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  • Rigging your new kayak

    You have read about how great kayaks are as a fishing platform. I have told you what to look for in a fishing kayak. Now it is time to get your kayak rigged for fishing. Before we rig your kayak for fishing there are a few essential pieces of equipment that you need. Some of these are required by law (at least in this state) and others are just necessary.

    First and foremost is a Personal Floatation Devise (PFD). Unlike other boat types, you don’t have to have a throwable PFD in a kayak. You only need one for you to wear. While there are several different types of PFDs on the market, I suggest a PFD made specifically for the paddle sports. You can use one of the big, old fashion orange ones but they are not comfortable for all day paddling and they get in the way of your paddle strokes. PFDs made for paddling sports have straps over your shoulders with the floatation in front and behind you, high on your back. These types of PFDs give more room for your paddle stroke and are not as hot. Further, the floatation high on your back stays out of the way as you lean back against the kayak seat. The new inflatable PFDs can be used but I do not recommend them. They make it hard, no, impossible to do a deep water re-entry in your kayak. You WILL have t take it off to get back in and that is never good. Using the self inflating kind is also a bad idea as it will get wet and it will self-inflate when you don’t want it to. One last thing on PFDs….. ALWAYS WEAR IT. No if, ands, or buts.

    A couple of other escential items are a sound making device and a signaling device (required in salt water and a good idea in fresh water) . You can use an air horn or other loud sound making device made for boats but the minimum is a whistle, which I find sufficient. A signaling device can be a flare or a signal mirror. Secure your sound making device and your signaling device to your PFD so you will always have it. You will always have your PFD on, right?

    The next essential piece of equipment is a paddle. Without a paddle you can’t go anywhere in a kayak. Kayak paddles are different from a regular paddle in that they have a blade on both ends. This keeps you from having to switch the paddle from side to side as you paddle. Paddles come in all different materials and price ranges. Some have straight shafts and some have bent shafts. I find the straight shafts “sit” better in my lap when fishing. The sky is the limit for materials and prices usually follow the materials. I have fiberglass paddles that cost from $100.00 to carbon fiber paddles that cost $800.00. While an inexpensive aluminum shaft paddle will work, I suggest you at least move up in price to a lighter fiberglass shaft. Your arms will thank you for it after a long day of paddling. I do not suggest you go up to expensive carbon fiber paddles unless you do some touring in your kayak or you just want to waste money. Carbon fiber, while light and strong, does not hold up well to rocks or oyster bars. Paddles also come in different lengths with 230cm and 240cm being the most common. Most people will use a 230cm but taller people or people with wider kayaks may find a 240cm length necessary.

    I also suggest you get a leash for your paddle. A paddle leash will tie your paddle to your kayak. When fishing, you will lay your paddle down a lot to use your fishing rod. If it is not leashed to your kayak, you are subject to it falling out and floating away before you know it. This is especially true in rivers where the current can take it away quick. You don’t want to be “up the creek without a paddle.” There is also the tendency to hang on to your paddle if you fall out of your kayak. If the paddle is leashed to the kayak, then so are you. If not, you might be “up the creek with a paddle, but no kayak.” Neither is a good place to be.

    The next essential piece of equipment is a seat. Some kayaks come with a seat. Some of those have good seats, some don’t. If your kayak comes with a good seat, you’re in luck. Most people find they have to buy an after-market seat. What is a good seat? It needs two things, good back support and good bottom support. Back support is the most important because you use your back as you paddle. The seat needs to support your back, keep you sitting up straight, and allow you to push against it. The bottom is not so important. That is not to say that comfort on your rear is not important but I have found a way to resolve that issue. As long as your seat has a good back, you can buy one of those self-inflating turkey hunting seats to provide comfort for your rear. They are relatively inexpensive and very comfortable. You will be sitting on a cushion of air all day.

