Hi there, my name is Kowus Pelser and this is my guide to getting you started in Kayak Fishing.

This guide is aimed at someone who is new to Kayak Fishing looking to enter the sport. One of the questions I get most often is, what will I need to get started and how more or less how much will it cost.

This guide is based on fishing open water (The Ocean). Cape Town and surrounding Western Cape. Spots ranging from Langebaan all the way up to Mosselbay. For details on the specific sections please navigate to the specific chapters in the menu to dive a bit deeper into the reasoning and the specific subject.

The Overview

Kowus Pelser Fishing off his Stealth ProFisha 575 at Arniston during the first Club comp for 2020. . Fish caught here are Atlantic Bonito’s (Bonnies) also know as Katonkel.
Smile says it all 🙂.

Let’s get started with what you will need to buy to get yourself going and hooked into some fish. The below list is the starting point of absolute must haves, the numbers references are guesstimates to guide you. Don’t hold me to the numbers please, I’ll try keep them as close to accurate as possible.

The Kayak

The Stealth ProFisha 575(shown above) is the fastest in our range. Definitely one to consider when needing to cover the distances we sometimes need to cover to catch these critters.. Kowus bought his 575 after just 4 month’s of kayak fishing the Cape Town waters, opting for a fast streamlined kayak was the best decision for him.

With a large number of Kayak options available there are a couple of things to consider. Not only stability, let me knock that one off the list first. Kayaking is like riding a bike, once you get going stability isn’t a major factor anymore. I must add, angler weight however does play a very relevant role but more on this later.

The most important factor is actually safety! By SAMSA regulations your kayak must be longer than 3m to venture out to sea. I’d recommend even longer in the range of 4-5m. Another VERY important requirement is the Kayak MUST have a rudder. The rudder on a kayak offers steering in easy and tougher windy or current conditions. This eliminates majority of the entry level plastic kayaks as they don’t have rudders nor designed to go out to sea (open water).

So the what Kayak? Although there are a couple of Brands available most kayak fishermen end up on a Stealth. Stealth have been in the market of designing performance kayaks for a number of years and have brought all of that research and development and moved the technology across to their whole range of fishing kayaks. Start out on the correct Kayak! And yes as we are the Cape Town agents for Stealth so we are a bit biased but they are the market leader for good reason. Refer to the bottom of the page to the what not to buy section.

So again Stealth is the only Brand that doesn’t just make fishing kayaks but also offer a wide range of Kayaks, all for different applications or needs. The three Kayaks most people entering the sport looks at, is the Fusion 480, Fisha 500 and the Fisha 555. This is purely because all beginners look at stability and these are rated the most stable options, however those models may not necessarily be the best option for you.

My view for where we, and the majority of guys on our whatsapp group fish most often… I would split the choice into only four options, the Stealth Profisha 575, Fisha 500, Fisha 555 and the heavier plastic Fusion 480. The differentiator between these four would be how often you fish the type of fishing you do and your weight. First off if you want to start fishing from the minute you get onto your kayak (day one) and maybe won’t have the opportunity to fish every weekend and get confident about your stability, the 500 would be the perfect option. These ski’s are not as fast as a 555 or 575 but they are perfect for newcomers to build that confidence. The Fisha 500 is shorter than the 555 thus gives you slightly better manoeuvrability in unfamiliar conditions. The 500 and 555 are very similar kayaks with the 555 marginally wider but quite a bit longer giving you some additional speed and stability if you feel you need it.

For anglers wanting more speed but weighing more than 100kg I would recommend you look at a 555, less than 100kg the 575 would be the ultimate weapon. The 555/575 are the fastest options available suitable for the longer distances we sometimes need to paddle to our hunting grounds. Also versatile enough to use in calmer waters like estuaries etc. So now you still not 100% sure which kayak is going to be right for you? Your choice should depend on what type of fishing you will primarily be doing and where. Both Sean and I would happily assess your thinking and guide you based on our experience in making the correct choice. This high level summary is also based on the what we see have seen the majority of Kayak Fisherman who fish as often as we do. 😉

Take a look at our buying a kayak guide for more detailed write up here: https://sandbox.thefisherman.co.za/buying-a-kayak-guide/

So how much will this cost? You have the option to either look for a secondhand kayak or buy a new one. For a second had kayak you can expect to pay anything from R8500 – R20 000 depending on accessories included. A new Kayak will cost you around R17 000 – R30 000.

You will be flooded with opinions on Kayaks. So best take caution and time to consider what brand is right for you . There have been a couple of brands trying to replicate Stealth designs. Most however don’t quite match the design and capabilities of Stealth, hence why Stealth remains market leader and the preferred choice by most..

