I Bought a Fishing Kayak. Now What? by Chris Payne (Payne’s Paddle/Fish)

Chris Payne recently posted this article on his blog and we thought it was too good not to share! In it, he outlines the products (in order of necessity) you need to start outfitting your kayak for fishing with tips for fitting and choosing certain products as well as techniques for installing some.

It’s a great feeling to pull the trigger on a new fishing kayak (or any kayak for that matter). Especially that first one. Your very first kayak is special. It’s almost like when my oldest child was born. There was a ton of anticipation, excitement and several months leading up to it. When it finally arrived I was so excited but at the same time scared. Now what? Hopefully you bought it at a place like Austin Canoe and Kayak or other reputable dealer and they can help with this next part. If you didn’t buy your kayak from a dealer, didn’t have someone to guide you through and are spinning from all the options, keep reading.

As with kids, the kayak makes you start to think of “What else do I need?” Maybe your budget is tight and you can’t get everything all at once. That is most of us. Don’t be embarrassed. Very few of us have everything we need as soon as we get home. I’ve been through this process several times and it is different with every one but what I would like to offer is a shopping list. Start at the top and work your way down. Some people may have differing opinions and that’s great. What I am hoping to do is take some of the guess work out of gearing up and save you the headaches I have gone through. This list is specific for kayak fishermen so after the second item the list would vary for other sports.

Start Here:

PFD (Life Jacket)- Most people go straight for the paddle. The only reason I recommend a PFD first is safety. If you blow all of your money on a fancy paddle and end up paddling in an $8 PFD that fits like an albatross, you won’t be paddling for long. Choose a good PFD and always wear it. Check out the Astral Buoyancy and Stohlquist PFDs. Want to learn more about PFDs? Click Here. I also recommend a knife and a whistle to attach to the PFD so you can call for help or cut your way out of a tangle or hung anchor. If you are going to paddle at night, get a 360 degree light.

Paddle- This is your motor. Use this paddle guide and find the right one for you. If you only have two things you can buy, they need to be a good PFD and a paddle. That seems like a no-brainer but lots of people skimp on the first and sell their kayak shortly after from non-use.

Anchor Trolley- It seems strange to buy this before an anchor but believe me when I say you will be much happier if you do. An anchor trolley allows you to use a drift sock, stake out stick and anchor while positioning yourself to take advantage of the wind, not be a victim of it. This also will allow for a quick release if you get into trouble. This is the one I use. Inexpensive and easy to install.

Anchor- This is the most widely mispurchased item under $50. Anchors exist in all shapes and sizes. The most popular one is the collapsible anchor. This is also the most frequent one laying at the bottom of a rock pile or root group in 20 feet of water. Use a bruce-style claw anchor and use the zip tie method of connection to get your anchor back from the murky depths. Here is a link from TexasKayakFisherman.com that shows the proper way to rig this up.

Anchor Rope (and accessories)- Most anchors don’t come with rope. If you are going to be fishing in any current or wind at all most people will recommend 2X the length of rope for the depth you are fishing. So if your fish are in 20 feet of water, you need at least 40 feet of rope. If you are fishing on the coast it is recommended 3X the depth. I like 3/16″ rope but choose what you like. Just don’t buy 1/16″ rope and expect to raise a big anchor easily. While you are there in the rope section, pick up a carabiner and rope float to attach to these as well.

Rod Holders- These come in different varieties. You can get flush mount, rocket launchers, trolling rod holders for baitcasters and spinning, rail mount, and the list goes on and on. Look at some rigging pictures, sit in your boat, see where you can reach and then go buy one.

Milk Crate- You can buy one or ask a retail grocer for one. Either way, you can strap this down to the back of most kayaks and hold tons of tackle and gear. You can also add some PVC to be additional rod holders. Cheapest investment you’ll love forever.

Everything Else-These things will get you going pretty well. After you have the above mentioned items, you should look at, in no particular order: a fish finder, stabilizers (depending on the kayak), drift sock, stake out stick, VHF handheld radio, scupper plugs (for sit on tops), waders, paddle gloves, really the list goes on and on. Most of all, have fun and catch some fish!

Chris Payne is an avid kayak fisherman from Temple, TX. Paddling since 2003, he is spreading his adventures, foibles and knowledge to those who have a couple of minutes to read a post or two. Chris loves to talk kayaking with anyone who wants to share stories, learn more about kayak fishing or just chew the fat. You can reach him at paynefish@gmail.com.

