Your Ultimate Guide to Kayak Fishing

It may be surprising, but kayak fishing isn’t just a hobby. It’s an actual sport that has its fair share of danger and thrill.

Like any sport, it needs well-thought-out preparation. You don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re going to be a kayak angler, pop into a store, pay a fair amount of money for a kayak, then bring a fishing rod and think that you’re all set up. 

You absolutely need a guide to show you what you should and shouldn’t do. First, to ensure your safety, and second, to guarantee a pleasurable and worthwhile experience.

Continue reading in order to know everything about kayak fishing, starting from the essential gear you need, to safety measures, and eventually to the tips and techniques you should follow.

Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are purpose-designed vessels. They differ from regular kayaks in length, width, and weight. For instance, kayaks built for angling should be of considerable length to mix speed with maneuverability. 

Also, stability is an essential factor when choosing a kayak. That’s why wider kayaks are preferred because the wider the vessel, the more it’s stable, and the more difficult it is to capsize.

Most anglers favor sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks for their self-bailing system and raised seating, which allows them to have a better view of the water. Also, they offer more storage space, besides being more comfortable to stand on compared to sit-inside kayaks (SIK).

Generally, kayaks made of carbon fiber are most preferred because they’re lightweight and durable. That’s because kayaks are subjected to all kinds of hits and smacks either during transportation or even in the water. Moreover, kayaks’ weight should be taken into consideration to facilitate their portability and storage.

To sum things up, the best width for a fishing kayak should be thirty inches or more. Also, the type of water can decide the length. For example:

  • If you’re fishing in rivers, then an 8-11 foot kayak is more comfortable to turn and twist
  • If you’re fishing in lakes, then an 11-13 foot kayak is better since lakes are larger and wider 
  • If you’re fishing in seas or oceans, aim for a 13-15 foot kayak to deal with the choppy waves and harsh current

Propulsion

A kayak’s driving force can be generated by paddles, pedals, or motors. Paddling is the traditional way of moving a kayak, and it’s the method you should choose if you like challenging yourself and sticking to the origin of the sport.

On the other hand, pedals offer the advantage of having your hands free and focused only on casting rods. Also, since you can cast while moving, they are suitable for trolling techniques.

Furthermore, installing a motor to a kayak is the most hassle-free method, and it’s definitely suitable for novice kayak anglers who aren’t well-trained on paddling or pedaling while casting rods simultaneously.

Paddles

Bear in mind that even if your kayak is equipped with pedals or motors, you still need to pack a paddle with you. 

A paddle of about eight feet (two and a half meters) should be quite suitable for kayak angling. Given that fishing kayaks are broad and have a high seating position, you need a longer paddle than usual for better control. 

It’s worth mentioning that the shape of the paddle blade also matters. On the one hand, high-angle blades provide easy paddling if you’re the type to stand a lot while fishing. On the other hand, low-angle blades help you cover more distance.

Rod Holders

Many fishing kayaks come with built-in or removable rod holders. Perhaps they are the most critical accessories for kayak fishing, considering that they give you a chance to paddle while fishing. In addition to the benefit of casting more than two rods at the same. 

As a novice angler, you can begin by installing two holders, one on each side of the cockpit.

However, take into account that flush mount rod holders tilt your rods towards the stern of the kayak. If you plan to anchor your kayak, then you should use rod holders that are angled towards the bow.

Moreover, it’s important to keep the holder in a position that neither restricts your paddling nor blocks your access to the tank well. Hence, positioning them at a 45-degree angle would be best. 

Fishing Tackles

Now that you have an idea about the best fitting kayak and paddles, here are the essential fishing tackles a novice fisherman would need:

1. Rods

Typically, longer rods provide better control over hooked fish. You may be able to use shorter rods, but they won’t help in some situations like when a fish puts up a fight or escapes under the vessel. Hence, the best rod you should use is a seven-foot-long one.  

2. Reels

It may be challenging to master casting from a distance if you’re still at the beginning of your kayak fishing journey. Thus, the most recommended fishing reel for a beginner is a multiplier reel because, unlike fixed spool reels, they allow a better release of the line from the spool.

3. Pliers

Pliers come in handy in many ways, like pulling the hooks out of the fish, cutting fishing lines, and changing split rings.

4. Others

Other crucial tackles are:

  • Hooks
  • Baits 
  • Lure boxes for storing the fish
  • Tackle bag for storing the fishing gear

Safety

Safety should be your priority since kayak fishing is an extreme sport. To ensure coming back safe and sound from your fishing trip, you should prepare for the worst. Apply for courses to learn the most critical self-rescue methods, which are:

  • Self-entry and exit
  • Capsize drill
  • Emergency procedure

Moreover, never forget to get equipped with these essential safety gear:

1. PFD

Always wear a personal floating device. It’s the most important non-negotiable safety rule. Also, try to purchase a life jacket designed specifically for kayak angling. These well-crafted PFDs have mesh backs that provide you with comfort while sitting for a long time. 

What is more, they come with extra features like tackle pockets, knife attachment point, plier tethers, and rod-tip tethers, which may come in handy since the storage space in a kayak’s hull is limited. These features allow you to have better access to the most-often-used fishing tackles without the need to turn and twist to reach for the back hatch.

2. Others

Also, make sure to pack the following:

  • Waterproof VHF radio
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Flares
  • Whistles
  • Waterproof torch
  • First-aid kit
  • Bailer
  • Towline
  • Cutting tool
  • Food and drinks
  • Extra change of clothes
  • Sunscreen for hot weather

Kayak Fishing Techniques

By now, you’re probably ready to set up your kayak and plan your trip. However, you need to put your hands on some technical tips to get a grip on what you’re actually going to do.

There are many fishing techniques that kayak anglers adopt. The most common ones are:

1. Float Fishing

The simplest and by far the most widely used fishing technique is float fishing. Simply put, it’s when you use a sliding float rig, which allows you to fish at any depth and detect your catch by a moveable stop knot. 

2. Ledger fishing

Ledger fishing is when you attach a weight to the line to hold the bait in greater depth. Mainly, it’s used for catching bigger bottom-dwelling fish. 

This technique doesn’t need floats to alert you that you caught a fish. When a fish takes the bait, it moves the ledger and, in turn, the line is pulled. This pull is a sign that you should lift the rod. 

3. Spinning

Spin fishing involves using a real or artificial spinning lure to trigger the fish. After the rod is cast, the spinner bounces to the bottom of the water and attracts the fish on its way.

4. Trolling

Trolling is basically fishing while you drift. It works by casting one or more baited fishing lines behind a moving kayak where the fish is drawn to the moving baits.

5. Fly Fishing

Kayak fly fishing, also known as flyaking, is a technique that requires some advanced casting styles. That’s because lighter baits are used, which allows casting from a distance.

Pro-tip 

Before setting out, don’t hesitate to ask the local fishermen and people who are well acquainted with the area about the weather conditions and the best fishing spots and locations. This is the best way to get reliable information about the place where you’re going to fish.

Final Words

Kayak fishing is absolutely an enjoyable yet challenging sport. Nevertheless, you can miss out on the fun if you’re not prepared well.

Finally, we hope that this guide has been of benefit to you. Use this guide, set up your fishing kayak, and remember never to compromise when it comes to your safety.