installation. There are plenty of Rod Holder Options available to you, and the Rod Holder Installation process is easier than you think. Ideally, you will need 1 rod holder in front of you, and 2 behind you as spares. I have found through trial and error that 3 rods are certainly enough for me. I can carry many more, but when I do, I always seem to waste time while getting them untangled from each other, or switching constantly trying to get the perfect bait for a given situation. Both of those reduce my time actually spent fishing - not good.
SEAT OPTIONS: I have also discovered over the years that the proper seat can make or break a day on the water. You will soon realize that the amount of padding, the height of the back, and even the angle of the backrest all work or don't work with your style of paddling or fishing. You can refer to Choosing The Best Seat For You for some tips, but when possible take the time to test a few. The back pouch on my seat contains a safety kit complete with flares, etc. It's certainly a personal decision, and the really good seats come at a price.
ORGANIZING YOUR GEAR: I could do this for hours. Even though I rarely stray from my core group of lures, there's always a pull to try something new in hopes of better results. But in a kayak, you're limited to the amount of gear you can take. And, since this form of fishing is supposed to take you back to the basics, then do yourself a favor and let that happen. Organize Your Gear so you can spend more time fishing, and less time trying to find something to fish with. If you have a center hatch, fight the urge to stuff it with every lure you own. I have lures that I always seem to use because I have confidence in them - I know how they behave, they catch fish. Seek out such lures, Simplify Your Tackle and save yourself some headaches.
Once you have your cockpit streamlined, you can concentrate of what goes in the tank well. And nothing goes better in the tankwell than a milk crate. Again, fight that urge to over fill, but this IS the place to carry extra gear and accessories. Organization is key here as well. Sure the milk crate by itself is a handy tool, but there are many options available now to help you "maximize your organizational potential" (I should patent that phrase). This Milk Crate Insert (pic below) has rod holders built in, plus carry handles. It's great in the kayak, but can easily be used when fishing from the beach/shore, or even as carry-on if you fish from a boat. In addition to carrying extra lures/gear I also take an extra reel in a zip lock bag, in case I have a failure. It's quicker to put on another reel than it is to try to repair a defective one.
TIME TO GO SHOPPING: I'm sure by now you've pondered what gear would make for the ideal kayak fishing situation. Now it's time to go shopping. Wading through the world of Kayak Fishing Accessories can be mind boggling. But take the time to explore your options. The last thing you want to do is waste your money - it's better to waste a little off-water time first.
MONEY WELL SAVED: Now that you've done your planning, explored your options, and dented your back account, you need to Protect Your Investment. If you're a salt water angler like me, the worst thing you can do to your gear is expose it to salt water … sad but true. Take the little bit of extra time at the end of your trips to clean, lube, and restock. By the time I get back home from fishing I'm normally already plotting the next trip, so best to be ready.
EVOLUTION: As I browsed through dozens of pictures of my rigged fishing kayaks, I was reminded of how complicated I used to make this sport. I still have these 3 boats, and when I head out this is pretty much how they might look. But as you can see by the pic of my Hobie, I've really come a long way. And yes, you can make a great side cast without getting tangled in the umbrella.
See you out on the water ...
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