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Kayak Fishing Part 1: Basic Gear

Updated on March 2, 2013
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HuntnFish has spent many years on the water fishing and has caught nearly every species of fish in Washington State.

How I Got Started

The majority of my fishing is done in a kayak. It hasn't always been that way though. Growing up, my family had a boat, and fishing was a family adventure. As life went on, I seemed to be the only person legitimately interested in going fishing anymore. My choices were to either stick to the shoreline, or take the boat out myself. This presented a few problems. One, boat upkeep, and I was poor, two, its hard to run the boat and the lines alone, and three, I can't back a trailer to save my life.

So, the first time I saw someone fishing from a kayak, I knew it was the perfect solution.

Out in the salt. It was getting a little rough.
Out in the salt. It was getting a little rough. | Source

The Wins

And this is where I plan on convincing you that kayak fishing is the ultimate fishing solution...

Let's get started:

No boat, boat upkeep, boat license, or boat insurance

No trailer, trailer upkeep, or trailer license

No motor, gas, or motor repairs

No trailer to back

No boating license required

The world is your boat ramp!

You get a workout in at the same time

Easily customizable


Access shallow and hard to get water

Faster to launch than inflatable boats

Stable (if you have never been in one, they really are remarkable stable)

Oh and did I mention far, far cheaper?

The Not So Wins

Okay, so in order to be fair, I'll make a few concessions about the limitations of kayaks for fishing.

Some are rather heavy to carry

Much less range than a traditional boat

Need a car that can transport it

Most are one person crafts, making taking kids fishing difficult

Very exposed to the elements

Save! | Source
Splurge! | Source

What do you think?

Sit inside or sit on top?

See results

Basic Components

So in the case I won you over, or more likely you were already convinced before you even stumbled upon this site, you are going to need a few basic things.

The Kayak:

The more the kayak fishing trend grows, the more companies are customizing kayak models with anglers in mind. Some can even run as much as a nice used boat if you get all the features. My dream craft would be a Hobie Mirage Adventure, or maybe an Ocean Kayak Trident, however these never made sense on a college student income, so I made the best of what I could do.

The first decision to make is whether to purchase a sit inside, or sit on top (I have one of each)

Sit inside: The big benefits here are a drier ride, a safer drier place to stash your gear, generally lighter, often better seats

Sit on top: More storage, easier to move around the kayak, very stable, more customization options, easier to enter if you do somehow fall in (or jump in)

Truth is, even a very basic craft will get you out on the water, and depending on what kinds of fishing you plan on doing, simple might be just fine. The only true necessity of the craft is that it floats, everything else is a bonus.

Things to look for:

Comfortable seat- After a few hours, this is a big one

Weight- Its nice if you can lift and carry it on your own

Rudder- Kind of a luxury in my opinion

Rod holders- If it doesn't come with them, you can install them yourself

Dry storage- Between phones, keys, wallet, etc, some true sealed dry storage is nice to have

Overall space- Storage, room for toys (fish finder for example), lap space

Stability- On my ocean kayak I can sit with both legs off the same side dangling in the water, which is great for landing fish as well as crabbing

There are dozens more features that you will find offered, like rod storage, fish finder sun screens, battery storage etc, but these are not always entirely necessary, its up to you.

The Paddle:

If I can stress one thing, don't skimp on a paddle. Paddles range from very cheap, around a 20 bucks or so, and run as much as $500 and up. The big things to look for are sturdiness, weight, and paddle shape. Depending on how long you plan on fishing, you might be doing a lot of paddling, so choosing a light weight paddle designed for effective energy transfer is important. Expect to pay between $150 and $250 for a good entry level paddle that you will be happy with. If you find one used, you could probably save a little here. Personally, I have a Werner and an Aqua-Bound. I like them both, but take out the Aqua-Bound a little more.

The Little Things

Assuming you already have fishing gear, there are just a few more things you will need:

Life vest: Some places its the law, other places its just a really, really good idea.

Signaling device: I keep a marine safety whistle clipped to my jacket, and flairs when I'm on the ocean.

Compass: The first time fog rolls in on you, you'll know why

Tie downs: Or really anything to safely affix your kayak to your car or truck. You really don't want that coming off.

Bike chain: I keep a chain on me just in case I need to leave the car and kayak unattended for any amount of time.

Paddle tether: You really don't want that thing floating away from you

So again, there are others, rod holders, fish finders, batteries, drift anchors, etc, but I'm going to save this for a kayak customization hub which I will publish in the future. In the mean time if you have any questions just ask.

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