Gear for the Beginning Kayak Angler [Video]

Kayak angler, media producer and Bending Branches ProStaffer, Gene Jensen, tells us what the beginning kayak angler needs to get out on the water…

kayak angler

If you just got your first kayak or are going to get one, Gene offers his list of what you should get to outfit your new kayak for fishing:


Gear Item #1: Your Kayak

If you haven’t already bought your kayak, the most important thing is to demo a few before you buy! The options are seemingly limitless for stability, speed, features and cost. And everyone has different preferences.

Try out several before you make your purchase and you’ll be happier in the long run.

Gear Item #2: Your PFD or Life Jacket

If your kayak has a seat with a high back, you’ll be most comfortable with a high-backed PFD also, with the padding on the back above your seat.

Try on several before you make your purchase decision. You’ll be wearing your PFD constantly every time you fish from your kayak, so you want one that fits you well.

Also, buy a PFD made for kayak fishing. They have all kinds of extra pockets and loops to help organize your gear and store your small items like lip balm, sunglasses and grips.

 Gene’s advice: “Don’t skimp on what’s going to save your life!”

Gear Item #3: Your Paddle

“This is the second item not to skimp on.” Your paddle is your motor. A clunky, heavy paddle will wear you out. But a lightweight, well-designed and well-crafted paddle will be your best friend.

The rule of thumb: Buy the best paddle you can afford. Gene recommends you plan to spend at least $100.

Because a lot of anglers fish from a seat that’s higher than those in recreational kayaks, be sure your paddle is long enough. You’ll want one between 230-260 cm, depending on a few factors. Read How to Size a Kayak Paddle for more details.

buy a good kayak paddle

Gear Item #4: Your Anchor and Anchor Wizard

An anchor just plain makes life easier on the water. The wind won’t be as big of an issue, currents won’t be as big of an issue, it’ll be easier to cast. It’s just easier.

The Anchor Wizard is an add-on that’s optional, but you won’t regret it! Read #1 Frustration-Reducing Item You Need for Kayak Fishing for more on that.

Gear Item #5: Tackle Storage

To begin with, all you need to store your tackle is a cheap plastic crate. They’re easy and fun to customize and do the job just fine. Most fishing kayaks these days are designed to handle a basic crate like this.

When you want to upgrade, Gene likes YakAttacks’ BlackPak. At $130 it’s not cheap, but definitely more than a glorified milk crate. It’s an easy storage solution that keeps your tackle organized, accessible and protected.

Gear Item #6: Light Pole

This is a safety item, and required in many states. You can buy one or make one. It needs to have a 360º light at the top, a reflector and some kind of bright flag.

You want to be easy to be seen by those driving the faster, bigger boats. It can save your life!

Gear Item #7: Rod Holders

These are optional, but very nice to have. You can mount these on your kayak wherever you like to hold your rods and net. Gene uses Yak Attack’s Omega and Zooka II rod holders.

Gear Item #8: A Few Optional Items

There are a few small items Gene loves to have in his boat that you’ll like, too.

First is a pair of Fish Grips. Whether it’s to help you land a fish and get the hook out of its mouth or to hold one for a photo, this will hold on to that fish until you’re ready to let it go.

Second, Plano’s waterproof cases like their Guide Series 3500 are ideal for storing your wallet, keys, phone—anything you don’t want wet. Padded on the inside and very durable, this is another purchase you won’t regret.

kayak fishing net

Third, you’ll want a good net. It’s just fine to start with an inexpensive one. When you’re ready to spend some money (to the tune of $90), Gene loves Yak Attack's Leverage Landing Net. It’s easy and quick to use, and easy to store in a rod holder.

That’s Gene’s list. Time for some shopping!

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