Here's a bunch of kayak fishing tips which, for both kayak fishing newbies and old hands alike, should keep you safe and improve your catch rate.
But first, a confession. I'm not a kayak angler - well not yet anyway - but I'm seriously thinking about becoming one.
However as an experienced ocean sailor and angler, I'm very much aware of what an unforgiving mistress the sea can be.
So before rushing out and buying the wrong kayak, fitting it out in the wrong way and generally making all the mistakes that beginners make, I've been doing some research.
The results of all the advice I've been given I thought might be interesting to others in the same, er, boat. So here are the kayak fishing tips freely given to me by knowledgeable and experienced kayak anglers:~
You can save yourself a lot of work if you buy a yak that has been designed and fitted out specifically for fishing.
Like the model shown here, a Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 - a popular choice with experienced kayak anglers - these will have bespoke fishing gear attachment points and recessed rod holders built in.
Some kayak fishermen say that the problem with recessed rod
holders is that they fill with water and place your reel too low where
it will get a regular dousing with saltwater.
In this case, an externally mounted rod holder like the Scotty No. 230 Power Lock Rod Holder With Combination Side/deck Mount is a good alternative.
But you may wish to get a standard kayak and customise it for your own particular fishing rquirements. If you do decide to go down this route - and many do - always use marine grade stainless steel fittings. Not A2 grade which isn't corrosion resistant enough. Go for A4 grade - its double the price of A2 but worth it in the long run.
A SOT is the preferred type for saltwater kayak fishing, as they can carry the requisite gear and are easier to get back onto if you fall off. Also, they're usually cheaper than SINKs.
However good the deal seems to be, you should always test-paddle the kayak before you buy it.
Although recommendations by experienced kayak anglers are valuable - in as much as they'll eliminate the dogs, and enable you to hone in on a short list of likely contenders - the final choice must be a personal one, made in the knowledge of the conditions you'll be using it in.
Colour choice is all about visibility at sea - fashion doesn't come into it. The most visible colour is yellow, with red and orange almost as good.
Blues and greys are least visible, and white kayaks are practically invisible in choppy seas. And camoflaged versions make no sense at all.
A free-draining plastic storage crate is better than a solid sided one as it won't fill with water, or offer as much resistance to the wind. The popular choice is to adapt a plastic milk crate, although you can buy purpose designed ones.
Use good touring paddles with asymmetric blades rather than a general or white-water paddle. It really is a good idea to get the best paddle you can afford, remembering that these hi-tech lightweight models will reduce fatigue when paddling.
Use a paddle leash to keep it attached to the yak. Then, if/when you fall off, by keeping hold of the paddle you still be attached to the yak. Lose your paddle and you could find yourself up that well-known creek!
Thin, strong, non-stretch braid lines
are ideal for kayak fishing. Not only do they allow the angler cast
further and put more action into his lures, they allow the use of
lighter sinkers when baitfishing. But before you buy a rod for use with braid line, take a look at this article...
Fishing with bait can be a messy business, and first of course you've got buy or collect it. So why not dispense with it altogether, and use lures?
Saltwater is corrosive stuff, so always rinse your gear in fresh water after every trip. Allow to dry, then spray lightly with water repellent lubricant.
UV has a damaging effect on both you and your kayak, and there's lots of it out at sea. In use of course, there's nothing you can do to protect your yak from it, but it should be stored undercover at other times. But there's plenty you can do to protect yourself - and you must!
The dangers of sunburn are well known, with skin cancer becoming an increasingly common result. So go heavy on the sun protection cream and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Use a trolley when moving the kayak around ashore. It will save the underside of the yak - and your back!
If you use ratchet straps to secure your yak to your cars roof rack, be careful not to over-tighten them, as you can easily damage the yak.
Use the moulded in straps, toggles and carry points when lifting the yak. These are designed as strong-points and positioned to spread the load without distorting the yak.
The most important of all these kayak fishing tips is to stay safe. Let someone ashore know you're going out in your yak, and what time you expect to return. It's worth carrying a mobile phone so you can let them know if you're delayed - before they call the coastguard. The mobile should work up to around 10 miles offshore before you lose the signal, but don't rely on it.
Which is why you should always carry a hand-held, waterproof VHF radio - and ideally one which floats. Not only will this device enable you to communicate with other marine craft, it will also put you into direct contact with the coastguard.
There's an approved operating procedure you'll need to know, and in most countries you'll need a license before you're legally allowed to use it.
Hopefully you'll never need to use it, but when you do you'll not regret your investment in an inshore flare pack.
For safety reasons it's best to fish in company, and the best way of finding a kayak fishing buddy is by joining your local kayak fishing club.
No kayaker is going to venture out to sea without a Personal Flotation Device, no matter how strong a swimmer he is.
Kayak anglers should go for a PFD with pockets for your fishing gear - VHF radio, long-nosed pliers, knife, lures etc.
Make sure the PFD provides enough buoyancy both for you and all the stuff you've got in it.
Always, but always, get a local weather forecast before setting out - and leave your VHF switched on to receive regular updates. And keep a weather eye open, as short, sharp squalls often evade the forecast.
One of the most important kayak fishing tips is to understand how the tides will affect your fishing session. This is vital not just from the fish catching aspect, but from a safety angle too. You must know:~
The starting point for all of this is a set of tide tables for your local area, together with the appropriate tidal atlas.
And it clearly makes sense to plan your fishing your fishing trip such that your paddle home is downtide...
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