So you just bought yourself a kayak and are now ready to do some fishing? Good for you! However, if you want to take your kayak fishing game to a new level, you might want to trick it out with a few of these must have accessories made just for kayaks. I can tell you from personal experience, that they can save you lots of time, headache and can also help you land more fish.
1. Kayak Paddle
While you might be tempted to use that old paddle that you bought years ago at a garage sale, I highly recommend that you don’t. Chances are it’s not made for kayaks or even the correct size for your body measurements. A heavy kayak paddle that’s not fit for YOU, will make your paddling that much more difficult. I highly recommend that you spring for a kayak paddle that’s sized appropriately and is also made from a lightweight material such as aluminum or fiberglass!
I personally recommend the Bending Branches Angler Classic 2-Piece Snap-Button fishing kayak paddle. It’s made with the kayak fishermen in mind and is comprised of fiberglass, which is lighter than aluminum. Because it’s made from fiberglass, it’s a little more expensive than the aluminum options, but well worth it in my opinion. At the end of the day, your arms won’t feel like you’ve been using a log to paddle with all day.
2. Inflatable PFD
In most, if not all states in the U.S., it’s the law that you have one personal PFD for every person on the boat. This includes kayaks! However, while it’s the law that you have a PFD on board your vessel, it’s not law that you have to actually wear it (unless you’re under 6 years old). The most common reason that people choose not to wear their PFDs is that the traditional ones are not very comfortable. This is not the case with an inflatable PFD! Not only are they extremely comfortable, but they are really not much more expensive than a traditional PFD.
I know several people, including myself, who use the Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket. It’s reasonably priced, so most anglers can enjoy the safety and comfort benefits of an inflatable PFD without breaking the bank!
3. Anchor Trolley
When I first bought my kayak, I have to admit that an anchor trolley wasn’t on my list of accessories that I thought was important. I was wrong! An anchor trolley allows you to always face the direction that you want to fish regardless of the direction of the wind or current. There are many different brands of anchor trolleys on the market, but I ultimately went with the Yak-Gear Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kit. It’s reasonably priced, easy to install, and so far has stood up to the elements.
4. Milk Crate
One of the most important accessories that you can outfit your kayak with is a milk crate. Milk crates are used to store all of your gear in while your on the water and sometimes are outfitted with rod holder too. Some fishermen prefer to buy a plain milk crate and customize it themselves while others like me, prefer to buy one already outfitted with everything that I need. Once again, Yak-Gear has a milk crate with rod holders, and a storage pouch for a really good price on Amazon. If you would like to make your own, you can check out one of the many videos on YouTube.
5. Insulated Fish Bag
When you’re kayak fishing, extra space is a luxury that most kayaks just don’t have. This includes extra space for a traditional cooler. This is where a fish bag can come in handy! Not only will it allow you to keep your drinks and your fish cold, but it will also allow you to save space while out on the water. Seattle sports makes an awesome kayak bag/cooler that’s made specifically for kayaks.
6. Dry Storage Bag
Kayak fishing can be a wet sport to say the least! Whether it be from water splashing off of your paddle with each stroke, a passing boat’s wake, or accidentally tipping over. A dry storage bag or container is essential for keeping your personal items such as your phone, car keys, wallet, and fishing license dry at all times. Some kayaks come with a dry storage compartment, but if yours does not, I recommend that you look into getting a 10 L dry bag such as the Ultra Dry Premium Waterproof Bag. This particular bag also comes with a waterproof phone case and lanyard.
7. Fish Finder
When kayak fishing, you usually don’t have the luxury of a motor that enables you to cover lots of water searching for fish. This is why it is crucial to plan your fishing trips carefully. This includes making last minute changes while on the water. A fish finder will help you do just that by providing you with images of the contours and structure that lay on the bottom as well as the depth of the water and if you’re lucky, fish. While you could technically make just about any fish finder work for a kayak, I personally like a small compact fish finder such as the Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer. The Garmin Striker has 4″ display with a GPS, fish finder with traditional CHIRP and ClearVu scanning sonar. The Striker also comes with built in “Quickdraw Contours Mapping Software.”
8. Rod Holders
Some kayaks come standard with a few rod holders, however most are not very good and are not adjustable. You will do yourself a favor and invest a few dollars in a couple of good quality rod holders such as Scotty’s #230 Powerlock rod holder. They are super easy to install and are built with kayak fishermen in mind. I actually have two of this exact model on my kayak and absolutely love them.
9. Landing Net
Regardless if you’re fishing from the bank, a boat, or a kayak, you are most likely going to need a landing net to help bring in the fish once you reel them in. While most landing nets will get the job done, as a kayak fisherman I’m constantly thinking of ways to save space. This is why I ultimately chose to go with the PLUSINNO landing net. It’s collapsible and comes with a telescopic pole, making for easy storage. Quick tip…make sure that you unfold your collapsible net before heading out on your kayak. The last thing that you want is to be fumbling with your net when you have the fish of a lifetime on the end of your line.
