How-To

Tips and Tricks from the Pros

A couple quick and dirty mods to my Kraken Kayak

The Kraken is a fishing machine but can always be made better

The Kraken is a fishing machine but can always be made better

You know that no matter how great a kayak is there are always things you want to tweak to get them just how you want them.

Today I broke out the saw, drill and a few parts to do a couple mods to my Kraken kayak, to get it ready for a long fishing season.

We do at times here in San Diego get into some pretty big fish, my biggest  white seabass for instance was 62 pounds. I have an insulated game bag that fits inside my hull with ice packs that I keep my catch in for those time that I do keep fish. Just to make getting the bag, as well big fish, into the hull a bit easier I cut away the inner lip inside the center hatch. This gave me close to an inch of extra width and length. This easy mod has no affect on the integrity of the kayak or the water tight seal of the hatch.

Like I said quick and dirty, I actually did this with an angle grinder.

Like I said quick and dirty, I actually did this with an angle grinder.

The next thing I did was grab a small hack saw and cut out the back side of my battery tray. I have been using small Nocqua lithium ion waterproof batteries, I love these things but on a real long day I do need to swap them out. By cutting out the back of the battery tray I can still get my batteries up off the floor of the kayak but have a bit easier access to them if I need to swap them out.

Cutting away the back of the battery tray

Cutting away the back of the battery tray


Now I have access to the batteries from the front and back.

Now I have access to the batteries from the front and back.

The last thing I did was swap out the plastic gear track that the boat came with for the aluminum gear track with back plates. The reason I did this was to make the center hatch much more rigid so no flex when punching surf. Also I like to use a small down rigger at times and with the combined stronger tracks and the plates I got from Yakattack for attaching my finder and rigger my hatch is super solid.

New aluminum gear track

New aluminum gear track


additional backing plates

additional backing plates


This is the mounting plate for my A78 Raymarine. I will use a similar plate for my downrigger once I get it.

This is the mounting plate for my A78 Raymarine. I will use a similar plate for my downrigger once I get it.

You can see how it mounts to the gear track in this shot.

You can see how it mounts to the gear track in this shot.


You can see in the above photo how the plate attaches to the two tracks. SUPER solid

Always tinkering with the yaks. I hope this gives you some inspiration to cut into your boat.
Maybe do it a little cleaner than I did.

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Kraken Rigging Pt.2: Setting up the Bait Tank.

With your kayak set up for live bait you will get more big fish.

With your kayak set up for live bait, you will get more big fish.

In this second part on rigging the Kraken, we will show how to set up the bait tank.

After getting my Kraken, my first stop was visiting my local Jackson Kayak Dealer, OEX, to get some rigging done. Sure I could do it all myself but they have all the tools and parts I needed to make it a fast and easy job.

The Kraken was designed to be easy to set up for live bait fishing, and turning the included KKrate into a bait tank is the first step. Below I will give you a quick photo walk through of how we turned the KKrate into a full circulating bait tank that can hold a lot of big live baits, and hopefully help you get on some big fish.

This is a pretty simple job but does involve doing some wiring and drilling of holes into the kayak and your KKrate, if you are not comfortable doing this please get you local shop to help you out. I am not going into the details of wiring here just showing what we used and where it was placed.

For my bait tank set up I would be running all wires internally and running off the same battery I use for my fish finder. This battery sits in the included battery tray at that bow of the kayak. All wires run to this battery so you do need a little extra wire.

Because I have the bait tank wired internally I had to first decide my switch placement. I decided to put it on the side wall of the kayak just forward of the seat. This kept it at easy reach but in a position where I would not accidentally hit it. Be sure to get a good waterproof switch and the rubber boot.

Bait tank switch on side wall in front of seat.

Bait tank switch on side wall in front of seat.

Setting up the pump is pretty simple, you just need some short lengths of tubing, a couple right angle connectors and a hose quick disconnect. We ran the wire from the pump through the side wall in a position where it was least likely to get hit or pinched under the seat.

The pump sits in the bait pump scupper.

The pump sits in the bait pump scupper.

(Bottom view) The pump is held in with the screw on strainer. this keeps debris for getting in the pump.

(Bottom view) The pump is held in with the screw on strainer. this keeps debris for getting in the pump.

