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Build a ’yak rocket launcher
  |  First Published: February 2010



While daydreaming and robotically casting lures for a jewfish, my state of tranquillity was smashed by the sound of a huge game boat bearing down on me and my little kayak at a rate of knots.

Turning the kayak’s bow into the wake of this monstrous cruiser, it was all I could do not to get flipped.

As I gestured the season’s greetings to these twits, I could not help noticing the mother of all rocket launchers across the rear of the boat’s cabin. It was chockers with more rods than any two blokes could own – well, maybe.

Wow, I thought, a rod for every occasion.

As they returned the season’s greetings with their own schtickenfinger salute, I just shook my head and kept drifting with the tide and casting.

But, along with what those yahoos looked like, that rocket launcher was well and truly etched into my mind.

In your kayak chasing a jew on the river is a great way to spend a few hours getting away from the hassles and dramas of life, but so is getting up into the shallows and oyster leases luring for bream, flathead and whiting.

Add to that ducking out through the bar to see if the snapper population wants to play games and a bloke will need more than two rods on board his ’yak.

How could I carry a rod for light soft plastics, light hardbodies, another rod for jew and reddies with bigger plastics, a gaff and landing net? My mind started ticking over.

What is it with us fishos that we never have quite enough gear? Be it in the boat, backpack or in our shed, we always need that one more rod, reel or lure.

When I first bought my kayak I fitted it out with an excellent three-way Scotty rod holder which allowed me to have everything I needed at arm’s reach, including a couple of rods, lures and navigation light. It is so practical but after seeing that rocket launcher, I needed more.

My gaff and landing net were stowed behind my seat and at times were very awkward to get hold of.

‘Bingo! I need a rocket launcher,’ I thought to myself, ‘but where do I get such a thing for a ’yak? And where or how do I fit it?’

The solution, I decided, was to make my own.

Stainless steel would be too expensive and so was out of the question. Some rod holders are made of polyethylene but they are moulded, so too tough for a one-off job.

A trip to my friend and fellow fisho Elton Christensen’s house was the answer. Elton is a local plumber and had everything I needed. Two metres of 40mm poly pipe, four 40mm T-pieces and a metre of smaller poly pipe, some primer and blue poly glue and I was ready to make my rocket launcher!

The answer to my question about how and where to fit it was pretty easy: I would use the existing moulded rod holders behind the seat in the hull of the kayak. I would need to insert the rocket launcher frame into these holes.

Most ’yaks will only allow you a four-rod span across the rear of the hull. Plenty of thinking before cutting and gluing is a must.

Not all kayaks have the same diameter holes in their moulded rod holders so pipe diameters may need to be different. For my ’yak the 39mm holes would not accommodate the 40mm pipe but with a few mods, it worked out fine.

Hopefully the pics will explain it better than I can.

Caution: Do not glue any pieces until they are all cut and placed into position, making sure it all goes together neatly and at the correct angle. I discovered the holes in my ’yak splayed out and were not parallel, but not before I had cut spacers all the same length.

My workshop was the back lawn and barbecue table, and when I had completed the job I was equipped to carry four rods, gaff, landing net and a navigation light on my kayak.

Still, how I was to keep my jewies and other fish while out paddling was another story, along with my anchor system.

My wife had a thought: “What are you going to do if you flip the ’yak”?

“I won’t,” I said.

Still, she had me thinking ‘what if?’ and I decided an ocky strap across the feet of the reels should cover that.

Facts

Parts:

2m of 40mm poly pipe (get a bit more in case you make a few boo-boos like I did)

4 x 40mm Poly T-pieces

1m smaller poly pipe, about 36mm (to fit into the kayak aft rod holders)

Red poly primer, blue poly glue, ocky strap, emery paper

Tools:

19mm drill bit, electric drill, file, hacksaw or tenon saw, grinder or mini rotary tool, tape measure, pencil, maybe a linisher or orbital sander

Another word of caution: Do not glue any pieces until everything is tried and tested. Once glued, there is no moving it and the glue sets in seconds.

All the fittings are extremely tight. I sanded all the joints back so they were an easy fit into one another. I must be honest here, I cheated and used a sanding linisher which saved heaps of sanding by hand. Leave them too tight and the glue goes off very quickly and you are up the creek without a paddle.

Facts

Procedure:

Step 1

Cut two pieces of 40mm pipe 35cm long. These will be the two uprights for the frame. As mentioned, the holes in my ’yak were smaller so I cut two pieces of the smaller pipe and placed them into the rod holders. This allowed the 40mm pipe to slip over them and rest on the hull. It will not sit flush but this will be modified after the desired height is worked out.

Step 2

As mentioned, the smaller pipe that would fit into the ’yak rod holders was too loose. I cut another piece of the smaller pipe lengthwise and glued each piece onto the smaller pipe to make the pipe fit neatly into the original hole. The 40mm pipe also fitted neatly over the top, giving a neat and tidy fit. (Pic 2b)

Step 3

Take a 40mm T-piece and place it on the top end of each 40mm pipe. Measure how wide it is between the T-pieces’ inside joins. (Pic.3a) Lift it off the ’yak and lay it on a bench or table and place the other two T-pieces evenly between them. Measure the distances to the insides of the Ts and cut pieces of the 40mm pipe to fit between them evenly. (Pic3b)

On my kayak I noticed that the holes in the hull splayed out slightly, so the uprights were farther apart at the top than at the bottom. I made the middle spacer a bit longer. Measure twice and double-check everything. I have learnt from doing a few of these now that no two kayaks are the same. Not too much on ’yaks is parallel or square.

Step 4

Place the frame back onto the ’yak over the smaller pipe, making sure everything is square and slips easily into place. Then work out a good height for your rods to sit for ease of access. Rods and reels will slip into the pipe until the reel leg hits. The two middle Ts need extensions owing to the T-pieces being about 50mm deep. Just cut two pieces of 40mm pipe to the desired height.

You can leave the outer frame as is, which will be shorter, or add extensions so that the frame is even all the way across. I staggered mine so as not to make the reels too close together, which helps avoid the possibility of a reel catching one nearby that is too close. My middle tubes are a bit higher.

Step 5

Measure down 50mm from the top of each extension and carefully drill a 19mm hole. With a saw or mini rotary tool with a cutting blade, cut parallel lines to form a slot to allow for the reel seat. Smooth off the slot with sandpaper.

Step 6

Cut the two outer supports to the desired height and to the correct angle so they fit flush on the deck of the hull. As a final finish, I painted my rocket launcher matte black to match the boat’s colour scheme.

7

The completed item stores everything neatly yet still near at hand and looks very neat.

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