After dreaming and obsessing about it, I finally made my mind up to purchase a new Slayer Propel. Left work early stopped by ACK, no second guessing or wondering, just “Hi, I’ll take one of these, in lizard lick, is it in the warehouse and when can I have it?”
ACK got it in from their warehouse the next day and installed 4 flush mount rod holders behind the seat because I really liked that layout on my Manta Ray, and don’t really care for milk crates. Also had ACK install the anchor trolley (because their costs for installation are insanely cheap, so why not?). Since I didn’t want any issues with messing up the rudder, or having to worry about carrying a heavy boat, I opted for the C-Tug kayak cart, and it works great and the color compliments the boat.
I was able to pick it up the early following day with the installations completed. I was spending the weekend with my boys so didn’t spend much time on the boat, only rigging was installing the front hatch cover and rearranging the bungies in the rear well the way I like them. I debated my lighting options for a while and decided that I’d rather have green LEDs, mainly because my blue LEDs are on white strips, which would look like crap, even thought the lights might be brighter. I had 24″ strips on my Manta Ray and noticed that I was always trying to lean forward to see the lit up areas under the boat, because the lights were all up front. For the Slayer Propel, I decided to install 48″ light strips on each side, which brings the lights back almost to the cockpit.
For my fish finder, I bought a Humminbird with Down Imaging, as I’ve been told DI is a big help in tournament fishing. You can see the power cable and transducer cable coming out of the grommet to the right. After debating where my paddle was going to be stored and how I wanted things placed, I decided to do what most do and mount the FF on the right rail up front using a ram ball mounting system for the head unit.
The battery is located in the front hatch, instead of making a box or anything for it, I just used velcro to attach it to the wall of the well, easy in and out and it holds it securely in place (power cabling also run through a Hobie grommet into the hull). I need to do a little bit of tidying up of the wires in the hull, and work in a fusible link somewhere, but everything is currently functional and the way I want it. There’s still another circuit available on the switch, so I still may do some cockpit lights later (although they always just blinded me in the Manta Ray, maybe installed below the seat they won’t blind me).
I’ll be taking it on its maiden voyage soon so I can see how to manage grass with the Slayer Propel peddle drive.
Streamed live on Dec. 18th via a Google+ Hangout, Chris Hackerd, ACK Co-Owner and VP of Store Operations, shows how to perform a flush mounted rod holder installation on a kayak. This was our first attempt at a live presentation and I gotta say, Chris did a great job! What do you think? What type of install would you like for him to do next?
Non Google+ Members: View the broadcast below at the scheduled time
The Hangout will star ACK’s very own Chris Hackerd, co-owner and VP of store operations, who has offered to lend some of his time to demonstrate how to install a flush mounted rod holder on a kayak.
Google+ members can view this broadcast either in Google+ or within this blog. Only the first ten Google + members to log in through Google+ will have the option to participate in the Q&A. If you are not a Google+ member you can still view the presentation here.
We realize that not everyone that buys a kayak from ACK is looking to wet a line (lingo for casting a fishing line into the water) but we also know some of you may be curious or in some cases ready to jump right in. While fishing from a kayak is almost as simple as fishing off the bank, you do need to consider a few differences. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of outfitting your kayak for fishing, what to expect on your first fishing adventure and a couple of tips to make your experience a safer more enjoyable one.
Outfitting Your Kayak
Fact of the matter is you really don’t need much to get your kayak outfitted for fishing. When somebody asks me what it takes to turn a kayak into a fishing kayak, I jokingly say “grab a rod next time you go paddling and go fish”. While that holds a lot of truth, the reality is there is a massive selection of products to help make your experience a better one. While many anglers customize their boats with hundreds of dollars worth of gear, you can start with a few basic items.
Rod Holder – Get your rod out of the way and secure it.
You need something to keep your rods in place. Your boat can flip or your rod can get hung up on a tree. Last thing you want to do is lose your rod and reel combo. Rod holders are typically made of plastic material and can be mounted with bolts or rivets. Three of the most typical applications include:
Flush Mounted Rod Holder- A tube that is inserted into your kayak or sometimes molded into the boat. The end of the rod is simply inserted into the tube and can then be secured with a rod leash. Flush Mount Rod Holders are usually installed behind the seat on the top deck area.
Secure Mounted Rod Holder- Provides a more secure hold than a Flush Rod Holder by “grasping” your rod and reel. You’ll typically find these installed on the center of the deck between your lower legs and sometimes behind the seat. The adjustability of these make them a popular choice when you want to keep your rod tips pointed lower than the flush mount option allows.
