If you’re looking to catch fish in a kayak, one of the most effective ways is to do so is trolling. Trolling from a kayak allows you to cover a lot of water while making lures more closely resemble how live bait would move. Giving it that authentic quality while covering a lot of water, can be a recipe for catching a large amount of fish. Here we will cover tips and tricks for trolling from a kayak.
Tips For Trolling From A Kayak
Choose & Know Your Kayak Type
The type of kayak you own or are renting is undoubtedly a major first consideration. The key is to know which trolling technique suits the kind of kayak you are going out in. With some kayaks, you may find light tackle trolling works best while some may simply be more high-powered. Some kayaks it may be feasible to bring multiple rods, or even troll holding your rod, while others that may be impossible.
- A Paddle Kayak – This type of kayak runs on muscle power, stamina, and energy. This setup means you need to have good places to hold your rods, use your rods, and transition from casting, to reeling to paddling pretty quickly. This method will often have your hands full, but is extremely common.
- A Pedal Kayak – Pedal kayaks are more practical for trolling as they allow the use of both hands while you peddle forward. Pedal kayaks usually have accessories where you can attach your trolling rods for more convenience. You can use heavier tackle and also target larger fish found in much deeper water. It simply makes trolling much easier form a kayak. It becomes easier to cast and fish while trolling at the same time with pedal kayaks.
- Motorized Kayaks – Motorized kayaks are definitely the easiest kayaks to troll in since you can angle more easily as well as employ more speed. For a full day on a fishing kayak with motor make sure you have a large battery (100 ah) as well as multiple adjustable rod holders with extensions in easy reach. Always bring backup propulsion as well. It is easier to cast while trolling with a motorized kayak. Kayakers can also install a small trolling motor on just about any kayak as well for reasonable costs.
Have A Rod Holder For Trolling
Be sure to have a rod holder rigged for trolling so that you can paddle, or re-rig another rod, or really do anything while you are trolling. This will make your life much simpler, and also increase your odds of catching fish since you can multitask. It basically becomes impossible to troll in a hand paddle powered kayak if you don’t have a rod holder rigged for trolling.
Many kayaks come with these, but you can also attach your own. Here is an example of a rod holder you could buy.
Have A Rod Leash
Invest in a rod leash, especially if targeting larger ocean species. The last thing you want is to have your rod ripped out of its holder while you are trolling. A leash will catch your rod in case your rod gets pulled out of the holder.
Experiment With Your Speed
One of the most important things when trolling is to experiment with speed. Even a small difference in speed can mean the difference between catching no fish, and a lot of fish. We recommend trolling at a speed for a while, then adjusting that speed, and testing for a while once again. Be sure to take note of your speed when you are getting bites and landing fish, as this speed could be key to continued success. Speed may also dictate your depth depending upon the weight of your your lures.
Experiment With Depth
Along with speed, it is essential to experiment with depth. Fish could be near the bottom, mid water column, or near the top depending upon tons of variables. Be sure to experiment with depth and speeds. It may be necessary to adjust the weight on your line to get the speed and depths just right. Again, it is important to note where bites are occuring so that you can replicate success.
Bring Multiple Rods
Having multiple rods rigged with different weights, different lures, and different lines can enable anglers to experiment more easily, and potentially troll with more than one line, or troll and cast at the same time. More experimentation, faster switching, and more time with lures in the water will result in more fish. We always recommend bringing 2, 3 or even more rods to be ready for any type of situation.
Use Tolling or Lead Core Lines
This may not always be necessary, but if in waters where you need to get deep, or maintain good speed, having a lead core line will allow you to get lures at a greater depth far easier. This may be essential for certain situations, for example, lake trout, it may be necessary to get the line very deep while trolling to have success.
Know Your Bottoms & Obstructions
In open water, it may be best to have a heavy rig that sinks down quickly so you can get your lures in the fishing zone faster. This may be a downside in shallower water, or water with rocks, logs, trees for debris. Knowing what your body of water is like will enable you to make more effective decisions, prevent snags, and catch more fish.
Mount A Fish Finder
This may be out of budget for some, but a fish finder can be a great way to immediately understand fish depth and know exactly what depth you should be trollign at. This can increase your odds of catching fish substantially, and allow you to continuously troll over the best spots. Some high end fishing kayaks can be purchased with fish finders, but third party self added fish finders are also popular.
Bring Waterproof Gear
As with any type of fishing from a kayak, you will often get wet. Make sure you have waterproof compartments and bags to store your electronic devices and other items that can’t get wet.
Bring Safety Gear & PFD
This should go without saying, but we couldn’t not say it. Always bring and wear a personal flotation device that fits properly!
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