Stand Up Paddle Board Fishing – Our Top Tips
Are you an experienced Angler but bored with the same old same old? What about a fresh alternate to getting the kids off their devices? Do you love your seafood but are sick of paying the dollars to wet the appetite? Or perhaps you’re just in need of a change and simply want to reconnect with nature?
Here’s an idea – why not get on board and join the many anglers both experienced or novice who are looking to add a different dynamic to their fishing experience. SUP fishing continues to grow in popularity for many reasons so we thought its timely that we cover off a few bases with some tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your next outing.
The key attributes that you should be taking into consideration when it comes to SUP fishing are the boards overalldimensions which will govern its performance, stability and buoyancy as well as its ability to be accessorised. Without a stable and buoyant platform that you can build on and fully kit out with the necessary fishing accessories, you will be restricting your ability to fully take advantage of the benefits that SUP fishing offers. You should also consider the type of fishing that you plan on doing – fly-fishing, shallower waters etc.
Looking to the boards dimensions, in simple terms, bigger is better. A longer and wider board will offer greater stability as well as room to move around on. This will in part be governed by your height but if you set a base line of circa. 11′ in length and 32″ wide then this should serve as a nice base in terms of weight carrying capacity, stability and buoyancy. Wider boards make a lot more sense so if you are buying a board with its specific purpose being for SUP fishing, then aim for something in the order of 36″ wide as this will serve you well once it is fully kitted out.
Inflatable or Epoxy?
There are pros and cons to both epoxy (rigid) boards and inflatables although it is largely accepted that the benefits of an inflatable outweigh those of an epoxy board when it comes to SUP fishing.
☑️ greater stability given its rigidity
☑️ quieter through the water
☑️ better performance and glide through the water (quicker access to desired location)
– more expensive than an inflatable and typically less durable
– less surface area offering less ability to move around on and accessorise
– large and cumbersome so requires more space when not in use
☑️ easy transportation and storage
☑️ far greater ability to accessorise with multiple D-rings and accessory points
☑️ generally 6″ thick, inflatables offer a higher and typically drier surface to fish from
☑️ greater durability so less prone to damage
☑️ lighter in weight
☑️ softer surface under foot so more comfortable for prolonged periods of time
☑️ slightly higher vantage point when compared to an epoxy board
☑️ greater weight carrying capacity
– less performance – speed, glide when compared to an epoxy board
Some great examples of inflatable SUPs that can be fully kitted out to maximise your fishing experience include:
(1) iROCKER All Around 10′ iSUP
A little shorter at 10′ in length but with a 370 lbs weight carrying capability, great stability and no less than 17 D-ring accessory points including 4 additional individual Action Mounts, this is certainly a board that you can tailor to suit whatever set up you like. It is constructed using iROCKERs proprietary Triple-Layer Composite PVC technology and comes with a quality board accessories package. See our full board review at iROCKER All Around 10′ iSUP
(2) South Bay Board Co. 11′ 6″ Hippocamp Fishing iSUP
Fully kitted out and ready to hit the water, there is little more that you could want for in a fishing SUP. Perfect dimensions offering maximum stability and a capacity of up to 450 lbs, the Hippocamp comes complete with front and rear bungee cargo netting, pre-installed kayak mounts, a tri-fin configuration, ample D-rings for accessories plus 2 x fishing rod holders. Full details can be found on Amazon at South Bay Board Co. 11′ 6″ Hippocampus Fishing iSUP
(3) Atoll Paddle Boards – 11′ iSUP
While the team at Atoll have a limited SUP range, the 11′ all-round board is particularly well constructed to a very high standard and can be fully accessorised. Light-weight at 21 lbs with a capability to carry up to 400 lbs, the board comes with a 2-year warranty, has no less than 15 D-ring accessories mounts and comes with a high quality accessories package. Full details can be found on our board review at Atoll Paddle Boards – 11′ iSUP Review
(4) Sea Eagle 12′ 6″ Inflatable FishSUP
This is pretty much the grand daddy of fishing SUPs. To name but a few of its many features – compatibility to include a SUP motor; in-built fish ruler; 14 x D-ring accessory points; paddle sleeve; huge weight carrying capacity of 500 lbs; removable swivel chair; forward bungee system; fishing rod mounts; huge surface area with dimensions of length 12’6″ – width 44″ – depth 6″ and complete with a 3-year warranty. Full details can be found on Amazon at Sea Eagle 12′ 6″ Inflatable FishSUP
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So Where to Now?
You’ve got your board sorted out but what else should you be considering before you take to the water?