10. Kayak Trolley/Cart
Unless you have a really light kayak, chances are you’re probably going to need a way to get your yak to and from the water. This is where a kayak trolley can come in handy. There are several different varieties of kayak trolleys on the market today. Some, you simply place the kayak on top of the cart and secure it with “Velcro like” straps. Others are made with two poles that slip into your kayak’s scupper holes. There are some that are made with over-sized balloon tires for transporting your kayak in soft sand such as the beach. Also, if you are wanting to get in touch with your inner DIY self, you can even follow along with one of the many YouTube videos that give step-by-step instructions on how to make your own kayak trolley for cheap. For most, a universal kayak trolley such as this one, which you can find on Amazon will do the trick.
11. Paddle and Rod Leashes
So you’ve invested in all of this money in a good quality paddle and fishing rods and reels. The last thing that you want is to lose them at the bottom of the lake! It may sound a little far fetched, but accidents do happen! There are a number of things that could happen while on the water that could cause your paddle and/or fishing rods to go overboard. However, if you have them secured with leashes, you never have to worry about this. Even if for some reason your kayak flips over, at least your paddle and rods will still be attached to it and not at the bottom of the lake. While there are plenty of DIY videos on how to make your own kayak leashes, you’re going to pay about the same if you were to buy them. You can find a number of leashes on Amazon for good prices!
12. Waterproof Tackle Box
It goes without saying that when fishing from a kayak you and your gear are bound to get wet at some point. It,s just the nature of the beast! While you can always let most of your gear air dry, you really don’t want to have to constantly lay out all of your tackle to air dry. If you happen to be fishing in saltwater and your tackle gets wet, not only will you have to let it air dry, but you’ll need to rinse it with freshwater before doing so. Talk about a pain in the butt! This is why I always recommend that all kayak fishermen invest in a few waterproof tackle boxes. I personally have bought and recommend the Plano 374010 Waterproof Stowaway tackle box.
13. Handheld VHF Radio
If you’re like me, you love taking your kayak into the back-country canals and flats where boats just can’t reach. There’s only one problem with that…cell phone signal usually can’t reach you either. And as we all know, when you have no way of calling for help, that’s when SHTF. This is precisely why I like to carry a handheld VHF radio with me at all times when kayak fishing. There have been plenty of times where I’ve had no cell phone signal and no way (other than my mandatory whistle) of getting help if I needed it. Standard Horizon makes a floating 6W handheld VHF radio that also has an internal GPS.
Unless you plan on doing lots of drift fishing, you absolutely need an anchor for your kayak! Sure if there’s not much current a brick that’s tied to a piece of rope might do the trick. However, if you plan on fishing where there’s current or even when the wind is blowing over 2 mph, I highly recommend that you get an actual anchor. Extreme Max has a 3.5 lb folding grapnel style anchor that comes with 25 feet of marine grade rope. This is more than enough weight and rope to keep your kayak in place.
15. Sun Canopy
Fishing from a kayak is not like fishing from a boat in that with a boat, there is usually a bimini top that can help protect you from the sun beating down on you. That is, of course, unless you invest in a canopy that’s made just for kayaks. While you could slip a large beach umbrella in one of your rod holders, it’s not ideal. Especially, when you are trying to paddle from point a to point b. The solution is a canopy that’s made just for kayaks such as the Lixada Kayak Boat Canoe Sun Shade Canopy. It’s easy to setup and takes up minimal space when stored away. The only downside to using a canopy is that you’re pretty much limited to side casting and you won’t be able to carry your poles in your kayak crate’s rod holders.
16. Live Bait Well
If you plan on fishing with live bait, then you’re going to need a way to keep them alive. The cheapest way to do this is to either get yourself a submersible bait bucket such as the Frabill Flow-Troll Magnum Minnow Bucket. While these types of bait buckets have their place, I personally think that they are a pain to use when kayak fishing. The reason is that you have to constantly pull them out of the water in order to get your bait. This is not only a chore, but it also increases the chances that you’re going to get wet. I personally like an insulated bait bucket with aerator attached to it. “Cool Bubbles”, has an 8-qt insulated bucket that I not only use when I’m kayak fishing, but also use when I’m fishing from my boat.
17. Fishing Rod Floats
As I mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to invest in rod leashes when you’re fishing from a kayak. However, some fishermen don’t like having to constantly fasten and unfasten a rod leash every time that they cast their rods or reel in a fish. For these fishermen, a few rod floats might be the answer. A rod float is basically a piece of foam attached to your rod to prevent it from sinking to the bottom if it happens to fall into the water. Once again, if you are a DIY type, you can easily make these yourself or you can do like I did and buy some that are already made. I went with the Shoreline Marine Propel Canoe & Kayak Fishing Rod Floats. They are very reasonably priced and come in a pack of three.
The kayak fishing accessories on this list are not an absolute must in order to have a great day on the water, nor will they ultimately make a difference whether or not you catch any fish. However, what they can do is increase your chances of catching fish, and they sure can make the experience that much more enjoyable.