Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Kayak Fishing Set Up

When I first thought about adding kayak fishing as an extension to my shore fishing frankly, I did not have a clue.  I had never been on a kayak before let alone fish from one.  The first thing I did was hire kayak for a couple of hours and armed with a fishing rod and some Mackerel feathers set out just to get a feel of what it might be like.  The kayak was an Ocean Frenzy and although it was fun and I enjoyed the trip, it was soon clear to me that if I wanted to do some serious kayak fishing I needed a purpose built fishing kayak rather than a general touring kayak such as the Frenzy.

After a great deal of research on the Internet using kayak fishing blogs and You Tube thus, picking the brains of others that had been there and done it, along with sourcing various kayak equipment suppliers the following is my current set up.

The kayak is an Ocean Prowler Big Game Angler.  I chose this kayak because of its stability and storage facilities.  It has a wide platform with a flat surface along the sides, which is ideal for mounting rod holders.  It has plenty of legroom and at 6' 3" that was important to me.

Working from stern to bow the white container is used as a dry box and is fixed with upright rod holders.  This idea came from another blog and what a great idea it has proven to be.  The container is a watertight pet food container purchased from Amazon.  I use this to store anything that I want to keep dry.  I believe it can also be converted for use as a live well however, as I am not interested in fishing with live bait its sole purpose is as a dry box and it works brilliantly.  The four upright rod holders have been added using stainless steel screws, washers, and lock nuts with some marine sealant to keep it watertight.  The rod holders and hardware were purchased from H2o Kayaks.  The container is secured to the kayak using a mix of webbing, buckles, and carbine hooks.

The blue box is a Flambeau Waterproof Marine Box, which I use as a tackle box.  Secured just behind the seat it is ideal when I need to change tackle.

The kayak came with two flush mounted rod holders.  These are positioned behind you and the rods point backwards.  I find these of no use when fishing and use them as holders for my net and my priest.

The net is a Greys GS Scoop Net.  It has a rubberised mesh which makes it easier to untangle trebles when lure fishing.  It is fitted with a lanyard to secure to the kayak and has a short handle, which is ideal.  For me it is a must as it is so easy to lose a decent fish close to the kayak particularly Sea Bass who are masters at freeing themselves just when you think you have got them!

The priest is just a length cut from a thick broom handle.  It is marked to various fish size limits.  If I decide to take a fish, it is dispatched before the hook is even removed.  Personally, I hate seeing fish die gasping for oxygen and much prefer to dispatch them quickly.

Ram Rap-119 Tube Rod Holders are mounted each side within easy access from the seat.  I use these when bottom fishing with bait at anchor.  I have tried to use these when trolling lures but have found that they slip too easily when a decent fish strikes no matter how tight you clamp the tube onto the ball mount.  Research on the Internet suggested roughing the ball up with sandpaper but they still slip with the slightest pressure.  I find them OK for holding the rods at anchor but as a precaution from slipping, I secure them to the kayak at an angle with some cord and carbine hooks.  This makes sure that should I get a heavy bite the tube will not slip down to horizontal.

For trolling, I use a Scotty Orca Rod Holder with an extender to raise the holder higher.  Unlike the Ram tubes, this holder has a ratchet locking mechanism to hold the required angle and the rod is enclosed in the holder.  The rod can be quickly pulled out of the holder when you get a take.  The holder is positioned in front of me and beyond the forward position of the paddle when paddling yet within easy reaching distance from the seat.  This is an excellent rod holder and perfect for trolling.

The Prowler Big Game has a centre hatch which gives access to the inside of the kayak when seated.  I use this for storing the anchor, spare paddle and storing the catch.  I have two containers for the catch.  One is a foldable fish bag for larger fish and the other is a washing up bowl.  Both are laden with ice blocks to keep the catch a fresh as possible.

Forward from the centre hatch there is a cockpit tray with moulded in cup holder.  This has a strapped down cover and is usually used for housing a bit of tackle and holding a drinks cup.  I use the cup holder for my compass and the cover as a bait board.  The bait board is just a kitchen chopping board cut to size a secured with nuts and bolts.  Using the cup holder for mounting the compass was again something I picked up from another blog.

