I have a problem, a very serious problem. At first, it wasn’t a big deal. As more time passed, my fishing buddies, co-workers, and my family started to notice. Things got worse: every time I posted a picture of me fishing, I would hear the same things. “Can you fit anything else on your kayak?” Yes, yes I can.
My name is Ed P and I’m addicted to gear. That’s right, I said it. I have a gear problem. Well, some think it’s a problem. I think of it as more of a…fascination? That’s probably not a strong enough word. “Obsession” is a better choice. I’m not sure where or when it started, but I MUST have the right tool for the job, in every situation.
This is bad news for my bank account, but good news for you (and most outdoor retailers) because I have a ton of things to tell you about the products I own and use. I do a lot of research before I purchase anything, so by the time a new item makes it into my kayak, I know pretty much everything about it. I’ve read the reviews, I’ve polled my friends, and I am (usually) pretty sure that it is exactly what I need.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 5 must-have accessories for kayak fishing, all of which can be purchased for less than $30. Here we go!
I go through gloves as fast as some people go through mono, so its important to me that not only are my gloves comfortable and functional, but durable. I’ve tried many types and brands, from the Orvis Sun Gloves, to the Buff Pro-Series Fighting Work Gloves, to the fingerless Buff Pro-Series Angler Gloves. Each pair had its pros and cons: had to tie mono tippet, seams fell apart, grip came off palm, great sun protection, fast drying, etc. It wasn’t until I found the Orvis Fighting Sun Gloves that I finally found a balance of all of the characteristics I wanted and needed from my gloves.
These gloves are comfortable all day long, fast drying, UPF 50, have a padded palm for long paddles, and a velcro wrist tightening strap. The extended first two fingers are fantastic protection from fly lines (Duh, it’s Orvis) and the short 3rd and 4th fingers make holding small diameter lines easier when tying knots. The padded, synthetic leather palm protects you from hooks, glass, rocks, fins, spines, and all kinds of nasty stuff. The best part is, they are SO comfortable, I forget I’m wearing them. I think I have finally found the perfect all-around kayak fishing glove.
2. The Fish Grip
I won’t even forget the first Speckled Sea Trout I caught. This is not because it was a huge, amazing fish, although it was a beautiful creature. It is because after I caught it, when I held it up for the “Hero Shot” picture, I lip-gripped it like you would a bass. BAD IDEA. If you’ve never looked into the chompers of a sea trout, you’ve never seen the row of spine-like, razor sharp teeth that reside just inside their mouth. Enter one of the greatest fishing innovations in the last twenty or so years: The Fish Grip. This deceivingly simple piece of plastic has revolutionized the way I CPR fish. The fish grip is essentially a floating pair of plastic pliers that clamp down around the fish’s lip without injuring it. It has a curved leading edge and no jaws or teeth, and clamps down like a vise-grip. The design is simple, easy to use, and delivers little to no injury to the fish.
In the past, if I had a fish on (especially flounder) that had really swallowed the hook, it was almost impossible to get it out without serious damage to the fish. I had to try and hold the fish down, which removed the majority of its protective slime. Then, you have to hold the fishes mouth open to get your pliers in there, with can also damage the fish’s jaw or gills. Then, once you finally get the pliers on the hook, you end up using the fish’s weight to counteract the pressure you’re putting on the hook, since you still can’t hold the fish still. This is also very bad for the fish. With the fish grip, I don’t even have to take the fish out of the water. I measure and photo the fish while still on the line and in the water, grab it’s lower lip with the fish grip, pull out the hook, and release the fish. It’s seriously that easy. On top of it’s amazingly simple design, it’s also durable, it FLOATS, and if you get the white “Glow” version, it glows in the dark, making it ideal for night fishing. It also only costs $15, so when you compare that to other lip-gripping options, it’s value is unsurpassed.
3. First Aid Kit
First aid kits are like oxygen: you don’t realize how important it is until you need it and it’s not there. I’m lucky in that I’ve never sustained a serious injury while fishing. Of the times I’ve used my first aid kit, it has mostly been for scrapes, stings, cuts, and similar low-grade injuries. It is good to know, however, that if something serious did happen, I would be covered. Most of my fishing buddies laughed at the idea of toting around a first aid kit on my kayak, but I’ve used it on more than one of them, and surprise, surprise, most of them now carry one also.
There’s a million kinds of first aid kits, and if you really want to save money, you can make one yourself. I personally use the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit from Austin Canoe and Kayak. At the time of my writing this article, it was priced on sale at $22.99, which is an excellent value. Seriously, at the price, can you really afford NOT to protect yourself?
4. UV Buff Headgear
If you’ve ever walked into the office on Monday morning, and immediately received that “What did YOU do this weekend?” look from everyone you pass, you may need a Buff. The UV Buff headwear is quite possibly the simplest piece of clothing ever: a giant tube sock that’s open on both ends. The magic of this simple piece of UV resistant fabric is the versatility in ways that you can wear it. A quick look at this page from Buff’s website will show you the 16 different ways you can utilize this tool. I frequently use some combination of the sunguard / neck gaiter / face mask. The Buff has become a must-have piece of equipment in my arsenal, and I don’t ever hit the water without it. Its great for not only protecting your skin on hot days, but also for keeping you warm on cold or windy days. There are multiple types of Buffs as well, such as the Half Buff, Cyclone Buff, and Polar Buff which will cover you in any situation imaginable. The UV Buff retails at around $23, which is a total steal for such a useful piece of gear.
5. Artificial Lure Bag
Any angler who fishes with artificial soft plastic lures has run into the problem of storage. How does one store multiple different types of soft plastics in a manner that is neat, organized, and makes them easy to find? The solution came to me one day on a recent trip to BassPro: The Plano KVD Signature Series Worm Bag. This $10 bag is amazing. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s just a bag, how could it possibly be amazing?” Here’s how: it holds all your soft plastics in their original plastic bags, which means no having to transfer every time you buy a new bag, and when you open it, it pushes the bags up so you can easily look through them. The sides are jointed in the middle and fold down flat with velcro to hold them in place. It is amazing in its simplicity. I’ve already filled one of these, and I’m about to start on my second. It really is a god-send for gearheads like me who must have every single color of shrimp and shad pattern ever made, for the one day that the redfish are only biting on nuclear orange colored shrimp with a chartreuse sparkle tail and a hot pink belly with glitter sides and red eyes. Because, you know, that might happen. Maybe.