As I talk to folks both new and experienced in the kayak fishing world, gear and rigging bubbles up as a subject constantly. Having been in the kayak for more than 10 years now, I have rigged quite a few boats. I have done the "all in, all at once rigging" and then the "little bit at a time because it's all I can afford" rigging.
I don't really have a preference. It's more of a money thing. If I have the extra cash, more toys is more fun I guess.
What I wanted to do is give a break down of what, in my opinion, are the three phases of rigging. Not everyone does it this way but time and again, it's what I see and what people share they are doing. You can skip phases, do them all at once, or whatever suits your fancy but if you are looking for a starting point, try Phase I. Progress as you see fit.
Tracks- $10-$50- Some kayaks come with it already, some don't. These are or at least can be the base for all attachments. These also allow you to strip off attachments before transport. I use the YakAttack GT175 heavy duty tracks. Tracks come in all shapes and sizes so finding one that fits your needs is fairly easy.
Adjustable Rod Holder- $20-$40- Flush mounted, molded in rod holders are great but typically mean you need leashes and there is only one angle to choose from. I just upgraded to the Zooka Tube as it handles multiple reel types and lengths.
360 Degree Light- $40-$85- A must in many states from dusk until dawn, a 360 light lets other boaters know you are there, makes you legally compliant and gives you some light to see by should you need it. The VisiCarbon Pro is my light. I've had the others and this is far superior in every way if you can spare the coin.
Net- $8-$125- Net styles vary as much as fishing pole choices now. The cream of the crop nets have yet to win my pocket book. I use my $10 Frabill net from Academy and sometimes regret it. I'm thinking my next purchase may well be a better net.
Anchor- $0-$60- Depending on where you are going to be fishing, anchors have a variety of styles and weights. This is usually one of the first things people purchase who are going to be fishing in saltwater or big freshwater lakes. Some folks even make their own from an old barbell. Whether you are a bruce claw guy or not, an anchor is a quick way to stay on a spot.
Hawg Trough- $15-$25- Quickly becoming the go to measuring device for Catch Photograph and Release anglers and tourneys, a Hawg Trough should be up there on your list. Need some pointers on how to get it setup? Go here.
12 Volt Battery- $20-$30- Lots of ways to do this one but the easiest and most common is a deer feeder battery. 7.5A and rechargeable. Why do you need this? To power the next thing on the list!
Fish Finder- $60-$1500+- Dozens of options for this one. Get the best you can afford and upgrade as you want/need. I use a Lowrance Mark 5X-DSI. It isn't tip top of the line. It's not even color but I'm color blind anyway so yay for saving a few bucks!
Push Pole/Anchor Stick- $50-$100- These can be different or the same. If you fish frequently in water less than eight feet deep, this is a good way to go. I use the Park-N-Pole. I have the 6ft version and wish I had bought the 8.
Anchor Trolley- $20-$40- So why is this in Phase II and not with the anchor in Phase I? Lots of people simply clip or tie the anchor wherever they can. Not until later do folks discover the advantages of this device. You don't need one to run an anchor but once you use it you will love it. I have the Hobie anchor trolley but several companies make a good one. With a couple of pulleys and some paracord, crafty folks can make one for a few bucks.
Transducer Mount- Not everyone can or wants to do a through hull mount.Even fewer have a transducer ready boat. For those who like to hang the 'ducer off the side and remove when off the water, the options are few. I use the Mad Frog Liberator and it works well for my needs.
Gear Box/Milk Crate- $0-$125- If you like to pack lots of baits, you'll need somewhere to put all of those boxes while still staying organized. For the DIYer, a milk crate is often used. I prefer a more rugged, UV protected, solid state box with a lid and attachable hardware with rod holders. For my money, The Black Pak is one of the best accessories I've ever purchased. Think it's a milk crate? Read more here.
GPS- $100-$300- If not included in your fish finder, these devices can be helpful to mark those magic hotspots. If you don't mind using your cell phone, you can download the Navionics app and do this for $15.
Video Camera- $100-$400- GoPro, Contour, Playsports and more are ready to capture your every single move. With a variety of mounts available the sky is the limit. I use a GoPro Hero2 currently.
Camera Pole- $30-$80- So you got a camera but need a unique way to get those cool angles. I use the PanFish mount from YakAttack and a couple of Dog Bones as well to mix up those shooting angles.
LED Lights- $30-$250- Whether it's visibility or baitfish attraction, LED lights can be the ticket at night. You'll want to do a little research and comparisons to make sure you get a durable product. Need some help? Check here. I prefer 5050 LEDs from SuperNova lights.
VHF Radio- $65-$300- Depending on your destination, a VHF radio could be on your needs list. If you plan on going beyond the breakers, this should be in Phase I.
Cooler- $20-$500- Again, this is all about taste. How rugged does your cooler need to be? Do you like the popular brands? Yeti, K2, Polar Bear and others offer a wide variety to choose from.
EPIRB/GPS Locator- $100-$700- Another BTB Phase I item, this can also be useful to help family know exactly where you are at.
Upgrades- Do you need a rudder? Want to try out some Turbo Fins? How about a better seat? Usually these are some of the last things added though usually intended to do up front. Are they necessary? No. Do they make life on the water easier? Yes.
Keep in mind every person will prioritize differently but these would be the starting points I would recommend. Think it over, make a list, check your budget and then get after it!
As always, if you have any questions or comments, let me know!