DIY Kayak Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks

As anglers, we’ve all been in a situation where we think to ourselves, “Man, I wish I had a boat to reach inaccessible/un-wadeable areas of this river/stream.” Granted, there are many waterways where boats aren’t necessary, but in certain waters, having a boat is absolutely key to fooling fish. Kayaks are easily one of the most portable watercraft in the industry and can be a lot of fun to fish from. Along with the positives, there are also a few downsides to fishing in a stream/river with a kayak. While diving deep into the concept of kitting out our kayak, we found a few DIY tips and tricks to improve your kayak fly fishing experience!

Comfort is Key

As anglers, we all know that it can be very difficult to cast out of a kayak, especially sit-inside kayaks. If you are looking to get into kayak fly fishing, it is advised to get a sit on top kayak, as this will improve comfort and accessibility.  Although sit on top kayaks are easier to use, they can still be tough to cast from. A key tip that will improve your ability to cast and land fish, is to invest in a pair of knee pads. Having knee pads gives anglers the ability to kneel comfortably with fewer restrictions when it comes to casting. Another key benefit to most sit on top kayaks is the ability to stand. If you are familiar with Drew Ross (@looknfishy) on Instagram, he is a very talented kayak fly fisherman who utilizes the ability to stand and fish. Incorporating these tactics on the water will provide more comfort and enhance your ability to catch fish!

DIY Line Management System

Truth be known, kayaks are compact and can be tight when it comes to space. Kayak anglers require extra gear for safety during lengthy trips on the water. This gear can cause issues when it comes to managing your fly line between casts. Traditional stripping baskets can be shockingly expensive but we have an inexpensive and simple solution for you. Head over to your local hardware store and pick up a tarp of any size or material. With the tarp, cover all of the gear in the front of your kayak and tuck one end in your life vest or waders if you’re wearing them. This will create a slight ramp and will prevent your line from getting wrapped around loose gear!

Another affordable stripping basket option could be to use a small Rubbermaid container. Anglers can cut slats on one side to feed an adjustable belt through to strap around your waist. You can pick out a pack of wooden golf tees from your local sporting goods store and use super glue to space them out in the bottom of the stripping basket. Once the glue is dry, you have yourself an easy and affordable stripping basket! Although a stripping basket or catch system isn’t for everyone, they can be very helpful when it comes to line management.

DIY Anchor System

Kayaks are small, portable watercraft’s that seem to have a mind of their own in certain situations. When fishing in a lake or pond, where the current is minimal, anglers can use a traditional anchor to keep them in place. But what happens if you want to fish a river or large stream where there is a continuous current? We all know how that will end if an anchor is used. We have a simple and affordable solution for this exact situation! Again, head to your local hardware store and pick up 5 lengths of 1/4-inch chain ranging from 10 to 12 links. You will also need to purchase a large carabiner and a can of Plasti-dip.

Kayak Drag Anchor DIY
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Step-By-Step Process:

  1. Using fishing line or a similar product to lower each segment of chain into the can of plasti-dip until each link is coated. (This will make the anchor quieter)
  2. Hang chains in a secure location to dry completely.
  3. Once dry, clip off fishing line or equivalent that was used to dip the chains.
  4. Hook each chain segment to the large carabiner.
  5. Use paracord or rope to tie off of the carabiner and then tie directly to your kayak at an appropriate length.

And there you have it! A simple and affordable drag system to keep your kayak at a steady pace in a faster flowing body of water.

DIY Rod Holder

Let’s be honest here, trying to row a kayak while holding your fishing rod is not an ideal situation. Having a way to store your rods while rowing is crucial for the optimal kayak fishing experience. The issue is that most kayaks with built-in rod holders are unable to hold fly rods. We have a simple and affordable solution for you!

DIY Kayak Fly Rod Holder

Steps to Create:

  1. Measure the diameter of your flush mounts in your kayak.
  2. head to your local hardware store and pick up some PVC pipe that will fit snugly into your flush mounts.
  3. Stick the PVC pipe into the flush mount and measure where you would like your rod to sit.
  4. Cut a thin strip out of the pipe (wide enough for your reel seat to slide into) down to the mark in which you’ve made. The strip should be about an inch in width. The cut should start at the top and go the entire way down to the mark in which your rod will sit.
  5. After that, you can line the pipe with padded protection material of your choice.

And there you have it, a simple solution that will allow you to fly fish from your kayak more effectively! Some kayaks may not have flush mounts built-in which will require a little more work but this can be done affordably.

Key Tips while Fly Fishing in a Kayak

We all know that fly fishing out of a kayak can be difficult at times, but there are ways to effectively utilize its capabilities to maximize your ability on the water. Here, we highlight a few key tips that will help anglers on the water when using a kayak.


  1. Choose a kayak that is right for your angling style.
    • It is necessary to select a kayak that is suited for fly fishing. This will be a sit on top kayak in most cases.
  2. Keep your gear under control.
    • Minimizing your clutter will help you become more successful on the water. Be sure to utilize the tarp line management system as talked about earlier.
  3. Utilize rod holders.
    • As state previously, having a rod holder will become very useful while on your next kayak trip. DIY holders get the job done but if you’re willing to spend some extra coin, there are rod holders made specifically for fly rods.
  4. Anchor yourself in safe locations.
    • In order to keep yourself safe, make sure you are anchoring your watercraft in a safe location. If on a lake or pond, position yourself upwind of the current. This will ensure safety when anchored.
  5. Keep your backcasts high and false casts to a minimum.
    • Keeping your backcasts high will prevent you from snagging anything that may come in your way. Limiting your false casts will also ensure fewer hang-ups and will prevent spooking fish.

Fishing from a kayak is a great way to test your abilities and to venture into areas that you may have never fished. With everything, kayaks can be expensive. By utilizing these DIY options and tips, we hope this will enhance your time on the water!

Written by Content Team Member Grant Michaels. Check out what he is up to here!

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