Rigging Your Fishing Kayak

Some basic practical advice about how to rig you kayak for fishing

Contrarily to you might have heard, there is no such thing as perfect rigging for a fishing kayak, and the reason for it is that kayak anglers differ by their personal needs, fishing style, fish species they go after, etc.
Having said that, there are still many opportunities for you to make mistakes, and this is why we generally recommend to go about these things slowly and carefully, without rushing into particular solutions unless you know there’s a good chance that they’d work well for you.

Practically, this means it can be impossible for you to tell in advance exactly what type of rod holders would benefit you the most, and whether you need this type of anchor or another. Same is true for positioning the rod holders, what kind of paddle holders you need, and more.

As a rule, if you fish in saltwater you’d better try to keep your fishing rods dry, which means that either you’ll store them inside the hull for when you pass through the surf, or use tall deck mounted rod holders in the stern. Some deck mounted rod holders have a long leg, which adds distance between your fishing rod and the corrosive sea water.
Tube rod holders are easier to use, because you just stick your fishing rod in, and take it out instantly when you need to. However, rod holders equipped with a latch would better secure your fishing rod in its place.

Obviously, if you’re fly fishing you may not need a rod holder at all, but you do want one, it should be of a type that fits fly rods.

As far as positioning the rod holders on your kayak’s deck, our only advice is to take your kayak out and fish from it a number of times before you decide on a new fishing rod. You’d need to make sure that neither fishing rod nor line interfere with your paddling under any circumstance, including when you use your kayak for trolling.
You can’t use screws to attach a rod holder, or any other object to your kayak’s deck. The reason for it is that the plastic isn’t thick enough to secure a screw in its place. The alternatives are either using bolts with nuts, or rivets. Bolts have more initial grip than rivets, but they lose it with time, since your kayak is made from polyethylene, which is a relatively soft plastic resin.
Remember: Deck mounted rod holders are easy to install, while flush mounted rod holders require that you make a hole in your kayak’s deck, and that hole should be of a certain size and shape. Making such hole isn’t necessarily easy for a beginner.

As for paddle holders, the problem becomes much more complicated: Some kayak anglers insist on using paddle holders that are silent, and that means using paddle holders made from foam. Other kayak anglers must make sure they don’t lose their paddle, because they fish i deep water, and far from shore. This means they must use paddle clips of some kind, or a bungee and hook to secure the paddle in its place.
Some kayak anglers like to drop their paddle in front of them while they rush to grab a rod that shows that a fish is pulling on its line, or if they want to make a fast cast because they spotted a fish. Others kayak anglers want to drop their paddle on their kayak’s side, in order to allow them more freedom of movement while they cast a line, reel a fish in, and land it.
Again, after fishing a few times you’ll know more about the type of paddle holders, or clips that would work better for you.

Anchors differ by their weight and form: Some have more grip than others, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better, because an anchor with too much grip might get entangled in rocks or roots, and if you don’t manage to release it you’ll have to cut its line and part from it.
As a rule, kayak anchors should weigh between 1.5 lbs and 5 lbs. The heavier anchors are for moving water, such as streams or the ocean, and the lighter anchors are for ponds, small lakes and slow moving rivers.
Here too, you can add more functionality at a price of adding complexity: Anchor pulleys (vertical) and anchor trolleys (horizontal) may serve you well if they fit some specific need, but they could just make things harder for you if you don’t need them.

And what about a milk crate? What seemed to be an obvious storage solution in old fashion sit-in and SOT fishing kayaks is no longer needed in the W500 Wavewalk kayaks, simply because this new generation of fishing kayaks offer so much internal, accessible and dry storage space, as well as a lot of deck space, which make the milk crate redundant.

Should you add a seat to your kayak, and what type?  The answer to this question is rather simple:  If you happen to own a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak (SOT), you must outfit it with a seat (and footrests, in case those are not molded-in).  No kayak seat may offer what it promises, that is a comfortable ride, and the reason for it is explained in this article about kayak ergonomics »

If you’re about to get your first W-kayak, don’t hurry to outfit it with any kind of seat, because you’re likely not to need it at all, as most W kayak owners have found. Just take your time to get used to the riding position, sitting, and standing, and sooner or later you’re going to forget about your seat project.

