Best Kayak Fishing Rod

Whether you’re a seasoned angler, a seasoned kayaker, both or neither, kayak fishing can be a great way to blend two fun activities.

But the gear can often be a little different to what you might be used to, especially if you normally fish from land or a larger boat.

Top Choices: Rods For Kayak Fishing

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So we thought we would put together some information to help you choose the best rod for kayak fishing and steer you in the right direction when it comes to what features you might need.

Why Fishing From A Kayak Is A Little Different

Size Matters

You will probably find that your favorite 10 foot surf fishing rod will be a little on the large side for using on a kayak. Kayak rods will often tend to be shorter other types of rods because shorter rods can be easier to use when you’re in the limited space of your vessel.

However, you might find that very short rods are just too short and they may not be long enough to prevent your line from getting caught on your boat, particularly if you’re in a longer yak.

Target Species

When you’re in a kayak, chances are you’re not going to be targeting enormous fish, unless you’re an experienced kayak fisher.

Your yak will have a maximum weight capacity and catching giant fish could result in your kayak flipping, which can be dangerous and cause you to lose all your gear, or you could be dragged off course if you’re not anchored.

Video: Huge Marlin Tows Kayak!

So you’re probably going to want lighter gear in general, whether you plan to fish in saltwater, freshwater or both.

Choosing A Kayak Rod: The Main Features To Consider

Weight

A lightweight fishing rod can be a good choice for using in a kayak, as this can make it easier to hold and cast, without adding any unnecessary weight to your boat.

Graphite rods will tend to be lighter than fiberglass ones, so this can be a good construction material to look out for when choosing a rod.

> Really REALLY light rods

Length

The length of your boat may determine what length of rod you might prefer. Remember that you should be able to extend the rod past the bow of your yak, otherwise you could risk getting your line caught on the boat if your catch decides to swim underneath the yak to the other side.

But you don’t want your rod to be too long or else you may not be able to maneuver it in the small space of your deck.

Saltwater Fishing

If you plan to paddle in the ocean or other saltwater areas, it can be a good idea to make sure your rod is designed for saltwater use. Corrosion resistance should be pretty high on your list of priorities, even if you plan to only fish in freshwater.

When you’re in a kayak, the chances of your rod ending up in the water are probably greater than if you’re fishing from a riverbank, so having corrosion resistant gear can be essential.

Saltwater can be more corrosive than freshwater but no matter where you fish, it is always ideal to rinse your rod and other fishing gear in clean water after you’ve used it, to prevent damage.

Power And Action

Medium power, fast action rods can be a good choice for kayak fishing because they can offer you the versatility that you’ll often require when fishing from a kayak. These rods can also be ideal for jig fishing or for using spinnerbaits with single hooks and can be useful for bass fishing.

Video: Rod Selection for Kayak Fishing

A fast action fishing rod can also be more sensitive, which can help you to notice bites and when you’re in a kayak, this can be pretty handy.

What About Reels?

After you’ve chosen the right type of rod you can then choose a reel. A spinning reel can be easier to use, especially if you don’t have any prior fishing experience.

When you’re choosing your reel, it should be compatible with your rod and should be designed for the same weights and purposes. A lightweight reel can be more convenient when you’re in a kayak, as it means less fatigue, which is always handy when you also have to paddle.

Making sure the reel is also corrosion resistant is important, as its moving parts can quickly become damaged if it’s not. Corrosion resistance should be an important factor regardless of whether or not you plan to fish in saltwater.

But if you want to fish in saltwater, corrosion resistant components on your reel will be even more essential.

Kayak Fishing 101 (Some Useful Advice)

Drop Your Anchor

An anchor can be a useful accessory for kayak fishing, especially on a windy day or if you’re in a moving river.

An anchor can hold you and your yak in the same spot while you fish, meaning you can keep both hands on your rod rather than try to battle the wind of current with your paddle in one hand and rod in the other.

> Other kayak mods/upgrades

Wear A PFD

A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) should be an essential part of your kayaking fishing trip. There are lots of styles on the market so you should be able to find one that is well fitting and comfortable enough so that it doesn’t hinder you fishing performance.

You should ideally wear your PFD at all times when you’re on the water, just in case you take a dive. This should be the case no matter what type of water you’re in.

