The kayak fishing life vest or buoyancy aid is an essential item that may one day save your life. It doesn't matter how strong a swimmer you are, it is not worth taking the risk fishing without one. A days kayak fishing on a large open water with a wind of more than a few knots can be hard work. After paddling for a few hours against a prevaling wind your arms will be tired and should the unfortunate happen whereby you capsize in cold water, you will be grateful you didn't leave home without it.
These days there are many life vests offered at reasonable prices. Life vests designed specifically for kayak fishing are also available with a multitude of built in pockets to stow away all those fishing accessories we like to have to hand.
Be sure to ensure that you purchase a life vest or buoyancy aid to match you size and weight. Many life vest have adjustable chest sizes but you can't really adjust the amount of buoyancy the vest provides. The life vest will have a label that tells the buoyancy in Newtons and will also tell the maximum person weight it will support.
Starting with the fishing kayak itself may seen an obvious choice and will likely be the biggest expense, assuming you are not going to purchase a top end fish finder or dry suit. Fishing kayaks range in price from a few hundred to few thousand pounds. There are numerous to choose from so it's wise to spend some time on this and if possible actually try some out before you part with your hard earned cash. The type of waters you fish will dictate the correct kayak length. For example if you opt for a 10 foot kayak with the intention of fishing for conger in the north sea, you will regret your choice. Sea fishing and large open lakes require a longer kayak designed to provide the stability and ease of paddling required for waves. I would not normally recommend anything below 12 foot for sea conditions seen in Europe and would suggest 13 as a minimum for the beginner.
My current fishing kayak is the Feelfree Moken 12.5, which I find to be an excellent choice that provides amazing stability and a comfortable days fishing on all types of water. I use the Moken 12.5 on all waters (Rivers, Lakes and Sea). There are many other vendors offering similar kayaks and many are almost identical so as mentioned earlier it does pay to look around. Other kayaks in this range that I feel offer equally good value for money can be found from vendors including the Jackson Range, Wilderness Systems and the Concept Explore.
I like the Feelfree Moken wheel in the keel concept as it means very often I do not need to use a separate kayak trolley to get it from the car to the water. It has plenty of storage space, good sized center console and is built to last. The seat is excellent and allows hours of use without any discomfort.
Nothing provides the flexibility, reach and feeling of being on the water quite like the kayak. Kayak fishing popularity has surged in recent years helped by the availability of affordable and extremely stable sit on top kayaks. The number of kayak vendors has increased and choice has multiplied dramatically with something to suit all from the novice paddler to the experienced professional.
Kayak fishing enables anglers to reach spots impossible to cast to from the bank and opens up areas previously inaccessible to traditional fishing boats. Wherever you preference be lakes, rivers or the open seas, a decent kayak will serve your needs. All types of fishing techniques can be practiced afloat including fly fishing, lure fishing, trolling, jigging or bait fishing.
Fishing kayaks are available in multiple sizes and price points. To the beginner getting started it may seem like a daunting task but here I will explain what to look for, what to avoid and how to get started to ensure your first day afloat is an enjoyable event.
As a bare minimum to get you out kayak fishing you will only need three items: The kayak, kayak paddle and life vest. All other items are optional and whilst they will add to the enjoyment, they can be purchased later.
Kayaks can be transported either on a roof rack of the car or a trailer. I prefer the roof rack as it allows me to get to places that would be trickier if I had a trailer to tow. The kayak can be mounted directly onto the roof bars or specially designed kayak carriers. If mounting direct onto the roof bars, it would be wise
to use some foam padding to prevent any damage.
Fishing kayaks weigh more than kayaks designed for white water or touring and with the addition of fish finders, batteries, rod holders, etc. they are typically around the 30-40 kg mark. I have seen many a You-Tube video of people designing all kinds of contraptions to get the kayak onto the roof but they are not needed for the majority of people.
I drive an SUV and use kayak carriers on top of the roof bars that make it around 15-20 cm higher and have no trouble getting the kayak up or down.
I load the kayak from the back of the car. You can drape a piece of rubber or old carpet from the roof to stop any scratches. With the front of the kayak
going up first, you can run a piece of rope from the kayak stern and use it to pull the kayak towards you as you lift it up onto the roof. Once it's up all that is required is to to strap it down and ensure it is tightly secured. The whole process takes no more than a couple of minutes and getting it down is just a reverse of the loading. A small step or sturdy stool is a useful addition if you drive a big / high car or van.
Once you reach your fishing destination the fishing kayak can be offloaded from the roof in a matter of a few minutes. I load the tackle from the car to the kayak normally before wheeling it down to the waters edge.
