Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners

Last Updated: 18.06.19


Fishing from a kayak is one of the best ways of getting great thrills without spending too much. It is also environmentally friendly and relaxing, and, provided that you know some kayak fishing tips, you will obtain excellent results and never go home empty-handed. Using a reliable portable fish finder might also help.



History and features

The kayak is a vessel initially developed by the indigenous tribes living in cold, arctic regions; it was used to hunt and fish on inland lakes, rivers, and coastal waters, serving as means of getting from one small island to another.

At least 4,500 years old, these boats are enjoying a modern revival through their use in many sports and also for fishing, their original purpose. Lightweight and narrow, they are stealthy and relatively inexpensive.


Factors to consider

To begin with, you should know some factors to keep in mind when buying a kayak. Their price varies between a few hundred dollars for an entry-level model, while a professional design can be about ten times more expensive.

There are differences in composition between boats, some being optimized for long standing times on a lake, some for angling on a fast river and some are meant for long distance paddling.

Knowing where you want to go fishing is one; the other important factor is your fishing method. Anglers, for example, prefer sit-on-top fishing boat seat models which provide greater mobility and superior storage space. However, a sit-inside kayak would be recommended for those going in cold, windy or rainy environments after fish.


Choosing the right kayak

Other factors to consider include length (as it affects stability and speed – the longer, the more stable and fast the boat is, but this decreases maneuverability), width (it increases stability but decreases speed) and hull shape.

The best thing you can do is to test-drive one, either by renting a model you like or by going to shops which allow testing.

Customizing a kayak is the last step before you can hit the water. Some retailers offer fully-equipped models, while others allow you to accessorize them yourself. To begin with, you will need a good paddle; search for models with adjustable feathering or made from ultra-lightweight materials. Do not go cheap on this item as it is essential, especially if you want to stick to kayak fishing.


Upgrades you can make

Kayaks are fitted with a seat, but you might want to upgrade your boat (here are the quality models we found) or use extra cushions – these are easily available and not too expensive, either.

Rod holders, customized for reel style, are must-have accessories if you want to increase your efficiency. You will need one near the sitting area for the rod you are fishing with, and one or two more behind the seat to hold extra equipment.

Particularly important if you want to maintain position in the water (for example when fishing on a lake) is the anchor and trolley system.

For beginners, leashes could prove vital as they secure rods, paddles and other essential items, preventing them from going overboard beyond your reach. Organizers are not to be left aside, especially for those spending a lot of time on the water. As you become more and more experienced, other items will be needed.

After purchasing and customizing your vessel, you will be ready to go fishing. Do not forget that life vests could save your life one day – wear one while kayak fishing! You could also benefit from incorporating a good marine GPS into your fishing gear.


The first thing you should learn is to use the one-handed paddle with efficiency, even though at first you will be tempted to use both your hands to move across.

One-handed paddling could prove very useful when fighting a fish with the rod in one hand. Steering quickly or moving a few meters can make it easier to catch the game. One-handed paddling is a skill that could prove helpful when fighting a fish in other situations too, such as when avoiding an overhanging branch or a floating log.

One of the most challenging skills to master is casting with one hand, especially if you are an angler used to fishing from a bank or boat. Since kayaks are long and narrow and tend to be unstable, there is not too much room – casting with two hands can prove very difficult in certain situations.

Casting with one hand solves this problem, but the skill is hard to master and takes a lot of practice and constant training.

Another skill you should learn, even though it is difficult, as well, is casting to steer. Baits offering resistance like crankbaits can be used for mild adjustments to your position. While fishing with these, you will soon observe that, while reeling in the lure, the boat will be pulled towards it, offering a subtle adjustment to your position. Experienced fishers see this as the main advantage of kayak fishing.

If you prefer a lake or sea fishing, in windy conditions you will find it very tiring and challenging to maintain your standing position. Anchoring is the solution – for this particular purpose, you will need the anchoring systems mentioned above as not being essential. A small claw anchor is sufficient for most medium-sized vessels. However, anchoring in a powerful current could push the whole boat under water.

When it comes to maneuvering in windy conditions or when paddling upstream, a lot of effort is required. In order to make your work easier, go into the shallower water to fully use the reduced drag a kayak has to offer.

The current is less powerful towards the shoreline, and the same thing is valid for winds and waves. Keep an open eye for any obstacles to avoid getting stuck on sand or in thick vegetation.

Other tips include using the stealth and silent vessel for improved efficiency, documenting the fishing adventures with a camera mounted on board or to show your family and friends or to learn how to drift.

All these skills will become natural as you keep practicing and spending time on the water. If you have friends or relatives experienced in kayak fishing, ask them for advice and help; always keep an open mind and listen to what the professionals have to say.



Fishing is one thing and kayaking is another. The only link between the two is water. But did you know you can combine them? If you want to fish through small waterways and your boat is too large or too loud, this is the perfect option.

Kayak fishing provides maneuverability in the pristine fishing areas that are not accessible to shore fishers or boaters. You can target a wide array of species while fishing from your kayak and they range from salmon and trout to pike and others that live in freshwater.

The information below will help you get started, as you need to be prepared to know what to take with you on the trip, what dangers to look out for and how to be effective on waters where fish are biting.

What to be aware of

Before you actually start your kayak fishing trip, you need to take some things into consideration. First, you should check the local fishing reports. You should know what fish are biting, the exact area and how. This is good not only for developing your fishing skills, but it is also an environmentally responsible thing to consider.

Secondly, you should check the weather reports in order to be able to find fast-forming systems. While the fog is not dangerous, it can make you lose track of your position on the water which can cause you to get lost. Strong winds can make the water choppy, which should be avoided when kayak fishing.

If you are practicing kayak fishing in the rain, make sure you take a rain jacket with you. In case the weather worsens and a thunderstorm occurs, it is advisable to get back on the shore immediately.

Other vessels can prove to be hazardous, so you should especially be aware of tanker ships. In case you encounter one, make sure you paddle toward to waves and not parallel to them, as you risk capsizing.


Safety gear should be packed for any outdoor travel adventure. It should include a personal flotation device, whistle, first aid kit, flares, paddle leash, fishing rod leash, an emergency kayak repair kit and also a headlamp.

Since you are sitting under the sun for a longer period, your bags should also contain skin protection items such as waterproof sunscreen, fishing sunglasses, as well as a hat, but also a bug spray.

Another very important aspect is to have food and water on you. When packing, do consider that it is possible for the trip to last more than anticipated and pack plenty of water and food with you.

Although overlooked, a kayak anchor should be with you, because a side tether can capsize your kayak.

Naturally, since you are going fishing, you need to have fish handling gear, that includes line cutters, fish grips, pliers, nets, gloves, and stringers. Also, you do not have to get the most expensive fishing rod and reel combo, just make sure they are appropriate for this type of fishing.

Last, but not least, if you want to document your kayak fishing experience, you can do so with a camera on a mount.




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