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DIY Kayak Fishing Milk Crate 

Mark Armstrong
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In the world of kayak fishing, the importance of efficient storage and organization cannot be overstated. 

A DIY kayak crate offers an innovative solution for paddlers seeking a personalized and cost-effective way to transport gear and essentials. 

In this article, we’ll explore the art of customizing milk crates for kayak fishing, unlocking a world of convenience for your aquatic angling adventures.

What Is A Kayak Crate For? 

A kayak crate is essentially a large tackle box. These come in a variety of designs but they all have the same purpose: to store kayak fishing gear.

There are many kayak crates on the market, with some having multiple features and additional storage options, such as gear tracks and dry storage. 

One of the key features of most kayak fishing crates is the inclusion of fishing rod holders. This means you can store additional rods behind your seat.

Kayak crates can be an essential piece of kayak fishing equipment. They can provide much-needed storage space for tackle, which can be vital if your kayak has no other storage options. Plus, they can increase existing storage by allowing you to organize gear vertically.

While most people use kayak crates for kayak fishing, they also have other uses. They can be ideal for gear storage on a kayak camping trip and can be easily taken out of the kayak to carry supplies to your camp.

> Best kayak fishing crate

Why Use A Milk Crate For Kayak Fishing?

A milk crate can be the perfect accessory to increase the storage space on your kayak. It also lets you organize your fishing gear so that it’s easier to find things when you need them.

A milk container can function in a similar way to a dedicated fishing crate but with a lower initial price tag. Plus, it can allow for multiple customization options to personalize the crate to suit your kayak fishing style. 

Milk crates generally come in two shapes: square and rectangular. This means if you have a larger rear cargo deck, you might be able to opt for the larger rectangular one to add even more storage space. 

Because of the design of a milk crate, with the open construction on the sides, you can clip various accessories to it. 

I like the idea of adding a camera mount but you can add other mounts. Or you can add additional storage solutions for other accessories, such as line-cutting tools or tackle box storage.

Advantages Of Using A Kayak Crate

Budget-Friendly Storage

One of the main advantages of using a milk crate as a fishing kayak crate is that it’s affordable. Milk crates are very cheap to buy compared to purpose-built kayak crates. This means you can save money.

A dedicated kayak crate that’s made for kayak fishing will cost significantly more than a DIY one.

Most of the time, the specialist crates are not unlike a milk crate. They’re generally a similar size and are often made out of similar materials. 

Easily Organize Your Gear

A kayak crate can let you organize your fishing gear more effectively by providing dedicated space for your tackle. 

The open storage means you can easily see and access the equipment without having to root around in a dark hatch.

Milk crates are spacious enough to hold tackle trays and small items. I find they’re also good for holding a kayak trolley. Plus, you can install several rod holders to the crate, increasing your fishing rod storage.

Fits On Most Fishing Kayaks

A great thing about a milk crate is its size. As well as being spacious enough for gear, they’re also compact enough to fit on most fishing kayaks. With kayaks being relatively compact themselves, compact storage can be all the more important. 

By design, milk crates are well-suited to being attached to fishing kayaks. The rear cargo decks or tank wells on most fishing kayaks are flat and wide enough to accommodate a milk crate.

Some kayaks will have flat areas or secondary cargo decks at the bow, giving you an additional spot to attach the milk crate.

You can also secure them to the deck of inflatable kayaks. Inflatable kayaks, especially those made for fishing, will usually have D-rings or pad eyes that can allow you to attach bungee cords to secure the crate to the deck. 

Disadvantages Of Using A Kayak Crate

Not Watertight

One of the downsides of a milk crate is that it’s not watertight. This means your gear will get wet if you fish in the rain or if there’s spray hitting the deck.

This can make storage hatches preferable over a milk crate. I recommend storing some of your gear inside a dry bag to provide waterproof protection if you don’t have a hatch.

As well as not being watertight, some of the contents could potentially fall out in rough conditions or if you capsize. 

Won’t Work With All Kayaks

Another disadvantage of milk crates is that they don’t work with all types of kayaks. Because of the hard plastic construction of most milk crates and the square shape, you need to have a suitable flat space on your deck for the crate to fit.

