A day kayak fishing will go much better with the right gear by your side. We’ve done the research to bring you the best accessories available for your comfort, safety, and convenience. Our goal: Get you to better fishing!TM
In this article, we bring you insightful analysis of gear that will make your kayak fishing more productive and safe, from literally hundreds of options. After careful review of gear specs, our own use, and specific user feedback, here are our recommendations. We also work hard to make sure you are aware of limitations and considerations – things that may help or prevent the gear from performing its best. In many cases we provide additional options that may meet your specific needs or preferences. We virtually guarantee we’ve brought some products to light you haven’t heard about before, so read on!
Publishers take note – this is a fully proprietary review and we monitor and enforce copyright!
Please use our Contact page to request licensing permission, reprint or other editorial uses.
Being able to your operate your kayak hands free is critical, no matter whether you are launching, paddling, fishing, beaching or docking your craft. This rod holder was designed specifically for fly fishing, given that most fly rods don’t have a long enough butt section to hold securely in traditional rod holders. While it’s reasonably easy installation, be certain sure to first check if you need the Scotty boat deck hardware kit, to ensure the installation is sturdy.
Customer reviews of this product are overwhelmingly favorable, though some report it works best with larger rods with a butt, while but others refute that. In any case, you should fully tighten and use the rubber strap to fully secure your rod.
Another nice feature of this rod holder, is that it allows for a full swivel of 360 degrees. It can be mounted on either the top of the deck or side, and is reasonable cost. We’re certain it will prevent broken rods, by keeping your rod off the deck when not in use.
Keeping safety as number one, Stohlquist raised the bar by adding fishing vest features to a PFD. The good news is, the vest doesn’t compromise PFD performance. In face, customers have reported saves in white water that worked out very well.
Even if it has less capacity than a regular fly fishing vest, don’t fret. It is still generous in the number of attachments, pockets, and storage, especially if you consider that it’s packed with flotation as well.
The vest shell is made from quality 500 denier nylon cordura, while the liner is 200 denier oxford. Comfort is enhanced with padded, adjustable neoprene added to the shoulders. Note that Stohlquist also makes a PFD designed specifically for women. Unfortunately though, at least that we’ve found so far, not in a fishing vest style.
Overall performance is strong, such that many kayakers describe that they don’t even realize that they are wearing it. This speaks to the design, because otherwise adding fishing vest pockets on top of flotation would likely be quite unwieldy.
A quality anchor has many uses. First and foremost, to keep you in place while working an area with your fly rod, it’ll help keep you targeted where the fish are and avoid drifting away from a promising cast.
For most situations one anchor will work find. When you expect wind or significant drift, consider two anchors to prevent rotation around the anchor point. An alternative to two anchors is to try and anchor so you stay downwind and don’t rotate as much, but this isn’t always possible and the wind can shift.
We wouldn’t recommend this anchor if it wasn’t high quality by itself, but we love the fact that it comes with a 5L dry bag for extra value. The anchor itself is well design, folds for compact storage and comes with it’s own separate storage bag for convenience and space management.
The material is forged steel, not aluminum like many anchors so it’s more durable and less likely to bend or break which can happen if it gets snagged. It has a universal design that is also useful for canoes and paddle boards. The one disadvantage we’ve found for this make and model, is that like all grapple hook designs, you can get hung up if the anchor snags on underwater rock or wood structures. While excellent for most lake, ocean, and some rivers (such as glacial till or soft bottoms without many snags), if you expect to be getting hung up then a non-grapple design (e.g. triangular lead weight or cylindrical design) may be better for you.
To check out other Compass Surf and kayak anchor products:
A throw-rope is literally a life line to another kayaker in trouble. It takes up minimal space, but should be kept where you can easily access it such as a cockpit gear hatch. It can also be used as a tow-rope when another kayaker is exhausted.
We chose the Mustang for its generous 75 foot length, ability to see the rope in the bag, and proven track record not only with individual kayakers, but also on science expeditions and trips.
Like all throw-ropes, it needs to be packed so it won’t tangle when thrown. That means packing it in from bottom to top, watching it so it doesn’t coil in a way that can create snags when thrown (like fishing line can when coiled). Be sure to take a water / kayak rescue course to learn the best rescue methods and techniques.
For additional Mustang Survival throw bags and products:
Kayak rescue knives were originally designed for white water kayakers, which need super quick action or self saves when a kayaker was in distress. The knives are designed for super easy access (usually strapped externally to the chest area of the life vest), and have serrated edges to quickly cut through snagged fabric (e.g. PFD hung up on a sweeper tree structure) or rope or nylon webbing.
Today, these knives are more universally available and also useful for all kinds of water sports and rescue. Capsized or tangled boats, or other hazards created by swiftly changing conditions or fighting the monster fish of a lifetime make these knives useful at any time.
We’ve chosen to recommend the Stohlquist knife because of its superior easy release design, and it comes sharper than most other brands.
