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What’s in Your Fishing Kayak? With Matt Charette

Written by Matt Charette on August 16, 2017

Let's talk loadout and safefy:

I was cleaning out my fishing kayak and I realized how personal my setup was compared to others. Everyone loads out their boats in different ways, but what are the essentials?

Personally, I won’t enter the water under any circumstances without these things:

  • Kayak Fishing personal flotation device PFD
  • First Aid Kit (with Epi-Pen and suture kit, or DIY bundle with bandaids, sanitizer, etc)
  • Two MREs
  • Kayak Fishing Paddle x2
  • Rope
  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray (deet is essential up in Maine, right guys?)
  • Knife
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Whistle
  • Fire starter x3 (lighter, flint, waterproof matches)
  • Tinder
  • Flashlight
  • Radio (on my PFD)

This list of kayak fishing gear is what I consider absolutely essential for paddling – it’s the equipment that will keep you safe and healthy under just about any circumstances. Make like the Boy Scouts and BE PREPARED – you are heading into nature, which is as unpredictable as it is beautiful. Ideally, you won’t need any of these things while you’re out there kayak angling, but you’d rather have them and not need them than the other way around.  

Now, the fun stuff. These are the things I need for fishing:

  • Three rods. I usually have a spinning rod and a baitcaster on deck, and my fly rod tube strapped into a paddle holder. Everything else goes below deck.
  • Any of the 12,360 tackle boxes I own. The best and most essential four boxes in my bag stay on the deck behind my seat, while the two most used for whatever species/water I'm targeting go next to the seat; for bass it's certain baits, for trout something else. Knowing how to use what you have for different species also helps a lot.

Different seasons, weather and environments will call for different fishing gear.

The one hard and fast rule about this stuff: don’t leave anything off the first list so that you can fit more fishing gear into your kayak.

Non-essential/luxury items:

  • GPS fish finder
  • Extra rods
  • Extra tackle
  • Anchor trolley + anchor
  • Net
  • Scale
  • Enough camera gear to film the movie Titanic
  • Cart (you try lifting the boat with all this stuff in it)

These are the things that make your kayak fishing excursion more productive and enjoyable, but they aren’t strictly necessary for kayak angling – they just make it more fun.


Things not pictured that only get taken on multi day trips:

  • Water filter/pump
  • Solar charger
  • Tent (1 man, with sleeping pad and aluminum poles)
  • Extra empty water bottles
  • Large titanium mess kit
  • Liquid fuel stove with extra fuel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hiking tarp
  • Hiking hammock

Now, this list edges back towards the “essential” end of the spectrum. When you’re out in nature, especially on an overnight kayak fishing trip, you need food, water and shelter. To keep things civilized, it also helps to bring gear that allows you to cook and stay clean and dry. Above all, it’s important to have multiple ways to create potable water, whether it’s purification tablets, filters or equipment for boiling.

These items are almost always in or on my fishing kayak. I don't use a crate because I like to try to keep my loadout as modular as I can. I'm constantly swapping in different boxes and gear and DIY pieces, and I like to have the tank space for camping equipment or pelican cases for camera gear. The tackle bag fits on top of the rear hatch for easy access; inside it are more safety items, band aids, pliers, cutters, extra line, another fire starter, space blanket, paracord and another knife.

And yes - it all packs into the Vibe Sea Ghost 110 fishing kayak, with the exception of food and coolers for multi-day trips. But as for how I pack that stuff… that's a trade secret.  

-Matt Charette
Vibe Pro Staff

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