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Kayak Fishing for Beginners: Ultimate Guide & Tips to Become A Pro

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Kayak Fishing for Beginners: Ultimate Guide & Tips to Become A Pro

The kayak refers to a type of canoe, which is best known for being lightweight, water-resistant, and small in size. Due to the kayak's flexibility while moving across the surface and its ease of use, many people fancy fishing directly from this waterborne vehicle.

However, it is not easy to master this technique, especially for inexperienced anglers. Kayak fishing requires not only myriad skills but also a sense of familiarity with the fish's movements and confidence in one’s posture. While lots of anglers want to have a go at this leisure activity, not all can come home with a bucket full of fish. But worry not, as the comprehensive guide in kayak fishing for beginnersis already here for you. Make sure to read the tips and tricks below carefully so that you know what to expect!

Selecting the Right Kayak

Kayak 5

As all fishing activities will be performed from the comfort of your kayak, you have to invest in a high-quality boat. The bare minimum requires a kayak to be light, water-resistant, and roomy enough for you to store your tackle box. But if you want to be more attentive, here are the two most important factors to consider when buying the best kayak.

Paddle vs pedal

Paddling kayaks mean these canoes are equipped with a few pairs of paddles. If the boat is small-sized and designed for solo fishing, then you only get one pair.

On the other hand, bigger kayaks might come with two to three pairs of paddles at your disposal.

On the bright side, paddling kayaks are more budget-friendly. For those who have just gotten into the game, it is wiser not to spend a large sum of money.

Furthermore, paddling is less noisy and disturbing towards the fish. Most of these marine creatures do not react well to big noises, which can be caused by the roaring motors of peddling kayaks.

Gently moving your paddles back and forth minimizes the commotion and ensures you can approach the fish as quietly as possible.

That being said, paddling kayaks are labor-intensive. You always have to rest your hands and arms on the paddles to prevent the kayaks from straying. Sometimes you lose the chance of catching big fish as you have to stay focused on where your boat is drifting.

To rectify these problems, pedaling models are brought to life. Lots of anglers favor these kayaks due to their being hands-free. They can simply use their legs and feet to move the kayak around, giving the hands more freedom to handle fishing, rigging, and reeling in.

Kayak 4

In exchange, pedaling kayaks tend to be more expensive. They also create more sounds during transportation, which makes fishing in quiet areas virtually impossible.

Sit on top vs sit-in

Sit on top kayaks refer to boats that have no external shell. When settling for these, you will be exposed to the weather. Should the weather be rainy, windy, or extremely cold, the experience can be uncomfortable.

On the other hand, they provide a more stable sitting area, allowing you to get in and out within seconds. Another advantage is their spaciousness, leaving you plenty of space to put your fishing equipment.

Sit-in kayaks have a slightly different design since it comes with a skirt placed on the outside of the boat. Sitting in such a canoe offers you protection against harsh weather conditions. It is also highly portable, meaning you will have no difficulties carrying the boat around.

Nevertheless, these kayaks are not as resistant and durable as their counterparts. If there is any flipping, chances are your canoes will be filled with water and sink quickly.

Fishing Location and Conditions

Finding the right place for kayak fishing is not an easy task. Not only does it have to be deep enough for the canoes to wade through, but it also has to be close to the land where you can park your vehicles and prepare the kayaks beforehand.

The weather should also be one of your concerns, as bleak, stormy days are not suitable for kayaking. Once you have decided over the location and conditions, let’s handle the remaining issues, namely rigging and costs.


Kayak 6

Rigging refers to the process of preparing your kayak for fishing. If you want the fishing trip to be successful, consider investing in the following tools.

Rod holders: There should be at least three rod holders placed on your kayak. One is seated at the front while the two others are placed behind. They allow you quick access to the water from different angles and ensure your rods do not fall off from the boat.

Seats: Having a cushioning seat on your kayak eliminates any discomfort or pain you may encounter. Pay attention to a seat that has a high back, where you can rest against it comfortably.

Gear organization: Most kayaks provide anglers with sufficient storage. But if you do not know how to arrange them accordingly, you may end up having these tools cluttered everywhere. You can buy a fishing bag to keep the entire tackle box inside.


Most people are advised to invest in a sturdy, high-end kayak with lots of accessories in the first place. But if you lack the budget, there is no need to push yourself.

Start with the most basic pieces to see whether kayak fishing is for you. If all things go well, feel free to purchase more advanced, costly items.

Gear Up With the Right Accessories

Now, it is time to give your newly bought kayak customization and see how it can be improved for your benefits.

Gear up for safety

Kayak 3

Rest assured that most kayaks are perfectly safe to sail and fish. But this does not mean you should overlook the safety features. Each kayak must include a first aid kit for timely treatments, a kayak repair kit, several whistles, a few flashlights, and a lifebuoy vest.  