Pump wires going through the side of the kayak

Pump wires going through the side of the kayak

The quick disconnect is the green part that you see in the tubing. It is not necessary but makes it much easier to take the tank off if you want to while leaving the pump on the boat.

Use the quick disconnect it makes things much easier.

Use the quick disconnect it makes things much easier.

After you have set up your pump you need to drill out and set up the KKrate for the input, overflow and drain. The KKrate is set up with a step in the bottom corner so that you can put in the adjustable spray head from the bottom. This keeps the entire setup very clean without tubes going all over. I like the adjustable spray head so you can adjust the flow depending on the bait you have. The overflow has a strainer on it to keep baits from getting out and a long tube to the water flows off the side of the kayaks. The drain is an igloo cooler drain. So that I can access it easier I put the drain cap on the inside of the tank.

View of front of tank, left corner is the input to the spray head. right corner is the drain.

View of front of tank, left corner is the input to the spray head. right corner is the drain.

A look at the adjustable spray head.

A look at the adjustable spray head.

inside the tank, Sprayhead, drain and overflow strainer

inside the tank, Sprayhead, drain and overflow strainer

Overflow. I put mine on the back of the tank  to get it at the height I wanted it. but you can put it anyplace you like.

Overflow. I put mine on the back of the tank to get it at the height I wanted it. but you can put it anyplace you like.

KFS battery box that supplies power to my tank and fish finder.

KFS battery box that supplies power to my tank and fish finder.

I hope this helps you to easier set up your Jackson Kayak Kraken to be a fishing machine. You should be able to find all the parts you need at your local Jackson Kayak dealer or at KFS.

Kraken Fish Finder Rigging

The Kraken on the water and ready to hunt

The Kraken on the water and ready to hunt

After getting my Kraken my first stop was visiting my local Jackson Kayak Dealer, OEX, to get some rigging done. Sure I could do it all myself but they have all the tools and parts I needed to make it a fast and easy job.

The Kraken was designed to be easy to rig for fish finders and turning the included KKrate into a bait tank. Below I will give you a quick photo walk through of how we rigged up my new Kraken with a Raymarine Dragonfly fish finder.

The first job was deciding the position of my Raymarine fish finder and how to mount it. I decided to put it onto the center hatch attached to the piece of starboard which covers the hinge. I like to keep it so that I can take the entire finder base off, this keeps it from getting damaged when carrying a bunch of boats. I used a combination of a Yakattack Mighty mount and some Ram mount parts to mount the base.

Raymarine Dragon fly base attached with a Mighty mount and Ram parts.

Raymarine Dragon fly base attached with a Mighty mount and Ram parts.

We ran the power and transducer wires through the hull just in front of the hatch.

We ran the power and transducer wires through the hull just in front of the hatch.

The next step was setting up the transducer and running the wires to the battery and the head unit. To secure the Transducer we used a disc of plastic that came from a flush mount install. Just cut it to size and put a couple holes in it. Run a piece of cord though the bolt hole at the top of the transducer then up through the Transducer scupper and through the disc. We used a small cord lock to hold it is place. A cheap and easy transducer mount. The Transducer pulls up nice and snug into the bottom of the boat.

Transducer mounted with small disc of plastic and some cord

Transducer mounted with small disc of plastic and some cord

Transducer cable run through the hull in the side of the center hatch.

Transducer cable run through the hull in the side of the center hatch.

Transducer nice and snug in the bottom of the Kraken

Transducer nice and snug in the bottom of the Kraken

With the included battery tray in the Kraken your battery sits nice and secure off the bottom of the kayak. I used a KFS watertight battery box with external connector as my power supply for both my finder and my bait tank.

The KFS battery box fits perfectly into the Kraken battery tray.

The KFS battery box fits perfectly into the Kraken battery tray.

In part two of the Kraken rigging I will show you how we rigged up my bait tank.

Kayak Surf technique articles and video

Jim getting his surf on.  This shot is of the prototype of a new boat out soon. hint hint.

Jim getting his surf on. This shot is of the prototype of a new boat out soon. hint hint.


