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Why Fly Fish From a Kayak

by Scott Jontes

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As kayak fishing becomes more popular by the year, naturally fly fishing from a kayak is also growing in popularity. When I decided to start kayak fishing I knew I would incorporate my passion for fly fishing to the kayak. Fly fishing to me is one of the most rewarding types of fishing you can do. I love the whole experience of fly fishing, from tying my own flies and leaders to making that well placed cast to a fish and watch it take fly that you tied.

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At times a kayak can give you the ability to get closer to the fish than you can with a boat, and it surely can get you into places that a boat is not able to go. I honestly prefer to fly fish from a kayak because, it’s just you and the fish. It’s the ultimate game of cat and mouse, and you’re solely responsible to find the fish and to get yourself into position to make the cast. That is the big draw for me is to do all the work by myself and when all of those things come together and you have the satisfaction of catching that fish, it’s such a feeling of accomplishment.

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Fly fishing from a kayak is not difficult but it can be a challenge and that is how I feel people should look at it. You should challenge your self to leave your regular set up at home and only take a fly combo with you. It will take you out of your comfort zone and could open up a whole new world of fishing to you. You may try it and end up not liking it, but it could also lead you to a new passion in the world of fishing. It will surely add another arrow to your quiver that you may want to pull out and use from time to time.

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You can set your kayak up in multiple ways for fly fishing and honestly it all comes down to your own personal preference. I like to keep my kayak very clean and clear, I do not have rod holders or any other mounts on my kayak other than a camera pole. If you do have something on your deck that fly line can get hung up on IT WILL. This is one of the biggest issues you will run into while fly fishing is your line management. You have all of the extra fly line laying on your deck just looking for something to get snagged on. A few of the ways you can help to deal with this issue is to use a stripping basket or a stripping mat. You can buy ready made stripping baskets, or you can make a DIY one from a collapsible laundry basket that you can buy at Walmart or Target. One advantage of a collapsible laundry basket on the kayak is you can stow it away so it does not take up room when not in use.

Just like the stripping basket you can buy a pre made stripping mat or you can make one yourself. I decided to make a stripping mat for myself using a rubber floor mat and wire nuts and I have been really happy with it. You can look up online the many DIY ways you can make either a stripping basket or mat. You can also look into stripping baskets that you can wear or that can attach to a stand up bar if you have one rigged on your kayak. Another thing you can do to minimize your fly line getting caught on your kayak is to lay a towel on your deck to cover any hatches, snags or even peddles.

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If you are new to fly fishing it can be helpful to go to a local pond and start out catching Bass or Bream to help you to learn how to play a fish and to manage your fly line. This helps you to learn to cast efficiently with no added pressure before you get out on the water with your kayak. If you are not able to stand in your kayak you can practice by either sitting in a low chair or even on the ground to help your back cast to not hit the water behind you. Obviously casting from the seated position has a few disadvantages compared to being able to stand up and cast but can still be plenty effective. On the kayak you are adding a lot of factors when a fish takes your fly and in a short amount of time. You have to make sure the fly line does not get snagged on your kayak while your fighting the fish and trying to keep yourself balanced. I would recommend being comfortable with all of the things before you head out on your kayak with the fly rod.

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To get started in fly fishing you do not have to break the bank to get your first set up. You can get good starter combos for under $200.00 that come with everything you need to get on the water. As you progress in fly fishing and get a feel for it you can then step up to a more expensive combo that will suit your casting style. A good all around fly to start out with would be a Closuer Minnow. It will catch anything and not only are they inexpensive but they are also very easy fly to learn to tie if you decide to get into tying your own flies. A few other good patterns to start out using would be shrimp fly patterns and also any of the Enrico Puglisi flies. If you do get interested in tying your own flies I highly recommend getting yourself a good quality vise. Starting out tying your own flies can be expensive to start but you will save money in the long run. I find that tying my own flies can very relaxing and it is a hard feeling to beat when one of your flies you tied caught that fish you were after.

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If you do decide to go down the rabbit hole of fly fishing I will warn you that it can consume you to the point that it is all you can think about. It can become such an obsession in your life that it can lead to multiple fly combos that can range from a 1wt for trout or panfish to a 14wt for Marlin or Sailfish. You will have vises, leader material for tying your own leaders, multiple boxes of fly tying materials and boxes and boxes of flies that you tied. You will find yourself constantly day dreaming about getting that next cast. But if you ask me all of that is not a bad thing