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Setting up your kayak


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Well with the help of others here, i made a decision and my new old town pdl 106 arrived yesterday. Quick recap for those who weren't following along. Got a cheapo lifetime tenton 100 last year in September. First kayak and first time not fishing from shore. Bought it as a test to see if i enjoyed a kayak. I loved it. And here we are, i quickly upgraded. 

 

First of all, i got to say imvpretty blown away with the quality. Granted im coming from a cheapo yak. But man, I'm impressed. 

 

So I'm planning on taking it on the maiden voyage tomorrow if weather allows. Was in the garage all morning setting it up. Which got me thinking. Do you more experienced kayak guys have a process to rigging up a new yak or do you just go trial and error? 

 

I always traveled light on the lifetime. Little DIY crate. 2-4 rods. A net. Had an anchor trolley with a DIY anchor wizard that's secured to the crate. A paddle. And pliers. 

 

With so much more space/storage and just a different foot print, I'm not doing anything permanent. Want to be strategic in rigging this guy out. There's more expensive kayaks out there but this one wasn't cheap either. And i bought it with the intention of it lasting a looooong time. 

 

I already got a cart. Next order of buisness is getting a spare prop and parts. I just modified my crate a bit. Want to take it out a few times first but next would be anchor and anchor trolley. Because this is a nice yak i almost want to go with an anchor wizard over my DIY anchor wizard (which works fine). I like the anchor trolley on my left but that's where my paddle holder is. So I'm not sure. Got some things to figure out. I'm rambling a bit. It's the excitement. But to sum it up, i always traveled light, but it was somewhat out of necessity because of the limited space on the lifetime. Now with all this space and options my mind is racing with possibilities. I'll probably keep it light, but who knows. Maybe I'll start to expand. Regardless, I'm curious if you more experienced guys have somewhat of a template in your head that you've developed then just modify based on the kayak? Or is it a trial and error type deal with every new kayak. Do you guys go into a new kayak with a set end goal (electronics ect.) Or do you cross that bridge if and when you get there? 

 

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I'm not super experienced, but have the same kayak as you. My advice is watch Navarre YouTube videos, he covers a lot of recommended upgrades.  Also don't permanently mount anything until you've tested on several trips. I still haven't permanently wired my helix yet, wires everywhere but I'm looking for the sweet spot. 

 

I'd try it stock before buying tons of things. What works for me may not work for you. However, I do recommend the steering upgrades and seat risers 😎

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My main fishing kayak is a Crescent Shoalie, but also have a Old Town Sportsman 120 (both paddle) so i have some experience with different kayak platforms, the reason i talked about the Crescent is because those 2 kayaks are so far apart when comparing on how i would set them up. I have a Yak Attack cart as well as a Black Pack (crate) and had a fish finder but returned it due to wanting to fish old school. But with the Crescent i only need the Kayak and the cart, it has a Anchor wizzard spot from the factory but i use that kayak for river/lake use where i need to maneuver and get around quickly whether from spot to spot or dodging boats/jetskis so i dont want to put an anchor on it. I dont use the Black Pack crate on it either since it has tons of storage under and on the side of the seat (can fit around 6-8 3700 trays plus soft plastics) and also has 2 side rod "holsters" their term as well as 4 spots to put my rods under the seat running up to the front for quick access and changing setups on the water.

But for the Old Town Sportsman 120 i would rig it so so different. This kayak literally feels like a boat once on the water, its so extremely stable. So i plan on putting either an Anchor Wizzard or a trolley depending on which one requires drilling less holes into the plastic, under the seat theres some storage but not much and the rod holders it comes with arent positioned to my liking so the Black Pack crate would definitely be put in the rear tank well on this one. I could carry several trays, bags of soft plastics and 4-6 rods with that setup. Also if i were going to buy another fish finder i would rather put it on the Old Town, and it would be the Garmin Striker Vivid 5CV with the battery in the front storage compartment.

I highly suggest looking into the Yak Attack Black Pack for your old town, its a closed crate and can be strapped down so incase you flip the kayak it will stay put and keep your baits and tackle safe, but it also has small holes drilled in for drainage, they make them in 3 sizes and are highly customizable. One of the best purchases i made for kayak accessories. And like Fishtax said check out Navarre, great products specifically for Old town and lots of good info on their videos.

