Dear Santa: Don’t skimp on quality and durability of kayak gear gifts
Whether shopping for yourself or dropping hints for your favorite Kris Kringle, these 12 ideas are something that can benefit all kayak anglers. I highly recommend shopping by utility, quality and durability rather than price. Quality gear is not always the most expensive.
Likewise, cheap gear is not always the best choice. Kayak fishing exposes your gear to harsh conditions where it is always subject to getting wet — either by design, or accident. If you fish saltwater, conditions are even less forgiving. Ask Santa for some of these items to make your kayak angling experience safer, more comfortable and successful.
You wouldn’t buy a bargain parachute, so why scrimp on a PFD? Get a high quality, comfortable PFD that you will wear while fishing, foam vest, auto/manual inflatable, or a hybrid of both. Foam vests never fail, but can be hot and/or uncomfortable. Choose one specifically designed for kayak anglers. Inflatables are less bulky and therefore cooler and more comfortable. Quality inflatables are extremely reliable. Some companies offer hybrid foam vests that are less bulky and provide minimal floatation. In a true emergency, the vest can be manually inflated with the CO2 cartridge to add additional floatation.
Kayakers mostly fish single kayaks. There’s not always someone close by to document your catch and if it is catch and release, they’ll never believe you. Whether full length videos or just a couple of good grip and grin shots, these tiny cameras are what you need. Most are waterproof and have interchangeable batteries. Models with remotes, or better yet, voice control, make them easy to use in a kayak.
Cell phones don’t always have coverage in many fishing areas. Compact, hand-held VHF radios are great for convenience and safety. Waterproof as well as floating models are recommended. Those with an emergency light and GPS signal sending capability can be literal life savers. Maritime traffic uses VHF and Channel 16 is monitored by the Coast Guard. Several VHF weather channels keep you current on changing local conditions that can be critical for kayakers.
A good knife can be used for cutting bait, rope, and in various emergency conditions. Look for one with a protective sheath that can be clipped to your PFD. Knives made from corrosion resistant stainless steel, or better yet, titanium coated, are a good choice. A blunt tip with only the edges sharpened makes them safer to handle.
Most kayakers make several lure changes during the course of a fishing trip. Today’s super lines demand a sharp edge to cut and trim. Specialty nippers and scissors are made just for that purpose. Some come with built-in retractors to keep them out of the way and from falling in.
Dry Bags and Boxes
These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are great for keeping gear dry either on deck or stored in the hull. Make sure they are waterproof and not simply water resistant. Keys, wallets, phones and spare clothes all remain safe.
Most states and common sense call for use of a white light when kayaking at night. Some brands also combine these lights with a safety flag for better daytime visibility. The waterproof LED lights last for several trips. Be seen, be safe.
A quality pair of pliers is useful for every trip. From removing hooks to clipping lines, keep a pair handy. Select an aluminum or stainless pair with good cutters and a stout jaw. Spring actions that keep the jaws open are a plus. Add a leash or retractor to keep them from heading to the deep.
Fishing kayaks necessarily require lots of rigging and unrigging. Having both hands free makes this task much easier for those pre-dawn or nighttime hours. LED headights are compact and some models are USB rechargeable.
Waterproof tackle trays
Lures are expensive and a wet tackle box can ruin them in a hurry. Several companies offer trays of various sizes that have O-ring seals to keep the contents dry. Look for boxes that offer configurable compartments to better organize lures of various shapes and sizes. Clear/translucent tops let you find specific lures easier.
EVA Foam Deck
While not a necessity, these custom foam pads are popular with many kayak anglers. Precision cut kits are available to fit a variety of popular kayak brands and models. The foam deadens noises and makes the deck cooler in hot weather. From basic coverage to all-out custom patterns and colors, this deck foam makes your kayak stand out from the rest.
Kayak seat cushion
Modern kayak seats are comfortable, but can still cause aches and pains on long trips. A good butt cushion makes all the difference in the world. Whether paddling or pedaling, the padding adds comfort and in some cases, an inch or two of extra height. Also consider a companion lumbar support. The slight change in angle can alleviate back or leg pain, especially for pedal ‘yakers.
All of the items listed above are available from several different manufacturers. Prices and quality may vary widely. Read reviews, ask questions on social media and shop the items in person if at all possible. You may not use all items on any one particular trip, but each can come in handy and help make you a better, more comfortable and successful kayak angler.