Fly Fishing from Kayak?

My husband is an avid fly fisher, and is looking into fishing from a canoe or kayak (which he hasn’t done by himself). We have an OLD Coleman canoe that he’s been considering modifying to make it more stable, but I’m thinking of surprising him with an angler kayak. Any recommendations?

More info…
It would help to know a little more info.

Age/physical condition?


Type of water he’ll be fishing?

The Tarpons and Prowlers are popular. If he’s fishing in the right type of waters one of the pedal driven yaks like the Hobie might be a good choice.

There are a few new models coming out that look like they’ll be popular too. The Heritage is making headway in the market and one or two others.

IMO, the folks at KayakFishingStuff are the kings of kayak fishing. You might drop in over there and check with them.

Nice thought
Helping your husband out with a new kayak. I love that!! Your one really special lady. Truly one in a million.

To be honest, I have no real info or advice for you, but do have a question…

Do you have a single sister?

You might want to think about
getting an outrigger for the Kayak while you are at it. They are usually harder to stand in than a canoe.

That being said, I have flyfished from both a Kayak and a Canoe, and can sit cast from a seated position, so if your husband can also cast from a seated position, then the ourriggers are moot.

As for what Yak-A-Lou said, go to that site and ask questions, they are the experts in the kayak fishing field.


Another place to look …
Here’s a link to the main kayak fishing website in my prt of the world (SW Florida).

These guys should be able to offer lots of help as well …

More Info from Fishing From Kayak
Thanks for the input. I’ve answered your questions below and hope this helps with your response.

Age: 52 years

Physical condition: Good

Height: 6’ Weight: 220 lbs

Type of water he’ll be fishing? - Usually slow rivers (1 or 2) or lakes.

Fishing From Kayak -
You’re too funny! I, in fact, DO have a sister and she fishes! In fact, she’s been fishing every weekend and a few weekdays since August. We even had to have a Thanksgiving BRUNCH so she could go fishing. Unfortunately for you, she is married. :slight_smile:

Better luck next time!

Fishing From Kayak - More
Thanks so much for your help. He’s fly fished from a drift boat while being seated, but I don’t believe he’s tried it from a canoe and I know for sure he hasn’t tried it in a kayak. The outrigger might be a good idea if he gets the kayak and finds it difficult to case. Do the same type of outfits that sell kayaks also sell the outriggers?

Here’s one of many links for kayak
and canoe outriggers:

Also check out for information about outriggers and do a Google for kayak outriggers. While some kayak and canoe dealers stock outriggers, its not always common, so you may want to check out other web based sources.

One recommendation
The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 sounds like at least one appropriate choice for your husband. I would recommend a Sit-On-Top kayak for one reason. Fly-fishermen often like to use kayaks from transportation from one wading spot to another and SOT’s are easy to mount and dismount while wearing waders. If he does paddle with waders, he should wear a tight-fitting safety belt and a snug-fitting PFD over the bib part.

Best of luck with your thoughtful gift.

  • Big D

On consideration for the outriggers,

– Last Updated: Dec-23-05 5:56 PM EST –

I think they're rather expensive for what they are. Sure, they do help to make a kayak or canoe more stable, but if you purchase a kayak one of the kayaks commonly used for fishing, the stabilizers may be a waste of money. I've not seen anyone who fishes from a sit on top kayak like the Wilderness Tarpon, OK Prowlers, Malibu's, Cobra's, etc use stabilizers unless they were fishing offshore. You will be better off spending the $150 or more for a good light weight paddle (at least a carbon fiber shaft), a really good life jacket (PFD) designed for fishing, rod holders, and/or other accessories.

Check with these guys

kayak flyfishing
I flyfish from a kayak 3 or 4 trips a week, about 90% of the time, 10% light spinning. I have never had trouble casting. Just remember yout casts while sitting will be about 1/2 the distance, but your kayak can move you closer to your target spot. May feel a little arkward at first, but in a couple of casts, you will start to pick it up. Get a good sot fishing kayak, no pontoons will be needed, by the way fish will wrap your line around the pontoons all the time.

Fly Fishing From a Kayak
Greetings, I have been flyfishing from a kayak for about 10 years, I have found that the Old Town 138 works very well. It has a large cockpit that offers lots of room to move around, add a spray skirt for wet weather and I can fish all year long, Good Luck!

