Kayak fishing has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many anglers pursuing bigger and bigger fish. Mainly a saltwater activity, kayak angling traditionally targeted coastal species like bass, redfish, seatrout, bonito and snook, although it’s no longer uncommon to see fishermen landing giant tarpon, sharks, sailfish and even marlin. What’s more, sea kayak fishermen are beginning to move inland – or perhaps freshwater fishermen are starting to take note – as kayaks are increasingly being used to pursue species like largemouth bass, muskie and trout.
Kayaks come with all manner of gadgets and fixtures, such as clever storage compartments, built-in coolers, running lights, outriggers and GPS. Most also feature clever rod holders and fixtures, which are designed to hold rods securely, minimising the risks of tackle falling or being pulled overboard. Of course nearly all fishing kayaks are suitable for use with specialist kayak fishing rods.
- 1 Kayak rod features
- 2 What are the best kayak rods?
- 2.1 Best kayak rods under $100
- 2.2 Recommended mid-range kayak rod – $100 to $250
- 2.3 The rod we’d buy if money wasn’t an issue
- 3 History of kayak fishing
Kayak rod features
Although you can use any rod from a kayak, you’ll probably be most comfortable using one of the many specially designed kayak fishing models. Compared to most conventional rods, kayak rods are shorter, have shorter butt sections and may feature an in-built leash or fitting for attaching them to your yak. With kayak fishermen being so mobile, there is usually less emphasis on casting and more focus on rods that are easier to handle in a confined space.
Shorter butt section
Another useful feature is a shorter butt section. As most yak fishermen will tell you, there isn’t much room for manoeuvre, and a shorter butt section makes it easier to navigate the restricted area, as well as making it more comfortable playing fish from a seated position.
Leashes and fittings
Many kayak rods feature a purpose-built rod leash or fitting, with which you can secure the rod to your kayak. If the worst happens and you capsize, or if the rod is pulled out of its mount, all will not be lost.
You may find that, despite these special features, many kayak rods will be relatively inexpensive. This may may be a coincidence but it’s also rather convenient. Sometimes, with leashes or without them, tackle will go overboard. When it does, it’s better to have a set-up you won’t lose sleep over.
What are the best kayak rods?
To keep things simple, I’m going to recommend a few different rods – all of which can be used quite happily when kayak fishing, some being specialist kayak rods, others being more conventional rods that will do the job perfectly well. Please note, these are just our own feelings on the matter. If you feel like you need a second opinion, please get one.
Best kayak rods under $100
Best medium to heavy – Daiwa BFBT66XHR Beefstick Rod
For the money, no other heavy trolling rod comes close. Please note, this is a very stiff, one-piece rod, so you won’t be using it for casting. It’s ideal for kayak fishing and trolling though – it will tackle almost anything that grabs the bait and the blank is virtually indestructible. At 6.5 feet long with a butt section that measures just over 12 inches, it’s ideal kayak size.
Best medium to light – Okuma Classic Pro GLT Downrigger Rod
Don’t let the price fool you, these are good quality, sturdy rods and quite capable of landing fish of 35lbs (15kgs) or more. Glass fibre blanks are fitted with a combination of stainless steel and titanium guides and fittings. At 7.5 or 8.5 feet they’re long enough to guide fish around the end of your kayak without being unwieldy. A good option that won’t break your heart if it goes overboard.
Recommended mid-range kayak rod – $100 to $250
Okuma NOMAD Travel Spinning Rod
OK, before you say anything, we KNOW this isn’t officially a kayak rod, but hear us out. At less than $150 this is actually two rods for the price of one and, for kayak fishermen, this could be a really good thing. Why? The Okuma NOMAD Travel Spinning Rod has an unusual feature – two different top sections. Now before you dismiss it as a gimmick, have a read of the reviews. Somehow it seems that Okuma have pulled it off – turning a 3-piece travel rod into TWO 3-piece travel rods. What’s even better for the yak community is the nature of the tips. The lighter tip is perfect for your snook, bass, amberjack, salmon and redfish, while remarkably, the heavier 30-60lb tip is capable of landing big cobia, striped marlin, sailfish, tarpon and all bit the biggest marlin, sharks and tuna. It may not be a short-butt kayak rod, but perhaps it’s one worth considering…
Lamiglas Classic Glass Downrigger and Trolling Rod
Although Lamiglas rods are no longer made in Washington (most are now manufactured in China), the quality does not seem to have suffered. These 2-piece trolling rods are designed to be placed in a rod holder and left until the fish hits, and they have plenty of power to set the hooks and pull in hard-fighting fish to 50lbs+. Often used by salmon anglers in the North West and North East, they’re equally at home fished off the back of a kayak. We’d recommend the 84-inch model for kayaks.
Okiaya Composit 30-50LB Saltwater Big Game Roller Rod
Slightly shorter than the previous rods, and quite a bit stronger, this Okiaya Composite rod is a more serious trolling rod. Fitted with rollers instead of rings to minimise friction whilst fighting heavy fish, the rod also features an interchangeable butt attachment, making it ideal for trolling from a boat or kayak. It can tackle large, hard-fighting fish like tuna up to around 80lbs. Use with braid or nylon.
The rod we’d buy if money wasn’t an issue
Daiwa Sealine X’Treme Interline
If money wasn’t an option, we’d jump on a Daiwa X’Treme, if not two of them. While the 15-30lb version can land most species – from cod and halibut to stripers, amberjack and redfish, the heavier version, rated at 20-50lbs, will land pretty much anything you can get on the hook – from giant groupers, to sharks, tuna and billfish. It’s a lovely sensitive rod with tons of backbone. A great buy if you feel like spoiling yourself.
History of kayak fishing
Remarkably, archaeological evidence suggests that kayaks are 4000 years old, if not more. They were originally developed by the indigenous people of the Arctic region, who constructed them from a combination of driftwood (for there were invariably no trees) and stitched animal skins. Of course today’s kayaks look very different. They are usually manufactured from moulded polyethylene and designed for stability and practicality. A major disadvantage of early kayak fishing was lack of comfort, as their streamlined designs made it virtually impossible for anglers to change position without capsizing. Modern kayaks are much more forgiving. Some incorporate comfortable seats, others allow the angler to sit on top rather than inside (enabling them to drape their legs over the sides when fishing) and, more recently, catamaran-style twin hulls have delivered the holy grail of both speed and stability, even enabling anglers to fish standing up. Many put the increasing popularity of kayak fishing down to a combination of these design improvements with the increasing awareness of the environmental and health benefits of this form of fishing over the use of a big fat diesel engine – not to mention the convenience and cost benefits!
We hope this section helps point you in the right direction and the whole team here at Drowning Worms would like to wish you some very happy kayak fishing ahead!!
Disclaimer: Please note, although we feature advertisers on the site, we are not paid to promote any rods or brands in particular and these are our own true opinions. We do use Amazon affiliate links, which is one way that we make money from this site, but the price to you doesn’t change.