When considering what length fishing rod to buy for kayak fishing, think of a shorter rod first. Shorter fishing rods are easier to deal with in the confines of the cockpit. For one, you can hold the butt of the rod with one hand, clear the rod tip with the other. Since most anglers have a hand-to-hand wingspan of about six feet, the average length, then, of a short spin cast fishing rod for kayak fishing, and viable for both saltwater sportfish or hard fighting freshwater fish, would be about six feet.
Long vs Short: Which One is Better?
If you enjoy the kind of kayak fishing that involves fishing all day or encountering occasional rough seas, you’ll appreciate the unobtrusiveness of a shorter fishing rod. Few encumbrances, while kayaking or sea kayaking, are more bothersome or distracting than a rod in the way while trying to paddle. A long rod in your way interferes with your paddle stroke and makes skills like landing and launching in shorebreak trickier and more complicated.
A longer spin cast rod, on the other hand, has many valuable uses once you land on shore and step out of the kayak. For example, you prefer the kind of fishing that involves using your kayak more as a means of transport to fishing areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. Not so much as a fishing boat, a longer spin cast rod (6’6″ plus) or even a nine or ten-foot surf fishing rod can be a good buy, particularly if you want to surfcast areas accessible only by boat.
In those cases, consider buying a longer two-piece fishing rod. Break it down, store it in or on the kayak, take it to your offshore spot and, after landing the kayak, piece the rod together and fish from shore.
A longer rod will be valuable if you prefer to spin cast fishing flats and shallows or if offshore fishing banks while casting your fishing lures is your greater concern. In such cases, especially on flats for tarpon in Florida, flats fishing in the Bahamas, etc., you’ll appreciate bringing along a longer fishing rod. In these cases, you’ll do well to bring along for kayak fishing an eight or ten-foot two-piece rod that fits, broken-down, in the hatches or on deck.
As for longer surf fishing rods too long to fit in a hatch even when broken down, you can secure them along the gunwales of the kayak so long as they don’t interfere with your paddle stroke, bracing, handling rough water or dealing with group and self rescues. Just be sure to rinse your fishing reel, if you store it outside the kayak, after a day’s soaking in saltwater fishing’s intensely corrosive environment.