The four wheel drive capability of the Nissan X-Trail ensures that there are few places I can't reach, which is a big advantage over the trailer boat where a slip way is normally required to launch and recover the fishing
Remember to tighten the straps and be aware that many indoor car parks have low ceilings. Straps should be checked for condition periodically and replaced when signs of wear or fraying appears.
Kayak fishing is a an excellent way to get out on the water and will bring a new dimension to your fishing. With the correct clothing. kayak fishing can be done throughout spring, summer and autumn. There are die-hard kayak fisherman that continue to fish throughout the winter in Scandinavia where the weather can be a lot colder than most European countries. By equipping yourself with suitable clothing you will ensure your day is enjoyable rather than cold wet & miserable.
In the heat of summer you can of course kayak fish with little more than a pair of shorts and life vest. As the weather turns colder you will need more. A good dry suit will allow you to fish in all but the coldest of days. If a dry suit is out of your budget range, fear not as a set of water proof trousers and jacket will be sufficient providing you manage to stay upright.
Fishing kayaks have large amounts of storage space in the hulls. I pack spare and additional clothing into a dry bag and stow in the hull. A set of light water proof trousers, jacket and towel is also a handy addition and takes up little space.
Most forms of fishing can be performed from the fishing kayak in a similar way as any other fishing boat. Sure the space is tighter and you can't take along all the gear you might for a bank fishing session but one of the beauties of being afloat is that very often you do not not much more than a rod, reel and few fishing lures.
Trolling lures or simple drifting around on the wind with float fished live or dead-baits can be very effective for predatory fish such as Pike, Zander and Perch.Fly fishing from the kayak is also an excellent way to cover areas you can't reach from the bank.I am often asked if it's possible to stand up and fish on the kayak. The answer to this is yes & I have done so but would not recommend it except on the calmest of days.
Whatever you fishing style preference, the fishing kayak will give you options you never had before. I wish you tight lines and a warm welcome to the kayak fishing world. Be sure to give me a wave as you paddle past and enjoy your the kayak fishing adventures.
Want to give it a try - Head over to the store and take the plunge
Now that you have selected your Kayak, you will require a paddle to get you out to that favorite fishing spot. As with kayak's there are multiple paddles available. Selecting the right paddle is perhaps as important as selecting the fishing kayak itself. A paddle of the wrong length to fit your size will turn what should be a an enjoyable experience into something of a nightmare and result in sore arms, shoulders and back.
If you are unsure what size of paddle to purchase, a trip to your local fishing kayak shop will be time well invested. A google search of kayak paddle size will provide valuable assistance to ensure you select the correct size.
I am 5 foot 8 and use a paddle of 230 cm. As I am often on the water for many hours and regularly troll lures for Pike covering long distance, I prefer a light paddle. Kayak paddles come in different materials including fibre glass, carbon fibre, aluminium and plastic. The selection will depend on how much you are willing to spend. If you are planning to be out on the water every weekend it would make sense to spend that bit more for a good carbon fibre model. If you only fish once or twice per month then a cheaper aluminium model costing £30-40 will be fine. A two or three piece paddle that quickly breaks apart can be kept in the car all season without taking up much room.
A paddle leash is a useful additional item that will prevent the paddle floating off down-stream should you drop it in the water. The leash is an inexpensive item that simply ties the paddle to the kayak itself with clips or knots used. The leash can be self made and a length of para cord with small clips attached to the ends will do the job effectively enough.
Now that you have purchased your fishing kayak, kayak paddle and life vest you are ready to set out for a memorable day afloat. The first time paddler would be well advised to do this without the extra burden of fishing tackle to get the feel of the kayak and build up some confidence. Fishing kayaks are designed to be stable and indeed they are but like anything new in life, you will feel a little apprehensive at first. I would recommend choosing a calm day and sheltered water for your first adventure. After one or two sessions you will find the confidence rising very quick and can start to go further afield with the tackle needed to catch and land the fish.
Many of the fishing kayaks sold today will come with rod holders pre-mounted. The Feelfree Moken uni track rail system allows additional rod holders to be used that can be quickly mounted and removed. In addition they can be set forward and aft as required without any hassle.
Fish finders are a useful addition to any fishing boat and the fishing kayak is no exception. I mount the fish finder on the center console with a small 12 volt motor cycle battery placed inside the console. The battery will give me a couple of full days use before it needs recharging. There have been many articles written about how and where to mount the fish finder transducer. I have found that the best solution for me is to use a through hull transducer that is sealed inside a pot of oil with silicon used to hold it in place on the inside of the hull.
Often with the fish finder I am not actually looking for the fish on the screen but look for variations in depth, rocky areas on the bottom or any other indication that the place might be a fish holding feature where I would concentrate on.