This post is long overdue, basically I just wanted to show off my pride and joy. Rigging up this kayak has kept me busy over the last 12 months, and has given me the means to get out to sea and into some really fantastic fishing. The picture above shows her rigged up for drifting / lure fishing for Bass. With a small box of choice lures, two rods, and my Garmin 501c fish finder, travelling light like this means I can get out quickly and start fishing.
I posted a feature here about 12 months ago which talked about the features of the Concept “Explore” fishing kayak (fresh out of the factory). Since then I have tweaked and fiddled with it, adding various parts and accessories and now it has evolved into the monster fishing machine that I have dreamed about.
Not quite as clean and shiny as it was when new but still in fantastic condition. Me and this kayak have been through a learning curve together. A few bangs and scrapes, a couple of items lost overboard (lesson learned), and also a good number of changes to the fittings and accessories (before I found the layout that worked for me).
I have lost count of the hours I have spent thinking about the layout of the kayak. I have learnt that it pays to travel light and take only what you need. The kayak could take the weight of extra tackle with no problem, but it soon becomes chaos aboard when a decent fish comes onboard and there’s too much stuff laying around.
The anchor trolley system (by H20 Kayaks) runs the full length of the port side (see picture above). This is used for a drift chute (aka Drogue) – I do a lot of drift fishing and IMO a chute is an absolute must have for sea fishing. I have fixed it as near to the front as possible to ensure that I don’t sit at a funny angle to the wind, sometimes I position the chute at the back of the kayak when lure fishing which puts the wind behind me and makes casting much easier.
The front storage hatch gives access to the area where I store my fish finder battery. The battery goes in a dry bag that is held in place with sticky sucker pads – simple but effective! I also installed my transducer in this hatch, it is attached to the inside of the hull using Marine Goop. I cut up some kids foam play mats to make a well to hold the transducer within a reservoir of adhesive goop.
The picture below shows the TracPort Dash 350 by Railblaza, I mounted this onto one of the StarPort HD mounts which is much more sturdy than the normal round StarPorts as it has a bigger footprint and a screw hole in each corner. The TracPort holds my Garmin Eco 501c fish finder mounted on a Scanstrut Rokk Mount, I have also added two 75mm G-Holds which make handy rod rests when I’m changing bait or unhooking a fish. The TracPort comes with 3 x sliding ports where I can mount other Railblaza accessories.
I do a range of different fishing for various saltwater species and the fittings I have chosen can be re-positioned using Railblaza StarPorts. A great feature on the Concept Explore is the centre console. It comes with a number of attachment holes designed for Scotty accessories and there are a selection of moulded screw holes that I’ve used to attach Railblaza StarPorts in various positions. The centre console is held in place with two sturdy straps, the top of the console can be removed where there is a storage area underneath where I keep a few “emergency” lures (for when the going gets tough).
The DIY wooden bait table was made out of a chopping board attached to a Railblaza Rotating Platform with nylon screws. I often strap my box of lures to this table when I’m not using it for cutting bait.
The picture also shows a single rod holder in position for lure fishing and trolling, I am able to move the bait board closer to me (near the compass) and then mount an additional rod holder on the other side. I often fish a baited rig on the bottom (in the rod holder) and jig or lure fish with another rod in my hand.
If there was one thing I would change about the design of this kayak, it would be to have some flat horizontal spaces on each side to attach some gear tracks (for rod holders and devices). This is definitely not a big issue as there is plenty of space onboard but would be a “nice to have”.
One final attachment that I intend to add to the centre console will be a small device holder for my Garmin Etrax 20 GPS, this will be located alongside the compass (in what I am now calling the “navigation zone”).
The Concept “Explore” comes with 2 x flush fitted rod holders that are located behind the seat, mainly I use these for storing the rods when I am paddling to a mark, they are also good for trolling and I often troll a lure out behind me. It is important to remember to leash your rods so they don’t disappear over-board if you get a good bite, there are plenty of pad eyes fitted to the “Explore” for fixing things down.
For winter/bait fishing I plan to fit some RAM rod tubes to the kayak using adapters that fit inside the flush mount, this will allow me to position two rods pointing forwards (one on each side of my seat), and will free up some space on the console for bait preparation (and un-hooking monster fish).
The rear tank well gives me some great storage space and is mainly used for putting my catch. I often put a large cool bag (attached in place with the bungee cord), this keeps the fish fresh and stops gulls or seals pinching my catch while I’m not looking (it’s happened quite a few times). The rear well has two scupper drainage holes with bungs. There is also room for my flask of tea and a box of sandwiches (just as important as anything else on-board).
I have a rudder system installed (which comes as standard with the Concept “Explore”). The rudder system improves paddling in windy conditions. This is controlled with the foot pedals and is deployed using a pulley rope. The pedals are adjustable (depending on your height). I don’t use the rudder system very often but its good to have when conditions turn bad.
So there you have it, my fishing kayak build so far! The Concept “Explore” is a really well made kayak and has been really easy to adapt to the way I fish. The materials and components used to build the kayak are top quality and as far as I’m concerned, the “Explore” is every bit as good as any of the other kayak brands out there. If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions about my fishing kayak build, please feel free to leave comments below or contact me.
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