Kayak fishing is an amazing way to combine two sports for added fun, adventure, and exercise. Kayaks can enable anglers to catch more fish, move faster, see more nature, and even get a workout in. In this article, we have compiled various tips to improve or get started with kayak fishing.
Before diving into our tips, you may also get a value out of our other articles on kayak fishing:
Kayak Fishing Setup – The complete DIY guide
Kayak Fishing Safety – Tips to keep you safe on the water
Winter Kayak Fishing Tips – Tips to successfully and safely kayak in winter.
Kayak Fish Finders – How to find the best setup for you.
The Best Kayaks For Fishing – Your Buyer’s Guide
What is Kayak Fishing?
As the name suggests, kayak fishing refers to the use of kayaks to travel into and through bodies of water, and fish from that vessel.
Kayak Fishing Fundamentals
Unlike boat and canoe-fishing, kayak fishing differs vastly in terms of technique. Firstly, canoe-fishing uses a single paddle, whereas kayaking uses a double-bladed paddle.
Paddling correctly is essential to ensure that you don’t end your fishing trip with a tipped kayak, or turning around before reaching your destination. We have included a video below to help you with this:
Know the Regulations
DIfferent bodies of water have different regulations. Often, lakes with the most restrictions will still allow kayaks and stand up paddleboards pending they aren’t equipped with any type of motor. Before traveling to any body of water, make sure you are aware of the regulations. For instance, many bodies of water may require wearing or carrying a PFD (lifejacket), others may not allow a trolling motor, and others may allow all types of boating, which means kayakers need to be cognizant of boating activity.
Pick Your First Kayak
We have a complete guide to choosing a fishing kayak here, but also included some considerations below:
Paddle vs. Pedal
Pedal kayaks are amazing for fishing. They allow anglers to handle a rod while moving much easier than one handed paddling. Kayaks will become more expensive, heavier, and more space is needed for a pedal system over a paddle system. Most experienced kayak anglers will eventually shift to a pedal kayak.
This kayak is the most popular choice for beginners as it provides them with stability and is designed to be comfortable for anglers.
Furthermore, its simplicity allows different types of fishermen to customize the kayak so that they can catch their prey with maximum efficiency. There are several different variations of this kayak, and many come in a very affordable price range.
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
If you are struggling with your budget to start fishing from a kayak, then an inflatable fishing kayak may fix your problem. This is because you can cut the cost of buying a kayak rack and just fit it inside your car after taking the air out of it. What makes it an even better choice is that they still have a lot of the features other kayaks have and have little to no drawbacks on your fishing adventures.
There are several other different kayaks, so make sure to do your research and find what’s best for your fishing adventures. Now that we’ve told you about the different types of kayaks you can use, it’s time to give you some tips which will further increase your capabilities as a kayak fisherman.
The biggest headache for you might be how to carry the kayak to your fishing spot. A truck` is an ideal mode to transport a bulky kayak. However, the structure of the kayak may be awkward to fit into the truck properly. This is where a kayak rack comes in to save the day.
Manufacturers design all types of kayak racks for different vehicles. If you do some research, you can find the right kayak rack for your vehicle.
Having a 14 foot kayak might not be an option for you if you have a small sedan, so simply keep in mind the size based on your transport vehicle. Individuals that don’t have a large vehicle, or can’t invest in a rack may want to invest in an inflatable kayak for easier transportation.
Kayak shapes and types
If you are fishing in a river or small lake, long kayaks are likely unnecessary. Shorter and wider kayaks are more suited for this purpose. You should also know whether it is a sit-in or sit-on variety. The latter is more convenient for setting anchors for fishing. Knowing the types of water you will be fishing in will drastically change the size and type of kayak you are looking for.
Kayaks can be lower than $200 and upwards of $2000 dollars. Pricier kayaks will be lighter, faster, have more fishing features, and better performance. Cheaper kayaks will be missing on various features and high quality design. Knowing your budget ahead of time will help you prioritize features and narrow down your options.
Kayak Fishing Tips
Customize for Comfort
As we all know, fishing is a time-consuming process, even for those who are experts. Sitting inside a small space for long periods can be quite uncomfortable and frustrating, especially if the weather or the fish aren’t cooperating.
