Fishing & Hunting Tips

Kayak fishing guide for beginners | 28 tips that you need to know in 2019

Maybe you watched your family members or your friends do kayaking! And now you wanna get into it. Trust me, it’s something that you don’t wanna miss out on.

Did you know that over 4000 years ago, a culturally similar indigenous people, mainly the inhabitants of the Arctic region of Russia, USA and Canada invented this type of boat to fish in the summer?

There are more to kayaking other than just paddling. It’s good exercise, an opportunity to spend some time close to nature and an excellent chance to fish at your favorite spot.

So, basically, you can have a short vacation, exercise and hunt for your meal, at the same time. Win-win combination!

Now you are probably thinking to buy a kayak and paddle it to glory. I wish if it were that simple.

But that’s where we come in, to make things simple and guide essentials in order. Today, we’re gonna focus on some necessary tips. You can call it the complete kayak fishing guide for beginners. I have an awesome list of kayak fishing gear to make things easier for you guys.

Alright, let’s begin.

14 Tips on kayak fishing guide for beginners

I’m sure these tips will help you enjoy kayak fishing even more. Just check one tip at a time and remember to apply them before you go out for a kayak fishing session.

1. The weather: I know this one is the least of your concern. But trust me, even in early season, sudden whirlwind or scattered storm may take place. That’s why you should check the local weather news before hitting the water. Avoid kayaking if there is a possibility of these conditions below-

  • Rain: It’s perfectly safe to kayak fishing in the rain. Just make sure you packed your rain jacket, shell or drysuit to keep you dry. You’re probably thinking, “what’s the point? I’m gonna get wet anyway when paddling around”. True, but early season rain can cause the temperature to fall dramatically. Even in the midday of summer, sudden rain can cause flu or cold because you’re getting wet on your upper body while sweating.
  • Thunder: Man I love ACDC, remember that son “Thunderstruck”? Sick song. Anyway, lightning a concern because you are in the open space. So the moment you spot any thunderstorm, head back to the shore. And please don’t place your rod in the erect position. The last thing you want is to become a thunder magnet.
  • Fog: Fog won’t be a big of a deal. But if you don’t have GPS in an unknown location, things might turn ugly. You might get confused and lose yourself in the process. So if the fog is dense, avoid kayaking altogether. Or just stay close to the shoreline and patiently cast before the sun comes up.
  • Wind: Did you install rudders & skegs? If not then prepare for a wild ride in the wind. So much so it can cause your vessel to turn upside down. Trust me, you don’t know how difficult it is to keep the kayak in a tracking position when the side wind is blazing. Please, take my words for it. Don’t try to learn the hard way.

2. Have a look at the local fishing stats: Let’s say that you and your buddy on a fishing tour in an unknown location. You have no idea what kind of fish this unfamiliar body of water has to offer! So, check in the local tavern or the neighborhood restaurant.
Talk to some veteran anglers. You’ll learn so much about the place rather than scouring through old reports and journals. And most importantly, make some good friends in the process.

3. Pack a few safety gears: Never ever underestimate your safety precautions. Keep a PFD (personal floatation device) ready to go just in case.

You can also pack these items-

  • Gloves
  • Whistle
  • Headlamps (in case you wanna fish at night)
  • First aid kit
  • Fishing rod leash
  • Paddle Leash
  • Emergency kayak repair tools

4. Watch out for other vessels: Any oncoming vehicle may seem far away. But they can catch up to quicker than you anticipate. Beware of them, especially if it’s a motorboat. Let them go before you get across.
Steer clear of those large ships because they form large waves. These waves are hard to cut through. As a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend you to be in such situations.
These sort of large vessels can be found mostly near the ocean jetties or any local shipyard at the river.
But if you do find yourself close to such giants, then don’t paddle parallel to the waves. You might roll over. The best option for you to paddle directly towards the waves, with all the momentum you can master.

