Gear for the efficient river kayak angler

Your PFD, Paddle, and kayak are base line essentials for a day on the river. Of course, your PFD should be worn at all times. That goes without saying. I just received some 2013 safety data from the American Canoe Association and last year 75% of all canoe and kayak fatalities involved individuals who where not wearing their PFD’s. Remember your PFD cannot save your life if you are sitting on it or have it stowed someplace in your kayak. Ware it zipped and buckled the entire time your on the water… I do.

Since this part of my “River Kayak Angling 101″ series, I wanted to take a look at some fishing related equipment that will make you a more effective and efficient river kayak angler. It is basically a list of fishing related equipment that I wouldn’t hit the river without. I’m all about efficiency and getting the most out of my time on the water. This list of gear helps me accomplish those goals.


I NEVER hit the rive without my river stick. A “river stick” is basically a short stake out pole of approximately 3 feet. It is used through the scupper hole in shallow slow moving water to hold position in rocky river environments. Just slide the pole into the scupper till it makes contact with the bottom. It will find a crack between the rock and pin your boat in place.

You can make them yourself by cutting down an old rake handle and sharpening it or you can go with the solution I use, a “Little Stick” made by YakAttack. I like this manufactured solution best because it floats, wont warp like wood, and the point stays sharp… Oh yeah.. did I mention it floats too?

Rubberized Telescoping or Collapsible Net

In the past year I started using nets more and I’ve decided that it is much easier to manage the fish in the kayak when using a landing net. I’ve honestly never lost a trophy fish landing by hand but I have had a few “hairy” moments over the years! I have two requirements for kayak fishing nets when it comes to fishing Rivers. First, the net must be compact so that it takes up minimal space in transit. Second, it must have some type of protective coating on the net so that it will not destroy the slime coat of the fish. I’ve found two nets that meet my standards and perform well in the highly dynamic environment of the river angler. The Leverage Landing Net Kayak version and the Promar telescoping net are the best that I’ve found.

Lip Grippers

I don’t use lip grippers to land fish. I use them to keep picture worthy smallmouth bass submerged and healthy while I’m getting the camera out and setting up the shot. I connect a simple carabiner to the wrist strap on the grips then connect that to the side carry handle of my Wilderness Systems Ride 115. The fish stays in the water and is right there when I’m ready to grip and grin. This technique reduces the time a smallmouth bass needs to be out of the water for a photo down to seconds instead of minutes.

Needle Nose Pliers & Scissors

Clearing treble hooks out of a fishes mouth and cutting braided line are all essential functions when on the river. I know from experience that a visit to the hospital emergency room to have hooks removed is no fun and cuts WAY down on your fishing time! Also, your dentist will not be happy if you’re using your million dollar smile to cut line! I like to keep my pliers handy in the pocket of my Kokatat Bahia Tour PFD. My scissors are at the ready stored attached to the outside of my crate.

Drag Rope

River fishing is never a drag but you may need to drag your kayak when portaging or you may want to tether your kayak to you while wading. I have a home made solution that does both. Clip on the handle and you can drag your kayak flat across dry river bottom or the forest floor when portaging. Take the handle off utilizing the carabiner to clip the kayak to your life vest or belt loop when wading.


No self respecting kayak angler would be without a totally awesome crate to carry all their fishing gear. Some kayak anglers take great pride in designing their own. If you want an excellent “out of the box” crate solution check out the YakAttack “Black Pack“. No matter which solution you opt for, always make sure to add on some additional rod storage. The more rods you have the less re-tying you’ll do and the more efficient you’ll be on the water.

Now you know a little about how I increase my efficiency on the water.  What gear do you use to help you stay organized and efficient on the water?