Whenever i get into a new kayak i like to paddle around for an hour and then fish out of it after, that gives me a good idea on how the kayak feels, moves, and also its strengths and weaknesses, then i figure out i might not actually need to add something, or maybe i need to but just in a different spot.

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I did check out navarre. I plan on getting a few things from him. 

 

But I'm very interested in how you mentioned the two different kayaks being set up different. I almost feel like that will be my experience. The lifetime was set up light and it worked fine. But i also couldn't fish out of it for long due to comfort. We'll have to see but i feel like and hope i will be taking much much longer trips with the old town. Which may or may not warrant a different approach. 

 

Funny you brought up the black pack though. That'll probably be an upgrade as well. The DIY crate works fine but those black packs look nice. The DIY crate belongs on a cheapo yak. A nice yak deserves a nice crate. 

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I’d suggest taking it out with the bare minimum before trying to rig it all out, especially anything that requires drilling into your kayak. What you think will work ok for you may change after you get on the water.  Watch as many different kayak fishing videos on YouTube to see how other kayaks are rigged out and being used for ideas. 
 

Everyone is different and what I like and what’s for me may or may not work for anyone else. It’s taken me close to 5 yrs to get my kayak dialed-in the way I like it.

 

The most important thing above all is to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. A close second is to make sure you take a paddle with you every time.  

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^^^ This. 

 

Every year something in my kayak setup changes as both my approach to fishing changes and as I get ideas from other anglers.  I'm also coming up on 5 years.  It's a very personal thing.

 

This year I moved a couple of drilled items around after a couple of years where they were.  The holes are easily filled with silicone caulk, so I wouldn't say don't drill holes.  What I would say is don't drill them until you are reasonably sure they need to be there.

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I'm not drilling anything until I'm sure. I'm also not asking how to set it up. I realize that's going to change person to person. I'm asking how you guys go about coming up with your own set up.

 

Im asking how you go about setting your own yak up. For instance, i didn't realize you could move items that you've drilled. Not that i would want to do that. But never heard of that before. Good info.  I'm possibly thinking about a micro power pole vs the trolley anchor. When you guys get a yak are you already decided on what you want long term? Electronics and micro power pole is a possibility in the future for me. But i hadn't decided (obviously since i hadn't even taken it out yet). When you guys get into a new yak are you already decided on that type of stuff or do you rig it out then make changes as things come up. 

 

My biggest fear when it comes to this yak is to set it up then want to change the more permanent types of things (hole drilling)  in the future. Hence my curiosity and this post. 

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On your maiden voyage, take a roll of tape and a marker. You can mark where you wish to position any modifications more accurately than relying on memory when you get home.

4 hours ago, Jmilburn76 said:

The most important thing above all is to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. A close second is to make sure you take a paddle with you every time.  

A third suggestion is to tell someone where you'll be and when you expect to return.

I also suggest to allow for future upgrades. This is really difficult unless you have a crystal ball or know a psychic. Needs change and try if you can to anticipate them if possible.

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I've got an OT Predator PDL, which is a little bigger than yours, but shares the same drive.  I also put a prop, the required hardware, and tools into a zip lock bag and leave it in the drive hatch.

 

I bought the more expensive Yakattack anchor trollies and have them on both sides.  The only time I notice them in the way is loading in a tight spot.  Having them on 1 side, I feel that I'd always wish they were on the other.  I also use this to fish grass, and can put 2 anchor pins on either side and be pretty solid, rather than wonder whether the bass/snakehead will drag me into the grass before breaking off.  I also have the short Anchor Wizard.  I actually use 2 when I'm fishing shallow rivers with my Jackson Coosa HD.  1 off the bow (most used), 1 for the drag chain.

 

I think the crate and the cart are a given, and you've already got the cart.  Both of mine are homemade.  They certainly make a lot of crates that you can buy these days, but if you're interested, I can share details of mine.   I still prefer it for my purposes.

