5 Items You Need to Start Kayak Tournament Fishing

Ketch board in action

The sport of kayak fishing is gaining popularity, and the number of competitors is rising year after year. The competition is also getting stiffer, the amount of information readily available for consumption combined with the technological advancements in the fishing industry, has made for shorter learning curves for the game of bass fishing.

What better time than now to start gearing up for next season, who knows, you could be the one to beat.

1. Kayak

2. Transportation Items

3. Safety

4. Measuring

5. Cellphone/Camera

1. Kayak

Picking your kayak is a process, not a very quick one for most people, I will try and break it down for you in the easiest way possible. Picking a kayak is important but having enough left in your budget for entry fees, tackle, traveling, and gear, are just as important to begin your tournament adventure.


This category of kayak is a good place to start, they are typically lighter, more affordable, and have fewer moving parts to break or lose. The less time you must spend doing maintenance, the more time you can spend learning techniques and kayak control, skills that will transfer with you when it’s time to upgrade your kayak.


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Low Maintenance
  • Learn basic paddling techniques.


  • Fatigue- Your arms may get tired from paddling.
  • Cover less water- the amount of water you can cover is based on your own paddling abilities, generally your arms will tire before your legs will.
  • Adverse weather can make paddling a challenge.


With the advancement of technology and the expiring patents of peddle drives, they are becoming a lot more affordable. If you are just a few hundred short on your budget, I would wait it out, the advantages of a peddle kayak from a paddle kayak are extensive. Every year more kayak manufacturers are releasing a line of kayaks with pedal drives, and that is driving the prices in the market down for some companies.


  • Less Fatigue
  • Longer hours on the water
  • More storage space.
  • Hands-free approach to fishing


  • Heavier, harder to load and unload
  • Maintenance is necessary.


Adding a motor to your kayak can get spendy, a lot of kayaks need specialized brackets that can require some drilling.  A few manufacturers come with motors already installed and if you were going to start your journey with a motorized kayak, I would recommend purchasing a Ready to Run kayak. It saves time and money, and you don’t have to drill holes in your hull.


  • No fatigue
  • Spot lock technology
  • Speed


  • More moving parts to service
  • Takes extra time to set up before getting out on the water.
  • Hate from the peddlers and paddlers.

Don’t overthink it, buy what meets your needs, your budget, and the type of fishing you plan on doing. I would also recommend trying out a few different kayaks before making a purchase, going to a local dealer, and asking fellow kayak anglers to try their kayak out, are good starting points, it’s an investment, choose wisely.

Image by Chris Vigneau from Pixabay

2. Transporting Your Kayak

How you transport your kayak will depend on a few factors, are you loading on top of your vehicle, in the bed of your truck, or onto a trailer. When you purchase your kayak from a reputable dealer, they will help you select the correct style mounts, and offer different solutions to possible problems you may have. 

Safety is important when selecting the tools to transport your kayak, you want to protect your investment and protect the people you are sharing the road with. If you have a short bed truck and kayak over 12ft I would recommend a bed extender. Lots of options for roof racks and roof rack accessories are going to depend on the style of your kayak, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional before installing these products yourself.

3. Personal Safety

The title says 5 items, but I am going to cover two important items for safety. Life jacket and an orange flag with a 360-degree white light. The combination of these items saved my life one morning. 

It was a cold morning in December, I made it to the lake about an hour before sunrise. I was on the water, rigged up, and ready to start fly fishing for trout when daylight made its way over the trees. I stood up on my kayak and reached back with my fly pole in hand, ready to make the first cast, suddenly a shotgun blast went off behind me, it startled me, I jumped backward tripped over my seat, and landed in the water. At this time there was a nasty fog layer from the top of the water to as high as I could see, I struggled to see my kayak, and after a minute of near panic I noticed a white light about 50 yards from me, it was my 360-degree white light.

My kayak wasn’t anchored, I must have kicked it in the opposite direction of when I was on my way out. After a brief cold swim and a ten-minute struggle to get back into the kayak, I caught my breath, and I was finally able to make my first cast. In all the hours spent preparing for this trip, I had missed the part about it being duck season, something I should have been aware of.

Always wear your life jacket, you just never know when you will need it.

Image by John from Pixabay

4. Measuring Board.

All bass clubs have their own rules on what is an acceptable measuring board, also called a hog trough. Be sure to check the rules for the tournament you are signing up for. It’s not fun to show up on the day of the tournament and have the wrong measuring device. Most clubs will allow the Ketch brand boards in their tournaments. Make sure to leash yours to your boat, if you lose it, your day is over. It’s a good idea two have a spare on you or in your vehicle just in case mistakes are made and they do happen.

5. Camera/Cell Phone

You need to be able to take pictures of your fish on the board to get credit for the catch. Most competitors use their cell phones and upload pictures directly to an app used for the tournament. It’s good practice to leash everything that isn’t bolted to your kayak, losing a phone will end your day.

A waterproof case is also recommended, no matter how hard you try to stay dry, it’s impossible. Keep your investments protected.


These are just a list of the things to get you started, you will pick up a lot of miscellaneous tools, crates, and storage solutions as you continue your journey. You can pick up good deals on kayaks from marketplace and craigslist, just do a thorough inspection and you will be on your way to tournament weekend before you know it.

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