5. Best kayak rod and reel: Look for a rod that is made of the blend of graphite and carbon fiber. These type of rods are flexible, lightweight and packed with useful features.
I suggest you get one of these best saltwater spinning rods. They are picked by experts and with action-packed features and reasonable price tag. You can also have a look at these best baitcasting rods before you decide which tackle you wanna go with.
And for the reel, I have some of the best saltwater spinning reels for you to choose from. The reason I prefer saltwater over freshwater reel, because of it’s durable and corrosion resistant construction material.
Check out these best saltwater low profile baitcasting reel if you like to use baitcasting tackle.

6. Food & water: I’ve seen some guys like to drink beer while kayaking. Please don’t intake alcohol in this state. You need physical and mental precision to paddle the kayak efficiently.
Just grab a few bottles of water and keep a couple of sports drink. These drinks are super healthy and filled with potassium and electrolytes. Something you’ll need under the scorching heat of the sun.
Pack light foods. Homemade sandwiches are the best option. Avoid beef, pork or mutton. Instead, opt for chicken sandwiches.

7. Fish handling gears: If you haven’t clicked the kayak fishing gear list in the intro, then let me tell you the gears you’ll need for proper fish handling.

  • Pliers
  • Gloves
  • Line cutters
  • Net
  • Stringers and
  • Fish grips

Pliers are useful to remove the hook from the fish mouth. But for soft mouth fish like trout, do it by your hand.
Gloves provide protection from sharp fins and teeth if your catch has any.
Line cutters are essential to cut out any tangled line and fish grips
Net is useful to scoop out your catch out of the water without picking a fight and stringers keep your fish alive until you hit the shore. Just don’t Pierce the gil or take the rope straight through and tie a knot. Instead, pierce it through the lower lip of the fish so they can swim without stress. Just check out the process below.

8. Keep an anchor: This particular fishing gear gets overlooked by a lot of beginners. There are a lot of anchors available in the market. But for beginners, a folding anchor is the best choice.
Weigh in at 1.5-4.0 lbs, you can easily store it in the kayak compartments. Some manufacturer provides carry bag with the anchor for your convenience.
You wanna do some flat fishing from your kayak, then stake-out poles are ideal. They are large and sturdy. Designed to stick in the mud or through a specific hole in the kayak’s body. They also come tethered to the kayak as well.

9. Mounted camera?: Is it necessary? Absolutely not. But who doesn’t want to keep their memory fresh when they are outside in nature. You can find plenty of good GoPro mountable camera to choose from.
Sure it might cost a few bucks more. But do you really wanna put a price on your sweet memories? Especially when you can share them with your grandchildren or spouses!
Make sure the camera is at least IP68 waterproof.

10. Protect your skin: When you are out in the element, sunshine is not your only concern. To prevent any irritating situations, pack these following items.

  • Waterproof sunscreen
  • Sun resistant clothing
  • A fishing hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug spray

11. The sound of silence: Yep, it’s a song by beetles. But I like the cover of Disturbed version even more. Who knew a hard metal band can deliver such a classic masterpiece. Ah, let me fire up the song first. Perfect, what I actually meant that you gotta move quietly, especially when you spotted a fishing spot. Any blatant movement will cause vibrations in the water and spook any fish swimming nearby

12. Sight fishing?: You might not know what sight fishing is. It’s actually how the word portraits. You have to spot the fish just by looking around the water. Of course, you’ll need polarized glasses to cut the water glare. But remember you can see as far the water visibility allows you.

13. Drift away!: Drifting is easy to master. Sometimes anchoring isn’t that necessary when you can drift like a pro.
Simply paddle a bit to the direction of your preferred fishing spot and let the current direction you. Simple yet effective skill. Just push a single stroke on the left or right side of the kayak. It will keep you on track.

14. Change your lure quickly: Faster lure changing is essential, especially if you toss up a wrong lure to a school or flock of fish. It can make a difference whether you’ll catch fish or not. Just pare some time to practice lure changing as quickly as possible.

kayak fishing guide for beginners

14 tips about how to choose the best kayak for beginners

Here we’re gonna identify the best type of kayak a beginner should start out with. Look for these attributes, please.

1. Age: Now this one might not be all that important but, you’d want to have a physical superiority over your boat when you’re starting out. Imagine if you’re a 12-year-old starting with a big pontoon like a kayak!

