How to Start Kayak Fishing: A Beginner’s Guide (2021)

Fishing is an old profession. Around 40000 years ago, modern humans from eastern Asia, started eating fish from freshwater. Since then people use various methods for fishing. Kayak fishing is one of them.

Although Kayaks are believed to be at least four thousand years old, fishing with Kayaks is getting popular in recent times. Native people of the Arctic region used Kayak to hunt.

Due to the ease of entry in warmer regions, Kayak has become more popular with fishermen in both fresh and saltwater. Not only entering narrow water regions is easier with Kayaks, purchasing and maintaining the cost of a Kayak is less than a traditional fishing boat.

When someone goes fishing by riding a kayak that’s known as kayak fishing. The anglers have been using kayaks as a method to fish in the open water for a long time. Kayaks were first originated by ancient people in the northern regions.

They used the kayaks to hunt in the inland lakes, rivers, and the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic, Bering Sea, and North Pacific oceans. First kayaks were made from stitched animal skins and wood etc.

A regular kayak holds a covered deck and one or multiple cockpits. Each seat has one paddler. Sometimes the cockpit is embedded by a spray deck. This blocks the water of waves or sprays from entering the boat.

Some of the modern kayaks are different from the traditional ones by some characteristics. For example, some of them have their cockpits removed and have the seating paddler on the top of the boat.

They also have filled up air chambers adjoining the boat, twin hulls instead of the single hull, human-powered propulsion methods instead of paddles, etc. modern kayaks are sailed, and also they are propelled by the help of tiny electric motors.

Types of kayaks

Modern kayaks are categorized in numerous types. Such as, recreational, sea, surf, whitewater, racing kayaks, fishing kayaks, military etc. We are talking about fishing kayaks. There are also, “Sit-In” and “Sit On Top (SOT)” kayaks. 

The “Sit-In” kayaks were inspired by the traditional “Sit On Top” kayaks. 

Fishing Kayaks

There are various types of Kayaks you’ll find in the market. From basic designed kayaks to special where you’ll get tons of features to help you with fishing. Here, We are going to talk about different aspects of Kayak Fishing.

Though the ancient people preferred kayaks more for hunting than fishing, in recent years sport fishing from kayaks really gained lots of popularity throughout the world. Moreover, they are suitable for both saltwater and freshwater. 

How to start Kayak Fishing

What is Kayak Fishing?

In short, Kayak Fishing means fishing while you are kayaking. Let me explain briefly.

Imagine you’re paddling and moving quietly on the water and catching fish. It will give you a strong sense of calmness. Kayak fishing is just that. You can move around in your favorite lake quietly in your small ride enjoying the beauty of nature while profiting by catching fish. 

You don’t need to stay at the riverside. You can fish from anywhere in the river. 

Kayaks are comfortable to use. They have plenty of room to keep your gear and have advanced electronics nowadays. Though they have tons of features like any fishing boat, Kayaks are more easily portable than fishing boats. 

The kayak community is welcoming and helpful. The number of Kayak users is increasing in recent times. You can be a part of this community too.

Kayak Fishing for beginners

Safety is the most important issue for a beginner. Then you can focus on cost, speed, and other aspects. 

If you are new to Kayak fishing the first thing you should consider before buying a Kayak is stability. You must make sure that the kayak you’re buying is approved by the coast guard and includes PFD. 

Then comes the big decision. Whether you like to pedal or paddle. It depends on your choice. Although pedal drive kayaks tend to be costly, they are slightly easier to transport.
So, after you are done with basic things like getting a PFD, choose your comfortable method. The next important thing is buying a user-friendly Kayak.

Kayak fishing
Kayak fishing

How to Start Kayak fishing?

If you are new to Kayak fishing, you should follow some steps before focusing on catching fish-

1. Test your Kayak

Learning to drive a Kayak is an essential part of Kayak fishing. Why not try out your Kayak first before going fishing. Choose a warm day of summer, go to your favorite lake, flip your Kayak and drive it empty for few days. Getting used to know your Kayak’s limit is important.