Along the right side of the kayak is an anchor trolley.  The are several videos on You Tube that show how to fit an anchor trolley but basically it is a pulley system that you can operate from your seat enabling you to position the anchor either from the bow or the stern.  Unlike a boat, you cannot stand up to drop and secure the anchor hence the need of a pulley system.

I now realise I made a mistake when fitting the anchor trolley pulleys.  Following another blog with the same kayak, I used existing pad eyes.  Those pad eyes are 56cm from the bow and stern, which is too far.  This means that when at anchor or using a drift chute the pull is slightly sideways on causing the kayak to swing more than it would if the anchor was positioned closer the bow or stern.  I intend to correct this over the winter by adding some new pad eyes closer to the bow and stern and reposition the pulleys.

The anchor itself consists of a 1.5kg anchor, a meter and a half of anchor chain, an SMB diver's ratchet reel with 60 meters of line, a buoy, a meter and a half of anchor rope, and some carbine hooks. 

A carbine hook is tied to each end of the anchor rope.  One end is for attaching to the anchor trolley the other is permanently clipped to the dive reel.  The line from the dive reel is thread through the buoy and tied to another carbine hook which is clipped to the anchor chain which is turn is attached the anchor.  When you drop the anchor the ratchet on the dive reel is used to release the line until enough line, (about three times the depth) is out.  I mark the ratchet reel line with a permanent marker pen at ten-foot intervals to help determine how much line has been played out.  The anchor is positioned at the bow or stern using the anchor trolley and secured by a zigzag cleat.  Should I need to, the anchor can be quickly released from the trolley using the carbine hook and collected later.  Its position is revealed by the floating buoy. 

The majority of the fishing I do is on the drift.  One of the best purchases I have made to date has been a drift chute or drogue.  This really slows down the drift over a chosen mark giving much more fishing time.  The drogue is connected to the anchor trolley and positioned from the bow, the stern, or the middle.  Positioning from the bow or stern will slow down the drift even more by turning the kayak into the wind. When casting lures on the drift, I find it particularly useful to position the drogue from the stern.  This turns the stern of the kayak into the wind, which means I am facing down wind making it easier to cast the lures down wind.

The paddle I use is an Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Paddle.  Due to the width of the Prowler Big Game plus my height, the paddle is 240cm about 20cm longer than the average.  This stops me banging the side of the kayak when paddling.  The majority of my fishing is drifting over a specific mark, which means constantly having to paddle back up wind/tide to reset the drift therefore, a powerful light paddle is important and the Aqua-Bound Manta Ray fits that criteria.

The rods and reels I use depend on the type of fishing.  For casting lures when drifting, I use 7' 10g to 35g spinning rods and 4000 size spinning reels loaded with 20lb braid and a fluorocarbon leader.  For vertical jigging, I use 8' 15g to 45g bait-casting rods and Abu bait-casting reels loaded with 30lb braid and a fluorocarbon leader.  For vertical jigging with lures up to 50g the bait-casting outfit is excellent because you can jig one handed which is very comfortable.  For trolling, I use an 8' 15g to 45g rod with a small multiplier loaded with 15lb nylon line.  When bottom fishing with bait I use a couple of 7' 6" 12lb to 20lb boat rods, Abu 6500 multipliers loaded with 15lb nylon and a 30lb nylon leader.

I do not use braid when trolling because when a fish takes a trolling lure the lack of stretch combined with the forward motion of the kayak can pull the lure from the fish's mouth.

Future projects include fitting a fish finder, a GPS and a VHF Radio.  The fish finder is not necessarily to find fish but to obtain a reading on depth of water and in particular to identify rough ground.  At the moment, I use Google Satellite Maps and lobster pot buoys to find rough ground but it would be nice to know exactly where the rough ground starts and finishes.  The GPS would be for marking waypoints of fishing marks and for navigation and the VHF radio for safety.

