Rod management for kayak fishing

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Rod management for kayak fishing

Safe and secureA few thoughts for avoiding rod damage or loss.Protective services: When he’s using those horizontal tubes, Howell protects his gear

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Safe and secure

A few thoughts for avoiding rod damage or loss.

Protective services: When he’s using those horizontal tubes, Howell protects his gear with rod sleeves, which make for smoother entry/exit and minimizes guide damage.

Focus over accessories: Dunbar generally foregoes floats and leashes, which he considers unnecessary distractions.

“I feel like any (flotation accessory) takes away from the rod’s sensitivity, so I take the risk of not leashing or adding floats. I do a really good job of making sure that when I put my crate together, the rod tubes are secure.”

Rough ride: A common mistake with delayed impact is stacking rods too closely. As you lift one, it’s handle may grab the adjacent reel, jostle it from the holder and leave it improperly seated. Traversing rough water can send insecure rods for a swim, so this is where Dunbar values rod leashes or crate bungee cords.

“The other (concern) is flipping your boat,” Dunbar said. “I would suggest leashing rods or adding floats to anyone who does not have a stable kayak, because when you flip a kayak, anything that’s not leashed is going to the bottom, including your rods.”

Howell’s navigational advice: Heading into the waves minimizes flipping risk, while avoiding rough areas entirely maximizes security.

Control the moment of truth: As Dunbar notes, the kayak angler’s catch-photo-release process requires a brief, but potentially tense period in which the scoring tasks can inadvertently threaten rod security. For one thing, laying a rod across the kayak or awkwardly angled in the cockpit leaves it vulnerable to the big plunge.

Also, big fish can do a lot of damage.

“I have a dedicated rod holder on my (left hand) H-Rail, so after I catch a fish, I put my rod in that holder, I take the hook out of the fish, hang it on the rod and it’s out of the way,” Dunbar said. “If don’t do this, you might lose the fish, or if you put your rod in the floorboard and a big fish jumps (during measurement) and hits your rod, it’ll snap your rod.

“There are a lot of different elevations in a kayak, as opposed to a bass boat where rods lay flat on a deck. Usually, if you set a rod down in a kayak, it’s partially laying on the floorboard and then it’s resting on something, because it’s not going to lay flat — there’s too much stuff going on and if a fish lands on the rod, it’ll snap it.”

Avoid such mishaps with forethought and discipline. Know where each tool goes, don’t overreact to a big fish’s unpredictable antics and follow the established plan every time.

Back cast calamity: Different presentations require different spacing considerations. For example, flipping or pitching keeps it all forward, while skipping docks takes a little load-up and launching crankbaits or swimbaits necessitates a serious back cast.

Dunbar suggests arranging rods accordingly. Right-handed casters will want their vertical rod positions shifted to the left, or laid horizontally. When space allows, moving the crate farther aft helps.

“Try to make your cast more off to the side,” Howell suggests. “A lot of people like to go straight back, but that’s how you’re going to break rods, or launch them into the water.”

Ultimately, each angler’s personal style and comfort should drive rod decisions. As Dunbar points out, developing a kayak rod system that fits your needs makes more sense than modeling someone else’s.

“If you’re trying to fit yourself into a method or approach that isn’t yours and doesn’t feel comfortable, then you’re never going to be successful — you’re going to be fighting yourself the entire time,” Dunbar said. “More casts equal more fish, and if you’re fighting yourself, you’re not casting.”

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