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Have you ever had one of those weeks where so many things go wrong that it’s almost funny? This past week has definitely made my list in that regard. Between weekend-long power outages, family emergencies, and upcoming back-to-back business trips, I found myself desperately seeking some form of solace or quiet break to re-focus before hitting the ground running yet again.
I think many of us can relate to fly fishing as stress relief on top of recreation and enjoyment. Something about the quiet, repetitive movement of building up my cast and feeling the subtle tension and comfortable weight of the line while double-hauling has a positively therapeutic effect on my mind. Since my husband and I live next to a lake, we’ve been working on re-purposing our fly casting techniques for kayak fishing.
For this week’s blog, we’re bringing you some simple tips for fly casting from a kayak, and we hope you’ll give them a try next time you go paddling.
First, let’s talk about the realities of fishing on a lake versus a river or stream…
1) Enjoy a more open environment for long-distance casting.
For anyone that typically fly fishes in close quarters, such as heavily forested mountain streams, a lake environment offers a completely different backdrop for longer casts with fewer opportunities to get tangled on a low-hanging branch. I personally loved having a large, flat body of water to practice longer casts and double-hauling without worrying about hooking a tree limb on the back cast.
And for anglers who are used to making careful fly presentations to avoid spooking timid trout, bluegill and bass are much more forgiving. In fact, sometimes all it takes is a Sneaky Pete tossed on the surface near a fallen log for a great afternoon of catching lively bluegill. Sometimes schools of juveniles will jump for a fly as soon as it hits the water, even if the fly is too big for their mouths.
That being said, kayaking on a lake presents a unique set of challenges for casting, which leads to our next point…
2) Watch the back cast!
Since we were sitting closer to the water and making longer casts, we found that the line was more prone to accidentally smack the top of the water on the back cast. And since my husband and I usually go kayaking together, we had to take each other’s position into account when deciding where to cast. Keeping our rod tips pointed upward and allowing plenty of distance between our boats greatly alleviated these issues.
Now let’s talk in more detail about our position relative to the water…
3) Adjust to a sitting position close to the water.
When I’m fly fishing in waders, I have almost six feet of height above the water and usually hold my rod at my center of mass, or about belly button height. In a kayak, I’m sitting about two feet above the surface of the water, which accounts for why it’s so much easier to hit the water on the back cast. Simply raising my hands to roughly shoulder-height while casting and keeping the rod tip pointed upward again alleviated those issues. That distance above water may differ depending on the size of a person’s kayak and whether it’s a sit-on-top or sit-inside model, so feel free to experiment to find a comfortable position.
The kayak itself leads nicely into our next topic…
4) Take the movement of your boat into account.
Fly fishing in waders has the distinct advantage of letting you stand in one place and fish from a fixed, unmoving point until you make the conscious decision to move. Kayaks, on the other hand, change that dynamic by moving according to water currents and wind. Sometimes when the wind would increase, I might have just enough time to make one good cast before the wind pushed me too close or far away from the shore and would have to re-position. Some people might find that juggling a fly rod and kayak paddle feels too much like a circus, so make sure to check the weather with a particular focus on wind speeds and currents before an outing. Stick to coves and inlets that buffer the worst of the elements, or even consider investing in a small kayak anchor.
Kayak movement and wind segues into our last point…
5) Keep a close watch on the wind.
My kayak easily breaks 100 pounds when fully rigged, but even a light, steady breeze can push me along the shoreline like a leaf. The flat, open nature of a lake means that winds can build more quickly over longer distances, compared to a mountain stream with plenty of trees to act as buffers. This concept also applies to kayaking in estuaries, sounds, and other marine environments, as wind can make casting more difficult and push a kayak deceptively quickly. Consider carrying a compass or GPS device to help with navigation if you suddenly find yourself in unfamiliar water, and don’t hesitate to wait out a particularly rough breeze before casting again.
I’ve always enjoyed the quiet solace and displacement from technology that kayaking offers, and combining that activity with fly fishing is one of the most relaxing ways I’ve found to spend a summer afternoon. And if you enjoy kayak fishing and/or fly fishing, stay tuned for our next upcoming blog. Chota is going cross-country to Chama, New Mexico at the end of July to fly fish for trout in the lakes and streams of the high country, so we will be live-tweeting with photos, status updates, and blogs so you can follow this unforgettable experience.
Comment Questions: Do you enjoy fly fishing from a kayak? Do you have any additional tips to share? Feel free to share in the comments below!
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: As we stated above, your resident Chota blogger is flying cross-country starting July 21st to fish for trout in the lakes and streams of Chama, New Mexico, both in kayaks and on foot with some of our most popular Chota products. In addition, we will be field-testing and announcing a BRAND NEW PRODUCT that we are expecting to hit our dealers’ shelves just in time for the holiday season! Make sure to follow our Facebook page, Instagram (chota_outdoor_gear), Twitter (@ChotaChief), and Google+ from July 21st – July 28th for live coverage of the entire trip! Just look for the hashtag #ChotaGoesToChama. We’ll have follow-up blogs afterwards detailing the trip and the results of our product testing, so make sure to bookmark this page as well! Enjoy!
Questions, issues or concerns? I'd love to help you!