Your new fishing kayak is a thing of beauty. Even if it’s a used boat and has more dings and scratches than a teenager’s car, to you nothing could be prettier. You have the kayak and the gear, but how do beginner anglers start the long process of becoming expert anglers? Kayak Angler gathered up the top tips from the pros to help you have more fun on the water from the start.

10 Expert Tips for Beginner Kayak Anglers

1 Try Before You Buy

As for a tip, I would say, before buying a new kayak, try out your friends’ or attend a demo day at a local paddlesports retailer. If you purchase your first kayak without the forethought, you might either dislike kayak fishing based on your kayak experience or need to drop more coin to replace it sooner than necessary.

an angler fly fishes from an Eddyline Kayak
Take a test drive before you buy to make sure you’re getting the right kayak for you. | Photo: Courtesy of Eddyline Kayaks

Just because it’s a super cool, popular model, that doesn’t always mean it’s perfect for you. You test drive a car before buying one, to see how it feels on the road, test drive a kayak to see how it drives on the water.

John “Toast” Oast, NuCanoe and YakAttack pro staffer, founder of both the Pennsylvania Kayak Fishing Association and the Williamsburg Kayak Fishing Association in Virginia. He owns

2 Ask Lots of Questions

Whether it’s on a forum, social media page or at your local dealer, most don’t mind answering questions. It can’t hurt to ask. Also, before drilling your first hole or inserting the first screw when installing or rigging anything on your boat, sit in the seat and test the hardware in different places to find the best place for you. There’s nothing worse than mounting a rod holder only to find you hit it on every paddle stroke.

– Jody Finley, Bison Coolers, Xcite Baits and Slumberjack pro staffer and brand ambassador for Yak-Tribe.

3 Stay Safe, Have Fun

Always wear your PFD no matter what and keep all limbs inside of the boat unless you’re wading on the flats and take plenty of water. Most importantly, have fun, it’s not a business it’s a passion.

– Kwanza “Kayaking” HendersonOcean Kayak, Victory Lures, D.O.A. Lures and Rat-L-Trap pro staffer.

4 Bring a Buddy

Find a fishing buddy to go with. Not only is this better for safety’s sake, but it will also allow you to cover more water, compare notes, and that buddy can be an extra set of hands to capture that Grip and Grin photo.

– Brad Hole, Hobie Fishing Top Gun, RAM Mounts, Costa Sunglasses and Kokatat Fishing Team member and owner/operator of

two kayak anglers fish together
Fishing with a buddy is better for safety’s sake, but it’s also more fun. | Photo: Courtesy of Old Town Canoes & Kayaks

5 Learn a Proper Forward Stroke

It’s the first stroke a beginner needs to learn and learn right. Once learned your fatigue will decrease and your efficiency will increase while paddling on the water.

– Jon Leavitt, Jackson Kayak, Accent Paddles, Astral and YakGear pro staffer.

6 Know Your Limits

The most common thing that gets kayakers into trouble on the water is inexperience with the conditions at hand. In that context, know your limits, it will take some time to build your comfortable level in a kayak. This level of comfort may be influenced by your health, weather conditions, water conditions, and other factors.

It is important to not bite off more than you can chew, as one bad experience can ruin it forever, and kayak fishing is too much fun to quit! Always put safety first and err on the side of caution. That being said, we all have learning moments in our kayaks that are due to poor decisions. Have fun, learn, and work your way up to the tough stuff!

– Drew Haerer, Wilderness Systems, Columbia Sportswear and Bending Branches pro staffer and owner/operator of

7 Avoid the Inner Thigh Sunburn

It’s a lot harder to stay dry when fishing from a kayak than from a boat, so put some thought into your paddling attire. Some shin- or knee-high rain boots will help keep your feet dry when launching, or you may even go with full waders or dry pants so you can get in and out of your kayak in shallow water without getting soaked. Also, there’s rarely shade available when kayak fishing, so always cover up, especially your shins, legs, feet, and head. Skin cancer is no joke.

– Robert Field, Owner/producer of Yak Fish TV, host of Field Trips With Robert Field and a professional kayak angler and videographer.

SUP angler holds up a snook
Beginner anglers are advised to keep a close eye on sun protection. | Image: Courtesy of Sea Eagle

8 Take It Easy

Slow down and take your time. Kayak fishing is a fairly slow sport with a lot of moving parts. Casting with change, not having the availability to get up and run to a new spot changes, and visually the hunt changes. By mentally preparing yourself for the “slow” you’ll be less frustrated and more collected.

– Christina Weber, Hobie, Biovex, Nite Ize, and Pelican pro staffer and owner/operator of Fishing With Christina Weber

9 Learn Your Spots

My best advice for new kayak anglers is to slow down and really work and learn an area. Learn the depths, ledges, points and potholes. Using a Power-Pole Micro Anchor is a really effective way to slow down and really figure out an area. Once you cover every inch of of the area then you can use the info of where you found the fish to help out with the next area.

– Brandon Barton, Hobie pro, tournament angler, YouTuber and kayak fishing guide for

10 Up Your Efficiency

My top tip would be to practice efficiency with your rigging and gear selection in your kayak. An efficient set-up equals more time and more fish.

– Kevin Workman, Hobie Top Gun, kayak fishing guide and 2014 Midwest Kayak Fishing Series Grand Champion.

If you’re a beginner, try these tips to help you join the ranks of expert anglers sooner. | Feature photo: Courtesy of Eddyline Kayaks




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