Selecting the proper gear for your next kayak fishing trip.
If someone asked you to pick one rod and reel and only one rod and reel would you have a hard time doing so? I know I would. Luckily if you are on a kayak you don’t have to worry.
One of the many added benefits of fishing from a kayak is the ability to adapt. You will often find yourself rigged and ready to go for multiple species. While some outfits allow you to target multiple species, more often than not, you will want dedicated rods and reels for specific applications.
For the most part, the “everyday” items that I carry on my kayak will not change.
- A suitable personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket
- 15-pound Boga grip attached to a float
- Yak Attack Leverage landing net (only use this for fluke and tog)
- A good pair of pliers such as the Mustad 6-1/2-inch pliers with built in cutter
- A fixed blade dive knife such as the Sypderco FB31SYL H1 (always attached to my PFD)
- Boomerang braid scissors (also attached to my PFD)
- A floating/waterproof VHF radio (once again, always on my PFD)
These are items that I feel I cannot live without for one reason or another. Sometimes it is safety based and other times it is for practical reasons such as subduing an unruly fish with the use of a Boga grip. Of course you notice the importance of the PFD and everything that’s attached to that critical lifeline – enough said.
But as mentioned earlier, I select my rod and reel combos depending on what fish I target that day. That isn’t to say that I won’t bring out a fluke rod if I’m targeting striped bass. You never know what circumstances you will encounter while on the water. Better to be prepared for it all (or most of it anyway).
I will always use a wind on leader or simple Alberto knot to connect the braid to my leader material; I shy away from using a barrel swivel like I do when surf fishing because you’ll ultimately find yourself winding the swivel up into your guides when landing a fish. This can do a number on your top guide, eventually cracking it.
When targeting striped bass, I generally have two to three rods that get the job done. One combo is dedicated to livelining. For that I use a conventional reel such as a Maxel Ocean Max 06. It is a non-level wind reel topped with 30-pound braid. There are many other manufacturers but this is what works for me. The smaller frame diameter really allows my hands to get around the reel. I also prefer a lever drag as it allows me to let off on a good fish or apply more drag as needed.
Rounding out this outfit is a heavy duty rod such as a Tsunami TSSPJC761XH. A factory spiral wrapped rod that works perfectly for live lining and even better on a kayak as the guides start off as a conventional and end up as a spinning, giving you the best of both worlds.
Another combo that I won’t leave home without when chasing stripers is my Van Staal 150 spooled with 25-pound braid and Daiwa SP Surf CLSP701MFS. At 7 feet, this stout, shorter butted rod doesn’t get in the way when casting and working top water plugs like a large DOC or a soft plastic such as a Plum Island Swimbait. This is an important thing to note; regardless of what rod you use. I wear an NRS cVest PFD. It is a standard high back personal flotation device. Sometimes a rod with a longer butt end can get in the way when casting from a kayak. I always test a rod prior to purchase; if it extends past my elbow, I know it will be tough to use in the confines of a kayak.
Like many readers, fluke fishing is a passion of mine, and I find myself targeting these great fish more than I do any other species from my kayak. Usually, I won’t fish a jig heavier than 2 ounces, which is why I always start with my lighter combo for jigging. It’s a Quantum Accurist PT spooled with 15-pound braid accompanied with a Tsunami TSC701MH. John Skinner turned me onto this combo, and it is deadly when tossing 3/4-ounce Spro jigs tipped with Berkley Gulp! You can really feel the most subtle hits from a wary fluke.
The added benefit to the Quantum Accurist PT is that it has a flipping switch on it. This feature is great for dropping back to a fluke, giving them a little extra time to inhale my jig. You simply engage the flipping feature on the side of the reel. When you push and hold the casting button, the reel will go into free spool allowing that doormat to mouth your bait for an extra second or so.
The above-mentioned combo tops out with a 1-ounce plus jig. When the tide is cranking and I need to step up my jig weight I break out my Abu Garcia Revo Toro paired with a Tsunami Slimwave model SWSPC641-MH. This rod has a softer tip for feeling subtle hits when throwing heavier jigs but plenty of backbone to handle a doormat. The Slimwave is also great for the kayak as it is very forgiving when it comes to high sticking.
The rod and reel combos that I use for fluke are also great for targeting sea bass and porgies as well. One other quick note is that I will always have a net on my yak when targeting fluke as most fish are typically lost at the boat. The Yak Attack Leverage Landing Net is an incredible tool and a must have.
There is always one exception to the rule. A wild card if you will. A combo that I’ve really taken to this season is the Tsunami Shield 4000 paired with a Tsunami Slimwave SWSPS701-MH. This is a rod and reel combo that I’ve encountered that is really universal. Having taken striped bass, fluke, bluefish, blackfish, and weakfish on this combo already, I’ve given this setup a run for its money and have not been disappointed. It can do everything from pulling a 9-pound tog out of the rocks to casting plastics and plugs up to 1-1/2 ounces.
Regardless of what body of water you land on when planning your next kayak fishing excursion, remember that you don’t have to be limited to just one or two rods. Even if you don’t plan things out remember to always have a medium heavy spinning outfit at the ready as it is versatile and can handle most of what our waters can dish out.
Tight lines and remember – if I haven’t stressed it enough – always wear your PFD.
|MORE STUFF – ADDING ROD CAPACITY
If your kayak doesn’t offer storage for all of the rods and reels that you want to bring out you can easily remedy this in one of a few ways.
Another great resource for kayak rigging is YouTube – from manufacturers to individuals, you will find exactly what you want. If you don’t, it will give you some great ideas.