Kayak Fishing: Awesome Tips for Beginners

Kayak Fishing Tips For Beginners

I remember the first time I went from bank fishing to actually being on the water. I was thrilled.

If you’ve been fishing the banks and want to actually get out on the water, learning kayak fishing is a great way to do it.

When you’re just starting out, you’ll need to learn both kayaking and fishing tactics at the same time.

This guide will help you get started kayak fishing with some valuable tips and tricks.

1. Demo Your Kayak Before You Buy

If you don’t yet, have a kayak and you’re looking to buy one, a key tip is to try before you buy.

Many anglers buy kayaks online and have them shipped. While this is convenient, it may not be right for beginners.

As a beginner, you may not be aware of the features that you’re going to need for your type of fishing. I strongly suggest you to visit a kayak dealer or a kayak fishing trade show where you can demo a kayak.

Demoing a kayak on the water is the best way to find out the difference between what you want and what you need.

For example, If you want to be able to stand on your kayak, you may need to look for wider kayaks. But, wider kayaks usually weigh more, so car topping them may be harder.

You may want to ensure that the seat is comfortable enough. The comfort level is not just for sitting, but also for paddling. And if you have back problems this can become a pretty serious search.

Another aspect of searching for a fishing kayak is making sure you can get all your gear in it. Some anglers require multiple rods and several tackle boxes. Some also like to add fish finders to their kayaks.  

All these considerations should be made before you buy. A great way to demo kayaks and check out models from different brands is to attend a convention like iCast.

2. Learn To Be Stealthy On Your Kayak

Kayaks are great for sneaking up on fish.

You can learn to move so quietly through the water that you can practically glide right up to unsuspecting fish without them noticing.

Avoiding excessive noise is key to prevent the spooking fish. You should be careful not to bang the side of your kayak with your paddle.

Dropping tackle, banging your rod and splashing are more examples of things you should avoid.

Additionally, learn to paddle as silently as possible. Also, keep in mind that the moment you stand up in your kayak, you may be giving your position away to nearby fish.

3. Get An Anchor

Anchoring is something that is often left as an afterthought. But if you’re really looking to become a good angler, then holding position is a must have skill.

Sometimes, fish will be located in a small area and casts need to be precise. Others, the direction of your lures approach it critical to success.

The wind can play havoc with your plans. Having to constantly paddle or pedal to readjust is not an acceptable solution.

Say for example, you’re trying to cast a swimming lure parallel to a weedline.

If you’re kayak is getting turned and pushed by the wind, your chances of keeping that lure on track are slim. You may be able to do it for a cast or 2, but to really work a spot, you’ll need to say in place.

So, make sure you have an anchor handy.

4. Get An Anchor Trolley

I highly recommend an anchor trolley.  Imagine the wind is coming from behind and you want to cast to a wind blown point.

You know that plankton is being blown onto that point. The baitifsh have followed the plankton and the baitfish are followed by predators.

You drop your anchor over the side and tie it to the side of your kayak. As the wind blows, your kayak is blown askew and you can’t get it to point at your target.

With an anchor trolley, you would just move the anchor attachment point to the rear of your kayak. Now, as the wind blows your kayak will point directly as the point you’re fishing.

What’s more, if you wanted to fish the sloping bank that extends away from the point, all you have to do is move the anchor point to the front of the kayak.

The wind will now turn your kayak around and it will point away from your original position.

So as you can see, an anchor trolley can definitely make you a more effective angler.

5. Kayak Anchor Safety

When you’re anchored, you need to keep a few things in mind. You’ll want to be careful under certain conditions.

If you’re in a strong current, you will want to avoid getting sideways as the current could swamp your kayak and sink it.

Also, there are motorboats travelling around you, you need to be cautious. A boat wake can be dangerous if it hits you sideways.

The force of the wake could take you off balance and cause you to fall overboard and flip your kayak.

So, when you’re anchored, always remain aware of your surroundings. Be wary of any sudden moves that could cause you to lose your balance.

6. Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized glasses help you see what’s underwater by eliminating glare. When you’re sight fishing the shallows, this can be huge.

Fish usually have good camouflage when you look at them from above. The ability cut through the glare can really make the difference between seeing a fish and paddling right by.

These type of glasses will do double duty in that they will also protect your eyes from UV light.

Combine these with a good hat and perhaps a face shield and you’ll have complete head protection from sunburn.

7. Cartop Your Kayak With Care

Many kayakers cartop their kayaks. This is a great way to transport your yak without having to get a trailer.

When car topping, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

First, if you’re going to slide the kayak up onto a roof rack, make sure you protect you cars paint.

A great way to do this is to place protection such as a towel on the roof.

As you use your kayak, the bottom can get rough. The towel will help ensure that the rough surface on the bottom of your kayak doesn’t scratch your paint.

