Kayak Fishing on a Budget E-mail
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 09:05

As we are all aware of we are in some tough economic times and even though kayak fishing is a pretty inexpensive sport relative to owning a boat or hiring fishing guides, it still can still be a considerable investment.  With a smart game plan there are ways to minimize the outlay on gear and get you on the water. Let’s discuss some of the do-it-yourself projects and reasonably priced gear that can get you kayak fishing without taking out a second mortgage.

 The first leap into the sport usually starts with getting a kayak and the range is anywhere from $600 to $2000. You can expect to save as much as 50 percent if you buy used (Buying a Used Fishing Kayak) and if you buy during the off-season you might be able to up those savings somewhat. Another bonus to buying used is the kayak might already be rigged for fishing. Of course you don’t want to just get any kayak – so stick with the time tested brands for fishing. Should you decide you would rather buy new then you will pay more but deals are still available if you play your cards right, especially in the off season when shops want to turn old inventory and get ready for the coming season. If you’re budget minded you might be more limited to certain kayak types and or sizes, generally, smaller kayaks cost less (less material) and you might be also limited to a paddle kayak, as most of the pedal kayaks tend to be more expensive. Don’t be afraid to call around and see how low a shop will go and always ask if they have any demo’s or blemished kayaks.  Either of these can less expensive.  Demos are just used and often only a few times.  The first time you use a kayak it becomes used.  Blems usually just have cosmetic imperfections.

 Ok, so you pulled the trigger on the kayak and now its time to get the accessories you will need, but proceed with caution as the numbers can add up quickly – sometimes equaling or exceeding the cost of the kayak. If you are willing to spend the time you can find lots of used gear online by checking the Buy and Sell forums of the more popular kayak fishing sites. If buying new you will be faced with many choices and a wide variety of options, it can be hard to know which accessories are worth the extra money and which are not. Look for sales so you can save some money.

 Most kayak companies now sell kayaks with integrated seats but still many don’t and you may have to buy and an aftermarket seat. These can run anywhere from $50 to $200 and since you are going to be sitting a lot while kayak fishing it is an important consideration to get one that gives you a reasonable amount of comfort. One cost cutting option is to buy a cheaper seat and then get one of the many butt cushions out there and use it on the bottom of the seat.  This area usually needs the most padding. These come in a few different types like inflation or foam but both will give you some extra and much appreciated comfort.  Keep in mind that you will want to provide some extra cushion here but not raise yourself up so much that it decreases your stability.

  • Top Seat Pick: The Seairsports Outback Seat $59.95

       Outback Seat

  • Top Cushion: SKWOOSH™ X-Treme Kayak Seat Cushion $29.95 SKWOOSH™ X-Treme Kayak Seat Cushion


Next you need to choose a paddle – if you have chosen a pedal kayak, most come with a paddle, if not, just get the least expensive one you can as you will not be using it much.

If you have a paddle powered kayak then you might have to put more thought into this accessory. Again, there is quite a price range for paddles.  They range anywhere from $40 to $500. I can tell you from experience that after having a super cheapo paddle break in half 2 miles on trips, that you don’t want to go with anything that is not made well enough to handle the stresses of a day on the water. Some inexpensive paddles are heavier but are still well made and tough. It is really the materials that you are paying for when it comes to a paddle and it is mostly diminishing returns as the difference between a $200 and $400 might be only be 4 ounces.  Certainly a lighter paddle is nice but if you’re looking to save money this can be a great place.

  • Top Entry Paddle Pick: Carlisle Day Tripper Paddle $47.50

       day tripper paddle

  • Top Intermidate Paddle Pick Bending Branches Slice Angler Paddle $139.99

        Bending Branches Slice Angler Paddle


One item where you don’t want to be as cost focused is a PFD (Personal Floatation Device). The bottom line here is you can buy a super cheap PFD - but if you NEVER wear it on the water it isn’t going to do you much good. You can still find good value in a PFD that will be comfortable and in the case in the new fishing PFD models – give you some added pockets and storage for stuff you need to have at your fingertips while kayak fishing. Make sure you try the PFD on and you like the cut, for the most part all PFD’s will all have about the same amount of floatation– just distributed in different areas of the vest. So put on the vest on and sit in the kayak and see if you like the feel of it.

  • Top PFD Picks: MTI Fisher Pro PFD $54.95,  Extrasport Osprey $85.99
       MTI Fisher PFD                                     Extrasport Osprey


Now the fun part, you have got some of the boring accessories out of the way and now it is time to get your kayak rigged for fishing.  What makes a kayak a fishing kayak is a rod holder of some sort. The cheapest way to go are flush mount, this does require you to cut a hole in the kayak. Most companies offer their kayaks in angler versions, which usually include as couple of flush mount rod holders.  After that the package varies from an anchor, tackle box or some other accessories but for those looking to save some dollars this is a great place to start.  A package which usually costs around $100 is only about $30 bucks in merchandise and if you are handy enough to cut out a couple holes in your kayak you can save some money by buying the non-angler version and outfitting it yourself. For those with a proclivity against do it yourself projects like this, an alternative and one that has been used by kayak anglers forever is the milk crate with rod holders attached.  This is very easy to do and provides, not only a place to mount your rods but also gives you easy storage in your tank well area.  Most people have a crate or two laying around and if you don’t they’re less than $10 at a store.