It is therefore recommended to customize your kayak to your comfort. Install some elevated seats so that you can see farther and sit comfortably. Invest in a paddle holder. Adjust all of your kayak and seat settings to your liking before heading out on the water. Add small features like rod holders, paddle holders, foot rests, and more to enhance the comfort of your vessel.
Master the One-Handed Paddle
If you are used to fishing from the bank of rivers, streams, or lakes, then this might be difficult to get used to initially. There is usually little room left between the water and the sitting surface. You will need to be able to cast with one hand while paddling with the other. This is why the most experienced anglers are able to cast and paddle one-handedly. Keep in mind that this skill becomes unnecessary if electing for a pedal powered kayak.
Additionally, you should practice locking the shaft of your paddle along a forearm, which acts as an anchor and allows you to use it like a canoe paddle. Check out this super helpful video on one handed paddling:
Choose The Best Paddle For You
Choosing a quality paddle will make a huge difference in your ability to cover distance effectively. The length is most often determined by a common formula made up of your height, kayak width, and paddling style. Advanced kayak anglers will know exactly what they need, but beginners should often follow the below chart:
|Less than 23″
|23″ To 27.75″
|28″ T0 32″
|Greater than 32″
|Recommended Paddle Length
|Less than 5′
|5′ To 5’6″
|5’7″ To 6′
|Greater than 6′
Know Kayak Safety
Safety is of utmost importance in kayaking. Personal floatation devices (PFD) and waterproof radios are must-have items. Another helpful device is the personal locator beacon which collects personal data by pinning your location, whether it be a boat or mountain.
Your first task should be to inform someone of your trip and location when you go paddling. Then ensure that you know how to fit into the PFD and how to use the radio. Practice keeping your kayak upright in shallow waters first. Furthermore, look up your kayaking area to know as much about the weather, the islands, other boat traffic, tides, and your route. The more you know, the safer you are.
Being prepared is always beneficial. Carry a first aid kit for accidents from hooks or bites.
Be sure to read our kayak safety guide for all of the essential safety preparations that should be taken.
Keep in mind that no matter what, expect to get drenched – this is a water sport, after all. Even if you never roll over or go in the water, water will splash at you from everywhere. This is especially the case on windy days. Therefore, it is best to avoid thick layers and cotton clothes that will weigh you down. Wear moisture wicking clothing, bring windproof, and waterproof layers, and be prepared for colder temperatures than you would expect. Wind and water create a combination that can create hypothermic conditions even in surprisingly warm weather.
If weather permits, this may mean that a wet suit or dry suit is necessary for safety.
The other important consideration with kayaking in sunscreen. Kayakers are exposed heavily to the sun, so you need sunscreen, sun protected rated clothing, sunglasses, and a hat on just about every adventure on the water.
Rod Holding Techniques
Read our fishing kayak setup guide for the best details on this subject, but this is crucial to fishing success and reducing frustration. Know exactly how you are going to store and paddle with your rods. Your rods should be easily accessible, but shouldn’t get in the way of paddling. You should be able to quickly store them and put them to the side without fumbling. Rod holders can be fantastic options for this.
Use The Water To Your Advantage
Kayaks can give you more accessibility on the water than other boats or fisherman on shore. Use this to your advantage. You can get in shallow water, canals, troll spots that others couldn’t, and cover distance. Use this as part of your fishing plan to have the most success. Go where others may not be able to.
Plan Your Route And Day In Advance
A lot of the time, fishermen like to travel to newer locations and try to find bigger and better fish. However, wandering into someplace new without any knowledge is never a good idea. Look at the routes and the hotspots where fish are usually found and make sure the weather is good enough to go out into the water. Use fishing apps to help understand the fish, and the habitat, in the area you plan on traveling to.
- Plan out your route in advance. Your route should enable you to track your trajectory and prevent exhaustion on the return trip. Knowing wind directions and tides an any currents is essential in this planning. Know what parts of the body of water you want to fish.
- You can potentially upload your route into a fish finder, a phone, or a gps device ahead of time.
- Know your turnaround time if you have a long paddle ahead of you.
- Know safety exits in case anything goes wrong.
Kayak fishing is both relaxing and exciting and makes for a great physical workout. Be sure to try our tips before you venture out on your next kayak fishing expedition.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about