Kayak Accessories. What you really need. 

     So you’ve got your kayak now. You’re pretty excited about it, right? Time to spend a fortune on gear for it!? NO!  Let’s talk about 3 different determining factors for choosing how much, or how little you add to your kayak, while getting everything you need to make your trips effective and enjoyable.                                                                             

   First off, the essentials. These are the things that no fishing kayak should be without. 

1. Visibility pole. This should at the very least be a flag in a bright fluorescent color so boaters can see you. If you’re gonna be fishing at night, there needs to be a light on that flag. USCG regulations require a single white light visible for 2 nautical miles on a non-motorized vessel. So be safe, we’re low on the water and sometimes hard to see. 

YakAttack VisiCarbon Pro

2. PFD. This one is a no-brainer. With so many different options for PFDs, there really is no excuse not to wear one. Traditional boat PFDs are cumbersome and get in the way of paddling, but there are many options available for paddlers, including very low profile inflatable PFDs. Some have built in tackle storage and tethers for pliers, knifes, clippers, etc. Do some research and go to a local kayak store and try different models on. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how comfortable and practical kayaking PFDs have become. 

NRS Chinook Fishing PFD

3. Paddle. The driving force behind your kayak, your motor. A paddle is not one of the things you should skimp on. Go ahead and buy the best one you can afford. There’s many different materials that paddle shafts are made of, aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber being the most common. The more expensive models will most likely be made of carbon fiber, which is very light and strong. The lighter the paddle, the less fatigued you’ll be. It’s worth it. Spend the money and get a good paddle. Bending Branches makes some of the best paddles on the market, and they’re made in the USA!!

Bending Branches Angler Ace Plus

Now the things that are not essential but definitely make kayaking a lot easier and more fun.

1. Anchor Trolley. This makes positioning your kayak for different scenarios very simple. Typically it’s an anchoring point that can be positioned anywhere between the bow and stern of the kayak. Depending on the current flow or tide, you can tether your anchor or stakeout pole in the front, back, middle, or somewhere in between to set up for the best possible casting position. Again the anchor trolley isn’t an essential piece of equipment but it sure does make fishing reefs, pilings, flats, etc. a lot easier. 

YakAttack LeverLoc Anchor Trolley kit

2. Paddle Holder. It’s very cliche but you don’t want to be “up the creek without a paddle”.  So, to avoid that, secure your paddle. Sure, your paddle will be in your hands about 75% of the time, but it’s the other times that anything can happen. A big wave, a hook set, you get the idea. There’s many different options for a paddle holder. Some kayaks have a paddle keeper built in, for those that don’t a taco paddle clip might work well. If your kayak has gear track, look no further than the roto grip paddle holders from YakAttack. Then there’s always your lap,thats what makes a paddle holder a non-essential but a big plus if you have it. 

YakAttack RotoGrip Paddle Holder

3. Rod holders. You gotta have somewhere to put your rods while you are paddling around. Things to consider are number of rods you typically carry, do you troll for fish, do you have gear track on your kayak, and do you want them to sit high(out of any water splash). A lot of kayaks come with a couple flush mount rod holders. These are great, they’re sleek, out of the way, and incredibly practical. Gear track or post mounted rod holders are some of my favorites, they can be repositioned if needed for different fishing scenarios, or moved to a different kayak if you have more than one. The last option I’ll explore here is the standard DIY milk crate/pvc rod holders. Cheap, easy to make, and you can add a bunch of them. This is one of the best options for the folks who carry a large number of rods. 

YakAttack ZookaTube

Now for some of the “extras” that can really run the bill up on rigging, but definitely have earned their place on some kayaks. 

1. Action Cameras. With social media as part of our lives, everyone wants to show you what they’ve been up to. If you search YouTube, you’ll find millions of fishing videos, some videos aim to teach the viewer something about fishing, while others are for entertainment or bragging rights. Whatever the case is, it seems like everyone has a YouTube channel and an action camera. Do some research on different mounts and angles to gain the advantage over the masses. Multiple cameras on one kayak is becoming very common. I typically carry 3 GoPro cameras with me. One is an “over the shoulder” viewing angle, one is a “hero shot” angle, and the other is for b-roll and random shots. There are many different cameras and mounts out there, just find what suits you best and stick with it. Oh, and send me the links to your YouTube videos, I like watching fishing videos!

GoPro Hero 5

2. Fishfinders. If your style of fishing includes finding underwater ledges, drop-offs, or structure, chances are you need a fish finder. There are many different options these days with side-scan, down-scan, thermal-imaging, and navigation just being a few selling points. If you’re heading out into the wide open marshes of Louisiana or exploring brand new areas, a fishfinder with built in GPS could come in very useful. You can also mark reefs or any waypoints you’d like to go to again. Go to different manufacturers websites or a local dealer to explore all the options and features available for fishfinders. 

Raymarine Dragonfly 4

3. Rudder. If you’ve been on both a kayak without a rudder and one with a rudder, you know how much better they can make your paddling experience. There’s a few models out there that have a rudder included with the kayak. The Vibe Sea Ghost is one of them, but for most kayaks a rudder is an optional upgrade. A rudder can make paddling in windy conditions a lot easier. You can also drift with the wind, steer with the rudder and basically fish hands-free. Ask around and demo a kayak with a rudder to see what all the fuss is about.  I promise, you’ll be incredibly impressed. 

Vibe Sea Ghost with Rudder

This is by no means a “definitive guide” on rigging a kayak. It’s only the small amount of experience and knowledge that I have acquired through my few years of kayaking. I hope you can take something from this article and apply it to your own kayaking adventures. Here are links to the product manufacturers that I featured in this article. 

Bending Branches paddles
Vibe Kayaks


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