Rudders and kayaks – an unhappy marriage…  Aboriginal kayaks were not equipped with rudders, because the people who crafted and paddled them were supreme paddlers, who spent their childhood paddling. Unless you fit this description, you’re likely to need a rudder for your sit-in or SOT kayak, because in addition to your own relatively skill level, these boats track very poorly, because their design depart greatly from the sleek proportions of Inuit kayaks.
A rudder is a pain to activate, and requires your constant attention. It also has a nasty tendency to harvest seaweed, and get stuck in rocks, roots and other underwater objects.  And if you’re planning long trips, you should be aware of the fact that a rudder would slow your kayak down by an average of 10%.
Luckily, W-kayaks do not require rudders at all. Since the first W kayak appeared in 2004, only one W kayaker installed a rudder in his W kayak, and that’s basically because he sails it.  No other W kayak paddler or angler has added a rudder to their W kayak, simply because no one saw any reason to do so.
W kayaks track like no other kayak, even under strong wind.

Outriggers – Yes, no, what type, and how many?  There is no need for you to add outriggers to a W kayak, unless you’re planning to go at very high speed, using a powerful outboard gas engine, or a big and powerful sailing rig. A normal, small electric trolling motor does not necessitate you add outriggers to your W kayak.
W kayaks are stable enough to go in moving water, as well as enable you to paddle and fish standing up in confidence and safety that you won’t find in any other kayak – including those who have outriggers.
If you decide to increase your W-kayak’s stability, remember you don’t necessarily need a pair of outriggers to stabilize it, and in many cases a single, large size outrigger would suffice.

What about a motor?  It’s possible to add an outboard gas engine to a W kayak, but in case you’re interested in doing so, you must take into account adding flotation as well, and the same is true for an electric motor.
As a rule of thumb, we would advise patience and cautiousness with any motorizing project. To begin with, you may ask yourself “do I really need this thing?” – Try to answer this question after using your new W-kayak in a human powered mode. You may reach the conclusion that your W kayak is fast enough, easy to paddle, and takes you where you want to go – and back…
Electric trolling motors seem perfect, but they add weight and complexity to your W-kayak, and may not be worth the trouble after all.
Read more about motorizing your kayak »

Learn more about how other fishermen rig their kayaks »

Please feel free to call or email us for consultation

2 Comments

  1. Mike Moody

    I concur with the idea of waiting to outfit your W. I also dislike anything that is permanent. I found that using a small pad is all I need for a seat. In the past I secured this inflatable pad to the W saddle with Velcro but now I just sit on it without the velcro. It works fine and if the wind does catch it, it floats.

    I have installed 4 flush mount rod holders and another 2 holders that I clamped to the existing wood U deal (can’t remember the name of the wood insert).

    I used heavy wire to fashion an Oar holder for the side of the W. I simply doubled up the wire and then formed it into a J. I don’t use it very often. Typically I set the Oar down in front of me when fishing. I did use shelf liner material to make some grippy handles so when I do set it across the W, it stays in one place.

    That’s all I’ve done to my W. My advice, take your time and don’t rush into any changes/modifications.

  2. fish kayak

    Different people fish out of these kayaks in different parts of the world and in different climates. They go after different fish species in different types of water, depth, etc., and they use different fishing styles, techniques and gear to catch those fish. And these people make rigging discoveries as well as rigging mistakes, naturally…
    Besides, a setup that would work great for you as a beginning Wavewalk angler might not be ideal for you once you’re completely used to fishing out of this ‘wearable catamaran kayak’, and you feel like doing new things that seemed irrelevant or too difficult for you during your first season in this boat.
    Bottom line: Rigging this boat is fun, and one shouldn’t view it as definitive, since there’s always room for some more exploration, experimentation, and sometimes even improvement 🙂

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