Improving your Fishing Kayak Setup

Geoff Stadnyk in Fishing On The Water on

A common theme heard from Kayak Fisherman, is that until you are used to fishing from a kayak, and have spent some time finding out what works, and what doesn’t for your fishing kayak setup, it can be very awkward to actually get any quality fishing done.

This guide is not going to be about which fishing kayak is best (we have a guide specifically for that). This is more about outfitting the kayak you currently have for a great day on the water. We also have a guide specifically about accessories for a canoe if that’s more your thing.

Fishing from a kayak means you have limited space, both as storage and as deck space, and also tend to get a lot wetter than you do fishing from a bank. It also means, that if you drop a piece of tackle, it’s in the drink, not in the grass! So in this article, we are going to look at some ways to improve your fishing kayak setup.

Table of Contents

Fast Paddle Round Up of our Fishing Kayak Setup

AccessoryUsefulnessPriceOur Rating
Skwoosh Expedition High Back Kayak with LumbarA+$$$[star rating="5"]
Cushioned Kayak Padded Seat and BackrestA$$[star rating="4.5"]
Scotty Bait BoardA-$$[star rating="4.5"]
This 10L Waterproof Dry SackB+$[star rating="4"]
Scotty Powerlock Black Rod HolderA$[star rating="4.5"]

Improvement Ideas – Effective Add-Ons

fks1Driving away from your favorite fishing show with a brand new Kayak is many a fisherman’s dream. You know the ones I’m talking about. Shining in the lights of the canopy, and without a single scratch these models have all the whistles and bells. For most of us, the simple matter of a price that runs up into the 10’s of thousands of dollars just isn’t a reasonable purchase.

However, excellent kayaks can be found at much lower price, whether used or new. Going without the extra features at first is also a great way to reduce your initial cost. Keep it low at first, and get out on the water. You can always improve your fishing kayak setup as you go. Do it all at once if you get a bonus, or save and upgrade over time. Either way, we’re here to assist you by sharing our knowledge about the best fishing kayak accessories out there, what you’ll need, and what you might want.

Rod Holders – An Immediate Necessity

Rod holders on a fishing kayak are going to be top of your list if you happened to find a great deal without them. You’ll need to be able to attach these devices without harming the integrity of your yak.

fks2Before you run off to the hardware store to get the material to build your own, consider the products available on today’s market. Rod holder mounts are available that latch on, instead of putting holes in your kayak. The cost of many such models may very well be equal to time and money you might spend doing it yourself. Many also swivel, rotate, and lock in place. Hard to do with raw material.

Rod holders and mounts are definitely worth taking a look at. You can also see how the Florida Sportsman places his rod holder at the front of the boat, for quite a practical reason:

Going for Comfort and Accessibility – Opulence at Hands Reach

fks3It’s interesting to note that some simple accessories like tables, trays, handy storage sacks, and gear clips can help with your overall comfort and well being by reducing the twisting and bending motions associated with having to reach for objects.

Often times the seating provided in kayaks wasn’t built to be easy on the human form, and hard plastic simply won’t do for hours on the water. Adjustable padded seating can make a world of change towards the enjoyment of fishing your kayak. Another feature of physical well being while on the water, some seat supports can also do wonders for saving your back.

These kind of accessories may seem trifle at first look, but many a kayak fisherman has quickly learned how much of a difference they make. You’ll wonder how you fished without them after your first time out.

Organized Storage on Your Kayak

fks4“Keep it high, keep it dry” is a term that doesn’t apply to kayaks. There will often be some objects we take with us that would be much better off not drenched in water. Snacks usually taste better dry vs. soggy, and metal objects (like many of the ones we use when fishing) such as hooks tend to rust when wet. But don’t worry if you already have rusty hooks, since you can still use it, you just have to be careful.

Impermeable storage is available, and you can always use zip lock bags as an added measure. As touched on above, placement of storage becomes a magnified task when you’re already dealing with limited space. Keeping the items you know you’ll use frequently close by is a very good idea on a kayak. Waterproof pouches and satchels are available that can be attached almost anywhere on a kayak. Though you don’t have to travel heavy, some storage (dry storage) will be desirable.

Rounding it Out – Other Kayak Improvement Possibilities

Once you’ve got the storage down and made sure your kayak is a place you can sit in for a while, it’ll be time to make it a fully equipped fish catching vessel. GPS and fish finding fks5devices are all over the market, and the price ranges (and value) are too. This being said, effective models can be found at a decent price.

Other helpful items might include anchors, coolers, rod straps, gaff or net holders (often a rod holder can work for these),mounts for paddles, fish kill sacks, and live bait wells to complete the list. A lot of times your kayaking destinations will decide whether you need these extra items or not. No sense in a bait well if you don’t use live bait for example. Kayaking fishing in rivers, will certainly call for other needs than lake or ocean kayaking, and vice versa.

Perfecting Your Fishing Kayak Setup

fks6It’s a good idea with the limited space and gear necessities of kayak fishermen, to have some plan about the overall placement of the accessories you plan on getting. The good news is that with the easy attachment of many of today’s gadgets, you can always move stuff around. It won’t take much for you to realize that something’s in the wrong place when you’re on the water. Fix it if you can out there, or change it after you come in.

