sea kayak fishing help?

Has anyone tried fishing from their sea kayak? What do you use, a hand line? I want to try it this spring but have never done so before.

I just use my rod and reel.
My kayak is not a sea kayak, but the same principle applies. My kayak is a tandem rec kayak. It has one huge opening instead of two smaller ones. It is sort of a canoe kayak hybrid. I would suspect that you have some bungie cords on the deck of your sea kayak. I would just put the rod and reel under those. I’m sure you could find enough room in the cockpit for a small tackle box.

Good luck with your fishing!

Tons of people
SOT kayaks are more popular, but there’s a huge number of people off the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts who use sea kayaks both SOT and SinK.

All you need is a rod holder, some tackle, and self-rescue skills.

A very good website that discusses kayak fishing is It’s one of the first. I don’t know if he’s on it any more, but Jim Sammons used to participate regularly there and there’s not many people who know more about fishing from sea kayaks than Jim Sammons. JonS runs a good site. He’s knowledgeable enough that manufacturers turn to him for design advice on new kayaks designed for fishing. They’ll get you started right. Go and register, then spend some time lurking and reading what’s come before. A huge wealth of free information.

  • Big D

Also interested to hear from those who
I’m also interested to hear from those who use a hand line or the hand board shown in the video “This is the sea 3”

I am not interested in the mountain of paraphernalia that goes with SOT kayak fishing. I have tons of fly rods, spinning rods and equipment in my basement. I might use those too but I don’t need advice on those.

It’s Got To Suck…
trying to pull in a keeper size striper with a “hand line…” Heck, last summer there were several occaisions, I was nervous trying to pull in 3’ plus stripers even with the leveraged help of a fishing rod because I was on the edge or a channel, because the wind was blowing me towards rocky shoals, and one time because of the 3’ plus wave action breaking over the reef I was fishing. I had my rod on a leash and was ready to drop it at any moment to get my hands back on the paddle.

I started off salt fishing in my sea kayaks and even my SOF (thank goodness, never hooked on while in the SOF). Frankly, I think the sea kayaks are not great fishing platforms. If one wants to drop a “hand line” and play “survivalist” in a kayak. Well… yeah, deal with all associated challenges to go with that.


SOTs rule, IMO, for ocean fishing.

I believe JonS and Joey…
are no longer affiliated with

I get it.
I’ve been fly fishing for stripers for the past 15 years. Been there, done that. If I go island camping I will be packing a fly rod and using it at the island when I break camp. Even if I’m in a sea kayak during conditions when I can relax enough to focus on fishing I will use my fly rod. But I don’t need ANY advice in those areas. Even if it was about a spin rod with storm lures or crap like that. Been there done that too. And I have an SOT as well that I use for surfing and bobbing around. I don’t need advice about that either.

But I am totally inexperienced using a hand line board while paddling a sea kayak. So, please, if there is anyone who has experience in those aspects please speak up. :slight_smile:

A few discussions…

Been a while since I’ve been there.
JonS rocks. Wherever he is now is the place to go to learn about fishing from a sea kayak. Jim Sammons has a guide service, a web site, and a TV show. It’s not surprising he’s not spending time hanging out on a free site any more. Nevertheless, he’s one of the guys who encouraged me to get into kayak fishing, though my water runs only in one direction…

  • Big D

A hand line would give you no drag
If you hook a big fish you are at it’s mercy dragging you around. It would not take much force to tip you out of a Sea Kayak. I watched a guy trying to land a large Yellowtail off the CA coast in his SINK. He did ok when the fish pulled straight away from him. When he got it close to the boat it wipped around behind him and over he went with all the gear.

I’ll keep that in mind
when I take my kid bass fishing :slight_smile:

…unfortunately up here in Maine we ain’t got many biguns like that and the big boys are way off shore. Even our striper fishing has been in a crapper 2 years in the row. I agree though that if I hooked a 30 pound striper I would probably have to cut him off even though a big striper pulls steady. There is no thrashing around. A big striper like that just takes the bait, goes deep and keeps going.

the best handline advice I ever received

Posted by: Okanagan on Mar-14-06 1:14 AM (EST)

Your question is OK, good for you for risking guff by asking. I live in the part of the world you are talking about and have kayak fished considerably in those waters. If all you want is fish with minimum gear purchase and mimimum hassle, go with a hand line.

Use heavy line, 50 lb. test is pretty mininimal and I’d get the heaviest cheap mono I could find in a store, 80 or 100 or more is much easier on your hands. It also tangles less. If hanging up and breaking it off concerns you, and it should in a kayak, add a leader tip of 15 or 20 lb. mono. five or ten feet long.

Buy a few cheap metal and or lead head rubber tailed jigs in one to six ounce sizes big enough to scare midwest fishermen into screaming flight and go fishing. A snap swivel is quick to change lures but uneeded otherwise. If you go deep for halibut, a 16 oz. or larger jig is better, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you have in mind.

The best hand line holders are from Australia, and I’ve never seen one for sale in North America. Saw one on e-bay of all things the other day for about three dollars. They look like a big plastic donut a foot or more across, with a flanged rim made for wrapping line on, and a cross member in the middle to hold easily. They are designed for hand line fishing and if you have a lure big enough to throw, they even cast pretty well. I mention them in case you can find one before next summer. Cheap and excellent.

Otherwise wrap your line on a board the size of a shingle. Long wraps end to end, with a notch or scallop in each end of the board is best. Let the lure straight down to the bottom, lift a foot or two and start jigging. Lift the lure a foot or two at a time and drop it so that it falls free the foot or two. Don’t let it sit still more than a second or two between jigs, or you will catch dogfish shark, not sure why.