Invest In Gadgets

A fish finder can be a grea​​​​t tool to have with you, as it can pinpoint the locations of the fish, giving you a better chance of casting your bait into the right areas.

A GPS device can also be useful to have on board, as it can let you map your trip and mark areas where you caught fish, so you can go back to those potential honey holes later or on your next trip.

A GPS can also help to prevent you from getting lost if you’re on a particularly long trip, such as an overnight or multi-day trip.

Use A Stable Kayak

Stability can be a key feature on a fishing yak because you can be more likely to need to move around while you’re on the water.

Wide, short yaks can be ideal for fishing compared to long, narrow ones, but make sure whatever yak you choose has enough space and capacity for you and all your gear.

> Fishing kayaks guide

Use A Net

A fishing net can help you land your catch more easily when you’re in a yak. It can also make it a little safer and there’s less chance of the fish escaping when you try to grab it.

Tie Down Your Gear

Once you’ve loaded all your fishing gear onto your vessel you might want to make sure it’s secure to prevent it from falling overboard while you’re in the middle of a lake.

Bungee cords can be ideal for this and many yaks will come with bungee storage areas, as well as storage hatches that can be great for keeping smaller items safe and dry. Making sure your other gear is in a waterproof bag can also help, especially for the gear that you plan to store on the deck.

Another thing that can be useful, if not essential, is a leash for your paddle so that it doesn’t float away while you’re fighting with a fish.

Prepare For The Weather

Check the weather forecast ahead of time so that you can prepare adequately for the conditions and make sure you have appropriate clothing. Sun protection can be a good idea and vital in the summer, even on a cloudy day.

Polarized sunglasses can be useful, as these can prevent glare on the water and help you to see under the water.

It can also be a good idea to bring along some spare clothes inside a dry bag, just in case. Also, make sure you have enough food and water for your trip, and maybe a little extra in case you get into difficulties.

Research Your Location

Before you head out it might be helpful to do a little bit of research to find out what species of fish are in the location where you plan to fish. Your local bait shops should be able to help you out and give you advice on the type of bait to use for the species you want to target.

When you’re on a kayak, you won’t have a lot of space to bring every option of fishing gear so it can be good to know what can work in your particular location so that you can pack your yak accordingly.

> More kayak fishing tips

7 Of The Best Kayak Fishing Rods

1) Daiwa Sealine Xtreme Interline 2 Part Fishing Rod

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    Length: 7 foot 10 inches
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    Weight: 15.85 ounces
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    Pieces: 2

The Daiwa Sealine Xtreme rod is designed to handle surf and sea fishing. It is a lightweight fishing rod, weighing just under 16 ounces, which means it shouldn’t add too much additional weight to your yak.

The rod comes in two pieces, making it easier to transport and easier to accommodate on your boat. The two piece rod also means you can benefit from the added length of almost an 8 foot rod without the hassle of having to transport a long rod.

The Sealine Xtreme Interline comes in two maximum casting weight sizes - 15 to 30 pounds and 20 to 50 pounds, with the lighter one probably being more suitable for kayak fishing.

2) Falcon Rods Coastal Spinning Rod

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    Length: 6 foot 6 inches
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    Weight: 4.8 ounces
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    Pieces: 1

The Falcon Coastal Spinning Rod is a 6 foot 6 inch medium action rod with 7 corrosion resistant stainless steel Fuji guides with a chrome finish and a 7 inch cork handle.

The rod features a graphite blank is designed to be used with 8 to 17 pound line and ¼ to half ounce lures. It also benefits from an exposed blank reel seat, which can increase the rod’s sensitivity and let you notice those lighter bites.

It’s a durable rod that is built for saltwater fishing and can be a good choice if you’re looking for a versatile rod that also be used in freshwater.

3) Abu Garcia Pro Max Combo

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    Length: 6 foot 6 inches
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    Weight: 14.4 ounces
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    Pieces: 1

This Abu Garcia Pro Max Combo is a 6 foot 6 inch rod that comes with a baitcasting reel, which can be ideal if you’re looking for something to get you started with kayak fishing.

However, since it’s a baitcasting reel and not a spinning reel, it might take a bit of getting used to if you’re not a seasoned angler, so it might be better suited to you if you already know how to fish with a baitcaster and are looking for a more compact rod and reel for kayaking.

