6 Essential Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners
Jul 23rd, 2020 by Keith Worrall
Modified Jul 23rd, 2020 at 10:22 AM
6 Essential Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners
Kayak fishing is a great way to get out in the water. It’s a more natural experience than taking a motorboat on the water. It doesn’t use gas. It doesn’t make noise. And it doesn’t scare the fish away as much.
But setting out on a kayak fishing journey can feel like a lot. It definitely involves an investment of money and time. Here are some pointers to get you started, so that you know that you’re getting the most out of what you put in to kayak fishing.
Find the right kayak
Finding the right kayak takes time. You might be hesitant to spend a bunch of money on a new hobby. But spending the money to get a high-quality fishing kayak will pay off for years. The gap in quality between a cheap kayak and a well-made one is enormous. Don’t break the bank, but get the nicest fishing kayak setup that your budget will allow for.
It’s worth noting that not every good kayak is a good fishing kayak. Most types of fishing kayaks tend to be purpose-built. They’re shaped a little differently, for one thing. A kayak made for fishing will be a little wider. You don’t want speed. Instead, you want stability. You need to be able to cast in this thing, and you need to be able to fight fish without tipping over. Adding width also makes space for gear, like your rod and reel, and your tackle box. Equipping your kayak is a big part of the process. (Make sure that factors into your budget!)
Load your kayak up
Once you’ve found the right kayak, it’s time to turn it into the fishing machine you’ve always dreamed of. Some kayaks may come with equipment included. For others, you may need to do some mixing and matching to put together a configuration that makes sense for you. Here are some things to consider:
– Rod holders are important for keeping your line in the water, whatever else you’re doing.
– A paddle holder is different than a rod holder. It often runs alongside the boat, where you can store your paddle without it getting in the way of your cast. You can also store your rod here, out of the way, when you’re paddling. You may not want to be dragging your line through the water the whole time you’re paddling.
– A life vest isn’t fishing-specific gear, but it’s still very important.
– Scupper plugs plug the scupper holes that help keep the kayak dry. The scupper holes are there so water can drain out, but if your kayak is really loaded, or just moving through choppy water, sometimes water gets in through the scupper holes instead of out. That’s where the plugs come in.
– A fish finder can help you make sure that you aren’t wasting your time where you are. Go where you know the fish are biting, to get the most out of your time on the water.
– A pedal system is optional but can be helpful. Some fishing kayaks come with a pedal system built in, and others have room for a pedal system that you can buy later if you want. Pedal kayaks have some advantages. They disturb the water less than paddling, and they can help you move (and steady yourself) without having to take your hands off your rod and reel. That can make a difference when you’re fighting fish.
– Comfortable seating is a bigger deal than a lot of people realize. It’s not uncommon for people to cut a fishing trip short just because they’re tired of sitting on an uncomfortable seat for hours at a time. That’s not what anyone wants, so go ahead and take care of yourself on the seating front. Your whole body will thank you.
– An anchor can be surprisingly helpful in keeping steady when you reel in a fish. It doesn’t have to be heavy at all. After all, you’re in a kayak! But the added stability can mean a lot, especially if you aren’t going the pedal kayak route.
Choose the right kayak paddle
There are many things that go into choosing a paddle, but one of the biggest is length. Your paddle length is going to be decided by a few things.
– Your torso height is a big factor. (That’s your height sitting down, from the small of your back to where your shoulder blades meet.) Your height in general doesn’t really matter, because peoples’ bodies are differently proportioned. Just measure the height of your torso, since that’ll be your height when you’re sitting in your kayak.
– The other big factor is the width of your boat. Together, these two measurements determine whether you’ll get the most out of your stroke, or whether you’ll just clonk your paddle against the sides of the boat
– Less important, but still a factor, is your paddle angle. A high, close stroke gets you places faster, and needs a shorter paddle. A low stroke angle is slower, but less exhausting. For fishing, you’ll probably be using a low stroke angle, but everyone is different!
Paddle length isn’t the only thing to think about. There’s also the weight and durability of the paddle, as well as the blade angle. Like your kayak, your paddle will be with you a long time if you’re willing to pay a little more for a well-made one.
All this talk about gears, and add-ons, and fish finders, and paddles can be a lot. Space is at a premium on this small boat, after all. So it’s important to keep organized. Your kayak may have waterproof hatches, or room to add them on as you need them. You can also find waterproof bags to hold things that you want to keep on the side of the boat without getting wet.
But packing the right things can help you, as well. For instance, if you bring snacks that come in sealed wrappers, then you know that whatever happens to them, your food isn’t going to get wet. That means you won’t cut your trip short from hunger.
Packing the right things, and packing them well, is just as important as having good gear.
Know how to cast from a kayak
Casting from a kayak is a little strange, at first. Even with the wider support that a fishing kayak offers, you’re still throwing your weight around in a small boat. It’s going to wobble, and that might make you a little nervous until you’re used to it.
But you have to trust the boat. Kayaks have two kinds of stability. Initial stability is when it sits, undisturbed, on the water. What does it take to make the boat rock?
Secondary stability is how the boat responds to being rocked. That’s the stability that you’re working with here, and you have to trust that the boat is going to take care of you, even if it feels a little odd.
Relax the lower half of your body, and get used to how it feels when the boat gently rocks as you cast. Practice gentle lobs as you learn to stay loose in the boat. You will get used to the feeling, in time.
Know how to land ‘em
You’ve got your first-ever fishing kayak catch on the line! Congratulations! You fight it for awhile, and just as you’ve almost got it to the boat, you realize that it’s down there in the water, and you don’t know how to grab it without tumping over.
The good news is, there’s a trick for that! Once you’ve got an arm span (or less) of line between the tip of your rod and the fish, move the rod to the hand that’s furthest from the fish. Draw the rod up, across your body and away from the fish. This will draw the fish up out of the water and right in front of you, so that you can nab it with your free hand.
Get out there and fish!
Doing your research is important. But so is getting out there and fishing. Now that you know what to look for, you can get equipped and get going on the most rewarding fishing experience that a nature lover can have.