Fishing from a kayak is a unique experience that combines the excitement of fishing with the adventure of kayaking. Discover how lightweight fishing kayaks are with super versatile features that allow you to fish in remote areas that are inaccessible by larger boats.
If you’re new to fishing from a kayak, there are some important tips and techniques that you need to know to ensure a successful and safe fishing trip. First things first, clue yourself up with our beginner's guide to kayaking and get to grips with the basics of handling a ‘yak – solo or with a buddy in a tandem kayak.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about fishing from a kayak. From choosing the best kayak for the job to various fishing casting techniques and safety tips for fishing from your sit-on-top kayaks. Learn how you can fish using inflatable kayaks and paddle boards and weigh up if a pedal kayak is the premium boat of choice.
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From salty coastlines to meandering rivers and inland lakes, anglers are catching on to the fun and diversity kayak fishing offers across all blue spaces. Fishing from a kayak gives you a different kind of experience to casting a line from the banks or even a larger boat.
Kayaks provide access to spots that would otherwise be restricted from motorized boats. They can navigate tighter waterways and are stealthy on the water, a great benefit for fishing. Sit-on-top kayaks give a superb viewpoint for anglers as well.
So if you are keen to connect with nature and dip your rod in unique places, we urge you to give kayak fishing a try.
The first step in fishing from a kayak is choosing the right vessel. Kayaks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Selecting the right one can make a big difference in your fishing experience.
While the most common types of fishing kayaks are sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks, there are more options out there. If you find yourself with the question of how to choose a fishing kayak, take these simple steps to guide your shopping process.
The sit-on vs sit-in kayak debate is time old and will continue as long as there is water to paddle on. Both types of kayaks come with their unique benefits that add to days spent fishing. However, when it comes to deciding which is best for the job in general, we have to recommend sit-on-top varieties.
Sit-on-top fishing kayaks are the most popular type of kayak for fishing for several reasons.
While sit-inside kayaks are more traditional and provide great protection from the elements, they can be awkward for fishing. Sure, they are ideal for colder climates and allow you to use spray skirts to keep cold water out. But they can be more difficult to get in and out of, not to mention the restriction of accessing additional fishing gear.
Paddling a kayak is the norm. We expect to handle a paddle to propel ourselves through the water. As you imagine, this can get quite clunky at times when juggling between a paddle and a fishing rod. If only there was another option…
Let us introduce pedal dive fishing kayaks. If you haven’t discovered pedal drive yet, we are about to blow your mind!
As the name suggests, these kayaks utilize pedals to move the boat forwards (and sometimes backward depending on the model). The pedals are connected to a propeller or set of fins that drive through the water. These fishing kayaks have a whole load of perks to help your day out on the water be even better:
However, that does not mean traditional paddle kayaks are worse. Paddle kayaks are much quieter on the water than pedal versions. You can also glide over shallow water with little restrictions underneath, unlike propellers getting stuck in vegetation.
As you can see, there are perks to both paddle and pedal-drive kayaks. Deciding which is best between the two comes down to where you plan to fish and if you have any specific requirements.
Have you thought about going inflatable? Yep, that is right, inflatable fishing kayaks are a thing and they are pretty epic in our opinion. Inflatable kayaks are great for portability which opens up so many possibilities for fishing.
These kayaks are also relatively cheap when compared to more traditional types. This makes fishing from a kayak more affordable and accessible for everyone.
Inflatable kayaks make great all-around boats. So if you want a boat to do everything, then this could be the perfect option for you.
Regardless of the type of kayak you choose, it is important to consider the length, width, and weight capacity of the kayak. When kayak fishing, size does matter.
Longer kayaks are faster, more efficient, and offer more space on board for fishing gear. But, they are also more difficult to maneuver. Wider kayaks are generally more stable, but they are also slower. It is important to choose a kayak that is the right size for your body type and weight, while also taking into account the amount of gear you want to take on your fishing excursion.
Want to dive deeper into sizing? Check out our ultimate kayak size guide to learn all about the width, length, and volume of a ‘yak!
Once you have chosen the best fishing kayak, the next step is to set it up for fishing. There are a few key pieces of equipment that you will need to make your kayak fishing trip a success.
In this next section, we outline what gear you need and how you should be setting up your ‘yak for a fishing day out.
It is important to make sure that your kayak is equipped with all the necessary safety equipment, such as a life jacket and whistle. It is also a good idea to bring a first aid kit and a waterproof bag for your phone and other electronic devices – just to keep safety in order.
The basic gear needed for kayak fishing is pretty much the same as the list for paddle board fishing accessories. There is a countless amount of specialized equipment you can invest in to maximize your fishing hauls. However, you only need these essentials to catch a fish from a kayak and have a great time:
Get to know your basic gear like to back of your hand and you will be sure to have fun out on the water.
Staying safe while on the water is a key priority regardless of whether you are kayak fishing, using ocean kayaks, or on a stand up paddle board. Safety is a combination of reliable equipment, proper technique, awareness of the conditions, and extra safety gear for those ‘just-in-case’ moments.
