Essential kayak tackle: Part IV
  |  First Published: November 2009

In previous weeks we picked out a hull, fitted rod holders, and then a fish finder. It’s now time to get the little things right. There is obviously limited space on the kayak so taking out the right tackle and keeping it in order is a priority. Clutter is your enemy.

We’ve been told for years by fishing experts that you should stick to targeting a species and your overall catch rate will improve. It couldn’t be truer on the kayak. With limited speed you need to go straight to the fish and bring the right gear for the job. Carting around the whole tackle box just adds weight, and unnecessary junk.

The best fishing rods for kayaks are anything that suits your target fish and is around 6-7ft long. That size will generally allow you to follow a fish around your bow or stern and still have great casting length. Anything too long and you will have to high stick the rod when trying to land a fish close to the yak; it limits control and risks damage to the rod.

Lately I have also seen a lot of very short fishing rods marketed for kayaks but I don’t like them. Short rods cast poorly and aren’t long enough to chase a fish around the bow. Multipiece rods can be a great choice for surf launches as they can be broken down and stowed in a hatch rather then risking damage if capsized on a sand bank.

Start off on the right foot by re-rigging all your set-ups before setting out, tackle on your rod is gear that isn’t taking up valuable storage space elsewhere. Change leaders, refresh knots, sharpen hooks and fit the right tackle to each rod. If you don’t you’ll waste time on the water doing it or loose the first good fish that comes your way.

The exception is anyone who launches through surf. Getting rolled by a wave and then tangled in your own hooks is not fun. It pays to launch away from other swimmers and use snaps or tie on any sharp hooks and lures once you get past the surf zone. The same goes for coming back in through surf.

When fishing on my local patch for squid and snapper I can keep all the terminal tackle I need in a drink bottle. Lots of kayaks come with drink bottles these days and have moulded holders for them in the cockpit. If the bottle is a loose fit then wrap some electrical tape around the bottom until thick enough to wedge the bottle firmly in the holder.

I can hold a spare 20cm deep diving Rapala, a couple of squid jigs and plenty of soft plastic jigs in mine which is an average size. The pouch on the front of my life vest holds a couple of packs of soft plastics as well as spare leader. Gear keepers with retracting zip lines are perfect for braid scissors and small pliers.

I also like small water resistant plastic tackle trays made by Plano and others. You can see what’s in them at a glance and they can be stuffed into a hatch or kept in a soft fold out pouch. These are very useful when you need to carry more lure varieties like fishing ABT kayak bream tournaments.

For extra storage I use dry bags, particularly clear ones, so you can see what’s inside without having to open them.

I recently spent a lot of time fishing blue water offshore for whole days at a time where a larger variety of tackle was needed. The best system was to arrange a dry bag for each type of tackle and stuff them into a hatch. There was one for different sized surface and diving lures, one for soft plastics and deep jig heads and one for replacement line, leader and wire trace. Another nice feature of dry bags is that they can also be clipped outside onto fittings around the cockpit.

Having the right landing equipment is essential. The three largest and best fish I have personally hooked from my kayak, a tuna, a mulloway, and a snapper were all lost because I was unprepared to get them in the yak.

A short handle gaff is an obvious choice for big fish. Just make sure it is stowed within easy reach but with the sharp end away from the cockpit so you aren’t the first thing it jags when the action is on. I also attach a small float to mine so it can be retrieved if dropped overboard.

My latest favourite in nets are the ones with rubber mesh. I have a small tennis racket sized one for bream tournaments and salmon, as well as a larger one for snapper. They don’t tangle up or harm the fish for release and treble hooks don’t get hung up in them nearly as bad as other nets.

I have seen a lot of guys start out with Enviro Nets but I avoid them as they act like great big sails in the back of the kayak and are no help when paddling against a big wind.

To store my catch I often use a flat rectangular shaped storage container with clip lock lid. It sits in the rear storage tray of the kayak and I drop regular fish through a small hole cut in the lid.

Soft insulated cooler bags are also good on hot days and can be hosed out at the end. I don’t always have temperature problems here in Melbourne so I often just tether large fish in the rear tray with a loop of braid slip knotted through the jaw and a stainless steel snap hook.

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