At this point you are pretty much ready to fish but there are some accessories you are going to need.  A paddle leash is a mush have item for obvious reasons.  They come in many varieties and can cost anywhere from $10 to $30, but can easily be made.  An internet search “Making a Paddle Leash”, will yield many options. These leashes can also double as a rod leash.


One item I know I couldn’t live without is my kayak cart.  I find it a real back saver and I use mine even if I am transporting my kayak 10 feet to the kayak launch. There are many styles but most of them work the same way. You can pay anywhere from $60 to $200 for a cart – with the cost usually being most dependent on the wheel type. There are many diagrams found online for building your own and can probably be tackled for about $50. I have gone this route and it can be fine if you’re really not planning on putting much distance on the wheels over easy terrain.  However if you are planning on any long portage trips or going on bumpy or soft surfaces you will want invest the money in a readymade cart


  • Top Kayak Cart Pick: Paddleboy Mightmite Cart $79.95, Pacific Outdoors Kayak and Canoe Cart 59.95

         Paddleboy Mightmite Cart                             tuff tire kayak cart              


With the kayak and accessories out of the way it is now time to consider how you will transport your kayak with your vehicle to your favorite fishing hole. There are so many options here and a lot depends on your vehicle’s make and model and with so many different configurations to carry your kayak it can be overwhelming - not to mention expensive.  Thule and Yakima make carriers for every car and application but in some cases these can be overkill for the job. If your vehicle has a factory roof rack (most SUV’s have them or can be purchased from dealer) you will save a lot of money.   Just add a set of straps and you’re set.  You can pad the bars with pool noodles or foam piping insulation wrapped with heavy duty duct tape.  Next up are rack pads (originally used for surfboards) of foam blocks made specifically for kayaks. For an upgrade you might want to try a cradle carrier that attaches to the rack (factory or aftermarket). If you are transporting on a car without a roof rack your only option will be the foam block method with straps.

Tip: a bathroom mat with a rubber back can be a great way to protect your vehicle and help you slide your kayak into position for fastening.

  • Top Foam Block Carrier Pick: Malone Foam Block Carrier Kit. $29.95


I have touched on some of the essential items to get you on the water but there is an endless stream of accessories that you might consider later. Depending on your location, technical clothing will have to be a purchase that will be very important and demands some research. Electronics like GPS and fish-finders are also fast becoming essential items for the kayak angler. Kayak fishing is a relatively inexpensive sport with almost all of the investment being the initial expenditure and by being a smart consumer you can limit that amount. After that, it is all just a matter of getting to the water and catching fish.



+1 #1 Guest 2010-02-06 19:17
Good Info!
-1 #2 Guest 2010-02-17 18:38
I thought your comments and suggestions were very thorough and objective.Your info is just what the novice kayaker/fisherm an needs to get started. The one item you haven't mentioned which is a must for fishing is an anchor trolley.
+1 #3 Guest 2010-06-05 19:42
For this KA'ing novice, this is great info. Thanks.
+1 #4 jgpaddler 2010-07-18 08:59
Excellent information for novice yakers.
+1 #5 debailey 2011-02-04 19:01
Thanks I'm newbee in yak fishing. That's exactly what i needeed to know
+2 #6 Guest 2011-02-06 09:39
Thanks for all the great info for us newbies.Really helpful
+3 #7 Outback Angler 2011-02-22 05:00
After reviewing this thread, I am much relieved about what initial purchases I have already planned to make. I am a novice angler. Everything mentioned here is something that I have already researched and decided on the most cost effective for me. Great info.
+2 #8 noze2 2011-02-27 06:12
great article..im a do it yourselfer & found that most the items youll need(if youve fished a long time)you already have.articles like this & others provide a wealth of info.i been fishing 46 yrs-kayak fishing 2yrs.you can still teach this old dog new tricks
+3 #9 wajdi 2011-04-08 16:02
wife and i went out in the gulf a while back. on the way, we stopped at a sandwich shop and watched some guy pump over $600 worth of gas into his boat. later on, out in the gulf, we watched the same guy troll by us while we were fishing. $4.95 for sandwiches, and $10 for gas to get to the gulf and back vs. $600+ for gas and god knows how much for his boat: I'd call that fishing on a budget.
+1 #10 Guest 2011-08-01 10:03
I like the article. I also like my rods pointed toward the tip of my kayak laying down held in rod holders. I have a flotation noodle that has been cut to about a foot and a half with grooves cut in it to help guide and stabilize the rods. I don't like them pointing straight up due to fishing lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks. Too many overhangs to snag them. I also use a clamp with a short 3 foot rope I can clamp onto tree limbs, docks, or other structure , as well as an anchor for stabilizing. Hope this helps.
0 #11 Ronald LaFountain 2012-03-20 15:27
Am 65 had a base ball size toumorin my head,have a lot of memory loss & comprehension problems,do not know how too do face book & all that other stuff on computers.Do you have a real magazine i can subscribe to? theoldplantguy@yahoo.com Ssgt.Ronald LaFountain 1578 Old M-37 Mesick,MI.49668

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