Fishing from shore hardly requires any gear at all. A rod, reel, and lure are enough to get you casting. Fishing from a boat, on the other hand, demands a laundry list of fishing gear, not the least of which is, well, a boat. Kayak fishing is the perfect in-between that won’t break the bank, with entry-level and budget kayaks starting at a couple of hundred dollars. With that, you can be exploring rivers and shorelines in just inches of water. But first, you’ll want to pick up some of the best kayak fishing accessories to get you started. (Also: Don’t miss this year’s best Prime Day fishing deals!)
Safely transporting your boat to the water is a challenge, especially with heavier fishing kayaks. Wilderness Systems’ aptly named Heavy Duty Kayak Cart is engineered to haul even the heaviest boats up to 450 pounds. It’s built with a lower center of gravity for added stability and offers two height options to accommodate odd-shaped hulls. Plus, it collapses for easy storage.
The best kayak fishing paddles are comfortable, adjustable, lightweight, and durable. Bending Branches’ Angler Pro Plus ticks all the boxes, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most award-winning kayak paddles on the market. The blades are oversized for a more powerful stroke, and the 100% carbon shaft is ultra-lightweight for easier handling and control on the water. A telescoping ferrule provides for multiple paddle lengths and feathering angles, so you can dial in your personal kayak fishing game.
Most personal flotation devices (PFDs) are bulky, uncomfortable, and constantly get in the way. Astral’s Ronny Life Jacket PFD is made of sturdy, lightweight 200D high-tenacity nylon with a PolyPro webbing. Industrial hardware and zippers ensure this life jacket will outlast you. Plus, it features a thin-vent back design that works better with today’s high-seatback recreational fishing kayaks. Multiple pockets provide plenty of stash spots for your smaller angling essentials.
For those critical moments when you need a little nudge in the water, there’s YakGear’s Backwater Assault Hand Paddle. Whether the wind is pushing you a bit off course, you’ve just lined up the perfect photo from the water, or you don’t want to disturb the fish, this paddle allows for quick one-handed corrections without having to grab your full-sized paddle. It weighs less than a pound, but the broad head guarantees plenty of propelling power on the water.
The reel is the heart of your kayak fishing arsenal, so it’s not something to skimp on. Shimano knows its stuff when it comes to metal gears, owning a large portion of the bike and e-bike industry. The Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel is great for salt or freshwater fishing, with or without a kayak. Shimano uses a metalworking technology developed in Sakai, Japan, that dates back to the fifth century to create the Hagane gear — a cold-forged drive gear that provides what the brand calls “eternally smooth reeling.” The X-Ship pinion gear meshes smoothly even when reeling in the biggest fish.
A good multitool is required kit for all manner of outdoor adventure. But fishing requires a unique set of tools. Gerber’s Linedriver is a compact, dual-ended multitool with six essential fishing line management tools. A spinning hook vise secures and spins the line for knot-tying; twin serrated scissors serve a variety of cleaning, slicing, and puncturing purposes; and an eyelet-clearing spike works to clear out debris from old line. The fact that it’s under $40 makes this a no-brainer for avid kayak fishermen.
Of course, a good fishing day’s haul is only as successful as your backpack cooler. Your catch is hardly worth bragging about if it’s rancid by the time you get home. IceMule’s line of rugged, soft-sided coolers is perfect for kayak fishing. They’re flexible, lightweight, and durable — perfect for riding atop your kayak for a day or more. The IceMule Pro Large boasts a generous 23L storage capacity and a backpack-style design for easy hauling.
One downside to kayaks is limited space, so keeping things organized is critical. Pelican’s Exocrate is a purpose-built tackle storage solution for fishing kayaks. The compact 13-inch-square footprint is perfect for even the smallest kayaks while still providing room for two rod holders and a lined compartment with a heavy-duty zipper. This soft-sided bag easily secures to your kayak deck with tie-down loops.
Landing fish in a small boat can be hard. Many fish have been lost even after they were 99% of the way there. A good net will make sure those fish get on board. The S2 Slider nets from EGO extend at the push of a button. The Compact series goes from 18 inches to 36 inches, holds 30 pounds retracted and 20 pounds extended, and has fish-friendly rubber or PVC-coated nets available.
Prying three-pronged hooks from a thrashing fish in a small boat is always fun, but pliers make it far easier. Multiuse pliers can do everything from removing hooks to cutting line to crimping sleeves and leads. The Piscifun Fishing Pliers do all of the above and include a leash and sheath so you never lose them overboard. The leash can be attached straight to your vest if it’s got a tool holder or simply to your belt with the sheath. When the cutter blades get dull, just screw on a new set.
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