2. Start basic fishing

Try not to go all out with your fishing set up like rod, reel, and tackle boxes. Do some basic fishing. Get to know your Kayak better. Imagine yourself where you can set up your equipment and what your fishing style might be.

3. Build your Kayak

After getting used to regular fishing you can start building your dream kayak. You can add storage and bring a few more pieces of equipment with you. For example, you can add a measuring board if you want to join any Kayak fishing tournaments.

Choose what equipments are suitable for your Kayak comfortable for you to use. Then start casual fishing.

4. Upgrade your Kayak

After getting all the necessary equipment you need, You can start upgrading your Kayak little by little. You can include electronics and other things which may help you to fish comfortably. To be honest, it depends on your choice. You can use your kayak with as few accessories as possible if you want.

5. Know your Community

Last but not least, Know your local community better. Meet new people with the same interest, join their community. Get into some tournaments, build relationships with them. These connections will help you to get more information about fishing. Learn their way of managing a Kayak and go fishing.

Casting From a Kayak

Your success rate of fishing largely depends on your casting technique and presentation. Casting from Kayak is much harder because you have to sit down while casting.
There are three different kinds of casting methods you may use from Kayak.

1. Side Arm Casting

Sidearm casting is the most effective method of casting from Kayak. Sidearm casting is casting from the side below the shoulder. You can cast the sidearm low to the surface after positioning the kayak.

2. Overhead Casting

It’s the most used method of casting where the rod tip begins and ends above the shoulder. By casting overhand you can throw the rod at a long distance. There is a slight downside of overhead casting. That scatters the fish.

3. Flipping

The flipping technique is kind of similar to the sidearm technique where you don’t make noise while casting. In this method positioning yourself, and the kayak can make a significant difference. The best angle for casting is to position your kayak’s towards where you are casting. That way you can make a quiet presentation that won’t scatter the fish away.

Fishing from kayak
Fishing from kayak

Focus on Safety

Maintaining safety is important for every fisherman, whether you’re fishing in a boat or a Kayak. Here we will talk about some safety measures you should take before going on a ride with your kayak.

PFD

Always wear your life jacket before sailing your kayak. It’s not just a recommendation, It’s an obligation. There are lots of comfortable PFD design out there for Kayak. Choose yours.

Bring a Knife

Bring a knife with you and keep it within reach so that you can access it quickly if necessary to cut lines or ropes.

Safety Kit

Bring a safety kit with you just to be safe. If you get injured this will come in handy.

Tie Your Paddle

Make sure to tie your paddle with Kayak. If you lose it in the middle of the water it could get dangerous very quickly.

Communication Device

Keeping communication with friends and family as well as keeping track of weather is very important. Bring a radio with you if possible.

Dressing for Kayak Fishing

Dressing comfortably before Kayak fishing is important. Depending on the weather dressing choice can change though. Here is some clothing recommendation for Kayak fishing.

To state the basic cloth choice, avoid clothes that soak up the water and stay wet for a long time and you should always avoid clothes that are hard to take off. Always choose a dress which makes you breathe easily. Your dress must not hamper your movement and keep the temperature suitable enough for you.

You should avoid clothes that are too hard to take off. Also, bring spare clothes based on different weather. So, that you can make adjustments based on weather.

Boots and Socks

Your choice of boots and socks should always depend on what you do on the surface rather than a kayak. Neoprene boots and hard rubber soles will help you walk comfortably once you get off the kayak. Neoprene boots are comfortable for you to use on Kayak too. Neoprene boots have shortcomings too. Its protection against rock is not good. In that case, you can keep a pair of Teva sandals.

Shorts

Swim trunk is suitable for warm weather, but if the water kind of splashes around your kayak you can wear scupper plugs. There is also an option for wearing neoprene shorts as underwear.

Pants

In warm weather, you don’t necessarily need to wear pants. But if the temperature gets cold you can wear pants suitable for a kayak. Of course, comfort is the most important factor to consider. To prevent water to get inside the outer layer of your pants must be waterproof. Most Kayak fishermen wear waterproof material like neoprene seals around the waist and ankle.

