Kayak fly fishing has exploded in popularity in the last several years, and kayak equipment and accessories have become more specialized and sophisticated. What’s often overlooked, however, is the ease with which kayak anglers can complete their sport. Like most hobbies, there are always tips and tricks to improve performance. What’s also often forgotten is that kayak fly fishing is no different.
There are two kinds of anglers who use kayak fishing: freshwater anglers and saltwater anglers. And while each group has different standards for what kinds of equipment and accessories they use, many of the items they do use overlap. What about basic fly fishing gear, you might ask? Well, just about every element of your regular fishing vest or outdoorsuit can be applied to kayak fly fishing as well. What most fly anglers tend to forget, though, is the ease with which this same gear can be adapted to fishing in fresh waters or saltwater – and the types of fishing techniques that work best for each.
For freshwater anglers, the kind of kayak fly fishing gear that works best involves comfortable, wide-spaced seats and lots of leg room. This is especially important if fly fishermen tend to spend much of their time trolling. Fly fishing is demanding on the muscles of the legs, and having a kayak that’s sturdy enough to withstand the effort is absolutely necessary. In addition, new fly fishermen should invest in sturdy boots to protect their feet from the saltwater, a floating spare paddle, and other basic fishing needs.
For those who plan on kayaking long distances or even inland, the more advanced features that come as standard with some kayak fly fishing units (such as rudder systems) are particularly helpful. These are usually self-propelled and allow the angler to keep a greater control over the vessel without having to get up to retrieve it. Further, these units tend to have large storage areas for all kinds of tackle, without first having to take it out of the kayak.
Saltwater kayak fly anglers will find their craft is easier to maneuver in rough waters and at the bottom of a lake or river. Saltwater kayak anglers need to use specialized casting materials to reach the fish. A spinning spoon or leader is often used and requires a great deal of finesse. Kayakers will also find a rudder system to be useful, as it allows the kayak to move in a variety of ways without any additional equipment. It also improves the ability of the kayak to cast smoothly, allowing kayak fly anglers to complete even the most difficult casts without getting in an accident.
Anglers who prefer to fish close to shore can choose to utilize a floating rig. This setup consists of a flat-bottomed inflatable boat attached to a flexible leash. Anglers simply attach the leash to the bow of the boat, cast near shore, then release the leash as the buoyancy of the boat lifts the inflatable boat to the top of the water. Many anglers who use this type of setup feel that the ease of mobility it provides is much more enjoyable than other types of kayak fishing.
Fly fishing from a kayak is also possible with an inflatable fishing boat. Some people prefer to fish from this style of craft because of the increased maneuverability it offers. However, many kayak anglers feel that a fishing craft which cannot be completely manually released is not very stable. This is why many kayak manufacturers make use of built-in safety mechanisms such as deck locks. In essence, a lock prevents the craft from being stored in an upright position while it is on the water. Kayaks without a deck lock can be manually released from the water by using the proper key.
Kayak fishing kayaks which have large rudder systems are also beneficial because they can create greater stability in difficult conditions. Smaller or lighter kayak models lack significant rudder systems, making them more maneuverable when casting. Regardless of whether you prefer to fish from a floating rig or a traditional fly platform, most anglers agree that kayak stability is one of the most important factors of the sport.