Customizing an Ascend FS10 Kayak

I’ve just about finished fitting out my kayak, ready to be out fishing and exploring the Ozarks’ lakes all year round.

The only things I’ve not fitted are navigation lights for night fishing. I’ve found a small 12-volt lead acid battery which will power the navigation lights, and if I ever change my mind about getting a fish finder it ought to be good for powering that too.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

Gary's Ascend FS10 Kayak already for the lake and fishing

Gary’s Ascend FS10 Kayak already for the lake and fishing

Kayaking camera dry box and storage

I’ve added a traveler for the anchor (anchor trolley), the water tight storage box in the rear well – now painted camo green, there’s a holder for my .50 caliber ammo dry box and another for the small drybox for my cell phone, weather radio and walkie-talkie (much easier than shouting). I’ve also added a small compass for lake and night fishing navigation.

Kayak Dry Storage

Ascend FS10 Kayak with Pet food Dry Storage container in the rear well, and battery box dry storage behind the seat.

The airtight pet food storage containers were an excellent find, and are available in several different sizes. The one here is 4.5 Gallons.

I’ve since added a 12-volt battery box we found, which is kept behind the seat. It’s not a sealed waterproof container, like the one in the rear well, but it keeps things out of any water slopping around in the bottom of the boat.

For dry storage behind the seat of Ginger’s Ascend D10 we bought a battery box from Bass Pro. We threw away the lid as it wasn’t needed. The box was taller and wouldn’t fit under the deck so I carefully cut the top 1″ or so off it by resting the box on a length of 2″ x 4″ lumber and feeding it through a table saw. The lumber was needed to space the carrying handles off of the saw bench. After that it fitted easily.

Photograph showing kayak storage under the side deck for fishing gear and portable electronics

Kayak storage – Under the cockpit coaming: fishing tackle, electronics dry box. Under the fore deck, my camera dry box (a .50 caliber ammo box)

Under deck view showing how the dry and fishing tackle boxes are secured.

In the picture above you can see the storage added under the side deck. For the small dry box I through bolted a couple of webbing straps on the inside, and I use a bungee to hook on to them and hold the box in place. To stop the bungee slipping off the box I cut a notch for the bungee into a couple of protrusions on the case.

The fishing tackle box is held in place by a webbing strap I found on an old bag at a yard sale. I secured the strap by through bolting it to the hull. The pan headed bolt I originally used was right where my paddle passes over the hull. I didn’t realize how close my paddling tolerances were until I kept on catching it with my paddle. Fixing it was easy, I replaced the pan headed bolt with recessed one.

I pass the securing strap through the tackle box’s carrying handle. Once I’ve tightened the strap it’s not going anywhere, and the box isn’t going to spring open. I’ve driven hundreds of miles with my tackle box secured inside the kayak with no mishaps.

Kayak Compass

Kayak Compass aka car compass

The compass is a cheap $6 car dashboard compass. It has to be a car compass as you want to know which way the kayak is heading. A normal hiking style compass just points to North, which isn’t quite the same thing.

Kayak Anchor Trolley

Anchor trolley block screwed into the hull

The bow block for the anchor trolley is screwed straight into the hull

Fitting the anchor trolley to the FS10 was a bit of a nuisance. At the bow the flotation block is in the way of reaching right to the end for bolting through the deck, and at the stern the rod holders and the stern well is in the way.

The front flotation block can be easily removed. It is held in place by a single screw in the middle of the foredeck which screws into a plastic ‘L’ bracket which is wedged into the block. Simple and effective. Re-fitting, it can be tricky getting the screw to line up with the screw hole. When I removed it to fit some bolt through ‘D’ fixings at the front, I used a sharpie to mark the position of the hole and with Ginger’s help peering through the screw hole it was easy to get it into the correct place with the sharpie lines guiding us to the hole.

Despite the front flotation block being easy to remove and replace, I didn’t bother when I fitted the traveler. That was because access to the area behind the stern well is a different problem. If I had wanted to bolt the rigging blocks through, the only solution I could come up with was to cut an access hole in the back of the stern well and fit a water-tight hatch. I didn’t feel like going to all that trouble. My solution was to screw the blocks to the deck using the biggest gauge self-tapping stainless steel screws that would fit through the mounting hole. Between the block and the hull, I put a stainless steel washer. In several season’s use I’ve not had any problems with it.

Instead of screwing/bolting the rigging blocks to the hull a lot of people rivet pad-eyes at the bow and stern and use a bit of shock cord to attach the rigging blocks. Some people don’t bother with the rigging blocks at all and use stainless steel rings instead. The advantage of using rivets is that you don’t need any access to the back side of the hull to fit them.

Close up of the stern block on my Ascend FS10 anchor trolley

Close up of the stern block on my Ascend FS10 anchor trolley

I also riveted a couple of ‘J’ hooks to guide the traveller rope away from the coamings, rod holders etc… For rivets I had to use the fairly expensive long reach black aircraft grade aluminium rivets. They do an excellent job.

I have also fitted a jamming cleat to hold the traveller rope still. I remembered to make sure I put it somewhere I won’t hit it with the paddle when I’m paddling. That’s a mistake you only make once.