Safety Equipment

The following are an absolute necessity:

For more details please visit my dedicated chapter on the subject: Chapter 1 – Kayak Safety

  • PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
    • With loads of options available from the popular Stealth Fisha and Vanhunks PFD. Priced around R 900 – R 1650. (Look for something that fits comfortably, doesn’t chafe you and allows you to get back on your ski).
  • Paddle (& leash)
    • Couple of options available here ranging from a plastic paddle at R 900 to full Carbon ranging from R2000 – R3000. We recommend spending the extra money on a Carbon bladed split paddle. You are likely going to end up paddling some distances and an efficient paddle makes a massive difference. A second recommendation would be to opt for a split paddle. The solid shaft paddles are quite an inconvenient item to transport so having something you can split into two really makes life easier.
    • Also make sure you get yourself a proper strong leash, the paddle is quite heavy and bulky and as this propels you it’s not something you want to lose.
  • Anchor Setup
    • Not only to anchor yourself while bottom fishing, but also as a safety measure if u ever need to deploy to prevent being blown out to sea. This includes what we call a complete anchor rig. We do recommend you look at the professionally made up rig we supply opposed to try and make up something yourself. Proper setup will cost you around R 1400.
  • Fishing Permit
    • You need a fishing permit to catch fish from a vessel. This will cost you around R 180
    • Your local Post office will be able to assist you, remember you need to check the box fishing from a vessel. Also if you intend on catching some chokka also select the appropriate bait collection box.

Kayak Gear

  • Rods & Reels + Leash:
    • If you’ve got nothing my recommendation is the following. You will need 2x trolling rigs and one spinning rig. First off your rods should be able to fit inside your kayak hull so keep them between 6-7 feet long. Shorter than 6 feet isn’t better nor comfortable, try and stick to the 6-7 feet mark. On the longer kayaks like the 555 and 575 consider 7ft as it’s a little easier to be able to get your tip past the front if a fish is casing you left to right.If on tight budget we can recommend the cheaper rods like Albe ski-pro, Adrenalin LTE’s, Sloppy’s or the Shakespeare ugly sticks or Okuma Aereal. Rod ratings between 6-20kg are all good. They are all fairly cheap but can do the job. You don’t require extremely thick rods, bigger fish will just drag you along a bit, you don’t need a 100kg boat rod. I would recommend comparing the rods by actual rod weight, some of the Albe rods like the Bonito is extremely heavy and hard to handle on a kayak. Consider the lighter rods as these will handle a lot easier on the kayak. For some decent trolling rods you’ll spend between R 400 – 700 per rod.For Spinning I would urge you to spend a bit more and find a lekker flexible rod that will be able to flic a 40 – 100g spinner far out. When spinning you handle your rod much more and want a light effective rod for good casting for long periods of time. As options and availability changes so often it’s difficult to recommend a specific rod. Okuma Areal and some of the lighter Sloppys are definitely not a bad choice. Don’t go too heavy action as this is a spinning rig to cast small spoons at times. Its quite a challenge with rod availability but use these as reference and find a rod that compares. If want to go the ultimate rig you can just go with 3x good Spinning rods. The perfect setup would be 3x identical setups you can use for trolling or spinning like in my case 3x Shimano Terez paired with 5000/6000 reels would be perfect. This way you can spin with any of your three rods, if something goes wrong with your spinning rig while the fish is busting you just grab the other rod. Really saved the day a couple of times for me in the past.
    • For reels we can recommend coffee grinders all-round. We recommend the 5000 size (Shimano 6000) on all. Brand wise, to start out the Big Boss 3 range is a good affordable starting point at around R 1300 a reel. If you want ultimate consult your local tackle shop, loads of guys rate the Shimano Saragossa although personally I use Shimano Seragosa’s. Some others the guys use are the Shimano Sustain, some of the newer Penn reels and the Okuma Metaloids. Again it’s like car brands, find what works best for you and your budget.
    • Obviously you’ll need fishing line and leaders (50lb/25kg Braid with a 60lb/30kg mono or fluro carbon leader will be perfect). This will be about an additional R 350 per reel. Spin up your braid on your reel, FG knot your leader on (about 7meters) and add a clip swivel to the end of your leader and you’re ready to go.These are about R 45 a pack. Line and leader is always personal preference however. So see whats best for you. (leader line really helps if you need to grab the line to handle the fish, handling braid whilst under tension(fish on) without gloves is likely to cut you..
    • Make sure you add a rod leash to each rod just in case you do go swimming, we all do at some stage and have lost our prized possessions. These range from R 100 – R 300
2x Ski Pro cheapies with a Okuma Metaloid spinning rod (All with rod leashes.😉)
  • Gaff
    • Not absolutely critical but really helpful if you do hook that big one and you’re aiming to get that beast into the fish hatch. Make sure you get yourself a longer gaff as you do have limited movement on the Kayak to fight and gaff your fish. Minimum a 90cm but I’d recommend a 120cm gaff. These are about R 550. Have a look at the option we offer, the Stealth 1,2m floating gaff is really awesome. Visit our shop for more.
  • Pliers, Scissors and a Knife
    • Get yourself a decent pair of salt water resistant pliers, a braid Scissor and a knife. These range around R 250 for the pliers R50 for a scissor and R 100 for a knife.
  • Lures
    • To start, get yourself 2x trolling lures. “Golden secrets” (Pink and Blue). Start with the number one rated lure in the world the Halco Laser Pro 120 pink and as a second a Halco Laser Pro 120 Blue Sardine. Also the Rapala sardine 3m diver. These go for about R 150-R300 each.
    • For spinning keep it simple and get yourself a plain 80mm-100mm silver anchovy spinner. These go for about R 100. Most guys out there just stick to this all time classic and steer away from some of the fancy options available. They work great! But… it;s a sickness I know and yes I do also own a collection of lures I’ll probably never end up casting.
  • Rigs
    • If you want to do bottom fishing or targeting chokka you can add these to your arsenal. The bottoms rig will be around R 50 and Chokka around R 150. Some more details in our targeting species section: Basically it’s a 1oz sinker with a 2/0 Mustad circle hook.
  • Clothes
    • Weather changes quickly so having a modular type setup allows you to add and remove layers as you wish. As a base we advise buying a 2mm or 3mm Farmer John (R1600) and some booties (R700) for those sharp shells and rocks. A Reef fireskin or something similar to add over your Farmer John to keep you warm if u get cold easily or a normal rash vest if you don’t. A Chill cheater is another item to always keep with you, keeps you dry and blocks the wind. They typically fold up very small and can easily be dropped into your dry hatch, these retail for about R 300 (This is Cape Town after all) Visit our shop for more.
  • Fish Finder
    • I’d say a real nice to have, especially when targeting bottoms or chokka. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. No not really that simple but does help a lot. A good starting point would be a Garmin Striker 4 plus for about R 3400. The Lowrance units are also not a bad option if you like the horizontal view.