 

I think the other thing you'll want no doubt is a graph.   I ended up using a Yakattack Cellblock and, and I have a Lowerance HDS Varbon 7" graph on mine with the side scan transducer.  That transducer won't fit in the scupper hole that OT made for my kayak, so I had to figure something out.  I now believe that I could have gone without the side scan, but at the time everyone was touting its benefits (FFS hadn't been invented yet, what ever did bass anglers talk about).  

 

Good luck with the new kayak.

IMG_20240324_045704_(1500_x_1125_pixel).jpg

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I think for me its just watching video's and instagram shorts. I have a NuCanoe Unlimited so its made to rig out. Im having some really cool ideas about rod storage also. 

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For the transducer, I got the switchblade mount so I can pull it up and down. My last transducer got pretty banged up in the factory mount under the kayak, and my new one cost a lot more so I wanted to be able to baby it. Also good to be able to easily clean it if you get into grass or something. 

 

I also added an extra cup holder, one with Holes to hang baits from. I love that for hanging crankbaits to dry before I store them. Also love it for an extra water bottle storage. 

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Took it out on the maiden voyage today. Weather was NOT fun. 30 degrees, 20mph winds with gusts up to 40. Temps in the teens with the wind chill. I loved it though. Wasn't out long. Was nice to be able to pedal and keep my hands warm in my jacket pockets. Actually worked up a bit of a sweat. Was really just testing things out. Had it loaded out. 

 

My current set up is bare bones. Crate with 4 rod holders. One of those actually holds my net, the 4th rod goes in a factory rod holder. My anchor sits in the other factory rod holder. Paddle in the factory paddle holder. Left pocket hold my scale, right pocket has the donkey leash and pliers. The drive storage has a rope and a wacky worm tool. Front hatch has the spare pins that came with the kayak. 

 

I was very surprised with how well it held position. In my tenton I'd be spinning in circles. I was not in the old town. And i was able to counter the wind by pedaling. Changed jerkbaits, slowly pedaled backwards and held position for the most part. 

 

Any way, to the point of this post. I do like the way its set up for now. The anchor trolly is my big dilemma. I land fish on my right so i like to keep that area clear. My paddle holder is on the left. If i went with an anchor wizard that would go to the left, then the anchor trolly would be on my left. Seems like I'd get cluttered quick. And paddle would be in the way. Solution would be the yak attack paddle holder. But then there's somthing else on my left. And if i did put electronics in, which im undecided on, id like that on the left as well. 

 

My DIY anchor wizard works quite well, and is attached to my crate. So there's one thing i could eliminate from the left side clutter. Think I'd add the trolley first (since that seems like priority #1 as far as anchoring goes), then come up with a paddle holder solution after that if i do find its in the way. Then depending on how things are working out i could upgrade to a anchor wizard. 

 

If I'm being honest, my big dilemma is i don't like using an anchor a ton. But when you need it, you need it. Now that i have the pedal drive and can hold position better, will i use it even less? Maybe. Guess we'll have to see. Would like to get more fishing done in it before i start drilling holes and making changes. This is fun stuff though. I love the fact that i have options. Just got to figure out what works best for me. 

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20 -40 mph winds, temp in the teens, and you went out in the water?

 

I see young folks out in the cold with shorts on while I’ve got on long John’s, I’m getting old.

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If at one point you decide to make a change in your rigging and have holes to fill, there are some simple options depending on where the hole(s) are. They make  plastic button plugs that just push into the hole to fill it and give a neat appearance. Filling them with silicone works but doesn't look as clean. You can weld the holes, sealing them but that is a little more involved but works. I replaced my foot pegs with ones that had a different fastener pattern. I welded the vacant holes closed and all was well.

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2 minutes ago, Crow Horse said:

Filling them with silicone works but doesn't look as clean. 

This is true, but after 5 years of dragging my yak over rocks and into skinny water the silicone kind of just blends in with the rest of the dirt.

 

I don't set out to abuse my yak, but I don't baby it either.

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Depending on depth you want to anchor in, a stakeout pole may also be an option. I just got one I'm experimenting with, can't figure out how to store it while not in use yet. Probably will end up in a paddle holder if I decide to keep using it. 

