How To Choose a Fishing Kayak?
Many people probably wonder why someone would choose to fish from a kayak instead of fishing from a motorboat and the answer to that question is actually many folds. However, three definitive answers to that question are expense, stealth, and challenge. For instance, a fishing kayak and the accompanying gear is far less expensive to purchase than a motorboat, is easier to transport in a kayak trailer, and requires far less maintenance. Also, this kayak provides the angler with a far more stealthy approach to wary schools of fish than even a trolling motor does. Last, catching and landing large freshwater and saltwater fish species is a far more personal and intimate challenge when the angler is sitting in a kayak and thus, kayak fishing is more challenging. So, how do you get into this exciting new sport you might ask? Well, there actually five easy steps to follow that will have you on the water and pursuing your favorite fish species in no time at all.
Table of Contents
- Step 1: What Type Of Kayak Is Best For Fishing?
- Step 2: Which Kayak Is The Best For The Type Of Water You Will Be Fishing On
- Step 4: Choose The Right Gear For Fishing Kayak
- Step 5: Properly Outfit Your Kayak For Fishing
- Fishing Kayak Faq:
- Q: Is Kayak Fishing Fun?
- Q: Can You Stand Up In A Kayak?
- Q: Can You Fly Fish From A Kayak?
- Q: What Is The Best Fishing Kayak For Me?
- Q: Do You Have A Kayak Big Enough For Me?
- Q: Do You Ever Tip Over And What Do You Do If It Happens?
- Q: Should I Spend The Money On A Carbon Fiber Paddle?
- Q: Can A Big Fish Pull You Off Your Kayak?
- Q: Where Do You Put The Fish That You Catch?
- Q: Can You Keep Bait Alive In A Kayak?
- Q: Can I Put A Motor On My Kayak?
- Helpful Kayak Fishing Tips:
- Kayak Fishing Travel Tips
Step 1: What Type of Kayak Is Best for Fishing?
Before you can choose the most appropriate fishing kayak for your particular needs, you will first need to determine what type of kayak you intend to pursue and what to look for in a fishing kayak because they are not all created equal. Therefore, you should be aware that kayak fishing is clearly divided into two different and distinct categories which consist of fishing in freshwater and fishing in saltwater. Furthermore, both of these main categories are further subdivided into two other categories. For instance, freshwater kayak fishing is divided into fishing on still water and fishing on moving water whereas, saltwater fishing is divided into inshore fishing and offshore fishing. Therefore, it is also important to understand that each type of kayak fishing presents the angler with different paddling conditions and thus, also requires different types of kayaks to meet the needs of those particular conditions.
Freshwater Kayak Fishing
- Still water can be anybody of water ranging in size from a small farm pond to a lake the size of one the Great Lakes but, when paddling smaller bodies of water, short, lightweight, kayaks with a high degree of initial stability and a moderate degree of rocker are often the best choice. Therefore, both recreational and sit-on-top kayaks work well for this particular purpose. Whereas, fishing on large bodies of still water often requires the paddler to cover long distances to reach the prime fishing locations and, once the paddler has arrived at their destination, the quarters are usually relatively open. Therefore, when kayak fishing on large bodies of water, speed is often a higher priority than ease of transport or maneuverability and thus, a long, slim, fast, sit-in kayak with a lower degree of initial stability and low degree of rocker is often the best choice for this type of kayak fishing.
- Moving water on the other hand can range anywhere from a sedate, blackwater, river to a swiftly flowing, crystal clear stream, complete with whitewater rapids. Therefore, there is best type of kayak for fishing that is suitable for fishing on various types of moving water as well. However, the one universal constant when choosing a kayak for fishing on moving water is that when fishing on this type of water, you will have to deal with a current propelling your kayak forward and you may or may not encounter obstacles in your path and thus, maneuverability becomes a paramount priority when kayak fishing on moving water. Therefore, short, wide, sit-in kayaks with soft chines, a high degree of secondary stability, and a relatively high degree of rocker are often the best choice for fishing on moving water although, there are some sit-on-top models that are suitable for this purpose as well.
