Friday, June 11, 2010

Make your kayak "fly-fishing friendly"

So you want to fly fish from a kayak?

Good choice.

However, there are a few things you can to do to make your kayak “fly-fishing friendly.”

There’s an old fly-fishing law which states: “The fly line will catch on anything it can.”

With this in mind, it’s up to you to eliminate anything on which the fly line might catch. What can it catch on? How about gear bags, rod holders, coolers, feet, paddles, levers, handles and whatever else might be lurking in your cockpit?

One way to fly-proof yourself and your kayak is to simply lay a towel over your lower torso. The fly line will not catch on anything and will smoothly cast.

Stow coolers and gear bags behind you. Remove them from the cockpit and place behind your seat. If you have removable rod holders like Scotty’s, then simply remove them from their base while you’re fly fishing.

You can also use duct tape to cover any other snags that might catch your line (kayakers should always carry a role of the very useful duct tape; you never know when you’ll need it).

Once your kayak is “fly-proofed,” it’s time to start fly fishing. But where do you strip the line?

Good question.

As a Native Watercraft-endorsed guide, I fish out of the very versatile Ultimate 14.5, perhaps the best fly-fishing kayak on the market. I strip the line right into the cockpit between my legs. I resist at all costs stripping line into the water. Most often your kayak will drift over your line, creating a whole new problem.

While fly fishing, it’s imperative for your bow to face the direction of your cast. That way, you can point your fly rod directly down your line as required. When a fish hits, there will be no slack in your line and you’ll feel the fish. Many of my inexperienced clients will fish with the tips of their fly rods two or three feet above the water. That creates slack and prevents them from feeling the hit. The rod tip should actually be on the water’s surface and even an inch below.

Casting can be a chore when sitting at water level. It’s just like standing waist-deep in the water and trying to cast. Distance is compromised, but it makes little difference. Remember, you don’t have to make long casts while fishing from your kayak because you can get closer to the fish. A 40-foot cast is plenty.

Keys to a good cast: 1. A good back cast that doesn’t hit the water behind you. Make sure the trajectory of your back cast is high; 2. Line speed on the back cast and forward cast is sufficient.

You might want to prep for your fly-fishing outing be practicing your casting while sitting on the ground. Just make sure you don’t allow your fly to touch the ground behind you on your back cast.

The Ultimate is the perfect kayak in which to stand. I stand a fly cast most of the time. So, that eliminates the problem and allows you to get more distance on your cast. However, you must practice standing so that your comfortable and confident in doing so.

One other thing you’ll want to think about is rod stowage. I usually carry two rods on a saltwater trip (6-weight and 8-weight). I keep the one I’m planning to use first on front of me and lying against a foam-covered structural tube (I use a child’s pool noodle to cover the tube). The second rod lies beside me with the tip pointing toward the stern of my kayak and the rod butt lying on the tube.

Fly fishing from a kayak is fun and surprisingly efficient and productive. In fact, over the last few months, my fly clients have been doing better than clients who fish with spinning tackle.

With just a little thought and preparation, you’ll be experiencing the thrill in no time at all.


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  2. Great info. Steve! Check out what I did to my Ultimate 14.5 to catch errant fly line / I've been enjoying your blog for a few months now! Would love to come down for some beach snook!!!