What type of fishing gear you bring out on the kayak is going to depend on a number of different factors such as where you are fishing or for what species. I am not going to go through gear for each species as each angler will have their own preferences. What I am going to do is to make some suggestions regarding fishing gear for kayak fishing based on the seven years of experience that I have. Hopefully some of my observations may help anglers to identify what they need to get to suit their needs.
First thing a lot of people ask is whether they need to buy expensive gear or to keep it cheap. There is no right answer to this question and it really boils down to personal preference. Bear in mind that kayak fishing is fairly tough on fishing gear and your reels in particular will come into contact with salt water a lot more frequently than with other styles of fishing. Some kayakers buy the cheapest of gear with the hopes of getting a season out of it, others buy big and look after the tackle meticulously, the choice is yours. I do recommend giving everything a good rinse down in freshwater when you get home and a hose reel left in the garden is perfect for this job.
When looking at rods one thing I have found is that there are an increasing number of shops that are selling ‘kayak rods’ which appear to be children’s toys that are three feet long rebranded as ‘kayak rods’. I view these rods as pretty much useless for kayak fishing. A far better option is a rod of around seven feet in length and strong enough for your intended quarry. If the fish makes a run under the kayak there will be enough length in a seven foot rod to pass the tip and line over the bow and continue the fight. Another thing to consider when buying kayak fishing rods is the length of the handle. With space being confined on a kayak I prefer to use rods where the butt does not extent past my elbow which gives far more manoeuvrability. The only short rod I use is a five foot rod for jigging for mackerel, herring and other baitfish where I know strong runs are not going to be an issue.
Reel lines, hooks and rigs are also down to personal preference. One thing about rigs I would like to mention is that I find it best on the kayak to keep the rigs simple. Again, the kayak cockpit is confined and the last thing you want is a multitude of hooks on snoods that are too long tangling on anything available. Hooks seems to have an uncanny ability to find snags above the waterline when kayak fishing (particularly at night) so I think it pays to have shorter snoods and uncomplicated rigs. By all means, as your confidence in kayak angling grows so should the selection and size of rigs that you use but it makes very good sense to keep things simple at the outset.
Something to land fish is also going to be handy and being of the opinion that ‘lip grippers’ are an abomination I would suggest a small folding net. There are many that will sit into a flush mounted rod holder. An easier option is the one I take and just ‘hand land’ the fish but it does result in the odd loss. With all of the gear that an angler brings to sea, make sure you have it leashed to the kayak. A rogue wave or a flip in the surf will see you lose all the gear that is not tethered to the kayak. You can buy leashes or make your own and they should be attached to everything that is loose – rods, reels, tackle boxes, everything. Leash it or lose it!
Other small items that are well worth carrying are T-bar disgorgers and long nose pliers make tough to reach hooks accessible. Bring wire cutters if using wire traces, I use electrical snips. One final thing to make sure to have on your person is a good, sharp knife. With lots of lines and leashes in very close proximity it would be easy to become entangled in the event of a capsize. A knife to hand will allow you to cut through these hazards. Keep it on your PFD; it’s no good if it is out of reach when you need it!
Enjoy your fishing!