2. Water type: Now, might j suggest you pick up a kayak that is designed to work well in a calm lake or river! Because there are a lot of options for strong streaming water or the ocean. Hey, let’s just pick up a kayak that can work well in both condition, shall we?

3. In or on?: Once you’re browsing for your dream kayak, you’ll notice 2 options. Sit in and sit on. And yes they deliver a different experience. The sit-in kayak has the accommodation to sit inside the hull. That means you’ll get to sit in a lower position. Not only you’ll stay drier, but the center of gravity will allow more control. And there are more storage options than the sit on. On the other hand, the sit on kayak might not have the best storage facility. Or superior control as the sit in. But the sit-on kayak is best for fishing. It has a higher sitting position which helps you to observe your surroundings more effectively. Observation is the key, especially when it comes to fishing.

4. The number of sit: You want to go in alone. Most of us angler do that. But I’ve seen a few guys just having fun with their family while casting. If angling is your main priority, then a single seater kayak will do. But if, let’s say bonding with your dad or brothers is your main priority, then pick up one of those multi-seat kayaks. Since it’s your first time, having someone by your side is the best thing you can ask for.

5. Tracking or turning: Tracking or turning is two different advantage of two different types of kayak. I would go for the kayak that tracks better. These are more stable and versatile to work with. And since fishing is your main concern, stability should be the main priority.

6. Material: Ah, this one is your bread and butter. Choosing the right kind of material will make all the difference. And you need to read thoroughly to detect what material you’ll choose from.
There are 9 types of material to choose from.

  1. Hard plastic
  2. Inflatable plastic
  3. Polyethylene
  4. ABS plastic
  5. Fiberglass
  6. Kevlar
  7. Carbon fiber
  8. Wood and
  9. Fabric with a frame

Choose inflatable plastic kayak. It’s affordable and durable.

The majority number of kayak is made of hard plastic or fiberglass. Plastic is heavier but more resistant to damage. Fiberglass also absorbs damage well and lightweight. But it is expensive.

Kevlar and carbon are better and lighter material but with an intimidating price tag. If you want a portable kayak than fabric/frame is the way to go. The cost is also on the higher side.

If you’re thinking, what about those wooden kayaks? Sorry to disappoint you, but these things are rare and ultra expensive. They are more like a souvenir than a regular kayak these days.

And last but not least, the inflatable plastic. These are great choices for beginners. There is a downside though. This type of kayak doesn’t track well.

7. Intention: Now it’s all up to you. Do you want to pressure paddle here and there, literally surf all over the fish like a warrior? Or do you choose to sit back, relax, have a cold beer (only if you are 18+)? Plan your preference first. The pick your kayak.

8. Rigging: You will find a lot of kayak offering different accessories for certain conditions. Choose a kayak with a safety line. It will help you when fishing in the open water. You can also store some small items on the deck net. You might not know but shock cord is very handy. You can have some important tool at your disposal all the time. And some paddle float is also a smart investment in case you face rough waters.

9. Hatches: These storage options are super important. There are kinds of stuff which can’t be in the water under any circumstances. Hatches are waterproof. Unless you roll over or get splashed by rough water over and over again.

10. Rudders and skegs: Trust me on this. If someone tells you that rudders and kegs can help you turn the kayak, then they are misinterpreting. They help keep the kayak straight when paddling with the crosswind.

You’d not want your kayak to turn at the wind direction, also known as the weathercocking. That’s where the rudders and skegs come in. They keep hard sidestroke at bay and keep your kayak straight.

11. Kayak length: Determining the suitable kayak length is crucial. Choose a longer kayak if you prefer speed and tracking ability. But you will be compromising sharp maneuverability. So shorter kayaks are for those who prefer swift turns.

Just choose one between 7 and 14 feet. And make arrangements for transporting and storing your investment accordingly.

12. The right depth & width: Since it is your first kayak, choosing the suitable depth & width is also important. Whether you’re just steering the yak or how easily you can store it, I recommend you get a wider kayak for stability and easier get in or out.

But, there are some downsides my friend. You see when you pick up more width, its the speed you compromise. And the excess drag will make paddling hard.

