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Tactics to ‘Up’ Your Kayak Fishing Game

It may sound as simple as splashing a line in the water, but fishing from your kayak takes skill, ingenuity, strength, and a healthy dose of respect. There is always something new to learn. If you’ve been at this kayak fishing gig for a while, you might be ready to up your game. Here are a few tips and tricks (or maybe just reminders) that can take your kayak fishing game to the next level.

Tips to Improve Your Kayak Fishing Game

Get Organized

A successful fishing trip starts before your kayak even hits the water. Make a plan: know the weather, wind, launch site, duration, and equipment. And then take that planning into your first minutes in the kayak. Lay out your gear within reach. Before your first cast, know if your fish grippers, pliers, safety equipment, first aid kit, camera, etc are where you expect them and ready to be used.

Get Stronger

Unlike shore or boat fishing, kayak fishing requires a lot of one-handed skills. Spend some time increasing your ability to paddle one-handed, cast one-handed, and even bait/release one-handed. It will pay dividends in your confidence and ability to move about quickly and easily. To paddle one-handed, practice locking the shaft of the paddle along your forearm and then use it more like a canoe paddle.

Get Smart

Cyber scouting: As kayak fishing grows in popularity, you might find the waterways crowded and usual spots over fished. Spend a little time off-the-water scouting new areas. From the comfort of your computer you can increase your chances of better fishing. Research state fishery departments. Read online blogs/resources to target specific species and local regulations. Check out detailed navigational charts as well as historical data which can reveal new places to fish as well as treasures from the past. Look at satellite data that can reveal reefs or clear currents.

Read the water: Spend some time learning to “see” what is going on underwater. Pay attention to tidelines, rips, boils, and other surface activity that can reveal what is under the surface. Rippling water might be the sign of a school of baitfish. A line of standing waves might indicate a change in depth. Even your nose can reveal the smell of bait or fish.

Get Stealthy

One of the benefits of kayak fishing is the ability to get to shallow water and right on top of the fish. The quiet nature of the kayak can let you get right up close and personal – as long as you don’t blow it. Be careful to reduce the vibrations, move slowly, and approach quietly. Glide into position and avoid knocking paddles or equipment in the kayak as you approach. You can even invest in sound dampening padding to make your kayak even more stealthy.

Get a Leg Up

Take advantage of your low-to-the-water position on a kayak and land bigger fish with a simple technique. When the fish gets close, grab the leader with a gloved hand and position the fish parallel to the kayak and facing you. Drop the leg closest to the fish in the water and cradle the fish with it. Then, in a smooth motion, lift the fish’s head with the leader and flop the fish’s body into the yak with your leg. The head should end up in your lap with the body stretching toward your feet. (Warning: avoid this technique with “toothy” fish.)

Get with the Flow

As you get stronger and smarter, you can learn to work with the current. Fish often rely on the current to bring food to them. Take advantage of this by casting your bait into the current and then reeling it in at the same rate. You will lure fish to strike. Also as you go with the flow, learn to control the drift of your kayak.  Position yourself to drift at a fishable pace, if possible. You won’t be effective if you are constantly being pushed out of your target area. A pedal kayak can help with this as it can allow you to move and cast at the same time.  But if you don’t have a pedal or motorized kayak, this is when your one-handed training can come in very handy.


What tips do you practice? How have you upped your kayak fishing game?
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