Tips for Staying Safe in the Outdoors

Outdoor Safety Gear and Tips

By: Kinsey Staff: Brandon Rapp

Excitement is in the air as the weather has finally warmed up, the woods have become green again, the clock for us outdoor lovers has been reset! When we start enjoying outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, kayaking, hiking, and camping again we might tend to forget one of the most important things…safety! Do yourself a favor and always have the mindset to come back safe and sound.

I was standing on top of a mountain in West Virginia a few Octobers ago with a college friend who was proudly explaining to me that he doesn’t carry a cell phone with him in the woods. He’s by far a more intelligent person than me and a native of Northeastern Pennsylvania with legitimate outdoor experiences. As a personal trait I hate to interject my opinions on others, especially unprovoked, but without a thought or hint of hesitation I told him what a bad idea I thought that was. The sentence was out of my mouth before I completed the thought in my head. We all know how much trouble we can get into out there with water, rocks, heights, or wildlife. The addition of firearms, hooks, knives, and archery equipment and this danger can be compounded.

Outdoor Safety | Gear You Should Have With You

One of the most important things you can do to be safe might seem counterintuitive to hunters or anglers…always let someone know where you’re going. I know divulging our favorite secret spot can taste like vinegar coming out of your mouth but if you find yourself in a bad situation you’ll be happy you let someone at home know. It’s considerate and eases things for those waiting to see you and hear the story of what you saw outside that day. Besides that, it’s always a good idea to take the following gear.

Cell Phone

These days with how connected we are it seems we could equally feel the need to carry or not carry our cell phones with us. A lot of us are excited to take pictures and videos to post them to social media or check on some work emails every now and then. A lot of us can get in places where there certainly is no signal or reception but try to carry one just in case. When working properly it serves as a compass and can help determine property boundaries. It can obviously help you out if you get in a rough situation of any scale, but if for nothing else you have a camera with you to take a picture of a place you want to go back to or just something neat you’d like to remember.

First Aid Kit

If you can, carry a first aid kit and do a little research on how to use it. Just having it helps but without knowing how to use it especially when you might have to use it quickly can certainly be difficult. Basic ones can be found pretty affordable at your favorite local outdoor store.

Online Maps

Use technology to help you with a new spot. Online maps are a great and easy way to get a lay of the land before you lace up your boots. It’ll narrow your search obviously and help you find spots you’ll like faster. It’ll also help you avoid some spots and let you either share your location or explain to someone better where you might be if you need to.

There’s no need for anxiety as long as you’re aware and prepared so please don’t scare yourself out of the woods or water. With all of the great things that await us on hikes, hunts, camping, and fishing trips it’s easy to become distracted. If not for at least others, you have a responsibility to yourself to take a little effort to be safe.

Kayak Fishing Accessories That Can Make a Huge Difference

Kayak Fishing Accessories You Can’t Be Without on the Water

Fishing from a kayak opens up undiscovered opportunities to catch fish. Places where boats can’t get to and off the grid rivers suddenly become an oasis for catching fish. The advantages kayaks open up for the angler go only so far without the right kayak fishing accessories. Whether you are getting started kayak fishing or looking for an extra edge while on the water, there are many ways one can go about customizing a kayak for fishing. You want to capitalize on the benefits of fishing with a kayak as an angler.

Benefits of Fishing with a Kayak

The kayak is a unique vessel. It allows anglers to fish silently and stealthy in almost all types of water. Anglers use kayaks in both fresh and saltwater. They are effective in the tidal waters, coastal flats, large rivers and mountain lakes. Their versatility is one of the biggest advantages anglers gain from fishing with a kayak. In addition, kayaks also provide good physical exercise. They are an excellent outdoor activity and provide a complete cardio workout each time you are on the water. Several accessories, including several kayak fishing accessories, are a must to reap all the benefits of kayak fishing.

4 Must-Have Kayak Accessories

The same fishing tactics are effective, generally, when kayak fishing. Rod and reels, as well as fishing lures, can be easily transferred to use while on a kayak. The difference, however, is the must-have kayak accessories, which is driven more by the kayak itself rather than the act of fishing.

 

  • Life vest – A life vest is required by law in most states when using a kayak. Get a good quality fishing life vest like the Onyx Kayak Fishing Paddle Vest so it is comfortable and easy to maneuver in while paddling and fishing. Also, remember that it only works if you wear it!

  • Kayak paddle – A paddle may seem like one of those no-brainer must-have kayak accessories. Well, it is, however, not just any paddle will do. Look for a lightweight paddle like the Lifetime Lite Elite Kayak Paddle that weighs less than 3-lbs and has an ergonomic curved blade design to reduce drag while paddling.

  • Safety and personal care – A small waterproof container with some basic first aid supplies (bandages, pain medicine, etc.) can go a long way if you get a minor injury on the water. Also, pack small containers of sunscreen and bug spray to prevent sunburn and keep those nasty biting insects off you while kayaking.

