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Published Oct. 7, 2021

We’ve all been there. You buy a kayak, and you want to get it out on the water as soon as possible. But the best kayak accessories — paddle, dry storage, rod holders, vest — will turn that kayak into a customized craft that’ll help you get on fish and game quickly, and have you fishing and hunting in the most efficient way possible.

There are hundreds of choices for rod holders, paddles, life vests and dry storage, so we narrowed down the list to the best kayak accessories out there for anglers. 

How to Find the Best Kayak Accessories

Before you invest in kayak fishing accessories, take a good, long look at your kayak. Look at the features and check out the specs. You need to know what paddle size is best, what vest will work best for you and for the seat on the kayak, what storage you need, and if you need rod holders—or additional rod holders. 

Your kayak may have rod holders, but they may not be located in the best position for you. A gear track makes it easy to adjust angle and direction of a rod holder, and remove it between trips.

To pick the best paddle, look for the lightest, strongest and most ergonomic design. It takes a thousand paddle strokes to cover a couple of miles, and the extra weight and drag of a subpar paddle really adds up. The best kayak paddle may cost a little more, but on the water, every penny is worth it.

The same goes for the best kayak life vest. A comfortable fit and fishing-friendly features make it easy to wear a life vest all day. The best kayak life vest will only save your life if you wear it, so comfort and practicality is crucial.

When it comes to storage, the most important task is keeping gear safe and dry without taking up a lot of space. (That’s especially important if you’re going to use the kayak for hunting, too.)

Best Kayak Paddle: Bending Branches Angler Pro

Best Kayak Paddle

Key Features 

  • Weight: 28.5 ounces
  • Dimensions: 230-260 centimeters
  • Materials: Compression-molded fiberglass

Why It Made The Cut

The Bending Branches Angler Pro is tough, efficient, lightweight, and available in a variety of sizes to accommodate all heights. One of the best kayak paddles on the market, it’s a must when it comes to kayak fishing accessories.

Pros 

  • Adjustable blade angle
  • Large blades
  • Lightweight shaft

Cons

  • Not length adjustable

The latest generation of fishing kayaks are big, heavy, and sit high off the water. These paddle kayaks can be difficult to paddle with a traditional kayak paddle (and pedal kayaks, which aren’t lightweight, need a paddle as a backup and to get through shallow water), so Bending Branches developed the Angler Pro with larger blades and longer shafts. The oval shaft is very comfortable in the hands, and a cam in the ferrule allows the blades to be adjusted so you can quickly dial in the correct angle to cut into the wind and bite into the water. 

Best Kayak Life Jacket: NRS Chinook Fishing Life Vest

Best Kayak Life Jacket

Key Features 

  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Pockets: 5
  • Materials: PlushFit foam

Why It Made The Cut

The NRS Chinook life jacket was designed specifically for kayak anglers and features five pockets, four rings, and seven adjustment straps for the ultimate in storage and a perfect fit.

Pros

  • Easy adjustment
  • Lash tabs for safety gear
  • Large pockets designed for fishing tools

Cons

  • Bulkier than inflatable vests

With just the right balance of storage and comfort, the NRS Chinook has become a popular kayak fishing life jacket for pro anglers. NRS called on their pro staff to get input on the perfect life vest, and this is the result. Five pockets are sized and shaped to hold essential fishing tools and quick-grab tackle, including a pocket that’s perfect for holding pliers. Lash tabs are convenient for holding a safety knife, signal strobe, whistle and line snippers. A high back and plush fit foam conforms to your body to put the Chinook in a comfort class of its own. A life vest can only save your life if you wear it, and the Chinook is a kayak life jacket you will want to wear.

Best Kayak Accessory for Hunting: Alps OutdoorZ Waterproof Gun Case

Best Kayak Accessory for Hunting

Key Features 

  • Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 58 x 9 x 2 inches
  • Materials: 500D welded PVC

Why It Made The Cut

A roll-top closure on the Alps OutdoorZ Waterproof Gun Case seals out water while still allowing quick access. 

Pros

  • Heavy duty material
  • Convenient roll-top closure
  • Padded with floatation

Cons

  • PVC material isn’t rip-stop

Guns and water don’t mix…and there is no dry space on a kayak. That’s why the best kayak accessory for hunting is the waterproof gun case by Alps OutdoorZ. The case will keep your gun dry, and will float if you drop it overboard. Our favorite feature is the roll-top closure. To keep out water, simply roll the mouth of the case over three times and secure with a clip. It keeps your gun dry while taking up little space in the kayak.

