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KAYAK FISHING: TIPS, TRICKS, HACKS, DIY, MODS

By: Jean Wilson

Whether you’re new to kayak fishing or a seasoned pro, some of the most fun you’ll have is rigging out your boat and tinkering with ways to enhance your time on the water. There are phenomenal and innovative products from an array of companies that aim to serve you well in making the most of the limited space on kayaks. There is also a deep satisfaction in utilizing items in unique ways to really make rigging and fishing your own. What follows are a list of tips, tricks, hacks and DIY ideas that you can employ, share with others, and that may even lead you to make your own modifications, configurations and innovative discoveries.

MAXIMIZE YOUR IN-HULL HATCH SPACE

* Even if your kayak has a front hatch tray to store easily accessible items from the deck, a great way to keep other gear on the hull floor from sliding out of reach is to use a collapsible, pop-open, mesh laundry basket. The ones that open from the side will give you immediate access to your stuff. When you’re done for the day, the basket can be left in place or removed with all the items neatly contained.

* Prepare for emergencies and extended stay. The unexpected can happen to anyone. Better to have some backup supplies and not need them than to be stranded and ill-prepared. These items are not overly bulky or heavy and can be stored in a small dry bag.

– Good snacks that don’t spoil easily and that are in addition to the food brought for the day. (jar of roasted peanuts or almonds, dried fruit, jerky, V-8 juice, extra water)
– Change of clothes
– windbreaker/rain suit
– firestarter
– emergency blanket
– flashlight, headlamp, lantern, extra batteries
– first aid kit
– pliers that will cut through steel hooks in case of treble hook impalement.
– big sponge or bilge pump for bailing
– extra paddle
– air horn
– Other “rescue” items on board to do quick fixes can include safety pins, electrical tape, duct tape
– a couple of 15’ cam straps

CAM STRAPS ARE MULTI-USE WORKHORSES

The kayak cam straps used for securing kayaks to vehicles are a very versatile piece of equipment that stow easily in your hatch.

* They offer great leverage for dragging and portaging your kayak by looping the closed strap through the front handle of the kayak.

* They come in handy if you need to tow another boat or be towed yourself.

* Add on a large heavy duty carabiner for a quick attachment point.

* Slide on two shorts lengths of PVC and make a great lift strap under the middle of a kayak with handles that multiple folks can team up to carry a heavy boat.

* Extra cam straps are invaluable when needing to load up an unexpected kayak or bulky item.

* The cam straps can be used in multiple ways to assist in righting an overturned kayak and in re-entry assistance. Here’s one such method of kayak re-entry demonstrated in this video by Chris Funk, The Feral One:

IDENTIFY YOUR KAYAK AND YOURSELF FOR EMERGENCIES

* If your kayak is ever lost or stolen it’s wise to have the serial number added to an inconspicuous place for identification.

* Adding your name and contact telephone number under the hatch cover where it’s easily seen will allow rescuers to contact you and possibly avoid an unnecessary and expensive search if you become separated from your kayak.

POTTY RELIEF KIT FOR ONBOARD USE

I came up with this DIY idea especially for the gals but the guys can use it, too.
When nature calls and you’re in an area where it’s not convenient to pull up to shore to relieve yourself, this little potty kit can be pulled from the hatch and used on the deck of your kayak:

* Use a large-sized plastic coffee container with lid. The contents include small trash bags, baby wipes, hand sanitizer and a large sized plastic poncho to wear as it creates your own private “boudoir” for discretion.

TIPS, HACKS AND MODS FOR LURES AND GEAR

A number of years back, while fishing for bass in heavy vegetation and contemplating the advantages of a floating hollow-bodied frog versus the buzzing attraction of a paddletail, I decided to combine the best of both worlds. I cut off the tail section of two swimbaits and threaded them on to the hooks of my frog.

What resulted was a floating frog with paddletail legs that could still be used slow and subtlety or with more buzzing action when needed. I made one up right there in my kayak and on my first cast with this prototype I caught a nine pound bass! Talk about satisfaction! Nowadays, if I’m ever without a Stanley Top Toad or the like, I’ll rig up one of my unique floating toad creations instead.

Kayak Fishing | Tips, Tricks, Hacks, DIY and Mods

* An inexpensive and highly effective way to add scent to soft plastics is with cod liver oil. Just put a small amount in the package with the baits and they’ll be ready to use now or later. Be sure to seal the package up tight.

* Extend the life of soft plastic lures by repairing the rips and tears with a product called “Mend-It”. This adhesive joins the plastic together in just a couple of minutes with a clear finish and keeps the repaired area soft and pliable. Save up those torn baits, doctor them up and give them another go!

* In areas where there’s access to both fresh and salt water, try using the same lures for both. Many are interchangeable and attract many species. Have you ever seen a redfish attack a frog or buzzing toad? Exciting stuff! It’s also weedless for those high tide flooded grasses. Those top waters, jerk baits and cranks that bring in the bass will also entice the sea trout and redfish. Have fun experimenting!

