Kayak Fishing Rigging — Top Tips for Beginners in 2023

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For anglers, catching fish is a fun activity, especially when you’ve got a great catch. But you always have to be prepared.

So, where do you begin? Before you start rigging your kayaks, there are a couple of things you have to consider. Think of the gears and safety procedures that anglers need before sitting in kayaks. 

Let’s get started with more fun tips and ideas for beginners like you in kayak fishing rigging.

kayak fishing rigging
Kayak Fishing Rigging. Source: Baker County Tourism

Choosing your Kayak

The first thing you do is choose your kayak. Where will I go fishing? Is it in a river? A lake? In the ocean? Ask these yourself before and choose a fishing-specific kayak that will suit you best. When fishing in the ocean, choose the best ocean kayaks.

Some kayaks can be long and narrow, and these work well in the ocean because they’re fast. And some are short, which is ideal for river and lake angling due to maneuverability. There are factors that you can consider, such as:

  • Durability
  • Weight limit
  • Storage space

Seat Options

A proper seat can make or ruin your day. How so? Fishing is a sport that can take hours, so you need to be comfortable. Take note of the seat padding, height of the back, and the angle of the backrest of your kayak to suit your style. 

Rod Holders

Rod holders have a lot of options available for you to choose from. You can set it up in front of the cockpit or the back of your seat. It will depend on your preference.

You can also fashion PVC pipes as rod holders. Just make sure that you have one piece rod holder in front of you and two extra rod holders as reserves. 

Other Gears and Accessories

There is a limit to the gear you can put in your kayak. Slide tracks gear is vital to help mount your accessories into your fishing kayak.

Another fishing gear that you can equip yourself with is the navigation system. 

Kayak Fishing Rigging

You now have your kayak and are ready to rig it. Base your rigging on the area you are going to fish and how it will suit your needs. There is also an option of searching for companies that can help with rigging.

Anchor Trolley

An anchor trolley is a must-have for kayak rigging. It helps you to position your kayak while fishing or anchoring up. And also helps combat wind conditions so that you can have more time fishing.  

Fish Finder

Most of the kayaks are rigged with fish finders that are water-resistant. You can choose from a portable fish finder that needs a transducer with a mounted suction cup. Or a permanent kayak fish finder mount with a transducer epoxied to the hull.

Fishing Crate

A kayak crate that goes best into your tank well is the milk crate. The milk crate’s purpose is to hold gears and tackle boxes and easily strap them into your boat. Make sure all the accessories that you take with you are organized in the milk crate.

Top 4 Kayak Fishing Rigging Tips for Beginners

Here are some tips that new anglers should consider to rig vessels properly.

Tip #1 Choose function over form

As a kayak angler, remember that what you are rigging in your kayak should have a purpose. It’s better if you start small, and from there, you can continue to improve. The best way to start a kayak fishing sport is to keep it simple and focus on functionality.

Tip #2 Decide what you want and do some mock-ups

Rigging options provide endless possibilities. So decide if you want to DIY, purchase, or have companies do them to save time. Do some mock-ups of your fishing kayak so that you can see what needs to be changed.

Tip #3 Field test your kayak

Take a couple of expeditions out in the water and test out the gears. If it does not work as designed, then you have the option of changing it up a little bit.

Tip #4 Do your research

As a new kayak angler, you may need to do some research before you get started. Social media provides unlimited information about rigging.

You can also ask for help from a guide about paddling, boat positioning, the gear to equip with, lures, and tackles to buy.

Read our Kayak Fishing guide to learn the basics of kayak fishing!

Start Fishing

Once everything is prepared, start your adventure with your kayak. For beginners, it is best to explore your fish-hunting skill in peaceful water. 

Lures and Baits

The best option for bait is a live one. Equip your kayak with a live bait container and use single hook baits as much as possible.

And if you have a center hatch, don’t try to put all the lures at once. Just use one that you have confidence in to catch more fish. 


Paddling is usually the way your kayak propels forward. Since catching fish is your aim, consider a pedal drive kayak. The pedal drive has increased torque that allows you to overcome waves and windy weather.

The pedals give more freedom to your hands and lessen the strain on your body. Another option is roto-molded sit on top kayaks. Hobie offers kayakers sit on top kayaks, paddles, pedals, or tandems.

Securing your Belongings

Going fishing in a kayak can make you lose some of your belongings. It is very important to secure them. Strap down things that can fall over or place them in a waterproof pocket or a hatch so they don’t get wet.


Safety is one of the most important factors in any activity you are going to do, especially in kayak fishing. Take note of everything before leaving. And preferably create a safety gear equipment checklist that includes:

  • PFD or personal flotation device
  • Signaling devices like a whistle or air horn
  • Pocket knife
  • Eyewear (choose only the best fishing sunglasses)
  • First aid kit
  • Radio

Noise Deadening Foam

Noise can scare a large school of fish, so soundproof your kayak. How will you do it? Some anglers use a black textured foam with self-adhesive on the bow and stern.

That sound deadens surfaces knocked with tools, rods, anchors, and paddles.

Other Considerations

Lakes, rivers, and the ocean have predators lurking underneath, you just have to look out for them. Have an extra paddle with you. If your boat tips over and loses your pedal drive, you can do paddling back to shore.

Double-check your gear, accessories, bait, lures, extra storage, and paddle before you sit on top of your boats.

You are now ready! So have fun and enjoy your time fishing in your newly rigged kayak.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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