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And now for the rest of the gear.

December 28th, 2012 · 2 Comments

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If you got that new fishing kayak for Christmas or Chanukkah, congrats are in store. Kayak fishing is one of the most exciting things you can do that give you exercise, make you more aware and in touch with nature, and just all in all have a good time doing all of it.

But I’m willing to bet you didn’t get everything that you need to get out and start paddling and fishing today.

The NRS Chinook became my favorite PFD the moment I tried it on.

The NRS Chinook became my favorite PFD the moment I tried it on.

Before you even think about hitting the water, do you have a suitable PFD or life jacket? There is no secret that I’m a huge fan of the NRS Chinook PFD. It was designed (and redesigned for that matter) with kayak fishing in mind. It has several pockets for you to easily stash your fishing license and tags, leader spools, safety knife, and more. Best thing is that the Chinook life jacket is currently on sale. It has been redesigned (yes, again) a little for 2013 so all the 2012’s are on clearance. Trust me, the differences between the two are minimal, so there’s nothing to lose except the close-out price should you decide to wait.

I ended up going with a full dry-suit, but this isn't necessary for most kayak fishermen

I ended up going with a full dry-suit, but this isn’t necessary for most kayak fishermen

Stay warm and dry. Especially this time of year when things get colder and wetter. Many fishermen already have a pair of fishing waders. Even if you do not, breathable waders can be had for less than $100 brand new. The addition of a dry top makes for a fairly safe combo to wear out on the water. Layer up in wool, polypropylene fleece, or neoprene to stay dry underneath the dry gear. If you have a local kayak retailer, check them out. Many have a “used” section where you can find a full dry top for less than $100. I did this for a couple years wearing out used dry tops from Level 6, Kokatat and others before I finally got my new NRS drysuit. Since you’re just getting started, fishing waders and a drytop are a great way to get out on the water on a budget safely.

in addition to being very light weight, the Sawyer paddle is length adjustable and drop-dead gorgeous.

in addition to being very light weight, the Sawyer paddle is length adjustable and drop-dead gorgeous.

Paddles can get expensive in a hurry. I spent years padding the same aluminum shaft $50 paddle while I sought out something lighter and better, and therefore more damaging to the wallet. Getting out and fishing was more important, and so I put off getting a better paddle. Once I did, however, get around to upgrading my paddle, I was astonished. I didn’t comprehend how nice it is to have a lighter paddle until I actually got one. While we’re talking only a few ounces being saved, it is amazing the difference. Before you spend over $150 (and upwards of $500) on a kayak paddle, make sure you can try one out on the water first. All blade shapes are different and you might not like what you spent so much money on. Kayak retailers often have paddles you can try out, and some even have on-the-water demo days where you can try many paddles (kayaks and PFDs too) in just a couple hours. I went with the Sawyer Orca paddle. It’s price very competitively with more well-known paddles with similar features and weight, but made here in Oregon.

Yak-Gear leashes will keep you from losing your favorite gear

There’s nothing much worse than losing your favorite rod and reel combo in the drink. Secure your rods and paddle to your kayak with leashes. You can make your own with simple clips or carabiners and old phone cords from the local thrift store. I secured my gear this way for a long time, but recently switched things up a bit. I secure my rods with leashes from Yak-Gear. These are thin bungies that don’t get in the way like twisted cable did. They also attach to the rods easily with a piece of hook-and-loop so you can easily attach and detach the leash. For the paddle, I’m using a 5′ length of LoopRope. This stuff is killer, and I have more LoopRope in the tankwells to replace the original bungies that came with the kayaks, use it for bow/stern tie downs on the car, and more. Keep your gear attached to your kayak and you’re not going to lose it.

The Tailwater bag can pack a TON of gear and fishing rods too.

The Tailwater bag can pack a TON of gear and fishing rods too.

Milk crates are the tackle storage solution for most kayak fishermen. I used them for years. They easily hold your tackle, bait and lunch, and you can outfit them with additional rod holders. They can be had on the cheap, and fit well behind the seat in the tankwell of most kayaks. They’re so important to the kayak fishermen, there is an online kayak fishing magazine called The Milkcrate. After using milk crates for years, I went with the NRS Tailwater bag. This takes the milk crate a step further by offering your gear a bit better protection from the elements–something I find important with saltwater fishing. The Tailwater bag has a very similar footprint as a milkcrate, but it offers me better access and organization of my gear than I had with the standard milkcrate. I also feel better about leaving it in the car as it looks more like a softsided cooler instead of a box of expensive fishing gear.

That’s all the basic stuff. Of course, there may be more things you want or need depending on your fishing style. Things like fish finders, more rod holders, anchor setups, and more. For all of this, I suggest heading over to YakAngler.com and check out what other folks are doing with their kayaks and get suggestions on modifications that will suit your fishing needs. Also check out YakAttack for kayak fishing specific rigging equipment. If you look around the blog, or if you’ve been following it for awhile, you’ll find some great notes on hauling your kayaks, which, trust me, is very important.

Tags: Gear · Kayak modification

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Terry // Dec 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Isaac,
    Great article . I will be looking for a dry top for sure. New York Spring and Summer are just too short. When the water cools there is some really good freshwater fishing. of course I have to have a Sawyer Paddle .
    Terry Sturtevant
    kayakfishingfever.com

  • 2 The Nothing // Dec 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks, Terry! The Sawyer paddles are awesome, and the blades just got a re-design and are looking pretty sharp. Its hard to believe that my paddle extends upto 250cm (good for high seat positions) yet only weighs 28.9oz.

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