Best Accessory for Inflatable Kayak: Scotty #341 Adhesive Mount

Best Accessory for Inflatable Kayak

Key Features 

  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Dimensions: 5 x 7 inches
  • Materials: PVC

Why It Made The Cut

The Scotty’s # 341 Glue-On mount provides a solid, low-profile base to install a rod holder, anchor line and other accessories on an inflatable kayak. 

Pros

  • Thin and flexible
  • Tough PVC
  • Scotty base

Cons

  • Glue not included

Inflatable kayaks and paddleboards are popular for their portability and storability, but it’s difficult to install accessories on the air-filled hull. To the rescue is Scotty’s #341 Glue-On Base, which can be attached to any PVC or Hypalon inflatable. The Scotty accessory has a four-bolt mounting base, which allows you to attach a rod holder, anchor trolley, and other accessories. Just glue on the base and use the stainless steel bolts to attach a Scotty 241L Locking Side Deck Mount or other four-bolt mount.

Best Sit-on-Top Kayak Accessory: YakAttack MightyMount XL

Best Sit-on-Top Kayak Accessory

Key Features 

  • Dimensions: 6 x 1.75 inches
  • Usable Track: 4.5 inches
  • Materials: Injection molded plastic

Why It Made The Cut

The sturdy, low-profile gear track with stainless steel hardware will stand up to harsh marine conditions.

Pros

  • Low profile
  • Sturdy base
  • Rugged construction

Cons

  • Plastic

The best kayak accessories for a sit-on-top kayak allow you to add, move, and remove rod holders, electronics and other kayak fishing accessories. YakAttack’s MightMount XL plastic gear track uses self-tapping screws so you can install it anywhere on the kayak deck. Compatible rod holders, fish finder mounts and other accessories can be installed by sliding a T-bolt into the gear track and tightening the base. Adjusting the base along the track only requires slightly loosening the T-bolt. Removing the accessory at the end of the fishing trip is quick and easy—just loosen and slide the base off the gear track. The high-impact, injection-molded plastic will stand up to sand and salt. 

Methodology 

We’ve tested out the top contenders for best kayak accessories and compared the finalists by design and construction looking for the best performance at the best price. 

To choose the best kayak accessories for fishing, we first filtered out the most essential add-ons: a paddle, life vest, dry storage and accessory mounts. Then, we compared dozens of examples across the biggest brands from each category. In the end, our choice is the best kayak fishing accessories by design, construction and price. Not only will you find these award winners in our list of the best kayak fishing accessories, you’ll find them on our personal kayaks.

FAQs

Q: What should you carry in a kayak?

The gear you should carry in a kayak centers on safety, propulsion, and practicality. Invest in a good, comfortable life vest so you always wear it, and get a paddle that’ll propel you efficiently. Next, consider how you will store tackle and gear. Get a gear crate with rod holders to hold tackle boxes and larger items. To store smaller items, use a roll-top dry bag or small dry box

Q: Where do you put your stuff in a kayak?

A kayak has limited space for tackle and gear, so you need to know exactly where you’ll put your stuff in a kayak before you launch. Most sit-on-top kayaks have a large space inside the hull accessible from hatches in the bow and cockpit. It’s relatively dry and protected, but it is not easy to access while on the water. Many anglers strap a gear crate into the tankwell to hold tackle boxes, fishing rods, and other gear. Inside the gear crate, dry bags and boxes hold smaller gear. Every ounce adds up to more weight the paddler has to move, so limit gear to necessary items to save space and weight. Also, pay close attention to weight distribution when loading gear. Put heavy items closer to the angler’s seat, and lighter stuff in the bow hatch or stern well. 

Q: What accessories can you buy for a kayak?

There are many accessories you can buy for a kayak, but limited space means you have to be choosy. Rod holders and gear crates are essential for anglers. Always invest in a good paddle, because a sub-par paddle will be inefficient and tire you out quickly. A dry bag will keep gear protected from the inevitable splashes and errant waves. 

Final Thoughts

Weight and efficiency rule all decisions when it comes to accessories, so make sure the gear you’re getting is lightweight and performs well. Never skimp on a paddle, and always get a vest that fits well, so you’ll always wear it. Kayaks get wet, so get gear that won’t be harmed by water, and storage bags that will protect gear that will.

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