I get asked a lot "What do I need to get started kayak fishing" so I've written this post to help anyone that is interested in kayak fishing.
First of all kayak fishing can be expensive most people worry about the cost of the kayak. What you need to think about is the cost of everything else you need. You can expect to pay the same if not more than what the kayak costs on all the other gear.
I have seen a lot of people buy all the gear and jump straight into the sport without thinking about it, only to find out it's not for them and sell all their gear online for a fraction of the cost. So my advice is before you part ways with your hard earned cash do your research make sure you know what you getting into and whether it's for you. If you know someone that has a fishing kayak ask them if you can paddle around the harbour or just go for a quick paddle to see if you like it.
My second bit of advice is take your time, I've seen time and time again anglers buying the wrong kayak for them or for the type of fishing they want to do. They generally end up selling at a loss and starting again. I saved up for just over a year for my first kayak and did my research in the meantime.
There are many variations of kayaks at different prices and it can be hard to decide what is right for you. You can get sit in kayaks and sit on top kayaks which are better for kayak fishing. Things to think about are where are you planning on fishing, out at sea or rivers, lakes and estuary's. Also how are you going to get your kayak on and off the car? Not everyone can lift a 30kg kayak onto a car roof rack. If you fishing in rivers and estuary's smaller kayaks will be perfect but if you plan on fishing out at sea I would suggest a stable kayak that is at least 13 foot long. Mother Nature can change the environment you are in without warning and on flat calm days a smaller kayak might be fine but when the wind and swell picks up it can be a very scary. I've seen anglers buy the cheapest kayak they can find and end up going over out at sea and can't get back on because the kayak isn't very stable.
Kayaks can be made out of different materials such as plastic or fibre glass. If you planning on paddling long distances then fibre glass is great as its lighter but with most of our beaches covered in stones plastic is better because it can take a beating when launching and landing. Storage and features included is also something to think about. As time goes on and funds become available you will want to pimp out your kayak with accessories and gadgets. If your kayak already has purpose built features and storage it will allow you to add them later on. Obviously the kayak is your main purchase so take your time and buy what is right for you.
I've listed below a few things that you will need to think about when choosing a kayak.
Transporting your kayak
You need to think about how you are going to get your kayak to and from your launch locations. You can find a roof rack for pretty much most vehicles and you don't have to pay a fortune but they not cheap. I would suggest getting one that is designed for your car but if you not to bothered about your car getting damaged than most roof racks will be fine. I mentioned this before but make sure you can get the kayak on and off the roof because every time you go out fishing you will put your kayak on and off the roof twice! I have a purpose built roof rack that is designed to hold a kayak in place with rubber pads. This stops any damage when ratcheting the straps on and keeps the kayak straight preventing it from moving while driving on motorways or in high winds.
I'm sure when you thought about getting into kayak fishing the thought of where to store your kayak crossed your mind. If it didn't you might want to think about where you are going to keep your kayak and all your gear. I would not suggest keeping it in the house as it will be covered in salt water, sand and even stink of bait. A garage, shed or even in the garden is probably best. These kayaks are not cheap and hold their value which makes them a target for thieves so make sure you keep it safe. You can store your kayak in your garden if you have one, just make sure you cover it so the sun doesn't damage it and secure it to something.
Most launch locations are quite a distance from your car so you'll need a kayak trolley to get your kayak to the water especially when its low tide. It also allows you to explore more and opens up launch locations you wouldn't think about if you didn't have one. There is a range of different trolleys to choose from at different prices. I tend to find the trolleys the kayak sits on are better than the ones that have poles through the scupper holes because these ones can damage the kayak when pulling it across rough ground. Great piece of kit and it lets you launch without having to rely on others.
Paddle and Paddle Leash
You'll obviously need to get one of these to get around. I wouldn't go spending loads of money on fibre glass paddles unless you have the money or plan on paddling long distances. I bought a paddle for under £50 and it's lasted me four years and it's still going strong. You'll also need a paddle leash to keep your paddle attached to the kayak at all times. With strong tides if you drop your paddle it'll just float away and you'll have no way of getting back unless you keep a spare in the kayak.
You'll need an anchor setup to fish in static locations otherwise you'll just float away. With the strong tides around the UK it also gives you the opportunity to have a rest if you get tired. I use a 2.5kg folding anchor but only because of the strong tides around where I fish. You'll also need to setup an anchor trolley system on the side of your kayak so you can anchor to the front or back of your kayak. You can buy complete setups but you can also make one yourself. There is a few videos on YouTube that will help you out with this or you can watch my video on my kayak setup at the end of this blog.
Most importantly though is to practice setting up your anchor a few times before venturing out into strong tides because it can be stressful if you don't know what you are doing.
PFD - Personnal Flotation device
This is one of the most important bits of kit you will buy so make sure you get a decent PFD. With the waters around the UK being cold most of the year this piece of kit will save your life because when you fall in to the water the change in temperature can shock your body and sap any energy you might have. Climbing back on your kayak or swimming to stay afloat will become a lot harder. With a PFD on it will help keep your head above the water and allow you to breath. Not all PFD's have storage pockets but I suggest getting one that does because it allows you to store safety items on your person such as a VHF Radio which will save your life. Some anglers keep their radios on the kayak but if you fall in the water and get separated from your kayak you won't be able to call for help. PFD's with pockets are also very useful for storing other items you might need out on the water such as a light, mobile phone, safety knife and so on.
With the weather being what it is in the UK and only seeing the sun for two months of the year you'll need to get yourself a dry suit. It gets really cold out on the kayak despite what it feels like when you standing on shore. When you get wet and the wind hits you the temperature suddenly drops. Remember when you are out on the water the weather can change at any minute. You can also use a wetsuit but let's be honest a wetsuit is designed to keep you warm in the water not sat wet on a kayak with the wind. Dry suits also help you float and you can wear warm clothing underneath. Just remember when buying a drysuit to get one size bigger because if you plan on fishing in winter you'll be wearing a lot of clothing underneath. Dry Suits can cost almost the same as a kayak but it will save your life so I would honestly save up and invest in a decent dry suit. Just make sure you look after it and do regular checks for holes, rips and tears as well as keeping the zips integrity by washing and waxing it often.
I use the Typhoon PS330 because it has a easy access zip around the waist and a neck collar that protects my face out on the water.
This is also a very important safety item to carry on you out on the water.
You can take your mobile phone in a waterproof case attached to your PFD but there are a few main reasons why I think you need a VHF radio as well. First of all you might not have signal out on the water and second of all most mobile phones are touch screen and when your hands are wet you can't operate the phone. With a VHF radio you can not only call the Coast Guard but call other boat users around you for help. There are many different models with different features just make sure you get one that is waterproof and it's attached to you somehow if it doesn't float. I would suggest going on a VHF Course so you know how to use the radio because there is no point in having one if you don't know how to use it.
So those are what I call the basics for getting into kayak fishing other than your fishing gear of course. One thing I will say to save you money is leash everything to either you or the kayak, the saying goes leash it or lose it. No one is an expert and I'm constantly learning new things all the time so try meet up with other kayak anglers and find out if kayak fishing is for you and hopefully I'll meet you at one of the kayak fishing competitions or out on the water.