Gear and accessory connections must be tough enough to survive rough seas, flopping fish, swinging paddle blades and flailing limbs. Then, at the end of the day, the accessory has to be removed in seconds. For the strongest connection, install a permanent base with quick release. Or use a gear track base and t-bolt base for infinite adjustability.
For the sturdiest connection, attach rod holders and other accessories directly to the hull. The base will stick up a few inches and can’t be easily moved but bolting the base to the kayak assures it will stay there. For added strength, use a backing plate on the inside of the hull. Seal all holes with marine adhesive.
Fish Finder Mounts
Most fish finders come with a generic base, but kayak anglers will want a sturdier connection that is easier to adjust and remove. Also, aftermarket mounts take up less deck space and offer more mounting options.
A heavy-duty adjustable arm elevates the display and allows infinite adjustment. Paddlers should install the base in the center of the kayak ahead of the cockpit. Pedal pushers move the display closer, usually on a gear track mounted on the gunnel.
GPS and Compass Mounts
The most reliable navigation tool is also one of the oldest. Invented by the Chinese Han Dynasty in 206 BC, a magnetic compass is still one of the most accurate tools, no batteries required.
Don’t get caught without a marine compass. A dampened dial won’t spin and roll in rough seas. For the most accurate readings, attach the compass directly to the deck.
Arrange lights to provide illumination where you want it. To preserve night vision, the navigation light should stand behind you, two feet over your head. Use a sturdy base and stiff light pole to keep the lamp in place.
Other lights should be angled so the light shines on the deck or tackle crate, not in your eyes. LED lights are brighter, cooler and use less power.
Camera and Video Mounts
For 360-degree coverage of the action, attach cameras with booms, bases and body mounts. Make sure the camera is out of the way, but easy to reach. Consider how you will edit the film to provide multiple angles. Pack paper towels and microfiber cloths in sealable bags to clean the lens.
Booms Offer an elevated view of the action. Mount the boom on the crate or tankwell behind the angler. Be sure the boom stays steady while the kayak pitches and rolls in the waves.
Bases Attached directly to the kayak, a camera base provides a low-angle, close-up view of the action. Connect the base to a gear track to quickly move the camera around the kayak.
Body Mounts Either a chest or helmet cam provides an angler’s-eye view to bring the audience onboard. Use a chest harness or headband to keep the camera in place while your hands are busy paddling or fighting fish.
Gear tracks and kayaks go together like peas and carrots. Install the slotted track anywhere on the kayak and attach gear with a corresponding t-bolt. Tracks are standardized so accessories from one company fit any track. Screw the accessory to the track and it stays put, loosen and move or remove in seconds.
Attach the track using pan-head bolts and lock nuts with a backing plate. If the back of the track isn’t accessible, self-taping screws will work. Many kayaks are designed with flat spaces perfect for a gear track. The common set-up uses tracks in the bow for attaching cameras. Tracks on either side of the cockpit host rod holders, electronics, tackle trays, even a cup holder. In the stern, gear tracks are great for securing the crate, livewell or cooler. Attach the navigation light and extra rod holders to gear tracks behind the seat. Gear tracks make it easy to add and remove accessories, but the connection generally isn’t as sturdy as a permanent base mounted directly to the kayak hull.
Use mounts and tracks to attach accessories. | Photo: Courtesy Scotty