How To Set Up Your Kayak For Fishing


Want to ride to your favorite fishing spot in your kayak but don’t know how to get it ready for the spin? Every angler and marine adventure junkie knows that unless you are used to setting the kayak up and have taken enough time to learn what works and what doesn’t, it can be a little hard to reel in some fish from this vessel.

Kayaks have lesser space than canoes and traditional fishing boats, both as deck and storage space. Also you get much wetter than when fishing from the shore. Knowing how to revamp your fishing kayak setup can go a long way in ensuring that you have an enjoyable experience on the waters.

Whether you own a fishing kayak (one designed specifically for fishing) or just a simple sit on top, this guide will give you all the information you need to set up an amazing boat for your angling trip. Let’s get down to it!

1. Get Some Rod Holders

Obviously, you won’t be able to cast your fishing rod into the water while paddling and this is where rod holders come into play. A rod holder will be an important part of your yak fishing trip.

To set up a one, you must first consider how many rods you will require for your adventure. If you are going to need only one or two, set them up right behind the shaft in such a way that they don’t interfere with your paddle strokes. If you will be bringing more than these, however, you will need to install some of them at the front of the cockpit. Make sure that these arc above your paddle strokes so that the fishing line doesn’t get in the way of your movement.

To set up your rod holder, you will need to make holes on your kayak so mark areas where you will be doing this. “But why on earth should I drill holes in my yak? Isn’t there another way to install these rod holders” – You may ask! Yes, there is, but also most holders come with a free template to show you the way around this.

Sure, no one wants to see a hollow in their expensive vessel but trust us once you have set up the rod holders, you won’t even realize there were holes on your yak. This is because, most rod holders come with a sealant that should be applied around the areas where they join to the kayak once one has bolted them in. This means that you will be able to install these without harming your vessel.

But if putting holes on your yak sounds a little disturbing to you, you can try rod holder mounts that latch on the kayak. However, their cost could be even more than the time and money you would spend drilling holes and bolting in the rod holders into the kayak.

2. Organize Your Storage

Kayaks have limited space so the best way to make sure that everything you need for your fishing trip fits in is by bringing only what you need. Not only that, organize it properly so that you won’t have some pieces of equipment getting on the way of your fishing or paddling.

And as we all know it is much easier to get soggy in a kayak than in other boats so stuff that you don’t want to get into contact with water should be put in a dry bag. For instance, snacks taste better dry than when drenched in water. Most of the metal objects we use in fishing would rust if they get wet. Additionally, some of the items in your safety kit would be rendered useless if soaked in water.

Putting these crucial items in an impermeable storage like a dry bag is important, as it will keep them free of water. A zip lock bag would also get the job done just fine.

While at it, make sure that all those items that you will be using frequently like lures, hooks, and fishing pliers are kept as close to you as possible. If you will be paddling a sit on top kayak that has a platform at the back of its shaft instead of a hatch, you can store these items here. Some anglers put these essentials and everything else that needs quick access in a plastic container or milk crate and ties it to the platform.

But if you will not be in a sit on top kayak, you can get a small tackle box that you can store safely between your legs. Even though this fishing kayak setup is not the most comfortable, it will discourage you from bringing equipment that you don’t need.

3. Get An Anchor System

Of course, you will want your yak to be static when casting your line into the waters. It can be really hard for your vessel to remain stationary especially when fishing in an area that has strong winds or water currents, and that is exactly why you need an anchor. An anchor system keeps your boat still and prevents it from drifting when hooking a fish.

You can install a pulley system that lets you drop the anchor from the front, middle or rear of the kayak. Setting up an anchor is not that difficult. In fact, you can buy parts from your local hardware store and make your own system from scratch. Of course, you will need to drill a few bolt holes on your kayak but this will make a huge difference when you land your dream angling spot and can’t resist the temptation to keep fishing in it.

If you feel like setting up an anchor by yourself is too much hassle, just bring a long rope and tie your boat off to a tree branch. Alternatively, you can get a small weight plate or dumbbell and tie one end of your rope to it and it will still serve the purpose.

