How To Rig A Fishing Kayak
We’ve had so many questions recently about how to properly rig your fishing kayak. I found a great video on how to do this. Even though these blokes are in England, they’re using a Hobie Mirage as their example and there really is a load of great advice. Hopefully this’ll answer all your questions. If you have more, just leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.
We also took the time to transcribe (to the best of our ability!) the YouTube video for those of you who prefer reading or are deaf. You don’t need to be able to hear to get out there on the water! No excuses! Get your kayak rigged up and get out there! Hope you enjoy this video presentation…
Here’s the Transcript!
HOW TO RIG A FISHING KAYAK
Welcome to The Totally Awesome Fishing Show. We’re out and about.
Are we in Amsterdam? No? Are we in Barcelona? No. It’s Bristol actually;
down in Bristol on a sunny day in the winter and it’s quite cold.
And we’re down here to look at boats; big boats like that one big boats like canal boats.
It’s everything that’s down here actually quite small boats kayaks of it was
kayaks on these other words is still floats it’s still a boat, far as I’m
We’re going to have to meet a kayak expert down here just
outside Bristol and he’s going to give us some tips. Trust me we need a lot of tips
we totally also we know nothing of kayak fishing. He is an expert let’s get down there,
meet up with him and see if we can give you guys some really good tips on how to rig out the perfect kayak.
We’re here down in Somerset and i’ve come to meet the man who can paddle anywhere!
Ian, good to see you right Alec Graham, good to meet you; I’m good thanks.
Inside here I believe it’s full of you tell me – yeah, it’s full of kayak fishing
Let me know let me show you in there Graham. Let’s get in there.
If it floats I want to see it.
Now this is what you call a fisherman’s garage.
This one is really really kitted out with almost more stuff than
my boats got in it. So we’re getting into the kayak fishing I can see you got you got one up on the
ceiling there, you got another one down here. Just tell people because i know nothing
about kayak fishing.
Why you chose this, what type of model it is and the sort of attributes of
quality, you know, that this rig offers you.
Right well this is a Hobie Revolution kayak. It’s set up for fishing so we’ve got
some flush-mounted rod holders.
I’ve added some ram holders just to make things in a bit easier.
Now the biggest difference with Hobie kayaks is the fact that you can paddle with
see with the traditional kayak paddle but Hobie’s come with this Mirage drive.
Okay, I don’t know if you can see that but you can pedal them.
Can you actually reverse as well?
Yes it can reverse or just your traditional forward motion. They’re quicker to go on the
pedals than they are with the paddles a lot of people look at them and they
think thats slow but actually they’re very good especially for efficiency, as you
can fish hands-free.
Now obviously you can get lots of different kayaks for kayak fishing, but
they all have certain things in common:
Most fishing kayaks will be sit on tops-
Ok now this means that you you sit on a comfy seat on top of the kayak rather
than sitting inside with a spray deck ok. Now the other thing about the
sit-on-top kayaks it’s a fact that if you do happen to capsize
they’re much easier to get back on to – okay you can just right them and you can
clamber back on.
They’re also quite stable which is another real plus for fishing.
Now, if you have a look at this one we’ve got some front hatches;
Ok that opens up and close and they can get a lot of gear in there.
We’ve got a center hatch which opens up.
And we’ve also got a hatch in the rear which I don’t use as much because
they’re quite difficult to reach when you’re actually on the kayak but you
could put a first aid kit or something in there.
Now I mentioned briefly the seat –
and one of the things about kayak fishing is you need a seat that supports
your back but bare in mind that if you’re fishing
you also need a seat that’s comfortable because you likely to be sat on the kayak
for quite a long time okay and so it is important to have a seat that
supports you and that’s comfortable.
Now, safety is a really important thing with kayak fishing,
Ok so i always tell everyone to get a dry suit,
Ok, it could save your life.
Now, here we’ve got a one-piece dry suit; its breathable, its from a company called
typhoon their great, they’ve got neoprene seals on both the neck and the
sleeves and have fabric boots as well and these things are completely dry,
you know you can wear your normal clothes and you’ll stay bone dry in these.