I spend a lot of time in my kayak fishing areas where you need to head out through the surf to get to the fishing grounds. So I have become pretty proficient at handling my kayak in the surf zone. I recently hooked up with the guys from Kayak Fish magazine to shoot some stills and video for a kayak surf instructional article and video.
It is a two part series, launching on one, landing on the other.
Check them out I think you will learn a couple things.
Kayak Fish article Kayak surf launching.
Kayak Surf Landing

Turn a Jackson JKrate into an awesome Kayak Bait tank

I have a habit of looking at any container that could fit on the back of my kayak and figuring out if it would make a good bait tank. Well Jackson Kayak made an awesome container called the JKrate to fit on the back of their kayaks and the guys at OEX Kayaks in San Diego helped me turn it into an awesome bait tank.

Turn This plain JKrate

Turn This plain JKrate


Into this Awesome Bait tank

Into this Awesome Bait tank


With these parts

With these parts

The first step is placing the Jkrate in the back of the intended kayak and figure out the orientation that you will need to use.
Once that if figured you may need to remove the side handles and relocate to the other sides, this is easy as the JKrate has inserts in the plastic to screw into.

Simple task of moving the handle

Simple task of moving the handle

The next step for me was to rearrange the bungee that secures the lid, when new there is a lot of excess bungee that allows the lid to come a long way off, I wanted to keep the lid tighter. So a couple loops on one end and another on the other side to hold it down and it was done.

loose bungee

loose bungee


bungee redo, when finished there will be a loop on the closer end going to a small hook

bungee redo

The next step was to add the three position rod holder to the back, I like them so the top of the rod holder is just above the lid, you also need to make sure that the holes don’t hit the inserts in the tank.

adding the rear rod holders

adding the rear rod holders

Next we attached the small Pelican case which will hold the 6v 12amp battery and the power switch. Before attaching to the JKrate you will need to drill it out for the waterproof switch, and waterproof wire connector. You will also drill two holes to match the inserts in the tank as that is what you will you to attach the case to the tank.

Switch and wire connector.

Switch and wire connector.


attaching case to tank

attaching case to tank

You will need to drill three larger holes in the tank next, one for the adjustable spray head, one for the upper overflow and one for the drain. The height of the overflow will determine the amount of water you carry so you can put it as high or low as you wish, depending how much weight you want to carry or the size of your bait.

mounting the adjustable spray head

mounting the adjustable spray head


inside look at the adjustable spray head

inside look at the adjustable spray head


overflow mounted on side with added hose.

overflow mounted on side with added hose.

Now we attach the hose and bilge pump, I like to run the wires for the pump up inside the hose this has a much cleaner look and avoids the use of zip ties.

a look at the pump

a look at the pump


See the wires inside the hose

See the wires inside the hose


some shrink tubing and goop where the wire comes out of the hose. And wire connectors with shrink fitting as well

some shrink tubing and goop where the wire comes out of the hose. And wire connectors with shrink fitting as well


Run your wires from the switch through the water tight connector and hook it up and you are almost done.

I decided to add a couple more single rod holders to the sides of the tank, one for holding my gaff and one for holding a bait net.

Gaff holder

Gaff holder


bait net holder

bait net holder

Here is a look at how the battery fits in the Pelican case

Water tight Battery Box

Water tight Battery Box

Marine Goop was used on all connections and holes to keep things as water tight as possible.
The build took about an hour to complete.
And here you have a few shots of the finished product.

The JKrate is now a JTank

The JKrate is now a JTank


IMG_2153
IMG_2152

I can’t thank the guys at OEX Kayaks and Kayak Fishing Supplies enough for their help with this project.
Here is a list of the parts we used for the bait tank prodject, all of which are available at Kayak Fishing Supplies.
Power: 6 Volt 12 AMP battery
Case: Pelican 1060 solid waterproof case
Switch: Cole Herse waterproof toggle switch with boot cover
Pump: Rule 360GPH
Misc:
-Wire seal on Battery Box
-16G marine grade wire
-Adjustable aerator intake fitting
-1 1/2″ overflow strainer fitting
3 rod rack system
-2 single stage rod holders
-polyethylene wrapped bungee
-3/4″ tubbing with SS hose clamp (2)
-1 1/12″ hose (1)
-SS nuts and bolts
– coleman cooler drain

FAQs on Kayak Fishing

Yes Kayak Fishing is FUN

Having worked in the kayak fishing industry for over 20 years I have heard just about every question people can think of about the sport. Whether it is at a trade show, during a trip, or on the internet people come up with many of the same questions. I thought this would be a good place to answers some of the more common questions I hear.

