5 Things Anglers Regret Not Knowing When They First Start Kayak Fishing

By: Joe Simonds on February 13, 2017
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kayak fishing

Did you see the “Ultimate Guide To Buying A Fishing Kayak”? (you can see it here)

It’s certainly the most comprehensive kayak fishing guide out there!

But we forgot one thing…

We forgot to mention the top five mistakes people make when buying a new fishing kayak… things that most kayak anglers wish they knew when they first starting getting into the sport.

Although there are multiple mistakes that I see many kayak anglers make (and I’m guilty of some of them myself, especially this first one), here are the top five.

1. Most Kayak Anglers Are “Fishermen” Before They Are “Kayakers”


I remember the first time I went snowboarding…

I thought that just because I was really good at wakeboarding that I was going to start shredding on black diamond runs the first time I went snowboarding.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

I needed to make a ton of adjustments (such as learning how to completely shift my weight from the back to the front and use my balance in different ways), I needed to learn about snowboarding safety, and the snowboarding equipment was completely foreign to me.

The same goes for kayak fishing.

Most people new to kayak fishing have some sort of experience with fishing (or in some cases are very experienced fishermen).

Unfortunately, they lack the knowledge and skills for safe and efficient kayaking.

Not knowing how to choose the proper kayak and paddle, having proper paddling technique, and not knowing how to re-enter your kayak if (and when) you do fall out in deep water, are just some critical skills that need to be learned before you attempt to fish from your kayak.

So don’t just assume that because you are a great fisherman that it will be easy to fish out of a kayak.

2. Do NOT Install Accessories Until You Have Tested Your Kayak Out First

kayak fishing mistakes

The last thing you want to do is buy all of these fancy accessories for your kayak, install them, take your kayak to the water, and then you realize you have no use for half of them (or they are placed in bad locations).

Once you start putting holes in your kayak (as most accessories require screws and bolts and/or rivets to install) you start decreasing its value, especially if you want to sell it and upgrade down the road. 

In addition, if you have to relocate a rod holder, for example, those holes are left where you originally placed it. You can seal them or put screws in their place, but it is best to have items installed in the proper location the first time around. 

Take your kayak out multiple times to get a feel as to what items would be most useful, where the best locations would be to mount them, and to be sure they do not get in the way of your paddling.

Most importantly, be sure nothing is installed that would be in your way if you had to re-enter your kayak in deep water.

3. ALWAYS Try Before You Buy

kayak fisherman

Always test out your kayak before you make the purchase.

I’ve yet to find a good kayak retailer that won’t let you test out a kayak first (they all have demos available, and if they don’t, you might want to find a new retailer).

This is critical because as soon as a kayak gets wet, most retailers will not accept returns.

With that in mind, be sure to check the return policy at whatever location you purchase your kayak from. You don’t want to be stuck with something that you are not happy with.

Buying A Kayak Online

If you buy a used one online, ask the seller if they can meet you at a lake, pond, etc. so that you can test it out.

If they won’t let you test it out, it would be a red flag in my opinion.

4. Don’t Go Cheap On The Paddle (And Don’t Forget Your Paddle At Home)!

kayak paddles

Pretty simple: Don’t go cheap on your kayak paddle. The paddle can make your break your kayak fishing experience. Good paddles enhance your trip while cheap, heavy paddles will kill your arms, back, and even your hands.

I’d go out on a limb and even say the caliber of your paddle is much more important than the caliber of your kayak.

Regarding forgetting your paddle, this is pretty much self-explanatory, but very easy to do.

Note: We will all do it at least once.

When you load up your gear, your paddle should be the first thing you put in your vehicle.

I have started to just leave it in my vehicle at all times so I know it is always there.

Even if you have a peddle drive kayak, it is highly important to be sure you have your paddle with you. If your peddle drive malfunctions or breaks, or you get into really shallow water, you will need to be able to paddle. You can’t rely only on the peddle drive itself.

5. Know Your Limits

kayak fishing mistakes

This rule applies to purchasing a kayak AND when you are out on the water.

When purchasing, be sure you are physically capable of handling whatever kayak you may choose. I’ve seen too many people buy kayaks that they can’t carry or load.

