A Complete Guide
1. The Basics of Rigging a Fishing Kayak: Rod holders, Anchors and Paddle Holders
2. Transportation: Wheels For Your Fishing Kayak
3. Rigging Your Fishing Kayak With A Milk Crate
4. Outriggers For Your Fishing Kayak
6. Motor – Electric Trolling and Outboard Gas Engine
7. Fish Finder
Rigging Your Fishing Kayak: The Basics
Contrarily to you might have heard, there is no such thing as perfect rigging for a fishing kayak, and the reason for it is that kayak anglers differ by their personal needs, fishing style, fish species they go after, etc.
Having said that, there’s still plenty of opportunities for you to make mistakes, and this is why we recommend to go about these things slowly and carefully, without rushing into particular solutions unless you know there’s a good chance that they’d work well for you.
Practically, this means it can be impossible for you to tell in advance exactly what type of rod holders would benefit you the most, and whether you need this type of anchor or another. Same is true for positioning the rod holders, what kind of paddle holders you need, and more.
As a rule, if you fish in saltwater you’d better try to keep your fishing rods dry, which means that either you’ll store them inside the hull for when you pass through the surf, or use tall deck mounted rod holders in the stern. Some deck mounted rod holders have a long leg, which adds distance between your fishing rod and the corrosive sea water.
Tube rod holders are easier to use, because you just stick your fishing rod in, and take it out instantly when you need to. However, rod holders equipped with a latch would better secure your fishing rod in its place.
Obviously, if you’re fly fishing you may not need a rod holder at all, but you do want one, it should be of a type that fits fly rods.
As far as positioning the rod holders on your kayak’s deck, our only advice is to take your kayak out and fish from it a number of times before you decide on a new fishing rod. You’d need to make sure that neither fishing rod nor line interfere with your paddling under any circumstance, including when you use your kayak for trolling.
You can’t use screws to attach a rod holder, or any other object to your kayak’s deck. The reason for it is that the plastic isn’t thick enough to secure a screw in its place. The alternatives are either using bolts with nuts, or rivets. Bolts have more initial grip than rivets, but they lose it with time, since your kayak is made from polyethylene, which is a relatively soft plastic resin.
As for paddle holders, the problem becomes much more complicated: Some kayak anglers insist on using paddle holders that are silent, and that means using paddle holders made from foam. Other kayak anglers must make sure they don’t lose their paddle, because they fish in deep water, and far from shore. This means they must use paddle clips of some kind, or a bungee and hook to secure the paddle in its place.
Some kayak anglers like to drop their paddle in front of them while they rush to grab a rod that shows that a fish is pulling on its line, or if they want to make a fast cast because they spotted a fish. Others kayak anglers want to drop their paddle on their kayak’s side, in order to allow them more freedom of movement while they cast a line, reel a fish in, and land it.
Again, after fishing a few times you’ll know more about the type of paddle holders, or clips that would work better for you.
Anchors differ by their weight and form: Some have more grip than others, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better, because an anchor with too much grip might get entangled in rocks or roots, and if you don’t manage to release it you’ll have to cut its line and part from it.
As a rule, kayak anchors should weigh between 1.5 lbs and 5 lbs. The heavier anchors are for moving water, such as streams or the ocean, and the lighter anchors are for ponds, small lakes and slow moving rivers.
Here too, you can add more functionality at a price of adding complexity: Anchor pulleys (vertical) and anchor trolleys (horizontal) may serve you well if they fit some specific need, but they could just make things harder for you if you don’t need them.
Deck rigging: Eyelets, lashing hooks, handles etc. Never drill below your kayak’s waterline, and avoid as much as possible drilling close to it. Using aluminum rivets for attachment is easy and effective, but you can use bolts and nuts as well, if you make sure they are well secured.
Wheels For Your Fishing Kayak
In most cases, you won’t need wheels for your W kayak, as you’ll just drag it from your vehicle to your launching spot, and back.
But if you must carry it over long stretches of asphalt or concrete pavement, you may want to consider shielding its hulls from excessive abrasion by attaching the lid of a plastic bin to the part of its hulls that come in contact with the pavement. It’s an inexpensive, easy, and lightweight solution, and the lid can fold easily, so you can store it in one of the hull tips when you’re fishing and paddling.
The drawback of dragging a kayak is that it’s not as easy as transporting it on wheels.
Kayak anglers have different fishing styles, and they fish in different environments. This fact, as well as logistic issues, affects the way they rig their fishing kayak with wheels (or a single wheel), a kayak trolley, cart or a simple mat.
What you need from your fishing kayak wheels:
Solid Built: You definitely don’t want your wheel cart to fall apart while you’re on your way from your car to the water, or back. Although it’s possible to drag W fishing kayaks, it’s not recommended to do it on asphalt or concrete pavement.
