Can I Drill Holes in My Kayak? (What to Know Before Puncturing Your Boat)

Can I drill holes in my kayak? It’s a common question if you are into kayaking or kayak fishing. Many new and experienced kayakers want to bling out their kayak with accessories. The problem is some kayaks don’t have many attachment points to add accessories. 

What if you want to add a fishing rod holder, fish finder, or GoPro mount to your kayak? This blog post will share the best practices of drilling holes in a kayak and whether or not it’s a good idea.

Can You Drill Holes in a Kayak?

Yes, you can drill holes in a kayak. Drilling holes in a kayak can be a great way to customize your yak so you can add accessories and gear tracks. But there are some precautions to take.

When drilling holes, it’s essential to use the appropriate size drill bit so you don’t end up with a hole that is too big. Once you drill, you can’t un-drill. Also, use a waterproof silicone sealant around the drill hole to keep water from seeping in.

Pros of Drilling Holes to Your Kayak

There are plenty of great kayak accessories to add to your boat. If you are a kayak angler, you need a fish finder, fishing rod holders, and such. Some paddlers might need a flagpole or lights for their vessel.  

No matter what you want to add to your kayak, you might be required to drill holes in your precious yak. But there are several benefits to adding mounting points or gear tracks to a kayak. If your kayak was born with gear mounts, you can’t always control where you put your stuff.

For example, I wanted extra rod holders on my kayak. Unfortunately, the gear tracks were in a lousy spot, so adding a rod holder was in the way of my paddle stroke.

So by drilling into your kayak, you can customize the placement of your accessories. But, of course, adding increased mounting options is the most obvious benefit of drilling holes. 

Cons of Drilling Holes to Your Kayak

There are some downsides to drilling holes in a kayak. First of all, it’s not for everyone. If you are not a DIYer, you might be intimidated by drilling a permanent hole in your beloved kayak. 

If you make a mistake, like drilling a hole that is too big, water is more likely to leak into your boat, causing damage. 

Another con of drilling into your kayak is the potential for incorrect placement of your accessories. You only get one shot to drill a hole, so you have to make it count. Make sure to put a gear track or fishing rod holder in the right place.

Mark and Test Before You Drill

Regarding placing the gear tracks or kayak accessories in the wrong place, it’s essential to test and mark the placement BEFORE drilling. One piece of advice is to sit in the kayak and plan out where you want your accessories before you drill. 

Next time you are on the water, spend a few minutes and mark out where you sit and how far you have to reach, stretch or twist to reach the stuff you want to get to. Another option is to set your kayak on something soft at home, like the grass, hop in and see where you want to put your accessories. 

For example, ensure that if you add gear tracks for a fish finder or rod holder, these items won’t be in the way when you paddle. So the lesson here is to test and mark the spots where you want to add accessories because once you drill, that’s it.

In addition, make sure to use a sharp drill bit that will cut through polyethylene like butter—no point in fighting a dull drill bit and risking making a mistake.

Types of Fasteners

When drilling holes in a kayak, using the best quality materials is critical. Opting for stainless steel bolts and lock washers is essential to prevent rust or corrosion down the line. Nothing is worse than unexpected issues cropping up due to cutting corners.

There’s no beating stainless steel. It’s the most reliable option if you want your accessories to last a long time. Stainless steel bolts and lock washers may cost more than other options, but they are well worth the price in the long run.

Use Sealant

I can’t stress the importance of using waterproof sealant after you drill holes in a kayak. For example, if you add a stand-alone rod holder, use sealant around the drill holes to prevent water from leaking.

You never know what conditions you will encounter on the water, including rain or waves splashing up against your kayak. The sealant will act as a barrier to help keep the interior of your kayak dry and protected from leaks.

Drill Above the Waterline

This might seem insanely obvious, but it’s worth saying. If you drill holes in your kayak, drill above the waterline. You might not realize how low your kayak sits in the water when you are paddling, so try to mark the waterline when you are paddling. Or if you paddle in grimy water, make a note of the waterline before you clean your kayak to store it. 

Pay Attention to the Instructions

If you are adding gear tracks, a rod holder, etc., pay attention to the instructions with the accessory pack. Typically the instructions will tell you what size drill bit to use, and the pack should have screws with the kit.  

Ask For Help

If you are not comfortable drilling holes in your kayak, seek a professional. Find a paddle shop that can do the dirty work for you. We’ve covered this, but once you drill a hole, you can’t un-drill it. You can repair the hole, but getting it right the first time is better.

Is It Okay to Drill Holes in a Kayak?

Drilling holes in a kayak is a great way to customize and add accessories to your kayak. One of the best parts of owning a kayak is customizing it. Test and mark the area before you drill for good measure, and use a waterproof sealant to prevent leaks.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.