Kayak Fly Fishing Must Have Accessories
Following the previous article, you have either selected a kayak or are real close. The next series of questions you will ask yourself is what will I need? There are three things you must have. They are a paddle, a personal flotation device, and an anchor. Of the three, the paddle is probably the trickiest.
Paddles come in four lengths. They are measured in centimeters (cm) - 210, 220, 230, and 240 cm. The taller you are, the wider the kayak, and the higher you sit in a kayak are all factors that suggest a longer paddle. If you are trying out different kayaks, ask to try out different paddle lengths. Most people can get by with a 210 or 220 cm paddle. Paddles also come in variable shaft diameters - people with smaller hands may want to try out a smaller diameter shaft. Paddles vary wildly in price. Less expensive ones have aluminum shafts and plastic blades, while more expensive ones have carbon shafts and fiberglass blades. In short, you are paying more for less weight. An extra pound on the paddle makes a noticeable difference and if you plan to do some extensive paddling, you may want to pay more for less weight. If you are going to be in shallow creeks and anticipate pushing off the bottom of the creek a lot, you probably should go with a plastic paddle because they are more durable. Avoid paddles with flat, uncontoured blades. While inexpensive, they don't grip the water well and are inefficient. The blades come in all kinds of shapes. If you kayak in windy conditions, a longer, narrower blade will be a better choice with less wind drag as you paddle along. Make sure your paddle has at least three settings for adjusting the blade angle. This will become more important later when you experiment with paddling. Most kayakers prefer to offset the blades based on their dominate hand, while others prefer to keep the blades at the same angle.
By necessity, you don't have much selection for a personal flotation devices (PFD). Get a Type III Coast Guard approved kayaking PFD. A kayak PFD rides higher on your back so that you can lean against the seat unobstructed. All are filled with a foam core. Some kayak PFDs are designed for fly fishing and while they can never have all the pockets a traditional fly vest has, there are some rather functional vests on the market.
An anchor is a must for fly fishing due to wind drift or currents. You can go as simple as a rope tied to rock, but generally a hook-shaped anchor (1.5 to 3 pounds) is best. The hook can grip the bottom of the lake or river. Some kayak fishers fishing the saltwater flats will use a long fiberglass rod pushed in the ground to anchor themselves when there is nothing but sand for the anchor to grip. A popular adaption of the anchor is an anchor trolly that runs along most of the length of the kayak and allows the anchor to be secured from bow to stern and anywhere in between. This is a nice feature in that it allows you to point the bow of the kayak into or with the wind.
If you are in the camp that believes bright colors spook the fish, you may want to consider the color of your paddle blades and PDF and go with earth tone or sky blue colors if possible.
These three items will get you started on the water by supporting you for fly fishing. Of the three, the paddle will cost you the most. The best case scenario is to try the paddle out first, if at all possible, to ensure that you have selected the right one. My dialogue with other kayakers is that they went too cheap with the first paddle and purchased a second to reduce the weight. Regarding the PDF and anchor, chances are good that you will have purchased the right ones at the onset. There are other items to consider, and given your situation, they could be considered a must have item, but that is another article.
This is the second of five articles in a series for kayak fly fishing. Links to the other articles are listed below.