Is kayak fishing fun?
It is more fun than I can describe, everything from catching your first small fish from a kayak to getting towed out to sea by a marlin is a blast. Getting off the bank on your own kayak and going where you want under your own power is like nothing else. The great thing is I have yet to meet someone who couldn’t do it and everyone who tries becomes an addict like me. If you want to see more reasons why I think kayak fishing is fun, watch this video. Why I Fish

What is the best kayak for me?
I could tell you the Jackson Kayak Cuda 14 that I am currently using is the perfect kayak. In reality, there is no perfect kayak for everyone. Think of it like shoes, there is no one shoe that fits every person, and there is no one kayak that every person is comfortable in. The best thing you can do is to ask some questions from people already involved in the sport; you can do this on one of the kayak fishing web sites. Give them your height, weight, what you plan on fishing for, what kind of water you plan on paddling, plus any other pertinent info such as storage limitations. You likely will be given several kayaks, from different manufacturers, from which to choose. Find the shops in your area that stock these kayaks to demo, and take them for a test paddle. If you can take the kayak out on a day when the water is a bit choppy you will get a better idea of its performance. You will then be able to make an educated decision on which is the correct kayak for you.

Are these kayaks stable?
Don’t over estimate the importance of stability, sure you don’t want to feel like you are in a fight to stay upright all day but you also don’t want to feel you are trying to paddle the dock out to sea. The learning curve for feeling stable in a kayak is rather short, you will learn to be stable but you cannot make a slow boat fast. The short answer is this; yes, even the kayaks that are considered tippy, are stable, if you take the time to learn the how to be a good paddler. If you are looking for ultra-stability for stand up fishing, kayaks with that feature are also available, take a look at the new Jackson Kayak BIG RIG, you can stand up and dance on that baby. If you want to go the fast kayak route but still want stability to stand from time to time you can even add stabilizers that can be added or removed whenever needed.

Sight casting from a Cuda 14

Do you have a kayak big enough for me?
The average kayak fisherman is actually a fairly large person and the kayak manufactures have addressed this with a variety of kayaks that will fit persons of all sizes, see the Big Rig mentioned above if you doubt me.

Do you prefer a longer or shorter kayak?
The longer the kayak the better it glides through the water, so the less effort I have to put out to move the kayak through the water. Think of it this way, have you ever pedaled a bike with low air in the tires, then gone to the gas station and filled those tires up? That is what it feels like to go from a short kayak to a long one. You can still get there on the bike with low tires, but it is a lot easier once those tires are pumped up. So for the longer distance paddling I tend to do I prefer a longer kayak, now when hitting smaller lakes or running some rapids a shorter kayak like the Jackson Coosa is a better choice.

I see there are a couple pedal kayaks out there why do you still paddle?
The answer to this would be multifold the first part being that I just really enjoy and prefer paddling. While pedaling employs your legs, paddling, when done properly involves your entire body. I also like the simplicity of paddling, having no mechanism to maintain or that could potentially break while on the water. I also like to fish in and around the thick kelp beds which my paddle kayak will glide right over and when fishing in amongst the rocks on the inside or while gliding down rivers I don’t have to worry about hitting a rock and breaking anything. I also do a lot of launching through the surf and the paddle boats just seem to do that better. Many of the pedal boats are much heavier, which with my bad back is a major issue, and cost a lot more, which with my empty wallet is also an issue. I will say this, paddling does take a certain amount of skill that the pedal boats don’t require. No this is not rocket science but a little technique goes a long way and taking a paddling class will really help you improve your skills and add to your enjoyment on the water. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the pedal boats and they make fine products but for what I like to do and my style I prefer to paddle.

A little surfing action in a Cuda 14

Should I spend the money on a Carbon Fiber paddle?
You will find paddles ranging in price from $49 to $500, with the carbon fibers starting around $200. Your paddle is your motor and I generally tell people to get the best motor they can afford. Would you rather have a Porsche motor or a Volkswagen motor? Carbon fiber paddles are lighter and stronger than lower cost paddles, so like the faster kayak, with the lighter paddle I will have to work less to move my boat through the water, all, day, long. I have been using a Werner Kaliste paddle for a few years now and there is nothing like it.