Portability: We put this benefit first, because kayak anglers are often enthusiastic about making a perfect kayak trolley, and they tend to overlook the fact that once they reach the water, they’ll have to take it with them on board their kayak. Kayak wheels should be lightweight and preferably small in size, so you could easily tuck them in one of the storage compartments in the hull tips, or on top of them.
Ease of Use – Attachment: Attaching the wheels to your fishing kayak, as well as detaching them should be quick and easy. You definitely don’t want to waste time and energy on complicated systems for attaching the trolley to your kayak.
All-Terrain: Wheels that are too small or too narrow could sink in sand, or in mud. Remember this when you purchase the wheels for your fishing kayak trolley,
Maneuverability: Sometimes you may require to pass with your fishing kayak in tight spaces. For example, in the space between two cars in a parking lot. In such cases, being able to control your fishing kayak on wheels is important.
Rigging Your W Fishing Kayak With a Milk Crate – Is It Necessary?
It seems most kayak anglers have gotten used to rigging their fishing kayaks with a milk crate attached behind the cockpit. If you happen you own a SOT fishing kayak, rigging it with a milk crate would make sense, since SOT kayaks are basically hyped paddle boards that offer too little storage space and no real cockpit. Sit-in fishing kayaks offer a little more in this aspect, but not enough to drop the idea of adding a milk crate. However, if you own a W fishing kayak, you may want to reconsider the pros and cons of adding a milk crate – The only obvious pro that we can think of is that rigging your yak is fun, and attaching a milk crate to the top of a W kayak is an easy project that delivers immediate visual results… And here are the arguments against rigging your W fishing kayak with a milk crate:
Why store anything behind you, on top of the W kayak hulls, when there’s so much space available inside the W kayak cockpit and in its hull tips – within arm’s reach? It’s like attaching your luggage to your car’s rear bumper instead of just putting it in the trunk, or in the passengers compartment. The W500 offers 14 cubic ft or internal storage space, which is more than any kayak ever would, and probably more than you could ever use … -so why not use it?
SOT and sit-in kayaks have a very low deck – close to the water. Kayak fishermen who fish in salt water prefer to keep their reels as high as possible, away from the salt water, and they attach tube rod holders to their yak’s milk crate. This adds almost a foot of distance, and saves them some problems. However, the W kayak hull tips are normally higher, and you can protect your fishing rods by storing them inside the cockpit when launching, so there isn’t that much of a necessity for you to use a milk crate. Besides, you can rig the W kayak stern with deck mounted rod holders that pivot to any direction you want, and will position your fishing rods higher above water surface.
When launching, a milk crate would block your natural way into the cockpit from the back side of the boat. This means you might have to get in from the side, and possibly step in water. Keeping your feet dry is one of those little pleasures you can afford with a W kayak, so why give it up if you don’t have to?
A milk crate catches wind, which can become a problem if there’s lots of it blowing around and you happen to be tired, and have a long way to paddle – A milk crate on top of a kayak demands more efforts from the paddler. Windage is essentially a tracking problem, and since W kayaks track better than SOT and sit-in kayaks they are less prone to windage issues, but nevertheless – it’s something to keep in mind.
The milk crate adds weight to your fishing kayak. It’s not really important for paddling, but it could be for carrying it. It’s not that much, unless you’re tired and have to carry the kayak a long distance. The same is true when you have to car top your kayak.
Outriggers For Your Fishing Kayak
Your fishing kayak’s stability is key to your success and fun in kayak fishing, and the outriggers may help in achieving better stability, but at a price.
By effective we mean how much stability can a pair of outriggers add to your fishing kayak’s initial lateral stability, and what are the drawbacks for using outriggers or that purpose, if any.
First, you need to understand what makes your fishing kayak stable (or unstable), and here is the skinny:
The kayak’s total amount of buoyancy, or roughly its volume is what defines its overall load capacity, or in other words, what weight it can carry without sinking.
All kayaks are symmetrical, which means that every kayak has a longitudinal axis, or center line – It’s the line that divides it in two identical parts: left and right. Each part is buoyant, obviously, and its characteristics are what defines that kayak’s lateral stability. These characteristics are:
1. Buoyancy (roughly the volume of each half), and
2. The distance of that kayak-half’s center of buoyancy from the kayak’s center line.
For this purpose it’s enough to say that the half-kayak’s center of buoyancy is the point at the center of that half-kayak’s mass. If this definition isn’t clear enough, let’s just say that the center of buoyancy is the point that best represents what that half kayak can do in terms of keeping that side of the kayak from sinking in the water.
To make a long story short, a kayak’s stability can be simply defined by a number that’s the result of multiplying each half’s buoyancy times the distance of its center of buoyancy from the kayak’s center line.
That number would give us a relative answer as to a kayak’s initial stability: The more buoyancy on each side, and the further apart the kayak sides’ centers of buoyancy are – the stabler it is. It’s something that’s easy to understand intuitively, and reading this article about kayak stability will explain to you what makes the W fishing kayak stabler than the widest fishing kayak out there.