The other thing that I wouldn’t be without when I’m kayak fishing
is a personal flotation device or a PFD now this is one
from Palm these things are designed to keep you afloat if you do have the
misfortune to fall in.
Ok so again they could save your life now with the PFD’s, you would always
have a PFD knife, because obviously you’re fishing so you’ve got fishing lines,
you might have ropes rigging on the kayak.
Now this thing, you can see it’s got a a blunt blade which again is quite
important because if you’re trying to get back onto the kayak the last thing you
want is to be stabbing yourself with a sharp blade.
So these things are quite good. Ah, the other thing that’s important
is a whistle if you need to attract attention if you fall off the kayak you
can raise attention just using the whistle; and portable VHF radio
What can you do what can you pick those out for those up for? Those VHF radios?
The piece of equipment?
yeah this is there and and you know these these things as I’ve said they
could save your life so this is the one item of gear that I
wouldn’t skimp on, price wise, and this is from a company called icom. You can also
get radios from companies like Standard Horizon and expect their about hundred
and fifty British Pounds, (U.S price = approx $184) something like that and but again
get a decent model, you know, it could save your life
So you want that you want the distance and the power right?
Yeah yeah and I think this one’s five or six watts; um you can get DSC ones now as
well, but yeah just make sure it’s waterproof, okay that’s the most important thing.
Now just on the subject of that, does it got material inside it that’ll keep you buoyant?
Does it actually inflate or it’ll keep you buoyant?
No, it’s basically got buoyant foam inside it, okay, and this particular one
will give you about 70 newtons and I think the minimum is 50 newtons of lift;
But yeah, you don’t have to inflate them.
You just wear this on top of your dry suit, and it’ll keep you afloat, okay?
And this particular one from Palm is great, it’s got loads of pockets, so you can
put your little bits of fishing gear in here
You know and and also sometimes I carry flares in them in there in the backpack
if I’m going out and fishing saltwater are sometimes carry the flares in the backpack and she didn’t yeah
I thought I didn’t issue, you think about boats and you automatically think of that
but yeah, yes you will want to smoke flare or something like that won’t
And this one’s also got a a page for hydration for water page that you can
put in the back as well which is quite nice.
it’s actually got a tube that comes around to your mouth yeah that’s right
yeah he has a bit posh really.
A bottle of water will probably suffice, but yeah it’s quite good idea.
Well one of the sayings we have in kayak fishing is leash it or lose it.
Ok now basically everything that I’ve got on this kayak that is of any worth
has got a leash on it.
Ok so again if you do happen to capsize and you lose some of this gear over the
side, it’s leashed to the kayak so it’s not going to go anywhere, is it?
It’s not going to be lost to Davy Jones locker.
Ok it’s quite important if you don’t want to lose it, then leash it.
Okay and these leashes if they’re easy to make; you can just buy kill cords for
jet skis and and just tack them – so you can tie things up – so you know my fishing
rods, my electronic gear, anything that’s of any worth I a leash on the kayak.
In the back you’ve also got a sort of what we call a storage area here.
Yeah yeah this is this is the the tank well okay and this is the the
storage area for fishing kayaks ok so this is where you know your your
tackle, I’ve got an anchor in here that we can use and a reel with the chain
that’s a special reel for the –
What we actually use – this is a diver’s reel and and divers use this for surface
market boys but we basically use the same thing so it’s 2 or 3 ml. cord and think
i’ve got about 80 meters on this and then tied to a length
of three foot of six millimeter chain and then a 1.5 kilo folding grapnel.
And just show us how that works, when we get a little push mechanism to it.
Yes here you go fold it out, and then it’s got a locking collar see?
And you’ve already got that trip to the top yeah?
This is this is a trip now you
see lots of different ways of tripping anchors; I’ve seen you can use a bridle
and I’ve seen people use cable ties as a weak link;
there’s lots of different mechanisms.
This is one of my favorites:
it’s um it’s something that you you can buy is commercially available in it i
think it’s called an anchor trip clip, and you can see it clips onto the the
top of the anchor and then that the clip clips on some chain and it’s got a collar
that you can adjust to change the tension, at which then trip breaks.