Jackets

Jackets are only needed when you’re in the water to protect you from splashing. Most of the fishermen wear waterproof jackets which are good enough for almost every kind of weather. You can use paddle jackets too which are actually good.

Underlayers

You won’t usually need underlayers. The clothes mentioned above are enough to comfort you from cold weather and water splashing. But if you want to wear something underneath, there is a material called Polartec made by a company called Mysterio. This material won’t soak up water. It’s the best choice you have to wear underlayers. 

You should always choose pants and shirts which tend to be less wet. You can also wear gloves and other accessories if needed based on the weather.

Fishing Kayak
Fishing Kayak

Choosing Kayaks for Fishing


Before you start looking for your suitable Kayak for fishing you should consider what fits you the best. You have to look for few criteria before buying yours.

SOT or SIK

Sit on Top (SOT) Kayaks are most popular because they are safe to use than Sit Inside Kayaks (SIK). SIK’s are preferable for keeping you dry.

Pedal or Paddle

Although most of the kayaks are designed to propel with Paddle, Pedal kayaks are getting popular too because it’s helpful to drive and fish at the same time.

Length and Width

Kayak’s length and width highly affect its speed and capacity. If you want speed, consider buying a long kayak. Kayaks with more width are more stable.

Weight

The heavier your kayak is the harder it will be for you to move it around.

Storage and Others

Try to pick a kayak with a higher storage capacity. That way you can keep your extra stuff there and use them as necessary.

You may also consider options like seat design and fishing while standing up before buying a Kayak.

Kayak Recommendation

Some recommendation is given below for you to choose your satisfactory kayak

1. Intex Challenger Kayak

If you are looking for a low-priced kayak with a good storage capacity Intex Challenger Kayak might be the one for you. Check here to know the price on amazon.

2. Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak

It has two flush mount rod holders. If you are a big fan of stealthy fishing this kayak will be your perfect choice.

Check price at amazon.

3. Hobie Mirage Passport (10.5)

Hobie Mirage Passport 10.5 comes with a pedal propulsion. Its best feature is the breathable mesh seat. And a large platform to keep your legs comfortably.

Check price at amazon.

4. Bonafide EX123

It’s a comfortable and lightweight kayak with a good enough storage capacity. It can be a little tricky to control with a heavy breeze.

Check price at amazon.

5. Bonafide SS107

This Kayak is known for its angler-friendly design. You can fish for hours without hurting your back.

Check price at amazon.

Beginner-Friendly Kayak Brand

There are not many brands that focus on beginner-friendly Kayaks but there are few.

1. Hobie Mirage

It’s a pedal kayak that is both fun and easy to navigate. It has a dual mounting track which will help you keep your accessories within reach.

2. Native Watercraft

If you are new to fishing and want a Kayak at an affordable price Native Watercraft might be a good choice for you. This Kayak model is both sturdy and lightweight.

3. Vibe Kayaks

Another lightweight kayak. But its most appealing feature is portability. If you are going to fish for a long time this Kayak will be comfortable for you to use.

There are also few beginner-friendly kayaks like Bonafide Kayaks, Feelfree Kayaks Lure, NuCanoe, Perception Pescador etc.

Experience is a big thing for Kayak fishing. The more you ride, the more you get comfortable. You shouldn’t get frustrated if you feel uneasy riding a Kayak when you first start.

PFD
PFD
Check Price at Amazon

Choosing a Personal Flotation Device

Safety should be the most important thing to focus on while using a Kayak. Before riding a Kayak it’s required to wear a PFD also known as a life jacket. You have to choose the right PFD for you.