Product Review: ACK Anchor Trolley

Editor’s Note: At ACK, we value our customer’s opinions about all the products we sell. You’ll find over 8000 product reviews provided by our customers. Occasionally, we receive in-depth reviews that we think are worth sharing via this blog. The great thing about these product reviews is that they are unbiased. While it’s easy for us to rave about a product we sell, our customers always say like it is. This particular review highlights one of our very own branded products, the ACK Anchor Trolley — a must have for any kayak angler or paddler that utilizes an anchor. Anchor trolleys consist of several simple parts that are mounted to the side of your kayak enabling you to adjust the position of your anchor from bow to stern.

The ACK Anchor Trolley has been a part of my arsenal for about 3 months now and I am convinced that it is a must-have addition to any angler’s kayak. The main reason is because as a kayak angler I need better control of how I position my kayak when anchored for optimal casting. This is especially true when dealing with strong winds or if I’m anchored in an area with a current. I realized that I needed one after a trip on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. The wind was blowing strong from the west and was not letting me hold my position for proper casting. I “jerry rigged” the anchor off my kayak handle which was not ideal because I was basically facing the wrong direction resulting in me not being able to maintain a good casting position. The area was producing good fishing and like any kayak angler, once you find the fish you want to stay on the bite until it’s gone! Needless to say, I bought an anchor trolley that very next day.

Click to view larger image.

PROS: The ACK Anchor Trolley operates smoothly, is easy to use and is somewhat easy to install with few tools. I am happy to say that the anchor trolley has done everything I’ve needed it to do.

CONS: The instructions did not specify the install location of the pulleys on each end and instructions on how to use the product would be nice. However, after reading other users reviews and experiences online I was able to get it installed and quickly put it to use. (Note: Since this review, a new set of instructions in colored detail are shipped with each package explaining use and exact install position of the pulleys.)

Darrin F. – ACK Customer

Anchors and Drift Chutes

Both Anchors and Drift Chutes are tools that are always in my arsenal as they each have special uses.  I use my anchor in a few different ways when I’m fishing the local river.  Sometimes I’ll use it to compensate for the current and other times I’ll just utilize the line and wrap the anchor line around a tree branch to hold the boat in a particular location or I’ll use a Brush Gripper.  At the coast I can use the anchor when I’m fishing in the deeper water out beyond the surf line. I may let out about 50 foot of line in my hunt for those big fish.  In cases like these an anchor trolley will come in handy as well.  Check out some additional info on anchor trolleys.

A Drift Chute, or drift sock as some refer to them, are a whole different ballgame. One of my favorite ways to use the drift chute is while drifting my kayak down a shoreline, I simply attach 8-10 feet of line to my kayak and at the other end of the line goes the chute.  The drift chute causes drag and slows the kayak down allowing me to get enough casts to completely cover the shoreline so I don’t miss any of the big fish lurking in and around the bank.

Pat Pancratz
ACK – San Marcos

What is an Anchor Trolley?

Written by Adam Hayes Yak Angler

Anchor trolleys allow you to move the anchor from the bow to the stern or vice versa. You may need to anchor from a certain point on the boat depending on the current.



That’s it! Its a whole lot easier to drop and retrieve your anchor (in deeper water) from the side of the kayak. However, that’s usually not the ideal anchor point (think pivot point) on the kayak. Continue reading What is an Anchor Trolley?

Yak-Stick Mud Stick Anchor

Yak Stick Mud Stick Anchor

We recently started stocking the Yak Stick which is mud stick anchor that includes an attachment point for a carabiner.  The Yak Stick is 6 foot long, made out of fiberglass and is used by anglers looking to anchor their kayak in shallow water with a soft bottom.  I asked one of our sponsored fishing pros to give me his take on stake out sticks like the Yak Stick.

His advice on using a Yak Stick like anchor is to use a bungee paddle leash to attach it to the boat so that it eliminates the jarring motion as the kayak pulls against the stick.   Another option is to use an anchor trolley to position the kayak for perfect casting.

We also stock a Floating Stake-Out Stick which is similar to Yak Stick but as the name states…it floats.

Happy fishing.

– Clayton Clabaugh