How To Outfit a Kayak for Fishing: 5 Essential Tips

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Kayak fishing is a great activity that will get you out on the water and fish as you explore your favorite locations.

Beginner or not, we all know this to be true.

Then again, learning how to outfit a kayak for fishing is not something that may be as obvious.

In that case, knowing more about outfitting a fishing kayak will ensure your success.

Don’t be overwhelmed by this new venture. Here’s what you should know about how to make a fishing kayak.

What Kind of Kayak Is Good for Fishing?

No idea how to outfit your kayak for fishing?

Before doing anything else, consider if the kayak you have or are thinking of using is good enough for fishing.

Fishing from a kayak requires the kayak to offer a few things, including:

  • High stability
  • Space for your fishing gear
  • Maneuverability

If your kayak is not built to offer these things, it might be hard to have a successful time fishing.

Stability is important so that you can cast, procure gear, and move around as necessary without capsizing.

Having space for your gear is, of course, necessary so that you can have everything you need for fishing, even while in the middle of a lake.

Finally, you will want something with good maneuverability so that you can quickly and confidently make your way to the best fishing spots.

Fishing kayaks are built with all of these three things in mind, but many recreational kayaks will also fit the bill.

If they don’t, you will have to either find a new one that actually offers these things or outfit your kayak so that you can use it for fishing.

Can You Fish While Kayaking?

Of course! You will find that a lot of kayakers choose to stop, throw down an anchor, and cast whenever they find a good spot to fish in.

Others paddle to the area, cast out, set up their rod in the rod holder, and then start paddling slowly to create a trolling setup.

There are a variety of ways you can fish while kayaking. The best thing to do is to experiment and see what works best for you.

How Do You Turn a Regular Kayak Into a Fishing Kayak?

Before you turn a regular kayak into a fishing kayak, you want to first take some time to get to know it as a plain, old kayak.

Head out onto the water in it, see what feels comfortable and what feels awkward, and imagine what it might be like to fish from it.

If you feel like the stability and size are going to work for your fishing needs, continue with transforming it.

With the kayak at home, start by attaching some rod holders.

Make sure to add this somewhere that they won’t be in the way while you are paddling, as that will be a big inconvenience.

Next, add an anchor to the fishing kayak so that you can stay put when you’re casting out.

Lastly, go through the list of outfitting options below and see if there is anything else your kayak is severely lacking.

Turning a regular kayak into a fishing kayak requires some money, time, and patience.

It might take a few tries to get everything right, but you’ll have a super personalized setup once you do.

How To Outfit a Kayak for Fishing

So, you’ve decided to go fishing in your kayak. That’s great!

Kayak fishing is a whole new experience, and many find that no other experience measures up to it.

Some kayaks are pre-designed to be used as fishing kayaks. This means that they have designated rod holders, special areas for fishing tackle, and more.

However, buying a specialized fishing kayak is not a necessity.

It is possible to outfit a kayak for fishing.

All you need to do is to learn what you should put on a fishing kayak for the most enjoyable experience possible.

tips on how to outfit a kayak for fishing

What Do You Put on a Fishing Kayak?

Now that you know more about what the kayak should be like, let’s talk about the types of things you should add to make it work for fishing.

Rod Holders

The first thing you would want to have is a rod holder. This feature keeps your rod in place while fishing, trolling, or paddling your kayak.

Some rod holders are flush-mounted and stationary. Others are adjustable and can be moved up and down to change the height or angle your rod is held at.

Fishing kayaks typically have pre-installed rod holders, but they can also be installed onto different kayaks.

There are heavy-duty rod holders you can use to ensure you have what you need for your angling adventure.

No matter what rod holder you choose, consider having a rod leash. This is very handy in case your rod falls overboard.


Another thing to consider is what type of seats you have on your kayak.

These might not seem that important to fishing at first, but the comfort level of your seat will determine just how long you can stay on the water.

Fishing usually takes hours on end, and you don’t want your seat to hold you back.

Make sure you have a comfortable seat that gives you the support needed for your back.

Something To Slow the Kayak Down

Outfitting your fishing kayak with either an anchor or a drift chute is important if you want to be able to stay in one area and fish.

Kayak anchors are relatively lightweight and have a variety of potential features.

The key point is that you want to be able to keep yourself in one place when necessary.

In some situations, using an anchor won’t be possible or practical.

Here, using a drift chute is better so that you don’t drift too much when trying to fish in one area.

Something To Hold Your Paddles

When casting, you won’t be able to hold onto your paddles, and you also don’t want them to float away.

Most kayaks already have somewhere to hold the paddles, but installing rod holders can disrupt how well you can keep your paddles in place.

Make sure you have a way to secure your paddles while fishing, such as a paddle holder or a paddle leash.

No matter how you do it, be sure you aren’t left on the water without a paddle.

Other Accessories

There are a number of other things you will want to consider adding to your fishing kayak to make it as perfect as possible. These include:

  • PFD (personal flotation device)
  • Storage for your fishing gear in an organized and secure way
  • Safety (a whistle, flashlight, and first-aid kit are very important)
  • Fishing electronics (tools like a fish finder can be helpful when kayak fishing)

The exact accessories you add to your fishing kayak depend on what you need. These basics, however, are a great starting point.

How To Make a Fishing Kayak Your Own

Buying the perfect kayak isn’t always possible. Sometimes, you need to take some steps to make the kayak your own.

Even when you buy a pre-outfitted fishing kayak, you might go out on the water and find it lackluster.

Don’t give up on it right away! There are tricks and tips you can follow to make the fishing kayak your own.

Sit down and make a list of what was bothering you about the fishing kayak when you tried to use it for angling.

  • Was the seat uncomfortable?
  • Did you have enough storage?
  • Were the rod holders in good locations?
  • Did you find it easy to get to the locations you wanted to fish in?
  • Did you have trouble finding fish once out on the water?

By asking yourself these questions (and any more that come to mind), you can start to narrow down what it is that your kayak is missing.

If you couldn’t find fish easily when on the water, for example, you may want to invest in a fish finder you can use from the kayak.

This tool will help you locate hot spots so that you can have a successful day fishing.

In the end, keep in mind that the key to getting the perfect setup is to take time to make it right.

You know yourself and your angling habits better than any fishing company, so customize your setup to guarantee a great experience.

Outfitting a Fishing Kayak

Are you more prepared for how to outfit a kayak for fishing now? We certainly hope so!

Fishing in a kayak is a fantastic experience, but there are some supplies you need to make sure you bring with you.

Kayaks don’t have the same setup as fishing on a boat or fishing from land, so it might take some time to determine exactly what you want to have with you.

Once you get some experience with kayak fishing, you’ll see just how wonderful it can be to fish this way.

What are you waiting for? Get started on outfitting your fishing kayak today.