How to Rig a Fishing Kayak

How to Rig a Fishing Kayak

Kayak fishing can be a fulfilling experience and tons of fun, but you need a boat that meets all the requirement to ensure a comfortable angling experience. A fishing-specific kayak has ample storage for gear, it has rod holders, and it is more stable than a basic kayak. If you think you will be doing a lot of fishing, then get the best fishing kayak you can – it will make life much more enjoyable on the water!

If you have a general-use craft but want to start doing some kayak fishing, keep reading to learn how to rig a fishing kayak for comfortable and safe fishing.

Man on a fishing boat

Equipment Needed

To rig your kayak for fishing, you’ll have to fit several items to the boat. If you are not comfortable attaching equipment to your kayak yourself, visit a local outfitter and ask them to help you. Let’s take a look at the most critical rigging equipment you will need.

Fishing Crate

fishing crates

Adding a fishing crate is a relatively simple modification, and you can complete this one yourself by taking a milk crate and attaching it to the tank well. The tank well is the area directly behind your seat if you have a sit-on-top kayak. You can also purchase a fishing crate if you have a kayak that is fitted with fastening slide tracks.

Rod Holders

If you don’t have a kayak that is compatible with aftermarket rod holder installations, you can simply attach PVC pipes to the back of the fishing crate. The idea is to have one rod holder in front of you and two behind you as spares.

As a casual kayak fisherman, three rods may be sufficient for your needs. More rods on a standard-sized kayak can result in frustration, as they are more likely to get tangled. If you mount your rod holders to your milk crate in the tank well, make sure that the container is securely fastened to the kayak and angle the rods away from each other to prevent them from getting tangled.

Anchor Trolley

When you find a large school of fish, staying in the same place can be a challenge, especially if there is a strong current. A kayak anchor can solve this problem, but if you don’t have an anchor trolley, you will not be able to adjust your anchor’s position. The wind and water flow can push your kayak into a position that is not desirable for optimal casting, and you may even run the risk of capsizing.

Fish Finder Mount

A fish finder is key to ensure that you don’t waste the entire day fishing in the wrong spots. If you have a mobile fish finder or if you are using your smartphone, you don’t have to attach any equipment to your kayak.

If you have a larger onboard fish finder, though, it may be worth securing a mount to your kayak with an arm that you can use to move the device out of your way while you are fishing.

Space Considerations

One of the great things about kayak fishing is that it takes you back the essence of fishing. A kayak generally doesn’t allow you to take a lot of gear with you. It is, therefore, essential to organize your gear in a manner that uses space economically and that allows for optimal convenience.

The first step to making optimal use of the available space is to secure a milk crate to the trapezoidal area behind your seat. Milk crates can accommodate a lot of additional gear without running the risk of compromising your safety or onboard organization.

In addition to storing lures and other fishing gear, you can also attach your spare fishing holders to the milk crate and save up space in this manner. Also, try to use your center hatch only for the items that you know you will need.

Man Kyak Fishing

Optimizing the available kayak storage space can also save you time and ensure that you have a good time. Cramming your center hatch with a bunch of small items, for example, can cause you to waste a lot of time looking for lures and gear.


The weight of fishing kayak is a significant factor to keep in mind, as it influences the accessories and gear you can take on board as well as the stability of the craft. Every model lists a weight capacity that indicates the maximum amount of weight that it can hold and still stay afloat.

When you rig your kayak for fishing, you have to keep this weight capacity in mind. Your weight and the weight of the fishing crate are the most significant additions, so ensure that the aggregate weight is under the kayak’s maximum capacity.

Fishing Tackle Storage

Having a big, open fishing tackle storage space on your kayak can be great for accommodating a lot of stuff. The problem is that you may easily find yourself struggling with disorganized items rolling around in the bottom of the boat.

Many kayak fishermen regard the milk crate as the most efficient way to store fishing tackle in the tank well of their kayaks. Nowadays, however, there are many high-end storage products available that you can use in combination with the crate to keep its contents neatly organized and within reach.

Soft-crate packs, for example, are designed to go into a milk crate. These packs have shoulder straps, and you can take them off if you want to go on-shore fishing or stop for a picnic lunch. You can even use soft-crate packs to store plastic containers containing things like your wallet and your phone.

Something to keep in mind when shopping for soft-crate packs is that they should be waterproof, especially if you want to use them for storing gear like your fish-finder. An alternative to soft-crate packs is hard plastic kayak v-crates that are designed to allow for easy access. V-crates can also store rain gear, and you can easily attach rod holders to them.

fishing tackle storage

If you have an ample storage space, an affordable solution to keep your fishing tackle organized is by purchasing a pop-up hamper that prevents the contents from moving around and sliding into smaller areas.

After choosing the most appropriate fishing tackle storage solution for your needs, the next step is to take stock of all the bait you currently have and to determine what you need before going out on the water. Then, separate all of your different bait into tackle trays to ensure that it is neatly organized. For optimal organization, consider labeling each tray so that you don’t have to waste time finding the one you need.

As a kayak fisherman, you have unique storage needs, and you should spend some time to figure out solutions that are convenient and suitable for you. The golden rule, especially when it comes to auxiliary storage spaces, is to keep things simple and minimal.

Personal Safety

Perhaps the most critical aspect of rigging your kayak is personal safety. There are, in essence, three components to ensuring that you are safe while out fishing: lights, a personal floatation device, and additional safety gear.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

The first rule when it comes to buying a PFD, also called a life jacket, is to avoid cheaping out. There is a possibility that you may need your personal floatation device to keep you safe, and if you buy a sub-par product, you could find yourself in a dire situation.

You also have to make sure that the PFD fits you, that you are comfortable wearing it, and that you can swim with it. If the PFD is uncomfortable, chances are that you will have a lousy time fishing, or you will take it off and not have it on when you fall out of your kayak. Also, take some time to swim while wearing your PFD to get comfortable with it.


Lights are an incredibly important kayak accessory to ensure that you are visible to other boats and rescue responders, especially if you go kayaking before dawn or after the sun goes down. In many states, the law requires that you have a white light on board if you are kayaking in low light conditions. You can build a stern light yourself or add battery-powered LED lights to the bow and sides of your kayak.

Since adding lights to your kayak is inexpensive and quick, make sure that you meet this safety requirement. Having adequate safety lighting is also crucial if you go kayaking in rivers or the ocean.

Additional Safety Gear

In addition to a personal floatation device and lights, your kayak should also be equipped with safety gear like a pocket knife, a first aid kit, and polarized sunglasses.

Since the sun’s rays can be particularly harmful near water, make sure that you wear a hat and polarized sunglasses. You should also apply sunscreen and make sure that you keep extra with you.

If you venture out in unfamiliar waters like a river or the ocean, you should also have equipment with you to allow for long-distance communication, for example, a marine VHF radio, air horn, and flashlight.


Now that we’ve provided some tips for organizing your fishing kayak, go on and customize your craft so you can enjoy the fun of fishing right from your boat!

man fishing