Most sit-inside kayaks won’t have a suitable flat area to accommodate a kayak crate. The decks on most sit-in kayaks tend to have a convex shape. I don’t recommend you try to fix a crate to a sit-inside kayak.

Whitewater kayaks, touring kayaks, and most sit-in recreational kayaks will generally not have flat tank wells or cargo decks.

Requires DIY Skills

Many kayaking or fishing accessories can often be cheaper if you make them yourself. However, if you’re not a fan of DIY, making your own fishing crate from a milk crate might not be the best idea.

To transform the ordinary milk crate into a fishing crate, you will need to attach rod holders to the sidewalls. 

Some rod holders can be easier to install than others. There are also different designs you can choose for your milk crate to create a custom fishing crate but I find these are trickier to assemble, for example, adding a lid or a cover.

Video: Add A Top Cover To Your Milk Crate

How Can I Customize The Crate For My Fishing Gear?

As well as adding the most obvious kayak fishing accessory, fishing rod holders, you can also add a lid to keep your fishing gear contained within the crate.

A solid lid or a milk crate with bolstered side walls may be able to accommodate gear tracks. 

If you have a flat surface on your crate that’s stable and secure, you can install gear tracks. This can give you additional mounting space for accessories.

You can also create custom mounts for lights or a safety flag using PVC pipes, similar to a PVC fishing rod holder.

There are various other creative ways that you can adapt the milk crate to your specifications. One such way involves using a drill and zip ties to attach a chopping board to the side so that you have easy access to a filet station when you get back to the dock with your catch. 

Video: Custom Hinged Lid On Kayak Crate

How To Attach Rod Holders To A Milk Crate

There are basically two options when it comes to fixing rod holders to a milk crate. You can either attach them to the outside of the milk crate or to the inside.

Attaching Rod Holders Outside Kayak Crate

Attaching rod holders to the outside of the kayak crate means you’ll have more space on the inside for extra gear. However, you’ll need to make sure you have enough room to accommodate the extra length or width of the rod holders. 

Measure the dimensions of your cargo deck to make sure the crate will still fit with the external rod holders attached.

You should make sure the bottom of the rod holder is enclosed so that your fishing rods don’t stick out the bottom.

Attaching Rod Holders Inside Kayak Crate

Attaching rod holders to the inside means your crate will take up the same amount of space on your deck as it would if it were empty. Another advantage of interior rod holders is that the rods will be secured underneath by the bottom of the crate. 

There are also two types of rod holders: you can make your own vertical rod holders using PVC pipes or you can buy pre-made rod holders. PVC rod holders can be an affordable option if you’re looking to keep costs as low as possible. 

Prefabricated rod holders usually have pre-drilled holes and attachment points to make it simple to attach to most kayak crates, usually with zip ties. These can be easy to install either inside or outside the crate and they usually feature closed bottoms, meaning the fishing rods don’t come through the ends of the tubes. 

Adding PVC Pipe Rod Holders To A Kayak Crate

Step 1: Make Your Rod Holders

Cut your PVC pipe to a suitable size to fit both your milk crate and your fishing rod. This can be around 20 inches but can be longer or shorter depending on your preference. 

Longer rods may require a longer rod holder to keep the rod secure. But you can also use rod leashes or a bungee cord to prevent losing a rod overboard.

Cut a small section out of the top of the PVC pipe to accommodate the reel. This is usually around a half-inch wide slot but, again, will depend on the width of the base of your reel. Make the cut around six inches along the length of the pipe.

It’s a good idea to sand or file the PVC pipe after you make the cuts. This gets rid of any rough edges that could be dangerous. 

Step 2: Attach The Rod Holders

Find a suitable spot to attach the PVC rod holder. Mark out a spot to drill holes in the crate. These holes should be drilled on the crate on either side of the PVC pipe. 

The holes are for zip ties to fit through. You don’t need to drill into the PVC pipe, as the zip ties will be secured around the pipe, not through it.  

The top two holes should be around an inch below the bottom of the reel slot. The bottom two holes should be around two or three inches from the bottom of the milk crate. 

