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So now you’ve done it. You’ve gone out and bought the kayak that best fits the style of fishing you plan to do. You go to bed at night dreaming of all the trophy fish you’ll catch. Well, not so fast. You still need to outfit your kayak for fishing.

My first suggestion is to take the kayak out on a few short excursions. Hopefully you’ll catch a few fish too, but during this time learn the deck layout you have and what changes need to be made. Below, I’ll list a few of the more common modifications that you may consider adding.

The first thing that many kayak fishermen add is a rudder. I really recommend paddling a few months without one – it will make you a better paddler, but they are useful in controlling one’s drift. With the right wind, I can set a line with my rudder and drift for miles along a shoreline, picking up fish all the way without a single corrective paddle stroke.

Shown below is a rudder for a Wilderness Systems Tarpon series kayak


Where do you store your rods? Several companies make rod holders. I have one installed on the center console of my cockpit. I normally use this rod holder for holding the rod while unhooking a fish. I have two more home-made rod holders in the back where I store my rods while in transport. These were made from 1 ½” PVC pipe and zip-tied to my milk crate. You can also purchase rod holders of this type.

Here is a rod holder made by Scotty that is mounted on the front console.


The crate shown below has two rodholders made from 1 ½” PVC pipe.


Here's a great option for putting inexpensive rod holders on your crate. These are made from PVC such as one would find at a home improvement store


If you find where a school of fish is biting, you may want to stay there for a while. You would want an anchor for this. There are many different types of anchor. I generally use a folding claw anchor, but it all depends on the type of bottom you want to anchor into. For sand, you’ll want a Bruce Claw, for lakes with debris on the bottom you may consider a mushroom anchor. But you don’t have to purchase a specialty anchor. A brick, a length of chain, a window weight, and even dumbbells make good anchors.

If the bottom is shallow, you may consider a stake-out stick. This is a pole made of fiberglass or some other material that you can stick through the handle of your yak to stake yourself to the bottom. You can purchase these from several different manufacturers, prices usually range from $45 and up. Of course, since it’s a pole you can also improvise. I use an old ski pole I purchased from a Goodwill store for $2 and have friends that use a golf club with the end removed, or a cheap Wal-Mart pool cue.

The photo below shows a ski pole which has been converted into a stake-out-stick.


This photo shows how the stake-out-stick is used in conjunction with an anchor trolley.


I also find many situations where I want to drift slowly. For this I use a drift sock. It is like a miniature parachute with a 3-foot cord tied to it that can be attached in place of my anchor. Used correctly, it will slow your drift and allow you to thoroughly work an area.

A drift sock is shown attached to an anchor trolley in the photo below.


Where you attach your anchor is important. It can be critical to which direction you cast, and if you anchor incorrectly in current, it can even be dangerous. To allow me to control the direction of my boat relative to the anchor and current, I have installed an anchor trolley. It is essentially a clothesline that stretches from bow to stern, with a stainless steel ring in the center. WIth the growing popularity of kayak fishing, anchor trollies are readily available for reasonable prices from several companies. They are also quite easy to make. I use a quick disconnect and float on my anchor line that allows me to clip onto the ring and thereby adjust the position of the anchor. If I have a fish on, the quick disconnect also allows me to unhook the anchor quickly to fight the fish.

Here is a photo showing how an anchor trolley attaches to the kayak.


Shown below is how I have rigged my anchor with a float and the ability to quickly disconnect from the trolley ring.


Last is the milk crate. Many people cringe at the mention of one, and I’m one of them. I do use one however because I find it holds items such as my drift sock, spare drinks, baits, tackle, and even lunch securely within reach. Without the milk crate, everything just slides around in the tank well and is not easy to get at when it is needed. When you’re done for the day, everything can be packed in the milk crate for easy transport home and storage.

In addition to rod holders and lunch, milk crates can be used to carry tools needed while fishing. Here is one with pliers attached.


At the end of the day, most of your gear can be conveniently packed into the milk crate for transportation home.


Here is the fully rigged fishing kayak.


The list above is a starting point. It is what I have found to be useful in my area. Rigging can be as much fun as fishing sometimes, so take some time and determine how you want to rig yours and have fun with it. Some people take it to extremes and add fish finders, GPS systems, and even stereos. Whatever your case may be, I hope this gives you some rigging ideas for your own fishing kayak.

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Looks good. i had some luck crabbing yesterday, and I'm considering trying it from a kayak.

Your boat looks very nice, and well outfitted. Are there any things you wish you'd done differently, or would like to add? looks great, but just curious.
Thanks. The first item I listed is to take it out a few times and get a feel for what you need to do with your deck arrangement. I bought a boat already outfitted and learned this the hard way. Unfortunately it wasn't outfitted to suit my needs and I had the double misfortune of spending extra for the outfitting and then having to retrofit it myself once I found what I really needed. If I were to do it over again, I'd just purchase the bare bones boat, i.e. no rudder, not the fisherman model, etc. and go from the ground up.

At this point, I have done as much with it as I am going to. I may make a few changes to what is already there, such as reflective cord for the trolley line, but that is about all.

I too, have thought about crabbing from mine but the blue crabs we have here require too much effort for too little gain for me.
Finally got around to reading your article on outfitting your kayak for fishing. I will be at SPI for a week in August and plan to do alot of fishing with the kayak. Thanks for the illustrated recommendations.
Hey rick, I really like your suggestions on rigging a kayak for fishing. I just bought my wife one   and we plan to do alot of fishing so thanks for the tips.

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