Packing for Kayak Fishing Adventure Travel E-mail
Written by Allen Sansano   
Sunday, 28 April 2013 00:00

Packing So you're now booked to go on a kayak-fishing trip of a lifetime. As the initial euphoria wears off, the stress of packing sets in. We’d like to share with you some tips and tricks for packing, gathered over the course of multiple kayak fishing adventures.

First and foremost, this is the trip of a lifetime that's likely costing you $1000's of dollars. Trying to save a few bucks by packing less is not often money well saved. You'll see this theme come up time and time again as we discuss what and how to pack. I've been asked many times by clients and friends, "Do I bring my own rods?. My answer is always, "If you can fit it, bring it!". The reasoning here is that you are already going to be in a new-to-you place, fishing from new-to-you kayaks, fishing for new-to-you species, so anything that adds a bit a bit of familiarity helps to take the edge off and put you in a more comfortable zone. If you're going with a buddy, consider sharing luggage. Multiple rods will fit in a rod tube. Or multiple paddles will fit in a paddle bag. Or multiple reels will fit in a reel case. You get the picture.

If your luggage is pushing the 50-pound weight restrictions, consider using luggage without rollers. Duffle bags shine here. They will save a few pounds. Sure, it's a little more inconvenient when moving bags around at the airport, but that's just a small fraction of your overall vacation time. You'll see travelling anglers frequently have two check-in bags, in addition to a rod tube and a piece of carry on luggage.

Also, when packing, consider that you may be packing more weight on the return trip. Gear that hasn't had time to dry out completely can add pounds to your luggage. Bringing a 50+ pound scale with you helps to ensure that you meet the weight restrictions on your return trip, and also lets you weigh that fish of a lifetime.

Carry your lead and your electronics in a carry on bag. It will be heavier, but it will help you meet the 50 pounds weight restriction on individual check-in pieces of luggage. There are no issues with carrying lead through the airport scanners. Obviously, hooks and filet knives are a no-no in carry on luggage.

Rods and Reels

This is a fishing trip. Your rods and reels are your direct connection to the experience. In order to maximize your experience, it is definitely recommended to bring at least your own reels, and also your own rods if you possibly can.

Reel tip. Pack your reels in your check-in luggage. There are many stories of travelling anglers trying to carry reels loaded with line through the scanners and being told they are not allowed to do so because of the line. It is best to avoid this hassle and just pack your reels in checked luggage. Lock your reels together inside the check-in bag. Do this with a trace of nylon coated wire material, crimped on both ends and locked together with a mini-lock. This will alleviate any fears you may have of your reels "walking off", especially through third-world airports.

When packing rods, you have a few options- from bringing two to four-piece travel rods that are easier to transport, or bringing full size rods in a tube of sorts.

Rod tip #1. Multi-piece travel rods have weak points and a prone to breaking. I've tried multiple brands and models and just have not had good success, having broken or having had clients break, many types. On one memorable trip, we had what we can only assume was a large tuna break the rod right at a ferrule, after a three hour battle. Heartbreak! This was on a travel rod that had a state of the art ferrule system that offered a "true one-piece rod feel".

Rod tip #2. Take extra care when packing your rods. Tips are especially fragile as are guides, especially the large guides on spinning rods. Take the extra time to protect these parts, using bubble wrap or other packing material. Lay rods butt to tip and strap them together. The butts add extra protection for the opposing tips. When using telescoping bazooka type rod carriers, tape off the adjustment holes that aren't in use. On the very first kayak fishing travel expedition I did, an over-eager TSA agent inspected the rods then proceeded to jam the bazooka closed, pinning it one hole shorter than the longest rod in the tube. Yes, that rod tip broke. By taping off the unused holes, there is no option for those holes to get used. The TSA agent is forced to re-assemble the tube exactly as intended for the rods it is carrying.

Rod tip #3. Some airlines (not all) consider rod tubes as part of a multi-piece baggage that is charged at a single piece rate. For instance, Alaska Airlines defines fishing tackle as "One piece of fishing equipment is defined as two rods, two reels, and one tackle box. Fishing equipment may exceed 62 linear inches, but no more than 115 linear inches, without incurring an oversize fee."  Yes, you can pack 2 pieces of luggage consisting of a rod tube and a tackle box and only get charged for one piece. Check with your airlines beforehand, and be prepared to explain this when checking your luggage as most of the time, the check-in agent is unaware of these specific regulations. Even with a valid explanation, things don't always go your way. On our recent Panama trip, we debated with the cheching agent for 35 minutes before finally having to give up less we missed our flight. We opened a case with the airlines after the trip and are hopeful for a refund.

PFD and Paddle

Ask your outfitter what sorts of PFD's they provide. If they are not the same as the one you use, consider bringing your own. It fits you. Not all PFD’s will. Again, you want to be comfortable on the water with familiar gear at hand. I keep a safety knife, my pliers, and a VHF radio in my PFD. My muscle memory knows exactly where to reach for them on my PFD when needed. This isn't the case with other PFD's.

Ask your outfitter what sorts of paddles they provide. If they provide 40-ounce aluminum paddles and you are used to paddling a feather light 28-ounce graphite paddle, you may want to consider bringing your own. You will be paddling a lot, and paddle fatigue can only detract from your experience. Keep in mind that bringing your own paddle will likely result in being charged for another piece of luggage. However, if it's a two-piece paddle, it's likely not oversized. If you use a four-piece paddle, all the better, as it will likely fit in your duffel bag. A paddle is lower on our list of things to bring. It doesn't often make the cut, and in the times it has, it was a four-piece paddle.

Tackle and other Equipment

Ask your outfitter what gear they recommend and/or provide and pack according. Your outfitter knows the best tackle to maximize your chances of success. Even with recommended tackle, it may take you a couple of days to get into the groove of a new place and start catching fish on a regular basis. Experimenting at this time will most likely prolong this period. That's not to say you shouldn't bring your own favorite tackle, especially if you are somewhat familiar with the target species in the prevailing conditions. Either way, focus on the techniques that the guide recommends, and save your experimentation for later in the trip, after you've accomplished some measure of success.

Other equipment to consider bringing are your own pliers, fish grippers, and gaff. Again, being familiar with your own equipment makes you more comfortable on the water. Speaking of comfort, think about extra seat padding, such as a Skwoosh kayak seat pad or similar product. You will be in the saddle all day every day, for days on end, likely much longer than you are used to. Extra seat padding can make the difference at the end of the day when you are trying to squeeze out another hour or two on the water. We are constantly learning what to bring on expedition trips. On our recent trip, it because very apparent that some sort of diaper rash creme is a necessity. After sitting in board shorts in a wet seat for days on end, my backside was a little worse for the wear.

And last but not least, bring your camera and video equipment. When you're all done, send a great report and pics to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and share your experience with the rest of us.

 

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