One of the best things about kayak fishing – is kitting out your craft ready for a new expedition.
There are hours of fun to be had making your vessel your own, and setting it up to give you the best chance of success when you’re out on the water.
You can find products that are beneficial to you when it comes to safety and protection, as well as some useful equipment and gear which will make life a lot easier on board.
And not to forget – some great gift options for those keen kayak anglers in your life.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled this review of the best kayak fishing accessories on the market.
Let’s jump right in.
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Table of Contents
- Must-Have Kayak Fishing Accessories
- Personal Flotation Device
- Kayak Rods
- Rod Holders
- Paddle/Rod Leash
- Multi tools/Pliers/Fishing Knives
- Measuring and Weighing
- Tackle Boxes/Bags/Crates
- Kayak Fishing Nets
- Fishing Gloves
- Fishing Shoes/boots
- Sunglasses and Hats
- Mounting Systems/Railings
- Anchor System
- Bilge Pumps
- Dry Bags
- Kayak Carts
- Sports Cameras
- First Aid Kit
- Safety Lighting/Flags
- Fish Finders
- Roof Racks/Trailers
- Trolling Motors
Must-Have Kayak Fishing Accessories
Personal Flotation Device
Certainly the most essential piece of kit for kayak fishing – or any paddle sport for that matter – is a Personal Flotation Device.
This is non-negotiable, and should always be worn on the body – without exception.
Not over the back of your seat, not lashed to the kayak deck, and not left back in the garage.
And when it comes to angling, there are some really awesome fishing PFDs on the market.
Not only can they save your life, they’ll also provide some extra storage space for your gear, and a place to rig your tackle.
Don’t forget you’ll also need a DFD (Dog Flotation Device) if you enjoy going out with your best friend.
Unless you’re using one of these premium pedal fishing kayaks, you’re not going to get very far without a good quality paddle.
And even if you do prefer pedal power – you should still have a backup paddle anyway.
There are literally hundreds of paddles to choose from when it comes to kayaking, made with different materials that affect weight, blade designs for different stroke styles, bars with different grips, and more.
To make things easier, head on over to this article on the best paddles for kayak fishing.
Like the PFD, a good kayak fishing paddle will offer some extra features that can assist the angler – in addition to powering your craft.
But it’s also a good idea (and highly recommended) that kayak anglers use an emergency paddle as a backup.
They’re compact enough to be stored easily close to hand, and will become that vital kayak fishing accessory you’ll be glad you brought along should anything ever happen to your main blades.
While it is possible to use almost any rod when you’re kayak fishing, you’re going to have a much easier time if you stick to something that’s the right length, power, and action for your needs.
And there are plenty out there to choose from – so much so that it can be a bit of a headache when it comes to selection.
To help you out, visit this post on the best kayak fishing rods – which has a more detailed explanation on what you should be looking out for.
Alternatively, you can also look at these excellent telescopic rods, as well as this selection of travel fishing rods – both of which are practical for kayak fishing and/or when you’re short on space.
You can also check out this review on the best saltwater fishing rods if you like to fish in such conditions.
And speaking of space, it’s important you maximize what you have in a kayak, as you can run out of it real fast.
Rod holders are pretty much essential and should be built-in to all decent fishing kayaks as standard. See these super-stable stand-up fishing kayaks for some great examples.
But you can always add more, and you’ll find that Scotty makes some of the very best rod holders out there.
To be honest, most kayak anglers will use a variety, so why not get them all?
You don’t want to be up shit creek without a paddle, and you certainly might be if you don’t use a decent paddle leash.
These simple devices are often overlooked, but they can easily prevent your means of movement from floating off down the river should you get into difficulty.
They can also be used for your prize rods, too – so, for the price, they make a worthwhile kayak fishing investment and a nice affordable gift.
Multi tools/Pliers/Fishing Knives
No self-respecting angler is going to leave the house without a tried and trusted set of tools – and there’s no exception when it comes to kayak fishing.
Let’s keep things simple.
Go here for some awesome fishing multi-tools – if you’re looking for one tool to rule them all.
And head on over to have a gander at this review of some razor sharp fishing knives – perfect if you want to clean and cook your fish in the field/on the water.
Measuring and Weighing
Some kayaks come with a built-in measuring tape, so you can see at-a-glance how large (or how small) the critter is that you’ve just managed to land.
They can also be located on some of the better kayak fishing paddles along the grip bar – which is a really useful touch.
