Kayak Fishing Gear List – 20 Essential Items

Are you preparing for a kayak fishing trip? If so, we created the ultimate gear list for your trip. Whether you’re a veteran kayak angler or just starting out, it’s essential to be prepared before hitting the water.

Here is our ultimate kayak fishing gear list – 20 essential items you should bring:

  1. Kayak: Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Kayak – Click here to see it on Amazon
  2. Kayak Cart: Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart Click here to see it on Amazon
  3. Paddle: Werner Corryvrecken Fiberglass 2-Piece Paddle – Click here to see it on Amazon
  4. Paddle Leash: PROYAKER Ocean Tough Kayak – Click here to see it on Amazon
  5. Fishing Rod and Rod Holders
  6. Fish Finders: Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer – Click here to see it on Amazon
  7. Anchor Kits: Extreme Max BoatTector Complete Stainless Steel Grapnel Anchor Kit – Click here to see it on Amazon
  8. Tackle Boxes and Tackle Bags
  9. Fish Bags and Coolers
  10. Pliers and Pocket Knife
  11. PFD – Personal Flotation Device: Stohlquist Descent Personal Flotation Device – Click here to see it on Amazon
  12. GPS
  13. VHF Radio
  14. Bilge Pump
  15. Other safety equipment like signal mirrors, first aid kits, airhorns, high visibility jackets, and headlamps
  16. Sun protection, including sunscreen, hats, long-sleeved shirts, and protective eyewear
  17. Electronic devices, like phones, cameras, spare batteries, and a portable charger
  18. Food and Water: Gearlab Deck Pod Water Pouch Click here to see it on Amazon
  19. Documents such as IDs, insurance, and licenses

Kayaks are great for fishing and are easier to take out on the water than boats. They are generally less expensive than fishing boats. They offer easy entry to any body of water.

Plus, they are not as loud as other boats, making it easy to sneak up on fish. They are also low maintenance and can be easily stored and carried.

We prepared this list to help seasoned anglers and newcomers alike. This guide will help you choose what to bring and help you find the best kayak fishing setup.

Read on to learn more about our ultimate kayak fishing gear list – the 20 essential items you need.

Kayak Fishing Gear List – 20 Essential Items

kayak fishing gear

1. Kayak

Recommended kayak: Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Kayak.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This kayak looks and paddles just like a rigid hard-shell kayak with the portability of an inflatable. It has a durable frame and material, is lightweight, and is designed for speed in the water.

This list is mostly about fishing kayak accessories, but it is worth mentioning the most important piece of equipment, the kayak. Kayaks can be categorized into three types: Sit-on-tops, Sit-ins, and Inflatables.

Sit-on-top (SOT) are great for kayak fishing. As the name implies, there’s a space where you can sit on top of the kayak. Sit-on-tops are usually wider than the other types of kayaks.

Wider kayaks are more stable. The downside is that these types of kayaks are usually slower. Much like SOTs, Sit-ins are good for fishing. The difference between SOTs and Sit-ins is that it is harder to recover from a kayak flip. Inflatables are the least suitable for fishing. Fishing hooks can and will deflate the kayaks.

What is the best kayak for fishing? The best fishing kayaks are the ones designed specifically for sports fishing. They can either be Sit-on-tops or Sit-ins. A fishing kayak usually comes with rod holders, a tackle box, and cooler spaces.

When it comes to the material, what is the best kayak material? All kayak hull materials have pros and cons.

Rotomolded Polyethylene is the cheapest. For newbies, this is a good first kayak for its price. If you’re just starting, there is a lot more kayak fishing gear to get. So spending a lot on the kayak may not be an option. Polyethylene kayaks are the most resistant to impacts. However, poly kayaks are the softest kayaks. They can be easily deformed when mishandled. They are non-repairable too.

Next up are Thermoformed Kayaks. They are a little more expensive than Polyethylene kayaks. They are a bit more scratch-resistant and are slightly repairable. They are also lighter weight and cut through the water easier, with less drag.

The two most expensive kayak materials are fiberglass and kevlar. They are the lightest kayaks and can withstand many years of kayak fishing. They are repairable as well. This is the best kayak for veteran kayak anglers but scales the highest in terms of price.

