Using a fishing kayak on saltwater comes with a unique set of challenges. The fish tend to be bigger as you head away from the shore, you have a chance to hook into something with a little more teeth than you might at your local lake. One of these considerations is if, or by how much, you will need to scale up your gear when taking the fishing kayak. Would you need specialized rods or reels for saltwater kayak fishing?
Dedicated rods and reels for saltwater kayak fishing will help ensure more successful fishing. These rods and reels will be stronger than freshwater models to deal with the larger fish species targeted at sea. They should also be corrosion resistance to help combat the effects of saltwater on your equipment.
In the article below we will highlight our selections and reasonably priced options for rods and reels for saltwater kayak fishing if you get the bug to take your fishing kayak off into the big blue.
Features of a Saltwater Rod for Kayak Fishing
Although this may well depend on a host of factors including type of fishing you are planning on doing, target fish, and water depth there are some common features you can look out for when looking to purchase a decent boat rod for saltwater kayak fishing.
Length of Fishing Rod: You don’t want your kayak (we hope) to look like a remote controlled truck from the 80s with two huge antennae sticking up. Although its not quite ice fishing, you do not need a lot of length to a kayak fishing rod. Both for saltwater or freshwater. You will be paddling to your fishing spot not casting so a nice rod around 5-6ft will be fine. It also makes it much easier to handle while fishing and moving in your kayak.
Action Of Your Fishing Rod: Really depends on what you plan on doing with it, but as a rule of thumb if you are sabiki fishing with multiple hooks for smaller fish you can look for a fast / medium rod of up to 7ft. I you are putting on larger line and jigging or trolling behind your kayak then scale up and look for some thing with a medium action (or heavy) if you are lucky enough to live in a place not over fished like we are!!) A happy middle ground, unexpectedly, would be medium action and speed, you give a little way on each end but have more options open to you.
A Tip For Your Rod: Although it is unlikely you are going to land a 1500 pound blue fin tuna on your kayak fish are bigger and tackle is expensive. so fixing it to your kayak ( not you!) in some way would be useful in case you slip or a bite dislodges it from the rod holder. There are plenty of cheap options for this one we have highlighted below for you. You could also use this for freshwater of course if you are in deep water or clumsy!
The Best Rods for Saltwater Kayak Fishing
So these are some of our recommendations, all of them are perfectly decent rods and we have tried to recommend ones that can fulfill a number of rolls from light jigging to trolling. ( not a great deal of space on a kayak to put a rod for every occasion!)
Sabiki Rig Bait Rod (7-Foot) From Ahi USA
Ok so we said we were doing a middle ground of rods for kayaks but indulge us this one. This is a Sabiki Rod. It is designed to use the Sabiki multi hook rigs that you can use for bait fish or fish ( realistically) up to 4-5lbs. These rigs have 6 hooks that more often than not have a skirt attached. They reel into the rod to make sure you can store the rig safely.
The aim is to multi hook in schools of mackerel, sardines or other bait fish. You simple clip a weight on and throw it over the side and jig it a few times. If you are in a school of fish you will hook up it just happens. If you are going for larger fish you might need live bait, or dead bait and getting them straight from the ocean saves space and is much fresher than buying and taking it with you.
There is a video on the link to show you how it works and they are really well priced.
Penn Allegiance II Inshore Spinning Rod
If you are look for rod for your saltwater fishing kayak that screams optimism then this one is your go to. It comes in different actions but the medium version is going to take most fish you get on the end of it. That comes at a price though.
It also comes in light (up to 12lb) versions if your fishery is not that rich. It is an awesome rod, the only issue we have is it is one piece so transporting it may take some creativity.
Lightweight Carbon Inshore by Okuma
A ncie 7ft+ rod. A little long perhaps but great action choices to choose from that can handle decent fish and line ( up to 25lb) and more. It can handle trolling and jigging and will last for years.
Okuma is a great brand and with their reel choice you can even make the cuffs match the collar if you wanted to. The only draw back is that like the Penn above this is a one piece rod you will need to transport.