I agree with Big D–the Tarpon 120 is a great flyfishing kayak. The only minor drawback is that it is relatively heavy and awkward to handle. I can cartop it by myself, but it ain’t easy. By the way, the Tarpon was a gift from my wife. For my birthday a few years ago she gave me an envelope of cash along with four or five different kayak catalogues and let me make my own choice. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given, you might consider doing it this way. Good luck!

I’m an avid fly fisherman. Get a Sportspal canoe. Cheap, ugly, light, but incredibly stable. He can fish standing up; it is almost impossible to tip the damn thing over (I tried).

The Sportspal is a canoe for people who are not into canoes. It is made for people like me, who want a light weight boat to fish from on rivers, small lakes, and near-shore on large lakes (read: the Great Lakes).

The people on this board are experts on canoes and yak’s. I’m not. What I’m into is fly fishing. Originally, I wanted to buy a inflatable drift boat. But cost, weight, and limited use caused me to consider other options.

Slap on a motor onto a Sportspal and you don’t need to paddle on small lakes. On rivers, a small mushroom anchor or a length of chain will let you drift from lie to lie with ease.

If your husband wants to shoot ducks, put a camo cover on it and you have a blind, with space to spare for decoys.

Here - Kayak Outriggers
here is the article, with photos for making the outrigers cheaply…

Note the Kayak the guy mounted them on…

Ditto the Loon
I don’t use a sinking tip line much in the yak. Other than that, shorter casts and let the leader and fly sink what they will if not using dry.


Loon 138
Has served me well for fly fishing lakes and slow rivers. Wide open cockpit allows movement on long trips and also allows you to swap flies easily, I have the full skirt as well as the utility skirt. I’m looking at switching to a tarpon or Prowler for the saltwater in the future though. I’m 6’1" and roughly 230lbs on a good day so I paddled quite a few boats before making my decision. In the end, the boat I thought I wanted was not at all what I had expected. The Loon was not my first choice but it was the best choice for me. Find a dealer in your area that he can demo the boats or if you are lucky enough, find a nearby “demo days” to attend. give your location and I’m sure somebody close to you can help you out with finding one. It is a great idea to give him the green light to buy a kayak and set him loose. This is going to be a personal decision better left up to him.

God bless you for loving him so much, we should all be so lucky. Hope this helped out a little.


Good read on fly fishing out of a 'yak
This is an article I did an edit on for our No Motor Zone issue of Onshore - Offshore Magazine. Greg Bowdish is a kayak fly fishing guide in Matlacha, Florida. Check out his website for more great paddle fishing articles.

Fly Fishing out of the Kayak -

Mastering the “Kayak Cast”

By Capt. Greg Bowdish

I had a very fortunate introduction to fly casting. I learned about the sport of fly fishing from two college buddies on Georgia farm ponds and the only type of watercraft we had available was a tiny johnboat with a few broken ribs. It was an awful boat and was appropriately outfitted with a metal pot for an anchor and a plank for a paddle. Because of the broken ribs, the boat was terribly unstable and standing up in it was as easy as standing up on a waterbed. Looking back and realizing that I learned to fly cast from a seated position, I am very thankful for that beat up johnboat. It gave me casting skills early on that some people never take the time to master.

These days, whenever I mention to another yak fly angler that I like to fly fish from my kayak, they usually start asking me questions about wading boots, stingrays, and mud. I have been a bit surprised to learn how many kayak fly anglers rarely, if ever, fly cast from a seated position in their kayaks. The purpose of this article is to share with you wading yak fly fishers some of the wisdom I gleaned from a busted up johnboat on a Georgia farm pond many years ago. With these skills and practice you might relax a bit out there and better enjoy those subtle advantages that a fly rod sometimes has over conventional tackle.

Before I talk about casting, I think there is something that anyone who owns or is thinking about purchasing a kayak or small canoe needs to know – in most cases you will be more stealthy seated in your small paddle craft than you will wading. The reason is simple. A boat drawing only a few inches of water blends into the surface to a fish a few yards away. Two feet sticking down and kicking up bottom dust are hard to miss for that same fish. I was keyed into this fact during one of my first redfishing trips aboard my sit-on-top kayak when a redfish tailed up to the bow of my yak, put his tail down, went under the yak, and then put his tail back up and went on his merry way. I was so amazed I didn’t even bother to cast.

In order to better understand how to fly cast seated in a kayak, it is crucial that you have a better understanding of casting mechanics in general. All the wind knots, lackluster distance and accuracy, and the annoying sound of the fly smacking the water behind you are not the fault of the kayak and are usually signs that there are problems in your everyday casting that could be easily fixed.

