People have been surfing on standup paddleboards for centuries. But fishing from a standup paddleboard is a recent development. When standup paddleboards moved inland, anglers jumped on an opportunity to grab a board and a fishing rod and hit the water. The demand for fishing paddleboards has soared in the years since.
Standup paddleboards are light, shallow-draft and simple to operate, which makes them perfect for some types of fishing. Spotting structure, casting a lure and fighting fish is easier when standing. And a paddleboard can enter water too shallow for other boats and kayaks, maneuvering through oyster beds, stump fields and weed-choked ponds.
Finding the right paddleboard for the kind of fishing you like to do requires careful consideration. In addition to the typical board considerations of shape, stability and durability, anglers are also concerned with capacity, deck space, attachment points and all the specialized fishing features that have become standard on fishing kayaks.
There are now hundreds of fishing paddleboards on the market. In the guide to the best fishing paddleboards below, Kayak Angler will help find the one most suited to you.
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The exploding popularity of paddleboards has spawned a wide variety of SUPs for all types of fishing. There are fishing paddleboards for inshore, offshore and rivers. You can get a hard board or inflatable paddleboard. Fishing boards cost from $300 to more than $1,500. To find the best paddleboard, the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide lists every angler paddleboard on the market, including specs, prices, reviews and where to buy.
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How to Buy a Paddleboard for Fishing
Standup paddleboards come in different sizes and shapes to match a variety of applications. While an angler can fish off almost any paddleboard, one designed for fishing will have specific features. Here’s what to look for.
To accommodate casting and fighting fish, stability is one of the top priorities of anglers. Standup paddleboards for fishing are usually 10 to 12 feet long and between 32 to 40 inches wide. All other elements being equal, a wider board will be more stable, offer more deck space for mounting fish-friendly features, and have a higher maximum weight capacity. Of course, wider boards are also usually slower and less maneuverable than narrower boards.
To further increase weight capacity, standup paddleboards for fishing are often thicker than other types of paddleboards. To improve straight-ahead tracking, the paddleboard’s hull may feature channels or a shallow keel, and also a removable fin in the tail.
Most fishing paddleboards are designed to fish sheltered waters, like back bays, marshy ponds and slow-moving rivers. Inexperienced and casual anglers will be more comfortable in these friendly environments. However, there are some standup paddleboards designed for fishing in open water. The boards feature a deeper hull with a pointed, flared nose to cut through the chop.
One of the most popular types of paddleboard for fishing is the hybrid, mixing the design of a SUP and a sit-on-top kayak. Hybrids combine the wide, flat deck of a SUP with the deeper hull of a kayak. Many of these versatile hybrids have a seat so anglers can paddle the board like a kayak, then stand up and fish like a SUP. The latest generation of paddleboard setups for fishing are powered by a pedal drive or electric motor.
Fishing Paddleboard Cost
Fishing paddleboards range in price from $300 box store inflatables to $1,500 models constructed with excellent craftsmanship and quality materials. In general, boards at the very cheapest end of the spectrum will float but offer little paddling performance, while premium paddleboards at the higher end should provide high performance and comfort-minded fish-all-day features. In most cases, you get what you pay for—a cheaper fishing paddleboard can be sold at a budget price because it’s made with lower-grade materials and a lower-quality design. This means the paddleboard will be more susceptible to damage and often less fun to paddle. Stick to more reputable brands, if possible.
Fishing Paddleboard Accessories
While you can fish off almost any paddleboard, a paddleboard designed for fishing will have a large, flat deck with space for a cooler or gear crate. Angler paddleboards include mounting options for rod holders, cup holders, an anchor system, electronics and other accessories. Gear tracks allow you to add and remove accessories between trips.
Rigging a paddleboard fishing setup can also be as simple as adding an adjustable rod holder to keep your rod secure and off the deck, and using the bungee cords in the bow and stern to secure a gear bag or tackle box.
Another popular fishing paddleboard setup includes an anchor system. Carrying an anchor and rope isn’t practical with limited space, and deploying and retrieving the anchor from the SUP is tricky. Instead, we recommend a stake-out pole. To stop and hold the paddleboard in place, jam the pole into the sand or mud and tie it to the board. You can even use the pole to propel the board in shallow water. Some fishing boards feature space and rigging for an automated anchor system like Power-Pole Micro anchor. Mount the receiver and pole to the tail of the SUP and push a button on a remote control to drop the pole and stop the kayak.
