My kayaks are pretty simply rigged: a fish finder, a milk crate and not much else unless I need it for a specific trip. I rig my kayaks to fit my fishing style which is mostly cast and retrieve along with a little trolling and bait fishing. My most used kayak, a Hobie Revolution 13, is rigged only with a fish finder, a milk crate, and a Trax 2 scupper cart; the only additional rod holders are on the milk crate behind me.
With clean rails, there is nothing to get in my way when fighting or landing fish; the added bonus of the lack of rigging allows me to cast and retrieve in any direction with no obstructions. My primary targeted species is striped bass with most fish big enough to tow me around for a while. They usually don’t give me a choice on which side of the kayak I will land them on. Having clear rails on both sides of the boat makes it easier to slide a 30 or 40 pound fish on to my lap.
I use a unique mount for my fish finder to make it a fast and easy to setup. The transducer is set in the Lowrance Ready System, and the battery is stored under the front hatch. I mount the fish finder on a plastic cutting board and then on a Ram ball in front of my pedals. This setup allows me to fold the fish finder mount against the hull so it does not have to be taken off during transport and takes only seconds to set up. The only drawback is it does require a long reach, but I don’t adjust it very often. Having the finder just past the pedals makes it easier for me to read my screen without glasses since I am farsighted. For those of us who need vision correction, the proper placement of a fish finder can save us from having to wear bifocals while we fish.
The milk crate gets strapped into the rear cargo area. It carries my extra tackle and has 3 rod holders on it to carry my backup rods. I mount the rod holders on the side of the crate and, since I’m right handed, I put the rods behind my left shoulder. This setup keeps me from hitting the rods when casting and allows me to quickly change rods when needed.
Crates are a handy way to store your gear because they can be moved from the house, to the car, to the kayak so easily. Most of my tackle is organized in Plano tackle boxes in the crate, but I mostly use large plastics in the 10” to 13” range that are stored in Ziploc bags. Their open design allows gear to dry out after using it without having to pull anything out. A stack of Plano boxes, each filled with tackle for different species, lets me switch out boxes based on where I’m fishing and minimizes set up time.
For the last few seasons, I have not had any rod holders mounted on the rails in the front of the kayak. That might change for me this coming year with the addition of a modular system like the YakAttack GearTrac. This will allow me to add and remove the rod holders to fit the fishing situation without permanently mounting a rod holder in a particular position. Rod holders are very helpful when still fishing, especially if you are fishing with two lines. Even though I hold my rod when trolling, many who troll prefer to use rod holders.
Having a quality kayak cart saves time and gets a kayak to more fishing spots. I use the Hobie Trax 2 scupper cart because it works well on sandy and cobblestone beaches. Because a kayak can roll over rough terrain, it can launch in more spots and get to the action faster. The Trax 2 cart requires considerably less effort than smaller wheel carts on sandy beaches and makes getting back to the car after a long night of fishing much easier. If you have launches where there is a long walk across sand or if you have a Pro Angler, consider the Trax 2-30 cart as the larger tires move the kayak more easily. Here’s an extra tip: the cart can be strapped down behind a crate/livewell using the rear deck bungee cord eliminating an extra trip back to the car whether launching or landing.
I don’t fish live bait very often, but when I do, I use the Hobie Livewell. The livewell is simple to rig and I just bungee it down in the rear cargo area once the pickup tube and exit tube are installed. The livewell can be handy in both fresh and saltwater when baitfish ranging from shiners to mackerel need to be kept alive through an entire day of fishing.
If you are new to kayak fishing, my recommendation is to try your kayak before you rig it up. Take it out on a few trips to your favorite spots and see what is needed. See how your body fits in the cockpit and where a fish finder or couple rod holders could go. Just be sure that rod holders and fish finders have the necessary clearance around the pedals before they are installed. It is always a little scary drilling holes in a new kayak, but coming up with a layout based on experience on the water will give you confidence for even the most permanent installations.