How to set up your kayak for fishing

Kayak fishing is increasingly getting more popular among anglers. Learn how to set up your kayak for fishing,

Kayak fishing is increasingly getting more popular among anglers. Kayaks are durable, and due to their compact size, they allow you to fish in tight areas that would otherwise be inaccessible with a regular boat.

Setting up your kayak for fishing is as easy as it gets. All you have to do is make a checklist for all the gear you need for your kayak fishing trip and ensure that everything is maintained and works as it should.

To make things easier for you, we've crafted this guide to help you to set up your kayak for fishing and ensure that you don't forget anything.

1. Kayak Essentials

Kayak Paddle

It's critical that you get a paddle made of high-quality materials since cheap ones may break when paddling. A good material choice is carbon fiber or even fiberglass.

A paddle with adjustable feathering would be handy, too. Being able to feather your paddle allows you to paddle in windy weather effortlessly by adjusting the blade that's out of the water so that it's flat to the wind.

We also advise you to get a spare paddle just in case you lost or broke your paddle in the middle of the water.

Paddle Clip

A paddle clip allows you to secure your paddle to the kayak and go handsfree. Otherwise, you'd have to put it inside the kayak and waste storage space.

Paddle Leash

You should get a paddle leash to tether your paddle to the kayak and prevent it from falling into the water, which can be a challenging situation if you don't have a spare paddle.

Kayak Cart

Kayak carts are two-wheelers that provide support for one end of a kayak, making it easier for you to move your kayak on land.

2. Fishing Gear

Fishing Rod

Fishing rods range from affordable, hobbyist rods to premium, professional-grade ones. No matter which fishing rod you get, choose a medium-sized one. A rod that's too short or too long will just make things harder.

Fishing Reel

Just like fishing rods, there's a wide range of fishing reels that you can get. Just make sure to match your fishing reel with the rod and balance them according to the weight class.

Stocked Tackle Bag

A stocked tackle bag is essential for organizing and securing your tackle. The latch must be sturdy and secure.

Fishing Rod Holder

A fishing rod holder is a must-have item in kayak fishing trips, especially if you're going to spend most of your day fishing. It allows you to secure your rod and put it down when you need to use your hands in doing other stuff.


You'll need pliers to remove the fish from the hook. They can also be quite handy when tying lures. Make sure to get one with a sturdy stainless steel build that also has line cutters, side cutters, and a long nose.

Fish Grip with Scale

A fish grip allows you to hold the fish you catch and weigh it. Make sure to get one with a secure lip clamp and a scale.

Hook Remover Tool

Sometimes, a hook can be too difficult to remove from a fish's mouth the conventional way. In this case, you'll need a hook remover tool. Choose one that doesn't cause harm or pain to the fish.

Fish Bag

A fish bag lets you keep your catch cool until you get home and store it at the appropriate temperature.

Fish Finder

A fish finder can be convenient in spotting fish deep under the water. It consists of a video camera that's attached to a long cord and a remote viewing screen that lets you see the camera's live footage. Some fish finders don't have a remote viewing screen, but we think you should get one with a screen to speed things up.

3. Safety Gear

Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

Some people may neglect to wear their life jackets when they go kayaking because they think it's useless. However, in some situations, a PFD can be the only way for you to save your life.

You need to make sure that you get the right size. A life vest must fit snugly without being too tight. This is what coast guard calls "comfortably snug." You can test the fit of your life jacket by allowing someone to place two fingers under the shoulder straps and lift upwards. If the straps slip beyond your ears, then the vest is too loose.

Cell Phone

A cell phone in your pocket is essential, even if there's no network coverage in the area you choose for your kayak fishing. A rugged smartphone is preferable or at least put your smartphone in a sturdy case.


A GPS device allows you to track your location and prevents you from getting lost. You may not need it if your phone has built-in GPS, but your phone's battery won't likely last all day.

First Aid Kit

If you or your partner gets injured, there isn't much you can do in the middle of the water than to rely on that first aid training you took before. Even if you're sure that you'll get help, immediate intervention can be necessary in some cases.


A compass is important for finding your way, especially if you don't have a GPS device.

Kayak Light

A kayak light will help you navigate your kayak more safely at night. It'll also make your kayak more visible.


A whistle can be your only way of calling for help when something goes wrong. Even if you take communication devices with you, they could malfunction or get lost. Get a whistle that's loud enough to be heard over long distances. 100 dB or louder would be perfect.


A knife can be very useful in many situations, like if your kayak runs into a sweeper or a strainer. Make sure that you keep it in a protective case to prevent accidents.

4. Sun Protection

Longsleeve Shirt

It's a good idea to take a spare one with you in case the one you're wearing gets wet, or the weather changes unexpectedly.

Fishing Hat

Unlike regular hats, fishing hats also cover your neck in addition to your head. Your neck is one of the most exposed areas to sunlight and you must protect it from sunburn.

Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from sunlight reflected from the water's surface, which can disrupt your vision.

Fishing Gloves

Fishing gloves protect your hands from sunlight and even help you get a better grip on your fishing rod.


Putting on sunscreen will protect your skin from getting burned, especially if your skin is light-toned. It'll also protect you from long-term side effects and diseases like melanoma. Sunscreen must be applied even during wintertime and cloudy weather. Make sure to get an SPF 30 sunscreen since anything lower won't do much.

SPF Lip Balm

Lips are often ignored when people try to protect their skin from sunlight, but it's equally as important to protect your lips from UV rays as protecting your face and body. The regular sunscreen is made for your body and you can't use it on your lips, which is why an SPF lip balm would be your best bet.

Final Thoughts

Now that you've gathered all the tools and gear you need, you're all set. Check the weather forecast before going on your trip, stay safe, and have fun!