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July 07, 2022 7 min read

Improve Your SUP Fishing

Man paddle board fishing using a blue paddle board

Let me guess, you enjoy fishing on land but wanted a change, so you bought a SUP and decided to try your hand at SUP fishing. But, you can’t quite get the hang of it and you’ve realized it is a lot harder than fishing from the bank of a river. 

Not to worry! GILI is here to help. Paddle board fishing has so many benefits like the ability to paddle out to secluded fishing spots, being more at one with nature, and the added exercise that comes with paddle boarding in general. 

As once first-timers ourselves, we know that getting used to balancing on a board while fishing can be tricky, so that’s why we have come up with a guide on how to become better at SUP fishing so you can grab your gear, launch your board, and confidently get on out there.

Choose the Right Gear

First things first, it is crucial to choose the right gear. The right accessories could make or break your trip, and there are some key elements you won’t want to miss.

Your board is the first piece of gear to think about. Ideally, you want an all-around paddle board like the GILI 10’6” Komodo. These boards have wider decks and provide increased stability when out on the water. We recommended opting for inflatable paddle boards for fishing as they’re extremely portable, comfortable, and durable. 

Your paddle should also be carefully thought about. While paddle board fishing, you can end up having to paddle over long distances, so the materials your paddle is made from will make a huge difference. 

Full carbon fiber paddles are the lightest types of paddles on the market, and their lightweight design makes it easy to glide through the water with minimal effort.

Be Minimalist

Being a minimalist goes hand in hand with choosing the right gear. You aren’t guaranteed a dry paddle trip and the possibility that you and your gear can fall in the water is definitely there. That is why we highly recommend being a SUP fishing minimalist. 

Extra gear on board will also slow your SUP down and make it difficult to paddle, especially for inexperienced paddle boarders. 

Kit Out Your SUP Correctly

Man fishing with accessories using a paddle board

When fishing, there are some essential items you want on hand at all times. However, don’t forget about being a minimalist and only taking items you know you’ll definitely want and need. Here are a few things we highly recommended taking on board with you.

Fishing Rod

It goes without saying that when you go fishing, you’ll need a fishing rod. Your choice of rod will come down to your personal preferences, but a 6 to 7-foot parabolic rod is an excellent choice to take on your stand up paddle board. 

Your choice of reel will also depend on the type of fishing you plan on doing. Freshwater reels for lakes and rivers, saltwater reels for sea fishing, and fly reels for flying fishing.

Rod Holder

Sometimes, you just need to be hands-free, and a fishing rod holder comes in particularly handy for this. 

Vertical rod holders, especially, make it easy to grab your fishing rod while also acting as reliable storage when your fishing rods aren’t in use. 

Tackle

Tackle boxes can get heavy, and you really don’t need your entire collection every time you head out fishing. 

It’s best to purchase a smaller tackle box and only pack the essentials that you’ll need on that particular fishing trip. 

PFD

No matter if you’re on a SUP fishing adventure or simply just stable up paddle boarding, it is important to always wear a PFD. If an emergency were to occur, a PFD could ultimately end up saving your life, so be smart and wear a life jacket.

You can even purchase specialized fishing life jackets that have additional tackle pockets and other features to make reaching for essential tackle even easier. We have covered 9 of the Best Fishing Life Jackets for Paddle Boarders if you’re interested.

Anchor

GILI paddle board anchored on a river bed

Anchors help to keep your paddle board in place during the most essential times on your SUP fishing trip. Anchors like the GILI Grapnel Anchor fit neatly into a dry bag and can be stored under your board's bungees when not in use. 

Check out our The Best Paddle Board Anchors for 2022 (and Why) article for more information.

Cooler

A paddle board cooler not only acts as a storage space for your gear and potential catch, but the solid variety can double up as a seat. This is one of the fishing tips that you’ll swear by, as during long days out on the water, you’ll want somewhere to sit. 

We have some cooler recommendations on the Best Paddle Board Coolers for 2022.

Net

There is nothing more disappointing than reeling in your catch and losing it in the last few seconds. Taking a net with an extended handle helps to scoop the fish out and also prevents you from over-extending and falling in the water.

Ankle Leash

Ankle leashes can make the world of difference if a big fish happens to pull you off your board. Just like a surfboard leash, it attaches to your ankle and a D-ring on your SUP board to prevent your board from floating away if you happen to fall in the water. 