FibLink 2 Piece Boat Fishing Rod
We are aware the options above are not the cheapest options, and if you are like us, we have a need to make our dollars stretch a little further. The Fiblink is a very reasonably priced rod that has a medium to heavy action. They have a selection of rods for boat to surfcasting and they range from 5ft to 12 ft ( surf) in length.
So if you really want to get hold of a short and easy to manage rod you could certainly look at the range here. They also have specialized jigging rods in the collection which, if you are wreck or structure fishing may be of use. You can check out their collection on Amazon below.
Features of Reels for Saltwater Kayak Fishing
So you have four options to look at with rods and they have a running theme across them, they are all a little more robust than the average freshwater fishing rods and reels. Like Rod, reel for saltwater kayak fishing are going to have to be a little more robust. Check them out below.
Corrosion resistance: These reels will be out in saltwater. Nothing eats through gear like saltwater. Although, if you want to protect your equipment, you will be rinsing it off after each trip it is still a long time on the water. Choose reels with non corrosive or corrosive resistant materials.
Line Capacity: Bigger fish mean bigger line. Although you may not be casting serious distances to reach fish while using a reel for saltwater kayak fishing the fish doesn’t care about that. If you hook in to a GT or a decent Spanish mackerel you can watch them strip the line pretty quickly as they make their run. You will need more and stranger line, and some where to spool that on to. This could range from 15 to 60lb depending on your targets.
Drag Strength: With great power comes great fish. (or something like that) Although you have more line on the spool you don’t want to be giving that away for free. A decent drag is one of your best tools when fighting a decent fish. A good reel for saltwater kayak fishing will give your arms some respite by having the fish fight the drag as well as your aching biceps.
Fishing Style: Although it is unlikely you will be trolling heavily in a kayak it might be nice to have the option. A spinning rod is not great ( though it will work) at this, but you might want to look at a bait caster as a middle ground. We actually have an article on trolling with bait casters here in case you haven’t tried it. It is probably a bit over kills to set up a fully trolling system on a saltwater fishing kayak.
KastKing Sharky 3 Spinning Reel.
This has been chosen due to the great choice of sizes on offer for reasonable prices, and the great reviews. With a spool up to 5000 you will be able to put decent test line on this and target larger fish. It also gives you the option of bottom fishing deeper waters near rigs or wrecks and feel safe with the lien you have one there.
The drag can be up to 40lb on the larger versions which is a great option to have. Couple that with the 220 yards of 50lb test braid it can hold and you can land some serious fish with this reel.
Piscifun Alijoz Bait Caster 300
This is for you optimistic saltwater fishing kayakers out there. It is a bigger reel that can handle larger fish. To underline that it will hold 200 plus yards of 40lb braided line and comes with a massive 33lb drag system to help fight fish of that weight.
For a size 300 bait caster this is at an awesome price. It might not be the best reel to cast, but you are in a fishing kayak. Its your job to paddle to the fish, its the reels job to bring the fish to you!
Shimano SLX Bait casting Reel
This could be a good purchase for everyone who has a bit higher budget. It can hold about 150 yards of 40lb braid so about the same of 20 to 25 mono) It is a Shimano so you know the quality is there. It would be great for drop fishing and jigging, trolling may be a little challenge.
It has a 12lb drag which while not the largest, in such a small ( and light) form is definitely going to help you out. It is a Shimano reel so finding it at this price point is a great deal.
Lew’s Custom Inshore Bait Casting Reel
A little up there is terms of price but it has some nice features. A good retrieval will be very welcome if you are fishing at depth and dont have an electric reel ( not really necessary for a fishing kayak) A good retrieval rate will help those tired arms.
It holds 140 yards or about 400 ft of 12lb line which should cover most situations, although could be a little bigger in truth. Braid will stretch that out a little more if you need the distance.
Scaling up is advised if you are looking for rods and reels for saltwater kayak fishing. Everything is bigger at sea and you need to prepare for that. Hopefully some of the option above have given you some ideas on what scale up actually means.
It doesn’t mean buying tuna rods and reinforcing rod holders, but it does mean keeping an eye on rod action and reel capacity. If you plan it carefully what you decide to buy will be perfectly useable in both fresh and salter water kayak fishing.