DIY monopod hacked for kayak mounting

One of the first DIY projects I completed once obtaining my GoPro Hero2 was this monopod hack.  It takes a standard, inexpensive monopod and morphs it into an extendable GoPro boom pole.  It works great!

Recently I’ve been working on my rigging to get the boat ready for some warmer weather and the 2013 season.  On this list of things to do was another way to mount my GoPro to the kayak that doesn’t require the sometimes unstable mount of using the milk crate.  I’m really intrigued by the YakAttack GearTrac and MightyMounts, so I thought I’d give them a try.  I picked up a MightyMount and a few MightyBolts, hoping I could use them to build some DIY things for these fantastic mounts.

Rubber chair tip removed, PVC cap screwed into place, MightyBolt threaded in.

Rubber chair tip removed, PVC cap screwed into place, MightyBolt threaded in.

On a whim yesterday, I removed the rubber chair tip cap from the monopod and tried to slide on a 3/4″ PVC cap that I had laying on my desk.  It was a perfect fit!  Very snug, maybe even more snug than when slid onto 3/4″ PVC pipe.  So, I drilled and tapped the cap for 1/4-20 threads and screwed one of the MightyBolts into it.  The result is an extendable boom pole that mounts into GearTrac, MightyMounts, and most other track mount systems on kayaks.  To ensure that the cap doesn’t slip, I chose to screw the cap into the monopod rather than glue it to make it easier to remove later should I decide to.

I hope to test this soon. I haven’t even mounted my MightyMount yet!  But when I do, this will be the first thing I try!

ADDED 3-5-2013:

Yesterday I finally installed my YakAttack MightMount with FullBack.  After figuring out where I wanted the mount to be located and verifying that I could reach the area on the inside of the kayak to get the FullBack in place, I began by drilling a small pilot hole in one corner of the mount.  After drilling it out to the size I needed, I placed a bolt in that hole, then began drilling the other three holes one at a time, placing a bolt in each completed hole.  Everything went together well, though I did have clearance issues for the FullBack based upon the tight location I chose.  I was able to make it work, though.

The pictures below show the MightyMount in place with the hacked monopod camera mount in place.  I think it’s going to rock!

The Hunt for Fish on Private Property

Near the top of the list of positive aspects of kayak fishing is the ability to access waters that many fisherman simply cannot reach by boat.  Among these waters are private ponds and lakes.

One of my goals this winter is to reach out to owners of private waters in order to acquire permission to fish them next year when spring arrives.  Nothing excites me more than tracking down big bass in places that most people would overlook or simply disregard due to lack of access.  Recently, a relative reached out to a landowner to request permission for me.  Naturally, one of their concerns was liability in case of an accident.  This started me on the path of researching waivers of liability, which eventually led me to Indiana Code 34-31-9, which essentially removes liability from the landowner in the case of outdoor activities, including fishing.  It was then brought to my attention that the current Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide actually has a simple waiver of liability form printed within it.  The form provided by the Indiana DNR in this guide is tailored for hunting on private ground, so I tweaked it to be more specific for fishing and kayaking (and kayak fishing).

Download the 2-page form here!  And feel free to use it and share it as you see fit.  I AM NOT A LAWYER.  This is less of a waiver of liability and more of a way to demonstrate responsibility to the property owner and perhaps educate them on their rights and responsibilities as the property owner.  I believe that having this with you when you approach them to ask for permission shows that you’re very serious about acting as a responsible sportsman, respecting the land, the water, and the fish within.

DIY Solo Line Winder

One of the more frustrating things in fishing to accomplish alone is winding new line onto a reel.  It is very difficult to maintain steady tension on the spool of line while trying to reel that new line onto the reel’s spool, especially when doing so by yourself.

I looked into some of the commercially-available solutions for this problem, then researched some DIY solutions.  Of course, I love to do it myself, and I found this particular entry on Instructables to be one of the more creative that had been published.  I especially liked the idea of being able to adjust the tension on the spool with a simple movement of a collar.

I made some modifications to the instructions found there, though.  Rather than wood for the holder and base, I chose to use PVC (of course!).  Additionally, I left the head on the long hex screw and actually remove the screw from the drilled and tapped hole in the upright to replace the spool of line being used. This allows me to only have to use a single shaft collar, saving a few bucks.  I also added an additional 6″ bolt that lets me store my spools of line when not in use.  I just have one, but you could theoretically add many of these depending on your needs.

I have not had the opportunity to actually use this setup yet, so I may update later with additional changes that I’ve needed to complete, but the theory of this is sound and should help with this daunting task.

