Do I Need a Flag on my Kayak?

Considering all the time I’ve spent on the water fishing and kayaking, placing a high visibility flag on my kayak was an easy decision for me. I consider it to be very cheap insurance on my kayak, my fishing gear, my camera gear, and more importantly for my own personal safety.

Do I need a flag on my kayak? Yes, you certainly should have a high visibility flag mounted on your kayak. A kayak can be very difficult to see on the water and a hi-viz orange or yellow kayak flag could very well keep another boater from accidentally hitting you.

When you are out on the water in a low profile kayak it may often be difficult for others to see. You and your kayak can be hidden by swells in the water or hidden behind vegetation while you are fishing. Being visible to other watercraft operators is a must.

Safety First!

There are many incidents on record where kayakers have had near misses. A high visibility flag may prevent you from having a situation such as this incident below!

You may find yourself out on the water in overcast conditions. Grey skies and very little sunlight can make it extremely difficult for others to see a kayaker, even if the boater was keeping a sharp eye out for this fisherman. Make yourself as visible as you can to others!

You may think the color of your kayak may help you to be visible to others, but do not count on it! Though the kayak above is bright neon green in color, this boater never saw the kayaker. And even with the fisherman standing and waving and blaring his air horn, the boat never even slowed down for him.

Whistles and air horns are often carried as additional safety items, but when a powerboat is running at top speed even whistles and air horns cannot be heard over the roar of their motor. This leaves you little choice but to sit there and hope they either finally see you or miss you.

You definitely want to keep an eye out for others who may come around you and also always be aware of your surroundings. A high visibility flag on the back of this kayak just may have prevented this entire incident.

Kayak Anglers Need a Flag

Never depend upon others to watch out for you or keep you safe. If you are on waters where pleasure boaters or Jet Skis play, the best thing you can do is be accountable for your own safety. This means doing everything you can to be certain others have the best shot at knowing you are close by and fishing from your kayak.

The difference between being hit by another watercraft, a near-miss collision on the water, or going home with everything you brought, could be the flag you’ve mounted on your kayak. A flag on your kayak can save you from having a very bad day.

Flags During the Day

It can be difficult to see you in your kayak even if you are fishing during the middle of a bright sunny day. With a little chop on the water, you can almost disappear to a boater from a distance if he’s heading in your direction. A bright orange flag will make you easier to notice and avoid.

Many times while fishing you will find yourself near vegetation which may block others from seeing you. Having a flag rising above the vegetation will make others aware of your presence.

If you are fishing close to a point, a boater or Jet Ski may not notice you on the other side and come blasting around at high speed. If they do not come close enough to hit you, they may cause a large enough wake to cause you troubles.

Daylight Close Calls of My Own

When I first began kayak fishing it wasn’t long before I knew I needed to have a flag mounted on the back of my kayak. More than once I’d see a boat coming my way and start to paddle off to the side. Luckily, they would notice me and veer by, often causing a pretty good wake I’d have to contend with.

After looking over a number of flags the first flag I purchased was a simple orange flag I mounted to the rear mounting track. This addition to the kayak made me noticeable to other boaters and anglers and they began to give me a little more distance.

The hi-viz orange flag was lightweight and stayed out of my way when casting. It was also simple and easy to mount to the kayak with the mounting base.

This first flag is still a personal favorite of mine and I recommend it to those just getting started in kayak fishing and only want to fish during the day.

You can check this basic Railblaza Whip Flag flag out here on

Flags Before Sunrise and After Sunset

We all know some of the best fishing times can be just as the sun is rising and late in the afternoon as the sun is setting. So we are often paddling either out to our fishing spots or back to the launch in the darkness. These are also the times other boating anglers are also heading back and forth from their fishing hole to the boat ramps.

If you plan on fishing or paddling while it is dark out, then take a look at the lighted flag I chose which is the United States Coast Guard 2NM Approved. That means it is designed specifically for kayaks and paddleboards.

It is a lighted LED flag that is powered by three AA batteries and has three levels of brightness. Solid and rugged with 360-degree visibility and also has three sections so you can have it at different heights while you fish if you need it. This is the flag I now have on my kayak full time and couldn’t be more satisfied with it.

This is the lighted flag I highly recommend and have on my kayak, the LED Visibility Kit Railblaza flag found on Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!

A Flag Is Not Difficult to Mount

Kayak flags are not difficult to mount. Mounting options include different types of track mounts and mounting directly to a fishing crate behind your seat. Most of the time while transporting your kayak you will have your flag removed and put it in place once you reach your fishing destination.

Some flag mounts require more effort to secure and remove the flag from the kayak than others. My preferred mounts are the Railblaza Starport mounts where all you need to do is lock or unlock the flag or other accessories such as a rod holder, with a sliding locking mechanism.

Starport mounts are fast and easy to secure and super reliable. Amazon also has great pricing on them here.

Not Having a Flag Can Cost You

It only takes a few seconds of a boater not paying attention, or not noticing you to cost you a lot in personal injury and/or financial damages. Compared to the cost of a flag from between twenty to possibly just over a hundred dollars depending upon what features you desire or need, is a small price for a little peace of mind.

The cost of a kayak may run from a few hundred dollars to over five thousand dollars. You may have anywhere from less than fifty dollars to over a couple thousand dollars of fishing gear and electronics depending upon what you may have installed on your rig.

As you saw in the video above, close calls happen. Here at Kayak Fishing Guide, it is recommended you never go out onto the water without a high visibility flag displayed. It could possibly save your life and your gear.

Related Questions

Does a kayak flag have to be a certain height? No, there is not a set rule for the height of a kayak flag. Although boating laws may differ in a number of regions and jurisdictions, it is highly advised you not go without one.

What size does a flag need to be? Flags come in different shapes and sizes. Square flags are commonly seen in 12×18-inch and 20×24-inch sizes, pendant flags are more common and usually 17″ in length.

Check these articles out for additional information!

Have fun and be safe out there!

Mike Rodman

Mike enjoys fishing all year round, from fly fishing small streams in Wyoming's higher mountains to kayak fishing the lower altitude lakes and reservoirs. Mike also has a passion for ice fishing. When he has spare time, he'll be found at his rod bench building custom fishing rods.

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