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12 Game-Changing Kayak Fishing Tips Every Angler Should Know

Kayak fishing. Fisher girl holding pike fish trophy
Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated May 5, 2021

Kayak angling has become exceedingly popular in the past few years. While you may feel that you’re an experienced angler, doing it from your kayak is an entirely new experience. There are many factors to consider fishing from a kayak. If you’re interested in learning how to fish from your kayak, consider reading through a few of our best tips for every angler. 

Invest in Your Kayak 

For kayaking, you get what you pay for, though kayaks hold their worth well. Many experienced kayakers recommend buying a kayak now that is within your budget and then slowly adding to you until you’re happy with the results. Buying a more expensive kayak now will pay off in the long run as you get your money’s worth. 

There are always extras and add-ons that allow even the most basic of kayaks to be amazing. Adorning your kayak with these add-ons can help you replicate the kayak of your dreams and ensure you have all the room in the world for your kayak fishing gear and kayak fishing basics. 

Can I Fish From My Kayak? 

Yes, fishing from a kayak is perfectly safe and legal, depending on the area. You should always check fishing regulations in the area you plan to kayak in, but if fishing is allowed in that area, you are free to fish from your kayak. 

Our tips here can help you learn how to fish out of a kayak. 

1. Take Your Kayak Out on Its Own First 

Even if you’re an experienced kayaker or angler, consider taking your kayak out on its own before you plan to bring all of your gear. Scouting out the area and testing it out beforehand can help determine the safety and experience level. 

Bringing your kayak on its own without any fishing gear is important as you can determine the wind and weather factors beforehand. If you just get straight on the water without testing first, you may find yourself in over your head and now you have all of your gear on top of it. 

2. Find a Technique That Works 

Even if you’re an experienced angler on land, fishing from your kayak is a whole other ball game. There are a lot more factors at the plan when fishing from inside your kayak than there are when fishing with your feet planted on the ground. 

While it may be easy to cast two-handed while on land, it may prove more challenging when in your kayak. You should consider that one of your hands will be holding onto your paddle. A lot of kayak anglers find that learning to cast singlehandedly is ideal for kayak fishing. 

Learning to cast single-handedly means you should also learn to paddle single-handedly as well. Once you can master the single-handed maneuvering of both your pole and your paddle, you can easily get around while fishing. 

If you don’t learn how to paddle or cast single-handedly you may find things much more difficult. Before you have mastered the single-handed maneuvering, try paddling out to a spot and casting as you normally would. Slowly start using one hand again and again to gain some practice. 

3. Consider the Current 

One of the kayak fishing basics is to consider your environment. If the current is strong in the area where you’re fishing, there are a few more obstacles to keep in mind. It’s difficult for even experienced kayakers to keep their boat in one position - trying to fish while also mastering the water can be difficult. 

When fishing from land, there are not many outside factors to take into consideration. When you’re out on the water, especially in a kayak, the wind, water, and weather are huge factors. Kayakers must learn how to master the water with their paddle to fish more accurately in their kayak. 

There may be different currents in freshwater vs saltwater which is something to keep in mind as well. 

4. Use an Anchor 

Similar to a canoe, an anchor is not often associated with kayaking, though it may be a kayak fishing essential. Most kayaks are lightweight and glide easily through the water - many kayakers are not interested in anchoring in place. However, when fishing from a kayak, the current, wind, and more may drag your kayak and make fishing impossible. 

By using a dropping anchor when necessary, you ensure that your kayak stays put and makes fishing much easier. 

5. Stay Shallow 

man fishing from kayak in shallow water

It may seem tempting to paddle out to deeper waters to fish from your kayak. While this may be ideal in a larger boat, kayaks are easily influenced by the wind and the current. Fishing in the middle of the body of water makes the current stronger and your kayak more vulnerable. 

If you stay around the edges of the body of water in the shallow section, there will be less of a current. Your kayak will take less of a beating and you will have an easier time trying to cast and fish from your kayak. 