Paddling Experience: if you are an experienced paddler then you will likely be comfortable in varying water and weather conditions so will be quite competent on your board. If you are a relative newbie however, work on your technique until you are comfortable and confident both in terms of balance and stability as well as paddling in choppy waters.
With all of your fishing gear, you will have more weight on your board and it may not be evenly dispersed so practice your paddling, do some test casts, fall off a few times and make sure you can comfortably get back on without losing all of your kit.
Paddle: if you have opted for an inflatable board then the vast majority of SUP packages will come with a 3-piece paddle that can be adjusted to suit your height and paddling style. Cheaper aluminium paddles are not as rigid, will not last the test of time and importantly, are quite heavy.
If you plan on taking to the water regularly or will be paddling reasonable distances, then its worth investing in a better quality paddle. Carbon or carbon composite paddles for instance have stiffer shafts so are far more efficient as well as being much lighter when compared to aluminium ones. Definitely worth upgrading if your SUP package has an entry level paddle only. If you also plan on using a kayak seat, dual bladed paddles are also readily available so purchasing an additional separate blade if you are using a 3-piece adjustable paddle is another worthwhile investment.
Fishing Permit or License: check the local fishing regulations. Don’t run afoul of the law so if you need to be licensed or have a permit then sort it out beforehand and have it with you.
Safety Gear: most inflatable SUP packages already include a leash but whether you are using an epoxy board or an iSUP, wearing an ankle (or calf) leash is very important. In the event you take a spill, your leash will ensure that you and your board do not become separated. Your stability will be further challenged again if you manage to latch on to a serious fish so all the more important that you wear your leash.
Depending on where you will be fishing, many jurisdictions now require that you wear a PFD (Personal Floation Device) when you are on your board. Irrespective, play it safe and wear your PFD at all times. Our review of the 10 Best PFDs for Paddle Boarding gives a rundown on the type of vests, what to look for, as well as a few recommendations.
Be Economical with your Gear: you’ll be exerting plenty of energy whilst you are out there so don’t get all excited and pack the proverbial kitchen sink. Make sure that you are able to securely stow your kit and only pack what you think you will need. You will get better at this over time but the more you take the greater impact this will have on paddling efficiency and potentially board stability.
Have a Plan: most anglers already understand the importance of checking the weather before you take to the water. Wind in particular plays a big part when SUPing – it’s a lot different when compared to a boat or even a kayak. Understand the forecast, have a clear plan on where you will be paddling, where you will be fishing, how long you plan on being out on the water and then make sure that you communicate this to a reliable person who can seek help if needed. Not everything goes to plan either so expect the unexpected as they say.
SUP Fishing Accessories
Above and beyond your actual fishing gear (which we will touch on separately) when it comes to kitting out your board, there are a few ‘nice to have’ accessories that will make all the difference.
Rod Mounts / Holders: fishing Rod Mounts and Rod Holders are a key accessory whether you’re on a paddle board, boat, kayak or even fishing from the beach. While you may be using more than one fishing rod, you will be on your feet for the majority of the time. Having an ability to vertically secure your rod(s) in a holder while you are paddling or on a mount while you are fishing is a big plus. Not only will they be secure, you have limited space on your board so being organised with easy access to what you need is also important.
Anchor: somewhat similar to if you were on a boat although perhaps more important again given that SUPs are far lighter, wind and water conditions can cause your paddle board to quickly drift away from your desired fishing spot. There are a number of affordable light-weight SUP Anchors that securely fit to a standard D-ring so you can firmly plant yourself wherever the fish are biting.
Kayak Conversion Kit: whether you are on a purpose built fishing SUP or an all-round inflatable, the vast majority of quality boards will have sufficient D-rings so that you can attach a Kayak Conversion Kit. Not only does this give you a purpose built seat to sit on, paddling in less favourable water and weather conditions can also be far easier given your lower centre of gravity as well as the inclusion of the second blade that should easily attach to your adjustable paddle.
Paddle Sleeve / Holder: you’ll have a fair amount of kit on your board so having it well-organised so you can freely move around and fish is important. Not only do you want your paddle readily available but it also takes up a fair amount of space. Some boards have side straps where the paddle can simply clip to either side of your board. Separate accessories include sleeves or pockets that attach to coolers for instance or even paddle belts where the paddle shaft slides through a loop hanging off your belt.
Cooler: there are a variety of different options when it comes to Coolers but they are one of the more essential itemsthat you should have when fishing. In the first instance, you’ll be out on the water for a number of hours so having ice to keep your drinks, bate and fingers crossed, fish cold makes obvious sense.