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With my old Seastream pedal drive I used the Yakattack Cellblock and the Switchblade for the transducer. With that setup I had the freedom to move things around wherever I wanted and I did not have to drill holes.

 

My AP120 is a different story. I took it out a few times before I settled on where to put my Helix 7 and stow the battery, then I ran the wires internally.

 

But then I decided to add Livescope and a bigger head unit and went through the process again. So now I have a lot more components, wiring, and a Yak Power switching system. The worst part, for me, was locating the big head unit on the rails. I quickly ditched that idea and built a DIY center console. I could not be happier with the results.IMG_2397.jpg.7411dd949678a1c9617de8c929b55a28.jpg

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@Koz I hear ya, I don't love having the 7" on my side rail and do hit it at least once an outing. Would love it centered, not sure it's possible with pdl system though. I haven't installed my hull wiring yet bc I can't get comfortable with where I want it. 

 

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You asked about process. I’m into my fourth season on my autopilot now. My process was have a target in mind what I want to do and how I fish. Then aim toward that. Anything I might want to upgrade in the future gets either a semi permanent mount or a mount that can be used on future upgrades. First season I added a helix 7, a pair of single rod omega holders, and I think that was that to start. Over the season the omegas changed into horizontal holders. I added nav light strips. And that was my setup for two years. Last year I upgraded to a helix 9 and live imaging. Sold the helix 7 and used the same mounts. The only real upgrade left is a power pole which I want, but don’t want to spend full retail on. 

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I'm pretty surprised. It sounds like most of you guys just slowly added and made adjustments as needed. Which is basically what I'm going to be doing. It's just surprising that no one really had a end goal in mind straight from the jump. 

 

Whoever mentioned stake out poles, iv actually been mowing that one over in my head as well. I do fish pretty shallow waters. Max would be about 8-12 ft. There is one lake that is very deep for the area that iv never fished. Seemed like a nightmare with a paddle. But maybe I'm try it out now. 

 

I'm pretty impulsive. But when it comes to big money i try to be smart about it. It's nice to know holes can be sealed. Never thought about that. That's why i come here. But point is i would like to avoid that. I think I'm playing it too safe though and at some point just got to go for it. Took it out again this afternoon. Winds died down some and it warmed up. It needs an anchor trolly 100%. That's going to be my first thing i add. Got to start somewhere. 

 

And I'd like to thank everyone. I know it sounds like a silly question. But first of all, i learned somthing new. And my mind got put at ease for not having a full blown end goal in mind. I trust you guys. Feel much better about just adding what i think is essential for now then making changes as my wants/needs change. 

 

 

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Don't solve a problem you don't have just because some youtube guy says you should.  I have been kayak fishing for a coupole decades and othe than my first one, I went out a few times before rigging anything.  Each person is different, how they fish is different and their needs are different.  The technology is out there to do what you want because you need it and not because you read it online.  

A perfect example for me is the whole rod holders on the crate.  Everyone says it is the say to go but I hated it for my style of fishing and it doesn't make sense to me so i went another route that many don't like and that is flush mounts.  I jhave since graduated to tracks with rod holders to provide flexibility in mounting.  
 

You will know pretty quickly what you want and need for your fishing and that is when you start searching for solutions to those problems

 

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On 3/23/2024 at 4:30 PM, Jmilburn76 said:

I’d suggest taking it out with the bare minimum before trying to rig it all out,

I agree. Take your time rigging it. I did it one piece at a time (aka Johnny Cash). It took me nearly a full season to rig my first kayak just right.
 

You’ll figure out what works best for you the more time you spend on the water with it.

 

Take YouTubers’ advice with a grain of salt.  It’s your kayak.

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One thing that I forgot to mention is your setup will vary whether you sit and fish or stand and fish as well as whether you predominantly cast left or right.

 

With my Seastream pedal drive, the pedal unit was both tall and close to my seat. With that, I had the head unit low on the rail and next to my seat and not mounted on the Cellblok.

 

Also, I’m short so things like the pedal drive and head unit were obstacles at times. My Autopilot has a lot more deck space and because I sit and fish the center console made sense for me.  Hopefully it’s not in the way when I start standing and fishing.

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