Saltwater Kayak Fishing
- Inshore waters are generally defined as all waters adjacent to the shoreline with a depth of 70 feet or less. However, for a kayak fisherman, inshore waters generally consist of inlets, bays, sounds, flats, estuaries, and creeks in saltwater marshes. Therefore, because the paddler is commonly required to paddle over significant distances and may face stiff winds and or steep waves at any given time, long, slim, kayaks with a moderate degree of rocker are best for this type of fishing. However, it should be noted that the large majority of kayak anglers prefer sit-on-top kayaks for this type of fishing instead because they are literally unsinkable and they enable the paddler to easily reenter the kayak if they either capsize or are pulled out of the cockpit. On the other hand, common kayak sense tells us that a long, slim, sit-in, the sea kayak has a far more efficient hull design than a long, slim, sit-on-top kayak does and thus, sit-in kayaks are significantly faster and require significantly less effort to paddle than sit-on-top kayaks do. Therefore, it seems that they would be a better choice for this type of kayak fishing. Plus, although sit-on-top kayaks generally have a higher degree of initial stability than sit-in kayaks do which is desirable in calm water, sit-in kayaks generally have a significantly higher degree of secondary stability than sit-on-top kayaks do which is desirable in rough water or confused seas.
- Offshore waters are generally defined as all waters with a depth of 70 feet or more. However, for a kayak fisherman, offshore waters generally mean big water and big skies where a human in a kayak can feel very small. Therefore, because the offshore kayak fisherman is commonly required to paddle over significant distances and may face stiff winds and or steep waves at any given time, long, slim, kayaks with a moderate degree of rocker are best for this type of fishing. Also, it should be noted that when paddling big water such as this, choosing a kayak with a little more length than usual can help to provide you with a little extra sense of security; thus making this type of kayak fishing a little less intimidating. However, it should also be noted that, here again, the large majority of kayak anglers prefer sit-on-top kayaks for this type of fishing because they are literally unsinkable and they enable the paddler to easily reenter the kayak if they either capsize or are pulled out of the cockpit. On the other hand, common kayak sense tells us that a long, slim, sit-in, kayak has a far more efficient hull design than a long, slim, sit-on-top kayak does and thus, sit-in kayaks are significantly faster and require significantly less effort to paddle than sit-on-top kayaks do and therefore, it seems that day touring kayaks would be a better choice for this type of kayak fishing. Plus, although sit-on-top kayaks generally have a higher degree of initial stability than sit-in kayaks do which is desirable in calm water, sit-in kayaks generally have a significantly higher degree of secondary stability than sit-on-top kayaks do which is desirable in rough water or confused seas and when you are paddling on the ocean, the weather can change rather rapidly.
Step 2: Which Kayak Is the Best for the Type of Water You Will Be Fishing On
- The main difference between a sit-on-top kayak and a sit-in kayak in that a sit-on-top kayak lacks an enclosed cockpit. Also, a sit-on-top kayak is designed with drain holes in the bilge which allows any water that may enter the cockpit to escape. Furthermore, sit-on-top kayaks are constructed using a double-hull construction such that there is an enclosed air space between the inner and outer hulls that traps air inside and therefore, sit-on-top kayaks are literally unsinkable. Plus, most sit-on-top kayaks are made from rotationally-molded polyethylene plastic and thus they are extremely tough but, they are also comparatively heavy. In addition, as a general rule, sit-on-top kayaks usually range from 10 to 16 feet in length and have a relatively wide beam and thus, they have a high degree of initial stability. Plus, due to their wide-open cockpits and extreme initial stability, they are the most popular type of fishing kayak available. However, because they have poor secondary stability and generally lack either a skeg or a rudder to aid them in maintaining course, they are best reserved for relatively calm days on calm waters since they do not handle particularly well in high winds, large waves, or swift currents.
- Pros: They are relatively inexpensive, they are tough, they have a high degree of initial stability, and they are easy to exit and reenter. Plus, some even have live bait wells, cooler wells, rod holders, and even electric motors.
- Cons: They have a low degree of secondary stability, they are relatively slow and require more effort to paddle, they are relatively heavy, and the paddler is exposed to the elements.
