As paddle boards continue to grow in popularity, more and more water sports are being adapted for use with SUPs. Some companies are even adapting their SUPs for specific sports, chief among them being the ever-popular pastime of fishing. Pole mounts, fishing seat racks, and other accessories that improve the fishing experience are being incorporated into paddle boards right out of the box. Even without the latest innovations, many boards are already well suited for those who want to change up how they’ll spend their time fishing at their favorite water hole. However, no matter how much experience you have at fishing, there are certain things you’ll want to know before heading out on an SUP and trying your luck at catching a bass or two.
Benefits to Paddle Board Fishing:
For many would-be fishers, the greatest barrier of entry is the lack of a boat to get out on the water. From how expensive boats can get to the hassle of getting them in and out of the water, many find that the cost and effort of just getting on the water will make fishing too difficult to enjoy. e SUP fishing makes fishing an easy, inexpensive, and fun experience from the moment you set foot on the shore to the second you’re ready to pack things up. With a SUP, you can get to places a fishing boat can’t for a much smaller price. SUPs are easy to transport, and can get you to the lake, on the water, and out of it far quicker than a boat. The struggle of waiting in a boat line will never be a concern for those who opt to use an SUP instead.
Sneaking up and finding fish is much easier with a SUP as well. Kayaks and boats block the view of the fish, and are quite noisy as well, scaring any fish they do get sight of. SUPs give a top-down view of the lake and are far less obstructive, making it significantly easier to find fish to catch. Because SUPs glide over the water, they cause less noise and water movement than boats and kayaks, meaning the fish you do find will be less likely to swim away as you make your approach.
Lastly, there are many fishers who find boats and kayak fishing a cramped and uncomfortable experience. With a SUP, you can sit, stand, stretch, and have plenty of space to move about without worrying about your transport floating away. Standing up can also give you the added strength needed to reel a fish in as opposed to the sitting position of a kayak, and the deck pad of your SUP will be far more comfortable than the benches of most fishing boats. We find that the activity on a paddle board also kept our bodies limber and free from the pain that comes from using a kayak or boat for an extended period of time. Finally, if you’re just having bad luck or grow bored of fishing, your paddle board is structured to allow you to do a variety of other activities with little to no change with your board configuration.
Things to be Wary of with Paddle Board Fishing:
While many UPs offer plenty of storage space and weight support, it will be less than what is typically offered by fishing boats and kayaks. Depending on how much you bring with you, you may need to downsize the amount of equipment you bring out fishing in order to maintain space and stability of your SUP. Bringing out all the gear typical of a boat will likely overload your SUP, so make sure just to bring the bare essentials with you if you give SUP fishing a try.
SUP fishing can be also more of an intermediate to advanced paddle boarding sport. Those who fish from their paddle board have to maintain balance and stability while casting, reeling, and handling fish. There’s a lot of movement that occurs, and those who aren’t used to balancing and the stability of their board might find themselves getting a little wet! Make sure you’re experienced and comfortable with your paddle board before you try paddle board fishing. If you’re a beginner and still want to give SUP fishing a shot, make sure you purchase a stable SUP (we would recommend an inflatable SUP such as the BLACKFIN Model X or BLACKFIN Model XL)
In addition, you can always go for some side inflatable supports as well that will give you maximum stability on your SUP. Most, like the AIRHEAD SUP Training Wheels, are universal in size and are easy to fit over most stand up paddle boards. They’ll make fishing from an SUP almost as easy as fishing from the shore, especially for beginner riders going out for the first or second time.
Lastly, a SUP is not as well suited for fishing in bad weather conditions or choppy waters as a kayak or boat. Heavy winds will blow you across the water and make balancing on top of your board even harder than it usually is. Choppy water will also be difficult to maneuver through and tire you out quicker than being on a kayak or boat would. If you’re going out on an SUP to fish, try to stick to the best weather and calm water conditions for the best possible experience.
What do I need for Stand Up Paddle Board fishing?
For the optimal fishing experience, look for wider and longer boards. Stability is the most important factor when it comes to paddle board fishing, followed by cargo space, weight support, and the ability to glide across the water. Larger all-around boards, cruising boards, and multi-person boards will all be great for fishing. For those who are serious fishers, several companies also produce SUPs designed specifically for the sport. These boards are usually around the mid to upper price range of SUPs, but are still significantly cheaper than fishing boats and on par with fishing kayaks.
Because of the gear you’ll be bringing, and the possibility of taking home a fish or two, you’ll also want to make sure you have a weight capacity that can handle you and your equipment. While the true weight capacity of boards vary, a general rule is to keep at least seventy-five pounds more than your own personal rider weight for maximum fishing stability of your SUP.