Going back to outriggers, what each outrigger does is two things:
1. Increase the buoyancy of each of that kayak’s halves, and
2. Displace the half-kayak’s center of buoyancy further away from the kayak’s center line.
This is why outriggers can increase your fishing kayak’s stability, and the bigger they are, and the more remote from your kayak’s center line – the stabler you’ll be.
And here are the drawbacks of using outriggers in fishing kayaks:
Lack of efficiency – In order to properly stabilize your fishing kayak, outriggers would have to be attached to its middle section. This is impossible because doing that would prevent you from both paddling and fishing. This is why outriggers are mounted in the back of fishing kayaks, where they cause less disturbance to paddling and fishing, but at a price of offering no extra stability towards the kayak’s bow, and considerably less stability in the area where you sit, paddle and fish (or stand up, if you’re an over optimistic person…)
Extra cost – A good pair of outriggers doesn’t come cheap
Extra weight – With its attachment bars a pair or outriggers can weigh a lot, and that comes on top of your fishing kayak, fishing gear and tackle you need to get tom and from the beach.
Extra complexity – In many case you’d have to attach the outriggers before launching, and detach them after beaching. It can take precious time.
Reduced speed – Outriggers generate quite a bit of resistance, especially since their hull speed is much smaller than the main hull’s speed (I.E. they are much shorter than the kayak itself). In addition, outriggers create a windage problem, which can be a nasty experience for you when the wind picks up, and for some reason it tends to do it almost every time you go out fishing…
Rudder For Your Fishing Kayak – You Don’t Need One
Rudders are almost a necessity in modern SOT and sit-in fishing kayaks, simply because most of these kayaks have become so wide that they lost the ability to track, which is essential for any water craft.
The increase in width is the kayak manufacturers’ response the the demand for more stability, and it comes at a price of lesser speed and poor control, I.E. lack of tracking capability that’s often coupled with lackluster performance when it comes to maneuverability.
Interestingly, no W-kayak paddler or fisherman has ever felt the need for a rudder. This fact is amazing, considering the W-kayak is shorter than most kayaks out there, and considering the fact that people are using it for multitude of applications in a wide range of aquatic environments, including long trips in the ocean, big lakes and wide rivers, where good tracking capabilities are an absolute necessity.
So what’s the problem with rudders?
First of all, they cost extra money, and good rudders cost a lot.
Second, and more importantly, they slow down your kayak, and are often cumbersome and difficult to handle. After all, there are other things you’d like to do when you’re in your kayak, such as paddling or fishing, rather than steering with a rudder.
Third, and that’s really too bad for paddlers and fishermen who go in shallow water – Rudders have a nasty tendency to get stuck in the bottom, or bump into rocks or branches down there, or get entangled in sea weed, so they limit your range of paddling and fishing.
And fourth, like any mechanical device, rudder systems can break, and their cables can get torn. This problem can turn out to be anywhere between unpleasant and dangerous, especially if you’re far from shore and the weather is getting nasty, the wind is picking up, its getting dark, the tide is getting strong etc.
In sum, rudders seem to be yet another necessary evil that’s imposed on the sit-in and SOT kayak fisherman, and W kayakers and kayak fishermen should be thankful they don’t need to purchase and use such devices.
Rigging Your Fishing Kayak With A Motor
Electric trolling motor: The W fishing kayak is easy to rig with an electric trolling motor. Wavewalk’s website offers several examples of projects realized by kayak anglers, including hands free steering, front steering – and even an outboard gas engine.
The W500 hulls are deep and wide, and offer plenty of room for one or more batteries.
Generally, you don’t necessarily need to add outriggers to a W500 fishing kayak if you rig it with an electric trolling motor, because it is assumed that such motor won’t propel you at high speed.
Outboard gas engine: The W fishing kayak lends itself to motorizing, and Wavewalk offers two types of starndard motor mounts, one for 20″ (long) propeller shafts, and one for 15″ (short) propeller shafts. Outfitting a W500 or W502 with a motor of more than 2 horsepower is neither necessary nor safe. The W kayak is fast enough with smaller motors, and it moves well even with two passengers on board, providing the total load does not exceed the 360 lbs recommended. Using a tiller extension helps steering both from an ergonomic standpoint, as well as a hydrodynamic one, as it allows the driver to steer while sitting or standing in the middle section of the cockpit, instead of in its rear end, which helps leveling the boat at high speed.
Read more about motorizing your fishing kayak >>
Rigging your W kayak with an electronic fish finder, depth finder, GPS etc. is easy, as you can see from the pictures and project reports contributed by kayak anglers from around the country and abroad. It is advised you go on several fishing trips in your new W kayak before you decide where and how to rig it with an electronic fish finder. The reason is that the W kayak offers many choices, and what may seem to be ideal beforehand, could turn out to be a sub optimal solution in hindsight.