Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, or a seasoned kayak angler, we all want a pleasant fishing experience. The best way to get there is by investing in accessories for your fishing kayak. In this article, we classify these accessories into 3 main sections. This makes it easy to distinguish the must-haves from the fun to have. With that being said, here is a short summary of the best fishing kayak accessories.
Review of the best fishing kayak accessories
We’ve divided the review of fishing kayak accessories into three main sections. The first section highlights the must-have accessories regardless of your planned activity. This is then followed by a section on the best fishing gear to have on a fishing kayak. Finally, the third section focuses on accessories that aid in storing gear on your kayak.
Section 1: Essential kayak accessories
Most states consider all kayaks to be “vessels” and thus subjected to boating laws. This makes a PFD(personal flotation device) a necessity to have when paddling on any given day according to the law. You should definitely wear a PFD for your own safety as its main purpose is to keep your mouth and nose above water.
There are three types of kayak fishing life jackets.
The first one is a standard life jacket, which uses light material like foam for keeping you afloat in the water.
The second one is an inflatable life jacket, which you need to inflate once you are in the water.
The third one is a hybrid life jacket, which contains the best of both worlds.
For more information, check out our review on the best kayak fishing PFD.
There are three ways to propel your kayak forward.
The most common and affordable way to do this is by using a kayak paddle on a paddle fishing kayak. Hence, you will be using your kayak paddle quite often with these types of fishing kayaks. For this reason, you are better off choosing a kayak paddle that meets your needs. Other fishing kayaks like the Hobie, have a built-in pedal propulsion system. As a result, you use your feet for propelling your kayak in any direction. Third, are fishing kayaks that run on a motor.
Yet, regardless of the type of fishing kayak you have, it’s important to always have a spare paddle. This will come in handy in case your pedal, motor, or paddle ceases to function. Also, aim for a kayak paddle with a leash, which is handy in case you capsize and the paddle starts drifting away.
For more information, check out our review on the best kayak paddle
One of the kayak safety guidelines is to avoid routes that are prone to boat traffic. The reason being that boats have a hard time making eye contact with small vessels like kayaks. So, if they don’t come close enough to hit you, they may cause a large enough wake to cause you troubles. In short, you should be accountable for your own safety instead of depending on others to watch out for you.
Having a visibility flag on your kayak will help alert boats when you’re in harm’s way. Next to that, it also helps you stay visible to scuba, and snorkel enthusiasts. The best visibility flag should also have a built-in light for staying visible at night.
Other safety items for keeping you safe while kayaking are whistles and air horns. Either way, don’t count on the color of your kayak for staying visible when out kayaking.
When it comes to kayaking, tides, winds, and currents all influence the position of your kayak. So, if you plan on fishing from your kayak, it’s important that you can stay in a certain area without drifting away. If you don’t address this issue, you might end up spending more time adjusting your kayak than fishing.
The best solution to this problem is investing in an anchor. Keep in mind that the size of an anchor is more important than the weight. So, it’s no surprise that most kayak anglers go for a 1.5lbs or 3.0lbs folding anchor. You should also anchor from the bow or stern since a kayak isn’t designed to handle water as it travels sideways.
God forbid, you capsize from your kayak with all your fishing gear. You will need to execute a self-rescue to get back on the kayak along with your fishing equipment. A bilge pump would then help you remove the water that has entered your deck. Yet, depending on the type of kayak you have, there may or may not be a lot of water on deck.
Sit-on-top kayaks have scupper holes for draining water. They also have hatch covers for securing the area beneath the deck. So, once recovered from a capsize, water will start exiting the kayak. In this case, a bilge pump would be a bit of an overkill.
But, if you happen to have a sit-inside kayak, then you definitely need to have a bilge pump. The reason being that a lot of water enters your cockpit when capsizing. So unless you plan on going to shore to clear the water in the kayak, the bilge pump is your next best friend.
When out in the water, it’s important that you are reachable if there’s ever a case of an emergency. A handheld, submersible VHF radio is a great solution for contacting the Coast Guard. It is also useful for contacting your friends, family, and fellow kayakers if they too have a VHF radio.
Here is a short video on how to use the VHF radio to communicate with the Coast Guard and fellow kayakers:
Another way for reaching out in case of an emergency is to use your smartphone. You can dial 911 or call the nearest U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center. Make sure you use a waterproof phone case so that your phone survives to see another day.
A kayak cart is very helpful for hauling your kayak from your home to the water. It reduces the risk of damaging the hull of your kayak or back injury by supporting the weight of the kayak for you.
As with most things, kayak carts come in different models. So, some kayak carts will be better suited for your kayak than others. Luckily, we’ve researched the different types of kayak carts to save you time and effort.