Essential kayak safety equipment:
As we mentioned before, there is more to staying safe than simply just safety equipment. It is important to always be aware of your surroundings, check weather conditions before heading out, and practice safe kayaking techniques to minimize the risk of accidents before casting a fishing line.
Another side of staying safe while out kayak fishing is appropriate sun protection. Prolonged exposure to the sun can be harmful to your skin.
You can protect yourself from these harmful rays by wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats. Look for clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) ratings, which indicate the level of protection the clothing provides against UV rays.
We also recommend applying 30+ SPF sunscreen regularly, not forgetting the neck, ears, and tops of your feet if they are also exposed. Wearing polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from any UV reflecting off the water as well.
While paddling, try to seek shade for intervals and plan your fishing trip to avoid the midday sun. Always remember to stay hydrated to beat the sun!
So you have got your fishing gear and safety equipment. Along with key sun protection, you have to make sure you pack the other essentials – food, and water! Whether you are out all day or only planning an hour trip, being prepared with snacks and water is vital.
Make sure you have one of the best dry bags for kayaking to keep your chips safe from any flipping fish or ocean spray!
Getting your kayak set up for fishing takes time and careful planning. You want to minimize the amount of clutter on the deck, so make sure that everything you take has a job and a function. You will need to make sure the kayak has rod holders installed and you have enough bungee cords to secure your gear.
Handling your kayak while fishing takes a few key techniques and then you’ll be away! Make sure you load all your gear properly and then you can master some stroke techniques to get that catch of the day.
Loading a fishing kayak correctly is essential for a safe and comfortable kayaking experience. A poorly loaded kayak can be unstable and difficult to maneuver, while a properly loaded kayak will be easier to paddle and more enjoyable to fish from. Here are some top tips on how to load your fishing kayak correctly.
In this section we cover how to properly launch and navigate a kayak from shore, including how to enter and exit the kayak. We also discuss various paddling techniques and what to do if the kayak capsizes.
Whether you are paddling solo or are in a tandem fishing kayak, this information is invaluable.
Kayak fishing opens the door to so many different locations. Whether you choose to head to a lake, set off into the ocean, or float down a river, a smaller boat allows access to those harder-to-reach nooks and crannies.
Regardless of where you choose to cast a line, make sure you do your research on the location. You need to know the following:
Along with getting to know your location, you also need to be aware of the conditions you will be paddling in. As always, dress appropriately and according to the water temperature. Layers are always a good idea so you can adjust as things heat up while reeling in a big one.
Be conscious of sun, rain, and wind. The elements can make or break your fishing day out!
Sometimes, the most challenging part of your fishing trip will be getting in and out of the kayak! However, once you have learned the little tricks to help you out then you will be showing everyone else how it’s done.
First off, find a stable spot on shore or in shallow water to enter the kayak. Look for a spot with a flat surface and avoid areas with rocks, debris, or strong currents. Position the kayak parallel to the shore with the bow facing outward and use the paddle to secure you in place. With your other hand on the side of the kayak, slowly lower yourself into the kayak, keeping your weight centered and your hands on the paddle, then gently sit down in the seat.
To get out you follow the steps above to find a calm exit point. Again, using the paddle for support, swing your legs out of the kayak and slowly stand up. Having hold of a leash is a good idea so your boat does not float away as you get out.
Master your balance and paddle strokes to make fishing from a kayak as easy as possible. There are so many kayak paddle strokes to learn. We recommend beginners just focus on the basics to start with:
Want to know some tricks of the trade? Paddle with vertical strokes to move the boat at a quicker pace.
Navigating the water in a kayak requires a different set of skills than navigating in a larger boat. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when kayak fishing:
Capsizing a fishing kayak can be a scary experience, but it is important to know what to do in case it happens. The main thing to remember is to stay calm. Focus on the situation and do your best to keep hold of your paddle as you will need this to help you get back into the kayak.
You need to assess your situation as quickly as possible and determine if you can get back into the kayak or need to swim to shore. Speed decisions are essential if you are fishing in cold water.
If you are re-entering, you will need to right the kayak. Do so by grabbing onto the side and pulling yourself up. Use your body weight to help flip the kayak back over. Once the kayak is righted, climb back in using the paddle and the side of the kayak for support.
If you have to swim to shore, swim with your head facing forwards and use a breaststroke or doggie paddle to conserve energy. Try to keep hold of your paddle but if you need to ditch it then do so – your safety is always more important that any equipment.
Once you are safely on shore, seek help if needed. If you are injured, seek medical attention. It always pays to keep a ditch dry bag attached to you at all times with your phone and keys in it.
Juggling between a fishing rod and a paddle can be difficult at times. And then you need to factor in fine-tuning the position of your kayak. Here is our top tip to make your life easier: use your fishing rod for turning the kayak.
There are a couple of techniques you can use to take advantage of your rod:
In both cases, you need to keep in mind the conditions. Winds and currents will always move the kayak far more than a rod will. So these techniques are for those tranquil days with a light breeze in the air.