Consider these things before choosing your PFD

  • Comfort is as important as safety while fishing. Choose what keeps you comfortable during long hours of fishing. Don’t choose a life jacket that barely fits your body. It will restrict your movement on the kayak.
  • You should always choose your PFD based on your chest size. Keep that in mind that your PFD doesn’t affect your ability to breathe and movement. After yanking the shoulder straps upward make sure it doesn’t ride up. If it does, it’s not a good fit for you.
  • Your entire torse section should be covered but should not be too tight. Otherwise, it will affect your movement and breathability.
  • If your Kayak has a long back seat, then it’s recommended to wear a PFD with mesh back like Stohlquist Men’s Trekker. These types of PFD have foam on the top half of the jacket and mesh on the lower
  • You can consider choosing a bright color for your PFD so that rescuers can locate you easily when needed.
  • Some PFD’s also come with pockets. You can use pockets for keeping important pieces of stuff like Whistle, Lights, Knives, etc. close.
  • Make sure to check the weight of your PFD before buying. If it’s not compatible with your body weight, it might make things worse. PFD is divided into weight ranges from 30 to 50 pounds. Choose what is suitable for you.

The Importance of a Quality Paddle

Not knowing the importance of a quality paddle can lead you to discomfort and injury. If you are going to paddle for hours it’s important to choose a paddle that’ll make your paddling comfortable and benefit your health. Making a paddle can be very hard. It requires skill. So, it’s best to allocate some budget for a paddle.

To choose a suitable paddle for your Kayak consider these four important things:-

Length of the paddle

Choose your paddle length based on your height and Kayak’s width. You’ll be paddling sitting down all the time in your Kayak. So, the length of your paddle must suit your height and width of your kayak.

Blade shape

Paddle’s efficiency mostly depends on its Blade shape. If you are relatively new to paddling don’t go for big blades. It might help you go faster but it’ll be hard for you to handle because of the massive weight. It’ll harder for you to endure the weight of a big blade shape paddle.

Shaft size

Perfect shaft size provides comfort and better control of your boat. Make sure you can grip your shaft with comfort and don’t require extra strength to handle your shaft. Try to choose an Ovallized shaped shaft rather than a Circular shape. They might cost a few more but comfortable to handle.

Weight

If your paddle is comfortable to lift, you can paddle your boat with much comfort. Fishermen often recommend lightweight paddles rather than heavy ones. Because they are easier to lift and control.

Knowing your preferred grip is also important too. You can grip a paddle in several ways from T-grip to Palm grip. Each type of grip has specific advantages too. Find your suitable grip.

Seasense Kayak Paddle
Seasense Kayak Paddle
Check Price at Amazon

Some Paddle recommendation for you

  1. Gearlab Akiak Greenland Paddle– The length of this is 6ft. It’s light and easy to handle.
  2. H2O Performance Paddles Crystal-X 2.0 Bent- This paddle is beautifully designed and comfortable to use. It’s a lightweight paddle too.
  3. Werner Paddles SKAGIT FG- It’s a high-quality paddle. The construction of this paddle is excellent. And you can silently paddle with this without scaring the fish away.
  4. Mitchell Paddles Mitchell Horizon- Another smooth paddle with a beautiful design. Mitchell offers a variety of woods you can choose from based on your budget.

You have to make sure your paddle is well-balanced. It doesn’t have to expensive if it makes you comfortable you can get it. But if quality paddle clashes with your budget limit you can upgrade it later.

Keep Your Fishing Gear Simple

Choosing the fishing gears that are most essential for fishing can be tricky. There are lots of things you can choose before going to fish. But making your gear list light is important.
There are some basic gears an angler will need before going to fish.

Fishing rod and reel

Fishing rods and reels vary depending on fishing style. Choose your rod and reel wisely. Your fishing rod shouldn’t be too heavy if you are a beginner. Another main aspect of the fishing rod that it should be responsive so that if a fish bites your bait you can feel it instantly.
As for the fishing reel, it should be lightweight and easy to handle.

Recommended fishing rod and reel- Ugly Stik Elite

Recommended by users for its strength and durability.

Fishing Line

You should bring more fishing lines than you might need to make sure you don’t run out. Also, bring several types based on weight and design. Fishing lines can vary in Castability and elasticity. Heavy fishing lines are suitable for rough weather while light fishing lines are for normal.