- Recreational kayaks differ from sit-on-top kayaks in that they have large, enclosed, cockpits and soft-chined hulls with a moderate degree of rocker. Also, most recreational kayaks are made from rotationally-molded polyethylene plastic and thus, they are very tough but, they also comparatively heavy. In addition, because they feature a single-hull construction and most models lack bulkheads and hold, they are best reserved for fishing on calm still-water or protected inshore waters unless air bags are installed to provide flotation in the event of a capsize. On the other hand, when properly outfitted, recreational kayaks do make excellent fishing kayaks because they have a high degree of initial stability and the extra-large cockpits make them easy to enter and exit but, they also have a higher degree of secondary stability than sit-on-top kayaks. In addition, they usually range from 8 to 14 feet in length and they generally have more efficient hull designs than sit-on-top kayaks and thus, they are a good choice for close-range fishing expeditions on sill water or protected inshore waters and they are an excellent choice for fishing on moving water.
- Pros: They are relatively inexpensive and they have a higher degree of secondary stability than sit-on-top kayaks. Also, the enclosed cockpit provides the paddler with some protection from the elements and, when properly outfitted, they make excellent fishing kayaks.
- Cons: They have a low degree of secondary stability and do not handle well in rough seas, they are relatively slow, they require more effort to paddle than a day-touring kayak, and they are relatively heavy.
- Touring kayaks differ from recreational kayaks in that they are longer and slimmer and generally range in length from 14 to 18 feet. Also, because they are longer and slimmer than recreational kayaks, they have far more efficient hull designs than either sit-on-top or recreational kayaks do and thus, they provide the paddler with greater speed and require less effort to paddle. But, they also have less initial stability than either sit-on-top or recreational kayaks. Therefore, they are an excellent choice for long-range kayak fishing on still water and both inshore and offshore fishing on saltwater because their hulls are specifically designed to travel over long distances and manage rough water. Also, they generally have significantly smaller cockpits than recreational kayaks which also provides the paddler with greater control over the kayak as well as some protection from the elements. In addition, they also feature bulkheads, holds, and watertight hatches which provide floatation in the event of a capsize as well as providing dry storage space for gear. Plus, most day-touring kayaks feature either a retractable skeg or a rudder to aid in tracking. Last, day-touring kayaks are commonly made from rotationally-molded polyethylene plastic, thermoformed ABS, or various composites and thus, they range in weight from relatively heavy to relatively light.
- Pros: They have a more efficient hull design and thus require less effort to paddle, they have a greater degree of secondary stability, and they often have very comfortable cockpits which provide the paddler with fine control of the craft.
- Cons: They have smaller cockpits which make some paddlers feel cramped or trapped, they have a lesser degree of initial stability than sit-on-top or recreational kayaks, and they are more expensive.
Step 3: Choose the fishing kayak that best meets your particular needs.
Initial Stability vs. Secondary Stability
- Initial stability is a measure of how stable a kayak feels when sitting upright on its keel. Therefore wide kayaks have a high degree of initial stability and narrow kayaks have a low degree of initial stability. Also, as a general rule, soft-chined kayaks have a high degree of initial stability and hard-chined kayaks have a low degree of initial stability.
- Secondary stability on the other hand, is a measure of how stable a kayak feels when it’s leaned onto its side. Therefore narrow kayaks have a high degree of secondary stability and wide kayaks have a low degree of secondary stability. Also, as a general rule, soft chined kayaks have a low degree of secondary stability and hard chined kayaks have a high degree of secondary stability. Consequently, soft-chined kayaks are like Porsches and hard-chined kayaks are like four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Length vs. Width
- Long kayak hulls are faster than short kayak hulls of the same width because they have a longer waterline length. However long kayak hulls are also less maneuverable than short kayak hulls. In addition, wide kayaks are slower than narrow kayaks because they have a greater wetted surface area but, they also have more initial stability and less secondary stability than narrow kayak hulls whereas, narrow kayaks are faster than wide kayaks because they have less wetted surface but, they also have less initial stability and greater secondary stability. Therefore, hull designs with a high degree of initial stability are very stable on flat water but, are not stable on rough seas. Yet, hull designs that have a high degree of secondary stability handle rough seas with ease but, are not very stable on flat water. Consequently, long, narrow, kayak hulls are the fastest, but least stable and least maneuverable, kayak hull design and short, wide, kayak hulls are the slowest but, most stable and maneuverable, kayak hull design.