Reinforced PVC coolers can also act as a secondary seating point which on its own is a great benefit. Some have a fish ruler embossed into the lid while others also include multiple fishing rod holders. When looking at coolers give consideration to its storage capacity and the amount of space that it will take up on your board.
Does it include carry handles and tie down points? Is it saltwater resistant? Does it have a drain plug, rubber seals and is it waterproof? In the unlikely event that you capsize your board, these are all considerations that you should factor in.
Lights: as many anglers prefer fishing early morning or in the evening, visibility can be poor. Get yourself a specific waterproof light that can securely attach to your board as this will not only provide a sufficiently lit area for you to fish in, it will also ensure that you are visible to other watercraft. A separate waterproof flashlight and/or headlamp are also useful as they are more portable so can be moved in different directions.
Other Non-Fishing Items
** Clothing & Apparel – spray jacket, hat, sunglasses, towel
** Insert Repellent – dusk and dawn as well as inland water ways are a bugs best friend
** Sunscreen – SPF30+ or higher
** Mobile Phone – including a waterproof case
** Extra Bungee Cord – will always come in handle
** Dry Bag – for loose items and other personal effects
** First Aid Kit – for the occasional slip up with a knife or hook and emergencies in general
** Food and Water – it’s very easy to get dehydrated so plenty of water in particular
We don’t intend to jump right into the actual fishing part of the story as there are many other far more comprehensive sources of fishing information so we will not pretend to do it justice. However, above and beyond your rod(s) and reel(s), some of the more obvious pieces of kit that you should have in your tackle box include:
Pliers: one of the more essential tools given their versatility is a pair of needle nose pliers. Used for line cutting, hook removal and more. Consider the rust factor as well given that they will primarily be used in and around fresh or salt water.
Sinkers: typically made from lead and used for conventional rod and hand line fishing where it is required to weigh your bait to a desired depth in the water.
Hooks: you’ll always be in need of hooks of various sizes and shapes (circle, J-hooks, ringed) as this will give you the option to change it up depending on the type of fishing you’re doing. Its also quick easy to lose hooks in the event you need to cut line or it breaks.
Line: breaks, tangles with debris and other lines is common place when fishing particularly if fishing is shallow or congested waters. Having a line that is able to withstand the types of waters and fish that you are going after is also important. The line strength or ‘test’ as it is referred to is measured in pounds which typically corresponds with the weight of the fish that it can withstand.
Landing Net: not a tackle box item as such but very useful when it comes to pulling in and controlling your fish as you land it. You’re on an unstable surface after all so as the fish get bigger making life easy for yourself certainly makes sense.
Lures: used as an alternate to traditional bait, keen anglers will make a lot of effort when it comes to their lures. Coming in a whole host of sizes, colours, styles and levels of sophistication, some lures are very realistic and mimic fish characteristics very well as they glide through the water.
Folding or Pocket Knife: while your pliers will help you tackle the basics, a knife is always handy when it comes to cutting bait, gutting fish etc.
Measuring Tape: particularly important where there are minimum restrictions and regulations on your catch size. Also helps when you want to exaggerate how big your catch was as well.
Fish Finder: clearly not an essential item but nice to have unless you really know your fishing spots. Some smaller battery powered fish finders are quite affordable and can be useful when fishing from a paddle board given their portability and ease of use.
Pros & Cons on Paddle Board Fishing
☑️ great way to exercise without putting undue pressure on your joints
☑️ inflatable paddle boards are light-weight when compared to a kayak
☑️ iSUPs are incredibly easy to transport and store
☑️ paddle boards are very versatile – yoga, surfing, multiple riders, the kids or even the dog
☑️ vision isn’t restricted or impaired as you have a 360 degree view of the water
☑️ ample room and no limitations or restrictions on casting
☑️ access to restrictive areas including very shallow waters
☑️ less cramped and greater comfort
☑️ the benefit of stealth with an almost silent glide through the water
☑️ SUPs are simply loads of fun when compared to other vessels
– SUPs can be quite expensive when compared to a kayak for instance
– paddle boarding requires a degree of skill – balance, stamina, use of different muscle groups
– plan on getting wet as you might well take a spill
– can be challenging for older anglers – standing up, balance, stamina
– challenging in windy or bad weather conditions
Yet another way that paddle boarding continues to grow in both popularity and its diversity of use. Whether you’re simply into a recreational paddle, like tackling the waves, doing an overnight camping expedition or indeed dangling the fishing line in search of dinner, SUPing is a great way to take advantage of what our many waterways have to offer.
We hope you found this article of interest and as always would welcome your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to you.
Until then, stay safe and get wet.