Kayak Crate/Tackle Boxes- Another popular option combines both tube like rod holders with a crate or boxed in area with a lid to store and protect your gear all in one easy to manage package.
Anchors – Stop your boat or you may miss the fish.
Like fishing from a motorboat, you’ll want to stay put when you find that “honey hole”. Securing your kayak in a specific location is key when fishing and there is no better way to do it than with a small anchor and line. Since you are limited on space and capacity, don’t get anything over 3 lbs. The two that we recommend are:
Folding Anchors- Folding anchors tend to be the most popular design due to their ability to provide a good hold in most environments and their portability.
Claw Anchor- If you want an anchor that can hold you in place even in the softest bottoms this is the anchor you need. It may not be as portable as a folding anchor but you can rest assured you won’t be going anywhere.
Paddle Leash – When a fish is on, the last thing on your mind will be your paddle.
Secure your paddle. We’ve all heard the term “up the creek without a paddle” — avoid it. By installing a simple device that secures your paddle to your boat, you’ll never have to worry about losing a paddle when you catch the “big one”. One end simply ties to a piece of hardware or installed accessory on the boat and the other to your paddle shaft. The leash is typically coiled or made of a “bungee” material. Most kayaks also have built in paddle tie downs but leashes are easier to deal with when in the moment.
That’s about all you’ll need to get started assuming you already purchased a paddle and PFD. However, you will find hundreds if not thousands of great products made specifically for kayak fishing such as anchor trolleys, drift chutes, kayak rudders, stake out poles and much more. Here is an older article I published featuring other gear you may want to consider.
What to Expect When Kayak Fishing
Planning Ahead – Fishing can be addictive. What was supposed to be a one-hour fishing trip can easily turn in to half a day excursion especially when the fish aren’t biting. Expect to fish longer than you plan and be prepared. Load up a small ice chest with plenty of water, snacks and a sack lunch. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and/or apparel made for spending long periods of time outdoors.
Launching Your Boat – As you prepare to launch your boat, keep in mind that with all the extra gear you have, it may paddle a bit differently than you are used to. Balance your gear with the heaviest items towards the center of the boat. When launching, be aware that depending on how much gear you’ve loaded, your freeboard (boat out of the water) may be less than you than what you typically experience. Launch with care.
Understanding Fish From Above – I am not a fish expert but I do know that they are extremely skittish. The good news is that with a kayak and what makes kayaks a popular choice is their “stealthiness”. As you creep closer to your honey hole, you can easily glide into position with a few gentle paddle strokes. Just be careful not to bang your boat when putting your paddle down and lifting a rod, the slightest bump will scare them away. Want to see what you’re casting at? If the water clarity is somewhat clear, get some polarized glasses, stand up and do a little sight casting. Boat not stable enough? Get a pair of these bad boy stabilizers.
Casting off a Kayak – For many, the idea of casting off a kayak seems awkward. Sure many kayaks are made for fishing and extreme movements may be not match but for those with tippier kayaks, this could pose a problem. Practice your cast and reaching around your kayak (tankwell, dry hatches, etc.) before you launch into deeper waters. It’s all about using more arm than body and casting with a bit of finesse. The same applies if not more to casting while standing. If the water favors it, many kayak anglers side straddle their kayaks meaning they sit side ways while their legs dangle in the water. Keeps you cool but also provides a general feeling of balance and many find it a bit more comfortable of a position especially if paddling and fishing for long periods of time. A general rule of thumb is to always keep your body upright and your head centered over your kayak. If you lean over in any direction too far — splash!
Catching a Fish – So what do I do when I catch a fish on a kayak? May seem like a silly question but for those that have never fished off a kayak, this is a very important one. Make sure your hook is set and stay focused. Keep a tight line by holding your rod up above your head (watch out for those trees) while you double check to make sure your paddle is secure. If you are anchored down, try to steer your fish away from the anchor line or this could quickly get messy. Once you reel your fish close enough to land it (always leave some slack in your line), do take care in how you handle the fish especially if you plan to catch and release. Fish have a protective coating so try to avoid holding the fish with your hands but if you do (photo op, release, etc.) be gentle. I always recommend a fish grip designed to do just this and carry a pair of pliers or forceps to remove hooks. There tends to be a lot of difference in opinions when it comes to catching and releasing fish, here is a great article that I recommend you read. Finally, if you do plan to keep fish be sure to bring a fish cooler with you especially during the warmer months to keep your dinner cool and fresh.
