Kayak Fishing Checklist
If I had a little extra money to burn (actually it would be a lot of extra money), I think I’d have a school bus or comparable transit van type setup to dedicate to my fishing. Set it up with kayaks and every possible piece of gear, accessories, lures, and everything stored safely inside. But, short of that luxury, I have to load and unload most of my gear each time I go fishing. At the very least, I have to load and unload some gear when I switch between freshwater and saltwater trips.
To do my best to streamline my own efforts, and ensure I’m not forgetting things, I’ve been maintaining a checklist on my phone. It’s saved in my google “Keep” notes so I can access it quickly and I continue to make edits as new things come to mind. Feel free to copy, paste, and edit to create a list for yourself. And for the record, not every single item comes with every single trip. Sometimes I’ll scan the list and ignore the landing net if I’m going for stripers, or sunscreen if I’m only fishing at night.
I wanted to share this list with you, my fellow anglers, in the hope that it might make some of you more efficient as well. Additionally, I’ll go into more detail when I have specific gear that I’ve found particularly useful. Things like rods, reels, kayaks, line, lures, etc. I won’t go into any detail because those items are super subjective and each angler will have their own personal preferences.
That said, I consider myself a bit of a gear snob, and I like to do my research before making big purchases. The larger the purchase or the more important the item will yield more detailed and thorough research before the purchase. Moral of the story – if I mention a specific brand or model, do yourself a favor and check into it yourself. I wouldn’t recommend something that I’m not legitimately standing behind. Likewise, if you think you’ve got one that’s even better than what I’ve been using, I’d love to hear about it!
- Mirage drive (yes, I’ve forgotten this before)
- Vantage seat
- Life jacket (always, always – and I often have two in the vehicle just in case a friend forgets their own)
- VHF radio – Cobra HH500 has been my radio of choice. It’s easy to use, floats, has bluetooth to connect a phone, and it is easy to swap batteries.
- PLB – Personal Locator Beacon – This is a small electronic device used to contact the Coast Guard and alert them to your location in the event of an emergency. My research led me to buy the ACR “ResQLink” model. Haven’t actually had to “use” it yet, so I’ll let you know how that goes.
- UgoWear – This is like a life jacket and dry bag for your phone. Every kayaker should have one, it has saved my phone several times and paid for itself many times over! Waterproof, floating case for your phone, far superior to anything I’ve ever used from the cell phone stores. I use mine every single time I kayak or go out on a boat, as well as anytime I fish from shore/land if there’s even a chance I might end up in the water.
- VisiCarbon -From YakAttack, I personally prefer the one piece “VisiPole” because I think it’s a little stronger and wobbles around a bit let. But honestly any of their light/flag units work great.
- Wheels/Cart (for the kayak)
- Lowrance – the Elite TI2 is an absolutely perfect unit for the majority of kayakers and boaters
- Lowrance mount (yes, I’ve forgotten this before)
- Battery (for the Lowrance)
- Pliers – Penn Bullnose have been great for me! They’re strong, durable, have cutters on the outside (I hate cutters on the inside of the jaws), and they’re reasonably priced.
- Fish Grip/Boga – I own both the inexpensive plastic fish grips as well as the legit Boga grip with scale. The plastic ones get 98% of the use, but certain fish (like Bowfin) are much, much better on the real Boga grips.
- Bump Board
- Landing Net – I LOVE the Leverage Landing Net from YakAttack. They make a few models, but they’re all really well-made and perfect for kayak, canoe, or small boat.
- Camera – after a bit of research I purchased the Olympus “Tough” TG-5. In addition to being waterproof, it’s got a ton of features and still works great as a point-and-shoot style camera.
- Rod Holders
- Rinse Kit – easy and quick way to give your gear a freshwater rinse before you forget and ruin your stuff
Stringer – I’ve come to like the spearfishing type big metal loops, I don’t know of any specific brand
- Hand Towel
- Pants – even during the middle of summer, nights can get cool. I rarely fish at night with shorts anymore, I’m almost always wearing a minimum of splash pants, if not actual dry pants. Either way, I love the “Current” splash pants and “Surge” dry pants from Level Six. They are also very ‘packable’ so I can roll them up and stuff them under my seat if I decide I might want to wear them later into the trip.
- Jacket – just like my pants, I’m almost always bringing a jacket along just in case it gets cool. A mid summer night combined with a light rain and a little wind can make it really uncomfortable in a hurry. I’d recommend the Level Six gear again, in this case the “Niagara” and the “Huron” are the two I own.
Now, with all that on the table, I feel obligated to mention that I am on “ambassador” programs with a couple of the companies I mentioned. In every single one of my industry relationships, I was a big fan and supporter long before I became affiliated with their company. As I said before, I would never recommend anything that I don’t truly stand behind and support.
And for the record, unlike most comparable lists on the internet today, I will not receive any sort of compensation whatsoever if any readers make a purchase because of my recommendations. These are 100% my real, legitimate opinions on gear I actually own and use myself.
Any questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to reach out!