KAYAK OUTRIGGER FOR KAYAK FISHING
If you are new to kayak outriggers, or kayak stabilizers as they are sometimes called, we’d suggest that you take a look at our Kayak Outrigger Ultimate Guide. Our Ultimate Guide is a great place to build your foundation of kayak outrigger knowledge before you make the all important decision: Do I really need a kayak outrigger for kayak fishing? Oh, and don’t worry, we have ranked The 5 Best Kayak Outriggers for your quick reference!
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In this post, I have included all of the important details that you’ll need to know about a kayak outrigger for kayak fishing. To do this, I needed to organize this article into several separate categories. These sections include a brief “how to” write up that will serve as a quick checklist to get your outriggers up and running, a section listing a number of the features we like to see in a high quality kayak outrigger, and a section including some of our own experiences with a kayak outrigger. Lastly, we’ve even included a section with a link to one of our favorite kayak outriggers. You can click on the link to learn even more!
KayakFishingCorner.com thinks that the answer to the question at the beginning of this post is an easy one. In fact, we’ve written this entire article around it! By the end of this post, we are certain that you’ll be convinced that the decision to buy a kayak outrigger for kayak fishing is actually a simple one. Here, we go over a number of reasons why a kayak outrigger for kayak fishing would be a nice piece of kayak fishing gear for beginners and veterans alike.
We’ve stated it before, but its worth mentioning again. Most kayak fishing gear is going to consume the one thing that kayak fishermen have the least available. What’s that? Space. You know as well as I do that kayak fishing gear is, well, addictive. This tends to become a problem, because fishing kayaks are pretty small! The kayak outrigger is one of the few exceptions to this rule, as the outrigger is situated nearly entirely outside of the fishing kayak itself. The kayak outrigger for kayak fishing comes with all of the benefits, without the downside of taking up to much room! Ready to learn whether it is right for you?
How to use a Kayak Outrigger for Kayak Fishing
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Outriggers are great tools for a number of different purposes and industries. They are used in many things other than boats (like cranes, for instance). KFC has discovered that even some of its most experienced readers are not aware that there are kayak outriggers for kayak fishing available on the market.
Why? Well, we think this is because kayak outriggers are still relatively new pieces of kayak fishing gear. Only in the last several years has there been a decent selection. Now, you can find all different kinds of kayak outriggers. Everything from outriggers for the ocean, to outriggers with inflatable pontoons! But, what good is an outrigger if you don’t know how to use it? Well, not very. Luckily, the short bullet list below will help you get up to speed!
- First and foremost,, you’ll want to decide where you want to mount your kayak outrigger.
- We suggest that you locate the outrigger roughly 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the way towards the rear of the fishing kayak.
- Putting your outrigger near the end of the kayak ensures that the outrigger’s pontoons will keep out of the way of your paddling stroke and also results in lesser risk of entanglement of the fishing line and your other pieces of gear.
- Another advantage of locating the outrigger by the stern of the kayak is that it provides for greater stability. Why? Kayak fishermen usually stand near the rear of the fishing kayak, in the area just in front of the kayak’s seat, while they are casting.
- Once you’ve selected your desired location, mount the kayak outrigger to the hull of the fishing kayak.
- You’ll want to use the mounting hardware included in your kayak outrigger package. Below is a picture of a kayak outrigger that has been correctly mounted:
- If you have yet to do so, now is the best time to attach the pontoons to the ends of the arms of the kayak outrigger.
- Check to make sure that the pontoons are safely attached to the outrigger arms. If they become loose or detached while you are in the water, you could find yourself in a trickle position!
- Now, manipulate the height (or angle) of the outrigger arms to manage the type of water conditions you are facing.
- Tilt them upwards if you only want them to engage when the fishing kayak is tilting far to one side or the other.
- Set them to parallel with the water (like shown below) if you want them to move smoothly along with the fishing kayak.
- Adjust them downward, but only slightly, if you want to put pressure on the water.
- Never angle the outrigger at too sharp of a downward angle.
- Too sharp of an angle downward will put a lot of strain on the connection point with the kayak and may even result in damage to the kayak’s hull!
Remember that a kayak outrigger is designed to ensure that the fishing kayak remains stable and balanced at all times. Stability and balance are important while you are actively moving across the water, whether by paddle or by kayak trolling motor. They are also important while you are attempting to remain stationary, like when you have arrived at your desired fishing location and are attempting to stand while casting (don’t fall overboard!).