Another tip for car topping is to make sure you check your roof racks weight rating for the kayak you’re planning to get.

Some large fishing kayaks can weight in excess of 100 lbs. This exceeds the weight limits of some stock roof rack systems. So, make sure you’re aware of your vehicles limits.

8. Consider A Kayak Cart

When you get to your destination, you’ll need a way to get your kayak on the water.

Some anglers drag it, carry it or trailer it.

If none of those options appeal to you, then a cart might be your best bet.

There are many kayak carts out on the market. You can get a fairly inexpensive, one size fits all cart. They’re usually made of aluminum tube with pads, wheels and a strap.

The problem with these types of carts arise if you need to cart your kayak for any distance or over any terrain. They have a tendency to become misaligned with you kayak and once that happens, it can fall off.

If you want to step it up from these types of carts, I’d recommend either a C-Tug or Landing Gear.

C-Tug Kayak Cart

The C-Tug is a kayak cart that is renowned for being high quality.  It can hold the extra width that you usually get with a fishing kayak.

So if a cart is your preferred method of launching, then I’d look into a C-tug.

Landing Gear

Another option for launching and landing is called landing gear. These a basically wheels that fold up and down just like the landing gear on an airplane.

They can make launching and retrieving your kayak a breeze. The only downsides are the price and you have to install the system.

It also may not be compatible with all kayaks. Make sure it will work with yours before you buy.

9. Adjusting Position While Fishing

When you’re fishing, and not at anchor, you’ll spend a lot of time moving from spot to spot or making corrections.

If you’re on a paddle kayak you may want to keep your paddle across your lap as you fish.

With the paddle in this position, you can make small adjustments with one hand. For example, if you cast right handed, you can use your left hand to grasp the paddle and make a short stroke.

These short strokes can help to quickly reorient your kayak in light winds or light currents. This can prevent your kayak from getting sideways to the wind.

Of course, if you have a pedal kayak, you can use your pedal drive and single handed rudder control to make these adjustments.

Some anglers like to use hand paddles for small adjustments.  I don’t use these because it’s just another piece of gear to keep track of.

10. Practice Re-entering Your Kayak. (Preferably In Summer)

Some anglers like to use hand paddles for small adjustments.  I don’t use these because it’s just another piece of gear to keep track of.

If you were ever to flip your kayak, you’d want to know that you can get back on. Learning the characteristics of your kayak is important.  Righting and re-boarding is not the same between kayaks.

To learn how to re-enter you’ll want to go to a lake, pond or swimming pool that’s safe.  Make sure there’s no boat traffic around. If there are people around you make sure they know that you’re testing your re-entry.

Also, don’t try this is water that is very shallow. You wouldn’t want to impact the bottom.

One of the things you’ll want to learn is how far you can lean over before your kayak flips.

Also, if you intend on standing on your kayak to fish, this will be a good time to test the standing stability of your yak.

Standing on your kayak can be a great way to sight fish. It can help you spot redfish prowling the flats or bass on beds.

But when you’re standing on a kayak, it can be easy to lose your balance and flip. This can not only potentially hurt you, it can hurt your wallet as well.

I’ve seen a rod and reel combo sink in deep water and trust me, It gave me a sinking feeling too.

So please make sure that if you’re going to stand on your kayak, that you’re aware of it’s limitations.

11. Pick The Right Fishing Kayak.

The right fishing kayak is essential to getting the most of your time on the water. Different kayaks will excel in different situations.

For example, if you’re looking to fish mostly ponds, small creeks, and small rivers, you may want to opt for a smaller kayak.

Look for a kayak that is in the 10 foot length range and it easy to move around. Normally, you can find a fishing kayak in this category that weighs less than 75 pounds.

The weight factor will also come into play if you plan on cartopping your kayak.

If you plan on fishing bigger waters, there are many fishing kayaks suited for this.

Fishing Kayaks for bigger waters are usually wider and heavier. They can ranger from 10 feet to 15 in length. Your average bigger fishing kayak will be about 12 feet long and weigh around 100 pounds.

You can use a fishing kayak like this for larger lakes and rivers.

Check out kayaker guide reviews the best fishing kayaks for more info.

12. Know The Dangers Of Cold Water.

Standing on your kayak can be a great way to sight fish. It can help you spot redfish prowling the flats or bass on beds.

But when you’re standing on a kayak, it can be easy to lose your balance and flip. This can not only potentially hurt you, it can hurt your wallet as well.

I’ve seen a rod and reel combo sink in deep water and trust me, It gave me a sinking feeling too.

So please make sure that if you’re going to stand on your kayak, that you’re aware of it’s limitations.

Cold water is easy to underestimate. It seems that every year unsuspecting boaters and anglers fall victim to the dangers of cold immersion.

On a kayak this can be especially true. Keep in mind that water that’s in the 50’s can be dangerous. If you were to flip far offshore and be unable to right your kayak, it can become an emergency very quickly.