New modification to fishing crate GoPro rig

Today I made a quick modification to the fishing crate GoPro rig to allow for greater flexibility on mounting options.

2 mounting options for the GoPro. Left – Quick Release mount, Right – Tripod mount

Previously, I had a threaded male adapter on the end of the extension arm that attached to the frame mounted to the crate.  Today, I decided to add an additional threaded male adapter to the opposite end and create two new camera mounts using threaded (female) caps.  One uses a curved adhesive mount from GoPro to create a quick-release base for the camera, as I was previously using.  The second cap has been drilled and tapped for 1/4″-20 and a 1/2″ long 1/4″-20 bolt inserted to use with the GoPro tripod mount or, most likely, the Pedco UltraMount Ball & Socket Head.  This head should give me the flexibility I need to quickly adjust the GoPro for the angle needed.

November Smallmouth Fishing + GoPro Mounts

This weekend I was able to go do some fishing with my dad on a small northern Indiana lake that’s been hot for smallmouth lately.  Unfortunately, the bite has slowed, possibly due to the lake turning over from the cold snap of late.  We were still able to catch some, though not the quantity and quality that he’s been catching there in the past weeks.

Along with the fishing, I was able to test out some mounts that I’ve been building.  All of them are highlighted in this video:

Best viewed in 720p.

The beginning of the video was a boat-loading time lapse I attempted using the GoPro Suction Cup Mount.  I learned about 52 seconds into the 1 shot per second time lapse that you really should clean off the surface before mounting.  It fell.

Breakdown of the mounts used:

Suction cup mount on inside of boat

DIY backpack mount (Instructions here)

DIY chest mount

Kayak fishing crate GoPro mounting rig

View from my GoPro Hero2 utilizing a side mounting location on the base frame.

It seems the quest never ends for finding that perfect mounting location for the GoPro camera (or any other action cam, for that matter).  I’m constantly researching mounts and angles, which usually means watching awesome videos on Youtube and Vimeo.  It’s no secret that most of these videos are of kayak fishing.

One item that nearly all kayak fishermen utilize is a milk crate, usually located in the stern of the kayak, to organize tackle, gear, and necessities when on the water.  I’ve used a tube mounted within the crate along with a hacked monopod to hold my GoPro Hero2, but I decided to try to design and build something more purpose-driven for handling my camera-holding duties.

From Version 1 of my crate mount, this is utilizing the extension arm as a pole mount for shots. GoPro Hero2 baby!

The first version, visible in the picture at right, utilized 1″ PVC and was situated on top of the crate.  It was fastened to the crate via some short bungee ball tie downs.  The connection between the extension pole and the base mounted to the crate was via slip-on connections.  While this connection is strong and sturdy for this application without gluing the joints, it creates problems when attempting to remove and replace the pole, especially when on the water.  The force required to do so was wreaking havoc with the base mount frame and its position on the crate.

Version 2 of this rig changed a few things.  First, I’m using 3/4″ PVC instead of 1″.  The main reason for this decision was that 3/4″ PVC is plenty strong enough and is more comfortable in my hands than 1″ PVC when using the extension arm as a pole for filming.  Second, I built the frame to go around the top edge of the crate rather than sitting on top of it.  The frame is then bolted in place with 3/4″ PVC conduit clamps purchased at Menard’s.  Lastly, rather than using slip-on connections at the tees in the frame for mounting the extension pole, I chose to use a threaded connection to allow simple screw-on and screw-off mounting, eliminating the need to apply force to the frame.  This requires tees to be a combination of slip-on and threaded as well as a male thread adapter for the extension arm.

Base frame mounted to crate with extension arm attached.

None of the joints are glued.  The mounting brackets should hold the frame in place and keep it from disassembling itself.  Additionally, since the tees are not glued into place, you can rotate them to adjust the angle of the extension arm, providing additional flexibility in camera positioning.  This rotation is made easy by utilizing the extension arm once screwed securely into the tee.

On the business end of the extension arm, you have multiple options.  I chose to one of the stick-on flat adhesive mounts that uses the GoPro quick-release adapter.  This decision was based upon the fact that I also have a Scotty Portable Camera Mount that I use for forward filming duty and it, too, uses this quick-release mount.  You could also drill and tap a PVC cap and insert a 1/4″-20 bolt to hold any standard camera with a tripod mount or the GoPro tripod adapter.

Fabrication of the rig

My crate is a standard square crate formerly used by a certain local dairy.  Your dimensions may vary, but the concept is the same and slight modifications may be needed for your application.