Update November 2013:

I have now created a kayak fishing set up video (November 2013) shown below.

Below is a sample of a few fish taken in 2012 by either casting lures on the drift, trolling or vertical jigging.  All were taken over rough ground.

10lb kelp Cod and a couple of Pollack caught jigging over a reef.

Another Cod and a surprise John Dory jigging over a reef.

Bass caught casting and trolling lures over rough ground.


  1. Great article ...Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.
    Power trolling

  2. Great video, shopping for a kayak at the moment.
    I have a very similar priest given to me by my Granddad, but it's made particularly effective by drilling a hole down the business end and filling with some melted down lead. Just to ensure a swift dispatch.
    Your kayak will be my model. :-)

  3. Thank you for your comment. That is a good idea for a priest, For me a priest when you decide to take a fish is very important because I hate seeing the fish suffer more than they need to. Good luck with the kayak and I am sure you will have lots enjoyment.

  4. Thanks for the information Rob. This is really useful, especially for complete beginners like me!

    1. Thank you for your comment and glad the video may be of use to you. Any advice you need feel free to contact. Rob.

  5. been meaning to ask what you think of pedal type kayaks for sea fishing. Is it a gimmick? been playing with the idea of taking up kayak fishing and just do not want to invest in something that will disappoint.

    1. The pedal kayaks (Hobie) have the advantage that you can propel the kayak hands free and that is good plus. They are also quicker that most paddle kayaks, which is also a plus getting to and from a mark quicker. The disadvantage (IMO) is you lose the centre of the kayak for fitting accessories such as a fish finder/GPS unless you use the hole designed for the optional sail and most kayak anglers that have Hobie's fit the finder on the side. I think they are way over priced just for the advantage of hands free and extra speed but that said if money was not an issue yes I would purchase one particularly for my lure fishing but the expensive cost is way out of my budget.

  6. Hi Rob, fantastic website and video's. I have recently purchased a Galaxy 2+1 kayak, mainly for some gentle touring with my wife around the Cornish coast, generally the Lizard Peninsula, Cadgwith Cove, Poldhu Cove, but next June we are visiting Lamorna Cove for two weeks and also intend to do some fishing from the Kayak. For a beginner new to Kayak fishing (I have fished and done some kayaking before) what would be you first method of fishing bearing in mind I probably won't have GPS or a fish finder at that stage? Many thanks again for your great articles & video's it is much appreciated. Mark Hyde. ����������

  7. Thank you for your comment. Best thing to do just to get a feel of what it is like fishing from a kayak is to start with a string of features which is what I did. Then progress to other methods. Apologies for delay in replying as you message went into spam.

  8. Rob, I am keen to buy a kayak for fishing - and will be visiting the same areas as yourself, living in Cornwall. I would ideally like a 13 foot or so kayak, but the weight concerns me a bit - how do you manage lifting your kayak on and off a vehicle?
    Being somewhat shorter than you (and a similar age!) I feel limited to a ten foot yak which seem to weigh around 25kg and I could just about manage I think

    1. Getting a fishing kayak that weighs 60lb to 75lb on the roof rack is a problem. Mine weigh 70lb and 75lb (13ft and 14ft) and there is no way I could just lift them up. The way to do it is bow up first and then lift and slide the rest on. There are kayak loaders on the market to help if you do an internet search. I have a D.I.Y method for my hatch back car and if you watch my video 'contributing to a TV fishing programme' you will see me unload the kayaks and the loading would be the reverse. I use foam and a mat to protect the back of the car the lift the bow onto the back and lift and slide the rest on.

    2. Many thanks for your advice - I hadn't noticed that unloading before. Seems pretty sensible to me - sliding up and over, whilst protecting the back of the car. Reckon my saloon would allow a similar idea - I am looking more towards a longer yak now I have seen the idea. I really want to fish the outer end of the Fal - having shore fished further up around Turnaware etc.
      Appreciate you time and trouble to reply :)


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