Redfish Kayak Accessories and Modifications
Remember the phrase “shade tree mechanic?” Years ago, it was easy to work on a car; fidgeting with the points, carburetor valves, and timing were all fun things to do in your front yard. Outfitting a modern fishing kayak provides a new outlet to those who like to “do it yourself.” In fact, my YouTube channel, Kayak Hacks Fishing, is dedicated to DIY kayak modifications. If you are new to kayak fishing, here are a few critical accessories and alterations you should buy or make for safety, tackle storage and management, and comfort.
An experienced guide once told me new kayak anglers frequently make a mistake, given the enhanced stability of a modern fishing kayak, of believing they never will end up swimming next to the boat.
When discussing safety, a novice might say, “if I flip…” instead of “when I flip…”
There are risks associated with kayak fishing ranging from fishing in hypothermia-inducing cold water or managing the boat properly as an eight-foot wake comes off a container ship trundling by. Patently, the most critical redfish kayak accessory is the personal floatation device or PFD along with other safety items to comply with regulations. Two less obvious, but important, safety accessories are the anchor trolley and the stand up assist/flip-line/ladder.
It is easy to make an anchor trolley if you do not want to buy one, and there are plenty of videos showing multiple approaches. The anchor trolley allows you to control the angle of the boat relative to the fishing target as wind or current pushes against it. Regardless of whether you purchased or make an anchor trolley, be sure you do not tie the anchor directly to the trolley. Instead, run the line through the trolley ring to terminate on a cleat. This allows you to access the rope to quickly release the anchor if you get into trouble in a strong current or need to move the boat to land a fish. And that leads to an essential modification to the anchor system. Put a float on the anchor rope to paddle back to retrieve it if you must cut loose.
A properly configured rope can serve three purposes. The easiest way to flip your kayak is to lose balance standing up. A stand up assist rope or strap is a rope attached to the front handle you can pull against as you hoist yourself up from the seat; creating a stable tripod of rope and two legs.
It allows your feet to remain in a fixed, stable position while avoiding the side to side rocking that happens when trying to stand without one. The same rope can also be used as a flip line to turn a heavy kayak right side up when attached to the side carry strap or a rod holder. Finally, a simple, short section of PVC in the handle forms the stirrup for a kayak ladder to help you wiggle back onto the kayak quickly; leveraging your strong leg muscles to push yourself onto the kayak.
Kayak Tackle Storage and Management
This is where the do-it-yourselfer can really innovate! However, the one accessory you should buy instead of making is the front rod holder. The holder needs to be tall enough to prevent the butt of the rod from banging against your leg on the inside of the kayak, must be able to turn as well as hold the rod when a fish hits. All these characteristics are best delivered by a commercial product.
The most common do-it-yourself project is to outfit a milk crate for behind the seat fishing tackle storage. The most easy DIY modification is to add PVC rod holders and most anglers mount them to keep the rods vertical.
This becomes a problem for redfish since it may take 10 minutes to get a decent sized specimen to the side of the boat.
Many times, the red drum will run entirely around the kayak, and you do not want to have to negotiate the fight between rods standing vertically behind the seat.
Therefore, choose an acute angle for the PVC holders to make it easier to work a fish directly behind your fishing kayak. Frankly, an even better approach is to only use two rods, one in each forward rod holder, leveraging the Mustad Fastach to switch terminal tackle and avoid creating the rear obstacle. Beyond rod holders, there are many options to enhance the crates storage functionality including bolting on a small tackle box, making a movable top shelf or even rigging fishing tools to the side on bungees..
A simple option is to exploit the empty area underneath the seat is to put a kitchen drawer organizer, full of lures or tackle, below the seat. Another easy solution is to strap a butt pack to the front of the seat, lubricate the zipper with beeswax and you have a pouch to hold your most used items.
One caution is to anticipate the day when (not if) your kayak flips and be sure everything is secure. There are many do-it-yourself options for security including bicycle cargo nets or pet barrier nets intended for vehicles.
There are do-it-yourself solutions for cupholders, and those provide an easy way to keep water handy. While drinking water on a hot day is essential, you may feel the need for additional cooling. A simple accessory is a neck wrap using water and evaporative cooling to provide relief. A simple DIY project is to buy a foam stadium cushion and two containers of “blue ice.” Cut two holes in the cushion to fit the ice packs, cover with a towel, and you have a cool seat for a few hours! Throw a few more ice packs into a mylar cold bag from the Dollar Store, and you can be comfortable all day.