2. Kayak Cart

Recommended kayak cart: Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This kayak cart is Paddling magazine’s 2018 winner in the “best launching/storage/transport category.” Designed to transport the heaviest kayaks. Easy to unload and load kayaks onto the cart.

Transporting your kayak without damaging it can be difficult without a kayak cart. A kayak cart can help you safely transport your kayak to entry points inaccessible by any other means. Some are even making their own as a part of their kayak DIY projects.

3. Paddle

Recommended paddle: Werner Corryvrecken Fiberglass 2-Piece Paddle. This paddle’s large surface and high-angle stroke design will cut through the water with ease, letting you go faster.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Following up on our kayak fishing gear list is the paddle. The paddle will be the muscle of your kayak. As such, choosing the right paddle is important.

Kayak fishing paddles come in different lengths and widths. Longer and wider paddles are more suited to taller paddlers. As for the weight, the ideal kayak fishing paddle should be light but durable. Aluminum and plastic paddles are the cheapest and can serve as a good first paddle. They are on the heavier side and are not the best for long fishing trips.

Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber are the best paddles due to their lighter weight, stiffness, and durability.

Paddles also come in different angles. High-angle paddles are held more vertically and have longer and wider blades. They are better suited for rough waters. Low-angle paddles are skinnier and longer, held horizontally when paddling. They are less tiring to use and are perfect for calm waters.

4. Paddle Leash

Recommended paddle leash: PROYAKER Ocean Tough Kayak.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Set of 2 leashes with swivels on each end to prevent tangling. Easy double side Velcro strap attaches to paddles with ease. Coil extends up to 6 feet without losing its form.

Another important thing to have in your kayak fishing setup is a paddle leash. It is used to secure a paddle so you won’t lose the paddle during your kayak fishing trips. This is most useful when your kayak capsizes, where your paddle can drift away amidst the confusion. This is a highly recommended piece of kayak fishing gear to get, especially for beginners.

5. Paddle Grips and Paddle Gloves

Paddle grips and paddle gloves are two must-have kayak fishing accessories, especially for long fishing trips. Handling the paddle for long periods can cause blisters and calluses on the skin. This is where the gloves come in. They can protect the skin from the harsh effects of prolonged paddling. During hot weather, gloves can make your hands sweat profusely. This is why grips can be a better option than gloves during summertime. Non-slip grips are the way to go.

6. Fishing Rod and Rod Holders

Selecting the perfect fishing rod for your kayak fishing setup can be a handful. Rods come in different lengths. Long rods have a longer reach and are best suited for open spaces. Shorter rods offer greater accuracy and are best suited for locations where timing and precision are important.

Fishing rods also have varying power and action. Power translates to the stiffness of the rod. Rods with more power are suited for larger catches. The action refers to the sensitivity of the rod. It ranges from slow to fast.

Slow action rods are designed for more powerful fish. Strong rods with slow action are the best for reeling the biggest and strongest fish. Fast action rods are more sensitive and are best suited for reeling small to medium-sized fish.

Fishing rods also differ in the materials they are made with, with graphite and fiberglass being the most widely used material. Graphite rods are lightweight, strong, and sensitive. They are perfect for both experienced and newbie anglers alike. Fiberglass rods may be harder to use and are better suited for experienced anglers.

Overall, your fishing rod should preferably be lightweight and easy to carry. It’s a good idea to get a medium-length, fast-action, multi-purpose graphite rod. However, If you’re going offshore kayak fishing, you may need a longer and stronger rod. 

If you are wondering how to secure fishing rods to a kayak, the answer, of course, is a rod holder. Rod holders can secure your fishing rods during hands-free fishing. I recommend not going cheap on the holder as you do not want it breaking and losing your rod.

7. Fish Finders

Recommended Fish Finder: Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

The Striker Plus 4cv fishfinder makes fishing easy, and it’s built to work in any environment. The bright display gives you a clear view of what is below your boat, even in the sun. The larger screen gives you a clear view of what is going on below the boat. 