Fish in the edge of kelp for greenling (tasty) occasional black kelp bass and smaller rock cod. Ling cod are likely but closely regulated so make sure you know seasons, sizes, etc. I got a ling on a hand line once that was pot bellied and as long as from my nose to the ground. No scale to weigh him in wilderness waters. Used 200 lb. test speical hand line mono, looks like weedeater grass cutter line.

Currents can be bad, so I clip my yak to kelp with a lanyard and a large size cheap plastic clamp/clip from places like Home Depot. I tie to my yak with a quick release slip knot just behind the cockpit, so that a fish big enough to pull the yak around has me facing him rather than fighting him behind my back.

If you dont’t get a bite, move. If you catch one to three fish and then they stop, move.

Deep reefs in open water have bigger fish, but will be harder for you to fish in a yak due to wind and tides. I know a couple of guys who have caught salmon on hand lines from small boats, and many who have caught halibut up the BC coast.

Most of the well intentioned freshwater gear advised so far will mostly frustrate the life out of you and land very few fish in your yak. With the hand line set-up, plan where you want to put your fish. On a stringer over the side may work but slows down your paddling and sharks may congregate and eat them. I don’t have an excellent solution.

If I took a rod it would be a hefty salt water one just barely long enough to move the tip beyond the bow of my yak. I paddle a short yak, 13.5 foot. A seven to eight foot rod that will handle heavy line of 20-30 lbs. is about right for this kind of fishing, and will do for salmon. I used a saltwater trolling bait casting reel with 50 lb. line and a 20 lb leader.

I used such a rig last summer and caught a dozen or more green ling and switched rods to cast for salmon and caught one about 16 lbs. (8.5 foot spinning rod, spin reel and 14 lb.line for the salmon, but the salmon was in open water. I don’t like spin reels and light lines for bottom fishing). My companion was using freshwater gear, 12 lb. line I think and a nice 6 or 7 foot rod suitable for trout or bass with a medium sized spinning reel. He landed two, lost a pile of lures, and broke off nearly all the fish that he hooked. They were average size of freshwater bass and walleye mostly, not big fish but abrasive, difficult reefs and kelp beds.

Fishing regulations can be byzantine in complexity in the San Juans.

Go for it.

It’s interesting to read about a completely different style of fishing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Big D

If you like trolling consider this

I like a Cuban Yo yo
That’s what we call a hand line rig where I grew up. At one time I had to get some and Basspro had them but I had to ask. Still have one and it still works fine.

I did best trolling Rapalas but live bait works as do tube baits and spoons if you are willing to paddle fast.

I do it all the time
if you have good rigging deck lines and bungees you can easily jam your rod in in such a way where you can give yourself enough room to paddle while trolling

really there isn’t much to it other than not losing your rod get a leash for it. I’ll post pics in a week or so after my may long trip.

I pesonally don’t like sots at all they are more like a barge than a kayak.

handline from a sea kayak

– Last Updated: Nov-12-10 1:18 AM EST –

I fish with a handline from a sea kayak (Tiderace Xcite) all the time, and totally agree with Okanagan. I fish the same waters. I'm not playing survivalist, it just works better. Besides catching fish on a multi-day trip is a skill any sea kayaker should have.

People with limited kayaking skills need SOT's, people with more developed kayaking skills don't.

Most SOT people are fisherman first, kayakers second. Most sea kayak fisherman are kayakers first. That's the difference.

It's like every other aspect of kayaking: It's not the boat that's the's the person in it.

If you want photos of 20lb fish caught with a handline from a sea kayak in the ocean, check out my blog


A Bit Extreme
I prefer fishing from my SOT, but I am compelled to carry a rod with me no matter what I’m paddling, and occasionaly fish from my Epic V10. Admittedly a bit extreme, but it can be done. I carry a micro spinning rod and a small case of lures between my legs. Since I always catch-and-release, boating a fish is not an issue. Fortunately I’ve never hooked anything really big - maybe a 7 or 8 pound red. Even that was an adventure. I also carry a handline (Cuban Yo-Yo)but have never hooked anything but small pan fish.

I guess the net of it for me is that I prefer fishing from a SOT, but paddling a sea/ski kayak.

Good luck…Mike

I’ve run the gamut of different systems fishing from narrow sea kayaks and although handlines work, I prefer to have a rod/reel with some give and definitely a good drag system.

I’ve tried multiple set ups with an assortment of rods for trolling and casting and wanted a limited size like handlines for expeditions. Now I’m using an “emrod” stainless rod and this thing is great for trips. I can use a good reel, set it up quickly and troll without it getting in the way of my paddling. I fish for salmon often and I wanted a setup that would work on a 18’ sea kayak with a 21 inch beam. I’ve tried fighting fish with handlines and it’s just not for me. The emrod takes up just as little space and offers you the the same fighting benefits as a traditional rod/reel.

Plus for bigger fish, that drag is important and when I do depend on fish to supplement my food cache on some of our trips and I can’t afford to lose the fish to a tug of war/break off.


hand line
I agree. I mostly use the handline for jigging bottom fish. The fight is tough but different than salmon. I’ve been able to deal with 20+ pound bottom fish with ease. I find it easier to maintain my position in wind and current with the handline vs. rod & reel. I can use my paddle with the handline in my hand rather than having to store rod and reel. I spend more time fishing and less time juggling gear. If you want my in-depth take on handline fishing, check out

I have not caught a salmon on a handline yet but I’m trying this fall. Trolling for salmon is a bit tedious and time consuming for me, so I’ve put more effort into bottom fish I guess.