Maneuverability vs. Tracking
- Rocker is a measure of how much a kayak’s hull curves up from the center to the ends of the hull along the keel. Thus, hulls with a low degree of rocker will be relatively straight along the keel and hulls with a high degree of rocker will be highly curved along the keel. In addition, kayak hulls with a low degree of rocker track extremely well but are difficult to turn whereas, kayak hulls with a high degree of rocker do not track well but are very easy to turn. Furthermore, kayak hulls with a low degree of rocker are significantly slower because they have more wetted surface area but, kayak hulls with a high degree of rocker are significantly faster because they have less wetted surface area. However, they also require a skeg or rudder to keep them on course.
Features to Consider when Choosing a Fishing Kayak
- Skill level – when choosing a fishing kayak, your skill level should play a large part in your decision. For instance, if you are a novice paddler, then it would be best if you first started kayak fishing on still water using a short, wide, kayak that has a high degree of initial stability and is highly maneuverable so that you will feel secure and confident in your ability to stay upright and also not feel like you are struggling to control the craft. Therefore, both sit-on-top and recreational fishing kayaks are good choices for novice kayak fishermen fishing on still water. However, if you already have some proficiency as a paddler, then you might instead want to choose a longer, slimmer, kayak with less initial stability and less maneuverability in exchange for greater speed and a higher degree of secondary stability so that you can cover longer distances to reach prime locations.
- Sit-on-top vs. Sit-in kayaks – when it comes to sit-on-top kayaks vs. sit-in kayaks, there is simply no clear cut answer even for expert paddlers. The reason for this is that both types of kayaks have distinct advantages and thus, even highly experienced kayak fishermen tend to have a preference for either one type of craft or the other. However, the sit-on-top kayak is by far the most popular type of fishing kayak on the market today and the large majority of kayak fishermen of all skill levels employ them. Of course, the reason that sit-on-top kayaks are so popular as a fishing craft is that they have unsinkable hulls, wide-open cockpits, and a high degree of initial stability and thus, they make the paddler feel secure in his ability to stay upright when fighting large fish. Plus, they are very easy to reenter in the event of a capsize or a large fish manages to pull the paddler out of the cockpit. On the other hand, sit-in kayaks are generally faster, handle rough water better, and provide the paddler better control over the kayak, and provide some degree of protection from the elements. If you are new to kayaking, you can watch this short and simple video that describes the differences and similarities between sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks.
- Type of construction – when choosing a fishing kayak, you should also consider the type of construction it features. For instance, polyethylene kayaks are the heaviest type of kayak construction but they are also very tough and thus, they are an excellent choice for fishing along rocky shorelines and around oyster beds. But, because they have less efficient hull designs than either wood or composite kayaks, they are slower and thus require more effort to paddle. Wood kayaks, on the other hand, are significantly lighter than polyethylene kayaks and they have much stiffer hulls and thus, they are faster and require less effort to paddle. Plus, stitch-and-glue plywood kayaks are much less expensive than composite kayaks and most models have hard chines that provide a high degree of secondary stability. Therefore, they are an excellent choice for fishing kayaks because they provide the paddler with the speed needed to reach distant destinations and the secondary stability needed to fight big fish. However, composite kayaks can be molded to shapes that are simply not possible with either polyethylene or wood and thus, they generally have the most efficient hull designs. But, while they are lighter than polyethylene kayaks, they are heavier than wood kayaks and they are considerably more expensive than either.
- Stability vs. Speed – when it comes to stability, most novice paddlers opt for a high degree of initial stability whereas most advanced paddlers prefer a high degree of secondary stability. However, a high degree of initial stability requires a wide beam and a high degree of secondary stability requires a narrower beam. Therefore, wide kayaks are slower than narrow kayaks of the same length and narrow kayaks are faster than wide kayaks of the same length. On the other hand, wide kayaks also have a higher degree of initial stability than narrow kayaks and narrow kayaks have a higher degree of secondary stability than wide kayaks. Therefore, wide, slow, kayaks with a high degree of initial stability are best suited for fishing on still water and protected inshore waters whereas, narrow, fast, kayaks with a high degree of secondary stability are best for fishing unprotected inshore waters and offshore waters and kayaks with qualities in between these two are best for fishing on moving water.
- Intended use – the type of water that you intend to fish on should also play a large role in your choice of the proper fishing kayak. For instance, still water and protected inshore waters can be comfortably fished from any of the three aforementioned types of kayaks but, moving water is best fished from a recreational kayak because of their soft chines and moderated degree of rocker. Also, although some intrepid paddlers do brave offshore waters in sit-on-top kayaks, sit-on-tops require significantly more effort from the paddler to reach those waters and they leave the paddler totally exposed to the elements once there. Consequently, they are a better choice for fishing inshore waters than for fishing offshore waters. Even so, they are still the single most popular type of fishing kayak for fishing on any type of water.
