If you’re looking for an exciting new hobby that will get you outdoors, kayak fishing may be a perfect fit. Still, becoming a great angler isn’t always easy. You will have to cover your bases from choosing the right kayak to securing all your must-have fishing accessories. Read on to learn more about one of the most exhilarating ways to get out on the water and catch some fish.
How To Choose the Best Fishing Kayak
Fishing kayaks have specific features that set them apart from standard recreational kayaks. For example, most fishing kayaks have an elevated kayak seat with a high backrest. Sitting up higher increases your field of vision, while the backrest provides plenty of back support.
They also have flush-mount rod holders, storage compartments, hatches (with dry storage), and gear tracks so that you can add a fish finder or other fishing accessories. Most fishing kayaks are roughly 10 to 14 feet long.
A short kayak is more maneuverable but doesn’t have the storage capacity of a larger kayak. A sit-on-top kayak (vs. a sit-in kayak) is ideal for kayak angling because you have more space for casting, and it is easier to stand up to cast. Sit-on-top kayaks also have more room for your tackle box and other kayak fishing gear.
Another option is an inflatable kayak which is much easier to transport and store than hardshell kayaks. Try to buy the best kayak for your budget. This way, you won’t have to upgrade soon, and you will have a solid kayak for fishing.
If possible, rent a fishing kayak to get a good feel for the features you want. In addition, you might be able to find a local dealer that offers demo days, which is another excellent way to try before you buy.
Kayak Fishing Paddle
Fishing kayaks tend to be wider than recreational or touring kayaks. Therefore, a longer paddle will serve you well. The best way to choose a paddle is to try some different models. Choosing the right kayak paddle is almost as important as selecting the right fishing kayak.
Your paddle needs to be an excellent fit to reach the water comfortably. Buy the best paddle that you can afford. A lightweight material like carbon is more expensive but easier on your arms and shoulders when you spend long periods on the water.
Lastly, ensure the kayak paddle has features for anglers, like hook retrieval and a measuring guide on the shaft.
Kayak Fishing Rod
When choosing a fishing rod, you need to have enough room to maneuver around the kayak when a fish is on. A rod in the 6’6″ to 7-foot range is a great place to start. Fishing rods come in different weights and actions.
Choose one that feels comfortable in your hand and has enough power to reel in a big fish. In addition, the rod should have a good grip and a reel capable of handling plenty of fishing line.
Customizing Your Fishing Kayak
Most fishing kayaks have gear tracks that allow you to add various items to the yak. One of the most important accessories is a fishfinder. A fish finder helps you locate fish underwater to target your efforts better.
Feel free to add stuff like a cup holder, an action camera, or other kayak fishing gear as you see fit. One of the fun parts of owning a fishing kayak is that you can customize the boat to suit your needs.
Adjustable fishing rod holders are another great addition to secure your rods and free up your hands for other tasks, like paddling or setting up an anchor system.
Casting from a kayak can be awkward at first, and your kayak might feel unstable. However, with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to cast like a pro. One thing to remember is to keep your body loose when you are casting and trust the stability of your kayak.
Kayaks have primary and secondary stability. Primary stability is how stable the kayak is when sitting flat on the water. Secondary stability is how the kayak handles being on edge. Secondary stability comes into play with choppy water conditions when paddling hard and with movements like casting your line and reeling in a fish.
Any activity that requires the kayak to lean will test the secondary stability. When you start casting, try easy lobs to get the feel of it. With more practice, you will gain confidence. If you are a beginner, a spinning reel is easier to learn how to use than a baitcasting reel.
Landing a Fish
Fish on! Or at least that is the goal. When you finally hook the big one, it’s time to land your prize, and that’s not always easy in a kayak. The kayak might feel unstable when you lean to the side to land your fish, so you have to learn to trust the kayak’s stability when landing a fish.
To make this process easier, reel in the fish so it’s about an arm’s length from the end of your fishing rod. Then, pull the rod across your body with the hand furthest away from the fish. If done correctly, this accomplishes two things: draws the fish closer to you and gets the rod out of your way. You should have enough room to scoop the fish with a net or your hand.