6. Your Feet Can Help You 

When most people think of kayaking, they don’t think of using their feet. Fishing while kayaking, however, can be easier if kayakers use their feet. Many kayakers will use their feet to help steer and get around while fishing from their kayak as their hands are occupied. 

Using all of your available resources is great when fishing from your kayak as it takes a lot of multitasking. 

7. Consider Your Outfit 

Though the temperature may be hot while you’re on the water, it’s important to remember the elements when fishing from your kayak. Your back, neck, shoulders, and more are entirely exposed while you are in a kayak. This means the sun is beating directly on your upper body nearly all day. 

This can be extremely exhausting and harsh on the body. Wearing appropriate heat protection to stay safe from the sun while kayaking is essential. 

8. Use Easy Lures 

Fishing from a kayak may prove more difficult for retrieving stuck lines. If fishing in a lake or pond with many branches and obstacles, it can be near impossible to get your kayak close enough to unhook a stuck line. It’s not uncommon for kayakers to have to cut their lines and start over when one is too far gone and unable to be released. 

A great tip for fishing kayakers is to use cheap or easy lures that you may not care too much about in case you need to cut them loose. 

9. Always Carry a Blade 

fishing knife and holster

Not just for cutting loose stuck lines, carrying a blade is essential when fishing while kayaking. You may never know what you may need to cut, but being inside your kayak already puts you in a more vulnerable position. 

Carrying a blade that can flip closed for even more safety is ideal to keep with you at all times. 

10. Stand Out 

It’s important to wear bright colors to let other kayakers or swimmers know you are around. It’s easy to get preoccupied with your fishing and not realize that someone is around you. Wearing bright colors and standing out amongst the water can help others locate you. 

Department and sports shops will offer fishing gear and clothing in bright colors to help you stand out and be noticeable. 

11. Get A Kayak Fish Finder

Fish finder for kayak

Some consider it cheating - others consider it an effective way of hunting. Personally, I am a big fan of kayak fish finders. Modern marine electronics are finding their way into many different types of fishing so why not apply its effectiveness to kayak fishing as well? The market is vast and you don't have to break the bank either - we've picked the best fish finders for kayaking in this resource.

12. Get An Outrigger/Stabilizer

It can be hard to focus on maintaining the balance in a kayak once big game bites and pulls. This is where an outrigger or stabilizer setup comes in handy. One outrigger at each side stabilizes the kayak so you can concentrate on what you're there for - catching fish.

Outrigger systems are generally very affordable but there are highly premium models available as well depending on your use case and budget. We recommend starting with something affordable and then see if you want to upgrade further down the line.

Check our guide on the 5 best kayak outriggers and stabilizers for more information.

Learn About Extras 

If you’ve ever kayaked before you may have realized that there isn’t much room, especially not for all of the gear that goes along with fishing. Once you’ve become comfortable with fishing from your kayak, you may start looking into adding a crate to your kayak. 

Adding a crate gives you extra space to store your gear and keep it with you on the water. It’s essential to be able to carry all of your fishing pieces when kayaking. Learning about all of the extras that come along with making your kayak the most efficient possible can help you become a better angler. 

Get Familiar With Bass Fishing 

Bass fishing is one of the most common fish to go after for kayak angling. If you plan on bass fishing you should consider adding extras to your kayak such as crates to hold your gear. It’s also important to understand the ways to catch a bass, such as using worm-like baits that attract them. Don't forget to find a suitable bass rod and reel for the occasion.

Kayak Angling, All in All 

In the end, kayak angling can be an extremely challenging yet rewarding sport. It can be quite difficult to master and learn the ropes at first. Following our tip guide for kayaking anglers can help for learning a few new kayak fishing techniques. 

Our kayak fishing 101 tips are sure to help any beginner learn how to start kayak angling. If you’re unsure where to start and don’t know if kayak angling is for you, we’ve got you covered.