Recommended fishing line- Rio InTouch Perception

Sensitivity and responsiveness is much higher than other fishing lines. 

Hooks

You should bring lots of hooks and different types of hooks based on their size. The size and strength of hooks matter on what kind of fish you are going to catch. For beginners, single hooks are recommended.

Recommended Hook

RAD Sportz Kayak Wall Hangers 100 LB– Designed to protect from scratches. Easy to install and use.

Bait

To attract fish you have to bring lots of baits to attract fish. Live baits like worms are most preferable to catch fish. Knowing how to store baits is also important. You can put baits in a tin pot with soil and grass.

Recommended baits for Kayak- Worms, Smelt, Squid, etc. common baits can be used for fishing.

Lure

Artificial fishes are used to lure fishes when there is a shortage of live baits. Choose different colored lures based on weather and lighting. Use dark-colored lures on cloudy days and light color on normal days.

Bobbers

Bobbers help to keep baits close to the surface also will let you know if something catches your bait. This is one of the most essential gears for fishing.
Choose a bobber that is not too big or too small. Big bobbers can discourage fish from taking the bait. Make sure to choose a bobber that stays afloat above the bait.

Fish Finder

This gear will help you find fish easily. It’s not mandatory gear but essential for fishing. Choose a fish finder that is less complex to use on a kayak.

Recommended Fish Finder- Garmin echomap plus 93sv

Although this fish finder has its shortcoming like it doesn’t come with built-in maps, it’s the most suitable fish finder out there for you to use because of the size and advanced technologies.

Tacklebox

Having a tackle box is as important as catching a fish. You need to have something where you can put the fish you caught. There are two types of tackle boxes. Hard and Light.

Recommended Tacklebox

Piscifun Fishing Kayak Tackle Box- Because of its flexibility and adjustability, this is the most suitable tacklebox for you to use on a kayak. 

You should also bring Sinkers, Swivels, Line Cutter, and most importantly a first aid kit. You need to be thoughtful before choosing your gears. Don’t bring any unnecessary kinds of stuff that can be a burden later.

Piscifun Fishing Tackle Storage Bag Outdoor Shoulder Backpack Cross Body Sling Bag
Piscifun Fishing Tackle Storage Bag Outdoor Shoulder Backpack Cross Body Sling Bag
Check Price at Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do you start a fishing kayak?

    Put down the kayak into the water and slide out. Put as much weight as possible on the front of your kayak.

  2. How do you turn a regular kayak into a fishing kayak?

    First, you need to make an additional rod holder. You’ll need a fishing crate and install an anchor trolley. You’re ready to go.

  3. What do you need for kayak fishing?

    You’ll need a paddle, personal flotation device, waterproof first-aid kit, fishing rod, etc.

  4. How do you get back into a kayak in open water?

    First, you need to put your feet in the boat. Hold the paddle with your hands about shoulder-width apart behind you. Make sure that most of your paddle is on the shore side of you.

  5. What color kayak is best for fishing?

    An yellow-colored Kayak is best for fishing because it can be seen from a very long distance.

  6. How do you land a kayak in the surf?

    You have to drag the kayak as soon as possible before the next wave comes.

  7. Can you fish out of a regular kayak?

    You can fish out of a regular kayak. You can make some adjustments beforehand.

  8. Is Kayak fishing worth it?

    Kayak fishing doesn’t cost much. Also the benefit you’ll get from it is what makes Kayak fishing appealing.

  9. Do I need an anchor for Kayak fishing?

    You should use an anchor for kayak fishing because it makes less noise.

  10. At what age can you start kayak fishing?

    Ten, is the average age when you can start Kayak fishing.

Conclusion

Kayak fishing is getting popular in recent years. Although it is kind of physical and tends to be dangerous, Kayak is still getting appealing to people. You can now buy a suitable Kayak boat and get to the lakes or rivers and start pursuing your dream of fishing.

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