Kayak angling is the fastest growing segment within the fishing industry. There are many benefits to the sport and it’s getting anglers off of the banks and onto the water at an astonishing rate but it comes at a price; it limits the amount of gear you can take with you. In most recent years, there is a myriad of products to help you maximize the available space on a kayak. The accessories are endless and I’ve seen some very simple rigs and some complex rigs that would make your head spin. I’ve opted for larger kayaks with more room but I also have one to get me into tighter spaces. In either scenario, versatility is key and I’ll show you what I mean.
I don’t skimp or cut corners on fishing tackle. That is the direct line (seriously) between you and the fish. I want peace of mind that I am ready to deploy any technique necessary for a day of fishing on any given body of water. But I don’t need to carry a ton of gear with me. Let’s talk about rods and reels.
This past year I switched rod manufacturers for four reasons; castability, sensitivity, transportation, and versatility. For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on versatility. Manley Rods make their rods with an adjustable butt section called “MRF Technology”. This allows the angler to adjust a tension nut to slide the butt section in or out depending on the technique an angler is using and it also shortens the rod making them ideal in a kayak fishing setting. In fact, they have two rod lineups in casting and spinning rods that are made specifically for kayak angling. That was what initially caught my attention and trust me, it’s an awesome thing balancing a rod out depending on the specific bait you’re using. It allows for a tailored approach to fishing. Being a bigger guy, I can handle a fully-extended 7’11” flipping stick on a kayak but my Dad who isn’t as large as I am, hates the fact that the non-adjustable butt section gets caught in his PFD. Problem solved!
Not only does this customize the way I fish, one rod can accommodate multiple techniques. For instance, I have one rod that I use for topwater “walk the dog” type baits and it also works for jerkbaits and weightless flukes. My “heavy” rod doubles as a flipping, pitching, and topwater frog rod. I do, however, have a couple different reels spooled up for the different applications with different sized line but throughout the season, I’ll swap reels out….I don’t carry spares on the kayak but this is a matter of preference rather than necessity for everyday anglers. I travel often to different types of fisheries to compete in tournaments where line size sometimes makes all of the difference when I’m trying to get a bait to 50-60 foot depths.
Last year I had about a dozen rods rigged up and half of them would stay home. Every now and then when the bite was slow, I’d want to switch things up and I had the tackle with me, but not the best rod or reel with me for that situation. Now, I do. With a quick swap of the bait and an adjustment of the butt, I can be a lot more productive on the water and it feels like that rod is made for what I’m throwing. That’s the best part….not only does the system work, but it works well. Because I use the same rod so often, I can detect a bite a lot faster because I’m more familiar and comfortable with it.
This is just one simple way of learning to cut corners but at the same time, becoming more efficient and prepared for whatever the fish want that day. And hey, the added bonus is less equipment to cart along and more change in your pocket with fewer rods to maintain. What works for me may not work for you but this is just one option that works very, very well. But the message behind all of this that I’d like to pass along is to find a system that works for you and don’t be afraid to constantly strive to improve upon that system. It will definitely lead to less frustration, a more enjoyable time on the water, and more fish in the boat.