You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and you can’t go fishing on a standup paddleboard without eventually falling overboard. With the proper precautions and a dose of situational awareness, falling off your SUP is just part of the fun.
Learning to fall off of a standup paddleboard is just as important as learning to get back up. First, prepare to fall off by wearing an appropriate PFD. Before loading your gear and getting underway, practice falling off and re-boarding the SUP.
When you feel yourself lose balance, do not try and grab the board for support. Don’t try to land on the SUP. Your last action before falling should be to try to jump into the water feet first. Water is softer than plastic and fiberglass. If you are holding a rod or paddle, keep them away from your head as you enter the water. Grabbing the board or attempting to land on top of the board can break bones and dislocate joints.
Once you’re in the water, you’re still not out of the fire. Be sure to cover your head with your arms as you resurface to avoid striking the bottom of the board or hitting a sharp fin. If the water is moving or the wind is blowing, reach for the board before it shoots away, and don’t let it sail back and smack you in the melon.
The easiest path back onto the board is over the tail. Pull your upper body onto the board and let your legs float to the surface and then belly crawl onto the deck. If your board has a crate or leaning post, climb back on from the nose. Keeping your gear secured to the board will make it easier to get back on and ensure you don’t lose any essentials in an upset.
SUP STARTER TIPS
KEN HOEVE, WERNER PADDLES PRO STAFF
“To land a fish from a SUP, bend down on one knee, stay in the center of the board and use the rod to swing the fish onto the deck.”
TAYLOR ROBERTSON, WERNER AND KOKATAT PRO
“A standup paddleboard has a shallow draft, but going into water skinnier than the skeg can damage the board. Hitting bottom can also cause the angler to lose balance and fall.”
DREW CAMP, JACKSON PRO STAFF
“Keep it simple. There is no need to bring your entire garage full of tackle on your SUP. Only a few tackle boxes and one or two fishing rods are plenty when going out on a SUP.”
CAPTAIN LINDA CAVITT, PRO GUIDE
“I lash all of my gear to the board. I carry dry stuff in a Yeti cooler or dry bag. I use carabiners to attach pliers and fish grips to the dry bag.”
This article first appeared in the Early Summer 2015 issue of Kayak Angler magazine. For more great kayak fishing content, subscribe to Kayak Angler’s print editions and digital editions, download issues on your device or view this issue for free on your desktop here.