What do you do if a fish starts to pull you out to sea?
Sit back and enjoy the ride, and what a fun ride it is!
Watch this video of one of my clients in Baja for a great example of what it is like to go for a sleigh ride in a Cuda 14!!
Baja Sleigh Ride

Enjoy the ride

What happens if you catch a big fish, do they ever pull you off your kayak?
As far as I am concerned, the bigger the better, I love big game kayak fishing. If your drags are set properly there is no reason a fish would ever pull you off your kayak. If you do make a mistake and fall off your kayak, make sure you are wearing your PFD and have a cut away tool on your vest.

Big enough for you?

Do you ever tip over and what do you do if it happens?
People generally fall off the kayaks because they forget one basic rule, where your head goes your body will follow. You should always keep your head down the centerline of the kayak, letting the kayak move under you. You should also know how to do a self-rescue, and practice it. The last thing you want to happen is to fall off your kayak a mile from the beach and realize you do not know how to get back on. Here is an article on doing a self rescue, read it then go practice.

Now don’t you try and pull me over

Where do you put the fish that you catch?
We practice a lot of catch and release but I do like to keep fish for the dinner table. When I am keeping fish, I want to keep them as fresh as possible, so I have an insulated game bag that fits into the center hatch of my Cuda 14. I can keep my fish inside the kayak on ice. The other options would be a divers game clip or a gunnysack. I do not recommend hanging the fish off the side of the kayak, as this is just an invitation to unwanted guests.

Aren’t you afraid of sharks?
I have a healthy respect for sharks but I would not say I have a fear of them. I have had instances where sharks have taken fish while on my line as well as out of my hand as you can see in this video. If you are in a sharky area you certainly do not want to have fish hanging off the side of your kayak and I would think twice about bleeding my catch. It is also a good idea to keep your feet aboard your kayak in sharky areas. If you tend to fish in areas what have a lot of shark activity an investment in a Shark Shield, an electronic shark deterrent, is a good idea. I have used this product and can tell you first hand that it works. Check out this video of the Shark Shield in Action.

A little hammerhead shark

Can you fly fish from the kayak?
People fly fish out of float tubes all the time; a kayak is an even better platform. Fly-fishing off the kayaks has become a large part of the sport. With the stand-up ability you have on the Jackson Cuda and Big Rig fly fishing is a natural.

Where do you keep the beer?
There is room for everything including the kitchen sink on most of the fishing kayak on the market, so I am sure you will find room for your beverage of choice. Do remember this, in a kayak you do have to paddle back from where ever you are, and alcohol is a depressant and can make you tired and a bit lazy. I prefer to have my cold ones as I am cleaning my gear at home. You may also want to check the regulations for your area, I know some places don’t allow drinking on the water.

Is it hard to sit in a kayak all day if you have a bad back?
In the past I would have answered this question with yes but that was before the insanely comfortable seats on the Jackson kayaks came out. If you can sit in a lounge chair next to the pool, you can sit in one of these kayaks. On a sit on top kayak you can move all over the deck and even sit sideways when you need a change of position, which really lessons the strain on the back. Start with short days on the water and build up to the all day excursions, so that your muscles have a chance to get in shape for this activity.

Look at that comfy seat

What if you have to go to the bathroom?
Lets just say, yes you can, and let you figure it out from there.

Can I put a motor on my kayak?
Not if you are fishing with me, but if you must, search the web and you will find directions on how to do it.

Should I get a tandem or a single kayak?
If you are talking about two adults, get singles you will be much happier. If you will be taking your child out with you, the tandem is a great way to get them on the water. If your spouse says, “if you get a kayak you have to get one that I can go on with you”, think long and hard about the percentage of time your spouse will actually go. If you will be paddling the tandem as a single more than 50% of the time, I suggest getting a good single and renting the tandem for those times when your spouse goes out with you. Of course, you could always get both. Another option is a tandem like the Jackson Big Tuna. This kayak is big enough for two but easily switches to a single.

Why do you carry so many rods?
Just like any boat fisherman I want to have a rod ready for any type of fishing I may do that day, so I carry five to six rod with me on my kayak. The kayaks on the market today have plenty of storage so it is not really an issue.

