Enjoyment. That’s what kayak fishing is all about. Escape from the mundane. Fun in nature. Adventure and excitement. All the time and effort invested
in the sport has one objective: enjoyment.

Choosing a kayak and rigging it right is the number one contributor to this end. We will wake up early, paddle through ice, fish in the rain, sweat profusely and swat flies with a smile, but paddling a poorly designed, uncomfortable, inefficient and annoying kayak is a major downer.

To that end, we’ve put together the ultimate rigging guide. Whether you sneak around farm ponds for lunker bass or brave the bluewater for sea monsters, picking the best boat and adding rod holders, electronics and other accessories will make you happy, and that’s the point.

1. Fish finders

Install a fish finder where it won't interfere with paddling or fishing. | Photo: Courtesy Garmin
Install a fish finder where it won’t interfere with paddling or fishing. |
Photo: Courtesy Garmin

Nothing contributes more to catching a fish than installing a fish finder. Many boats are pre-rigged with transducer scuppers and battery compartments making installation a breeze.

Kayak-friendly units pack the most advanced features in a small package. On most kayaks, the installation comes down to three simple steps.

[ Further reading: Fish Finder 101 And Simple Installation Instructions ]

2. Batteries for your fishing kayak

Light it up. A Lithium-Ion battery in a waterproof case supplies power for fish finder and other accessories. | Photo: Courtesy YakGear
Light it up. A Lithium-Ion battery in a waterproof case supplies power for fish finder and other accessories. | Photo: Courtesy YakGear

A 12-volt, 10 amp-hour battery is sufficient for most fish finders with extra power to charge cell phones and run LED lights. Sealed, lead-acid batteries are less expensive but heavy.

A similar lithium-ion battery cuts the weight in half. To do it all, house the battery in a waterproof case with USB and 12-volt connections.

[ Further reading: Complete Guide To Batteries For Your Kayak ]

3. Rod holders For kayaks

An adjustable rod holder elevates the rod away from the water. | Photo: Brad Hole
An adjustable rod holder elevates the rod away from the water. | Photo: Brad Hole

Choosing rod holders and adding them to the kayak is the first step in personalizing your ride. Before heading to the paddle shop, consider where and how you fish. For trolling, flush mount rod holders are strongest.

To fish in rivers and ponds with overhanging trees, look for horizontal rod holders. Vertical holders are best for carrying multiple rods. To keep the rods away from the water and in reach, attach an adjustable rod holder to a gear track or deck mount.

Rod holders behind the seat are mostly for transportation. Place holders ahead of the seat for fishing. Here are four options for kayak rod holders.

[ Further reading: Everything You Need To Know About Rod Holders ]

4. Mounts and tracks

Use mounts and tracks to attach accessories. | Photo: Courtesy Scotty
Use mounts and tracks to attach accessories. | Photo: Courtesy Scotty

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.

[ Further reading: Mounts And Tracks For Fishing Kayaks ]

5. Crates for fishing kayaks

Everything and the kitchen sink. | Photo: Jose Chavez
Everything and the kitchen sink. | Photo: Jose Chavez

In the early days of kayak fishing, stealing a milk crate from behind a convenience store was a rite of passage. Today, there are dozens of options from airtight to super light. A crate holds tackle, tools, lunch and liquid refreshment. Options range from lightweight milk crates to sectioned tackle stations pimped with gear tracks, lights, latches and hatches. Here are five questions to answer when choosing a crate.

[ Further reading: Crates For Fishing Kayaks ]

6. Fishing tools

Choose the right blade for the job. | Photo: RIC BURNLEY
Choose the right blade for the job. | Photo: RIC BURNLEY

Anglers require more tools than a race car mechanic. For the safety of the fish and fisherman, the right knives, scissors, pliers and lip grippers can save the day. Pack as many features on one tool and keep it close at hand. Consider using a tether if the tool is too valuable to lose.

[ Further reading: The Best Fishing Tools For Anglers ]

7. The best safety gear for your kayak

Anchoring systems keep the kayak in place. | Photo: Will Richardson
Anchoring systems keep the kayak in place. | Photo: Will Richardson

Kayak fishing is surprisingly safe, and it can be even safer with the correct safety gear. Hopefully, you will never need any of the following items, but you’ll never regret bringing them on every trip. Pack a five-liter dry bag with a safety kit and keep it on the boat. Better yet, carry these items in the life vest in the event you are separated from the kayak.

[ Further reading: The Best Safety Gear For Your Fishing Kayak ]

Loaded for bear. Prepared for jaws.| Photo: Adrian Gray

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