Rigging skill: kayak fly fishing

I fell in love with fly-fishing from a kayak while floating in a foot of water, picking off striped bass one by one without spooking the school. Fly-fishing can be one of the stealthiest tactics, but it takes some prep work. These tips can help you fall in love with a whole new style of fishing, frustration free.

How to fly fish snag free

Fly line will snag on rod holders, anchor trolleys and accessories—even an angler’s appendages are fair game. Cover sharp points such as pad eyes with smooth rubber end caps. Clear the front of your PFD and cover any loops, latches or buckles with a piece of tape.


A stripping basket is great for preventing snags, but it will get in the way in a kayak. Build a stripping apron that lays across your lap or across the deck and clips to pad eyes on the gunnels. Cut a square piece of fine mesh netting to your kayak’s width, burn the edges with a lighter and secure the clips with paracord to the corners. When you don’t need it, roll up the apron and stuff it in a hatch or seat-back pocket. A towel or shirt can also work in a pinch.

A SUP or kayak rigged for fly fishing a snag-free deck and a cooler to stand on.
A SUP or kayak rigged for fly fishing a snag-free deck and a cooler to stand on. | Photo: Ken Hoeve

Give yourself a leg up when kayak fishing

For a better view when sight casting, stand on a cooler. Yeti Coolers makes a Cooler Tie Down Kit that will secure almost any cooler to the kayak deck. The kit uses a single tie-down bracket and a standard one-inch strap through the cooler handle. The system keeps the cooler in place without taking up much room on the kayak. Squirt a little silicon sealant in each bolthole before tightening down the bracket.


Paddling from atop a cooler requires a longer paddle. Accent Paddles’ Transformer Pro paddle switches from a kayak paddle to stakeout/push pole and to a full SUP paddle. I use it to paddle up on a school of fish and then stake the kayak to make my cast.

Tips for making your kayak more quiet

Fish can’t hear an angler talking or playing music, but they can hear a pair of pliers landing on the deck. For a comfy and quiet ride, I installed SeaDek foam padding. I used one of the pre-cut kits made for my kayak, but you can make a template and SeaDek will cut padding to fit any boat.

Crates and rod holders get in the way; instead I use a small fly box that holds the best flies and a few tools. Montana Fly Company’s Boat Box will carry a day’s worth of flies and make a fashion statement. Stuff the box under your stripping apron and you’ll look like a pro.

Add a big caribiner to your belt loop to store your rod temporarily. It will add stealth and save time when a school sneaks up on you.


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