The larger surface area created by the kayak outriggers also creates a counter balancing system. When pressure is asserted against one side of the fishing kayak (like a big wave, swift current, or strong wind), the kayak outrigger will defuse this pressure by offsetting it on the other side of the fishing kayak.
The truth is, kayak outriggers are not going to be needed for every single kayak fishing trip. Many times, your waters will be smooth enough that, even if you had a kayak outrigger, it wouldn’t serve much purpose (though it wouldn’t disadvantage you either). Keep in mind, however, that water conditions are ever changing. Since you are not disadvantaged by having your kayak outrigger with you, you are better off having the kayak outrigger and not needing it, rather than needing your kayak outrigger and not having it!
Each kayak outrigger should be between 30 and 36 inches in length. When combining two kayak outriggers with the width of your standard fishing kayak, the resulting surface area will be well over 9 feet! This is 300% larger than the surface area of a fishing kayak that isn’t set up with an outrigger system. The larger the surface area, the more stability and control you are going to have!
Do not buy a kayak outrigger with arms shorter than 30 inches. Why? You will lack leverage and won’t be able to take advantage of the counter balancing effect that is necessary to maintain your balance. Be careful, because you also don’t want to buy a kayak outrigger with arms that are too long. Why? If the kayak outrigger arms are too long, you will have tremendous difficulty steering your fishing kayak around tight water channels and you might even put too much strain on the hull of the fishing kayak.
Also, a high performing kayak outrigger for kayak fishing will need to have pontoons that are appropriately sized to provide proper buoyancy. The greater the amount of buoyancy provided by your pontoons, the greater the ability of the kayak outrigger to “push” back against the water, in turn increasing your stability and control. KFC suggests pontoons made of molded PVC. Why? They are quite durable, extremely buoyant, and have the added benefit of increasing the visibility of fishing kayak – they are frequently bright yellow!
Also, the best kayak outrigger for kayak fishing is going to have adjustable arms. Why does this matter? Well as mentioned above, there are going to be times where you want to lift your kayak outriggers entirely out of the water, like when you really wan to travel quickly. Other times, you’ll merely want to adjust the height of them, like when you are needing to increase the surface area of your fishing kayak to push back against increasing wave sizes.
Most of the kayak outrigger for kayak fishing products shown on this page include a device that is used to mount the kayak outrigger to the fishing kayak. If you look closely, you’ll see that the device will include some kind of internal ratcheting system, which will allow a number of angles at which the outrigger arms can adjusted.
Adjusting the kayak outrigger arms will allow you to deepen your fishing kayak’s rudder into the water. A deepening of the rudder will help keep your fishing kayak on a more direct course. You can also adjust the outrigger arms to put pressure on the water. Why? Doing so will enlarge your surface area, creating the counter balancing effect that we described above.
Once adequately counter balanced, the fishing kayak will be a much more stable, and even the most “balance challenged” KFC reader will be able to cast from the standing position!
Buy the Best Kayak Outrigger for Kayak Fishing
One of the best parts about this particular kayak outrigger is the quality of its components. While there are certainly less expensive models on the market, please do not be tempted to compromise quality for price. The less expensive models tend to have outrigger arms that are made of cheap plastic or metal, leaving your exposed to a bending, or even snapping, of the outrigger arm when it is exposed to large waves.
Next, KFC is very pleased with the pontoons of this outrigger. The yellow coloring is a nice feature and truly does add to your visibility, and thus safety, while on the water. Some of the other models on the market come with pontoons that are camouflage or even black. While these may keep your outrigger arms afloat, they do not do you any favors in terms of increased visibility and safety.
Finally, we like that the pontoons on this model are made of a hard, as opposed to inflatable, material. Inflatable pontoons can be great, but the pontoons are already quite small, not taking up much space. Space saving is one of the #1 reasons to buy anything inflatable. So, if the pontoon isn’t taking up much space in the first place, why spend the extra time inflating and deflating it? We’d rather have the hard bodied pontoons and save our “hot air” for our fishing tales!
Hopefully you’ve seen our recent KFC article about my favorite kayak cart for kayak fishing. If you have read it, you’d have learned that I have begun to use my kayak cart to take my kayak fishing passion to lakes and river that are a bit more…off the beaten path.
Last year, during perhaps October or November, I hit the lake early in the morning. I was seemingly pulling fish out of the water as soon as I cast my line! I caught at least 10 large mouth bass in only a couple hours. My good luck on the water was distracting me from keeping an eye on the weather, which was quickly taking a turn for the worse.