If you invest in a product that must be fixed to your kayak (with nuts and bolts), spend that extra time planning its placement. The more often you get that kayak wet (not with the garden hose in your back yard), the better you’ll be able to fine tune all this equipment. It’s proper placement will become obvious to you. You’ll also get a feel for what accessories you might be interested in while fishing your spots. The best advice I can give you to perfect your setup, is to get out on it as much as you can.

One of the best additions you can make to your kayak is a fish finder. It will help you know where those fish are hanging out and therefore where you should drop your bait.

Narrowing Down Your Fishing Kayak Accessories

Once again, Fishermen’s Angle has put in the legwork to provide you with some product answers. Read on because just below we’ve made several suggestions that not only address the need for comfort, storage, and organization, but also show you some of the best products in value available. Of course if there’s something that you use that you can’t keep a lid on, please let us know. We’re always looking at as many things to improve the fishing experience as possible, and would love to know about it.

AccessoryUsefulnessPriceOur Rating
Skwoosh Expedition High Back Kayak with LumbarA+$$$[star rating="5"]
Cushioned Kayak Padded Seat and BackrestA$$[star rating="4.5"]
Scotty Bait BoardA-$$[star rating="4.5"]
This 10L Waterproof Dry SackB+$[star rating="4"]
Scotty Powerlock Black Rod HolderA$[star rating="4.5"]

Keep it Dry! Waterproof is the Way to Go!

Although most fishing kayaks do come with at least one waterproof storage compartment, it is generally not large enough, or convenient enough for most fishing tackle that you will need while out kayak fishing. We need extra waterproof storage.

Dry Bag 10L Waterproof Dry Sack

One of the best ways of gaining more waterproof storage is using dive bags. These are very simple bags, with a sealable top. They come in a range of sizes and are fairly inexpensive.

This 10L Waterproof Dry Sack is just such a bag. It is 100% waterproof and comes with a handy carrying strap. These bags are excellent for keeping things dry at all times, they are very quick to open and then reseal again. However, the word sack says it all, it’s simply a container to dump things in, not very organized. So let’s take a look at some other options.

Comfort is King for Long Kayak Fishing Trips

One of the main downsides of kayak fishing, is that you can’t get up, move around and stretch your legs. You are stuck sitting in a single position, potentially all day. One of the easiest ways to improve your fishing kayak setup is to make the seat more comfortable.

Sit-on-Top Cushioned Kayak Padded Seat and Backrest

fishing-kayak-setup_01There are plenty of options when looking for a better or more comfortable seat for your fishing kayak. Let’s start off with one of my favorites, the Sit-on-Top Cushioned Kayak Padded Seat and Backrest.
This adds not only a cushion, but also a backrest. That backrest is a major addition to the comfort of a kayak. It is surprisingly, quite hard work to sit upright for hours on end without support.

Skwoosh Expedition High Back Kayak

For those who really want the best in comfort from their canoe, products such as the Skwoosh Expedition Kayak Seat (20) with Lumbar Support and Air-Flo3D Gel Cushion are the way to go. Full lumbar support and body forming gel padding makes this a very comfortable kayak seat indeed. Coming in at a little under $200 it’s not cheap, but why ruin your kayak fishing trip by being uncomfortable?

Making Kayak Fishing More Efficient

Scotty 455 Bait Board No Mount

When it comes to improving your fishing kayak setup for actually catching fish, there are plenty of excellent ideas for streamlining the process of fishing. For example, constantly baiting a hook, making adjustments to terminal tackle, or even unhooking fishing that requires constantly bending over and finding something in the bottom of the kayak, is a pain. Quite literally after you have done it a few times.
So we can add a table or tray to our kayak to hold those small, often used pieces of tackle close to hand. The Scotty Bait Board is a good example of this. It is dirt cheap at less than $20, and has been designed to attach easily to any Scotty post mount. It’s big enough to handle lure baiting, or even eating your lunch from!

Make Sure your Rod Holders are Perfect

Scotty Powerlock Black Rod Holder

All fishing kayaks come pre-equipped with a number of rod holders. The problem is, that sometimes, they are not exactly placed in the position most useful to your style of kayak fishing. For example, a trolling kayak might only have a pair of backward facing rod holders. Fine if all you do is trolling. But what happens if you want to stop and do a little jigging or lure fishing? You need a rod holder in the right place.

Luckily, these are really easy to fit and cheap to pick up. For less than $20 you can get yourself a Scotty Powerlock Black Rod Holder with 241 Side Deck Mount. So that’s actually two rod holders in one. Put the mounts in two separate places and move the holder to whichever one you want to use. Easy to install, and pretty hard wearing, this adjustable rod holder is a great addition to any fishing kayak. Need more rod holders? Just buy another one!

Geoff Stadnyk

Geoff started fishing as a child in the gorgeous lakes of Mammoth, while on family vacations. His fishing experience includes the use of fly rod and reel. Guided trips along the Madison and Gallatin rivers in Montana, the Frying Pan and Animus in Colorado, and the Deschutes river in Oregon have all paid off and helped make Geoff the angler and writer that he is today.

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