For expert advice on SUP leashes, head over to How to Choose the Correct SUP Leash and Length.

Paddle Holder

Similar to the fishing rod holder, a paddle holder will act as storage for your paddle while also stopping it from floating away from your board. You can even purchase a paddle leash like the GILI paddle leash that works in the exact same way. 

Organize Your Fishing Gear for Success

Paddle board with fishing accessories

One of the best SUP fishing tips we can offer you is to make sure your board and gear are organized. 

Although paddle boards have wideish decks, there still isn’t a lot of room to be moving about trying to find your essential gear. You should know where everything is in your fishing setup, and it should be in an order that makes the most sense. 

For example, you aren’t going to store your tackle box under your cooler, as you’ll need your tackle throughout numerous points in the day. If you achieve the minimalist goal, being organized shouldn’t be that difficult. 

Cast a Net

The sole purpose of a cast net is to catch live bait from your chosen waterway. Many fishermen who aren’t fans of fly fishing or synthetic bait prefer to catch their own before the real fishing begins. 

Cast nets are illegal in some waterways, so it's best to do your research before throwing one into the water. If you are using a cast net for the first time, you should start on your knees for greater balance.

Practice Paddling Beforehand

We can’t stress this one enough, practice your paddling beforehand!

You may be an incredible fisherman who catches large sums of fish on every trip, but if you can’t remain stable on your board, you won’t be catching anything. 

SUP boards may seem easy to conquer, but getting the hang of balancing and paddling is hard enough without any additional gear and rods on board. 

Take the time to practice your paddling in different water conditions, making sure you’re completely comfortable on deck before attempting SUP fishing. 

Always Check the Weather

Whenever you’re going out on the water, it’s a good habit to check the weather forecast in the local area. Wind, especially, can make paddling and fishing increasingly difficult.

Fishing during thunderstorms is also a bad idea, and if a thunderstorm is predicted, you should probably reschedule your plans for another day. 

FAQ’S

🏆 How can I improve my SUP for fishing?

SUP fishing isn’t a walk in the park, and there are a few ways to improve your fishing experience. 

  • Choose the right gear -Make sure you have an all-around paddle board and a high-quality paddle. The wider deck of an all-around paddle board helps with stability and also gives you more room to hold your gear and move around. 
  • Be a minimalist -Although there are a few items you need to take out SUP fishing, being as much of a minimalist as possible will help with your board's speed, balance, and overall comfort. 
  • Kit out your SUP correctly - 
  • Organize your fishing gear for success -If your board is messy and unorganized, you won’t be able to find any of the important gear you need and want at a certain time. Ensure your fishing gear is placed in easy-to-reach areas and is in an order that makes the most sense.
  • Cast a net -If it’s legal in your area, cast a cast net and catch some live bait. 
  • Practice paddling beforehand -If you don’t yet know how to paddle, then unload your fishing gear and practice, practice, practice. Getting the hang of paddling and finding your balance will be highly beneficial for when you eventually feel confident enough to head out fishing. 
  • Check the weather -Always check the weather before heading out fishing. Paddling in strong winds is incredibly difficult and will tire you out relatively quickly. 

👍 How do you fish on a SUP?

Although the main techniques of SUP fishing are the same as what you would do on land, there are a few other things you need to master. 

The first is balance. On land, you have ample amounts of room to move around and store your fishing gear. But, on a SUP, you have a deck of roughly 34’ wide. Throw casting a line into the mix, and you could lose your balance fairly easily. 

We recommended practicing your paddling before heading out SUP fishing, making sure you’re confident and stable on your board. 

We have gone into more details about how to fish from a SUP over on How to Fish From a Paddle Board: A Beginners Guide.


🏝️ How do I make my SUP go faster?

Your inflatable paddle board will have a recommended weight capacity, and if you happen to go over this weight capacity with passengers or gear, it’ll slow your board down and make it difficult to paddle.

To make your board go faster, either lessen the amount of weight on deck or purchase a board with a higher weight capacity. As a rule, you should try to remain 10lbs under the weight limit for the best paddling results. 

Purchasing a high-quality SUP paddle can also help your SUP go faster. Full carbon paddles are extremely lightweight and help the rider cut through the water at faster speeds. Their aluminum paddle cousins, however,  are heavier and require a lot more energy to paddle.

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant


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