All of the sudden, I was experiencing 50 mile per hour winds! To make matters worse, I was located near the center of the lake when this began – far from the shore. The severe winds, when added to the wakes from the numerous power boats scrambling for safety from the weather, was almost enough to capsize my small fishing kayak!
The water would have been bone chilling. It was Autumn, after all, which is fairly cold in Oklahoma, especially in the mountains! To make matters worse, I had nearly a thousand dollars worth of kayak fishing gear and accessories, not to mention my kayak itself, the was certain to sink to the bottom of the lake if I capsized. This was a very scary situation. Long story short, I did make it safely to shore. When I got there, and got myself to some cover, I decided that it was time to buy a kayak outrigger for kayak fishing. I knew it wasn’t worth it to travel out onto the water again, even if the forecast called for serene weather, without installing a high quality and reliable outrigger on my fishing kayak!
Quality – 3.5/5
Kayak outriggers have made strides in terms of quality recently, but you’ll need to stick with one of the outriggers reviewed on this page for us to give our approval (after all, they are the ones that we are familiar with). Be sure to move forward with an outrigger that features sturdy joints and arms made of either metal or heavy duty plastic. We’ve heard horror stories about some of the lesser quality kayak outriggers leaving their kayaker stranded on the water!
Performance – 4.25/5
A kayak outrigger will make an immediate impact on your kayak fishing abilities. The most obvious benefit is that a kayak outrigger will allow you to stand and cast with ease! Standing and casting allows a fisherman to cast his or her line a much greater distance. Also, the alteration between sitting and standing is great for prolonging the amount of time you can stay out on the water – after all, if you become uncomfortable, just change positions!
Price – 4.5/5
You can find a quality kayak outrigger for kayak fishing for between $100 and $200. At this price point, the kayak outrigger isn’t going to be your most (or least) expensive piece of kayak fishing gear. Do not let the triple digit price tag scare you away! Think of a kayak outrigger as a form of cheap insurance policy. If it helps you avoid an accidental flip of your fishing kayak even once (where your fishing gear would otherwise fall to the bottom of the water) it has potentially paid for itself many times over!
Durability – 4/5
Durability for some of the lower quality kayak outriggers can be questionable. The outriggers shown above have proven their ability to last many seasons! One way to always make sure that you get the greatest possible durability out of your kayak outrigger is to make sure that you are adjusting the angle of the outrigger arms properly. Too severe of an arm angle will result in too much pressure being applied to the outrigger’s joint and could result in a separation from the hull of the kayak (or, at very least, a bending of the outrigger arm).
Overall – 4+/5
At an average score of 4+ out of 5, you can see that the experts at KFC think pretty highly of the kayak outrigger. Honestly, we didn’t buy outriggers for our kayaks very early on. We figured that our balance was good enough that they didn’t serve much purpose. We were wrong! Knowing how much we personally have benefitted from the outriggers (particularly in gaining the peace of mind that they provide) we would have purchased one much sooner! Be sure to let us know what you think about a kayak outrigger of your own!
KAYAK OUTRIGGER FOR KAYAK FISHING: SUMMARY
I hope this post has helped you learn more about the kinds of kayak outrigger for kayak fishing on the market today! Remember, if you have any questions about the outrigger we’ve mentioned in this article, or any questions about whether another type of outrigger may better suit your needs, make sure to comment at the end of this page and ask us! We’d love to help!
Don’t forget, you might hear some people refer to an outrigger as a “stabilizer” – just know that the two names are referring to the same piece of kayak fishing gear. Whether a kayak stabilizer for kayak fishing, or an outrigger for kayak fishing, you need to seriously consider the benefits provided by this accessory!
A Kayak outrigger for kayak fishing is not going to be a not “permanent” attachment to your boat. You can easily snap the outriggers on and off as your needs change based upon the weather conditions you are experiencing. Yes, this will take some time, but only a few moments. The flexibility of this “on again” and “off again” piece of kayak fishing gear is very impressive!
KayakFishingCorner always monitors the kayak fishing market to see if other types of kayak outrigger systems become available! For now, if you are looking for a kayak outrigger for kayak fishing, KFC is certain that you’ll be satisfied with any of the models that we link to above! Looking for a kayak outrigger that is built for the ocean? Sometimes, more than an outrigger is needed to improve your results, learn some of our favorite tips to catch more fish here!
Learn more about the principles behind outriggers, here!
Do you have any questions about the kayak outrigger for kayak fishing? What about ideas for where to install the outrigger for best results? What about kayak fishing in general? Please share with the rest of the KayakFishingCorner community by posting in the Comments section below.