Jackson Kayak recently introduced a new fishing kayak for 2014, the Big Rig. The Big Rig is loaded, and I mean loaded, with kayak fishing features from A to Z. One feature that intrigued me was the lean bar. Once seeing some pictures of the Big Rig I decided I was going to make something similar for my Jackson Cruise 12.
I wanted a lean bar for my Cruise for two main reasons. One, to hold my paddle and a fishing rod for when I am standing to fish. It gets old, and tiring, to paddle while standing, then bend down and place the paddle down, pick up my fishing rod while still bending down, stand up, make a few casts, bend back down, pick up my paddle and repeat. You get the idea. Now, think about how many times over a day of fishing that process repeats itself. Yeah, exactly.
The second reason for a lean bar is to attach a fly line stripping basket to for when I am fly fishing. A line stripping basket is great for fly fishing because you don’t have to worry about fly line getting tangled on this or that. Line is stripped into the basket. One or two false casts and BOOM! The line is out towards your next target. Tangle free.
PARTS NEEDED TO MAKE A LEAN BAR FOR THE JACKSON KAYAK CRUISE:
- Hacksaw or reciprocating saw – to cut conduit
- 3/4″ Conduit – comes in 10 foot lengths – I used 2 pieces
- Conduit bender – costs about $30 if you don’t have one
- (4) Bimini Top Deck Mounts – nylon from iboats.com
- (4) Bimini Eye End Caps -nylon from iboats.com
- (2) 2 1/2″ stainless steel 10-24 screws, nuts and washers
- (2) Nylon washers to fit between lean bar and support poles
- (8) 1″ stainless steel 10-24 screws, nuts and washers
- Cutting board
- (4) 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ clevis pins
- (4) R-clips
- (2) 1″ end caps for support poles
- Spray paint
START WITH THE CONDUIT
I started with a piece of 3/4″ EMT conduit. It costs around $3 for a 10 foot section and is readily available at any big box hardware store. It’s found in the electrical section. I took some quick measurements based on the width of the Cruise and the height I anticipated the lean bar to be. I then used a conduit bender to bend the conduit into the shape of the lean bar. Once bending it into shape and after doing some mock ups on the Cruise, I cut the ends down to size.
I also cut the support poles down to size to attach to the lean bar and to the kayak. I took some rough eye-ball measurements based on my mock up before cutting them.
BOAT BIMINI TOP FITTINGS
Next, I ordered (4) 7/8″ black nylon boat bimini top fittings – outside eye end caps from iboats.com to fit over the ends of the lean bar and support poles. Those fittings attach to the (4) deck mounts that I also ordered from iboats.com. The 7/8″ outside end caps fit over the 3/4″ conduit tightly. To ease the install, take a hammer and round the outside edges of the conduit. It’ll help fit the 7/8″ end caps over the conduit. It’ll still be a tight fit, but it will fit. Don’t use a hammer to fit the end caps onto the conduit. It’s likely you’ll break one or two in the process. I did. The easiest way was to slowly push the end cap onto conduit with the help of the concrete floor in my basement.
LEAN BAR MOCK UP
It took a while to determine the best location on the Cruise to mount the deck mounts. I did several mock ups before deciding on the final locations and before drilling any holes into my Cruise. My main concern was trying to place the lean bar far enough forward so it doesn’t get in the way of paddling, but still be functional. I also wanted the deck mounts to sit as flush as possible on the deck of the Cruise. The Cruise wasn’t designed for a lean bar so it doesn’t come with pre-designed flat surfaces to mount the deck mounts to. It took some adjusting back and forth before I was finally satisfied with the locations.
LEAN BAR INSTALLATION
In order to attach the deck mounts to the Cruise I used (8) 1″ 10-24 screws, nuts and washers.
(4) clevis pins were used to attach the lean bar to the deck mounts so that I could quickly and easily remove the lean bar or lower it when not in use. The lean bar easily folds forward and still allows access to the front hatch. The best part is that I can lower it from my seat. I used 1/4″ clevis pins and had to enlarge the holes on the deck mounts some. It made for a tight fit without too much play or wobble.
A cheap plastic cutting board was used to make a backer board to install on the inside of the Cruise. You always want to have some sort of backer on the inside of the kayak when possible. It helps to strengthen the install because the walls of any kayak are only so thick. The backer basically thickens the walls and spreads any tension out over a larger area instead of through one small screw hole. I cut the cutting board down to size to fit depending on where I needed to install each piece and pre-drilled holes to attach the screws from the deck mounts.
After installing the deck mounts I drilled holes into the support poles and into the lean bar itself to attach to the two together. I used 2 1/2″ 10-24 screws, nuts and washers to secure them together. I also installed a 1/4″ nylon spacer to fit between the lean bar and support poles.
Lean bar and support pole attachment
Once installing the deck mounts and after a few more tweaks, the lean bar was ready for paint. After sanding down the surface of the lean bar with some sandpaper, I applied a few coats of black spray paint. Once that was done the lean bar was ready to be dressed up and installed.
1″ end caps for each support pole to dress up each exposed end
FINISHED! THE JACKSON KAYAK CRUISE LEAN BAR!