So, let’s start with probably the most universal kayak fly casting issue – hitting the water on your back cast.

With your casting arm only a few feet above the surface of the water you don’t have much room to work with, so why be hard on yourself? In order to make a lengthy cast, you have to move the rod a given distance. If you don’t get that rod loaded and begin your casting stroke as soon as possible, you will most likely “run out of room” causing your back cast to end too far behind you and consequently, your line and/or fly to smack the water behind you.

Before you ever begin your cast, make everything easier on yourself by making sure the tip of your fly rod is in or at the surface of the water and move your casting arm a bit farther forward than you normally would. Start your cast slowly and smoothly accelerate as your line begins to leave the water. Now, when you stop the rod on your back cast, it will be much earlier than before and you will be less likely to send your line and fly towards the waters surface.

This may not solve the problem entirely. Another possible culprit could be that your line is not straight before you begin your cast or that you are picking up the line off the water with way too much force causing shock waves in your line as it unrolls off your rod. Either way, the slack that is created from not having a straight line will rob you of precious casting stroke, once again making you have to move your arm farther than you are able in this seated position.

If this is the case, you will most likely find yourself not waiting for your back cast to straighten before you start your forward cast, the logic here being that if you get it all moving before it falls in the water it will somehow work. The opposite happens, however, because by not allowing your cast to straighten, you have just committed yourself to making an even longer casting stroke! Always look for ways to remove slack by having a straight fly line both in the air and on the water. A fly line without slack means a much more effective casting stroke.

Now that you have removed slack and understand the importance of having enough arm room to execute a given cast, let’s look at how you are forming your loops and aiming your cast. Both of these tasks are accomplished by stopping the rod on the end of the forward and back casts. The direction you stop the rod is the direction the line will travel. This is a very critical point and a thorough understanding of the physics involved will allow you to make casts seated in your kayak that you may not have even been able to make standing up before.

Obviously, we can draw the conclusion that if you want to cast a fly to a target than you need to stop the rod tip when it is traveling toward that target, but your ability to get the fly to its mark is also reliant on where you stop the rod on your back cast. Try the following exercise standing on grass: while false casting stop the rod down behind you and down in front of you making the rod tip travel in an arching path. You will notice that the size of your loop increases and the length of your cast decreases. Now, begin to stop your back cast and forward cast higher until they stop in completely opposite directions from one another. Your loops should start looking a little more like Lefty’s and your fly line should begin to tug at your line hand as it straightens in the air. This is the “perfect” casting loop that you have been striving for. But we are not done . . .

Now, begin stopping your back cast higher and higher while maintaining a straight ahead forward cast. You should start seeing your loop begin to close and those nasty “wind” knots beginning to form. Having your rod tip travel in a less than 180 degree rod tip path is one common cause of wind knots.

Do you recall the arching rod tip path you made when you stopped the tip down in front and behind you? After stopping the rod very high on a back cast, make this arching forward cast and look at the resultant loop. It should no longer be closed and unroll in front of you like a “good” cast. There will also not be any wind knots. Freshwater trout fisherman call this cast a “Steeple Cast” and routinely employ it in situations where there is not much room for a back cast. But using this technique can also be very useful in areas where you don’t have much room to move your arm in an efficient casting stroke – like a kayak!

For our “Kayak Cast”, though, we don’t need to send our back cast straight up. Just aim it slightly higher than you typically would and throw a slightly wider loop on the forward cast. This “Kayak Cast” is not a powerful cast, but can be very accurate once mastered and in the kayak will allow you to be much more at ease casting while seated. If you need more distance, you can easily add a double haul, but because distances are not so critical because of the stealth of your watercraft, this cast should prove to be very adequate in most all situations.

One last important thing to keep in mind is to not rely on power to get more distance – it simply doesn’t work. Removing slack, a smooth acceleration to a stop, and using all available arm movement as efficiently as possible is the secret to casting distance while seated in a yak.

Simply going through the process of mastering the different rod tip paths and the resultant loops will do wonders for your fly casting in all situations and is something every fly caster should take time to practice. Fly casting sometimes gets a bit tricky in tight situations where we have limited body movement or casting room, but your ability to make adjustments can really help get the fly to its target.

Capt. Greg Bowdish is an FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor and full-time fly fishing and kayak guide out of Matlacha, Florida. He has also published many fly fishing articles and photographs in both local and national publications. To book a day on the water or fly casting instruction with Capt. Greg, call (239) 691-7284 or e-mail him at can also learn more about fly fishing and fly tying in Southwest Florida at