    Now that you have the essentials, go fishing. “But Pirate, what about rod holders and all the other stuff?” Go fishing. Take your PFD, your paddle, your seat, your rod and reel, a few lures and go fishing. Or at least go paddle for a little while. While you are out there paddling around, notice where your paddle stokes are, notice how far you can reach in your kayak while you are sitting down. Think about where a rod holder will work and where it will get in the way. Think about how you can turn around and get to stuff in the tank well behind you and where you can’t get to it if you tried. Just paddle and cast a few times all the while watching where your rod has to be to make a cast. Now that you know where you can mount things and get to them yet have them out of the way, it is time to mount a few items on your kayak.

    You have your essential equipment that we discussed last month. You have gone out a paddled the kayak and as you paddled you considered where addition equipment might be located to stay out of your way yet be accessible. You are now ready to consider what other equipment you may want to install to make your fishing trips more enjoyable. So what other equipment do you need?

    Before we discuss additional equipment, let’s talk about rigging techniques. The first thing I need to say is a kayak is just a big plastic float. As long as you stay above the water line and seal all holes you drill in the kayak, your kayak will be fine. Don’t worry about drilling holes in your kayak and installing additional equipment. Always attach equipment to your kayak using stainless steel hardware and seal all holes with a good marine grade silicone sealant. The best attachment method is always stainless steel thru-bolts with washers and lock nuts. In order to thru-bolt you must be in an area where you can access the inside of the kayak from a hatch. If you cannot access the inside, stainless steel screws, well nuts or rivets can be used. I do not advise screws or well nuts since their holding power is not very good. Rivets hold pretty well as long as you use the right rivets. Regular rivets from your hardware store do not work. Rivets that have “wings” that flair out are the best. These rivets along with other stainless steel hardware can be found at kayak accessory shops or suppliers. I will give you a few places to find this equipment later.

    Probably one of the first pieces of equipment you will want to install is a rod holder or two? Your kayak may have come with a rod holder on it and it is probably behind you. If that works for your type of fishing that’s fine, it does not work for me. I cast all day long so a rod behind me sticking up like a shrimp boat outrigger will certainly hang me up and cause a backlash (yes I use bait casters). I also found out that if you fish in the river, the river gods or trees on the bank will reach behind you and take your rod out of the rod holder and drop it in the river without you even realizing it is gone! I prefer my rod holders in front of me so I can keep an eye on them. There are several types of rod holders on the market but I prefer the ones made by Scotty (Scotty.com). They make adjustable rod holders for just about every kind of fishing rod including fly rods. Rod holders are simple to install. Determine where you want them, use the base for a template, drill a few holes, put some sealant around the holes and use the thru-bolts to attach them.

    After the rod holders you will probably want to install an anchor trolley and anchor of some kind. An anchor trolley is just a loop of small rope anchored at each end of your kayak with a steel loop in the middle to attach your anchor to. You can then slide the loop to either the front or the back of your kayak to anchor off at the front or rear. About anything can be used for an anchor but I suggest you make a drag chain. A drag chain can be made by purchasing a retractable dog leash, make sure it has a lock, and attach about an 18” piece of 3/8” galvanized chain to the end. The lock will allow you to adjust the length of line you have out. I have found that about 18” of chain will hold most people in a light current. If you only let out a little bit of line it will just slow yourself down, enough line will stop you. I always cover the chain with a piece of bicycle inner tube. The inner tube keeps the chain from kinking up and keeps it quiet when bumping on the rocks. A word about using an anchor, be careful. Do not anchor in strong current and always anchor form the front or the back of your kayak. Anchoring off the side will most assuredly mean you will flip when the current pushes on the side of your kayak.

