A Guide to Setting Up Your Kayak for Fishing

Paddle fishing has been quite a subject of interest for many anglers lately. A fishing kayak may not be as competent as a fishing-specific boat. However, the fun of merging two distinct sports lead fishermen to present various ways to turn a recreational kayak into a vessel suitable for angling.

Compared to a fishing boat, a kayak has limited storage space and almost no room for moving around. Moreover, you’re more likely to get wet on a kayak or lose your gear, which can be troublesome.

Hence, kayaks need avid preparation to guarantee a safe and enjoyable fishing trip.

If you’re wasting your time contemplating how to set up your kayak for fishing, continue reading to know what you need to prepare for a yak fishing trip.

Guide to Setting Up Your Kayak for FishingSetting Up Kayak for Fishing

Check If Your Kayak Is Suitable

The first question that should cross your mind is, “Is my kayak suitable for fishing?” 

Generally, fishing kayaks should be short and wide. Shorter vessels are chosen for their ease of handling and ability to twist and turn. Also, a wider width provides sufficient stability, which you’ll need a lot since most fishing techniques require standing still in one place for a while.

The thing is, not all vessels are designed to fit this purpose. However, if you already have a kayak, then you’ll need to work with what you have. We are going to discuss later some anchoring techniques and storage methods that can help you transform your regular kayak into a fishing-specific one.

On the other hand, if you’re in the process of purchasing a fishing kayak, there are a few decent options you can choose from. For example, kayaks like “Viking Profish” or “Intex Explorer K2” are purpose-designed vessels that many anglers recommend.

Mainly, you should look for a kayak that is fast and stable for choppy conditions. Having large hatches and ample tackle storage space is a must. Besides, consider kayaks with more than one cockpit if you like having company or like to go fishing with your children.

Your PFD Matters

There is no escape from wearing a life jacket all the time since it’s a major safety rule. That’s why you better choose a comfortable and lightweight one that allows you to stir and shift smoothly. 

Consider investing in a kayak-specific life jacket to guarantee your safety and convenience simultaneously.

Paddle or Motor

The golden rule for kayaking is that you shouldn’t compromise when it comes to choosing a paddle. There’s no point in wasting your energy on a heavy paddle and leaving yourself tired for the rest of the trip, before catching some tasty fish.

A good fishing paddle should be light and robust, with blades shorter and thicker than the standard ones. This way, you’ll move your kayak with ease and cover more water.

Furthermore, avoid too short or too long paddles. Short paddles may lead your knuckles to hit the edge of the kayak with each paddle stroke, while long ones burden you with extra swing weight. 

Some examples of recommended fishing paddles are “Bending Branches’ Angler Ace” and “Backwater Assassin.” 

Another approach to make kayaking hassle-free is installing a trolling motor. Thereby, your hands will be free to focus only on fishing.

Moreover, for better control, try to position the trolling motor in the midsection of your kayak. If this isn’t possible, you can install it on the stern. However, make sure to leave some space on the stern for a milkcrate or any storage container. 

Pick a Good Anchoring System

Pick a Good Anchoring System
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As a general rule, the smaller the vessel, the easier it drifts with wind and current. For this reason, kayaks are likely to drift in the water because they have small hulls. To keep your kayak still, there are many anchoring techniques you can choose from:

1. Trolley Anchor System

This anchoring system consists of a loop, a carabiner, and keeper hooks. The loop (trolley line) is fixed along one side of the kayak with the keeper hooks, one hook on the stern and the other on the bow. The carabiner is kept in the loop with an anchor line passing through it.

When you pull on the trolley line, the carabiner moves, changing the anchor’s place. This, in turn, shifts the position of the kayak to be stationed in line with the prevailing wind and current.

2. Anchor Pole

A power pole anchor is mainly a pole that stops the vessel by sticking into the mud.

This approach is suitable only for shallow waters as it’s not long or sturdy enough to deal with a depth of more than fifteen feet.

3. Drift Chute

A drift chute, also called drift anchor, is a cone-shaped parachute submerged in the water to slow down your drift with the current and the wind.

Take into account that this technique doesn’t completely stop your vessel. Hence, it’s mainly used for soft bait fishing where all you need is to slow down the kayak to an adequate speed.

4. Handmade Anchors

There are a number of ways to build an anchor by yourself. For instance, you can simply tie a dumbbell or a sandbag to a long rope and attach the other end of the line to the kayak’s cleat.

Another method is to bring a rope and tie the kayak to a nearby tree if you’re fishing near a river’s bank. 

Rod Holders Are ImportantRod Holders Are Important

Since kayak fishing involves paddling, casting rods, tying on baits, and handling fish at the same time, you won’t be able to hold the rods all the time. Thus, rod holders are indispensable.

Mostly, fishing kayaks come with built-in or removable rod holders as basic features.

If you’re a novice angler, you can begin by installing two holders to your kayak. Remember to set them up so as they don’t obstruct or interfere with your paddle strokes.

Moreover, at an advanced level, you can install more rod holders near the stern of the kayak in order to increase your yield.

Make a List of The Needed GearMake a List of The Needed Gear

When you’re packing for kayak fishing, you must add safety gear to the fishing tackles. 

Important Items You Should Include:

  • Food and water: because fishing trips last for a long time
  • Spare paddle: tie the paddle to your kayak with a leash 
  • Rods and lines: at least two rods
  • Tackle bag: to store the fishing gear
  • Lure boxes: to store the caught fish
  • Fish grips: to release fish from hooks without hurting your hands
  • Fishing pliers: to retrieve hooks and cut fishing lines
  • First aid kit: store it in a waterproof bag
  • Extra change of clothes: to use in case your clothes got wet 
  • Bilge pump: for water removal
  • Kayak repair kit
  • Buoyant torch
  • A cutting tool

Less Important Items:

  • Hawg trough: to measure the fish
  • Small cooler: to preserve your food
  • A compass and navigation chart
  • VHF radio

Organize Your VesselOrganize Your Vessel

While listing the gear needed, attempt to make a mental image of how you’re going to organize your vessel to fit all the equipment. 

Bear in mind that a small and restricted place like a kayak’s deck can get messy quickly. Thus, you should organize your tackles in a way that makes the most-often-used items accessible all the time. 

To be able to do that, you have two options. Either store them at the back hatch of your sit-on-top kayak or install a milkcrate behind your seat and attach it with ties and clamps.

Given that a kayak’s storage space is limited, many anglers resort to adding a milkcrate to their vessel. For one thing, a milkcrate is big enough to fit fishing nets and tackle boxes. For another, its grated sides don’t allow water to accumulate, thus keeping the gear dry. 


Fishfinders are electronic devices that work by releasing impulses from transmitters, which are converted to sound waves. When these waves hit something in the water, the monitor shows the shape and size of the object hit. This way, fishermen can detect places with plenty of fish.  

It may not be a must-have item, but it sure can come in handy if you don’t know the place in which you’re fishing.

Final Words

In the end, don’t underestimate the power of a bit of planning and organization. A kayak’s limited space can accommodate all your fishing tackles and gear while having easy access to all of them.

With these tips, you can make your fishing trip entertaining and fruitful at the same time.