Kayak Angling – 7 Tips For Mastering Control And Catching More Fish

Kayak Angling – 7 Tips For Mastering Control And Catching More Fish

The following article is sponsored by Mystery Tackle Box



Kayak fishing is all the rage right now. There are several reason why. For one, kayaks are much cheaper than traditional fiberglass bass boats. Kayaks give anglers access to remote water. Today, kayaks can be rigged with just about any feature a die-hard bass-head can imagine.

   The rising popularity of bass fishing from these portable watercraft has resulted in scads of articles written about how to set up a perfect fishing kayak, and what types of accessories will or will not help you load the boat once you’re out on the water.

   What has been missing, though, is an in-depth discourse on the mechanics of actually fishing out of a kayak. The bottomline is – it’s different than fishing out of a boat. You’re closer to the water and sitting down. You are less stable. You are at the mercy of the wind and current, and have different fishing gear at your disposal - all factors that require a little different approach than fishing from a boat.

   To address some of those challenges, we put together The Mystery Tackle Box Guide To Fishing From A Kayak – from mastering boat control to casting and reeling mechanics.


One handed cast

1.         Learn To Cast One Handed

This may be the most difficult adjustment for anglers accustomed to fishing from the bank, or the stable front deck of a boat. Even the most stable kayaks don’t have much room between the sitting surface and the water – making the standard two-handed windup cast a dicey proposition. Experienced kayak anglers cast one handed the majority of the time, with either baitcasting or spinning tackle, so it’s important to gear up accordingly. Instead of the super heavy flipping stick and 1 ounce jig, maybe opt to fish with lighter combos and more finesse tactics. The last thing you want to do is get too into a windup and end up tipping your yak from a deep cast.



One handed paddle

2.         Master The One Handed Paddle

Just like the one handed cast, efficient kayak angling requires skill in handling a paddle with one hand. Paddling a kayak is simple with two hands, as the rhythm comes easily to even the least experienced of anglers and the least coordinated of humans. But what do you do when you’re fighting a fish with one hand, and you’ve got to steer your boat back upstream to get on the other side of a laydown or avoid an overhanging branch? You’ll have to navigate with your off hand while not letting your fish off the hook. Practice locking the shaft of your paddle along one forearm, which anchors it along your arm, and allows you to use it more like a canoe paddle. Lock the shaft into your opposite handed forearm, so you will be able to effectively fight the fish with the other.



Use your feet

3.         Use Your Feet

This might seem weird, but you’d be surprised how often experienced kayak anglers use their feet in some way while fishing. If your boat is narrow enough, you can actually use them as rudders to steer your drift on rivers, and they work as great anchors when fishing rip rap, laydowns, and other shallow areas – simply stick a foot out and hold on to the log until you’re done fishing the hole. Feet are also great for re-directing the boat from a stump, log, or other obstacle while your hands are busy fighting a fish. Get those toes ready to get wet, and wear shoes you are comfortable soaking. Putting your feet down is a stellar way to help you catch that lunker bass.



Cast to steer

4.         Cast To Steer

Baits that offer resistance like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits can actually be used to help steer the boat. If you’re fishing a crankbait from a lightweight kayak, you’ll quickly realize that the simple resistance of reeling in the bait will actually pull your boat in the direction you’re casting. Use this to your advantage, and make casts in specific directions to subtly adjust your boat’s position. When the current is light and the bait is heavy, you can use this as your primary steering method to drift along whatever area you are targeting.



Utilize eddies

5.         Utilize Eddies

You might think current is a nightmare to fish in a kayak, but that’s actually far from the truth – provided you know how to use it to your advantage. Most kayaks are short and light enough to actually sit entirely in an eddy, preventing the boat from moving downstream, and giving you plenty of time to thoroughly fish the corresponding current seam. To maximize this, go past the spot you want to fish, then tuck into the eddy behind it, and fish until your heart’s content – without even having to paddle. Eddies are common hiding places for all species of fish, and especially common stream dwellers like trout and smallmouth bass. Hide out in an eddy, cast into a spot they’d likely be lingering to strike, and get ready for a fight.



Utilize eddies

6.         Don’t Be Afraid To Anchor

Although cumbersome, anchors definitely have a place in the kayak fishing arsenal. This is particularly true on lakes when it is windy, or in areas offshore where you want to stay in one particular area. For most kayak models, a 2-4 pound claw anchor is more than sufficient. Be careful anchoring in current. If something were to happen, the current can actually push the whole boat under water. Most river kayakers use a quick release clevis on their anchors, if they anchor at all.



Hug the shoreline

7.         Hug The Shoreline

When it’s windy, or when paddling up-current, it takes a lot of effort to make any headway, much less fish. In these situations, use the minimal draft of your kayak to your advantage. Instead of paddling right down the middle of the river or lake, get as shallow as you can. The current is weaker in super skinny water, and wind and waves are also mitigated by shoreline vegetation and structures.  Head toward the shore of a lake, along banks and cutlines, or just hug tight to a point in the lake and cast outwards, barely off the bank. You’ll paddle more efficiently, and you’re going to have much more energy once you get to your honey hole.


There are several differences between boat, bank, wade, and kayak fishing. All have their time and place, and we’d all love a boat, but kayak fishing can be one of the more cathartic and rewarding ways to spend a day. Just you, your yak, your fishing gear, and the water. That simplistic nature can also make it difficult. Take into account all of these tips, from hugging the shore to grabbing stumps with your feet, and maximize your success on the kayak. Once you’ve mastered these seven kayak fishing tips, you will be a master on the water, fishing laps around everyone on the bank and the boat!

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