So you can see if i give it a good pull,
you can see it it breaks.
I’ve never seen that before, yeah
do they do that in a bigger size?
Yeah, I mean this one’s a special
one for the very small boats and kayaks but they do bigger ones
then you can see the anchor turns around the other way and if it is fouled
nine times out of ten you will be able to bring the anchor back in, using that
method and then it’s just a case of resetting it; and there you go.
That was a decision that it’s easier than cable ties?
Yeah is easier than cable ties and and also
the big difference between this and cable ties, with cable ties you’re never
really sure when the tension is going to make things go,
whereas with this collar, you know it’s always going to break at the same
tension, and you can you can adjust it so you say you’re in a strong tidal flow, you
might want a bit more tension.
Of course you just pull the collar and that changes the tension straightway,
so yes it’s a really good device and yeah you’ll still lose the occasional
and anchor, but,
I can’t remember losing many since i’ve been using the the anchor trip so yeah
it’s a good device.
And they’re cheap enough..
Well yeah yeah there’s a sort of thing that you see it at boat jumbles and
things like that so um yeah they’re not very expensive and it but the the other thing
that you need to use a an anchor on a fishing kayak is a trolly, an anchor trolly.
Ok and this consists of a length of line
with a block at the stern of the kayak and the line runs right the length of
the kayak to a block at the front of the kayak;
So if you have a look this carabiner can basically a shuttle forwards and
backwards and the idea behind this is that when you’re when you’re anchored in
the kayak obviously you can’t reach the back of the yak when you’re you’re sat in your
seat; is too far away.
Ok and you never want to be anchored midships, because your kayak will turn
broadside to the tide and probably the wind and waves and and if it’s going to
be a capsize, then nine times out of 10 that’s what is
going to happen.
Absolutely, so what we do is we put the anchor line
from the carabina; imagine that we’re sat in here for
the moment, holding our guidance reel,
ok then what we do is we shuttle the carabina to the back of the kayak
Okay and then essentially, we drop the anchor and then hopefully in the
anchor does catch your anchored from the back of the kayak which is which is what
you want to be.
Totally its literally the reverse of what we have in a small boat you know where
you got to the anchor for the bow or any boat, indeed. You cannot afford to have any current
pulling on the side can you?
Sure, some people do actually anchor from the bow of the kayak where you can do that and it’s exactly the
same; just shuttle it to the front of the kayak to the bow and anchor from the bow.
The only trouble is if you’re in the kayak obviously you want the lines going
the right way – not many people are uptide from the kayak,
so most people are downtide when they’re fishing so obviously it makes a
bit more sense to anchor from the back.
Now on the back here we’ve got to the mode of transportation;
you mentioned about possibility of a sail, I think and you yeah some of them
kayaks can have a sail as well.
Many of the kayaks can can have sails; the Hobies for instance have a sail kit
which actually fits into the mast stay at the front of the kayaks oh so you would
normally have your mast coming out of here
ok but but most of the other the kayaks is that there’s a another make called Pacific
Action and those sails will fit any kayak.
Yeah, absolutely and and with the Pacific Action and with the Holy One you can you
can sail against the wind as well; they’re quite good.
you know when I was in Canada once, I was in a traditional Canadian canoe and it was a horror story because it rolled so much and obviously the steerage and was with a single paddle;either side. Now you can use the paddle either way of course, but you’ve also got a rudder at the back.
Yeah, I’ve got a rudder that sits in back and let’s just show
you this. Now on this particular model
I fitted an extra-large rudder, ok because i like to be – when I’m lure
I like to be able to maneuver, especially when I’m in rivers that are quite narrow,
like to be able to turn on a sixpence and and cast and and move across the
So I fitted a slightly larger rudder to my kayak and but yeah what we have its
control lines and you pull one control line and that would drop
the rudder and then we’ve got another control line that will lift it
back up –
Those wire cables run into the inside of the hull, I see and yeah right.
That’s your pull cord.
That nearly whacked me in the face.
And also we have the steerage here.