While not really essential, fishfinders do make the kayak fishing experience more fun. Fishfinders are a piece of equipment that can detect and track your next catch. These high-tech pieces of equipment come in two kinds. Low-frequency fish finders can detect deeper into the water in exchange for finer details. High-frequency fish finders give greater detail but cannot penetrate deeper waters.

8. Anchor Kits

Recommended anchor kit: Extreme Max BoatTector Complete Stainless Steel Grapnel Anchor Kit.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

A complete anchor kit includes a 25′ rope, 3.5 lb. anchor, snap hook, storage bag, and marker buoy. Holds strong in a variety of bottom conditions, including rocky, coral, or heavy weeds.

Kayak anchors are a necessity when kayak fishing. Kayaks are often susceptible to wind and currents. Unless you’re kayak fishing in calm waters, you won’t be able to fish without an anchor to keep you effectively in place. Even if you are in calm waters, you might still need an anchor.

There are two types of anchors that kayak anglers usually use, mushroom and grapnel anchors. Grapnel anchors are lighter and best suited for kayak fishing. Mushroom anchors are similar to those used by larger fishing vessels and are better suited for larger kayaks.

9. Tackle Boxes and Tackle Bags

If you’re going to go kayak fishing, it is essential to have something to keep your bait and tackle in. A tackle box is where you can put your fishing tools. It is usually bulky and made out of plastic.

Depending on the size of your kayak, you might opt to get a tackle bag instead. They are made from strong fabrics and are more compact in size. They are best suited for short kayak fishing trips. The downside is that tackle bags are not as waterproof as tackle boxes.

10. Fish Bag and Coolers

Fish bags and coolers are must-have kayak fishing items. They keep all the fish fresh and well-preserved. A cooler can be used as a storage box for water and beverages. Staying hydrated is very important. How big the cooler is, of course, depends on the size of your kayak. As mentioned before, you want to pack as light as possible.

11. Pliers and Pocket Knives

kayak gear bag

Always remember to add pliers and pocket knives to your kayak fishing gear. They are an essential tool for any kayak fishing setup. Pliers and pocket knives are used to safely remove hooks from caught fish. You can also bring a hook removal tool for difficult-to-remove hooks.

12. PFD – Personal Flotation Device

Recommended PFD: Stohlquist Descent Personal Flotation Device.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This PFD is a comfortable, lightweight, well-designed PFD. It is designed with extensive on-water testing and offers a set of features found in no other paddler’s vest.

There is a huge selection of PFDs on the market. This makes it tricky to choose the best PFD for kayak fishing. Five categories of PFDs are available in the US, ranging from Type I to Type V. Type III and Type V PFDs are perfect for kayak fishing.

In choosing a PFD, it’s important to consider three things – comfort, durability, and storage. Comfortable PFDs can give you a wide range of motion without compromising your safety. Durable PFDs are often made out of foam and dense nylon. And as for storage, the more pockets, the better.

13. GPS

For long fishing trips in large bodies of water, adding a GPS to your kayak fishing gear list is a must. Next time you go on a fishing trip, you won’t ever be afraid of getting lost with this essential device.

14. VHF Radio

A VHF, or very high frequency, radio is a waterproof radio that can broadcast distress signals over large distances. This is an important addition to your gear list in case of an emergency. If you’re going offshore kayak fishing, bringing one is a good measure.

15. Bilge Pump

Bilge Pumps can safely pump out water from a kayak. This is one of the kayak fishing accessories you might want to get, especially if you are new to the kayak fishing game.

16. Other Safety Equipment

It’s always good to take extra measures when it comes to safety. You might want to bring additional safety equipment when going offshore. You could include the following items to your fishing gear list:

  • Signal mirrors
  • Whistles and air horns
  • High visibility jacket and flags
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamps

17. Sun Protection

Kayak anglers spend a lot of time in the heat of the day. Prolonged exposure to the sun can be damaging to your skin and your health. Next time you go on a fishing trip, make sure to add sun protection to your kayak fishing gear list. Sunscreen, long-sleeve shirts, hats, and protective eyeglasses are just some of the items you can bring to shield you from the harsh heat of the sun.