Some paddle boards, like this year’s Blackfin Model X and XL, or the ISLE Sportsman Inflatable, come with integrated mounts that will hold your fishing rod. While a few SUP fishing kits come with the rod holders themselves, most of them do not. Our top recommended rod holders are those that will hold your rod at a vertical angle, so you can easily pick up and put down your rod as you fish. Be sure to check whether your preferred rod holder can be installed with a Scotty mount, a D-ring, or by some other method!
You will also want to invest in a paddle leash or holder. You will be switching from your paddle to your rod all the time, and your goal will be to try to minimize your movements as much as you can. Not only do you want to try to preserve your energy, but the less movement you cause the less likely you are to scare away the fish as you move across the water. Further, the last thing you would want to do is trip over your paddle as you try to reel in your catch. Paddle leashes and holders are great for a variety of other SUP activities as well, so it’s a great investment if you’re considering other SUP sports as well.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider an easy to drop anchor or sand spear if you’re keen on SUP fishing. Finding fish is hard enough, and you don’t want your board drifting away from a prime fishing spot once you’ve found it. When you’ve caught a fish, you also don’t want your board getting in your way as you’re trying to handle your catch. Keeping your paddleboard from floating all over the water will also keep it from scaring away the fish. When you’ve found your fishing spot, an anchor or sand spear will improve the stability of your board, especially if you’re fighting a larger fish that’s rocking it all over the place.
An easy to drop anchor or sand spear can also help you stay upright if you’re interested in SUP fishing. Anchors and sand spears are multipurpose tools, making them a great variety investment for serious or dedicated paddle boarders looking to try multiple SUP sports (they also would help with SUP yoga, if you are interested).
None of the accessories above are mandatory, but they will help you have a better and easier time fishing. Also, make sure that all of your gear you use for fishing can be secured to your SUP, whether it be in the cargo bungee area or by some other method. At the very least, you’ll need space and cords to be capable of securing your gearbox if you’re going with a traditional rod setup. For those who are intending to keep the fish they catch, something to store snacks in, or want a raised makeshift seat, securing a cooler to your SUP would be a good idea as well. Whatever you bring though, you will eventually take a tumble, so make sure that you can protect your equipment against the water in the event your board does tip over.
Inflatable Versus Hardboard SUP Fishing:
If you haven’t bought a paddle board yet, you’re probably wondering which is better for fishing. The answer is that it largely depends on your preference.
Inflatables offer greater weight capacity than hardboards, making it easier to bring out your fishing gear with you. Fishing inflatable SUPs also tend to have more mounts and fishing options pre-installed into them compared to a hard SUP. Fishers who don’t have a lot of storage in their car or home will find it easier to store an inflatable SUP. Finally, you’ll have more durability with an inflatable SUP, and less total weight in your overall fishing SUP kit compared to a hardboard.
A hardboard SUP offers greater performance, including superior tracking and speed compared to an inflatable. Hardboards can handle choppier water settings better than an inflatable can, if you prefer to fish in some less than pristine ocean settings. You’ll be able to get in and out of the water faster with a hardboard, if you can fit it on your vehicle. Finally, hardboard SUPs tend to be more maneuverable than inflatables, and also handle windy situations betterWe would not recommend taking inflatable or hardboards out to difficult rivers for fishing.
Otherwise, the techniques and gear setup you’ll use to fish from an inflatable or hardboard will be largely the same. SUP fishing can be a great experience on either, so figure out the option that’s better for you overall before you make your choice!
Major Tips for SUP Fishing:
Once you got your gear ready and you’re on the lake, there isn’t too much difference between traditional fishing and SUP fishing. However, we do have some tips that should help you have a more enjoyable time, and even help you reel in the big one:
- Prioritize learning how to stabilize yourself on an SUP. You might be excited to get out there and fish, but you won’t catch much if you fall over every time you try to take your rod out. Practice on a mat at home or in a safe water setting the gestures and moves you’ll need to make while you’re fishing. Wading is an option in shallow waters, but you’ll need to be able to stay on your board and reel once you’re in deeper zones.
- Always make sure your equipment is tightly secured before you throw your first cast of the day. Even the most experienced SUPers will topple over from time to time. Most SUPs come with a bungee cord cargo area, and some even come with mounts to install your fishing rack. It doesn’t hurt to take a few seconds to check that everything is securely locked down before throwing your first cast of the day.
- Remember to check your local fishing laws.SUP fishing is easier for many fishers because they do not have to worry about the licensing that comes with operating a boat. However, even if you’re on an SUP, your local fishing laws will still apply to you. Always read up on what you’re allowed to do, and make sure to purchase tags and have them on you or your SUP when you go out fishing.
- Lastly, remember to enjoy yourself and just have fun! One of the top reasons many fishers switch over from boats and kayaks to SUPs is because they’ve found SUPs makes it easier to enjoy their natural environment. ASUP is less disruptive than a large and noisy boat, and nowhere near as restrictive as the typical kayak. If you’re looking to have a good time, and want to try a new way of fishing, then SUP fishing may be the perfect sport for you!