A whole day of fishing comes down to just a few seconds. Your trophy catch is between the water and the kayak. Time to seal the deal. Don’t screw up! Grabbing a slimy fish flailing sharp hooks while balancing on a kayak, is one of the most difficult, and dangerous, aspects of the sport.
An angler needs some help. The trick is choosing a net, gaff or gripper small enough to fit in the kayak and tough enough to survive hand to fin combat. To help your end game, Kayak Angler collected six tools for the most important moment in fishing—landing the fish.
$79.99 | frabill.com
Fighting a fish and working the net requires four hands and a kayak angler only has two. Frabill’s Bearclaw has a unique handle allowing one-handed operation. We like the two-position handle to choke up on the net for more lifting power. The 14-inch by 18-inch hoop is extra deep to handle fish up to 40 inches. Rubber coated netting and asymmetrical design allow the fish to slide into the net without injury. The handle folds into the hoop for easy storage. When landing a fish, remember to lower the net in the water, then guide the fish into the basket.
ProYaker Spear Gaff
$59.99 | proyaker.com
Among bluewater anglers, the Hawaiian kage has become a popular way to handle toothy fish. A kage is a short spear with a long, narrow point. When the fish is close, the angler jabs the point in the gills, securing the fish and finishing it off. If the fish freaks out and explodes in wall of spray, simply release the spear and let the fish run itself out. Once in the boat, the tip is easy to control. The Spear Gaff by ProYaker has a 46-inch handle that floats. The spear is ribbed to hold the fish and all components are stainless steel. Unlike a gaff, the kage’s point faces away from the angler, making it safer in a small space.
YakGear Fish Grip Lock
$14.95 | yakgear.com
A fish gripper is one of the most ubiquitous accessories. From largemouth bass to striped bass, grabbing the fish by the lip is the best way to protect the catch and the angler. Fish Grip’s vice-like grips lock onto the fish’s lip. Keep the grips in reach with YakGear’s Fish Grip Lock, which attaches to any gear track. When landing a trophy, the best plan is net the fish, then attach the lip grip to keep the catch from kicking out of the boat. Fish Grips make great tool for releasing the fish, too. Attach a four-foot tether to the grippers and swim the fish beside the boat until it kicks on its own.
Rapala Mechanical Scale and Fish Gripper
$36.79 | rapala.com
Show off your trophy catch and the first question is, “How much did it weigh?” For ultimate bragging rights, Rapala’s Mechanical Scale and Fish Gripper secures and weighs the fish. For the most accurate measurement of length and weight, first use the lip gripper to hold the trophy on a measuring board. Then, lift the fish with the gripper and take its weight. Hold the fish horizontally and take a couple photos. Rapala’s Fish Grippers are corrosion resistant for years of safe releases.
YakAttack Leverage Landing Net
$90 | yakattack.us
When the fish of a lifetime is on the line, don’t trust your personal-best to a swing and a prayer. YakAttack’s Leverage Landing Net is popular among pro anglers. Not only does the handle allow one-handed operation, but it’s extra long to reach the fish fast. Even better, the handle folds into the net and still fit in a vertical rod holder.
Keeping the net free of snags in a kayak is like trying to get bubblegum out of a kid’s hair. On the way to the fishing grounds, store the net in the rod holder. Then, while fishing, place the net on the bow or in a rod holder for quick, tangle-free access.
AFTCO Aluminum Fishing Gaff
$60 | aftco.com
No one knows more about fish gaffs than AFTCO. Nearly every boat on the water has at least one of their premium aluminum gaffs under the gunwale. The company’s iconic gold or black anodized shaft is light and strong for lightning fast reactions. With a dozen models in a half dozen lengths and hook gaps, the best option is a three-foot shaft and two-inch bite. Using a gaff allows the angler to land the fish quickly, with little chance of it getting free. For toothed fish, the gaff will control the fish’s head. Always keep the hook covered when not in use.
Most important: be ready for the end game. | Featured photo: Jason Schall