Western New York Fishing Magazine

A Kayak Fly Fishing Primer

Stealth is key when it comes to fly fishing.  Nothing gives you the ability to sneak up on rising fish like a kayak does.  You don’t kick over stones, muddy the water downstream, or create a lot of surface wake if you practice silent approaches.

Whether it’s a big smallmouth chasing bait near the surface, or a slender trout sipping bugs in the evening, using the kayak to position yourself for an unobstructed casting lane quickly and quietly really can’t be beat.  And, with the increased casting distance noted above, you’ll have to be LESS quiet than if you were stalking brookies on a chalk stream.

If you’re a photographer, I’d simply add that the kayak can put you in position for some fantastic shots for the same reasons.

Kayak Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks


kayak fly fishing 3Lastly, here’s some quick bullet points on things I’ve learned over the past 4 years while kayak fly fishing.

  • When stream fishing, keep your spare rods down, and your head on a swivel. If you’re fighting a fish, you’re going to likely start drifting downstream.  Having your spare fly rod in a holder, as opposed to laying down, could cause an expensive accident.
  • Anchor when possible.  Learn how to do it right though.  Anchoring in moving water can be deadly, so pick slow spots and slack waters.  Do NOT anchor in the main channel if you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • Don’t overlook any species.  Since I’ve started kayak fly fishing, we’ve caught trout, bass, pan fish, carp, bull head, and a red horse sucker.  The sky is the limit.
  • Use floating vegetation in moving water as anchors.  Rather than dumping an anchor in a dangerous spot, you can ease up on mats of weeds to keep in one spot.  At the very least, it can hold you for a minute to get a few casts in.
  • Don’t always bring your best rods. Especially not at first.  Breaking rods in trees, and dumping them overboard can happen, especially when you’re just learning.  Don’t be afraid to use that $80 Browning over the $600 Sage the first few times out.
  • Safety first: Always wear a PFD (you can’t swim if you’re unconscious… did I mention trees can sneak up on you in streams and rivers?), try not to go out alone, especially on water you don’t know, and if a run of river looks like something you can’t paddle back through, pull over and think about it. Be REALLY sure before you make that run.

Please feel free to ask any questions below.  I love talking about the sport, so I’ll be happy to answer.  Also, I’d love to hear your kayak fly fishing tips and stories.  Fire away!

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About Kevin

Kevin is an internet marketer and web analyst by trade, but is found on the water in a lot of his free time. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Kevin now resides in Scottsville with his wife. His favorite species to fish are pike, smallmouth bass, and wild trout.

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