Parts needed

  • 3/4″ PVC pipe (QTY: 10′)
  • 90 degree elbows (3/4″, QTY: 4)
  • Tees (3/4″, QTY: 4, Female threaded output)
  • Male PVC Adapter (3/4″, QTY: 1)
  • PVC Cap (3/4″, QTY: 1)
  • Conduit Support Snap Strap (3/4″, QTY: 8)
  • #8-32 machine screws w/ nuts (1 1/2″ or 1 3/4″, QTY: 8)


Cut 8 pieces of pipe 6″ in length.  Piece the frame together with a 6″ pipe between each elbow and tee.  Squeeze connections tightly to seat the pipes as deep as possible.  Place a snap strap around each pipe section.  Test fit and make note of approximate location of the mounting holes of the straps.  Using a 9/64″ or similar drill bit to drill 8 holes in the crate for each of the snap straps.  Mount the frame using the machine screws and nuts.

For the extension arm, take your pick on length.  I am using a 3′ length.  Once cut to length, place the male adapter on one end and the cap (already prepped to your specs for your camera) on the other.  Press firmly into place, glue if you wish to.

More examples of shots from this rig are available in my flickr feed to the right.

What’s in the crate?

Crate ready for the water

One of the most important components for kayak fishing is organizing your gear.  Fortunately, most sit-on-top kayaks used for fishing have a well area in the back of the kayak designed to hold a milk crate.  This crate assists in organizing your gear both on and off the water.  Here’s what is in mine:

Off the water

  • PFD
  • Scupper Plugs
  • Lowrance X-4 headunit
  • Anchor and line
  • Stakeout pole tether
  • First Aid Kit
  • Accessory tube (for GoPro pole or light pole)
  • Rod Holders
  • Toolkit (Pliers and scissors)

On the water

  • Tackle box (minimize!)
  • Soft plastics bag (KVD model from Bass Pro Shops)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Accessory tube with GoPro pole
  • Rod Holders
  • Toolkit (Pliers and scissors)

What do you keep in your crate?

Fish Finder installation on my Angler 144 Kayak

After a few times on the water, I decided it would be very beneficial to have a fish finder/sonar to locate structure and bottom contours while out fishing.

So, I set out to research my options.  My priorities (in order) were cost, size, and reliability.   After speaking with my father, who has had great luck with his Lowrance unit, I decided on the Lowrance X-4.  This unit is small in stature but has great features and even better affordability.

Battery box with inline fuse inside.

The big obstacles when installing a sonar unit into a kayak are power source and transducer mounting.  To overcome the first obstacle, I purchased an inexpensive battery from my local battery store.  This battery is a 12 volt, 5 amp hour battery.  Simple and small.  To complete the power source duties, I purchased an inexpensive dry box from Walmart that is actually designed to keep items dry when camping and boating.  The battery fit inside this box perfectly.  I drilled two tiny holes, just large enough to feed the 14 gauge wire through.  I wired in the inline fuse provided by Lowrance and utilized a 2 wire quick disconnect harness designed for a small trolling motor that I picked up from my local marina for a few dollars.  I also added a short section of pipe insulation just to keep the battery from sliding around within the box.  This entire assembly is fastened to the inside hull of the kayak via some 3M industrial strength velcro.  This allows me to remove the box assembly for transport and for taking the battery indoors for charging.

As for the transducer, I had narrowed its installation down to a few options.  Lowrance actually offers a transducer scupper mount designed specifically for use in sit-on-top style kayaks.  This remains an option for me should I run into future issues with my current setup.  However, I’m leery of this option due to the exposure of the transducer versus the shape of the bottom of my Angler 144.  I would pretty much have to remove the transducer each time I beached and transported the kayak.  Additionally, the wire to the transducer would be exposed on top of the kayak and could potentially become a nuisance trying to avoid while fishing. So, I chose the popular duct seal, shoot-through-hull setup.  Duct seal is simply a strong putty-like substance used to seal junction boxes in walls.  This is found in one pound blocks at your local hardware store in the electrical supply aisle.  I picked my block up for less than $2.  To use, just tear off a chunk, roll it tightly into a ball roughly the size of a golf ball.  Press this ball into the bottom of the transducer, then press the transducer/ball combination firmly into the bottom of the hull.  That’s all there is to it.  There is nothing permanent about this mount, so you can remove the transducer at will.  However, it is very strong.  I generally store my boat topside down on the PVC rack I built, and the transducer has never fallen from its location, even in the 90+ degree heat we’ve been having.

The base for the rod holder and the Lowrance X-4.

