From Fishing Boat to Kayak

Gain some insight into the difference between fishing a kayak and fishing a more traditional center console fishing craft.

Transitioning to a Yak? Be Prepared

Fishing can be different things to different people; in fact it is different things to different people. To some, it’s a fun way to pass an afternoon. To others, it is something they can do with the kids to keep them occupied for an hour before the chaos reenters the room. To others, it is a profession. They take people fishing with hopes of a memorable adventure – and the good ones deliver. To people like us, fishing is a publishing process. We try to be the story, write the story, find great stories from other people’s adventures, work with manufacturers and service providers to help them communicate with a young and tablet- and smartphone-savvy reader and viewership, and generally talk about fishing all day every day. We talk about fishing so much that not fishing enough is an issue; it is the source of our content and writing the content and editing the videos makes it hard to add more video and write more stories.

Sun Dolphin Fishing KayakMaking the Change? Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing segments of our wonderful lifestyle, and making the change from a traditional fishing boat to a kayak like this Sun Dolphin requires a few changes. But to many new kayak anglers the changes were well worth it.
Buy on Amazon

The two most popular trends in the world of sport fishing go together very well. The first of the two is flyfishing. Tough, challenging, and not the best way to fill a cooler for dinner, flyfishing is an expensive and hard way to catch a fish. The other way – kayak fishing – is as popular as flyfishing, and is often the way a fly fisher person gets those weightless flies close enough to the fish to actually catch one. So as far as trends go, kayak fishing and fly fishing are the way to go if you want to attract the most readers.

We’re Not in a Center Console Anymore

This article is about one of the two fastest growing arenas: kayak fishing. To be a little more specific, it’s about a group of kayak anglers that are in a class all their own and represent a sizeable percentage of new kayak owners: people that already had boats.

They are often experienced using their fishing boats. They know how shallow you can go with a kayak, they know how quite they are, they know how relatively easy it is to get one into the water, and they know it costs a fraction of the overhead to keep one fishable than it is to keep that slick and sexy 21’ Center Console.

Gear and Essentials

The first think you have to adjust is what you think you need to take with you in order to fool the fish of your choice. You cannot – we repeat you cannot – carry the kind of stuff on a kayak you can carry on any other fishing boat (canoes included). There is not a lot of space, it’s very tight, and you’re balanced on a small craft. Although today’s kayaks are quite stable, you can still roll them over if you’re not careful, and carrying a lot of stuff is not only impractical it is not safe.

Ultimate Kayak Tackle BagTackle is one of the first things you have to adapt; you cannot carry thirty different boxes on a kayak like you (might) do on a center console. That said, products like this Ultimate Kayak Tackle Bag will let you carry more lures and needless items than should be allowed.
Buy on Amazon

Trip Planning

We are motor boaters with a minor in canoe and kayak fishing. A lot of our friends and a good percentage of our readers and viewers are purely kayak people. They live to fish in kayaks. Something we motor boaters often joke about but is a very real concern with kayak fisherfolk is trip planning. Whether you fish a motor boat or a yak, knowing what you are going to fish for and what to do if your first plan fails is equally important, but more difficult if you’re paddling. Considering the fact that you can, however, pull a kayak out of the water in one place and fairly easily drive it to another does make it something you can overcome, set out a trip plan. They are more important for kayakers than they are for somebody like me, that can run a center console at forty miles an hour and fish three counties in five hours.

Get Good with a Camera

You are so quiet and low to the water in a kayak that it’s way easier to shoot memorable images from there than it is in a center console. High-end photographers who have made their living shooting from high above the water might argue with us, but in recent years the kind of images we’ve seen shot from still cameras and (increasingly) GoPros and other mobile video cams have just blown us away. If you’re going to start fishing a kayak, get a camera that will stay out of the way – and feed us the images you get. It will help the site look even better than it does already.

kayak fishing 1

Buy More Lures

You are going to save a ton of money using a kayak instead of a Center Console or bass boat. There is little dispute that yaks cost way less dough than do gas-drinking engines. You do not need a lot of muscle to haul one around, either. Putting a 10’ kayak onto the top of a SUV does not draw the same gas load as dragging a 2,000lb boat on a 700lb trailer. And once you have it, it does not keep drinking money. Not for insurance, not for oil, not for anything. You can buy a used yak for $300 and fish with it for a decade without anything breaking. But since you’re going to save so much money and you cannot carry live bait too easily anyway, give it up and buy all the expensive lures you can carry. You will not feel as bad as we do buying lures after replacing the lower unit on a 150 horsepower Mercury or Honda engine.


Know what the weather is going to do. It’s not like you can look at your radar, determine that a deadly storm is about to endanger your life and the lives of the other people on your (hopefully heavily insured) boat, and run out of the way. You cannot. Know what it’s going to do and do not risk your life. Getting stuck in bad weather in a boat you’re paddling is not – we repeat not – as safe as getting stuck in a boat you can run under a bridge to avoid the lightning. Remember how slow you are, how far you paddled to get where you’re fishing, and plan, plan, plan to safely exit the water and get on the land.

Setting the Hook and Fighting a Fish

The boat you’ve come to love weighs a lot. It’s much like standing on the ground. Even a 16’ motorboat in water that’s rolling a little bit can support a person who stands firmly on the deck. Make it a 21’ Center Console with 8’ of beam, and it is not very easy to get knocked over if you’re careful. Setting a hook is like standing up, and fighting a fish from the solid deck of a good fishing boat is not like setting a hook on a big fish and getting it to a kayak. The first time you hook a 20lb or 50lb fish on a kayak you will understand what we’re talking about. There are opportunities to “mother ship” a kayak onto deep offshore water, where you can easily hook a fifty pound amberjack or shark; kingfish well over thirty pounds are caught every year off beaches here on the West Coast of Florida. So be prepared to learn a new way to set the hook and battle big fish.

kayak fishing

Backwater Fishing at its Best

In closing, we hope we have successfully given you some insight into the difference between fishing a kayak and fishing a more traditional center console fishing craft. The differences are considerable, and go far to explain the growing number of people that rely on kayaks and not gas-powered engines to take them to their target fish.

Of all the differences we see, however, one really stands out. And that’s the ability to fish real backwater. The low profile, the sound (or lack thereof), and your ability to get into really think water with a kayak sets them off from all fishing craft. Try them – you may very well find yourself a member of the growing community of addicted kayak anglers.

The Online Fisherman

GHM logo