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Beginner Tips for Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing is an attractive alternative to fishing from a bank or powerboat. You can access places on a kayak that you cannot get to on foot or with a boat. Kayak fishing is affordable, accessible and a great way to combine many aspects of outdoor recreation. 

idyllic kayak fishing

So what do you need to know before you invest in a yak of your own? What gear do you actually need before you can start reelin’ ‘em in? And how do you develop your kayak fishing skills? Read on to delve into the exciting world of Kayak Fishing.

Getting Started

Purchasing a Fishing Kayak - what to look for

Do you want a pedal-powered or paddle kayak? Is speed or stability more important? How much storage space do you need?

There are a lot of options out there, and it can be a little overwhelming. If you’re struggling to narrow down the choices, we have developed the perfect tool.

kayak product selector

Our Kayak Selector will help you find your perfect kayak

Answer a few easy questions to find your ideal kayak. And if you need more information on any of the recommended models, we are here for you. Our watersports specialists are on hand to offer advice on finding your perfect match. Chat with an advisor using the LiveChat function at the bottom of this page.

Even with all that information, we do understand that buying exclusively online can be daunting. Once you have made your purchase, we really believe that you will fall in love with your new kayak. And if you don’t? Well, that’s ok! All of our fishing kayaks come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If something isn’t quite right, organise a return, and we can refund or exchange your kayak. Simple. Check out our policy for the full T&Cs.

Get to know your new community

With the growth of kayak fishing, you are never far from a wonderful community of fellow anglers. Take advantage of social media and online meetup groups to find your tribe.

kayak fishing community

Get to know fellow kayak anglers to share experience and knowledge

By being active in the community as a beginner, you will benefit from the knowledge of paddlers more experienced than you. As you build up experiences of your own, be sure to give back and offer a helping hand to other newbies. 

Understand the weather

If you take nothing from this guide but the next four words, I will be a happy blogger! Always. Check. The. Weather

Always. Check. The. Weather

Use weather apps to check the forecast before you head out. If you’re an Aussie like the Bay Sports crew, we recommend WillyWeather for evaluating the wind and Bureau of Meteorology for checking the rain forecast and live rain radars. 

stormy ocean

Don't get caught out. Always check the forecast before you hit the water

There are lots of resources out there. Again, use the knowledge of your new community and familiarise yourself with local fishing reports. If in doubt, don’t go out. 

Time to Gear Up

So you have your kayak. What else do you need? 

Paddle

Even if you have gone for a pedal-drive model, you will still need a paddle. We recommend investing in the best paddle your budget allows for.

two piece carbon fibre paddle

Buy the best paddle your budget allows for

Invest in materials like fibreglass or carbon fibre as they are lightweight and robust. A light paddle with lots of pulling power makes all the difference if you’re spending a lot of time on the water. 

Lifejacket/PFD

Next, a personal floatation device, or PFD. This is a non-negotiable piece of kit. Don’t be concerned about being restricted when paddling or casting. There are plenty of kayak-specific lifejackets that will give you the freedom you need while keeping you safe. 

kayaking fishing pfd

Dedicated kayak fishing PFDs have lash points and pockets for your essential gear

Also, look out for dedicated kayak fishing lifejackets. These jackets have lots of lash points and extra pockets, handy for keeping your essentials close.

Kayak Seat

A moulded plastic sit-on-top fishing kayak is the most common style on the market. These kayaks come with a recessed seat area that provides a stable base but very little back support. 

To make your experience as comfortable as possible, you will want to consider investing in a dedicated kayak seat.

If you are fishing from a kayak, you will likely be on the sitting for a substantial amount of time. To make your experience as comfortable as possible, you will want to consider investing in a dedicated kayak seat. 

fishing kayak seat

A Bay Sports Stadium Seat provides back support so you can paddle in comfort

A seat can provide you with much-needed back support and additional comfort, meaning that you can enjoy more time out on the water. For more information on selecting and fitting a kayak seat, check out our dedicated post.

Essential Safety Gear 

So you have found your perfect kayak and stocked up on the basics. What other gear should you never leave dry land without? Here is a quick essential packing list of the little things we can easily forget when prepping for a day on the water:

  1. Paddle Leash
  2. Dry bags
  3. Sharp knife
  4. Water
  5. Sunscreen
  6. Sunglasses - preferably polarised
  7. First Aid Kit

While this list may appear obvious, it is often these things that are overlooked. Pack your essentials into a dry-bag that is easy to grab each time you head out. Maintaining a pre-packed kit is much easier than grabbing everything fresh each time. 

Dedicated Fishing Accessories 

When starting out, less is more. With so much exciting gear available, there is a temptation to load you new kayak full of rods, tackle, motors and other electronics. Start simple with a few dedicated fishing accessories and build from there. A few things to consider would be:

  1. Rod holders
  2. Fishfinder
  3. Key vault
  4. Kayak Trolley
  5. Outrigger stabiliser
  6. Cooler

Better to take the time to find a system that works than to go all-in with a lot of expensive gear that ends up not being right for you. Take a look at our full range of Kayak Fishing Accessories for all the essentials.

Don’t fear DIY

Once you have gotten your feet wet and started to learn what works for you, you will start to notice little improvements and customisations you can make to your yak. Don’t be afraid of a bit of DIY. 

Kayaks are very versatile and hardy, making them infinitely customisable. Check in with those kayak fishing communities we spoke about earlier, read some of the guides here at the Bay Sports Blog, such as How to Install a Kayak Anchor Trolley System, or venture into the wide world of YouTube for inspiration. 

Preparing for Kayak Fishing

A common mantra amongst kayak anglers is “dress to swim, rig to flip”. Though it may seem extreme, especially if you are starting out in calmer waters, the message behind this saying offers a good foundation for first-timers. 

Dress to Swim

You want to dress under the assumption that you will get wet. Avoid cotton entirely as it is slow to dry and can get heavy when damp. 

how to dress for kayaking

Dress to swim with clothing made for wet conditions

Wear light layers that you can take on or off as conditions change throughout your session. For a full breakdown of what to wear for every type of weather, you can read our dedicated article How to Dress for Kayaking.

Rig to Flip

Though unlikely in calmer waters, capsizing your kayak is always a possibility. Avoid the frustration of losing your carefully curated kit should you tip by adequately securing and waterproofing your gear. By building these habits early, you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of success!

Be sure to waterproof anything you definitely don’t want to get wet.

Bungee cords are great to strap down dry bags and milk crates of gear. Look for cords with hooks or clips so you can still easily access your kit out on the water.

kayak fishing

Here, a paddle leash, net and dry bags are used to protect the angler's gear

Be sure to waterproof anything you definitely don’t want to get wet. Things like electronics or your first aid kit should be stored in watertight containers or dry bags.

Build your Skills

Dedicated Fishing Kayaks, like those in the Bay Sports range, have been designed with stability and manoeuvrability in mind. They are sturdy, comfortable and even offer the opportunity to stand and fish. 

standing kayak fishing

Dedicated fishing kayaks are designed to be stable enough to stand

Great gear, however, does not make up for lack of experience. If you are not familiar with paddling, turning, anchoring or maintaining a position in wind or current, you should lock these skills down before you head out on a dedicated fishing trip. 

kayak on clam lake

Learn basic kayaking skills in calm conditions before advancing 

Once you have a handle on the basics, you can advance your skills. Practice moving effortlessly and quietly through the water trying not to make unnecessary vibrations by knocking your paddle or rod against your kayak. Try casting in variable wind conditions, nailing efficient lure changing, anchoring, drifting, standing, the possibilities are endless!

We hope this starter guide gives you some good starting points. As ever, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

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