Fishing SUPs can be rigged with just the basics or to the max. A single rod holder and a tackle box are great for quick trips and easy fishing, but you’ll want to add more if you want to go farther and fish harder. Learn more about fishing paddleboard setups.
Once you choose your setup, add a life jacket, paddle, safety lights and whistle before getting on the water. Discover the best life jackets for the type of fishing you do.
Fishing Paddleboard Buying Guide FAQ
With so many options for fishing paddleboards, we often hear from readers asking for fishing paddleboard buying advice. Here are a few of the more common questions we receive about how to buy the best fishing paddleboard.
Can you fish from a paddleboard?
Yes, you can fish from a paddleboard. Most SUP anglers fish farm ponds, marsh creeks, gentle rivers and other sheltered waters close to the launch. SUPs are also great for hike-in fishing. Adventurous anglers carry the board and a handful of tackle to a hard-to-reach fishing spot. When it comes to fishing backwaters and hidden honey holes, a fishing SUP is perfect.
However, paddleboards have some limitations. A paddleboard doesn’t boast the range or seaworthiness of a fishing kayak. Its low, flat hull is victim to wind and waves. And standing and paddling a SUP requires more balance and coordination than sitting and paddling a kayak. Paddleboards also have less space and capacity for gear and accessories than many fishing kayaks. This is the reason hybrid SUP-kayaks are so popular for fishing. The design combines the best aspects of a kayak and a paddleboard.
Are inflatable paddleboards good for fishing?
Inflatable paddleboards are very popular for fishing due to their portability and convenience. They can be easily transported in a trunk and stored in a closet when deflated. Inflatable paddleboards designed for fishing have mounts for rod holders and tie-downs for gear. Some inflatable paddleboards include a seat and pedal system. High-quality inflatable fishing paddleboards are almost indestructible, making them a good choice for bouncing down rocky rivers that would scratch or dent a plastic or fiberglass board.
Best paddleboard length for fishing
Longer paddleboards go faster with less effort. But, a long paddleboard is more challenging to turn in tight spaces. Longer boards can also be more complicated to store and transport. Most paddleboards for fishing measure between 10 and 12 feet long.
Best paddleboard width for fishing
All other aspects being equal, a wide paddleboard is more stable than a narrow board. On the other hand, a wider board requires more energy to turn, and its speed and glide won’t match a narrower board. Wider boards are also heavier. Most fishing paddleboards range between 32 and 40 inches wide.
What size paddleboard is best for fishing?
Before choosing a paddleboard for fishing, you have to do some math. After considering the length and width of a fishing paddleboard, evaluate its capacity. Popular fishing paddleboards have maximum weight capacities between 200 to 400 pounds—that’s a big range. Shorter, narrower and thinner paddleboards will have smaller capacities, while longer, wider and thicker paddleboards will have larger capacities. Carefully consider the kind of fishing you want to do and the gear you will bring on the water with you. For optimal and safe fishing, the combined total of your weight and the weight of your gear needs to be under the maximum capacity of the paddleboard.
Are there fishing paddleboards with motors?
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can add a motor to a fishing paddleboard. The best option is a compact and powerful jet impeller. These motors are smaller than a shoebox and attach with various mounts. You can install a motor in the paddleboard’s fin box or attach a motor to a tiller mounted to the board’s tail. Larger fishing SUPs and hybrid boards offer space and rigging to add a trolling motor or electric outboard. A few fishing SUPs are designed with a motor included. Where there is a will to add a motor to a paddleboard, there is a way.
Fishing Paddleboard Reviews
Choosing a fishing paddleboard isn’t easy. Unless you can paddle the board, you won’t have the opportunity to evaluate the performance, rigging, quality and appearance before the purchase. Luckily, Kayak Angler’s experienced anglers and an army of readers have tested the best paddleboards for fishing. In the space below, we’ve collected the most helpful fishing paddleboard reviews to help you confidently make the decision.
- First Look: Vibe Uptown 100 Lite
- ICAST First Look: Feelfree Airship
- ICAST First Look: BOTE Rackham APEX
- Vibe Cubera 120 Hybrid Fishing SUP Review
- Hobie Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight Inflatable Kayak Review
- Boat Review: Kaku Voodoo Fishing Kayak, SUP And Skiff
- BOTE LONO Aero Inflatable Fishing Kayak Review
- Sea Eagle FastTrack Angler Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Kaku Zulu Hybrid Pedal Drive Kayak Review
- Sea Eagle’s SUP Cat 10
Feature photo: Kyle Mesdag/Unsplash