In my previous blog, “Rigging my Jackson Big Rig (Part 1),” I started at the bow of the kayak and worked my way to mid ship. Rigging is a lot of fun and can help pass the time with the long and cold winter days that we have up her in Canada. This is my third angling rig,and I would like to think that I have learned from the mistakes that I have made in my previous rigging attempts. What I have learned however, is that every kayak is different, and what worked on one rig may not work as well on the other. The Big Rig comes rigged out of the box and you could easily fish many situations with limited modifications. The design of the Big Rig also promotes its owner to get creative and personalize the kayak to ones specific needs. As I have reviewed my rigging, I have discovered the flaws in my thinking, typically by taking it out on the water and testing the mod. Cold winters do not typically allow for water tests, so as I lead into Part 2 of this blog I really want to stress making sure you have REALLY considered all the aspects of your modification before drilling holes in your kayak.
In my opinion aside from the way the kayak handles, the most important feature of the modern angling kayak is the seat. With all the focus on sight fishing and improved sight angles, many of the manufacturers have their version of the comfortable seat. Jackson has made this feature one of the most important features of their angling kayaks. At the introduction of the 2015 season Jackson introduced the Elite Seat 3.0. Having had the Elite Seat 2.0 in my Cuda let me just say that they really improved the seats design and functionality. The solid frame bears my solid frame with no difficulty, and many convenient features are all located close by giving the paddler the sense of being in the cockpit. Jackson predrilled and placed brass bolt mounts so adding the anchor cleat was a cinch. The seat itself moves from high to low with ease although personally I have paddled primarily in the high position. The seat is tightly cinched to the hull with a perfectly placed strap. The material is comfortable and it provides support so there is no leg or feet numbness. The kayak is equipped with a lumbar support made by Therm a Rest, and there are three ample pockets allowing for storage of the two Planos that come with the kayak, and pocket that can store necessary hand held tools. Jackson also included a mesh zipped storage pack for the back of the seat which is perfect for those additional necessary musts while on the water.
I have additionally installed the Big Rig rudder, which for me has proven to be an effective means of controlling my drift, and really helps when I deploy my drift sock for slowing down in the fish zone. With the seat in the high position there is plenty of room under the seat for Plano storage, although I have been trying to limit my “carry everything I own” philosophy since I got the Big Rig.
Having had the opportunity to water test the positioning of the Raymarine Dragonfly 4, I have discovered that I prefer the positioning to be on my right hand side rather that the middle, although with all the standard track, placement anywhere in the cockpit is a slide track away from reassignment. I have fallen in love with RAM mounts because of their versatility, although finding what one is looking for can be tricky. After much thought and consideration, I mounted a Scotty paddle clip, and opted to place it below the gunnel line so that I can continue to roof my kayak on its gunnels.
Love it or hate it, the Jackson Big Rig comes equipped with a stand assist bar. I have personally used it to store my rod while I am stand up paddling, and prior to the installation of the paddle clip I had used it to house my paddle while fishing. My reviews are somewhat mixed because when used as a paddle holder the blades end up catching wind and have gotten in the way of casting as evidenced by the two broken jerk baits in my tackle box. At this stage i plan to keep the bar, although a may decide to remove it next season and see if it makes a difference to me. While I am on the subject of paddles, I have opted for the Bending Branches Angler Pro 250cm. With the hull of the BR measuring 37 inches wide a longer paddle is a must. Given the importance of a paddle, I will write reviews of the three paddles that I own in a later blog.
Venturing behind the Elite Seat 3.0 Jackson once again perfectly placed must features on every angling kayak. The rod holders. The RAM tubes proved to be an essential tool for me last summer as I toyed with and eventually mastered trolling with not one but two rods. It takes a bit of practice to put two lines out without tangling them up, but once I got the hang of it I was fishing and landing walleye using crankbaits and a worm harness from each side. My crate is simple in its design and fits five standard Planos. I have toyed with the idea of a lid for my crate, just in case, and recently saw a bungee net that may work as I hope. I have placed a Berkley rod holder on the rear allowing my homes for five rods. As I get ready for my trip to Kentucky this spring I am going to add two more Ram Tubes that will mount via the slide tracks increasing my rod capacity to seven. I discovered a really awesome DIY rod leash design that I will build in the coming weeks and add to my rigging.
The stern of the Big Rig is as well thought out as the bow. The ample tank well allows for the storage of my crate and with the bungees I am able to strap down the crate as well as my kayak cart. The Malone cart holds the BR perfectly at midship making an easy trip from the car to the launch of the kayak as I walk it right into the water so there is no acrobatics involved in trying to get my fully loaded Rig off the cart. The inline anchor line running from my retractable line holder, attaches to my anchor which provides a stern deployment of my three pound retractable anchor. I had not considered the impact of an inline anchor system which essentially rules out any quick release of the anchor in the event of an emergency. The stern dry storage allows plenty of room for stowables, but once again I am not a big fan of the Jackson hatch covers.
I have a few more mods that I am looking to wrap up over the winter. I have ordered the Jackson wiring kit that will really make for a clean thru hull wiring set up. I have decided to ditch my DIY battery box and have also ordered the Jackson battery tray. This will allow me to store my battery in the hull while flipping my BR on its gunnels for transport. I have decided to add an additional anchor trolley as my current set up does not allow me to cast on my comfort side under certain wide directions. And finally, I have ordered the Panfish GoPro camera mount so that I can set my GoPro angles from a wide angle rear perspective. Beyond that, I feel my kayak is set up in a way that allows me to fish in comfort, and I am pleased with the ideas I have come up with and applied to this already well rigged beast. I hope that you have enjoyed my walkthrough of my Big Rig.