Rigging A Kayak For Serious SportfishingSetting up for kayak fishing really allows you to enjoy the sport to its fullest. Theres anunderstandable joy in hooking into a great fish and having everything you need from secure rodholders to landing equipment and storage right at your fingertips. Making your kayak such a joy to fishfrom takes a bit of planning but goes a long way in making your experience a positive one!As in fishing from a boat, kayak fishing comprises a wide spectrum of different techniques, gear, andrigs reflecting the method of fishing as well as the personal preferences of the angler. Due to therapid popularity that kayak fishing has experienced in recent years, many kayak manufacturers offerspecially-equipped "fishing models" featuring built-in rod holders, compartments, and layoutsespecially suited to the kayak angler.For starters, the most popular fishing kayaks are those with a forward compartment for dry storageand a rear tank-well, or deck recess, that allows for placement of tackle equipment like a crate withrod holders, bait tanks, or fish bags. My kayak is an Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro TW.Rudder or No-Rudder?The jury is out on the necessity for a rudder but I find a rudder invaluable when trying to paddleagainst adverse winds or currents. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoy working my rudder to "follow" thefish as Im fighting it... And they will pull you! Despite the potential for snagging my line on the rudder,the benefit of increased efficiency when conditions worsen well outweighs the negatives for installinga rudder.Starting at the bow, Id recommend bungee lashings, or "bungee trees" as theyre usually called.These serve as a paddle holder and allow you to stow your paddle in an instant, a handy feature tohave when you get a strike. My kayak is equipped with bungee trees on the bow and in the cockpitthe latter which conveniently holds my tackle box right in front of me.If youre thinking positive (and you should be!) you need to have something to land and store yourcatch. For smaller fish a landing net will do and for larger fish a gaff would be more appropriate.Some folks keep a catch bag in their hull which requires opening up the hatch to place their catch intothe bag. My preference is an insulated bag which I store in the rear tank-well. This setup is verydifferent from our mainland counterparts most of whom tend to utilize the aft space on their kayaks forstoring crates with rod-holders and/or live bait buckets.Kayak fishing in Hawaii involves quite simply, bottom-fishing, trolling, whipping (bait-casting), orjigging. I do very little bottom fishing or whipping (casting) from my kayak as I really enjoy theconstant movement that trolling offers, not to mention the simplicity of rig that we use!In setting up for bottom fishing, whipping, and jigging there really is no special set-up as all that youreally need is a floating platform from which to deploy your line. Its a good idea to get a drift chutewhich can significantly reduce your drift while doing any of these stationary fishing methods. I rig abridle, formed by joining the bowline and a line fastened behind me, that holds the chute amidshipsso it holds my kayak perpendicular to the direction of the current or wind, whichever might be pushingme away from the area Id like to remain in.
Rod Holders - In Front or Behind?For trolling, my rod holders are set up in the front of the cockpit. This is probably the biggestdifference from many of our mainland kayak fishing colleagues who seem to prefer placing their rodholders in back of their seats. I prefer being able to watch the tip of my pole as Im trolling asfrequently, smaller fish will shred the bait without taking pulling on the line for the ratchet to sound.When a fish does hit, the transition from paddling to setting the hook is one smooth transition as Iquickly place the paddle in the bow lashing then grab my rod.When placing your rod holders in front of you, be sure to check your maximum forward extensionwhen paddling so as to assure you wont hit the rod holders or rods when stretching forward in yourstroke.Wherever you decide to place your rod holders, be sure to include a safety line to your reels toprevent losing them in the event you capsize or if the rod holders should fail. On three occasions (Idrather not talk about how...) I flipped my kayak and, if not for the safety lines would have lost myfavorite Penn Reel and rod! On another occasion, having insufficiently tightened the nut on my rodholder, my entire rod holder gave way when a fish hit and my reel and rod went right into the water,thankfully, only as far as the safety line.Tackle Box & Landing TackleMy preference is to keep things as simple as possible and the size of my tackle box (about 5"x 8")probably reflects that. All of my lures and pre-set leaders are stored in this small waterproof box thatsstrapped into the bungee cords right in front of me. A long nose pliers hangs off the side of my seatso I dont have to go fumbling for it when Ive got a twenty pound fish struggling in my lap or thrashingabout on the side of the kayak.Depending on where were fishing, I would either have a gaff or landing net and, often, Ill stick themin the extra rod holder for convenience.Fishfinders & VHS RadiosAn increasing number of fishing kayaks are being rigged with fishfinders that are water-resistant andvery well-suited to kayak fishing needs. One of our buddies has a fishfinder on his kayak and heswears by it! You can choose from a portable fishfinder that allows for the needed transducer to bemounted with a suction cup or doing a permanent mount that requires epoxying the transducer to thehull. As of yet, I havent outfitted my kayak with a fishfinder but Im getting awfully tempted!Of course, while were on the subject of electronics, a good investment would also be a VHS two-way-radio so you have both boat to boat and coast guard emergency channel access. Submersiblehandheld VHS radios are available nowadays starting at around $170 and up.Take some time to set up your kayak and when the day comes when you get the strike of your life, allthe little details will pay off in making your experience the all that it should be.Tight lines!************Basketball rug