These four must-have kayak accessories are all you need if you plan to simply kayak or just take a quick fishing trip after work on the local lake. However, in addition to these, there are more kayak fishing accessories that will completely round out your fishing kayak.

 

Kayak Fishing Accessories You Can’t Be Without

Now that you have the essential kayak accessories, it’s time to focus on the best kayak accessories for fishing. Although you can catch fish without these six must-have kayak fishing accessories, your day on the water will be increasingly more productive when you have them. Customizing a kayak for fishing by including these accessories will increase comfort and make your kayak more functional, which will give you a significant advantage while fishing.

  • Seat upgrade – The standard kayak seat is fine for a few hours of fishing but any more than that and you will start to feel it in your back. An upgraded seat provides additional support and cushion to give you extra time fishing.
  • Rod holders – Setting up a fishing kayak has to involve rod holders. There are two types and having both on your kayak is helpful. The first is kayak flush mount rod holders. These are perfect for stowing your rods while paddling to a new spot. The other type is removable rod holders. These are typically mounted towards the front of the kayak and are great for holding your rod while making quick adjustments.
  • Fishfinder – One of the best must-have kayak fishing accessories is a fishfinder. These will allow you to target bass during the spawn and find schools of panfish much more easily. Choose a fishfinder in the 4- to 5-inch screen size range and one that also has a built-in GPS for marking fishing spots and navigating bodies of waters.
  • Landing net – There is limited space in most kayaks but another one of the kayak fishing accessories you can’t be without is a landing net. Landing fish, especially big fish, from a kayak, is challenging. Trying to manage your rod and the fish all without tipping over is not easy. A landing net ensures you land more fish and more importantly remain dry while doing so. The Frabill folding telescopic net saves space on a kayak but still provides a net when landing big fish.

  • Kayak anchor – One of the best kayak fishing setup tips is to include an anchor and anchor system. All you need is a small anchor between 1.5 and 4-lbs to hold you on a spot in current or wind. Be sure to include or install in your anchor system a quick release mechanism. This is to insure you don’t get pulled under in the event of not being able to release the anchor.

  • Tackle storage – Tackle has to be concise and easily accessible when kayak fishing. Choose watertight tackle storage trays to keep hooks, weights and lures dry. Multiple small boxes labeled properly, such as trout fishing lures, are easy to stow and use as opposed to large tackle trays when fishing from a kayak.

There are many different kayak fishing accessories on the market. You first want to start with the essential kayak accessories which include a life vest, paddle, dry storage and safety/personal care items. These kayak fishing accessories will get you on the water but must-have kayak fishing accessories like an upgraded seat, kayak fishing rod holders, fishfinder, landing net, anchor and well thought out tackle storage system will put you in a position to catch more fish.

Essential Beginning Gear for Fly Fishing

Beginning Fly Fishing Gear

Fishing is a simple proposition. You just need bait, a hook, some line, a rod, and a reel, and you’re set – right? Well, if you’ve ever seen someone fly fish, you know that’s not quite the case. Fly fishermen can sometimes look like a walking tackle shop, their vests and packs bulging with the weight of all their gear. The sight of anglers with that much gear can be intimidating to someone who wants to fly fish, but never has.

If you’re in that boat, we have some great news for you – the amount of gear you actually need to start fly fishing is minimal. There’s a fine line between something you need for fly fishing and something you might need. If you’re ready to get started with fly fishing, then sit back, relax, and read through this list of the essential fly fishing gear for beginners.


The Fly Rod

The biggest difference between fly fishing and spin or bait casting is the type of rod you use. A fly rod is typically longer, lighter, and more flexible than a spinning rod. Fly rods are built this way to properly cast a fly line (which we’ll get to in a moment) and to help you land fish quickly.

With a spinning rod, you’re generally using a heavier pound test line to your lure or bait. That, coupled with a spinning rod’s stiff butt section and soft tip, help you set the hook and net a fish without breaking the line. Fly rods work under the same principle – they’re just longer and use the line that’s almost always lighter than what you’d throw on a spinning rod. There are some other considerations you need to make before purchasing a fly rod such as rod weight and rod length.

Rod Weight and Length

When you shop for a fly rod, you’ll see that they’re classified by their length and line weight. A fly rod line weight isn’t a breaking-strength rating. Instead, it refers to the weight of fly line that rod is built to cast. The most common fly rod, by far, is a 9-foot 5-weight. These rods are like the .30-06 of fly fishing. They’re able to do just about anything, and they’re perfect for beginners targeting trout, bass, panfish, and other freshwater species.

The St. Croix Rio Santo Fly Rod is one of the most popular entry-level fly rods, and for good reason. It’s an inexpensive rod with great performance. For $199.99, it’s tough to beat the performance of the Rio Santo.


St. Croix also makes a handful of other rod series that are fairly priced for an entry level fly rod. The imperial and Avid rod series, in particular, are great rods for the price.

