20 Kayak Fishing Essentials to Help You Fish Like a Pro

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Here’s a list of the kayak essentials you need to start kayak fishing.

1. Personal Floatation Device/ Life Jacket

A life jacket will ensure you are always safe, even during unforeseen accidents. In the instance your kayak overturns, your PDFs or life jackets will keep you afloat while you call for help. If you have enough experience, you may even get back in your kayak after it’s flipped over.

2. Paddle for Fishing Kayaks

It would help if you never forgot paddles for your fishing kayak. Else, how can you move around on the water? It is recommended that you look for adjustable feathering made of carbon fiber or fiberglass blend.

Paddles made of these materials provide lighter weight to anglers. These are also stiff, making it easy and efficient to go paddling.

Check out our list of the best kayak paddle for fishing!

Listen to Our Kayak Fishing Gear & Tackle Recommendations on the Cast & Spear Podcast

3. Paddle Leash and Clip

Although it may seem useless to some people, these are essential for anglers who go kayak fishing, especially those who tend to go solo. You should get these to tether and secure your paddle on your fishing kayak.

Depending on the direction or strength of the current, the paddle you just dropped into the water could float away from you and your kayak.

4. Anchor System for Fishing Kayak

Getting an anchor system can help anglers secure their kayaks when fishing in deeper waters. It is not necessary, especially when you plan to fish in shallow waters. If you plan on getting an anchor system, you should choose which of the various options works best for your kayak.

5. Marine VHF Radio

This safety gear is becoming increasingly essential as more anglers venture further out into deeper waters. It would help if you got a radio since it allows you to contact other radio users while in open waters. It will serve as your go-to communication system, especially during emergencies.

6. Personal Locator Beam/Satellite Communicator

PLBs or satellite communicators are one-way distress signals. PLBs, which can serve as your kayak light, are usually used in emergencies where self-rescue seems impossible. So it wouldn’t hurt if you have one on at all times. Most PLBs and communicators have long battery life, making this an essential lifesaving gear for any angler.

7. Sponge/ Manual Bilge Pump

Sometimes, scupper holes are not enough to drain water out of your kayak. A bilge pump can prove to be a huge help, as this gear can help you get excess water out of your kayak. Even if you have an electrically operated pump, manual bilge pumps can serve as a backup.

8. Magnetic Compass

If you plan to go offshore for kayak fishing, always have a compass with you. If ever you get lost due to high winds or fast currents, it will help you get back to where you came from. Anglers should preferably get magnetic compasses with luminescent markings that work in low-light situations. With this, they won’t have to leave their boat.

9. Dry Bag

A dry bag is where you place your personal belongings, those you want to bring with you in the water. Whether it’s your phone, camera, or any other personal items, they will be safe in a dry bag.

10. Dry Set of Clothes

You have to bring a dry set of clothes with you on every trip. Even if you have no plans of swimming, you will get wet when you go kayak fishing. Extra layers of clothing may help sometimes. But having another set of clothes can help you feel comfortable when you’re on your way home!

11. Tackle Crate for Kayak Fishing Gear

Whether a beginner or an expert, any angler will have to bring a tackle crate with them. A tackle crate where anglers organize their fishing gear or, simply put, tackle. Get one that is made of clear plastic material with a secure latch. It is preferable if you get one in a compact, soft-sided bag. It may be the only thing keeping your gear safe on your boat!

12. Rod Holders

A fishing rod holder is an essential gear you should bring. A rod holder will secure your rods to the kayak, allowing you to do other tasks while waiting for fish to take the bait at the same time. You should get one with an adjustable clamp to accommodate a wider range of fishing rods.

13. Bungee/Lengths of Cord

Bungee kits are useful for any angler wanting to go kayak fishing. These cords are dynamic and stretchable, designed to hold gear in place and not let it fall into the water. These cords are usually installed in an “X” or “XX” pattern on the foredeck of the kayak.

14. Water Sandals

Water sandals are similar to water shoes—both are made of breathable and waterproof material, making them durable. However, water sandals provide less cover on foot. It is well-suited for any fishing trip, especially in mild or warm weather. These sandals are the perfect gear for the best kayak fishing time inside and outside any boat.

15. Measuring Device

Having a measuring device with you during kayak fishing is not important. However, it is a fun little item you can bring along to measure out your catch properly. Having a measuring device with you can help with keeping track of personal bests!

16. Fish Grip & Landing Net

Any angler needs their fish grips with them. You have to bring this gear on any kayak fishing journey so you can properly weigh your catch. It would help if you got a fish grip with a secure lip clamp and an easy-to-hold handle.

17. Kayak Cart

You should also always bring this with you if you don’t want to have a hard time carrying your kayak around. It would help if you get the collapsible kind or something small enough but will still fit in your kayak. Even a milk crate will work as storage!

18. Hat

Sure, it may seem inefficient to bring a hat with you when you already have a long list of essential items packed away. However, a hat will help protect your head and neck from sunburn. You should get one made specifically for fishing, with a wide brim, neck cover, and UPF rating. You will be grateful for this tip later.

19. Knife

Knives are essential to any angler’s gear list. These are useful kayak fishing accessories that you can use to remove hooks from fish safely or when you have a personal emergency. Furthermore, what if you want to have a quick snack before returning home?

20. Food and Water

Sustenance is very important, especially those that are easily stored. Not to mention, forgetting to pack any food or water when you go kayaking can be deadly. You should bring food that can last more than 8 hours. Pack these in a small cooler and store them out of the sun to ensure they won’t go bad.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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