We’ll say it up front, there are several high quality, more established dry bag companies than BFULL, including Wilderness Systems, Sak Gear, UniGear and Earthpak among others. If you have a tried and true preference, we’re not suggesting you change.
We’ve decided to highlight an up-and-comer consistent with our value theme – quality for the price. Are BFULL dry bags perfect? None of the brands are are. Are they performing well in particular relative to the weight and price, and bringing new features and improvements to the market and their own products? Yes.
We like the high degree of waterproofing with newer sealing technology that normally comes with a thicker, bulkier material. As a result, the lighter and more flexible dry bag is ideal for kayaking. All for a reasonable price, with a range of sizes and colors to aid your packing.
BFULL is improving their products from early reports that sometimes the bags tore near the outer pocket zipper ends, and that the outer pocket itself wasn’t reliably waterproof as advertising had suggested (which has been corrected).
All in all we think BFULL is taking their place in with the more established companies, and we like where their product vision is going – pushing the market as a whole to better performance with lighter weight materials.
This net stands out from others in a number of respects. The proprietary Micro Mesh is a knotless material that is very fish friendly. Overall it’s a lightweight net, durable, large enough for most fish, with a grip that performs well even when wet. That means when your fish gives you a big tail-slap next to the boat on its last surge for freedom, this net will perform!
You’ll just want to make sure it’s large enough for the fish you are pursuing. A number of users are annoyed by hooks being harder to remove from the smaller mesh size.
If used as intended, this net is durable. Some people like to use their nets to capture bait minnows or crawfish, and if you scrap the bottom doing that you may compromise the netting. If you do that a lot, you may prefer a net with netting that is secured to the inside. All in all, we recommend this net due to it’s high quality to weight ratio needed for kayak fishing.
Check out this alternative for a compact, smaller foldable net:
Toasis Small Foldable Landing Net for Fly Fishing Trout Bass Catch and Release Hand Net Nylon Mes
For more products by SAMS FX Fishing, check these options out:
Without a doubt, Yeti has taken over the quality cooler market with superior products. We see them visible where ever we go, from hardware stores to surf shops.
If you’re out for any length of time, you’ll need something more than a styrofoam box or even cheap plastic cooler to keep your food and water cool.
The Hopper Flip 12 does this in spades, and sports a wide top that flips open for easy access and visibility (hence the name).
Yeti touts – and delivers – that this unit is 100% leak proof – including the zipper. That means not only temperature retention, but also safety – your food won’t get spoiled by algae or brackish water for example. The proprietary ColdCell insulation is closed cell – which as you know from sleeping pads means less heat (or cold) transfer.
Can you get by with a lesser model? Yes perhaps, but once you have a Flip 12 you won’t be able to turn back….
For alternative Yeti products, check these options out:
This is one of those things that seems optional, until you lose a nice rod and reel overboard, or have to paddle by hand and abort trip because your paddle floated away. Once that happens, no question!
There are many leashes on the market. Many for a few dollars less don’t have the features of this one. Some for almost twice as much don’t add much value if any. We chose the Seattle Sports leash for it’s well thought out design and quality coupled with very reasonable cost.
This leash is designed to not only secure your paddle, but also your rod. You can buy two, or you can switch uses while fishing, as long as you stow your paddle or fishing rod securely after switching.
Consider that the bright color is helpful when things are happening quickly, you can tell more easily where your gear is going to grab it before it gets submerged or snagged and damaged.
It might not be long enough for some very tall paddlers, and if your paddle shaft is thin or narrow it might slide along the shaft instead of fitting snugly (which can be corrected with an extra drip guard or duct tape).
For more products by Seattle Sports, check these options out:
Just like dry bags, there are literally a boatload of cell phone pouch makers. Same thing, if you have a tried and true preference, we’re not suggesting you change. And just as in dry bags, we’ve decided to highlight an up-and-comer consistent with our value theme – quality for the price.
Check out this very cool cell phone pouch by Carlion, in camo no less. It has a formal waterproofing rating of IPX8 (which means to 100 feet, though they take care to suggest you don’t take it below
It’s nearly universal in its ability to house various makes, models and sizes of cell phones (including iPhone Xs XR X 8 Plus 7 6, Samsung Galaxy S9 S8 S7 S6 Note 7 6 5, HTC, LG, Motorola – 6.3″).
We really like that the clear material is made with high fluoroscopy, meaning it can take clear and colorful underwater pictures (as long as your phone is up to the task!). To top it off, literally, Carlion designed in additional features including a double sealing water proofing feature at the folding point, and a mini-compass which can help keep you on track if you are glancing at your phone once in a while.
The main drawback includes reports that the wrist strap attachment hole can fail, just make sure you don’t pull to hard on it (e.g. don’t use it for fish bait!). Also, while formally rated, the maker suggests you only dive half as deep as it’s actually rated for, probably just to give you a safety factor. I don’t know about you, but I rarely get down to 50 feet much less 100, so I’m good with their call.
