With approximately 40 million anglers nationwide, fishing is one of the country's most popular pastimes, and kayak fishing is arguably its hottest new trend. Compared with a motorized boat, a kayak saves gas money, fits into tight, shallow spots, and lets you sneak up quietly on that big catch. Here's how to make the most of one.
Pedal Instead of Paddle: Native Watercraft Mariner 12.5 Propel
Bicycle-like pedals replace this kayak's paddle, leaving hands free for fishing. The Propel's four-gear drivetrain turns a propeller 10 times for each crank, so you can efficiently reach 5.75 mph. It's easy to steer, too: A joystick directs a rudder, and unlike existing pedal kayaks that use unidirectional flippers, pedaling backward moves the propeller—and craft—in reverse. Lift out the drive to paddle or swap in a motor. The boat can also add a mast and sail and, in 2011, pontoons.
Cast Farther: U.S. Reel SuperCaster 700X
This bait-casting reel, a style often used for bass fishing, sends your line up to 30 percent farther than others. It puts less friction on the line by passing it over a smooth bar, not through a constricting eyelet, that later seesaws to neatly rewind line on the spool.
Find Fish: Humminbird 385ci Combo Kayak Fishfinder
Designed to mount inside kayaks, this sonar device displays underwater objects and creatures. Its transducer sends sound waves through a kayak's plastic bottom to the depths beneath, and a dry-bag keeps the battery safe.
Keep Bait Alive: Harmony Collapsible Live Bait Cooler
Kayaks don't have room for big tanks to store live bait. So bring a pliable 13-inch cooler bag, which tucks behind seats and packs a battery-operated bubbler to keep the water aerated and bait breathing.
No Bites: Simms Bug Blocker Shirt
Mosquito bites, that is! This fisherman's shirt builds in insect repellent that outlasts other bug-fighting clothing. The chemical permethrin is applied and cured onto fabric before it's stitched together, for a tighter bond and even coverage.