Kayak anglers are renowned for personalising and customising their craft to suit their individual needs and fishing style. The purpose of this modification or fit-out is often to address a problem or need that the kayak angler has, be it making their vessel safer, faster, more stable, visible or comfortable, or creating more effective storage solutions.
It was a need that recently switched my brain into fit-out mode and that need was rear rod storage. There are many advantages to pedal kayaks, including hands free fishing and the ability to use larger muscle groups for propulsion and thus travel longer distances, however the downside is that you sacrifice cockpit space due to the pedal drive system. I often carry 3 rods, rigged with different lures, and find it easy to lay a single rod down in front of me, but as soon as I add a couple more to the equation, graphite rods and pedal drives can catastrophically collide. Without the inbuilt side rod storage found in the Hobie PAs, I needed to develop a storage solution behind my seat for a couple of rods, ensuring that they were secure and the reels were up away from the water.
Before mounting anything on your kayak it’s important to ensure that you can access and operate it from your usual seated or standing position, as you would while travelling and fishing. If my neighbour had looked over the fence and seen me sitting in my kayak on the grass, reaching behind me to grab an imaginary rod or open an invisible icebox to access a drink, he would probably have shaken his head. Better that than me out on the water shaking my head… and probably fists, when I can’t access what I need I have only myself to blame.
In the past I have utilised RAILBLAZA mounts and accessories for varied fit out solutions. Their StarPort mounts are quick and easy to attach to the kayak; two holes drilled, two nuts and bolts tightened and you’re ready to attach any of their practical, quality accessories. With this in mind I utilised a few RAILBLAZA components that I already had and sought out a few others. My rear rod holder set up had evolved, as many projects do and it would now hold two rods, a RAILBLAZA CameraBoom 600 for mounting my still camera or sports camera and a RAILBLAZA TelePole 1000 to attach an LED Navilight for night fishing or hi-vis flag for daylight hours.
The basis of my rod holder would be a RAILBLAZA TracPort Dash 500, mounted to two StarPort mounts. The TracPort Dash comes fitted with four StarPorts, allowing the attachment of four accessories, and the whole assembly can be removed quickly and easily by simply unlocking the two StarPort mounts that are fitted to the kayak. This leaves a minimum of exposed mounts and fittings when storing or transporting the kayak, or when using it for other applications such as camping or touring.
Attach the StarPort mounts to the TracPort Dash and position it where it is to be fitted, marking the position of the StarPort mounts with a marker pen. Remove the StarPort mounts from the TracPort Dash, position them, mark the bolt holes, remove the mounts, drill and then you can go ahead and bolt the mounts into place. StarPort mounts really are a breeze to fit and in minutes I had the two mounts in place and the TracPort Dash inserted and locked into the two StarPort mounts. It’s important to remember that old catch phrase, ‘measure twice, cut or drill once’.
With the TracPort Dash mounted you now have 4 StarPort mounts to use as you wish. I opted for a RAILBLAZA Rod Holder II in each of the outside mounts, as the rods would be accessed more frequently than either the light or camera. The Rod Holder II features a rotating collar that ensures that once the rod is locked in place, it cannot be removed without sliding the collar open. This avoids the problem of lost rods due to reels being lifted up while paddling or the rod catching on something and being pulled from the holder. These are stories that are surprisingly common.
The two middle mounts are then free to add the CameraBoom and TelePole. The CameraBoom 600 features a universal thread to attach a standard camera or sports camera and it has a wide degree of adjustments, allowing you to set it up to capture the angle you’re after. By utilising this camera for a view from behind the angler and a camera toward the front of the kayak looking back at the angler, you can capture all of the action and create more exciting and interesting videos than those created from a single viewpoint.
A hi-vis flag is a great way of adding to the visibility of the kayak, especially when fishing offshore, where the kayak rises and falls with the swell, its low profile disappearing regularly from view. For night fishing, a light is an essential means of alerting boats and other vessels to your presence. The TelePole 100 is ideal for attaching a light or flag and it extends from 0.6-1m as required, locking into place with a simple twist of the pole. It is designed to lock into a StarPort at the base and accepts RAILBLAZA accessories in the top, including the Navilight.
The Navisafe Navilight is a brilliant light for kayak anglers for a number of reasons. The light is durable, bright – 2NM US Coast Guard approved (visible up to 5NM in the dark), floats the right way up, is waterproof up to 20m and it runs on 3 AAA batteries, making it easy to have spares in your kit. Run time is approximately 85 hours in flashing mode, with other modes available and it is available in a 360° white light or a Port/Starboard/Stern light option.
It was then time to hit the water and put the new additions to the test. The whole setup was sturdy, the rods easy to access, lock and unlock, and by turning side on in the seat I could raise, lower and switch on the light and adjust the CameraBoom or camera as required. I even managed to catch a few bream and through this fit-out had successfully added lights, camera and the rods were ready for action. See you on the water!Reads: 897