Kayak Angling Basics

By: Chris Cook & Ralph Reevey Jr.

Compiled By: Blake Tollefson

The popularity of kayak fishing is steadily on the rise. A whole facet of the angling population is opting for these motor-less boats. There are some real advantages to ‘yak fishing, but it may be hard to narrow down which one to purchase.

Why Choose A Kayak?

Kayak fishing as a whole offers some unique benefits not available to traditional boat and shore anglers. Accessibility, storage, and cost are among the leading factors making more anglers take the plunge.


Kayaks allow anglers to drop in and fish just about any body of water. Boat ramps aren’t required. From small ponds and streams to the Great Lakes and oceans around the world, kayaks of adequate size are available. With the use of a kayak, you can sneak in on fish that boat anglers don’t get the opportunity to target.

Easy Transportation

Kayaks allow for some easy transportation. Large vehicles and trailers aren’t necessary to haul your kayak to the lake. Put it on top of your car, in the the back of your truck, or on a small trailer and you are set. Not to mention, loading most kayaks is a one man job. You don’t need a buddy to help you get back on the road.

Easy Storage

Another advantage to kayaks is their ability to be easily stored. For those with limited space, kayaks can easily be stored. The corner of a garage, small storage unit, or a room in a house or apartment will suffice.

Budget Friendly

Kayaks are among the most budget friendly boat options available on the market. Regardless of your budget, there is a kayak available to meet your needs. On average, kayaks are significantly cheaper than their motored counterparts.

How to choose a kayak?

A quick online search will provide countless options for kayaks on the market. Kayaks are available for any budget or style of fishing. There are a number of factors to review in order to determine which kayak is right for you.


Generally, the wider the kayak, the more stable a fishing platform you will have. Many of todays fishing 'yaks are wide enough to allow you to stand and cast comfortably. A 33-35” wide kayak is a popular option for anglers in search of a stable yet mobile kayak.

On-Board Storage

Built in rod holders, hatches to store your gear, and space to tie items down externally can be important considerations depending on what you wish to bring with you.

Paddle or Pedal?

Pedal drives have become more and popular and provide the benefit of traveling further, faster, and most importantly, freeing your hands up to fish. Depending on where you plan to fish however, a pedal drive may not be a good choice. Shallow creeks and rivers can pose a problem where there is little clearance beneath your drive and the bottom. Weedy areas can clog your drive with vegetation are better suited for paddling. Fortunately, many pedal drive models allow the angler to quickly retract the drive and switch over to a paddle if needed.

Rigging Options

Rigging a modern fishing kayak is only limited by your imagination. Gear tracks allow you to add almost anything you can think of: fish finders, anchor trolleys, paddle keepers, net holders, etc. Some kayaks have only a few of these gear tracks while others come equipped with several. Plan ahead and try to envision what you may want to add to your vessel in the future.


One drawback of fishing kayaks can be their size and weight. How you plan to get to and from the water can play a big part in choosing a kayak. A 14 foot pedal drive that weighs 120lbs is going to be a lot tougher to get on a car top rack than a 10 or 12 footer that weighs 75lbs.

Fishing from a Kayak

What to bring?

Aside from the kayak itself, a good PFD is a must. Regardless of how good a swimmer you are, flipping a kayak can result in the unexpected and a good PFD can save your life.

An anchor system is also an essential tool to have especially for holding your position to thoroughly fish a spot. Other important tools include a landing net and small needle nose pliers.

Rods, Reels, & Tackle

Modern fishing kayaks allow for more than adequate space to haul along nearly everything a fisherman could want.

Ralph Reevey, avid crappie kayak angler, states, “My favorite gear to bring out on the water with me are 3 to 5 7' rods ranging from ultralight to light powered with an exceptional medium light all with fast tips to cast micro lures with the ability to set the hook when ready. Most of my rods are paired with small spinning reels with very light braided line ideally 2lb- 6lb test to give me further cast, line sensitivity, and knot strength. Since I rely on artificial finesse presentations, I love throwing the Eurotackle Z-Viber (1/16 oz & 1/8 oz) for crappie and other panfish. I also carry all colors of Eurotackle's B-Vibe swim baits, as well as some other small plastics.”

Chris Cook, avid kayak bass angler, on the other hand, “A 7ft medium rod, rigged with heavy braided line will allow you to cover a variety of techniques for targeting bass. That braid will allow you to get fish out of heavy cover and weeds. The Eurotackle tungsten flipping jigs are great for for probing into cover. These can be tipped with a trailer to increase the profile and action of the jig. The new Metacraw plastic pairs well with these jigs as a trailer and is also deadly when fished alone. Texas rigged on a 3/0 or 4/0 wide gap hook, it is virtually snag proof and you can cast into dense cover and weeds with confidence. You can also add a punch weight to this presentation to penetrate matted vegetation and pads. The Metacraw is available in two sizes- 2.4" and 3.6" allowing you the option to downsize if you seem to be getting short strikes or the fish are finicky. Both sizes also perform extremely well when added to a chatterbait or spinner bait.”

It is obvious that kayak fishing offers anglers some real advantages over the competition. The number one of course is stealth. Do your homework and find out what kayak is right for you. Getting out and exploring with a kayak can be an exciting new way to fish if you haven't tried it. Its provides an opportunity to get away from the crowds and discover hidden gems. You may be surprised at the sights you see when you take the quiet approach!


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