TMS makes a more basic model, but we chose the Deluxe for it’s size and features.
This dolly supports a weight of 150 pounds (which only needs to be half your boat plus gear weight when carried at the other end), which is plenty enough for most boats plus gear (if it’s more than 300 pounds total you probably don’t want to buy it or carry it!).
While TMS says it fits up to a 12 foot long boat, we think the size is less important than the weight. With a metal frame made of stainless anodized aluminum, this tote is very durable and will resist corrosion over time.
Foam bumpers on both arms protect your boat from damage, while a strap ensures your kayak stays on the carrier. Some buyers report they need an extra rachet strap to ensure the boat stays on if it hits an obstacle such as a rock. The wheels are generously wide inflatable which helps to navigate walking through sand and gravel. This boat’s a quality plus for getting even large kayaks or canoes to your launch point.
To compare with other brands of boat carriers, dollies, carts, totes, trollies – and whatever else the same thing can be called:
Fly casting is easier when you are standing up, and standing up demands a stable kayak. You can buy a very stable kayak, and/or you can add outriggers.
When it comes to quality and stability, we recommend Scotty #302s. Unlike other products above where we recommended lower-price-while-still-high-quality gear, in this case we are recommending top of the line. Other brand outriggers are either too flimsy or unreliable.
Be sure to use these outriggers when you expect extra wind and waves, in addition to casting. Just know that for longer trips, extra drag is created so you want to think ahead to when and where the outriggers are most useful. You can also stow them “just in case,” with the knowledge that unlike some other brands that are more easily adjustable, these really need a quick landing to adjust the angle or install / add. All that said, we are recommending Scotty’s as a proven, reliable product and brand where others fall down.
This one doesn’t need much ‘splaining – especially if you’ve been the subject of a sore back after paddling. More cush for your tush, and more support for more of your back means way more comfortable paddling.
You’ll just want to make sure that it is correctly installed. For this much support, the product requires 4 connection points, and some kayaks only come with 2 built in. In that case, you’ll want to buy the supplemental installation parts. If you’re OK with the higher back restricting your back cast (hey it might help you with the old 12 & 2 anyway!), then that’s a small tradeoff for much more comfortable paddling.
Ok fly fisher-people – no need to turn your nose up at something called a bait board – it’s actually a very clever workstation. Basically a convenient flat space for both fishing and other conveniences, quite often kayaks don’t have a lot of flat area and gear can get kicked around and tangled when put in your cockpit.
The setup is straightforward with mount posts (may need to order separately), and you can adjust the height and angle depending on your needs. Be careful to avoid knocking it with your paddle, and to still have the contents secured to the bait board or you could lose gear if you tip or capsize. One tip – before you mount it, try out in several temporary positions, best to do while on the water – so you don’t have to relocate it.
With attachments (also ordered separately) you can mount tools such as camera, fish finder, cup holder, etc. to the edges of this board. With this and other accessories, you can be in the water and productive for a very long time.
For Scotty bait board accessories to go with this equipment:
Especially in deeper water, your fishing will step it up a few notches with a GPS fish finder. This Deeper unit pairs with both iOS and Android devices, to wirelessly sync with them. Sonar graphics allow you to pinpoint where fish are in high resolution detail. The unique, castable design allows you to use it from shore, kayak, other water craft, through the ice, and even from float tubes.
This portable unit is powerful enough to map the water you’re fishing in, after which you can transfer data to your home computer to create 3D models of the water you fish. It works up to 330 feet deep and marks waypoints to reference later or come back to try again for that trophy fish that just broke off!
The main considerations are because it’s castable, you’ll want a separate heavy duty (but cheap is OK) casting rod to use. Some users have damaged the casing or sensor by casting into shallow water or hitting rocks or logs, so be careful where you cast. The main disadvantage is when the battery needs replacing, instead of self-perform you mail the unit into the factory. We hope this will be changed in the future but wanted to make sure you are aware.
It connects using Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth, which results in a stronger electronic connection. It does take some practice to read sonar really well (e.g. to differentiate between thermoclines and other structure), but all in all this is truly and asset that can step up your fishing game, especially when seeking out the lunkers that lie deep awaiting for your cast.
For many ‘yakers, this is the single most essential piece of gear. A simple milk crate can help organize a lot of your gear, and be neatly strapped to multiple locations on your boat depending on whether you need to actively access the contents or stow them for storage. Just make sure the contents are securely bungeed inside the crate in case of tipping or capsizing!
If the benefits are so clear – easy extra storage, lightweight, doesn’t take on water, and really inexpensive – then why would we put it way at the end of our review you say? Well, we figure you can get one of these at nearly any store with office supplies. That said, many are produced in a cheap way these days, such that the end product is flimsy or flexible. So, we wanted to make sure you know that YakGear produces a strong and sturdy one specifically make for kayaking.
Well that’s it folks – by now you will be more than ready to hit the water!
FEEDBACK: We want your ideas! For comments, questions, and new article suggestions, Contact Us.