The graphite rod is lightweight, with durable EVA handles, and offers good sensitivity. The reel has a gear ratio of 7.1:1 and features a Power Disk drag system, which is designed to improve the smoothness of the drag. To help with casting, the reel has a MagTrax braking system that can be easily adjusted for added control.

The reel also benefits from 7+1 stainless steel bearings and it could be a good choice if you’re after a freshwater rod and reel combo.

4) St Croix Mojo Inshore Spinning Rod

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    Length: 7 foot
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    Weight: 4.6 ounces
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    Pieces: 1

The St Croix Mojo is a spinning rod that has been designed for inshore fishing, meaning it is saltwater ready and built to be corrosion resistant.

The rod comes in one piece and is made from strong, lightweight graphite, with durable aluminum oxide guides and a Kigan hook keeper, allowing you to keep your hook safe while you’re paddling or traveling to and from your yak.

The medium power rod is 7 foot long, with fast action and a comfortable, lightweight cork handle. It is designed to be used with 8 to 17 pound line and ⅜ to ¾ ounce lures.

5) Okuma Nomad Inshore Graphite Travel Rod

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    Length: 7 foot
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    Weight: 7 ounces
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    Pieces: 3

This Okuma Nomad can be an ideal choice for kayak fishing because of its portability. It comes in 3 pieces for easy transportation but is designed to have the feel of a one piece rod when connected together.

The rod also benefits from two tip sections so that you have the option of using medium light power or medium power. This can be useful if you fish in different areas and for different species, as it almost be like having two rods with you when you only need to bring along one. It also comes with a waterproof travel bag to keep it in.

This lightweight rod is made from durable graphite with a carbon coating and could be used in both freshwater and saltwater.

6) Shimano Trevala Spinning S Series Rod

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    Length: 6 foot 3 inches
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    Weight: 4.2 ounces
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    Pieces: 1

This Shimano Trevala S Series is a one piece 6 foot 3 inch spinning rod with light power and medium fast action. It is made from C4S graphite, which adds sensitivity and strength to the rod while keeping it extremely lightweight with a small diameter.

The Trevala S rod is just 6 foot 3 inches long, which makes it more portable than some longer rods and could be easier to store on your vessel. It is designed to be used with 30 to 40 pound line.

It benefits from a durable Fuji reel seat with 8 Fuji Alconite guides to minimize resistance and an EVA foam handle. The rod has been designed with jig fishing in mind but it can be a versatile rod that can be a good option for kayak fishing.

7) Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

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    Length: 7 foot
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    Pieces: 1

This Ugly Stik Elite is a 7 foot medium light power spinning rod with medium fast action. It is made from Ugly Tech Construction which features a graphite blend to boost sensitivity and durability and maintain a lightweight feel.

Designed to be used with 4 to 10 pound line and ⅛ to half ounce lures, this rod can be a good choice for a range of techniques in freshwater when targeting smaller species. This can also make it a good choice for kayak fishing, as you are probably less likely to be targeting monster fish from a yak.

It features 8 stainless steel guides and a cork handle. It also has an exposed blank reel seat for better sensitivity.


FAQs

How Do You Secure The Rods In The Rod Holder?
You can use bungee cords or a leash to secure your rods while they’re in the rod holders. This can help to prevent them from being lost overboard if they do fall out their holders. You can even make your own.

What Can I Use To Fish Off A Kayak If I Don’t Have A Rod?
If you’re creative you’ll probably find there are a few ways to fish without a rod, including simply attaching a baited hook to some fishing line. There is also spearfishing from a kayak, although this usually requires diving into the water.

What Is More Important, A Rod Or A Reel?
The rod will generally be more important than the reel when it comes to kayak fishing and the reel should be secondary when it comes to choosing your rod and reel.

The best rod will likely determine whether or not your fishing trip is successful. A sub-par rod will likely be uncomfortable and difficult to cast in small spaces.

In Conclusion

You will probably find there are a few things you might want to consider when finding the best kayak fishing rod.

The length and weight of your rod can be important, as can the length of your yak. Consider the type of fish you want to catch and where you want to fish, as this can help you narrow down your options.

What are your favorite rods for kayak fishing? Tell us why in the comments. If you want to inspire your angling buddies to get out there and try their luck at kayak fishing, share this guide with them so they can choose the best rod for the job. 

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