Not Catching a Fish – You’ve heard the saying, “it’s not called catching for a reason” and for good reason, don’t expect to catch fish every single time you go fishing. I’ve got many friends and family who have all together given up fishing off a kayak because they didn’t catch anything on their first outing. Sure it may be the gear you are using but there is also a good chance that water and weather conditions are the culprit. Don’t loose hope, persistence is key. Do your research, see what’s working and what’s not. Don’t worry, you’ll catch one and when you do, I promise you’ll be hooked (pun intended)!
Safety! – Not to scare you out of kayak fishing but you are introducing the possibility of getting yourself hooked, bitten by a snake or some creepy crawler and dealing with less than ideal weather conditions. Of course this is the same with any paddling sport but as an angler, you will find yourself under trees, into waters full of vegetation and along banks making yourself more susceptible to encountering wildlife. Be cautions of your surroundings, always take a first aid kit and like any other paddling sport, wear a PFD! I can’t stress how important this. When flipping a kayak with all kinds of fishing gear, your first reaction may be to try and recover your hard earned dollars — stay focused on you instead, everything else can be replaced. I don’t think I need to tell you this but hey, it always helps to stay in tune with the weather forecast regardless of what outdoor adventure you plan to partake in.
Go Easy on The Gear - We could write an entire book on the type of actual fishing gear you’ll need but since it can vary so much by style, season, body of water and region, we’ll stick to the kayaking aspect for the sake of this article. That said, I recommend you do some research, find what’s biting and where and the gear other anglers are using. While many kayak anglers prefer to take everything but the kitchen sink, I prefer to keep it simple with only the gear I know I will use. Your boat deck is limited on space, so before you know it you’ll have hooks, worms and countless other items strewn across your boat. Keep it organized in a small tackle box or bag and place it in an easily accessible area.
Secure Your Gear – The best thing you can do to avoid losing your gear is to properly secure it. This includes your paddle, anchor, tackle boxes, etc. If you don’t have lash points, install some simple pad eyes and get some deck line. While bungee is great for securing a few large and light items, it may not hold up to some of your heavier gear such as a tackle box or ice chest. Tie it down!
Go With the One That Knows – Most kayak anglers are introduced to kayak fishing from those who already have some experience with it. That is hands down the best scenario. If you have yet to be invited, invite yourself or join a local forum or group. While competitive and sometimes secretive by nature, most kayak anglers are a friendly bunch and always willing to offer up some advice or even meet up with other anglers with same interests. Those with experience are a wealth of knowledge, learn from them. A word of advice, before you go posting “hey, I’m a newbie that’s never been kayak fishing, any advice?” do search the forums. Chances are, hundreds of others have already asked the same questions you are about to ask and the answers may be there right there in front of you.
Practice Safety – As referenced above, it may be a good idea to practice casting but also capsizing. During warmer months, I always advise paddlers (angler or not) to force themselves to turn their boats over in a controlled setting and practice getting back on a boat. It never hurts to take a class or two on paddling technique and safety.
Wear the Proper Apparel – I have to admit, it’s pretty silly when you go out kayak fishing only to find that most anglers are wearing similar outfits to what you have but for good reason, it’s apparel made for it. In warm weather, look for clothing that is light, loose fitting and dries quickly and long sleeves and pants that will keep you cool. Most performance fishing wear will do just this. Water gloves, face protection and hats are also recommended. For fishing during colder months you’ll want to layer up. Start with a base layer of a synthetic material such as this Immersion Research Thickskin Union Suit, a mid-layer of fleece and an outer layer of splash wear such as this NRS Endurance Jacket. The idea is that as the day warms up, you have the option to shed a layer or even two.
So there you have it, Kayak Fishing 101. Yep, there is so much more to it but I hope this starts you off in the right direction. As always, we want your feedback. Got your own tips, any experiences of your own you would like to share with those that have yet to try kayak fishing? Comment below, we want to know!
This article was recently published in our in-store newsletter, which you can now find at any one of our 3 store locations.
Kayak fishing has become one of the fastest growing segments of the paddling industry, and for good reason. Kayak Fishing gives you access to waters most have a hard time reaching in traditional fishing boats and it’s relatively inexpensive. Rather than get into the details of the history of kayak fishing, we are going to focus on what it takes to get you started with 3 inexpensive products. Sounds simple enough? That’s because it is! Now of course, we are assuming you already purchased your kayak, paddle, whistle and PFD.
You need something to keep your rods in place. Your boat can flip or your rod can get hung up on a tree. Last thing you want to do is lose your brand new rod and reel combo. Rod holders are typically made of plastic material and can be mounted with bolts or rivets.
