Kayak accessories have come a long way in the last 10 years. Many of the same items that we have standard on our boats can make it onto our kayaks, and the industry has come up with some great ways to make it more comfortable and more productive. Some common, everyday items can be used to make these modifications, bringing with them an easy way of upgrading your kayak fishing experience without breaking the bank. The most obvious and common DIY kayak accessories are for anglers: rod holders and tackle boxes. But more and more kayakers try to include some sort of a back or neck rest, a paddle leash, or a camera mount on their small crafts.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but the fact remains that there is a limited space on a kayak. Overdoing or overloading is a good way to get wet or lose equipment. For safety's sake, you should always have a good PFD, food and water, and some sort of emergency communication device, but that still leaves room for a few extra things.
Some of the best materials for creating these DIY accessories include carabiners, cordage, rope, strapping, velcro, webbing, bungee cords, and the DIY mainstay: PVC piping. If you've already got a good collection of such things, you're a leg ahead.
Pool Noodle Arm Rest
This technique makes for great multipurpose usage of the strapping that comes on the side of your kayak seat. If you take the strap off of the seat and slide it into a custom cut piece of pool noodle, you've made not only a comfortable arm rest, but a place to put hooks and lures in a pinch. You can also just slice the noodle from end to end, and then peel it open and wrap it around the strap. If you choose this second option, some sort of sturdy fastener like a safety pin would come in handy to keep it closed.
PVC Pole Anchor
This seems like simplicity itself for the kayaking and fishing enthusiast. It can be custom made with your own design, but you can get fancy by including a handle and an adjustment device to help it attach and detach. Some kayak anglers like to get really sophisticated with maneuverability, but there's nothing wrong with a basic length of PVC pipe and a way to attach it to your yak.
Carabiner and Paracord Tether
You probably already have some sort of rope or line that you use with your kayak, but adding one more important piece (the carabiner) can really improve upon the initial design. Once you get quick with this super simple way to secure your kayak to the shore, dock, or a tree, it will become second nature and you'll find it hard to forget, almost like strapping on your seat belt when you get in a car. It makes perfect sense for every kayaker, even if they aren't fishing.
Kayak Carry Strap
If you have an old ratchet strap that you're not using anymore, you can take a length of the strap and retrofit it to create a simple two-person kayak carrying device. One person on each side holds the end of the straps. You will need some strength in the straps, which is why I suggested ratchet straps, but you may have a much lighter kayak and be able to afford a much lighter (and cheaper) strap.
Maybe you just hold them in your lap, but there's actually a much better storage option for paddles and it doesn't take a lot of material, money, or time. Just attach a couple of fastening loops or rings to your kayak rail (either plastic or steel, and be careful when drilling), then use a loop of rope or bungee cord around the center of your paddle to attach it to the side of the kayak. It will keep your area and hands free for dedicated fishing, and you won't have to worry about accidentally losing it while fighting a fish.
Hook and Loop Stash
By attaching some loop-side material to the inside of the hull, or even in an out of the way spot on the main hull and add some hook-side material to your favorite sunscreen or bug spray you can have it right where you need it without it constantly getting in the way.
Cork Key Saver
Use a wine cork with an eye hook screwed into it to attach your keys or anything else you done want to sink. You could even use the cork to carry fishing plugs or spoons by digging the hooks into it.
Dog Leash Anchor
We've seen some enterprising folks use one of those extendable dog leashes to attach a small, kayak-sized anchor to so that it can be kept handy and retrieved easily.
More Alternative Kayak Gear
There are so many great ways to upgrade a kayaking experience, and many are cost effective. DIY projects aren't always as good as factory gear, but we like to know that we can be useful in a MacGuyver-type situation.
As outdoorsmen and women, we love to get creative and make our own gear to our own specifications. Other more expansive kayak upgrades include wall mounts for storage, on-board coolers, stabilizers, cup holders, all-in-one accessory organizers, and even homemade live wells. There's no end to what we can think of when it comes to our outdoor ingenuity.
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