Fly Reel

Reels are used much differently in fly fishing. Instead of using them as the primary source of line retrieval, reels usually hold the line while a fly fisherman pulls the line in with his free hand – a technique called “stripping.”
However, for the fish that are too big to handline in, you’ll need a reel that can put the brakes on as the fish runs. Something simple like the Okuma Sierra 4/5 wt. is a great choice. With an alumalite reel and stainless steel drag system, the Okuma is a reliable entry-level fly reel to accompany your standard 9 ft. 5 wt. rod.


Fly Line

When you first look at the fly line, you might end up with a bit of sticker shock. Some lines sell for $120 or more! Fly lines are more expensive to make, and some of them are worth the extra money. However, for beginners, there’s no need to dump tons of money on a line. More often than not, expensive lines are for specialized, highly technical forms of fly fishing.
Lines are built to weight specifications and correlate directly to the line rating on your rod. If you buy a 9’ 5-weight fly rod, you’ll want to buy some 5-weight line with it. Using 4-weight or 6-weight line won’t let the rod cast correctly. For most beginning level applications you will want a floating fly line, which gives you the option to fish dry flies and topwater poppers, yet also run shallow subsurface patterns.
Cortland Fly Line is a popular fly line that is fairly priced. The line offers an all-purpose application that happens to cast better than most other entry level lines.


Leader/Tippet

You know that long piece of line that connects a fly to fly line? That’s called a “leader.” They come in a lot of different lengths and sizes, all with different applications. For beginners, you don’t need anything more than a 9’ 4x and 5x leader. These leaders are tapered, which is where the “X” in their classification comes into play.
A 5x leader, for example, tapers from its thick butt section to a diameter 5 times smaller at the tip. Generally, a 4x or 5x leader will work for fly sizes 10 – 20, and is all you need to get started. Tippet is classified by the “X” system as well, although in this case, a spool of tippet is a uniform size. It’s like buying a spool of 4-pound monofilament test for a spinning rod. You’ll want a few spools of tippet to replace the end of your leader as you cut it while changing flies.


Flies and Fly Boxes

Books have been written on the subject of picking the right fly. It’s a crazy in-depth topic that you’ll learn about over time. The quickest way to explain flies is this: they’re made (tied by hand) to look like aquatic insects. Certain bugs – like caddisflies, mayflies, and stoneflies – live most of their lives in the water. Most of them return to the water to lay their eggs.
That’s what your flies are imitating – different “river bugs.” For beginners, you should make sure to stock your box with some size 14 caddis, size 14 Adams, size 16 pheasant tails, and size 18 zebra midges. Those 4 flies will catch fish in nearly any river in the world. If your targeting bass, your fly selection will shift to streamers, clousers, poppers, and crawfish patterns, and depending on the water slightly bigger flies. Of course, if you start throwing bigger patterns you will need to bump up your line, rod, and reel wt. size.
You don’t need a fancy box to keep your flies in, but it is nice to keep the flies organized and water tight to avoid rust and normal wear and tear. A small fly box is just fine for the beginning fly fisherman, something that is easy to put in a pocket or vest.


Nippers/Forceps

Most fishermen have a war chest’s worth of interesting gadgets for their time on the water. The most important, though, are nippers and pliers. The nippers are used to cut your tippet when changing flies, and the forceps are used to help remove a hook from a fish’s mouth. Both can easily be purchased in a package together and attached to your vest or shirt.


Waders/Boots

Fly fishermen spend a lot of time in the water, which is a bit different from other styles of fishing. If you’re starting in the summer and warm water you can fish wet, wearing pants or swimming trunks and sandals or water shoes. To stay dry and comfortable in the colder water or for all day fishing, you’ll want a great pair of waders and boots.
You could easily spend more than $1,000 just on waders and boots, but there’s no reason to do that. For beginners, a simple pair of waders with boots such as the Frogg Toggs Cascade Bootfoot Felt Chest Waders is a solid purchase.


Fly Fishing Vest/Pack

While you certainly don’t need a vest or a pack to hold all of your new tackle, it is recommended to make your first go at fly fishing more enjoyable. Vests have been popular for years, though sling packs are starting to become more popular.
Just like with everything in fly fishing, you can spend a lot of money on a vest or a pack. Cheaper options work just fine, though, for beginning anglers. And vests are generally more beginner-friendly, too. The Allen Big Thompson Fishing vest comes in a variety of sizes and offers plenty of storage.

Beginning Fly Fishing Gear

For less than $400 – $600 dollars you can be fully outfitted for fly fishing. Of course, you can go much cheaper than this if you simply want to buy a fly fishing fly rod, reel, and line combo and a couple of flies. That purchase might only set you back around $100 or so.
At least walk away knowing that fly fishing doesn’t have to be an awfully expensive sport…you can get started without a huge investment. This blog covers all of the gear you need to head out to the water today and start catching your favorite fish species. Other than the gear, the next thing you might want to learn is the tactics to catch those fish!