Flush Mounted Rod Holder – A tube that is inserted into your kayak or sometimes molded into the boat. The end of the rod is simply inserted into the tube and can be secured with a rod leash. These are usually installed behind the seat on the top deck area.
Deck Mounted Rod Holder – Provides a more secure hold than a Flush Rod Holder by “grasping” your rod and reel. You’ll typically find these installed on the center of the deck between your lower legs.
Make sure you can stop your boat. Like fishing on a motor boat, you’ll want to stay put when you find that “honey hole”. Securing your kayak to a specific location is key when fishing and there is no better way to do it than with a small anchor and rope. Since you are limited on space and capacity, don’t get anything over 3lbs. and consider getting one with a mesh bag for easy storage.
Folding Anchors – Folding anchors tend to be the most popular design due to their ability to provide a good hold in most environments and their portability.
Claw Anchor – If you want an anchor that can hold you in place even in the softest bottoms this is the anchor you need. It may not be as portable as a folding anchor but you can rest assured you won’t be going anywhere.
Secure your paddle. We’ve all heard the term “up the creek without a paddle” — avoid it. By installing a simple device that secures your paddle to your boat, you’ll never have to worry about losing a paddle when you catch the “big one”.
Paddle Leash – The easiest way to attach your paddle to your kayak. One end simply ties to a piece of hardware or installed accessory and the other to your paddle shaft. The leash is typically coiled or made of a “bungee” material.
There you have it! Your kayak has been magically transformed into a kayak fishing machine, but you are probably wondering, is that really it? Like with any recreational activity, hundreds of accessories that you may have never even considered are available to help make your kayak fishing experience a more enjoyable one. We invite you to visit any of our 3 ACK locations to look at our “rigged” display kayak. A store associate will be happy to walk you through the entire display to help you determine what you need. You can also visit our website to view hundreds of fishing accessories.
Note: We have several how-to articles available on our website. Several of these products are covered there. Click here to access our how-to library.
Offshore kayak fishing presents challenges that some kayak anglers may not be prepared for. One example is the integrity of a flush mounted rod holder when fishing for large pelagic fish. In some cases a typical install using rivets may not be sufficient enough. When a large fish strikes it can put great stress on the rod holder and the rod holder can be ripped out causing you to loose the fish. In some cases can end up losing expensive equipment if it wasn’t secured with a leash and even worse, you can be left with a large open hole that water can flow into making your kayak unstable and unsafe. Andrew, the ACK Houston store manager, suggested that I try a different method of installation using nuts and bolts. The method illustrated below not only provides a more secure installation but also helps solve the issue of not being able to use nut and bolts because of limited interior access.
(3) 10/32 stainless steel bolts, 2” long
(3) 10/32 nuts with nylon inserts
(6) – stainless steel washers
Needle Nose Pliers
Dremmel Tool w/metal cutting and sanding wheel
Instructions (click on each photo to zoom in):
Step 1: Remove the flush mounted rod holder that is currently installed. If installed with rivets, drill each one out with a drill bit. Using a ¼” drill bit, make the 3 holes on the kayak larger to accommodate the bolts. If you are installing a flush mounted rod holder for the first time, follow the recommended instructions provided by the manufacturer but use a ¼” drill bit to accommodate the 10/32 bolts when drilling the 3 holes.
Step 2: Insert a bolt and washer from the underside of the kayak into each hole. They should fit snug so that they don’t drop when the rod holder is inserted. If they keep dropping into back into the boat, apply a small amount of silicone around each bolt and let dry before you continue.
Step 3: Using the ¼ drill bit, make the 3 holes in the rod holder larger to accommodate the bolts. Add silicone to the bottom side and around each hole on the rod holder and carefully insert it back into the boat. You’ll need to be careful to not let the bolt slip back into the boat. If needed, make the 3 holes on the rod holder a bit larger for easy bolt entry by reinserting the ¼ drill bit into each hole several times. Reapply silicone as needed.
Step 4: Once the rod holder is in place. Insert a washer and nut on to each bolt; loosely tighten until you have about 1/8″ of the bolt exposed above the nut. It helps if you gently grasp each bolt with a pair of needle nose pliers (as shown) when doing this.
Step 5: Using your vice grips, clamp the top of each bolt and tighten the nuts. Wipe off the excess silicone for a clean finish once all the nuts are tightened.
Step 6: With the Dremmel tool, cut the remainder of the bolts off just above the nuts. Swap the metal cutter with sanding wheel and grind the top of each bolt for a smooth finish. This will keep you from getting injured by the rough edges left after cutting the bolts.