Skin protection

Even a sit-in kayak cannot provide you with enough protection from external factors. Therefore, do not forget to apply waterproof sunscreen to your skin properly.

Bring along a bottle of bug spray to ward off flies and insects, as long as a pair of sunglasses and a hat. For those who pay extra attention to their body skin, wearing breathable, sun-protective clothes is highly recommended.

Bring gear for handling fish

Whether you want to catch trout, salmon, or bass, a tackle box calls for at least a few pairs of gloves, pliers, line cutters, and nets.

The gloves make sure you do not get bitten or scratched, while the nets keep your fish levitated from the water. The pliers mean removing the hooks will be much easier, while the line cutters enable you to adjust the fishing line effortlessly.

Remember to put all of these in a waterproof packet, so they always stay in top-notch condition.


Kayak fishing is compatible with both baitcaster and spinning reel. You can pick one based on how skillful you are and which species of fish you intend on catching.

Relate: What type of fishing reel is most accurate?


Professional anglers agree that the best rod length for kayak fishing should be between 6.5 to 8 feet.

If your fishing area is heavily covered in greens, you might want to increase the length for more coverage. Vice versa, use a shorter rod if you want to focus on accuracy in shallow, limited fishing areas.


Kayaks have lots of room for improvement, which means you can add or remove details according to your tastes. That being said, you might want to go kayak fishing a few times and see how it pans out before adjusting your canoe.

DIYs are fun and helpful for your fishing experience if you know how to take advantage of these handmade parts.


When you are out in the open, make sure you always have a channel of communication with others. Since phones are not waterproof and can be slipped through wet fingers, switch to a radio instead.

These classic devices offer a stable line of talking in case you want to reach out to the Coast Guard or your fellow anglers.



For those who lack experience in fishing, using a sonar - also known as fish finders - will be of great help. These appliances help anglers detect sudden movements underwater, thus giving them instructions on the exact locations of casting.

Get Some Advice from A Pro and Build Your Skills

Going kayak fishing for the first time is a daunting experience for newbies. This is why you should consult with experienced anglers for their expertise on this subject.

The more you learn from these pros, the higher chance you have of polishing up your skills and reeling in more fish.


1. What tips do you have on casting?

Contrary to popular beliefs, casting from the front of your kayak can be detrimental. When confronted with aggressive fish, the force from their pull may make you lose balance.

Even worse, the fish can affect the depth of your lure while cranking, resulting in fewer fish getting caught.

Thus, casting from the sides of the kayak is much better. This diagonal angle strengthens your stance and allows you to plunge the lures deeper.

2. How do you rig your lures?

Since your lures will be moving with the kayak, you should use a light, J-shaped hook. Its small size increases the likelihood of getting stuck inside a fish’s mouth.

Many people make the rookie mistake of using a heavy hook, thinking its heftiness will pierce through the corner of a fish’s mouth. But consider how floating the kayak is, using heavy hooks is equivalent to poor penetration.

3. What kind of fish finders do you recommend?

There are multiple fish finders within all price ranges available on the market. While there is no need to buy the most expensive model, you should always strive for the best option that fits your budget.

Refrain from buying super cheap ones, as they are not likely to be water-resistant and sturdy enough for long fishing trips.

As for the finders themselves, they need to have a large enough screen so you can read the results without difficulties. It will be a bonus if these devices come with a transducer since Sonar, Side Scan, and Down Imaging can only work when a transducer is present.

4. Where is your favorite spot to fish?

Kayak 2

When it comes to kayak fishing, nothing beats the good old deep fishing. This means you have to look for anywhere slightly offshore, where the water runs deep, and the fish have plenty of space to move around.

As for the time, fishing during the summer months is the best thanks to the clear and calm weather.

5. What advice do you have for beginners?

Beginners might have a hard time learning how to kayak fishing. And worry not, you are not alone! The most important tip is to test out as many skills and techniques as possible. This way, you will learn which works for you and which does not, creating the necessary foundation for your future fishing trips.

Secondly, never stick to fishing in one single location. Kayak fishing requires constant moving so that your targets do not have enough time to detect familiar fishing patterns.

Last but not least, practice makes perfect! You cannot expect to be proficient in kayak fishing when you only spend a few times on the canoe. Devote at least a few hours of fishing weekly until you can confidently throw your lures and cast.


Learning about kayak fishing for beginners is no longer a problem once you have finished this guideline. Make sure to follow these tips and tricks the next time you decide to give this sport a try. And remember to share this article to fellow anglers if you find it helpful!

Further reading: How to improve kayaking technique

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