- Outfitting – many brands and models of sit-on-top kayaks come pre-outfitted specifically for fishing with cooler wells, bait wells, rod racks, rod holders, paddle parks, anchor trolleys, ect. and they are a very popular choice with kayak fishermen for this reason. However, it should also be noted that most of these amenities can be added to most any kayak with a little ingenuity and a little work. Therefore, do not be fooled into believing that you have to purchase a pre-outfitted fishing kayak because you will also pay a premium price for having the manufacturer do the same work that you could do yourself. Furthermore, if you do the work yourself, you are in control of what amenities are added and where they are installed so that you can customize your outfitting to suite your particular needs.
- Sponsons – for those of you who prefer the sleek appearance and superior hull efficiency of a touring kayak but, also feel a strong need for the high degree of initial stability that a sit-on-top provides while fishing, there is way for you to have the best of both types of kayaks by using a device called “sponsons”. Sponsons are a pair of long, slim, inflatable air bags that are positioned on either side of the cockpit and can be inflated or deflated at will. Consequently, by choosing a day touring kayak and then adding sponsons to the outfitting, you can enjoy the speed and high degree of secondary stability that a day touring kayak provides and yet, by inflating the sponsons, you suddenly gain all of the initial stability of a sit-on-top kayak.
- Cost – of course, cost is another major factor when considering the purchase of a fishing kayak. For instance, polyethylene sit-on-top and recreational kayaks are the cheapest type of kayak whereas, most stitch-and-glue plywood kayak kits cost about the same as plastic sit-on-top and recreational kayaks do and require 40 to 60 hours to build. Composite kayaks, on the other hand, are usually double the cost of a plastic kayak but, they are also the type most preferred by advanced paddlers.
Step 4: Choose the Right Gear for Fishing Kayak
- Paddle – in order to propel your kayak, you will need a paddle of some sort. Also, although a kayak can be paddled with a single-bladed paddle, most paddlers prefer double-bladed paddles which are available in numerous different lengths to fit various sized paddlers. In addition, double-bladed paddles are available in different configurations such as Greenland style paddles, Aleutian style paddles, and European style paddles with the main difference between them being the size and shape of the blades and the design of the paddle’s shaft. However, there is considerable controversy as to which paddle style is best and each style has its ardent followers. Plus, paddle length is very much a personal choice because taller paddlers require longer paddles and shorter paddlers require shorter paddles. Also, wider kayaks require a longer paddle but narrower kayaks can accommodate a paddle of most any length. In addition, longer paddles enable the paddler to use a slower, more relaxed, paddle angle and also engender a slower paddle stroke cadence. On the other hand, shorter paddles require a higher paddle angle which provides a more forward thrust and engenders a faster paddle stroke cadence. Therefore, longer paddles are better for a more relaxed style of paddling and shorter paddles are better for a more vigorous style of paddling and for playing rock gardens, tidal races, and the surf zone.
- Spray skirt – a spray skirt is only necessary if you purchase a sit-in kayak and if you intend to launch and fish in rough water. Because a sit-in kayak sits relatively low in the water, it has very little freeboard and thus it requires a spray skirt (which is a nylon or neoprene cockpit cover with a tunnel for the paddler’s body) to seal the cockpit closed so that any waves that rise over the bow, stern, or side will not enter the cockpit.
- PFD – A Personal Flotation Device is a device designed to provide the paddler with flotation in the event of a capsize and they are available in many different forms. The most common and most popular are the stiff jackets made from closed cell foam covered with heavy denier nylon. However, there are also several different brands and types of inflatable PFD’s on the market today that range from what appear to be fly fishing vests or sailing jackets to horse collars to small waist packs. In addition, many of them are available in either manual models which require the paddler to pull a rip cord to inflate the PFD or automatic models that self-inflate when they sense a given amount of water pressure.
- Rod & reel outfit – of course, in order to kayak fish, you will need more fishing rod and reel outfits which can be either baitcasting outfits, spinning outfits, or fly fishing gear appropriate to the species of fish you are pursuing and many anglers choose to carry more than one outfit with them at any given time. Therefore, there are numerous types of fishing rod racks made specifically for kayaks that can be easily installed as aftermarket accessories or, you can make your own using closed cell foam blocks.
