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How to Rig a Kayak for Fishing

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Rigging a kayak for fishing is a task that requires some forethought and planning but also can be a constant work in progress.

There are those kayak fishermen out there that have fully customized their craft with more options, gadgets and gizmos than you would find on a superyacht. There are also those minimalists that have only the absolutely essential items on board and appreciate a simplistic and uncluttered kayak. Most of us fall somewhere in between and want a kayak that is comfortable and capable of handling anything the fishing trip can throw at us.

Here are the Basic Necessities for a day of fishing from a kayak.

One of the most important things that should be purchased along with the kayak itself is a good quality paddle. This holds true even if you have purchased a kayak that is propelled with something other than a paddle such as pedal powered or electric powered kayaks. Even these kayaks will find a time when a traditional paddle proves invaluable.

Three main things to consider when purchasing a paddle

  1. When purchasing a paddle consider the length of the shaft
  2. the shape of the blades and
  3. the weight of the paddle.

Don’t make the mistake of buying the cheapest paddle in the rack only to find they want to upgrade after using it for a short while. It is important to get a paddle that will be comfortable to use over the long run.

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The lighter the better as you will be swinging its weight for long periods of time and a difference of just a few ounces can make a big difference over time and distance. Lighter paddles are usually made of composite materials and prices go up as weight is shed.

The shape of the blade is also important as a wide short blade will give plenty of power but can be tougher over long distances. A more elongated blade is more efficient over the long haul.

Length is important too. You want to make sure that it is long enough to clear the sides of the kayak with each stroke. Too short and you end up with an uncomfortable and inefficient stroke. Many kayak fishermen end up opting for a mid or high-end touring paddle with a composite shaft and a touring style blade but its important to remember that paddle preference is just as personal as kayak selection. Try out different models if you can.

A Hobie kayak rigged and ready to fish.
A Hobie kayak rigged and ready to fish.

The Seat is extremely important on a fishing kayak

You are sitting in the same seat for hours at a time while fishing and you want to make sure it is as comfortable.

Some kayaks such as the Native Watercraft line and the Hobie Angler have seats as standard equipment that are designed with ultimate comfort in mind, They have adjustments for angle/pitch, lumbar and can even be removed and used as a beach or camp chair.

Not all kayaks come with such comfortable seats as standard equipment and if they do not, then upgrades to existing seats, such as bottom pads and lumbar cushions are available. If these options don’t work then you may want to consider replacing the seat with a more comfortable aftermarket one, possibly with a higher back (for a sit-on-top) and more cushioning. Many new sit-in kayaks have comfortable modular seat systems that are built in. These have a lot of adjustability and can be augmented with aftermarket cushions and pads.

Helpful Hint!  One common problem with a lot of kayakers is they do not make all the necessary adjustments to their existing seating that would make their day out on the water more comfortable. Take the time and tweak to make things as comfortable as possible.

The Anchoring System is a critical element of Fishing from a Kayak

Anchor trolleys are a simple method of setting your anchor out and positioning it off any point along your kayak. Made up of a loop of line with a ring in the center and tensioners at the bow and stern. You simply drop your anchor into the water beside you and clip it or tie it off to the ring. Then you position the ring toward the bow or stern depending where you want the anchor.  The anchor itself can be a folding grapnel type anchor or even an extra small fluke or plow type anchor. Still others use traditional mushroom anchors like those found on small lake boats.

Another option that is starting to stick (pun intended) is an anchor pole. It is basically a length of fiberglass pole that can be stuck in the sand or mud and holds the kayak in place. Again the choice is yours and some options can be better than others.

Don’t forget the Fishing Rod Holders on your Kayak!

You need to figure out if the ones supplied with the kayak are the right style and in the right place. You can add mounts by companies such as Scotty anywhere on the kayak and can also have rod holders on the back of your seat and as part of a tackle management system such as the traditional modified milk crate that many do-it-yourselfers have cleverly created.

You need to make sure the rods are stowed well while underway and are accessible. Rod holders need to be sturdy, as you don’t want to lose your tackle to a big fish or a big wave. Leashing your rods and other loose items is always a good idea.

Helpful Hint: There is an old kayaking adage that says, “Leash it or lose it.”

What about the Storage capacity of your Kayak?

A place for equipment/tackle, a place for fish and cold beverages and also dry storage for your vehicle’s keys, phone, camera, wallet etc are important. Zip lock bags will fail you eventually so look into investing in a dry bag or box to stow these items, even if you have in deck storage (these can flood or get water intrusion).

Plan on a cooler of some sorts or a place to store beverages, fish and other items that need to be chilled. It can be as simple as a small packable soft-sided cooler or as fancy as a Yeti cooler. Many kayaks have built in storage but it is not always accessible when on the water so plan accordingly.


The more you use your new kayak the more you will want to customize and modify certain features. If your not sure what products to use or how to go about doing the modifications just go online. There is a plethora of innovative ideas and instruction on how to go about rigging your kayak for your ultimate fishing experience. With a little planning and forethought you will be well on your way.

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Glenn Hayes
Glenn Hayeshttp://www.HayesStudios.com
Glenn Hayes is a writer and photographer based out of west central Florida and has marine industry background spanning almost a quarter century. He can be reached through his web site www.HayesStudios.

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