These days, kayak fishing is pretty popular, and for a good reason. Using a kayak as a fishing vessel is a much more affordable option than traditional gas powered boats. A kayak also allows the angler to access some of the most under-fished, remote hot spots. Fishing kayaks can also be rigged with just about any feature the die-hard bass angler can imagine.
This increase in popularity has resulted in an increase in fishing kayak production and sales. As a result, beginners and the angler on a budget have also taken an interest in this type of challenging fishing. These kayak fishing tips for beginners and intermediate anglers will teach you how to make the most out of any kayak fishing trip.
With these tips you can learn the mechanics of fishing out of a kayak, because, kayak fishing is much different than fishing out of a boat. You’ll be closer to the water, the vessel is slightly less stable, and you’ll be at the mercy of the current and the wind. All of these factors will require a totally different approach than angling from a traditional boat.
So, plan on spending a little time practicing in your kayak, especially if you’ve never used one before. You can try out new casting techniques, steering tips, and learn how to expertly handle the fishing kayak before you head out for a longer fishing excursion. It is important to choose the best kayak made for fishing that suits your needs before hitting the water.
Kayak Fishing Lesson One
You’ll need to learn how to cast one-handed. This is probably the most difficult adjustment for most anglers who are used to fishing from the stable front deck of a boat or from the bank. Even the sturdiest, most stable kayak won’t have much room between the water and the sitting surface. This can make a basic windup cast using both hands a little sketchy. An angler with experience fishing in a kayak can cast one-handed most of the time with either spinning tackle or bait casting, so it’s important that you gear up accordingly. Instead of a one-ounce jig and a super heavy flipping stick, try fishing with more finesse and lighter combos.
Lesson Two: One-Handed Paddling
Much like the one-handed cast technique, learning how to efficiently fish from a kayak will also require some skills handling a paddle with just one hand. With two hands, paddling a kayak is pretty simple, as the rhythm comes pretty easily for even beginners. But what about when you’re fighting a catch using just one hand and you have to steer the kayak back upstream in order to avoid an overhanging branch or to get to the other side of a laydown? You must practice locking the shaft of the paddle along your forearm. Doing this will anchor it along your arm, allowing you to use it more like a paddle for a canoe.
Lesson Three: Steering using your Feet
While this may seem weird, you’d be surprised how often an experienced kayak angler uses their feet in some manner while fishing. If the kayak is narrow enough you’ll be able to use your feet as rudders to steer the drift on rivers. The feet work great as anchors when you’re fishing shallow areas, laydowns, and fishing riprap. All you need to do is stick one of your feet out in order to latch onto a log until you’re done fishing in a particular spot. The feet can also be used for redirecting the kayak from a log, stump, or another type of obstacle while your hands are currently busy fighting to land a fish.
Lesson Four: Casting to Steer
Baits that offer resistance, such as chatter baits, spinner baits, and crank baits can actually be used to help steer the kayak. If you’re fishing using a crank bait for a lightweight kayak, then you’ll realize quickly that the simple resistance of reeling the bait in will work to actually pull the kayak in the exact direction you’re casting. You can really use this to your advantage and make casts in a specific direction in order to slightly adjust the position of the kayak.
Lesson Five: How to use an Eddy for Better Fishing
You may think the current can make kayak fishing a total nightmare, but that’s actually pretty far from the truth, just as long as you know how to use the current to your advantage. Most models of fishing kayaks are light and short enough to sit entirely in an eddy, which prevents the kayak from moving downstream, while also giving the angler plenty of time to fish the corresponding current seam. In order to maximize the potential of this situation, you should ride past the spot you want to fish and tuck the kayak into the eddy located behind it. This will allow you to fish for as long as you want, and all without having to paddle.
Lesson Six: Anchors Aweigh
While a little cumbersome, an anchor is definitely a must for any kayak. This is especially true on windy lakes, or even in offshore areas where you want to remain in one particular area. For most models of kayaks, a two to four-pound claw anchor is a perfect choice. Just be careful when it comes to anchoring in the current. The current can actually push the entire kayak under water. Most kayak anglers who enjoy fishing on the river will utilize a quick release clevis on their anchors.
Lesson Seven: Hugging the Shore
When you’re paddling up current or if it’s windy, it will take a ton of effort in order to make any headway. In situations such as these, use the minimal draft of the kayak to your advantage. Get the kayak in shallow water instead of paddling down the middle of the lake or river. In the shallows, the current won’t be nearly as strong, and the waves and wind will also be mitigated by structures and shoreline vegetation. This will allow you to paddle more efficiently, while also saving you time and energy that would otherwise be spent fighting the current or high winds.