It's very common for someone to strike up a conversation with me when they see the kayak in my truck or even on the water...they are highly curious about kayak fishing and often say they've been thinking about giving it a try.
Sometimes it is a long-time angler who wants a new challenge away from the bass boat and sometimes it is an individual new to fishing who is looking for affordable access to good water. Always great to meet and talk to people who are interested in the sport and one of the most common questions is, "What do I need to get started?"
To help out beginner kayak fishermen or those who think they may want to give it a try, here is a list of the basics you will need for successful and safe kayak fishing:
1. KAYAK—This is an obvious starting point. When choosing your kayak for fishing, please look at kayaks specifically designed for fishing. These are generally more stable and come with storage and accessory rails you will want to have for your gear. For quality fishing kayaks, you may want to consider brands such as Native, Jackson, Wilderness, Pescador, and Lure.
2. PADDLE—A good paddle is your means of movement on the water. My advice here is to buy the best paddle you can afford. Better paddles are lighter, have a flexible shaft, and the most durable blades. A lighter and better paddle will help you avoid fatigue and will be easier on your shoulders and arms in the long run. I recommend looking at the Bending Branches Angler Scout as a good starter paddle, or the Angler Pro as a top of the line one.
3. SAFETY GEAR—Make sure you have a comfortable PFD (personal flotation device), safety whistle, sun protection, visibility flag, and light if you'll be out in the dark. Other safety gear could include a flashlight, knife, and length of rope for emergencies. A cooler with water and some snacks will keep you hydrated and your energy up. Wear your PFD!
4. TACKLE CRATE—Most kayak anglers use a standard milk crate on the back of the kayak to hold tackle bags or boxes and other necessities. You can also add some very inexpensive rod holders to the crate to hold your rods. There are some high-end crates or crate kits available, but almost any milk crate will work just fine.
5. FISHING TACKLE—One of the great challenges in kayak fishing is planning and selecting what you can actually fit on your boat out on the water. Rods, reels, and your favorite Yum, Booyah, Bomber, Bandit, Cotton Cordell, and Smithwick lures should cover most of your bass catching needs. Take care in choosing what you pack, there's not room for everything!
6. ANCHOR—For some, you may want to have a tool to help you hold position in wind or light current. Bending Branches offers a kit that will transform your bb Angler kayak paddle into a canoe paddle, a stand-up paddle, a stakeout pole, or a push pole. If you are in need of a tool to hold you in position in wind or light current, be sure to check out the Bending Branches Angler Optimus. Other options could be an anchor, drag chain, or a drift chute. Be careful using some of these tools in medium to heavy current, it's best to avoid that for safety reasons.
7. CAMERA—Keep a visual record of your adventures and the fish you catch! Also, you never know what you'll see on the water. The stealthy nature of a kayak means you will observe animals in a way you've never been able to see them before and you may want to capture it on camera.
Those are some of the basics for getting started. Later on I'll post an article on an expanded checklist for those who may want to compete in kayak fishing tournaments or who really want to turn their kayak into an advanced fishing machine.