And for depth, if you want more legroom, or you are taller than average, choosing a kayak with extra depth is the way to go. The hull will sit up higher and you will have more legroom and more. However, you will be more vulnerable against wind, cold and intense sunshine.

13. Weight: I know you haven’t given any thought about this one. But you gotta transfer to kayak from your garage to your truck and then to the water. I know this can be solved with a quality kayak cart but still, it’s better to consider weight before choosing one. Because you have to lift it carefully no matter what.

14. Cost: Since it’s your first kayak, choosing the best kayak for a fair price is important. You can find the absolute cheapest kayak for 100 bucks whereas the expensive one can cost up to 3000 bucks.
My recommendation is 400-600 price tag. With this range, you’ll get value for money product. These are some necessary kayak fishing guide for beginners.

Kayak fishing techniques in a nutshell

To be a successful kayak fisherman, you have to master the art of fishing and paddling at the same time. Kayaking and fishing may be possible but it gets interesting the moment you hook a resistant fish like redfish or the smallmouth bass.

Something is easier seen than said. So I’m gonna let a fellow kayaker, Nige Webster, to take over and he’ll show you how easily you can learn kayak fishing techniques.

7 Types of kayak for beginners

By this moment, you have probably understood how to choose the best kayak for beginners. Now let’s find out how many types of kayaks are there in the market today.

1. Fishing kayak: These types are designed for angling needs. These kayaks have extra compartments for necessary tool storing purpose and of course, maximum comfort assured for longer fishing sessions. You can add some gears like rod holders, anchors, milk cooler, etc to turn your vessel into a fish floating heaven.

2. The inflatables: This kind of kayak is best for beginners because of its lower cost and easier transport capacity. It can also absorb any major shock or damage because you’ll more likely to cause a few.

These kayaks are lightweight, easy to transport and versatile. You can use them in sea and freshwater without any issues. Inflatable kayaks are ideal because you won’t require any transportation equipment. Just deflate them and carry it in a backpack. Make sure to dry it properly before storing and don’t forget to bring puncture repair kit when you’re out in the water.

3. Hardshells: This type of kayak can be found in a variety of materials. Each model has a different advantage and usability. If hard is your choice than plastic is the way to go. Because it can withstand and absorb damage effectively and the price is also affordable.

But if you want to fill up the pro shop right away, then the blend of fiberglass and carbon kayak should be the best choice. Yeah, it’s a bit on the expensive side, but you’ll feel the speed and ultralightweight very convenient.

But beware, if you can’t arrange safe transportation for your vessel that doesn’t invest in it. Fiberglass and carbon blend kayaks are known to be durable but they can be damaged easily upon transportation. And besides, be absolutely certain that you will be able to tame the higher performance of this composite vessel since you’re just starting out.

4. Whitewater kayak: See those kayakers paddling through tough water stream like butter? Those are the Whitewater kayaks. So if you live close by such body of water, and experience the adrenaline rushing ride, pick up a Whitewater kayak. Don’t try to use a recreational classic kayak. The experience might be bitter than sweet.

5. Recreational kayaks: These are the best choice for you. Perfect to paddle in the gentle river, lake or other flat bodies of water. What I like about this type of kayak, that they offer a little of everything. Nothing over the counter or specific area expertise. And the price is very much affordable.

6. Touring kayaks: These are also good for fishing purposes. Because they are built with riders comfort in mind for long journeys. The paddling mechanism of the touring kayak is so crispy smooth and durable. You will also have speed and extra storage compartments such as a cooler, camping, etc with this one. I absolutely recommend this if you’re planning a fishing trip to the sea.

7. Tandem kayaks: This type of kayak is made to handle two paddlers. Usually, they are found in two separate cockpits. There is a single design as well. Those two cockpits are separately built unless it’s a sit on up design.


In the end

I tried my best to cover every possible expect of kayak fishing guide for beginners in this article. Did I miss anything else? Feel free to express yourself in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you guys.

That’s it for today folks. Hope you have found your answers. And as always, happy paddling.

Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sports fisherman and hunter, love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting.

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