Benefits of Kayak Fishing
In addition to being calm and peaceful on the water, kayaks are quiet and stealthy, making it easy to sneak up on skittish fish, a considerable benefit for kayak angling. Kayaks are also easy to navigate through tight spots, shallow water, and around submerged obstacles. As a result, you can get to prime fishing spots that are unreachable from the shore, which is a real advantage for kayak anglers.
Kayak Fishing Tips
Whether you are bass fishing or crappie fishing, the ultimate goal is catching fish. Here are some simple tips to make your next kayak fishing trip a success.
Learn To Paddle One-Handed
Let’s walk through a couple of scenarios here. First, you are fighting a fish and are drifting toward an overhanging tree branch. Second, a large fish pulls you into the current or towards another obstacle. What’s an angler to do?
You don’t want to put down your fishing rod to paddle out of trouble. In these situations knowing how to paddle with one hand is helpful. It’s pretty easy to paddle one-handed after you practice a bit. Lock the shaft of the paddle along the inside of your forearm.
Then you can paddle and steer the kayak where you want to go. Paddling is easy with both hands, but paddling one-handed requires some practice. When the situation presents itself, you will be happy you learned this paddling technique.
Learn To Cast One-Handed
Casting with one hand is a critical skill to learn when fishing from a kayak. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room on a kayak, and the angler sits close to the water, making it tough to cast with both hands.
You don’t have the space to wind up and hurl your line in the water like you do when fishing from shore or a stable motorboat. Casting with one hand is another great skill for an angler to learn.
Change Lures Quickly and Efficiently
One thing that is predictable about fishing is how unpredictable it can be. As a kayak angler, you need various lures to cover different depths and water conditions. You need to try other rigs and find out what fish are biting.
The lure that was hot yesterday might not work today. It’s essential to be efficient at changing lures with limited space on your kayak. Many kayak anglers carry several fishing rods rigged and ready to go to help alleviate changing lures on the fly, making it simple to change your fishing tactics quickly.
Transportation and Storage
Kayaks are heavy and awkwardly shaped, making transportation and storage difficult. Fishing kayaks are no exception and tend to be heavier than your run-of-the-mill recreational kayak. Before you jump in and buy that new fishing kayak, make sure you can transport the kayak to and from the water.
Also, check that you have an excellent spot to store the kayak when you are not using it. Using a kayak trailer is a great way to get a heavy fishing kayak to and from the launch site.
Kayak Fishing Strategies
Since you can’t cover as much water in a kayak as you can in a powerboat, you have to make the most of your opportunities to catch fish.
- Before leaving the area, use different lures/baits to target various fish species. You can swap out lures or have several poles rigged and ready to go.
- On that same note, use lures that are easy to cast and catch fish on. These lures cut down on tying and rigging, so you can make more casts and catch more fish.
- After you find active fish using crankbaits, swimbaits, etc., try using a drop shot or other techniques to attract less active fish.
Kayak Fishing Safety
Whether you are kayak angling or just out for a leisurely paddle, safety is the number one priority when you are on the water. Always wear a life jacket (PFD) that fits you properly. Kayak fishing life jackets have pockets and other accessories specifically for fishing.
If you are fishing alone, it’s good to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Then, if something goes wrong on your fishing excursion, someone can alert the authorities if you are in danger.
Rules and Regulations
It’s crucial to abide by the local regulations where you are fishing. Ensure you have an up-to-date fishing license and find out if your kayak needs to be registered or licensed. Regulations vary by region, so it’s essential to know the rules before tossing your line in the water. Take Me Fishing is a great resource to use.
Kayak fishing has grown steadily in recent years. According to takemefishing.org Special Report on Fishing, kayak fishing makes up 6% of fishing venues (boat, riverbank, shoreline, etc.), with about 3 million participants. This number is up from 3.9% in 2015. Kayak fishing can be a challenging and rewarding experience.
However, if you prepare, you can make the most of your time on the water and catch some great fish. Remember to be safe on the water and always wear a PFD.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.