Essential Safety Gear For Kayak Fishing

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Kayak fishing can be a dangerous watersport If you don’t take your safety seriously. While kayak fishing can be risky if you have the proper safety equipment, are well-versed in self-rescue, and paddle/fish in conditions that are within your paddling capabilities, you can lessen the probability of an incident occurring.

Even the most experienced and well-equipped kayakers can get into trouble for a variety of reasons; therefore, carrying the necessary safety equipment is crucial for all.

If an incident occurs, you must be able to effectively self-rescue or notify the appropriate emergency services that you are in difficulty and require assistance.

With that being said, it’s time to have a look at some of the safety gear you might want to carry on your kayak!

Essential Safety Gear For Kayak Fishing

You will need to bring several essential safety gear for safe kayak fishing.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

A PFD is a must-have piece of kayak fishing gear. If you end up in the water and become separated from your kayak at any time, wearing a PFD will keep you afloat. This increases your chances of surviving while you wait for help. Trying to remain afloat without one will quickly become tiresome.

Don’t scrimp on this component of safety equipment; there have been numerous reported occasions where kayakers would have perished if they hadn’t been wearing a buoyancy aid/PFD.

What causes kayaks to flip?

There are numerous causes for your kayak to flip, but the most prevalent are large waves, strong currents, and excess weight. Although kayaks are designed to be as stable as possible, accidents do occur, and knowing what to do might help you avoid an unpleasant experience.

Paddle Leash

Unless you have a pedal kayak, you will push your kayak across the water with a paddle. If you lose your paddle, you’re probably in trouble, especially if you’re paddling alone!

Even if you have company, without a paddle, someone will have to tow you, and if the circumstances are bad, the towing paddler may be unable to make any progress. Use a paddle leash to always keep your paddle attached to your kayak to avoid this happening in the first place.

You never know when your paddle will be knocked out of your paddle holder inadvertently or when you will have to let go of your paddle unexpectedly. For compactness, look for coiled shapes; for lightness, look for elasticated designs. Get one with a sound clip for fast and easy attaching to your kayak and one with an excellent adjustable velcro paddle attachment. ​

Safety Knives and Rope

These are sometimes forgotten, but they are low-cost piece of safety equipment that everyone should have.

A safety knife is especially handy for cutting lines/cords/leashes in an entanglement situation, which is possible if your kayak capsizes and you have leashed fishing rods and fishing lines flying everywhere! If this happens, you’ll want to grab your knife quickly to release yourself before things become worse.

A safety knife can also be helpful if you need to cut your anchor line rapidly.

A safety knife should be kept in an easily accessible location; most people clip them to the front of their PFD. Look for knife designs with a blunt tip to reduce the possibility of deliberately stabbing oneself. Choose one with a suitable sheath/holder that allows you to pull the knife out with one hand.

Folding designs are tiny, but search for ones with bite tabs on the blade to enable for one-handed opening and deployment using your teeth!



Another piece of equipment that is sometimes disregarded but is helpful in the event that you or someone else requires a tow. Dedicated waist-mounted towlines with cushioned quick-release waist harnesses and line storage pouches are available. These are quite elegant and neat, but they may be overkill for kayak fishing.

To perform a tow, the karabiners can be clipped into a kayak handle or an anchor trolley system. A short length of bungee cord holds it together neatly and neatly, ready for usage. This tow line is lightweight and inexpensive to produce. Keeping one in your crate or front hatch is recommended – you never know when you’ll need it! ​

Anchor System

This is not the necessary gear, but it is a type of safety equipment and a fishing help. An anchor system will allow you to maintain your place if you find yourself drifting too swiftly with the wind and/or current/tide, potentially putting you in danger.

If you are ever in a distress scenario and need to be rescued, you may drop an anchor to allow rescuers to zero in on a static target instead of a drifting one.

Always utilize an anchoring system alongside an anchor trolley, enabling you to anchor safely off the bow or, more typically, the stern of your kayak.



While GPS units are excellent for navigation on the water, what happens if the unit malfunctions, runs out of battery power, or you cannot afford one? In case of bad visibility situations (fog, mist, low light, night), when you have lost sight of your launch point and the coastline/bank, it is advisable to have some help to navigate back to the shore/bank.

A simple magnetic compass is an unpowered tool that can assist you in navigating back to safety. A simple handheld compass for trekking will help put you in the right direction if you need it. These are compact and lightweight enough to fit inside a buoyancy aid pocket.

First Aid Kit

With sharp hooks and bait knives frequently in use, you are sure to hook or cut yourself at some point. A clean incision with a sharp knife or a firmly implanted hook might result in a seemingly endless bleed, especially on damp skin.

Keep a couple of different sizes of waterproof plasters in a tiny zippered bag inside your PFD or tackle box.

It’s light and cheap and might salvage a wrecked vacation one day! More thorough first aid supplies can be carried for those concerned about safety.

Lifesystems makes an excellent small first aid kit with a waterproof storage case! Perfect for storing within a hatch for minor emergencies. ​


When kayak fishing, safety is of the utmost importance. There is a wide range of items you can bring with you to either lessen the likelihood of getting yourself into an undesirable circumstance in the first place or to assist you in getting out of one if you find yourself in one.

The types and quantity of safety equipment needed will be determined by the environment and conditions in which you intend to kayak fish. Tight Lines and Safe Kayak Fishing!

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