Finally, I needed to decide where to actually mount the head unit of my X-4.  After tossing around a few options, I chose to mount it in the forward cup holder location.  For starters, I wasn’t using this cup holder for anything.  Additionally, the base of the pedestal mount fit perfectly into the bottom of the holder.  The length of the pedestal mount also allowed for me to access the back of the unit enough to be able to remove the unit, but kept it mostly out of the way and unobtrusive when on the water.  It almost appears to be flush-mounted when in place and is the perfect viewing angle when I’m seated and fishing.  This really worked out beyond my expectations.  Along with using Marine Goop to seal the bolt holes for the bracket, I ran a bead of the stuff around the bottom of the bracket itself.  This should seal the large hole used by the main unit’s wiring harness to keep any water entering the inside of the kayak from above.

My Fishing Kayak

I grew up fishing the lakes of northern Indiana, but long ago moved to central Indiana for school and employment. I’ve been ready to get back on the water and enjoy the thrill of fishing once again.

After spending much time shopping for a decent, inexpensive boat, the prospect of this purchase becoming a money pit in repairs, registration, and plates really began to turn me off. So, I started doing some research on kayak fishing, having been made aware of it by a former coworker who flyfishes from his kayak in New York.

As I read more and consumed many videos on Youtube, this really started to appeal to me. I looked at it as a lower-cost way to start fishing again. Additionally, I looked forward to incorporating some exercise, the “primitive” aspect, the ability to access waters that may not receive much pressure from other fisherman, and the awesome “hackability” of the kayak and DIY accessories.

So kayak shopping I went. I decided that I’d enjoy a sit-on-top style of kayak for fishing. Sit-on-tops also have the factor of generally having a higher weight limit than sit-inside types. This is especially important for me, being a rather large fellow (6 ft tall, 290 lbs). After doing some shopping and research, I settled on a Future Beach Angler 144 available at Dunham’s for $349 (on sale, but it seems to always be on sale).

DIY Kayak Loader

PVC-based kayak loader to assist in rear loading the kayak to the roof rack.

After getting it home, the to-do list got started. Most times I will be fishing alone and needed the ability to load and unload the kayak from the top of my Trailblazer solo. I did some research on commercial loading options, and all were well outside my budget of nearly nothing. So I set about figuring out a system with PVC, dowel rod, and pool noodle to protect my SUV and to somewhat assist rolling it onto the top rack. After some trial and more error, the final product seems to work just fine with a total bill somewhere around $15.

Next, I was a bit concerned with dragging the kayak from the vehicle, usually located in a parking lot, to the water’s edge. I have no issues dragging this kayak, I just wished to prevent damage to the bottom of the kayak from concrete and gravel. More research complete, I decided on a DIY solution whose fantastic instructions are available here: http://palmettokayakfishing.blogspot…art-build.html . I had issues with the axle nuts staying on. Tightening the nuts to the wheel only causes its bearing to lock up, so they must be loose. To have room for this, my axle is slightly longer than the suggested 25.5″. I also had better luck tying the boat down directly on the horizontal supports rather than under the cross-member as suggested in the pictures.

This particular kayak has a molded section in the stern to accomodate a milk crate or a 5 gallon bucket. I opted for the milk crate, whose only modifications were adding two additional rod holders by zip-tying two pieces of 2″ PVC to the back corners. This crate also holds my homemade anchor made from an inexpensive 3 lb dumbbell, my tackle boxes, small landing net, and various other things I might need on the water.

Keeping with the PVC DIY theme, I used 3/4″ PVC and 7/8″ wooden dowel rod to fabricate a 6′ stake-out pole. Nothing complicated here. Just cut a pipe to length, slide the dowel inside of it for rigidity, screw/glue the dowel in place, leaving a few inches out of one end of the pipe. On this end, use a knife to carve out a point. Seal up the screw holes and the end with Marine Goop.

Lowrance X-4 in forward cupholder location

I’ve added a few commercial products to the kayak as well.  I purchased an anchor trolley system from Bass Pro Shops (which is actually made by Sealect Designs).  It’s not difficult to DIY an anchor trolley, but I would not have saved much money, so I chose to buy the kit.  This anchor trolley allows me to control the anchoring location on the kayak in order to adjust the boat position due to wind and/or current.  Additionally, I’ve added a Guide Series rod holder from Gander Mountain and a Lowrance X-4 fish finder.  The base of the X-4 mount was a perfect fit inside the cupholder at the front of the boat. The transducer is mounted inside the hull using Duct Seal (Electrician’s putty) for a through-hull application.  I haven’t had a chance to test this, yet, but all indications on the Internet say this should work fine.