So I see so the cord goes both ways.
yeah and then so if you look over here
can you see that the actual movement?
Yeah, just these cables coming through these holes here
Either side, that’s you’re steerage and that’s your rudder, just at the front so
you can control that with your hands.
Now on some models of kayaks and you find
that they will have exactly the same thing they’ll have the rudders, but with
a lot of kayaks they’ll stay with their feet rather than from their hands so but but
but it’s the same idea.
And up the front here and you got like foot straps, like the cyclists
yeah this is the the mirage drive that that we spoke about;
For Hobies, this takes the place of your paddle.
Ok so this is the thing that you use to power the kayak essentially so you use your
feet rather than your hands which which means that for lure fishing
you don’t have to stop paddling, drop the paddle and pick up your rod
in order and start fishing.
You can literally you know – your hands-free;
you can move and fish at the same time which you can’t do with any other kind of kayak.
So it’s a real benefit for lure fishing. and they’re very quick as well. You
can you can go much faster with this mirage drive with the fins than you
could ever paddle.
Is that right?
Yeah they are there they’re quite efficient they’re quite impressive.
yeah now you’ve got on the sounder you got a good old Lowrance sounder here
yeah we tell me a little bit about that.
Right so so what we’ve got here is
Lowrance, it’s a down imaging unit
I’m sure you’ve seen these before. Big difference on kayak is you don’t have
much space so you have to think about how you’re going to install it.
Now I’ve got,
I don’t know if you can see here but I’ve got some some metal track and this
is from a company called Yak Attack, and it’s called gear track and basically
you can install things on there and allows you
to move things backwards and forwards and on this fish finder.
I’ve got a quick release as well on the top so i can literally just lift the
head unit off and that’s it.
You can see putting on and taking it off is really quick.
And this is from a company called Ram and they do all sorts of different mounts
So for instance you can see here we’ve got a video camera mount.
and again it’s mounted on the gear track and you can slide it
backwards and forwards and can move it up and down and left and right
and all the rest of it; so it’s very versatile;
it’sit’s um you know it’s clever stuff.
I’ve got the same on the GPS got another
Ram Mount up and lets you –
And that’s just tucked inside there and yeah actually
I’ve actually fixed this in the cup holder; there’s not a huge amount of
space don’t have a center console on this particular kayaks you have to think
about where you going to install things.
now transducer for that; where does it go? Through the hole?
Good question! Now lots of people will fit the transducers actually underneath the hull.
only using the scuppers underneath. The only trouble with that is
very often you know if you’re dragging the kayak over stones and
rocks and things like that, you end up if you’re not careful
actually catching the transducer.
Not good, not good.
So I try to mount the transducer inside the hull of the kayak.
Ok and then route the wires through using a water proofer – I don’t know if you
can see that but I’ve got an electrical waterproof gland in there
so the wires come through that from the inside of the kayak through to the outside
and then we plug that into the back of the unit,
so that’s got the transducer and the battery i.e. the power combined into a
single plug, and that goes into the back of the unit.
Is it a rechargeable one or does it run off a separate small battery?
This one runs off a bit of kayak fishing DIY. Just use the normal dry bag and put
a waterproof electrical connector on there.
Inside I’ve got a simple 12 volt acid battery, the sort of
thing you can pick up from Maplin’s or anything like that.
Dry bag is for what? Canoeists, surfers? Is it good for anybody in the water?
Yeah, you can go to any outdoor shop you can buy them,
these dry bags you know that they’re quite cheap but they make great little
bags for the for the battery.
I mean that that the hull of the sit inside kayak should be
pretty dry but i always like to
I don’t like taking any chances always prefer it to put it in a dry bag.
Good idea, yeah.
Yes we put that simply goes in the in the hull and then we’ve got a
waterproof plug that simply plugs into the front;
So that’s actually
so we’ve got a waterproof plug that simply plugs into the front. That goes into
the hull; close the hull.
It’s all a system of the check and recheck i can see that.
So now I i think we’ve seen all we can see on this Hobie.
What’s this bar for? Don’t understand what that’s for you know.