    From this point the sky is the limit. You may want to add a fish finder? Yep some of us have them on our kayaks. In fact, I have a couple of kayaks rigged with color fish finders with GPS capabilities. You may want to add a rudder? A rudder is helpful in tracking, especially in cross winds. On a river they just get in the way but on open water with a strong current or wind they really help in paddling efficiency. Some people add milk crates in the tank well area to hold their tackle. I prefer a tackle box with a sealed lid to keep things dry if I flip. If you are fishing on a big lake with a lot of those fast boats flying around you, you may want to add a flag that sticks up and makes you more visible. The only limit to rigging your kayak is your mind and of course money. Go to a few kayak fishing web sites like Georgiakayakfishing.com and see how others have rigged their yaks. You will get some great ideas and most of the people there are happy to share rigging information. Where can you get some of this equipment? Some items are available at the big box stores like Bass Pro Shop and Academy but my favorite place to order rigging stuff is Captain Dick Enterprises (Captdick.net). Stan is very knowledgeable about our sport and is one of the pioneers. Heck, he taught me everything I know about rigging a kayak.

    I have given you a lot of information about this great sport of kayak fishing. I hope I peaked your interest and I hope you will consider purchasing a kayak and joining us. Remember, even if you decide fishing from the kayak is not for you, it is still a good way to move up and down the river to a spot you want to wade.
    I only envy those who catch more fish than me.-Issac Walton

  • #2
    spot on

    Great primer for kayaker-fisherman,Riverpirate, and thanks for taking the time to do it.
    SpeyBro

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    • #3
      Nice article, very nice.

      For most river anglers a 230 cm paddle is way too long IMO. A shorter paddle will be lighter and you will be able to generate speed more quickly. A shorter paddle will allow one turn the kayak with fewer strokes. 210-215 cm will work for most, I am using a 207 cm.

      Originally posted by Riverpirate View Post

      I also suggest you get a leash for your paddle.
      I strong oppose having leash on a paddle, especially for river fishing. When someone falls out (and you will eventually) the leash is a entanglement hazard. Your paddle will float, as will your boat, take care of yourself then worry about your gear later. If one does entangle with the leash (around a wrist or leg, or snagged on your pfd buckle), the kayak will drag you along, as will the paddle. Even in moderate current, the force placed on you by being entangled while being dragged is very very hard to do anything.

      There are only three things that I require of my paddling partner, 1) they have a fishing license, 2) that they have a pfd, and 3) that they leave the leash at home.

      Only other thing that I will add, is that anchoring (while very effective fishing method) can be very dangerous and is not recommended until one gets some experience in there boat (especially on rivers). Also explore non-anchor methods, such as sitting sidesaddle and using your feet to hold position, stakeout pole, bushgrapper for a limb, parking on a rock, or my favorite getting out and wading.

      Thanks Riverpirate for getting this thread started.

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree with no leash if the current is very strong. But most of the rivers I fish are not heavy/bad current. If they are so strong that a leash is a problem I can't fish them anyway. More than once, many times, I have had to either chase down someones paddle or we lost it all together which can make for a long day. I also have a knife on my PFD for those cut away emergencies wheater it be leashes, anchor lines, etc. Also there is a tendency to hang on to your paddle when you fall out. If it is leashed to your yak then so are you.
        I only envy those who catch more fish than me.-Issac Walton

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Riverpirate View Post
          But most of the rivers I fish are not heavy/bad current.
          If the current is low, then it is just going to bob around beside you.
          More than once, many times, I have had to either chase down someones paddle or we lost it all together which can make for a long day.
          Use a paddle holder or some type of tight/short clip when the paddle is not in use.
          I also have a knife on my PFD for those cut away emergencies wheater it be leashes, anchor lines, etc.
          IMO, in 90% of the cases you don't have time, by the time you reach for your knife your already upside down and in emergency mode (which is panic mode for 98% of the people).
          Also there is a tendency to hang on to your paddle when you fall out.
          I agree, same with fishing rods. Neither will help get you rescued quicker.
          If it is leashed to your yak then so are you.
          Being tethered to anything in moving water is recipe for disaster. Better situation is once the swimmer realizes they are okay, then they pick up their paddle and grab the boat and start swimming to safety. If the situation again gets dangerous both can be jettison, if need be. Trying a couple of tethered swimmer drills in a swiftwater rescue class, and you will quickly change your mind on having an entanglement danger lurking nearby (IMO).