One rule that I like to heed is the rule of 120. This simply means that if the combined temperature of the water and air is not over 120, you need immersion protection.

This means that at the very least, you need a wetsuit. In extremely cold water, however, a drysuit is advised.

13. Invest In Dry Footwear

If you’re going to be launching in cold climates and you need to walk your kayak in, you’ll definitely want to keep your feet dry.

In these instances having a set if high waterproof boots can come in very handy.

Some kayak anglers use regular rubber boots for launching in cold water and then take them off as they fish. This seems to be the more economical option.

Another option is purpose made dry boots that are intended for paddlers. These types of boots are often made from breathable materials and you can wear them all day.

The only downside is that they’re usually more expensive.

14. Secure Your Kayak Tackle

Tying down your gear is a great way to make sure is stays here you expect it. If you’re using a crate for example, make sure that you strap it down to some gear track attachment points.

If something goes wrong, your crate will stay put. Another idea along these lines is to think about what will happen to your rods if they fall overboard.

Some anglers add foam flotation to their rods just above the reel.

Finally, another gear protection tip is to use waterproof tackle storage boxes.  These boxes will float if they were to fall overboard and we all know how expensive tackle has gotten.

15. Learn To Cast From A Kayak Seated Position

This may seem strange, but if you have gotten used to casting while standing up, you should practice it from a seated position.

Some kayaks have very low seats. Your legs may be extended straight in front of you with little bend.

This position can make casting seem awkward at first. My recommendation is that you go out in your kayak with a practice plug. Head out to open water where there is no chance of hitting anything.

Then, make practice casts. Try this a few times until you have gotten comfortable casting forward, left and right.

Once you get used to it, it will be much easier to hit your targets from your kayak.

16. Find Places Where Boats Can’t Go

There are many places that are full of fish where full sized boats can’t go. This may be a pond, creek, or a backwater with a very shallow entry.

To get to some spots, you may even have to carry or cart your kayak.

These efforts can be well rewarded. These more remote spots often times have little fishing pressure. They can also hold some very large fish.

Check out some of your local ponds that allow you to launch a kayak. I’ve caught some really nice bass from my Vibe Sea Ghost 130 in ponds that are less than 50 acres in size.

If you are near a large lake or reservoir there may be backwaters that have a shallow entry just a few inches deep. Most boaters won’t bother with these places.

In your fishing kayak, you should be able to easily get back in there. If things open up once you get in, you could have a whole new area pretty much to yourself.

17. Keep An Eye On The Weather

When you’re out for a fun day of kayak fishing it can be easy to lose track of time. In doing so, you may become unaware of the weather.

Storms can move in quickly, especially in the summer time. If you’re just dealing with rain, it’s not a big deal. But summer storms can often bring lightning.

When lightning is involved, you definitely don’t want to be out on the water.

A good way to keep informed is to look up a weather radar loop on your phone. Make sure you check an area large enough so that you can see potential storms approaching from a long distance.

18. River Kayak Fishing.

Kayak fishing in rivers is one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities I can think of. This is especially true if you also like camping.

There’s nothing like floating down a river while you fish and camp.

However, there are a few differences that you’ll need to consider.

Anchoring can be especially important.

If you’re going to fish a specific area, you’ll need to find a way to stop so you can fully cover the area with your lures.

To do this, I recommend something like an anchor pole.

Another consideration for river anglers is transportation.

If you’re going to be paddling downstream and paddling back upstream when you’re done is not an option, then you’ll need a plan to get back to your vehicle. One of the best options here is to have multiple vehicles in your group.

As for tactics, a great way to catch fish on rivers, is to cast lures near current breaks and retrieve them past. Fish love to wait in ambush behind current breaks. If you can mimic a baitfish passing by a submerged rock or log, you should definitely get some bites.

19. Gear For Kayak Anglers.

Kayak angling has become so popular that an entire industry has emerged around kayak fishing gear.

You can find anchors, nets, rods, tackle organization, rod holders, and more. These are all being specially made for the needs of kayak anglers.

Aside from those, you should always carry a PFD and wear it. Also, there are many small coolers that are perfect for rear tank wells.

You’ll have many choices when it comes to how to accessorize your kayak.

20. Kayak Fish With Friends.

Finally, one of the things that makes kayak angling most enjoyable is sharing it with friends. Not only will this make kayak angling safer, it will make it more fun too.

Anglers often share information with each other. If you develop a network of kayak fishing friends, you won’t ever sit and wonder where you should go.

Kayaking in a group of 3 or more is a great tactic to go down rivers. This will allow you to leave a vehicle downstream for the return trip.

Finally, it’s not just about learning about new spots and sharing rides. The friendships you’ll make can be truly rewarding.

So get out there and join a group of friends out on the water.

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