Can you keep bait alive in a kayak?
I have a live bait system on my kayak and will always have bait soaking in the water, even when I am tossing jigs. You can keep bait in anything from a Plano bait sled, a bait tube or if you want to hold a larger quantity of bait, a live bait tank. You can purchase a custom bait tank for your kayak or make your own. My friends at OEX have turned the JKrate into a great custom bait tank.

Do you wear a wetsuit when it is cold?
I am not a big fan of wetsuits; they are a bit confining and can get too cold if it is windy and too hot when the sun is out. I prefer actual paddling clothing such as dry pants and paddle jackets. These will keep you dry, warm, keep the wind out and are easy to peel off when it gets warm. Lightweight breathable waders are my go to clothing when it gets chilly and for the coldest environments a dry suit may be the best option. Kokatat makes some of the best paddling clothing available see what they have to offer for your style of fishing and conditions.

Dressed for the cold in the Arctic Circle

Should I take a class?
I have found the biggest problem with kayak fishermen is that they are fisherman first and kayakers a distant second. They never seem to want to learn to be a good paddler, which is a mistake because it would make them a better kayak fisherman. In my opinion you should at least take a class to learn to paddle correctly, how to self and assisted rescue and how to navigate the surf zone. An all day class with a guide will also help decrease the learning curve when it comes to kayak rigging and fishing techniques specific to kayaks and your area.

Do I need to register my kayak?
In California, you only need to register your kayak if you put a motor on it. You will need to check by state what the requirements are.

Do I need a PFD on my kayak?
Legally you must carry a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) on your kayak, children are required to wear it. A PFD will do you no good when you need it if it is tucked down inside your hull. Get a PFD designed for paddling and wear it at all times for your own safety. The best quote I have heard on this came from a coast guard officer I was chatting with. “We never find dead bodies wearing PFD’s”!

Can I put a fish finder on my kayak?
Most of the people that kayak fish a lot have a full spread of electronics on their kayaks, including fish finders, GPS and VHF radios. You can even put a waterproof stereo on your kayak if that is your thing. Be aware though that salt water and electronics do not get along and special care is needed if you want this equipment to last. Take a look at the Raymarine Dragonfly fish finder this thing is perfect for the kayak.

Portable Dragonfly on the front of my Cuda

Where should I place my rod holders?
There is no right or wrong way to rig your kayak; some people want their rods in front some in back. Take your time setting up your kayak so you get it done right the first time. My kayak has ten rod holders on it, so I can place rods in different places for different situations. Take a look at some of the great options on rigging your kayak from Yakattack and Ram mounts over at Hook1 kayak fishing gear.

Am I going to get wet?
This is a water sport and you will get wet, on some kayaks more than others. If you do not want to get wet, you are looking into the wrong sport.

What is the best color?
This is really a personal choice, if you want to be seen you should get the brightest colored kayaks such as yellow, orange, or lime green. I on the other hand prefer the duller colors like grey, olive green and blue-grey.

This is just a sampling of the questions that I hear about this sport on a regular basis, I am sure you can come up with some more. Of course, these answers are only my personal opinions, and I am sure if you asked someone else, you would get different answers. If you come up with more questions please feel free to post them on our Kayak Fishing Show Facebook Page or send them directly to me at Jim@Kayak4Fish.com I am always happy to help.

Rigging our fishing kayaks with the V.I.O. POV camera.

V.I.O. POV Camera getting all the action

People often ask me about how we get the point of view shots on our show, what kind of camera we use, and how we mount it on our Jackson Kayaks. For the past couple years we have been using the V.I.O POV camera because we feel it gives us better shot control and higher quality over other cameras available at this time. The V.I.O is also water tight and rugged enough to handle the abuse of kayak fishing.

Some of the other features that really appeal to us on this camera are;
An external waterproof microphone which picks up much better sound than anything else available from other onboard mics.

The POV Power which allows us to hook up the camera to an external battery so that we can run the camera all day without fear of running out of power when we need it most.

A wrist worn remote control which makes starting and stopping recording on the fly as simple as can be.

A recording looping function which means we can set the camera to record in a constant loop, only saving it when needed. This means we will never miss that shot of the fish hitting our baits.

Here you can see the POV remote worn on my right wrist

Watch the video below to see how we have the V.I.O. mounted on our Jackson kayaks with Yakattack gear.