One of the most frequently asked questions I get every year is “What kind of craft should I get and How do I Rig it For Fishing?”
Sadly, there is no one perfect boat for river fishing, since what to get depends on the type of waters you fish and your physical abilities. However, lots of folks nowadays are getting sit-on-top kayaks and they can be pretty good fishing craft provided they are rigged properly. First and foremost, you need a good anchor system.
This is a good stern anchor that you can quickly raise and lower with just one hand, while setting comfortably in your seat. And since almost no ‘yaks come with a good stern anchor system, you need to install one yourself. This isn’t difficult, just a few parts and a drill will do the job.
To show you how I rigged my newest boat, a Jackson Odyssey I’ve included a series of photos showing the stern tube the anchor rope goes thru and also the small pulleys that guide the rope up to the jam cleat that is next to my seat. Different kayak models vary a little in their hull shape and configuration, but most can be rigged the way I show using either a lightweight metal tube or a small curved PVC pipe. And I can’t emphasize enough that with a good anchor system a kayak is a vastly better fishing rig than one without an anchor.
Without an anchor, current or wind (or both) almost immediately pushes you out of position or alignment the moment you put down the paddle. I see hundreds of guys drifting wily nily down rivers every year without an anchor and catching very few fish, all because they didn’t rig a good anchor system onto their boats.
A Paddle Clip, too
Another item I believe is important for a fishing yak is a paddle clip and a leash (see photo). It gets the paddle out of the way while fishing and keeps the paddle ready to instantly grab and paddle. And if you do drop the paddle overboard the leash will keep it within reach. An anchor and paddle clip are both relatively simple and inexpensive items, but will dramatically improve your boat. Don’t leave home without them.
There are a couple myths about anchoring kayaks that confuse people. One is the use of side anchoring using the “rail system.” This the where an anchor runs along the side of a kayak and is sometimes used in salt water to contend with tides that go one way and than later in the day reverse directions. This type of anchoring might be okay in mild tide flow, but side anchoring is absolutely not effective or safe in substantial river current. So ignore these systems if you’re a river angler.
The other myth promoted by a few fellas who only fish rivers with powerful currents is that it is always unsafe to ever anchor a kayak. This is utter nonsense. For years, I and many others have safely used stern anchors to anchor and re-anchor thousands of times in hundreds of different rivers. Anchoring in a strong rapids isn’t a good idea, but stopping in the average current in a river pool or run is perfectly safe and a very effective way to fish. And if by chance, your anchor ever does snag on the bottom so you can’t pull it free, you can simply untie the rope and free your craft from the anchor. So don’t be fooled by any nonsense that says your kayak must be constantly out of control while casting. Rig a good stern anchor system and “don’t leave home without it.”