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          • #6
            I have an anchor trolley rigged on my kayak. Right now, the trolley is attached to the front an back handles (on an Ocean Kayak Caper). I have found that sometimes the line gets in the way as it will ride up the side and get on top of the kayak and/or get caught on the back bungies.

            I was thinking about adding some pad eyes to guide the trolley line or even attach the anchor trolley to them instead of on the top of the kayak at the handles. Do you guys think it is worth the risk of drilling into the kayak to add them? If I do add them, what would be your preferred method of doing so in areas that I can't access the back? Well nuts, rivets, something else?

            Any help is appreciated.

            Thanks,
            Dave

            Comment


            • #7
              I appreciate your effort on these articles.

              I would say that under no circumstance would I ever use a paddle leash or put an anchor on a kayak. If you were to misjudge the current or make a mistake using either of these apparatus, you could wind up dead.

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              • #8
                Dave, I prefer to anchor inline (bow only) for safety reasons but I do recognized that an anchor trolley has advantages for lakes and low gradient streams. Drilling holes into your boat above the waterline is nothing to worry about. I prefer bolts with large washers or mounting plates. Next is nylock nuts, then last choice is rivets, just be sure your rivets have enough expansion to actually hold against the plastic. I have not had enough test but so far I like West System G/Flex epoxy to help seal the hole (and to add more adhesion to hardware). Others use RTV or Lexel without issue.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm with you on the no paddle leash. I use a clip or wedge it into the boat when I don't need it. Chances are if you are in rough enough water to dump the boat, that leash isn't going to much to help you, but can hurt you.

                  I also don't like the anchor trolley. If you feel the need to anchor from either the front or the rear of the boat (never both, as you can get easily turned and dumped in even the mildest of currents), rig the boat up with two anchor locations and use the one that you need based on fishing presentation (upstream, downstream).

                  I am a big fan of using chain for an anchor as it doesn't hang up very much compared to other types.

                  The key I've found about anchors is to rig the anchor line where you don't have to move your body very much to retrieve the anchor. This way, you won't upset the boat when you retrieve the anchor by contorting your body and losing balance.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dbausano View Post
                    I have an anchor trolley rigged on my kayak. Right now, the trolley is attached to the front an back handles (on an Ocean Kayak Caper). I have found that sometimes the line gets in the way as it will ride up the side and get on top of the kayak and/or get caught on the back bungies.

                    I was thinking about adding some pad eyes to guide the trolley line or even attach the anchor trolley to them instead of on the top of the kayak at the handles. Do you guys think it is worth the risk of drilling into the kayak to add them? If I do add them, what would be your preferred method of doing so in areas that I can't access the back? Well nuts, rivets, something else?

                    Any help is appreciated.

                    Thanks,
                    Dave
                    Yea those two handles are too far forward and back. You shoud install pad eyes down along on the side of the yak and far enough out so that when you stretch a tight line between them it does not come up on the deck. Also important is not having them stick out past the edge of the yak so they don't get knocked off. When looking at where you are placing the pad eys, look down from the top of the yak and make sure you can see the edge of the yak sticking out past the pad eye.
                    I only envy those who catch more fish than me.-Issac Walton

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't know if this would be considered an essential to have when kayaking, but I ALWAYS carry a spare paddle with me. I have never lost or broke a paddle, but I don't want to know what it's like without having a second one either.

                      Kurt

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                      • #12
                        Extra Kayak Paddle

                        Me too, Kurt. I've never broken or lost a paddle, but I always carry an extra one . . . just in case.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Kayak fishing

                          By the way, there's a great local organization named Georgia Kayak Fishing.

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                          • #14
                            Paddle

                            I'm new to kayak fishing, but I am also carrying a small retractable spare paddle. It's light and easy to grab with one hand to make a quick adjustment while fishing rather than using the full sized kayak paddle, which stays strapped on the side of the yak until I need it to cover more ground. And if I lose the main paddle, I can get by with this to get home. Got mine for $14.99 at Academy.

                            http://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/st...paddle&Ntk=All
                            Last edited by Cabin Fever; 06-21-13, 11:02 PM.
                            Peace, y'all.

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