If you’re attaching the rod holders to the exterior of the crate, remember to keep the bottom of the PVC pipe perfectly flush with the bottom of the crate before you attach them (and before you drill the holes). 

Thread a zip tie through the hole in the crate, around the PVC pipe, and back through the second hole in the crate, securing the zip tie so that the PVC pipe is secured against the side of the crate. 

Thread zip ties through each hole and around each of the PVC segments, so that all the rod holders are fully secured to the side of the crate. 

How To Secure A Kayak Crate To Your Kayak

Kayak crates can be easily secured to the deck of your kayak by simply using bungee cords. Many rear tank wells come with bungee rigging included and already attached. This can be ideal for securing the crate to the deck.

> Best deck rigging kits

You can also use additional bungee cords through the lower sections of the crate. It can be easier to thread a horizontal bungee through the corner, which can also help to stabilize the crate on the deck.

Carabiner clips attached to bungee cords can be an alternative solution if you want to be able to easily unclip and remove the crate when it’s time to go home. 

Some kayak anglers use nylon straps instead of, or as well as, bungees. These can be threaded through the holes on the sides of the crate and secured to D-rings on the same side of the deck. This can let you essentially lock the crate in place while you’re fishing.

What Else Do I Need To Fish From My Kayak?

One of the most important accessories for anyone kayak fishing is a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). This is an essential piece of kayaking equipment and is a legal requirement in most places. 

As well as your fishing tackle, it can also be a good idea to use a fish finder for kayak fishing

These devices give you information on the underwater landscape, including water temperatures, depths, and structure, so you can choose the correct type of lure. 

Fish finders can also pinpoint the fish so you can cast in the correct area for more successful fishing. 

You may also want to add a trolling motor to your kayak. This can give your kayak more power to cut through wind and currents and can help you troll for fish.

> Best trolling rods

Remember, you might need to register your kayak after you add a trolling motor because it essentially becomes a motorized vehicle once it has a motor.

However, not all kayaks will be compatible with trolling motors, and installing one may require drilling into the hull of your boat if you don’t already have a dedicated motor mount.

Find out more about the fishing gear you need for a successful kayak fishing trip. 

DIY Kayak Crate FAQs

How Much Weight Can A Milk Crate Hold?

Most milk crates can hold around 50 pounds of contents. This means you can safely carry a loaded fishing crate with 50 pounds of supplies without the bottom falling out. 

A milk crate can also withstand up to 2,500 pounds of external pressure when placed on the ground. 

Where Can You Get A Milk Crate?

You can usually find milk crates for sale at Walmart or your local hardware store for an affordable price. Sometimes you can find them at thrift stores for next to nothing.

Is It Safe To Stand On A Milk Crate?

No, it’s not a great idea to stand on a milk crate. While a milk crate may be able to support your weight, it’s not designed to be stood on, despite recent viral trends. 

Standing on it could lead to serious injuries when it collapses or topples over.

Can You Use More Than One Milk Crate On A Fishing Kayak?

Some fishing kayaks will have two tank wells so, in theory, you could secure a milk crate to each cargo deck to increase your fishing storage space. 

Some larger fishing crates with oversized rear tank wells may have enough space to fit two milk crates side by side. Alternatively, you could use a larger, rectangular milk crate.

Can Any Milk Crate Be Used As A Kayak Fishing Crate?

Yes, you can essentially use any type of milk crate as a fishing crate. As long as it fits within the available space on your kayak then it should work.

Can You Store Fish In A Kayak Crate?

No, the open nature of milk crates and kayak crates means they’re not suitable for storing fish after it’s been caught. A cooler bag or box can be better for storing fish on a kayak, as this can keep your catch fresh until you return to shore. 

Check out some of the best kayak coolers to keep ice and fish fresh.  

Wrapping Up Your Kayak Crate Project

Now that you’ve read all about making your kayak crates, hopefully you’ve been inspired to make your own.

If you use your imagination, I know you’ll find there are many different modifications you can make to create a custom crate for your kayak. 

Let us know how you get on with your DIY project and feel free to leave us a comment with a picture of your masterpiece.

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