There are many items you will purchase based on ideas you wish to try. Also new lures and technology beccoming available So keep informed and steal with your eyes. If someone had more success than others that day, go steal 😉

Things you may not need:

  • A huge lure collection
    • Stick to one or two spinning lures, the more you cast the luckier you’ll get. It’s not about offering a rainbow selection. It’s about being in the right spot at the right time and … trolling at the right speed (6km/h+). Matching the size bait fish is at times a good idea too. Anchovy is mostly what the fish are feeding on, so a spoon around that size will serve you well.
    • There are tons of different trolling lures. But stick to a few you like, no need to take a huge selection out to sea. Again the more you paddle the luckier you get. If you lure is swimming you stand a chance of hooking up. Keep your lure swimming and try covering good distance until you find them..
  • A plastic fishing Kayak
    • We’ve sneaked this in here but it’s an important mistake loads of guys make. With the exception of 2 plastic kayaks (Stealth’s new Fusion 480 and the Trident). Please don’t make the mistake of considering any other plastic kayak. Especially if you plan on fishing in the Ocean for game fish like Yellow Tail and Katonkel (it has been done, but definitely not recommended). Most of these plastics are recreational mess around kayaks without rudders. Suited more for lakes, dams and rivers. Definitely not designed for fishing open water nor our most popular fishing spots. A fish hatch on a Kayak is VERY important to keep your catches in, which most plastics don’t have (The Stealth Fusion 480 has a big storage hatch like most of the Stealth Kayaks if you want a plastic ski) You can however consider some of these rudderless plastics if you are ONLY going to fish in and around kelp like Melkbos. The big pain is paddling some of these plastic kayaks over long distances, especially if you add trolling lures into the mix. Some have heavy drag and you will struggle especially in Wind, which is a big factor sometime during the course of your fishing session. We would strongly recommend you look at the right tool for the job here, a Fusion 480, Trident or any of the fibre glass kayaks Stealth offers.

We hope you found this guide helpful. If you still have questions please don’t hesitate reaching out to us. We like to keep our site as relevant as possible so any suited input or ideas to help others is appreciated.