Fly fishing from a kayak?

Is this even practical?

Still kicking around fishing ideas.


– Last Updated: Aug-08-14 4:22 PM EST –

It's possible. It's not always practical. It's a LOT of fun.

I used to use a big 13' Perception America. It's like a Swifty with a glandular problem. There's a HUGE cockpit, and I had a half-skirt that would go over it. That half-skirt worked beautifully for looping line onto during a retrieve, and allowed for clean releases when shooting line.

I like to fish a humongous deer hair popper - dressed with goop - then hang a medium size olive or black woolly bugger or the largest stonefly nymph I could find. Ungainly and sloppy to cast, but it takes fish.

Actually, I usually fly-fish from a canoe, so I take three rods. One is rigged as above. Usually a 7 wgt. I usually have a 6 wt with a cork popper on it that I cast against every rocky bank or jetty. Then a third rod with a sink tip and a streamer - more than often a clouser based streamer - on it. That's either an 8 wgt or another 7 wgt, depending on conditions. Olive or white/chartreuse work best, in my opinion. My usual fishing rivers are ledgy karst streams that are pretty low. Usually the worst rapid you'll come across is a class 2 or 2- series of chutes. Simple pick your way down stream stuff. They're moderate volume, but often not more than 2' deep. Big pools can be a danged lot of fun. A black or olive woolly bugger fished along the bottom - wow.

Mostly, when I fly fish now, I do it from a canoe or my raft. I can stand and cast comfortably from them.

For SOT's, I have seen them used more effectively as a transport between wading spots for fly fishing. Remember to have an anchor, so the boat doesn't float off down stream without you. When you've got all your tackle and whatnot on the SOT surface, that makes for a lot of things to snag the fly line. It can be done, especially with short casts or lots of false casting, but anytime you try to shoot line it's a real challenge.

A SinK with a skirt or half-skirt works a lot better for fly fishing in my opinion. Not for off-shore, obviously. Recovery in a SinK in rough water requires a LOT of emergency response practice.

I just got a Current Designs Whistler last season, and am hoping to do some fly fishing for red drum in the Chesapeake salt marshes this year. I'll let you know how that works out. As a minimum, I should get some good photos of birds.

Here's a picture of a run I did on a trout stream in early Spring when it was still swollen. I had a 5 wgt along, but didn't have much luck that trip.

Good luck. Have fun. Stay safe.

- Big D

Since I can barely walk on dry land,
I better stick to spinning. Thanks again Big D.

I have to admit that wading is by far my favored method for fly fishing. There’s something visceral about feeling the same current that the fish are in while presenting to them.

I use
fly tackle as much or more than spin/cast gear.You don’t have to worry about long cast’s since you have the stealth factor allowing you to get close.With practice you can still make longer cast’s if you want.

Not so much
Sorry to jump in late on this but like most internet responders I have strong opinions and therefore feel justified in expressing them. I am a hardcore kayaker and a rabid fly fisher. Every time I have tried to fly fish from a kayak I have been terribly disappointed. I am speaking exclusively of sit in (SINK) kayaks as I have never tried from a sit on top (SOT) boat. The problem with a kayak is that line control is miserable in a SINK. The nature of these boats is that you need to sit facing forward. So while you can turn at the waist, you’re limited in your ability to do so. When you are working fly line you need to have 30’ to 50’ of line either sitting around waiting to be cast or flying through the air. If you try to pile the line inside the kayak it will tangle with everything. It is hard to dump it in the water because of the angle you are sitting at and if it is a sinking line it will be almost impossible to cast. I spend many hours fly fishing from a solo canoe. I can sit half sideways to cast and dump my excess line in the water. Alternatively (for example when I am using a sinking line) I can dump the line in the boat. I am very happy fly fishing from my canoe and have been very unhappy fly fishing from my kayaks. I love kayaks for paddling, moving, running rapids, long flat water paddles, camping, photography, exploring, surfing, and just goofing off - but not for fishing.

So those are my opinions. I doubt they are worth a full 2 cents.


It depends
on the type of SIS.I never had a problem in the Pungo.You can sit sideways with with your legs out of the cockpit in these rec boats though obviously not as comfortably as with SOT’s.I have to agree though a canoe is about perfect for fly gear or most any fishing except most salt water where wind/waves can get out of hand very quickly.

I think they go together perfectly
Do it! You’ll be amazed at what a better caster you become when your standing. A lot of people go to 9.5’s and 10 foot rods like the drift boat guys. Allowing one to put more line in the air. But the kayak allows you to sneak up in ways other methods don’t. Do it. Have fun. Some days you’ll be torn to paddle or fish. NRS makes a sweet anglers PFD and Seattle Sports makes a really nice deck bag. Might google “anchor trolley” if your on moving water. You can buy them or spend about $20 at Ace. Be careful with claw anchors as they can catch on timber and put you sideways in current where you’ll take on water. Cut the line! Otherwise get motorcycle or trailer inner tubes, cut them to about eight inch sections, zip tie one end, fill with sand, zip tie other end with carabiner under tie. Never get hung up and you can make several for different currents. Have fun!

probably way late on this…

– Last Updated: Sep-19-14 8:47 AM EST –

String...not etched-in-stone but I've always found that a longer butt section on a longer rod(8'6"-10') will be easier in forming efficient loops and will be more forgiving of mis-alignment of the backcast-to-forward path(ie casting errors)...especially with the somewhat lack of stability from the hips and our stance we get when on dry ground. However, as mentioned...a kayak can get you closer to the often most anything can often work just fine..especially with shorter casts....etc. Fwiw...

Excellent analysis…
…I totally concur with your conclusions. Fly fishing requires a certain amount of flexibility, and kayaks just don’t offer enough. I’ve had the best results with a canoe. Just sayin’

Yup, done it sightcasting for reds
in the saltmarsh, and after jacks and mackerel on the Gulf side

The lower profile of yourself, sitting
at water level, will often scare fish far less than a tall object, that’ll make em’ cautious of the elephant in the room…

I’m a little late but
I much, MUCH prefer fly fishing out of a good canoe over a kayak, and I own both and have done it from both. The canoe is basically a giant stripping basket, is easier to stand in, and (to me) is a lot more comfortable to sit in. You also don’t end up sitting in “slop” like I generally am in a kayak.

I bought a kayak because they seemed to be the “hot” item nowadays, but I think most fishermen are better served by a canoe than a kayak. Just my opinion


Ocean fishing in a yak
I fish on Cape Cod in a sit on top yak. No problems at all.


Yes, since we grew up with canoes…I
bet. Anyways the OP asked about being in a kayak…so fwiw.