However, not every kayak or paddle has them, and if that’s the case for you, then owning a dedicated fishing measuring tape is something you should look into.
This one from Rapala is one of the most practical and effective, but then they are up there with the best fishing brands in the world.
Additionally, a good set of fish weighing scales can come in handy too – especially if you’re desperate to prove just how heavy that beast was.
Follow that link for an in depth article.
You have all the tools you need – now you need somewhere to put them.
Thankfully for you, I did this painstaking review of the best kayak tackle boxes, bags, and crates, so you don’t have to.
And there’s this selection of tackle bags for saltwater if you’re more likely to be out in those challenging conditions.
Either way, choosing the right setup to organize your tackle can be a lot of fun in your kayak, and you’ll find that most anglers get just as much a kick out of the process as they do actually catching fish.
Take a look at the video below to see what I mean – and for some additional inspiration for when you’re designing your loadout.
Having a quality fishing cooler on board can be really useful for a number of reasons.
You might want somewhere you can store your bait – if you’re fishing with live critters.
If you’re catching fish for a delicious meal later, then a cooler filled with ice is going to keep it in the freshest condition possible.
Or, a cooler can be used to simply stash a six-pack of cold ones, your lunch, or any other snacks and drinks you might need for the day.
Follow the link above for more seriously cool kayak accessories – pun fully intended.
Kayak Fishing Nets
As we’ve already mentioned, kayaks can be short on space. You don’t have the luxury of moving around like you would on a bank or shoreline.
As such, landing a fish can be tricky – especially if it’s a monster. You’re going to need all the help you can get.
With that in mind, some clever kayak fishing boffins have designed some awesome kayak fishing nets – and you can check them out over at that link.
Many of them have been ingeniously designed for use specifically in a kayak, so you never lose a catch again.
Wearing hand protection when you’re fishing in general isn’t “essential,” but it’s highly recommended.
Not only will it help protect your hands against the elements, but they’re also useful for gripping slippery fish, holding tools, and keeping you safe from sharp fins, teeth, hooks, and other unsavory accidents.
But the beauty of using them in a kayak is they also help prevent paddling blisters.
Check out these practical fishing gloves and pick yourself out a pair.
Obviously, you’re going to need something practical to wear on your feet when you’re out there kayak fishing.
And while you can pretty much do just about anything and call it good, it helps if you have something dedicated to keeping you on your feet in slippery conditions, or on challenging terrain.
Check out this article on the best shoes for kayak fishing to see what I mean.
Alternatively, some of these fishing boots are more suitable in colder conditions.
Either way, a grippy pair of deck shoes can make the difference between a light spray and a total soaking.
Sunglasses and Hats
Even if you’ve slathered yourself in factor 50 sunblock, you can still feel the effects of the sun’s harmful rays when you’re out exposed in a fishing kayak.
Especially if you go out for several hours at a time.
As such, it’s rare – if ever – that you will see a kayak angler going without a good fishing hat. Check out that link for some of the latest and greatest designs.
Likewise, sunny days can be blinding – and you often have to deal with some serious glare back off the water.
Using a pair of polarized fishing sunglasses will help you see what you’re doing and where you’re going, all while protecting your peepers from brilliant sunlight.
Much like rod holders, good fishing kayaks should come with mounting systems and railings for pimping your ride to your personal specifications.
If they don’t (or even if they do, and you want to add more) picking up a quality mounting track (link to Amazon.com) can help. The example found at that link is from Wilderness Systems – one of the best fishing kayak brands in the world.
They’re usually easy to install, and designed to be universal – suitable for use with just about any accessory you want to add – wherever you want to add it.
Kayaks generally don’t come with anchors, but there’s no reason why you can’t add one aftermarket.
This is especially true of the kayaks that come with an anchor trolley built-in, which is handy for limiting the need for your own DIY – the likes of which you’ll find in some of these fly fishing kayaks.
But it’s very important you adhere to safe anchoring practices when you’re out there on the water – regardless of the conditions.
And never anchor any craft if the weather and water is particularly angry.
Take a look at this article for some practical and safe kayak anchor options, and you might be surprised at what you find.
As most kayak anglers will be using a sit-on-top kayak as their preferred vessel of choice, getting a bit wet is likely.
And not all kayaks come with scupper holes, drain plugs, or are self bailing. Even if they do, water can still build up given certain circumstances.
For that reason, it’s useful to have a kayak bilge pump on board – which is perfect for clearing the decks of any paddle backsplash, rogue wave, or water from a monster catch.