18. Electronics

Things that you can add to your kayak fishing gear list are your electronic devices. Cameras are nice to have to capture that perfect catch. Don’t forget to bring your phones and spare batteries. It serves as the first option to communicate with others in case of emergencies.

A portable charger for these devices can also be handy in certain situations. If you’re bringing these electronic devices, you can put them in waterproof zip lock bags.

19. Food and Drinks

Recommended water pouch: Gearlab Deck Pod Water Pouch.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Sip and Paddle with the handy Gearlab Deck Pod. This Paddling Magazine Award Winner for 2019 fits a hydration bladder up to 3 liters. The see-through mesh pocket and large tube opening let you drink and paddle. Side pockets can hold a bilge pump and paddle float but they are sold separately.

When going on a kayak fishing trip, never forget to bring enough food for the trip. Bringing enough drinking water is also a necessity to avoid the risk of dehydration. However, do not overpack too much gear. As previously mentioned, you want to pack as light as you can.

20. Personal Belongings and Other Documents

During kayak fishing trips, always bring a few identification cards and insurance. In some spots in the U.S., proper documents are required by the Coast Guard, so you should have them with you just in case. Fishing license, motor registration, and trailer registration are some of the documents you might need to bring on your next kayak fishing trip.

Conclusion – Kayak Fishing Gear List

Kayak fishing is growing in popularity. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation found that there was a steady increase in the number of people fishing using kayaks. In their 2018 report, they estimated that 2.4 million people fished using kayaks. [1]

To recap, the top 20 items for your fishing gear list are as follows:

  1. Kayak: Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Kayak – Click here to see it on Amazon
  2. Kayak Cart: Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart Click here to see it on Amazon
  3. Paddle: Werner Corryvrecken Fiberglass 2-Piece Paddle – Click here to see it on Amazon
  4. Paddle Leash: PROYAKER Ocean Tough Kayak – Click here to see it on Amazon
  5. Fishing Rod and Rod Holders
  6. Fish Finders: Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer – Click here to see it on Amazon
  7. Anchor Kits: Extreme Max BoatTector Complete Stainless Steel Grapnel Anchor Kit – Click here to see it on Amazon
  8. Tackle Boxes and Tackle Bags
  9. Fish Bags and Coolers
  10. Pliers and Pocket Knife
  11. PFD – Personal Flotation Device: Stohlquist Descent Personal Flotation Device – Click here to see it on Amazon
  12. GPS
  13. VHF Radio
  14. Bilge Pump
  15. Other safety equipment like signal mirrors, first aid kits, airhorns, high visibility jackets, and headlamps
  16. Sun protection, including sunscreen, hats, long-sleeved shirts, and protective eyewear
  17. Electronic devices, like phones, cameras, spare batteries, and a portable charger
  18. Food and Water: Gearlab Deck Pod Water Pouch – Click here to see it on Amazon
  19. Documents such as IDs, insurance, and licenses

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful at increasing your enjoyment on the water! Here are some products that we use – as boaters, sailors, kayakers, cruisers, and lovers of the open sea – and we hope you’ll find them helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, we’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the exact products that we use and recommend to everyone, even our own families.

Best Inflatable Kayak: Intex Excursion Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Click here to see this kayak on Amazon.

Best Inflatable Boat: Intex Mariner Inflatable Boat Set Series

Sturdy and strong. Easy to set up. Many included accessories. 3 or 4-person.

Click here to see this boat on Amazon.

Best Life Jacket: Stohlquist Fisherman Lifejacket

Super comfortable. Lightweight. Fits like a glove. Lots of easy-to-access storage.

Click here to see this lifejacket on Amazon.

Best Anchor: Slide Anchor Box Anchor

Easy to use. No chain needed. Strong hold. Compact storage. Choose from 3 sizes.

Click here to see this anchor on Amazon.

Best Boat Cover: iCOVER Trailerable Boat Cover

Universal fit. Heavy-duty, waterproof, and UV-resistant. Choose from multiple colors.

Click here to see this boat cover on Amazon.

Or search at the top for many other product reviews and articles.