* Try a follow-up bait after a missed hit. Sometimes just a smaller version of what you’re using will do the trick. If a bass misses a topwater frog, then throw in a soft plastic toad, paddletail or worm with some gentle twitches and let it drift down. With the fish already fired up, this second presentation will oftentimes clinch the deal.

* Cover up those trebled lures on rods for transport! An inexpensive but effective hack is to make your own lure covers. Sections of pool noodle with a slit down one side will fit right over lures with treble hooks and will keep them from snagging you or your vehicle’s upholstery while transporting.

* Double the life of braided line. When braided line becomes frayed, just reverse it on the spool and it’s like having brand new line. Tie your line to a tree or fence and walk the line all the way to where it attaches to the spool or monofilament backing, if that’s been used. Cut the line at the spool. Walk back to the tree and re-tie the old braid to the spool and, holding tension, wind it back up for its extended life.

* Another tip in spooling braid is to cover the empty spool first with electrical tape which gives the braid more grip and will keep it from slipping.

* For a quick temporary fix to a broken line guide, bend a closed safety pin at a 90° angle and, with the little circle side up as the new guide, secure to the rod with gorilla or electrical tape.

PROTECTION FROM SUN AND INSECTS

Even if you’re covered up from head to toe with breathable UPF long-sleeved shirts, pants, buff, hat, gloves, head nets and shoes, the bugs can still find you! Gnats, otherwise comically called “no-see-ums”, can be ferocious, unrelenting and oftentimes impervious to DEET or lemon eucalyptus.

A few of suggestions that can keep those buggers at bay:

– vanilla or peppermint extract mixed with water for spritzing
– Amber Romance fragrance by Victoria’s Secret.
– tuck a Bounce dryer sheet into your buff

If nothing else at least you’ll smell great!

TIPS TO STAY ORGANIZED ON DECK

* Use small mesh zippered bags to hold soft plastic baits that are frequently used.

Kayak Fishing | Tips, Tricks, Hacks, DIY and Mods

* Keep a separate bag to hold a scale, measuring tape (girth) and a washcloth to wipe up water. Keep it handy for when that giant bass decides to cooperate!

* Fanny packs attached to the back of the seat and to the front of the seat below your legs will keep items within reach and can act as a convenient “junk drawer” to stash used lures and odds and ends.

* Take full advantage of gear tracks on your kayak. Being able to easily attach, move and detach gear and to change configurations is a huge plus in rigging your kayak to your liking.

* As if saving your life wasn’t enough, PFDs, with their multiple pockets and attachment points, are quite handy for holding snips, pliers, knife, phone and other often used items. For piece of mind, PFDs are also a great place to keep a spare key to your vehicle. This tip has saved much heartache out in the wilderness.

WAYS TO UTILIZE YOUR CELLPHONE CAMERA AND CONSERVE BATTERY LIFE

* One of the great advantages of the kayak is being able to get into wild and very close up places where it’s often much easier to observe the flora and fauna and offers unique opportunities for photography. In addition to documenting your catches, taking lots of pictures will help you identify all the cool things you’ve seen and will be useful in comparing similar sightings in future years. So whether it’s for apps, texting or photos, if you use your cell phone a lot then you’ll want to keep the juice flowing so you don’t miss the next epic shot!

* Carry a power bank and lightning cord to keep your phone charged.

* Conserve your battery charge by putting cell phone in “low battery” or “airplane” modes.

TIPS AND HACKS TO SECURE AND PROTECT YOUR CELL PHONE

* Most current cell phones are water-resistant to some degree, but they can drop overboard and sink quickly. A floating case is one solution but it’s highly recommended to tether your phone and attach it to your PFD so that it stays with you in case of being separated from your kayak. You can use one of the wonderful manufactured tethers or you can create your own. Most phone cases have a connection point where a split ring can be added and then attached to your tether.

* If a split ring is too difficult to attach then a looped piece of 50-65 pound braid can create an attachment point instead.

* Protect your phone from overheating from the sun. Many kayak anglers use their cell phones for cameras for the “Catch, Photo, Release” (CPR) method of both live and online tournaments. They even set them up on phone holders, like the Ram X-Grip, using phones as action cameras to video and transmit live footage. But even fairly short exposure to the excessive heat of the sun can make your phone inoperable and possibly cause damage. Here’s my DIY prototype idea of a protective cabana made from an inexpensive vehicle windshield reflective shade. Cut a rectangular section of the shade and cover the edges in gorilla tape. Cut slits to form the “roof” and then one more up the middle to slide between the X-Grip and the phone. Secure the roof with Velcro or elastic. This little tent will keep the heat factor under control.

* Even the protection of a PFD pocket is often not enough to shield the heat from your phone. Here I’ve used a piece of the reflective windshield shade to make a pocket sleeve for the tethered phone which easily slides in and out and is always accessible for use.

Even on days when you can’t get out on the water with your kayak, there will always be the enjoyment and self-satisfaction of endless configuring , rigging, modifying and dreaming about that next adventure in your own unique vessel!

Share your ideas with us on Facebook (Jackson Kayak) and Instagram (@jacksonkayakfishing and @jackson.kayak)
We’d love to see your mods, tips and hacks!

Jean Wilson
Jackson Kayak Fishing Team-Factory Team