Hacking your way to better kayak success.
Today’s fishing kayaks get anglers on the grounds and into the action with less of an investment than ever before. But even with some simple enhancements – kayak hacks – the average kayak can be transformed into the ultimate fishing machine.
Whether entry level or hardcore, every kayak angler’s arsenal undoubtedly starts with the fishing crate. It can hold gear, tackle trays, and much can be attached to it, including rod holders, a net or gaff, a light or flag. Manufacturers such as Plano have created products that are intended to be placed in the crate and help organize the crate. The Flambeau Tuff Krate extends the concept even further, having been designed with the kayaker’s do-it-yourself mentality in mind according to Dante Gramuglia of Flambeau Outdoors. The Tuff Krate’s Premium model has ample room for tackle trays and tools, and comes with four rod holders, though you can attach up to four more.
Most fishing kayaks now come with rod holders, but these rod holders are good for storing rods, not necessarily the best for fishing or trolling. YakAttack and Scotty make numerous holders, including YakAttack’s Omega and Omega Pro. The holder comes with track mounts and can easily be taken on or off the kayak.
Electronics are critical to the kayak angler as they not only show fish, GPS-enabled units can help you get back to your location. I recently had an experience at a Niantic, CT fishing tournament while night fishing where fog and failing lights made getting back to my launch area impossible. My GPS got me in safely. Humminbird, Lowrance and Garmin all make depthfinder and sonar units that are high quality. Be sure to get depth charts for the area that you’re planning on fishing. My depthfinder and sonar mount on a track and is always on, from the time I launch until the end of my trip.
Keep in mind other battery-powered items you may need when fishing darkness, a particularly amazing experience for the kayak angler with reduced boat traffic and another level of peace and quiet. Regulations require the kayaker to have at least one white light that is visible for at least one nautical mile from all directions. The YakAttack VisiPole 2 has a flag and a night light, keeping the kayaker visible at all times on the outside. New inside LED systems can provide full onboard lighting that illuminates an entire kayak. Yak Lights offers full light sets that include LED strips and will illuminate both the inside and outside of your kayak.
Kayaks may be smaller vessels above board, but most have an amazing amount of room inside their hatches that most everything can be stowed and organized. When lifting and hauling kayaks, contents shift to the stern or bow, making finding what you need while on the water impossible when you need it. Enter Velcro. My Old Town Sportsman currently has an anchor, drift sock, hand bilge pump, depth finder battery, rain gear, dry bag, anchor and rope, measuring board, and my lunch and drinks all below the deck. Being a sit-on-top, I’ve attached everything to the hollow plastic hull’s interior with Velcro. I not only know where everything is in a moment’s notice, I am also sure that contents are accessible.
Most kayakers use some form of a measuring board when recording the size of their fish. Anglers that are fishing in tournaments like the Coastal Kayak Clash may need some type of official board but the rest of us can quickly measure our fish and get them back into the water. I keep my official board stored below deck for tournaments, but for the other fish, I have found that the best way to measure fish and safely get them back into the water is transparent measuring tape that attaches to the side of my Sportsman. It allows me to quickly see the size of the fish while the fish is barely out of the water, shoot a picture and release the fish unharmed.
The items listed here only scratch the surfaces. There are anchor systems, camera and phone mounts, hog tray holders, the list goes on and on. But these simple hacks will get your yak into top fishing shape so you can confidently go and catch fish. And I must say, a well-equipped kayak impresses everyone who sees it – I continue to get kudos with my Sportsman’s appearance. Every time that I finish fishing, I am amazed at the capabilities of my kayak. I’m more confident and catch more fish than I’ve caught in my full sized boat, which I sold!