How To Make A DIY Sail For Your Kayak Or Paddleboard [VIDEO]


This could be the best DIY kayak sail ever made…

If you are a kayak or paddle board angler, I am pretty sure you have had days where you wish you had a motor, or someone to tow you back to the launch because your arms have called it quits for the day.

Before you say “go get a pedal driven kayak or a boat,” just be aware that many people prefer to keep it simple and can’t quite afford those luxuries. We do, however, have ways to make our experiences on the water easier.

First, let me give a little back story…..

When I first began kayak fishing, I didn’t travel more than a mile or two from the launch site.

I also stayed pretty close to the shoreline so that I could just wade back to the launch and drag the kayak behind me if I had to.

As I became more confident with paddling longer distances, I began crossing the lagoon systems over here on the coast of East Central Florida.

On some days, I would easily find myself 5 to 6 miles from where I launched.

What kayak and paddleboard anglers need to always keep in mind is that you have to travel that same distance to get back home, and by the end of the day you will be pretty exhausted.

While out on the water one day with a buddy of mine, we were 5 miles north of where we launched our kayaks.

We had a northeast wind blowing by the time we were ready to head back.

This wind gave us some extra speed when paddling back, but I remember thinking how nice it would have been to have some type of sail….

After getting back home I went through the garage and found an old umbrella I had that was pretty beat up.

diy kayak sail

A little bit of duct tape and it was ready to test out! I went back to this same spot and went the same distance.

The wind was coming from the same direction as before so it was a great opportunity to try it out.

The only problem was the wind wasn’t strong enough to really do much. After I paddled back 2 miles towards the launch, the wind finally picked up.

I was a bit unprepared for what to expect when I popped that umbrella open and ended up in the water as soon as I opened it up.

Note to self: Don’t open the umbrella if the side of your kayak is facing the wind. Make sure you are facing the direction the wind is blowing.

Aside from the quick dip I took, the umbrella worked like a charm and allowed me to sail 3 miles back to the launch.

Tips For “Umbrella Sailing”

diy kayak sail

  • For this to work as efficiently as possible, you will want to have a rudder system on your kayak. This allows for you to steer and keep your kayak tracking in a straight line. This also keeps your hands free for holding the umbrella.
  • Plan your trip with the winds in your favor. For example, if you are going to have a north wind by the time you are heading back, you will want to launch south of where you plan to fish so that you can use the wind to your advantage. Just be aware that not every day will be perfect to use the umbrella as a sail to get back. Weather forecasts can change unexpectedly and the winds may not be in your favor.
  • Never hold the umbrella open to the side of your kayak or paddle board. As I mentioned earlier, this is how I went for a swim as it will tip you over.
  • If possible, use an umbrella that has a vent at the top. This helps keep your umbrella from turning inside out from the wind being too strong. If you notice this happening too often, simply adjust the angle that you are holding the umbrella so it doesn’t catch too much wind.

diy kayak sail

A rudder system is essential for this trick to work effectively

In the following video, I will be showing you how I use this umbrella trick on my kayak for hands-free operation.

You will also see some on the water footage of it in action.

Note: I was able to sail 5 miles back without touching the paddle.

DIY Kayak Sail [VIDEO]

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There’s nothing better than going five miles in a kayak without having to paddle once…

Makes it even better when you can create something like a kayak sail with something simple from your garage.

Although “umbrella sailing” might not ever catch on globally, it’s certainly something I’ll continue to carry around when I’m out in the kayak.

Do you have any other DIY kayak tips?

Let me know in the comments.

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Related Video: How To Get Back In Your Kayak After It Flips Over In Deep Water

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Liz van der Werff
3 years ago

I like your umbrella sail LOL although it’s a lot more work than the one I made. I can just sit back and relax, also I can see where I’m going. Let me know what you think of the one I made. It uses metal conduit and a shower curtain. You can get two sails out of one curtain. You can see how I did it here –


4 years ago

I use line and tie the tips to the umbrella pole.

Michael Teague
4 years ago

This product will work FANTASTIC for this. even has flaps you can unzip and see through! You will be FLYING! lol
Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella, 8-Foot Canopy, Blue

Pete Elbert
5 years ago

Your Video was great. Thanks for sharing. Regarding the umbrella you used in this video….where did you get this…I have looked everywhere and have not found one like this. Thanks again.

Michael Teague
4 years ago
Reply to  Pete Elbert

There’s a product called sportbrella that is super sturdy and is BIG it even has small flaps you can unzip and see through. Use them on my boat for shade sometimes too..Here’s a link for Amazon
Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella, 8-Foot Canopy, Blue

Steven Free
6 years ago

Wow your awesome Tony what a vid never ever thought about using an umbrella as a sail but it does make sense an umbrella would seem to work if applied correctly and even though I do have a peddle driven kayak my legs are sore at the end of the day I have very muscular legs like you do in your arms because while you paddle I peddle and where I mostly use my kayak at guana lake in ponte vedra fl sometimes the fishing can be better farther from the ramp and I travel on average about 5 to 6 miles one way as well anyways as usual you really know your stuff thanks for all you do I’m very glad that I became an inside member as well as a platinum member as well????????

Gary Rankel
6 years ago

Hey Tony……..Another option is the Red Ryder umbrella which has a super strong clamp grip for easily securing it on your yak. They’re a bit small, but I can mount 2 of them side by side on the front of my Wavewalk kayak, and still see between them. They’re less than $20 each, and can easily be repositioned (the long handle is bendable) to better catch the wind. They’re also super easy to store when not in use.

Alan Spolar
6 years ago

How do you navigate? Just can’t see directly in front of you?

Tony Acevedo
6 years ago
Reply to  Alan Spolar

Just peek around the umbrella every now and then, or lift it up a bit and I can see underneath. I was in a no motor zone in this footage and it was open water so didn’t really have much to worry about as long as I kept an eye on the shoreline.


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