- Lures – in addition to a rod and reel outfit, you will need a collection of fishing lures appropriate to the species you are fishing for and the location in which you are fishing for them. Also, because you are fishing in a relatively narrow craft, choosing a lure box that floats is a wise idea in case you accidentally drop it.
- Bait – if you like to fish with live bait, finding a way to store it on a fishing kayak can sometimes be difficult. However, many sit on top kayaks have molded-in cooler wells and there are manufacturers that make self-contained, battery-operated, live bait wells just for this particular purpose. But, be aware that having water sloshing around freely in a cooler strapped to your kayak can make it highly unstable in rough water.
- Bait knife – instead of fishing with live bait, many fishermen prefer to fish with cut bait and if you are one of those who prefer to use this method, it is wise to use a marine grade bait knife and to tie a lanyard from the lanyard loop in the handle of the fishing knife to one of the deck lines or deck bungees so that it will not be lost if you drop it.
- Boga-Grip or gaff – if you like to fish for fish species that have prominent teeth, then it will be imperative that you have some means of safely holding them while you remove the hook from their mouths. Therefore, if you intend to release the fish, then a Boga-Grip is an excellent tool for the job because it will securely hold almost any sized fish. But, if you intend to keep the fish, then you might prefer a short gaff hook instead.
- Cooler – many sit-on-top fishing kayaks have molded-in cooler wells where you can place a medium-sized cooler behind the seat which can be used to store beverages, food, bait, and/or the fish you catch.
Step 5: Properly Outfit Your Kayak for Fishing
Instead of purchasing a pre-outfitted fishing kayak, many experienced paddlers prefer to customize their fishing kayak themselves.
- Seats – the seat on a sit-on-top kayak is little more than a mildly ergonomic molded depression for the paddler’s posterior and there is no integral back rest. Therefore, there are numerous different types of sit-on-top kayak seats on the market today available from numerous different manufacturers with many different features. In addition, the seat in many recreational kayaks is not much better and thus, there is also a wide choice of aftermarket back bands, back rests, and seat pads that will make your sit-in kayak’s cockpit more comfortable as well.
- Paddle park – a paddle park is a plastic clip that mounts to the deck or gunwale of your kayak and allows you to clip your paddle into it where it is securely held out of the way while you fish but is immediately handy if you need it.
- Rod holder – a kayak rod holder is designed to provide you with a handy place to put your rod while you change bait, change lures, or handle a fish. Therefore, they are generally placed at arm’s length in front of the paddler and models are available to hold bait casting, spinning, and fly rods and reels.
- Rod rack – a rod rack enables you to conveniently carry more than one rod at a time and they are available in either vertical or horizontal models.
- Anchor trolley – an anchor trolley is a long loop of cord or rope that is run through either pad eyes or small pulleys at both ends of the kayak and which extends the full length of the kayak on either side and which has a small loop tied in the center on either side. To make use of an anchor trolley, a kayak anchor is deployed over the side and lowered until it reaches the bottom. Then, the anchor line is secured to the small loop in the center of the trolley line. This allows the paddler to position the small loop at either the bow or the stern of the kayak to hold the kayak in the correct place and position for fishing.
- Anchor – a kayak does not require a very heavy anchor to hold it in place and thus, there are manufacturers who make kayak specific, collapsible, anchors.
- Drogue – a drogue (aka a sea anchor) works similar to a standard anchor in that it too can be deployed from an anchor trolley. However, rather than being designed to hold the kayak in one place, a drogue is designed to slow a kayak’s drift by providing drag.
- Casting net – if you like to fish with live bait, then a casting net can be a valuable money saver because a kayak can allow you to stealthily approach wary schools of bait fish and capture them. In addition, if you happen to encounter a school of shrimp while fishing, you can capture them for a tasty addition to your catch of the day.
- GPS – a marine Global Positioning Satellite receiver is an extremely valuable tool to have along when kayak fishing because, not only does it keep track of your present position, it also enables you to record the exact location of any hot spots you might encounter so that you can easily find them again later.
- Sonar – sonar units (aka fish finders) are also valuable tools for kayak fishing because they present the paddler with a picture of the bottom topography and thus make it easier to find the type of structure that each fish species prefers.