This again is is specific to a Hobie and when you’ve got the the sail
and and you’re sailing against the wind
if you get some strong gust of wind, obviously it can always try and capsize you
and will try and push the the kayak over, so Hobie have developed a
couple of arms that stick out the side of here and they got floats on the end –
Like those Hawaiian – yeah absolutely.
They’re absolutely their outriggers and they stabilize the kayak.
They stop it from turning over and yeah they make everything a bit more stable,
so I i probably wouldn’t use them when I was paddling or pedaling
but if it was if it was windy and I was using the sail then yes I would
probably put those in there. They are quite useful.
Now almost finally, as there is already a lot of
information for anybody whose interested in kayak fishing to take in for me and Mike
when we go, the importance is recording the event. And i can see here you
can definitely record the event.
Now you’ve got cameras all over the place that you just give us a
run-through onsome of those cameras.
Ok so i’ve got a stills camera here and a high def
ok and they just click on to a bit of PVC tubing that fits into me into the
mast stay so they’re all fully adjustable.
Ok and these are these can be remotely controlled as well so i can start and
stop them from from the cockpit, i don’t have to shuffle forward to to set them
And I’ve got the usual Go Pro here as well, hooray, yeah they seem to be obligatory these days of
your into to video and everyone loves the Go Pro. I’ve got that mounted on
another DIY ram mount that I’ve made myself, and that one can twist forwards
and backwards and all the rest of it.
Also the other thing that I’ve got is I’ve got a rear-mounted video camera
ok and that’s really where you get the best pictures from. When
you’re trying to take some some video of me fishing.
The you know that forward-facing ones are great when you actually lift the
fish onto the kayak sure yeah but people like to see when you’re actually fishing
and when you’re casting and stuff like that.
and so what I’ve done is of created a couple of the cameras that fit behind
you and you look bang.
Yes and give you a bit of height angle and yeah yeah absolutely and and you can see
what’s going on.
I’ve got one that fits onto the pole of a navigation
light and that simply fits into the back so you can you can video from from
And those those to make sure there is a wide angle up there?
yeah this this one the the Island AirPro this one is great because the
the audio is really good on this and you know much better than the than the the
Yeah these things are these things are great for what we do because they have
they’re rugged, they’re waterproof and they’ve both
got an angle view of about a hundred and seventy, hundred and eighty
degrees i think, something like that so you can even though they they look like
they’re quite close to you, you can still see everything that’s going on.
I know they do a lot lure fishing and you do a lot of bait fishing too.
but i know a lot of yakkers do lure fishing.
If you’ve got to go bass fishing, you have a need for live bait just like mackeral,
etc, use them individually or can you actually store them on there?
Yeah so one of the things that we use with life bait is this live well in the back
of Hobie and this this is built for this specific kayak.
so it, the pump pumps water in through as scupper hole in the bottom of the unit
and then it basically you’re always getting fresh water coming in so it is
not like your traditional live boxes I’ve seen where they’ve just got you
know oxygenators in there,
this actually continuously pumps water round so you keep your bait alive for
longer and it’s great say –
So it’s called a recirculation system rathen than oxygenated.
Yeah absolutely and and it’s circular so if you’ve got if you if
you’re looking for live bait like mackerel that traditionally very very
difficult to keep alive in its in a small tank.
This thing is ideal. One of the things that I did a lot of last year was live baiting for pike.
Ok it was fantastic, absolutely fantastic and at the end of the session
I mean why I was releasing that the bait that i hadn’t used and they were fine, they
were swimming away.
Yes it’s a thing lots of people don’t know. If you’re live baiting,
a square tank is not good because they get their noses in
the corner don’t go forward no oxygen goes over their gills so that you end up with a
lot of dead bait.
Yeah so the circular tank is quite important for live baiting.
Yeah yeah two-fold as well: circular so it’s got no edges exactly as you said
but also you’ll find that the water is circulating so it’s actually a flow of
water going around the tank so that they put their noses into the flow which
helps keep them alive as well which again you don’t get with it with the
normal oxygenator; they just pump air into the water.