In case you are interested, here’s more information on how to transport your kayak on any type of vehicle.
Kayaking is a great way for enjoying the outdoors all year round. That said, you have to be well prepared during cold weather in case you capsize. If not, you risk getting a cold shock, swim failure, or hypothermia. A wetsuit and/or drysuit is usually the go-to solution for this problem.
As a rule, a wet suit is a must as soon as the water temperature drops below 60°F. This is also true when the combined air and water temperature is below 120°F. You can also choose to wear a dry suit on top of the wet suit, which is very much recommended. So, if you plan on fishing along the coast (=inshore fishing), take a look at the temperature of the coastal water before heading out.
A spray skirt, also known as a spray deck, is a flexible waterproof cover for sit-inside kayaks. Its main purpose is covering the cockpit, which is the area that a kayaker sits in. This way you create a warm environment during rainy, cold, and stormy weather. Yet, it will not save you from hypothermia in the event of a capsize, unlike a wetsuit or drysuit.
It also helps keep out water from entering the kayak even if you capsize. This makes it a wonderful gear to have when learning self-rescue techniques like a kayak roll.
Keep in mind that not all sit-inside kayaks have the same cockpit size and shape. Thus, make sure you choose a skirt that is compatible with your kayak.
Section 2: Essential accessories for kayak fishing
If you practice catch and release fishing, then you know how cautious you must be when handling the fish. There a many ways for removing fish from the water without causing stress and injuries. One technique is wetting your hands or gloves before handling the fish. This is to help the fish retain its protective slime. To increase the fish’s chances of survival, consider handling a fish with a fish grip.
Fish grips have a jaw design that holds the lip of the fish when lifting it out of the water. This makes it a great tool for landing big fish without affecting the slime coat of the fish.
One technique used by most catch and release anglers is to support the belly of the fish as you lift it out of the water using the fish grip
Fish pliers are one of those must-have tools when going fishing. They can remove a hook, cut a line, or even the shank of a hook. They are also useful for getting hooks out of a fish or making knots in fishing lines.
A pair of quality fishing pliers has high-quality material that will last for many years. This is why most anglers prefer titanium needle nose fishing pliers. It has long reachability for removing hooks swallowed by the fish. Yet, it’s also resistant to rust and corrosion.
If you are an experienced angler, then you know how often you need to rely on this tool when fishing. So, it’s best to have it close to you especially when you have little space to move around like when kayak fishing. Having a lifevest with built-in pockets is one of the best solutions to this problem.
Using a landing net when fishing is usually the most certain way of getting the fish in your boat or kayak. Thus, it increases your chances of catching a fish before it has the chance of throwing the hook.
On top of that, landing nets are ideal for netting a fish in a way that is beneficial to its health. You only need to ensure that you have the right landing net for the job. This means paying attention to the shape of the bag and the type of material it’s made of.
For more information, have a look at the following video. It explains the pros of a landing net as well as what kind of landing net to look for.
You can choose to either rely on luck or a fish finder for locating good fishing spots. Going with the latter is the smartest option as it increases your chances of heading back home with a catch.
A fish finder or sounder relies on sonar to detect fish underwater. It sends pulses of sound waves through the water. When the sound waves hit an object, say vegetation, bottom, or a fish, it is reflected back to the surface. This way it detects a moving object like fish saving you the trouble of searching for a good fishing spot.
Choosing the best fish finder for kayak fishing isn’t that easy, especially if you are a beginner. Our advice is to choose one that is affordable and easy to understand as the one suggested here.
As the name suggests, a bait board acts as a great workstation for contained spaces. As you might know, there is not a lot of space available when fishing from a kayak.
The advantage of having a bait board is that it keeps all your tools, like fish pliers, at your fingertips. This is particularly useful when cutting baits and prepping lures. The last thing you want is to misplace a tool or bait and miss your potential catch.
When searching for a bait board, aim for one that also holds drinks, GPS, and camera. This way you only have to focus on one point for accessing your most used gear during your fishing trip.
With kayak fishing, a few hours can quickly turn into a full day on the water. Using sunscreen may protect you from sunburn, but it won’t protect you from the heat. The discomfort you experience from the heat might force you to take a break or even call it a day.
Luckily, you can avoid this discomfort by investing in a kayak sun shade. As the name suggests, a kayak sun shade protects you from UV rays and rain. It gives you the freedom to enjoy sunny days on the water for as long as you want without worrying about UV rays or rain. If you plan on staying on the water for a long time then this is well worth the investment.
