Kayak Fishing Tips for Your First Angling Adventure

person sitting in boat

In the past, if you couldn’t afford a fishing boat you had to hitch a ride with your buddy to enjoy a day of fishing on the water. But these days, with the best fishing kayak, you can now finally afford a boat of your own, for a fraction of the price. Because kayak fishing is so simple, affordable, and fun, there’s been a recent boom in market sales. Every angler on a budget can now enjoy spending hours on the water using an inflatable kayak that’s easy to haul and store. Our kayak fishing tips will help you, the beginner kayak angler to learn how to get the most out of your new boat. We’ll include some great information regarding where to fish, how to use your kayak to reach out of the way fishing hot spots, and we’ll even  provide some great tips on kayak fishing techniques and customization options.

The best kayak fishing tips for the beginner include:

  • Buy a fishing kayak that caters to the specific type of fishing you love, whether it’s freshwater fishing or ocean angling.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Bring along plenty of fresh water.
  • Keep a dry bag on board to keep all of your personal items safe and dry
  • Plan out where you’ll fish for the day.
  • Pack light and always be mindful of the kayak’s max weight capacity.
  • Learn how to navigate your kayak when you’re dealing with strong winds or a strong current.

As you can see, fishing in a kayak is much easier than taking out a traditional fishing boat, and it comes with plenty of advantages that only a fishing kayak can provide.

Now, read on to learn why these kayaks are so popular amongst the pros.

Research Where to Go

Kayaks aren’t just a popular option for anglers because they’re so affordable, they’re also very versatile as well. A kayak can go where a regular fishing boat cannot. Where you decide to take your kayak will depend on your skill level, the paddling distance, and where the fish are biting. Planning out your next fishing adventure is especially important if you’re a beginner. Smart planning will make up for your lack of paddling skills. If you’re not sure where to go, make sure you ask around. You can stop by a local tackle shop and discuss your options regarding where to go and the best times to hit each spot.

Buy A Fishing Kayak Based on Where You Love to Fish

rod on a kayak

Before you buy, consider whether you prefer fishing in saltwater or freshwater, or even both. When you’re shopping for a new kayak, you’ll also want to consider seating, stability, storage, and how you’ll transport the kayak. Inflatable models like the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak can get you where you need to go, whether it’s ocean angling or fishing on a calm river. The inflatable design means storing and transporting this model is a cinch.

Customize Your Fishing Experience

If you’ve decided to buy a new fishing kayak and want to go with a basic model, there are many ways you can customize your fishing rig to make it suit your fishing style.  This can include upgrading the seat to one with a more comfortable backrest, buying a dry bag if your kayak doesn’t feature a dry storage compartment, bringing along a compact cooler, fishing rod holders, an anchor, paddle clip, and leash. Before you go crazy buying new accessories, make sure you know the kayak’s max weight capacity and how much the extra gear you plan on bringing along weighs. As a kayak angler, you will need to travel light. If you bring along too much gear and go over the kayak’s max weight limit this can negatively affect the kayak’s tracking ability. The extra weight can also make you sit too low in the water.

Kayak Angling Techniques

If you’re totally new to fishing in a kayak, then the following techniques will give you a little edge your first time on the water.

  • In a kayak, you can find and catch more fish when you’re drifting. Unlike in a traditional fishing boat, in a kayak, you can easily control the direction of your drift with minimal paddling. Keep in mind, the kayak will not stay directly pointed downwind, instead, it will always vary to some degree. However, you can easily change the orientation of the kayak from right to left using a single backward thrust on each side of the kayak.


  • For safety reasons, take along an experienced kayaker. Learn about important basic safety techniques such as how to get water out of kayak and how to flip over a kayak if you’ve taken a dive in the water.

angler in water

  • Casting or traveling upwind can be very difficult in a kayak. The stronger the current or wind, the harder navigating your kayak will be. If the wind is relatively mild, then try navigating onto vegetation. The vegetation can hold the kayak in place before you start moving further upwind. You can also use the shoreline bank by grounding the kayak’s bow partially as you advance. A stick-it pin attached to an anchor trolley, or a basic anchor can also keep the kayak facing the direction you want to travel in.


  • While the low position of the kayak tends to make it difficult to see below the surface of the water, this lower perspective will also exaggerate other visible cues that allow you to easily spot fish. This includes nervous water, which can be caused by a large school of fish or a single fish. At times the tails and fins can become highly visible over deep water when a large school of fish travels. More commonly, the tail is spotted in shallow water. Tailing behavior takes place when fish feed on the river bottom. In shallow water their tails usually stick out of the water. In a kayak, you’ll get a better view of this type of underwater activity.


  • Reeling in a fish is definitely harder to do in a kayak than in a traditional fishing boat. In fact, even a five-pound fish can end up dragging your kayak around. If your reactions are too slow or your drag is too tight, then the fish will have a hard time breaking the line in open water. If the tackle is light then you may need to increase the line capacity in order to allow for a longer run.


  • In a kayak, it’s much easier for the angler to suffer heat stroke. You’re very exposed when you’re in a kayak, there’s no below deck spot you can use to take a break from the sun and there isn’t any type of overhead shelter to provide any relief. In order to avoid heat stroke during the summer months, make sure you always bring along plenty of fresh drinking water. Overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays can also result in a painful sunburn, especially if you spend several hours on the water. Always wear sunscreen, sunglasses, protective, lightweight clothing, and a hat. Keep yourself covered, and stay hydrated. If possible, limit your time on the water to two hours in temperatures over eighty-five degrees.

Related Questions

What Should I Bring Kayak Fishing?

fishing gear

Dress appropriately for the weather and bring along your tackle box, rods, rod holders, drinks and snacks for your trip, a cooler to store what you catch that day, and a dry bag that you can use to store your phone and any other items you don’t want to get wet. If you’re fishing on a fast-moving river or in the ocean, then you should also bring along a life jacket for yourself and any passengers. This is especially important if you’re a beginner kayaker.

What Kayak Accessories do I Need?

Most anglers will tell you that you can never have enough rod holders. Most fishing kayaks will come with at least one built-in rod holder, but installing more rod holders on your kayak can significantly increase your chances of bringing in a bigger haul. Aside from rod holders, if you spend a lot of time in your kayak, you may want to upgrade the seat and paddle. Other accessories include a small cooler, life jacket, and dry bag.

Can You Troll with a Kayak?

Yes, you can! With the right type of fishing kayak, paddling techniques, and a top of the line paddle, you can easily troll in your new kayak. But in order to troll in a kayak, you will also need high-quality rod holders. We recommend a couple of extra flush mounted rod holders. When you install these, be sure to choose the installation area carefully. If you pick the wrong spot you can end up negatively impacting your paddle stroke. So, be sure to install them in an out of the way spot.

Final Thoughts

Our kayak fishing tips are designed to help you learn how to navigate the waters like a pro. Remember, carefully plan out your trip, including the route you will take, know where the fish are biting and what time of day, bring along plenty of food and water, and be mindful of the kayak’s weight capacity. You’ll also want to do a little practicing in terms of paddling and navigation techniques in order to learn how to expertly guide your kayak down tight, challenging waterways. This can be especially important if you decide to try your hand fishing in a fast-moving river.