And again this particular model notice we just flip that lid shut
it’s got rod holders in the back as well.
Yeah you’ve got three rod holders. And the Americans, they love their rod holders
and I’ve seen I’ve seen American guys and they’ve had five rod holders on
I’ve had you know I’ve seen when we went to America we saw guys with with six or
Is that right?
Yeah yeah it’s a bit crazy and over here
I fish two rods sometimes three but you find if you if you fish too many
they will get tangled up and ends up as a mess
Now, getting towards the end of it now so there’s a lot of
what’s the basic Hobie rig set up here and obviously what would you expect your
entire rig to cost you know cameras, live bait and everything just to give
people some sort of idea.
Okay well for a setup like this so you say a hobie revolution or or an
outback which is slightly wider model
you’d be looking at about two thousand pounds ($2,432 USD) um, so it’s expensive but you have to remember
with Hobie is that everything’s designed so you can see with
with a live well with the sail and with some of the fishing mods they put
on them someone’s actually thought about creating a bespoke fishing kayak ok so
so you don’t have to do too much moding.
Most these things come as standard so you get the seat
you know you get the paddle most of the stuff you need you get with the kayak;
the rudders built in
you don’t have to buy that as an optional extra. With a lot of
the other kayaks you buy the basic kayak and then you have to add all these
different things on.
So you’re full rig here, cameras, live bait tank,
what do you reckon you’re into here.
Gosh, I’d hate to hazard a guess.
Oh come on, come on..
All I can tell you is that kayak fishing is probably similar to a lot of other
hobbies like fishing and and golf and things like that.
This is one of those where you can spend as much as you want and you can
keep going that’s the trouble, the sky is the limit you know and I do love my
gadgets, so I’ve probably spent quite a lot on gadgets.
I’m guessing about four thousand now…it but um you know you
I really don’t know honestly…you’re probably right i mean you you know like,
a quality dry suit, you’re talking about 300 pounds, PFDs a hundred,
you know, VHF radio hundred fifty; all this stuff adds up to is it’s not a cheap
It’s not something you just want to go out and do and then then forget it. It’s
something you know you spent the money on and you need to get something out of it.
yes yeah i would say um yeah definitely expensive.
Ok so I obviously love the Hobie, but there’s other models out there. How do you
actually play off all
through all the different types? How do you decide? As you actually go about
looking at these things?
Oh ok well there’s loads of
choices lots of different kayaks out there that and I mean you can you can look through
magazines and you can see them all and but my advice would be try before you
So try and go somewhere where you can actually try these things out because
what what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another and it
depends on the the sort of style of of kayak fishing you’re going to do, so for
instance if you were on a river or lake you you would choose a different fishing
kayak to to that if you were going to go to saltwater fishing or if you were to go
a bit further out to sea.
So there’s that the best way of doing it is is go somewhere where you can try
these things out in some water.
Now now for instance, the Hobies,
there’s a there’s a Hobie Cat system based down in — and a guy called Steve
Yeah anybody watching from Holland; Europe
He sells these Hobies from his base right on the beach.
You can go down there and try them before you buy them (Port Harbor?)
You can see whether they’re right for you or not right for you
and have a paddle around.
Because there must be people that think i’m gonna set
myself up one of those rigs there, wonderful! catch all the fish i want; but they get in
it and they probably end up on ebay or somewhere. Yeah so he really does make a
lot of sense to get in them a try a couple of different models first.
It does and and given that you’re spending a lot of money you want to
choose the right kayak for you
ok so is it you know as we’ve said before is an expensive hobby and it
and it and it can be you know can be dangerous as well so yeah so get
yourself trained; go on a training course and the Angling Trust and the British
Canoe Union, they both do good courses
so you can get some training; safety is really important
It’s paramount isn’t it? yeah yeah
I’d like to thank you very
much for giving us insight into kayaking. I’ve certainly learned a lot, I like that
live bait thing.
Well let’s see some of the footage that you keep when you’ve been out there.
Experiencing the pictures where you had a lot of different species – fresh water
and sea and will see if those cameras lie as much as our cameras lie.