Kayak fishing is not an exact science. A huge part of it comes down to certain aspects of nature aligning and your patience and skill. That being said, there are some clear steps you can take to start you off.
Casting from a kayak can be more challenging than casting from shore. But with the right techniques, you can improve your accuracy and distance. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when casting from a kayak:
Just as there are many different types of fishing on land, there are also several types of kayak fishing. Here is a quick guide to give you an idea.
|Fly Fishing||Bass, Mackerel, Mullet, Trout||- Closer to the fish - Opportunity to drift||Avoid clutter on deck!|
|Float Fishing||Mackerel, Garfish, Pollock, Coalfish, Wrasse, Black Bream, Prawns, Sand Eels||- Good when the surface of the sea or river bed is rough- Float disappears when you have a catch||Use a sliding float so you can fish at a wider range of depth!|
|Ledgering||Bream, Barbel, Tench, Catfish, Carp||- Weighted bait stays in place- Good for windy days to keep the bait in position||Add an anchor to your gear to keep the kayak in position as well!|
|Trolling||Salmon, Mackerel, Kingfish||- Cover more ground with one or two baited lines- Hands-free fishing||Adjust the depth of your lure or baited line to target different depths!|
|Spinning||Bass, Trout, Walleye, Pike||- More action and excitement - Good for beginners and young anglers||Explore the different bait options!|
Safety should always be your number one priority when out on the water in a fishing kayak. Keeping safe comes down to being aware of your surroundings, dressing appropriately for the conditions, and staying hydrated.
Choosing what to wear kayaking can be confusing when you plan to fish as well. Kayaking is a year-round sport, so your wardrobe needs to match the seasons. Essentially, layers and comfortable clothing are key for kayak fishing. Here are some suggestions if you need some inspiration:
As always, dress for the water temperatures, not the air. This is so that if you fall in, you don’t get hypothermia. However, as you are paddling and throwing that line, you are likely to build up a sweat, so layers are key!
Kayak fishing is a fun and exciting adventure, but it can also be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Here are 5 kayak fishing warnings for safe practice:
Remember to always prioritize safety and be aware of potential risks while kayak fishing.
Here is a basic checklist to keep in mind when planning your next kayak fishing trip.
Here are some top tips to make your kayak fishing experience even better!
Read More: 10 Top Kayaking Fishing Tips
Did you know you can also fish from a stand up paddle board? Just as with kayak fishing, SUP fishing allows you to sneak into hidden coves quietly, enjoy the outdoors, and relax. You have an even greater height advantage to help you spot fish.
The paddle board fishing vs kayak fishing debate will have you going around in circles. Both are great fun and offer you a peaceful way to step into nature. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
Convert your stand up paddle board to a kayak with some simple add-on accessories. Paddle board kayak kits consist of a clip-in seat, an additional blade, and an optional seat cushion for an even more comfortable ride.
Adding a seat to your paddle board is great if you plan to be out fishing all day and want the option to sit down with support. Having a large paddle board deck space allows you to secure your fishing gear while still having space to move about and cast a line.
Kayak fishing is a method of fishing that involves using a kayak as a means of transportation on the water to reach and catch fish. It is a great way to combine being out on the water with fishing. Kayak fishing allows you to access more locations than fishing from land or a larger vessel.
Yes, kayak fishing can be safe for beginners as long as they take the necessary precautions and have the appropriate gear. It's important to learn how to properly enter and exit a kayak, as well as how to handle different water conditions. Once a beginner has got to grips with the basic handling of a kayak, then they can give fishing a try.
The best kayak for fishing depends on the individual's skill level, the type of water they will be fishing in, and the amount of gear they plan to bring. Generally, sit-on-top fishing kayaks are the most popular because they are stable and offer more room for gear. However, there are some fantastic inflatable fishing kayaks and tandem fishing kayaks available.
A whole variety of fish can be caught while kayak fishing, including bass, trout, catfish, and salmon, among others. The type of fish caught will depend on the location and season. Make sure you do your research before heading out and prepare your tackle and bait accordingly.
Yes, it's highly recommended to wear a properly fitting life jacket while kayak fishing. This is an essential safety precaution that can potentially save your life in case of an accident or emergency. Fishing life jackets should also have a light, a whistle, and handy pockets.
Essential gear for kayak fishing includes a kayak, paddle, life jacket, fishing rod and reel, tackle, anchors, dry bags, navigation tools, sun protection, first aid kit, and water and snacks. Use our kayak fishing gear checklist each time you pack for a trip to make sure you do not forget anything.
It's possible to fish from any kayak, but not all kayaks are designed for fishing. It is recommended to use a kayak that is specifically designed for fishing, as they offer additional features such as rod holders and storage space for gear. If you are fishing from a recreational kayak, consider adding a rod holder accessory to secure your fishing rod while on the water.
Yes, paddle board fishing is growing in popularity and offers a slightly different experience to kayak fishing. Similar preparations are required for paddle board fishing. Make sure your gear is ready and you are wearing a PFD at all times.
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