Stow it, float it, leash it or lose it!
Don’t let water ruin your ’yak trip
Kayak fishing is a lot of fun, but it’s also a guarantee that everything you have with you will get wet — unless you take precautions.
There are several simple, inexpensive tips and products that will help save your valuable gear from being ruined or lost.
The first thing all kayakers must accept is that whatever you bring along is likely to get wet. Be it rain, wave splash or just the normal consequences of being in close contact to the water, your stuff won’t stay dry. That’s not a problem for your rods or other items designed to get wet, but it can ruin your day if it’s your wallet, cell phone or camera that gets waterlogged.
The first rule to protect items is to stow them. If you’re using a sit-in style of kayak, you know that some water is going to get inside the cockpit. However, even the best sealed sit-on-top ’yaks will likely get some water inside the hull after a day’s fishing. Any gear that needs to stay dry should be packed in either a quality dry bag or inside a waterproof box.
Since you will likely be using these for important items such as your wallet, key remote, cell phone or even a small camera, don’t scrimp and buy inferior quality products. Several manufacturers offer high quality boxes in different sizes that provide dry, crush-proof storage for your valuables.
A box with a clear lid makes it easier to find your items if you need to access the box while on the water.
iPhones are not only great for communication, but GPS, maps and other apps make the phone an invaluable kayak-fishing accessory. However, a wet phone is as useful as a rock.
LifeProof offers a waterproof and shock-proof case that is so good; you can even use your phone for underwater photos and video. A new "LifeJacket" accessory will also float your phone if dropped in the water.
Dry bags are also good alternatives to store bulkier items like a rain suit, jacket, extra clothes or even your lunch. These are generally made of a waterproof vinyl-like material and seal using either a press-and-close zipper or a roll-down closure with a buckle. The goal is to end the day without a heap of soggy items.
Keeping gear dry is one challenge; keeping it onboard is something else! No matter how careful you are, you’re going to drop something overboard. If it doesn’t float or have a leash attached to it, you’ll likely be saying "adios!" There’s no sicker feeling than seeing your expensive rod and reel combo or BogaGrip plunging to the depths.
Some manufactures are making specially designed kayak rods that will float if dropped overboard. However, adding a simple foam rod float will help keep you from losing it.
Rod leashes are also a good way to retrieve your gear if it’s accidentally sent overboard. Leashes are generally made of coiled, plastic-covered shock cord or Bungee cord, and have clips at each end. These are great to secure the rods to your yak while paddling from one spot to another, but are somewhat annoying to keep attached while fishing.
A combination of a leash and rod float is the best way to ensure your rods will not end up in a watery grave.
Leashes are also used to secure items like your paddle, hook-out or anything else that you’re fond of.
Small plastic or Styrofoam floats should be attached to anything you carry, such as a fish grip, pliers, measuring stick, etc. Just because it can get wet doesn’t mean it will float. Use brightly colored floats and attach them with a small clip so they can be transferred to other gear as the need arises. Test various-sized floats, and use the smallest one possible that still provides enough flotation to keep your gear from sinking.
Like the kayak rods mentioned above, several manufactures are incorporating flotation into their products. Pliers, gaffs, knives, landing nets and a host of other floating gear are available to kayak anglers. However, just because it floats doesn’t mean you can’t lose it. As mentioned above, the best security is a combination of flotation and a leash or lanyard attaching the item to your ’yak.
Waterproof and flotation are not only for the hardware-type items listed above. Many electronics manufacturers are also adding these features to their products. No one wants to be afraid to use an expensive camera or radio in the kayak because they fear it will get wet or dropped overboard. VHF radios and digital cameras are available that are completely waterproof and also float. You can now bring these items along in the ’yak with no hesitation.
Lures are made to get wet. However, a tackle box full of water, especially salt water, will lead to a rusty pile of worthless tackle. Waterproof tackle boxes such as the Plano StowAway offer inexpensive protection for your favorite lures. With O-ring seals and see-through lids, your tackle will remain dry and organized until it’s time to tie it on your line. The boxes are lightweight and come in a variety of sizes to meet all of your tackle storage needs.
Sunglasses are often lost while ’yak fishing. It’s almost inevitable that they will fall in the water and flutter to the bottom while you helplessly watch. Quality polarized sunglasses are available in floating models, or you can add a floating retainer that will keep you from losing them.
One of the cheapest items you can use to add do-it-yourself flotation to some of your gear is the utilitarian "pool-noodle." These inexpensive, brightly colored foam floats are available anywhere beach or pool supplies are sold. They can be cut to any length, and most have a hole in the middle that’s perfect for tying on a string or lanyard. They are very buoyant and can be used to float just about anything. For example, a small piece slipped over the handle of your landing net will keep it from sinking.
If you are a kayak fisherman, it’s inevitable that your gear will get wet or fall overboard. ’Yak fishing is a fun experience; don’t ruin it by failing to properly protect your valuable gear. Stow it, float it, leash it or lose it!
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Grand Isle, LA
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Spanish Fort, AL
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