Kayak Fishing Gear

Once you make the decision to start kayak fishing, the next step is to think about the type of gear you'll need to be safe and successful.

How to Select Kayak Fishing Gear

Once you make the decision to start kayak fishing, the next step is to think about the type of fishing gear you'll need to be safe and successful. Certain items, such as a PFD  or a paddle, are requirements while others are made to help you find and catch fish. Today's kayak fishing gear can be as simple as a PVC rod holder or as complex as an electronic GPS-fish finder  unit. However, before you start stocking up, there are a few questions you should answer.

  • Do you plan to do most of your kayaking in freshwater lakes and rivers or out in the ocean? If you intend to learn how to fish from a kayak in the ocean, you will want to make sure that your gear is heavy-duty and corrosion-resistant so that it holds up when exposed to saltwater and waves.
  • Will you be fishing from a kayak by yourself or will you have a two-person kayak? If you plan to fish from a tandem kayak with two people on board, you will need to double up on certain pieces of gear. For example, you'll need two PFDs and rod holders.
  • Do you plan to fly fish from your kayak or will you be using artificial lures and bait? If you want to fish with a wide variety of artificial lures or live baits, you may want to consider adding a watertight tackle box or a bait bucket to your kayak fishing gear list.

By thinking about the type of fishing you plan to do, you'll be able to select the right gear for safe and successful angling adventures in your kayak.

Check out our "Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners" YouTube video for more information on how to get started using a kayak for fishing adventures.

Kayak Fishing Gear

The type of gear you need to start fishing in a kayak isn't complicated. In fact, you will want to minimize your gear and simplify as much as possible before you board a kayak. One important kayak fishing gear tip is to keep frequently used items like your tackle, pliers, landing net, and drinking water within easy reach. Use this gear list can help you get organized before you go on your first trip. 

Rod Holders

Having rod holders on board is important so that you can use your arms for paddling. Many kayak anglers like to use removable rod holders so that it's easily to take the rod holders off when it comes time to transport your kayak.

Navigation Lights

If you plan on fishing at night or during the low light periods around dawn and dusk, you should consider installing a white portable navigation light on your kayak. Be sure to read the U.S. Coast Guard rules that apply to vessels under oars, and carry a whistle or other sounding device to alert other boats of your location.

Tackle Boxes

When selecting the best type of tackle box to use in your kayak, be sure to find a waterproof model that will keep your baits, hooks, and tackle dry. Small, lightweight tackle boxes tend to work best. If you intend to fly fish from your kayak, then you can even use the pockets in your life vest to hold small boxes of flies or leader material.

Bait Bucket

Do you plan to fish with live bait from your kayak? While some kayaks do have tank wells with latches that you can use for storing an insulated bait bucket with an aerator, you can also use a basic floating bait bucket. Either type of bait bucket will work.


Be sure to have a small anchor that you can use if you want to fish a particular area or specific type of structure. An anchor will also help you keep your kayak in one place during windy conditions or when fishing near current.

GPS/Fish Finder

Small GPS/fish finder units with 4-inch or 5-inch screens work well for kayak fishing because they don’t take up much space. These small fish finder units are also easier to mount on a kayak, but don't forget that you'll need to attach it to a marine battery for power unless you use a portable fish finder. Portable models usually come with waterproof battery packs built right into the case. Get more kayak fishing tips in our next section. 

Kayak Fishing Safety Gear

When learning how to kayak fish, safety should always be the number one priority. This means that your kayak fishing gear list must also include any items you might need if unexpected conditions or emergency situations arise.

These items include:

  • Kayak PFD (required by the U.S. Coast Guard)
  • Paddling first-aid kit
  • Weatherproof radio
  • Signaling device (whistle or horn)
  • Tow lines.

Check other fishing kayak accessories in our next section. Always check your state's boating laws to make sure that you are following safe and responsible boating practices while fishing in a kayak