Having the right gear with you can aid you in catching fish, but also in having a safer and better time out on the water. Of course, choosing the right lure is important as is the capability of the fisherman to present a lure appropriately, but there is more important gear that can really help you out. I decided to look into the best gear that I could find on the market when I transitioned from wade fishing to kayak fishing, and through my research I have found the gear that you don’t want and especially the gear that you do want. No doubt my gear has helped me to find new waters, fish them more effectively, and be safe while I’m in remote places as well. These are my three most important pieces of equipment when I fish the waters of Texas.
Jackson Kayak Big Tuna
In order to participate in kayak fishing, it is pretty valuable to actually have a kayak. There are alternative means, such as stand up paddleboards, canoes, and small boats, but most often you will find me in my Jackson Kayak Big Tuna. The Big Tuna is an extremely versatile kayak that stems around the capability of being able to go both tandem and solo through the unique seating arrangement that Jackson Kayak has developed. In this seating arrangement, either seat can also be in a high position or a low position to better suit your needs within seconds of adjusting the seat. The seats are placed into position by using integrated molds that fit the contour of the seats tubular frame along with some heavy duty bungee cords and straps to secure the seats. The Hi-Lo capability of the Big Tuna, and all of Jackson Kayak’s fishing kayaks, is extremely valuable as it allows a paddler and or fisherman to achieve a better position for fishing, paddling, comfort, and stability. When you throw in the ability to go in a solo position by simply taking one seat out and moving the remaining seat to the solo position, you have a multitude of customization for seating. Seating isn’t the only reason I use the Big Tuna although it is an awesome feature.
The Big Tuna has a versatile hull that is suited to fit into a wide variety of waters, tackling nearly anything you can throw at it. I use it almost exclusively on the Texas Rivers and it handles them great. The Big Tuna also has a lot of storage options as there are bungee cords that are designed to store some Plano 3600 Series tackle boxes, a rear storage compartment, front day hatch, and even the Big Tuna “Tuna Tank”. The Tuna Tank is a nice piece of engineering that allows a user to have a live well by using the natural water you are fishing. The Tuna Tank is basically an ellipse shaped hole in the middle of the kayak that allows water to flow in and out of a removable elliptical shaped container that serves as a live well. In order to use this live well feature, a user can simply drill some holes through the container to fit the amount of flow needed for your catch or bait. If you are using small minnows, drill small holes so they can’t escape. If you are using shrimp or some other bait that is a little larger, drill a little bit bigger holes or a larger number of small holes. The great thing is that if you don’t want to use the live well you just don’t drill any holes so you can use it as storage for some drinks like I do. The Big Tuna also has some zipper pouches on the back of each seat that can be used to store sun screen, bug spray, jerky, and basically anything that will fit. With flush mount rod holders and bungee cords to strap rods on the gunnels of your kayak, you are sure to have enough places to store all of your tackle. Jackson Kayak has also designed the Big Tuna to help you capture footage of your time out on the water, as they have partnered with GoPro to place inserts throughout the Big Tuna so you can easily mount your GoPro. The Jackson Kayak Big Tuna can serve a lot of different purposes including fishing, filming, guiding, hunting, and nearly anything you want to try. The Big Tuna has certainly been a great kayak for me and my exploration of the Texas Rivers I fish.
MTI Adventurewear Dio F-Spec
Being safe out on the water is crucial. Although most states require that you have a life jacket with you in the kayak while out on the water, a stored life jacket is not very good when you actually need it. This is why I invested in the MTI Adventurewear Dio F-Spec life jacket. With an extremely high back tank top design, you can wear the Dio F-Spec all day long. The high back is extremely beneficial because a lot of kayaks have a seat with back support, and having the foam from your life jacket touching the seat back can be extremely uncomfortable. You do not have to worry about this with the Dio F-Spec as it has a very high back to accommodate whatever seat you might be using. Although the Dio F-Spec is designed to save your life, it has also been designed for fishing. On the front of the PFD is a few pockets that can be used to store some loose bags of soft plastics, some snacks, or even your flies if you fly fish, as there is a white ‘sponge’ to store some of your flies on. On the outside of the front left pocket is a spot to store your pliers so they can easily be found when you catch that big fish. MTI has really done an incredible job on the Dio F-Spec and I highly recommend checking out the Dio F-Spec and the many other great PFD’s from MTI Adventurewear.
Aquabound Paddlesports Manta Ray Aluminum
A kayak is not very useful without a paddle, and my Jackson Kayak Big Tuna is no exception. Paddling a large boat means you need an exceptional paddle. The Aquabound Paddlesports Manta Ray Aluminum is well suited for the Big Tuna, as the blade has 104 square inches of surface area to displace a lot of water. Being aluminum, the Manta Ray is both light and durable. The blades are made out of fiberglass reinforced nylon in order to provide a stiff blade, while at the same time being extremely durable. I can testify to the durability of the Manta Ray Aluminum, as I use it as a ‘push pole’ quite often and it has held up very well.
It might seem a little wasteful to invest in a paddle when you can just pick up one for $19.99 at your local store. I thought about this a little as well but after I switched to the Manta Ray Aluminum I never looked back. The blades of the Manta Ray Aluminum really make a tremendous difference and can provide a lot of efficiency when paddling through the water. The craftsmanship you will find from Aquabound is also far past exceptional, as the Manta Ray Aluminum is very well crafted. If you are looking into a new paddle or purchasing your first one be sure to take a look at the Manta Ray Aluminum as it has served me tremendously.
These three pieces of equipment have helped me to travel all over Texas and take on any body of water that I run into. I like to think of your paddle, kayak, and life jacket as the ‘Big Three’ – they are absolutely necessary to have. If you are looking into getting into kayak fishing or thinking about getting some new gear, take some time to research what will suit you best. The gear I use has certainly helped me out a lot while keeping my safe too. If you are not sure where to start, go ahead and check out Jackson Kayak, MTI Adventurewear, and Aquabound Paddlesports as these companies sure do produce some great products.