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Kayak Fly Fishing

Updated on June 28, 2014

You have finally purchased your kayak and the essential accessories, have taken kayak paddling and safety lessons, and have left a trip plan with someone. You are heading towards that water body to fly fish from a kayak for the first time. What do you need to know? Know that kayak fly fishing in a lake or reservoir excels in two areas – stealth and positioning. Why not work these two to their fullest?

Stealth In a kayak, there is no noisy gasoline engine, no humming trolling motor, and no high platform allowing you to cast a shadow. And, as opposed to wading, no sediment cloud is following you as you walk along. Paddling is your only noise maker; why not minimize it? How? Start upwind of where you want to fish, way up wind.

Predetermine the track you will follow and drift it as much as possible without paddling. If the wind is light, fish actively as you slowly drift along. Use your paddle sparingly for course adjustment. If you sight a position you really want to fish and need to paddle to get there, build up some speed in that direction and drift to it. Keep you anchor handy and drop it 30 feet or so prior to the position you want to drift to. Drop the anchor earlier if the bottom of the lake is deep, later if shallow. Slip the anchor in the water. Once the anchor hits bottom, let out about another three feet of anchor rope so that the anchor can catch the bottom. If not enough rope is let out, the anchor will bounce along and fail to catch and you will drift past your desired end point. If the wind is stronger, you will have to rely on more anchor drops to fish from. If you have a strike or have a fish on and are drifting, toss the anchor overboard. Have your anchor resting on the edge of the kayak and bump it over when you have a fish on. Why? For smaller, schooling fish, like bluegills, you don’t want to lose the position for possibly catching more fish. For larger fish, like bass, you don’t want to be dragged out of position - unless the fish is heading for more open water, then you should go for the ride. Yes, you will make more noise bumping the anchor overboard, but there are fish in the area and keeping the position is important. Continue to fish the position. If you catch more fish, stay, otherwise drift on down.

Positioning You have a small water craft, a paddle with blades at either end, and have about a three inch draft. You can go just about anywhere there is water. A common tactic in warmwater lakes is to drift fish along the shore and fish with a floating fly line and surface flies. At certain times of the year and day this is a productive way to fish as you track along the structure of logs, lily pads, and grass. However, the other side of the kayak out towards deeper water holds promise too. Cast in this water also. If you have no success, pull further from the shoreline and fish more towards deeper water. For effective vertical position, carry two reels or one reel with a spare spool. On one spool have a dry fly line, on the second a sinking or sinking tip line. If you are not having any success with dry line, go deeper with the sinking line with flies designed for a deeper water column. By moving the kayak various distances from shore and using a floating and sinking line, you will have covered much water.

If you are fortunate enough to have several lakes in your area, read the weather report and consider which lake is going to work best for the predicted wind direction. After several seasons, you will begin to learn what lakes or portions of lakes are more active with fish during the year. A combination of season, lake shape/features, weather, time of dawn and dusk, wind direction, and lake alternatives will make up your thought process to select the best lake at the best time.

This article is number five of five in a series. Other, previous articles are linked below.


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    • Tod Zechiel profile imageAUTHOR

      Tod Zechiel 

      3 years ago from Florida, United States

      Glad that it helped.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thanks alot - your answer solved all my problems after several days stiglugrng


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