How to Get Your Kayak Ready for Grab-and-Go Fishing [Video]

fishing kayak rigged out

Ben Duchesney is a writer for Field & Stream’s online magazine, as well as an avid kayak angler and Bending Branches fan. He recently wrote up an in-depth article for F&S on setting up your kayak for freshwater fishing (you can read it here).

We won’t reprint the entire article here, but we’ll summarize his expert tips and tricks for you, starting with this video:


A Fishing Kayak: Your Platform

While most kayak anglers prefer a sit-on-top model, Ben prefers the brand new sit-inside Bonafide EX123. There are a few reasons for that:

  • Lighter than most sit-on-top kayaks at 67 pounds
  • Under $1,000
  • Its 375-pound capacity allows for plenty of gear
  • Its stadium seat is ultra-comfortable for a full day of fishing
  • Deck traction pads for standing
  • Storage areas in front and back
  • Two built-it rod holders
  • The “SUV of kayaks” that handles well and is very stable

A Kayak Paddle: Your Engine

Ben says:

“If you’re going to save money anywhere on your gear, don’t be cheap when it comes to a paddle. The paddle is your engine, so if you pair your sweet new kayak with a lousy paddle, you’re putting a lawnmower engine inside a hot rod. You want a paddle that’s lightweight, stiff, and, of course, one that looks as good as your boat.”

Ben uses and recommends our Angler Pro Fiberglass paddle with the adjustable-length ferrule. If that’s beyond your budget, we have many other fishing-specific kayak paddles to choose from.

angler pro kayak paddle and pfd

A Life Jacket: Your Most Important Safety Item

Don’t even think about going out on the water without your life jacket (PFD—personal flotation device). Ben loves the Mustang Survival Elite 28 Inflatable PFD for comfort and ventilation in the hot summers.

But, again, you don’t have to break the bank for an efficient, comfortable PFD. You have many options at many price points.

Life jackets made for fishing will include all kinds of pockets, D-rings and other handy features that make your life easier on the water.

High-Quality Electronics: Your Fish Finders

One of the biggest mistakes is rigging your fish finder too close to your seat. Sure you can reach it, but it’ll get in the way every time you cast or paddle. Better to have a larger screen set up out of the way.

Here are Ben’s recommended electronics:

rigging a fishing kayak

Storage Unit: Your Tackle and Tool Wrangler

“Finding a good kayak crate that can last season after season is tough, as you’re constantly going in and out of the crate throughout your day on the water.”

Ben likes the Flambeau Outdoors Tuff Krate. It’s simple, but well-made and extremely flexible to rig up to your specifications. It comes with a couple rod holders and two-tiered compartments.

Add a Rapala Magnetic Tool Holder for pliers, bolt cutters and scissors—tools you need occasionally that can be within easy reach as you fish.

Last must not least, to measure the fish you catch, check out YakGear’s Fish Stik Bump Board. It folds up to fit behind your seat and is easy to take out and use when you’re ready for it.

In Summary

“The best part of rigging your fishing kayak yourself is that you can lay out the boat exactly the way you need it to suit your fishing style, your target species, and your local waters. For me, these are the essentials for kayak bass fishing, and each item either helped me hook up with more fish, or kept me safe while I was doing it.”

Read Ben’s full article on Field & Stream.

(All photos courtesy of Ben Duchesney)

What paddle questions can our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team help you with? Let us know: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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