If you will be loading the kayak on the top of your vehicle on your own, you have to have the physical ability to do so. Get a feel for how much they weigh and what you can handle.

As for being out on the water, keep in mind that if you venture out 3 miles, that’s an extra 3 miles to get back.

Also, distance adds up as you begin to fish. You will find yourself turning, going into creeks, going in circles to revisit spots, and so on.

Be sure to test your limits, and it doesn’t hurt to take your kayak out (with no fishing gear) to just exercise and help build up your endurance.


Hopefully, you learned a few things that most experienced kayak anglers wished someone had told them back when they started.

And even if you do forget your paddle, just know that it’s happened to the best of us.

Anything else I left off?

Let me know any other kayak tips that you wished you knew when you started.

Tight Lines.

Related Post: “The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Fishing Kayak (Must Read Before Purchase)” – see it here now

QUESTION: Are You Making One Of These 6 Mistakes When Fishing From Your Kayak? Find Out Here.

inshore kayak fishing survey

P.S. – If you think your angler friends or fishing networks would like to see this, please Tag them or Share this with them. You Rock! Pa-POW!

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Scott BrooksKyleAnonymousDavid RisbergLuke Simonds Recent comment authors
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Scott Brooks
Scott Brooks

It’s important to understand what kind of water you’re going to “typically” fish before you purchase your kayak. Are you a lake/pond fisherman or are you going to fish streams and rivers. The style of kayak you purchase will greatly impact your ability to control your boat. This is more important if you plant to fish streams and rivers more frequently as a kayak designed for these waters will perform better on a lake than a lake kayak will perform on a stream.

Kyle Hazelwood

I use my kayak to hunt and fish and I’m pretty rough with it. I have an Native Watercraft ultimate 12.
It has four things about it I love: light weight, comfort, simplicity and durability. I’ve fished out of it all day. Duck hunted out of it. And even hauled full grown buck deer in it.

Wanna see some pics of my adventures with it, look at my instagram accont hazel10779…

Richard Devereaux

Other “top” mistakes to consider:

– Personal Flotation Device: what kind? What co$t? Comfort?
– Safety: Float Plan left with others? Checking tides, weather/wind conditions forecast immediately before launching? “Water-tight” stowage of personal I.D., vehicle keys, etc.? Means of emergency communication? Ability to re-enter kayak in the water in the event of a capsize? Appropriate apparel/footwear protection depending on conditions? Rehydration fluid(s)? “Visibility”: will you be easily be “seen” by others (motor boaters, airboaters, etc.)? Adequate first aid kit?

Storage space on a fishing kayak is VERY limited: be sure to allow for enough storage space for important safety-related gear BEFORE using up precious storage space for miscellaneous fishing-related gear.

And of lesser importance (and perhaps more of a personal preference)…rod butt length:

I can comfortably stand in my kayak and often do so – to see, to cast and retrieve, etc. But I don’t ALWAYS stand. And I’m one of those yak anglers who wears a (auto-inflatable “lower profile”) PFD 100% of the time. Over time, at times I’ve found a “typical” rod with a “typical” butt length (yeah, I know there’s some variation but not a significant variation) to be “awkward”, the butt “too long”, especially when seated. Now I seek out rods with shorter butt lengths. Manley Rods makes baitcaster and spinning rods with adjustable length butts which I think are ideal for kayak fishing.

Luke Simonds

Great tips Richard!

Dave Risberg

Great recommendations. Think of a way so you NEVER forget your paddle or pedal system. A lanyard on the paddle, if you lose it you’ll be surprised how fast it swims away… After losing a few rods from my kayak I have foam wraps around them to keep them from sinking. You can buy colorful ones or you can but 1/2 inch foam water pipe insulation. This is clack of grey and use a zip tie to fasten it down. You can cut these to fit various rod length.


“ThInk of a way so you NEVER forget your paddle…”?
That’s something I’ve not done (yet) but can’t imagine ever doing. My paddle is stored IN my kayak – that way I can’t possibly load my kayak without the paddle.
If all else fails, make a hard-copy check list of everything needed to take along. Make it a habit to review the checklist each and every time.