The likelihood of getting wet leads us nicely onto our next accessory for kayak fishing – the humble dry bag.
Believe me, these things are incredibly useful for so many activities and situations in the great outdoors, you’d be crazy not to have a couple in the house already.
And for kayak fishing, they make a great place to stash valuables, a change of clothes, documents, or anything else you want to keep dry.
There are so many to choose from, but I particularly like the Sea to Summit options as they’re super lightweight and durable.
Getting to and from the water can be a bit tricky with the heavier fishing kayaks – especially if you’re on your own.
As such, it’s a good idea to have a solid kayak cart to help you do just that. These things can be a serious game changer for when you’re setting up, and can take the heavy lifting out of heavy lifting.
Of course, you can always just choose a lightweight and portable inflatable fishing kayak instead, which can be handy in certain circumstances, such as being able to sneak away for a spot of fishing at a moment’s notice.
But a kayak cart is great when you do want to fish alone, and still have an extra pair of hands (wheels) to assist you.
These days, there’s really no excuse for not being able to back up the telling of tall tales in the bar after a day out on the water.
You should be able to prove the size of the one that got away with the tech we have access to.
You only have to glance at the likes of YouTube to see how many keen kayak anglers are filming their escapades, as it certainly serves as a nice memory of the day if nothing else.
With that in mind, a good sports camera makes the perfect gift for anyone who wants to document their adventures – and capture those beasts from the deep on film.
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Just be sure to have the right waterproof protective casing and mounts – so you can keep your hands free for fishing, and check the incriminating footage when you’re done.
First Aid Kit
A bit of a no-brainer this one. Even if you’re not kayak fishing, you should always carry a small first aid kit when you’re angling, given the sheer number of injuries you can suffer if you’re not careful.
And even if you are careful, accidents happen.
One of these waterproof marine first aid kits should be just the ticket. Remember – it’ll be all but useless if you get it wet, so keep it protected.
Fishing in the dark or in low light can be some of the most rewarding action you can enjoy on the water.
It’s also significantly more dangerous than during the day, and should only be attempted by people who know what they’re doing.
That said, we can all do with a quality flashlight for seeing in the dark, and one of these practical fishing headlamps will help keep your hands free while out on your kayak.
You might notice that many fishing kayaks come in muted, dark colors. Greens, browns, olives, blues, and blacks, seem to be the popular choices.
Some even use camouflage color schemes.
And while this might be good for hunting – it’s not particularly safe should other water users or emergency services need to spot where you are.
As such, it’s a very good idea to have a safety lighting or flag system in place – particularly if you’re out in low light, poor visibility, or bad weather conditions.
They’re also highly advisable if you’re fishing anywhere there’s a lot of traffic on the water, and can go a long way to helping prevent collisions and other avoidable accidents.
Just as much as people might want to be able to find you, so you would like to find fish. And there’s been no better time in history to do so with the technology at our fingertips.
While some purists might say this is cheating, if you want to ace that competition or keep your freezer fully stocked with food – using a kayak fish finder is the way to go about it.
These things are some of the best kayak fishing gadgets on the market, and will certainly raise your game when it comes to catching the slippery critters.
Follow that link for a full guide.
It’s likely you’ve already got this sorted, but you never know when it’s a good time to upgrade your kayak roof rack or trailer.
Naturally, these things come in all shapes and sizes, and you’ll need to do your research and find something that fits both your kayak and your vehicle.
For anyone who’s rocking those larger, heavier kayaks, I highly recommended using something like the Yakima Big Catch – which can handle craft up to 150 lbs.
Safety is your primary concern here, but using a poor system or ill-fitting device can also ruin your kayak and possibly your car or trailer, too.
When in doubt, measure it out.
While the very nature of kayaking demands the use of paddles, modern kayak anglers will often utilize a trolling motor system – if their kayaks are compatible.
They’re surprisingly inexpensive, not that challenging to install, and can make for a great gift for anyone serious about kayak fishing.
Check out this link for just one example of a quality kayak trolling motor (link to Walmart.com), and give your arms a much-needed rest.
There you have it folks, some of the best kayak fishing accessories known to humankind. Dare I say – known to the universe.
If you’re short on birthday gifts after reading that list – I’m not doing my job right.
But do let me know in the comments if I’ve missed anything, or any suggestions you might have to improve the overall kayak angling experience for other readers.
And don’t forget to take a look at this kayak fishing checklist before you next venture out.
Stay safe, tight lines, and happy kayaking!