Having a cooler on your kayak will serve as a great way for carrying food and cold beverages. Moreover, putting your caught fish in ice is the best way for keeping it fresh. This is especially true once you’ve gutted or filleted the fish.
There are two basic types of kayak coolers available, ice chests and cooler bags. One of the main reasons to choose one cooler over the other is the type of fishing kayak you have.
For more information, check out our kayak cooler review article. Here, we also share what to look for when choosing a kayak cooler.
An alternative way for carrying and storing fish you caught is by using a fish stringer. This is a line of rope or chain along which you can string fish so they can be immersed and kept alive in the water.
Check out the video below to know which stringer is suitable for you.
Section 3: Kayak accessories for storing gear
If you have a lot of gear with you when kayaking then consider storing them away in a dry bag. Especially electronics, extra clothing, or anything that you don’t want to get wet.
This also applies to storing gear beneath the deck, since no kayak is waterproof. So, don’t fool yourself into believing what marketers tell you as you are better off safe than sorry.
Another advantage of using dry bags is that they float so you won’t lose your gear if you capsize. Finally, dry bags also help organize your gear when doing long kayak trips.
Most sit-on-top fishing kayaks have space behind the kayak seat, also known as the tankwell. If you are like most kayak anglers then you might want to get a milk crate to maximize this space.
A milk crate is lightweight and can store plenty of extra gear like rods and tackle boxes. Truth be told, there are a lot of DIY videos showing how to make your very own milk crate. Yet, if you have little time to spare then it’s best to get one made by a professional.
When kayak fishing, there is not a lot of room for moving around. This space becomes even smaller the more stuff you take with you. So it’s paramount that you are well organized and using a tackle box is one way to achieve this.
This tool serves as a storage solution for everything you need on the water to help you catch more fish. This means an extra fishing line, sinkers, leader lines, hooks, lures, swivels, and pliers.
You can’t call a kayak a fishing kayak unless it has fishing accessories like rod holders. Most of them have at most two to three rod holders with one located in the front. This might be enough for some anglers, especially beginners.
For anglers with different fishing rods and fishing methods, this might not be enough. In this case, deck mount rod holders are an excellent solution.
For more information on the different types of rod holders, check out this short video:
How to choose the best fishing kayak accessories
The main purpose of fishing kayak accessories is to enhance your kayak fishing experience. One way to do this is by increasing your level of safety and comfort. But also reduce the effort needed to handle your fishing kayak or catch and store a fish.
Currently, there are a lot of kayak fishing accessories available on the market. So, there’s a risk that you might end up having too many add-ons or not the right one for your needs. This puts you in a situation where stuff starts getting in the way or carrying the wrong equipment. To avoid these pitfalls, it’s best to know beforehand what matters to you most. Here are three questions to ask yourself when choosing an accessory for your fishing kayak.
Do you plan on kayak fishing in saltwater or freshwater?
Saltwater refers to water that’s in a rough state such as the sea and rivers with middle to high currents.
Freshwater refers to water that’s in a calm state such as ponds, lakes, and rivers with little to no current.
When going kayak fishing in saltwater, aim for fishing gear that can withstand a corrosive environment. So, look for fishing kayak accessories made out of plastic or less corrosive metals such as copper and stainless steel. The added advantage is that they are also suitable for freshwater fishing.
What’s more, is that you often have to deal with medium to strong tides and currents when kayak fishing in saltwater. So, you need accessories made of extra sturdy material for better stability.
What type of fishing kayak do you plan on using for your fishing kayak accessory?
There are two main categories from which you can choose a fishing kayak, sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, and sit-inside kayaks.
Sit-inside fishing kayaks have an opening (=cockpit) wherein there are foot pedals and a seat for you to sit in. One drawback of the sit-inside fishing kayaks is that your fishing kayak will likely be filled with water if you happen to flip over. So, you’ll need extra accessories like a bilge pump and spray skirt for keeping water out of the kayak.
Sit-on-top kayaks have the seat and foot pedals located on the kayak deck making it easier to get in and out of. They also have plenty of space carrying fishing kayak accessories.
What does the weather forecast look like for your planned fishing trip?
You should make a habit of always checking the weather forecast before starting your fishing trip. A simple way to do this is by downloading a weather app on your smartphone like ACCUWEATHER or NOAA weather radar. This way you are certain to have the right kayak fishing gear for your trip.
Also, look up the water temperature especially during chilly weather. This is to ensure that you dress accordingly and avoid getting hypothermia if you fall into the water.
According to the cold water survival guide, a wetsuit is a must if the water temperature is below 60°F. This is also the case if the combined air and water temperature is below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In both cases, wearing a drysuit would be a wise decision.