- Certain optional kayak gear is handy and necessary.
- Customize your fishing kayak for comfort and function.
By Jim Low
With a new Kayak, there are quite a few features to look for, understand and think about. Here are some of the features that are important to me:
ADJUSTABLE SEATS & FOOT BRACES
Before writing a check, take time to sit in several kayaks to see if you can stand to sit in it for hours. Try to find a dealer that will allow you to test “drive” kayak before purchase. Ideally, a seat should have an adjustable, padded back rest. The seat should also be padded with a material that allows water to drain away from your kiester.
Equally important are adjustable foot rests. Pushing on these anchors you in your seat, providing a solid paddling platform. They should be adjustable, not only for different leg lengths, but to allow you to change your leg position to avoid stiffness. The surfaces of these pedal-like accessories should have a non-slip surface.
Sometimes these are built into the kayak’s hull and hold rods upright. This works fine, as long as you don’t encounter any overhead obstructions. Much better are rod holders with swiveling mounts that fold parallel with the deck. Having multiple rod holders allow you to switch baits without re-rigging.
Most kayaks have fore and aft cargo compartments, but these are hard to reach on the water. Small compartments within reach of the seat are more practical.
You don’t need much of an anchor for kayak fishing, but they do come in handy when you want to hold your position against current or wind. Anchors need ropes, and having loose rope around your feet is inconvenient, not to mention dangerous. Anchor trolleys keep your anchor rope organized with cleats and allow you to instantly tie off anchor rope at the desired length and release it just as quickly. A small, foldable anchor will fit easily under or beside your seat, out of the way but available when needed.
You laugh, but nothing is worse than cracking open a drink only to have it tip over in your lap moments later. Well, okay, lots of things are worse, but a spilled drink is bad enough. When not holding drinks, cup holders are useful for holding snacks, phones, lures, pliers and a dozen other things.
ACCESSORY MOUNTING SYSTEMS
These really are the mothers of all accessories. Factory-installed accessory mounting systems permit you to customize your kayak in ways limited only by your imagination. They accept universal mounting plates can be drilled to accept anything you want. This is an easy way to keep cell phones, tablets, GPS units and other electronic devices handy. Naturally, if you are short on imagination, manufacturers have lots of ideas, including tackle bins, live wells, rod holders, fish finders and, yes, cup holders.
Paddling into the wind can be a challenge when fishing on lakes or large streams. A rudder or tracking skeg keeps you on track without constant correction. This is especially handy for trolling.
Speaking of trolling, trolling motors made specifically for canoes and kayaks are available. Hobie offers kayaks equipped with their patented MirageDrive, the original kayak peddle-drive system. These items aren’t cheap…unless you compare their prices to the cost of a bass boat.
One often-neglected accessory is a top-quality paddle. A cheap paddle will wear you out if it doesn’t wear out first. Don’t balk at spending a couple hundred dollars on an ergonomically friendly paddle that keep you, your wrists and shoulders out of the orthopedic surgeon’s office for years.
Fishing kayaks have become so popular that organizations dedicated to them are springing up around the country. Missouri has two that I know of: Missouri Kayak Fishing Association and the Show Me Kayak Fishing. You might consider hooking up with these folks for help learning the ropes of kayak angling. Once you go ‘yak, you’ll never look back!