TopKayaker.Net: Guide To Kayak Fishing

An Outfitter's View: Tips on Gear & Choosing a Kayak for Fishing - Part II

By John Barrell of Rootbeer Barrell Surf & Kayak, New Jersey - Back To Part I

StubbMost of you reading this might already have a kayak and will only require a few accessories to get it fish-shape. Those that don't yet have a boat are actually the lucky ones because the rest of us bought a lousy kayak for fishing the first time out and you can learn from our mistakes.

A fishing kayak does not need to be large but if it's too short, narrow or unstable, you won't have as much fun. I don't take a lot of tackle with me but I like to have a few comforts, like a rod holder and a place to keep bug spray, sunscreen and that hated cell phone, so the folks back at the shop can ask me where I stashed the pink and lavender paddles! A good kayak also has a place to put the fish that you catch, and you will catch fish.

At Tom's
TopKayaker Shop:
six inch hatch
Six Inch Hatch Add this Viking screw in hatch to any flat place on your kayak's deck. A complete article on how to install is here:Installing A Six-inch Hatch
You need a wide enough gunwale to sink a flush mount rod holder or two. Flat surfaces on the top and sides make adding after market accessories much easier. Some things will need to be bolted on and wiring may need to be run internally, that means you may need to get a socket wrench on the inside or at least have access to the interior. You can add a hatch or inspection port but only if the manufacturer provided enough flat surfaces on the kayak.

The perfect kayak for me may not be right for you. Your weight, age, leg length, physical condition, and the water you plan on paddling, all have to be considered. The point being, don't ask a 160 pound, 5'6 guy for advice on what to buy if you weigh 240 lbs, and are 6'4. Try to find people similar to your body specs and see what they feel works best for them.

The right kayak should be around 11 to 15 feet long depending on its width and your weight. It should be fairly wide and be very stable. Stability is important when you have a fish on and it's running from one side of the kayak to the other. Although it does not need blinding speed, a slow kayak is usually a wet kayak and a slow wet kayak is not fun. The old way of thinking was that narrow kayaks are fast and unstable, while wide kayaks are slower and more stable. This may be true when looking at two kayaks of similar design, but there are so many different shapes out there and more on the way. The only true way to tell is to paddle different boats that you are interested in buying. The point is, wide kayaks are not always slow and some can be fast enough for fishing and extremely stable. Look for a sharp bow with a nice deep V, a bit of flare on the sides will keep it drier in the chop.


HobieWe do not recommend you get a cockpit type boat for fishing anywhere near rough water. These are the kind you crawl into and your legs are inside the boat. There is a trend right now for experienced paddlers to use these boats in cold weather. However, if you are just getting started and don't know what to expect from this sport then stick with the sit-on-top kayak. They are safer because you can get back on it if something ever happened to make you fall off and they do not fill up with water. Now don't get scared that you are going to fall off all the time, it just doesn't happen very often. I have been kayak fishing for a few years now and have never fallen off my boat on flat water, but it's comforting to know that if it happened I could quickly climb back on, so get a sit on top.

The best thing you can do is try some different kayaks out first and look for a kayak that is both stable and roomy with plenty of flat surfaces for mounting accessories. Talk to people that own the kayak you are thinking of buying and if your still not sure, try them all out again.


Now is not the time to save money! You are going to be confined to this seat for many hours, so get whatever seat is the most comfortable for you. It will be worth every penny you spend on it (especially if you have a bad back like me...). Make sure you sit in every one the store has to offer so you can see and feel the differences. We recommend you never buy a seat you haven't tried, ... Adjust the seat slightly forward of vertical when paddling, this is the position your back will take when trolling. For drift fishing, you can loosen the front straps and lean back and relax... (See also the article: "Choosing A Sit-on-top Kayak" here at Topkayaker.net)

This article brought to you by the BARRELL SURF & KAYAK web site. You will find excellent tips on equipment not mentioned here, tips on various fishing styles such as trolling and casting. Plenty of good information about bait, fish landing fish and seamanship. Several fish species of the region have also been profiled. See also Part I: An Outfitter's View: Tips on Gear & Choosing a Kayak for Fishing By John Barrell of Barrell Surf & Kayak, New Jersey:

At Tom's TopKayaker Shop-Fishing: For Kayak Fishing Accessories, Rod holders, backrests, parts anchors and more

fishing pole leash flush mount rod holder Scotty Fly rod holder anchor  Scotty Rod holder backrest with rod holders

Books / Video / DVD are available at Tom's TopKaker Shop:

by Tom Holtey

The best selling, most complete book available for the beginner sit-on-top solo paddler.
Link brings you to our detailed discription, page samples & reviews, as well as a link to purchase.

dennis spike videoTHE KAYAK FISHING VIDEO / DVD:
This is famed kayak fisherman Dennis Spike's instruction video. Filmed on the Sea of Cortez and California's Eastern Pacific.

ken daubertKayak Fishing for Tarpon DVD w/ Ken Daubert
Capt Ken Daubert gives the viewers an up close and personal kayak fishing for tarpon experience complete with all of the overhead jumps, strikes and rolls, including full body slams on the kayak.
by Ken Daubert
Geared for the Sit-on-top Kayaker, Mr. Daubert has created a unique and badly needed resource for the kayak fisherman. There is just about everything a fisherperson could need to know to integrate fishing with the popular sport of kayaking. Read An Excerpt

FISH THE FORUMS to get answers to your kayak fishing & diving questions.

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