If you will be fishing at the beach, you can make a sand anchor by filling a canvas bag with sand and attaching it to one end of the rope. Once you are done fishing, just empty the bag, clean it and store it safely for the next trip. Some anglers use their swim bags instead, but we really don’t recommend this because sand is rough and can easily damage these. You really don’t want to lose your expensive swim backpack to sand, do you? So get a cheap canvas carrier and let it do the dirty work for you.

4. Install A Trolling Motor

Sometimes you just want to keep your hands off the paddle for a minute or just control your fishing rod for a while. Having a trolling motor will keep you moving on the waters even when your hands are not on the oar.

The best way to mount the motor on your boat is to install it on the stern. But the seats of some kayaks make it harder to reach the stern than others. In such cases, the best place to mount the motor would be on the midsection of your yak. Here you will be able to control the motor hassle free since you can reach it easily. The only disadvantage is that your milk crate will have lesser space for your tackle and other essentials.

5. Other Fishing Kayak Setup Improvement Possibilities


Now you have everything in order and are sure your kayak is going to give you one hell of an experience on the waters, so what’s next? Get more helpful items. If you still have space, it wouldn’t hurt to add a few more items. Your aim is to make your trip as fun as possible so go for anything that could make this happen. Here are some of the items that you can add on to your kayak:


You are going to need some food to keep yourself energized throughout the day. This is where coolers come in handy. Put enough food and refreshments for the day in here so that you don’t have to go back to the land to get some food before your adventure is over. If the weather is too hot, you will need to stay hydrated so pack enough bottles of water too. Place the cooler next to your milk container so that you can reach it quickly.


Take pics or this day didn’t happen! This is not a necessity but seriously, you need to get a few shots holding a bass, slicing the waters, anchoring your vessel, or just anything that you feel needs documenting. Good news? You don’t have to put the camera anywhere in the kayak – just let it hang from your neck and ride on!

Extra paddle

Whether you will be fishing in calm waters or rough ones, you should always create space for a backup oar. If you completely don’t have enough space for it, make sure the one you are paddling with is leashed to your kayak. Ever thought of what would happen if you tipped over and your oar sank to the bottom of the lake or ocean? (Moment of silence)

Your Safety Comes First!

As long as you will be dealing with a water body, boat, sharp objects like hooks, and unpredictable atmospheric conditions, then you are potentially exposed to danger. So do yourself a favor and bring some safety equipment to make sure you stay out of harm. To improve your fishing kayak setup make sure you have the following items in your safety kit.

Life jacket

If you are new to kayaking or fishing from such a vessel, there are higher chances of you flipping over especially if you haven’t mastered the tricks to maintaining good buoyancy. Having a safety life jacket will help you stay afloat as you try to get back on top of your yak. However, this will only be helpful if you had it on from the word go. A kayak tip happens very fast and you may not have enough time to zip into your life jacket if you store it in your backpack.

First Aid Kit

There is not safety kit without a first aid kit. It’s like bringing your kayak to the waters and not packing a paddle!

A first aid kit is imperative especially when you know you will be removing hooks from your catch. What if you get a cut from the hook? How about a scratch from an angry fish? We are not saying these situations will happen but we are not sure they won’t happen either so always have a first aid kit in your yak just in case.


Kayaks usually sit lower in the water than other boats so you need to make sure you are visible by other boaters. The best way to do this is to install stern lights on your vessel. To increase visibility and have a peace of mind, you can attach some battery powered LED lights to the sides and bow of your kayak too.

For Good Measure

Pack all the tools you need for the trip but make sure these are things that can fit in your kayak. Apart from fishing reels, rods, lines, pocketknives, hooks, nail clippers, GPS, and pliers, you also need to bring an air horn, bug spray, VHF radio, UV protective clothing if you will be fishing in the sun or warm clothing if the weather is cold.

Globo Surf Overview

There are a number of ways through which you can improve your fishing kayak setup to have a mind-blowing experience on the waters. Above are just the basics to get you started. Whether you are a beginner angler or have been doing it for ages, this guide will help you set up your kayak for your most favorite pass time activity. Know your vessel’s storage space, organize it properly, stay safe, and you will have the most enjoyable adventure!

More Kayak Reviews:


  1. Kayak Setup Guide To The Basics For Fishing,
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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!