Fishing Kayak FAQ:
Q: Is kayak fishing fun?
Yes, it is a tremendous amount of fun!!! In fact, nearly everyone who tries becomes very passionate about it.
Q: Can you stand up in a kayak?
Yes, some sit-on-top and recreational kayaks do have a high enough degree of initial stability that you can safely stand up in them. In addition, you can also stand up in day-touring kayaks with inflated sponsons.
Q: Can you fly fish from a kayak?
Yes, you can fly fish from a kayak just as easily as you can bait cast or spin fish.
Q: What is the best fishing kayak for me?
The best fishing kayak for you is the one that best meets your particular skill level and is designed for the type of water you intend to fish on.
Q: Do you have a kayak big enough for me?
Yes. Both sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks are available specifically for large paddlers.
Q: Do you ever tip over and what do you do if it happens?
Yes, it does occasionally happen even to the most experienced paddlers. However, there are various, simple, techniques that will enable you to reenter your kayak after a capsize. Therefore, learning and practicing bracing, rolling, and self-rescue techniques is a wise idea. You should also consider investing in a life jacket for kayak.
Q: Should I spend the money on a Carbon Fiber paddle?
The simple truth of the matter is that carbon fiber paddles are significantly more expensive than either fiberglass or wood paddles but, it is also a fact that the lighter the paddle is, the less fatiguing it is to use. Therefore, many paddlers consider the significantly lighter weight of a carbon fiber paddle to be well worth the added cost and others do not.
Q: Can a big fish pull you off your kayak?
As long as your drag is set properly, there is no reason why a large fish would ever pull you off of, or out of, your kayak. In fact, offshore kayak fishermen have been known to catch and land Marlin from their kayaks!
Q: Where do you put the fish that you catch?
When you want to keep the fish you catch, you can either keep them in a cooler strapped to your kayak behind the seat or place them in an insulated game bag on the deck.
Q: Can you keep bait alive in a kayak?
Yes. Some sit-on-top fishing kayaks have integral live bait wells and external live bait wells can be placed in the cooler-well behind the seat. You can also use both bait sleds and bait tubes as well.
Q: Can I put a motor on my kayak?
While it is not something that is commonly done, it can be done. Thus, search the Web for instructions on how to mount an electric motor on your kayak or check out this video that might give you an idea of how it’s done:
This video shows how to install a trolling motor on an ocean kayak:
Helpful Kayak Fishing Tips:
- Take a paddling class – taking one or more classes to learn proper paddling technique, kayak handling, and how to deal with difficult situations can have a drastic impact on your confidence as a paddler which, in turn, allows you relax and enjoy your adventure.
- Practice rolling and self rescue techniques – taking a self-rescue class along with other paddlers will provide you invaluable experience and will prove to you that you are able to safely escape the cockpit and then reenter it in the event of a capsize. In addition, learning one or more rolling techniques often eliminates the need for a wet exit and reentry after a capsize and thus, learning to roll in addition to learning self-rescue techniques will provide the paddler with the knowledge they need to face most any emergency paddling situation and practicing them until they are perfected will provide the needed skills.
- Carry essential kayak safety gear with you – carrying essential kayak safety gear with you when paddling in addition to learning self-rescue and rolling techniques is absolutely necessary to your ability to survive an emergency kayaking situation.
- Hire a kayak fishing guide for your first serious fishing trip – hiring an experienced, local, kayak fishing guide for your first serious kayak fishing trip is an excellent way to christen your entry into the sport of kayak fishing and what you learn from a good guide in a single day can save you month’s worth of time and expense learning the sport on your own.
- Use a kayak anchor to hold yourself in a particular position – a kayak floating idly on the water is highly susceptible to the vagaries of the wind. However, you can use a kayak anchor attached to an anchor trolley to position your kayak exactly where and how you want it in order to hold yourself in the prime position for fishing.
- Use a drogue to slow your drift through a productive area – there are times when drift-fishing is a more productive method than anchor-fishing. However, because a kayak is a relatively lightweight craft, it often drifts much faster than the paddler would like. Therefore, by deploying a drogue (aka sea anchor), either behind or in front of the kayak on an anchor trolley, the fisherman can drastically slow the kayak’s drift near schools of feeding fish or through productive areas.