Kayak anchored by the stern using an anchor trolley. Note the  Carabiner used to connect the anchor to the anchor trolley.  You can't see the dive reel as it is in the water connected to the anchor buoy

Kayak anchored by the stern using an anchor trolley. Note the Carabiner used to connect the anchor to the anchor trolley. You can’t see the dive reel as it is in the water connected to the anchor buoy

Kayak Anchor & Line

Kayak anchor, bailer and stuff box

Kayak anchor, bailer and stuff box

We use a 3lb grapnel anchor with 3′ of chain. I opted for a heavier anchor because we generally tie the two kayaks up together when we anchor. The chain is tied to a 150′ Dive Reel, which has an anchor buoy attached, and is clipped onto a ring on the traveler rope. If I need to cut loose in a hurry I just unclip it from the traveler and come back and pick it up later. I’ve no idea what the breaking strain on the dive reel line is if it ever breaks I’ll let you know!

What happens when your anchor gets snagged. The bread tie breaks, and you haul it up by the crown

What happens when your anchor gets snagged. The bread tie breaks, and you haul it up by the crown

Note on setting up the anchor. I’ve got the anchor set up to capsize if it gets fouled. The chain is shackled to the Crown of the anchor and looped to the eye in the shank. I’ve used a standard bread bag tie to join the chain to the anchor. If the anchor gets hooked up on anything, pulling hard breaks the tie and the anchor is then up-ended by pulling on the crown, hopefully un-fouling it at the same time. The ties are plenty strong enough judging by the huge and heavy waterlogged limb I managed to haul up from the bottom of Harry S. Truman Lake.

You can see the red bread tie used to secure the chain to the eye in the anchor's shank.

You can see the red bread tie used to secure the chain to the eye in the anchor’s shank.


I’ve also changed the colour of the paddles to camo green, so it’s all a lot more harmonious with the surroundings; at least that is the plan. The paddle is 230cm long. 240cm would have been better but BPS didn’t have any at the time, and I was eager to get out on the water. You soon learn not to bash the boat with the paddle.


Picture showing a blue closed-cell foam sleeping mats being used to insulate the inside of an Ascend FS10 kayak

Fitting out our Kayaks for the winter

We use the kayaks through the winter, and I fancy some late and early season angling. The cold from the surrounding water can be a problem, so I fitted insulating foam into the hulls. We’ve not read about this anywhere, but it works really well. It also has the added advantage that it keeps any loose water in the bottom of the boat away from your legs. You can read more about this here.

November 25, 2018

See our other kayaking & canoeing posts and resources.

Note: in 2012 Bass Pro brought out new Ascend D10 & FS10 models. Read about the differences in our short review

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19 thoughts on “Customizing an Ascend FS10 Kayak

  1. Gary Post author

    Thank you. We really like the Ascend kayaks, we’re just wondering if we can fit the removable seats from the new FS10 in them.

    Harry S Truman Reservoir is an excellent place to visit, and it is open all year round, unlike the Corps of Engineers sites at Stockton Lake which close for the winter.

    Truman also has nearly 1,000 miles of shoreline so there’s lots to explore.

  2. Royce Burns

    Gary, I really enjoy reading your articles and looking at your pictures. Thank you for taking the time to post them. I have 3 of the green fs10’s and looking for a red/orange d10. I’m not crazy about the new d10’s. I think bass pro has messed up a great design they had. I don’t understand why they called it the same d10 model number. They should have given it a somewhat different name. Maybe they’ll go back to it in the future.

    Royce Burns

  3. Gary Post author

    Thanks very much Royce, I’ve still not had a chance to try out the new D10. I’m not 100% convinced by the changes they’ve made. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try one at some point. A friend has bought one of the latest FS10’s – in titanium – I’m jealous, I really like the color! The removable seat looks good too.

  4. carl moore

    I do a lot of kayaking up around Smithville Lake , and also love going on the Little Platte River. This kayak is one of the best purchases I have made. Easy to maneuver, and extremely comfortable. Cant wait to get my wife one, and other friends on board. I highly recommended this Kayak. A great investment. Get out there.

  5. Seth

    I was thinking of getting a FS10 and after seeing your GREAT page and showing the mods you have done, I will get one!! Thank you for sharing.

  6. Ryan Walker

    Great post!. Just found you and so for I like what I see! I just traded up to the FS10 and so far I love it. I plan on using a few of your mods, so thanks again for a great article!

  7. RJ Cristo

    I love my FS 10, but I just discovered that when I turned my kayak over t clean the bottom I found that in the middle of the yak was very soft and was easy to push in. It does come back to shape, but I was wondering if something is wrong with my yak, Tanks for your help

    1. Gary Post author

      No, I’ve not heard of that happening. I’ve only heard of the hulls getting soft and slightly bent when they have got very hot and been strapped down too tight on a roof rack.

      1. Eric

        Thank you so very very very much!!!!!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!! I’ve been looking for that thing every where. Makes sense now! I also have an FS10 for a bug out vehicle and it fits everything I need and want as a survivalist/bushcrafter. Thank you very much sir!!

        1. Gary Post author

          I’m glad to be able to help. I’ve often thought that the containers with the angled lid might be interesting to try out – but the one I have is fine for my purposes. Good luck!

  8. Amy

    If that is the Ascend FS10, then where is the bucket impression on the rear of the Kayak behind the milk crate impression?

    1. Gary Post author

      It was manufactured before 2012. Bass Pro has been tinkering with (not improving, in my opinion) the design ever since.


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