Yeah, this is quite the controversial headline, but I will not beat around the bush but will get straight to the key reason why.
Fly fishing, and casting a fly rod is best done from a standing position, while kayaks are fundamentally water craft that are primarily designed for sitting. Standing is always an afterthought for kayaks. Stand up paddle boards (SUP) on the other hand are designed with standing first and foremost. They are a watercraft designed to be stood on.
I come from both a kayaking and fly fishing background, and have been doing both for well over 20 years. I love kayaks and kayak fishing, and own quite the stable, they are a passion of mine and when fishing with spinning tackle a fishing kayak is my first choice, but I am even prepared to admit that SUP for most fly fishers are a better craft.
Before getting into the reasons why, I will note that not all SUP are created equal, and some are certainly more stable than others. Getting one designed for fishing will provide a much better casting platform than one designed around performance or lightweight.
The advantages of fly fishing from a Stand UP Paddle Board.
Stand and Sight-Fish:
One of the most exhilarating aspects of fly fishing is the art of sight-fishing. Standing on an SUP provides a unique vantage point, making it significantly easier to spot elusive fish. As you glide across the water’s surface, the elevated position grants a better view of the aquatic world beneath. From spying on trout in crystal-clear rivers to observing tailing redfish in the shallow flats, standing on an SUP enhances your connection with nature and gives you a true hunter’s perspective.
Casting Freedom: A Dance of Precision
Fly casting is an art form, requiring finesse, accuracy, and the ability to dance with your line. On an SUP, you have the freedom to cast unencumbered by the limitations of a kayak’s cockpit. The absence of a restrictive seat or cockpit allows for a full range of motion, enabling you to execute flawless casts with fluidity and precision. Whether executing a delicate dry fly presentation or launching a long-distance cast, the SUP provides a stable platform for showcasing your casting prowess.
Contrast this with kayak fishing, when moving you typically have to be seated. Just how many fish or opportunities will be missed?
Portability and Versatility: Expand Your Fishing Horizons
Fishing kayaks have gotten heavy, and ones that are stable enough for standing often require a trailer to launch. This makes them next to impossible to portage to any pond that does not have a well developed path leading to it.
Fly fishing often beckons us to explore such remote and less-known waters. One of the standout features of an SUP is its portability and versatility. SUP are light enough to be easily transported on a car roof or even deflated and stored in a backpack. This convenience allows you to venture beyond conventional fishing spots, accessing hidden gems that would have otherwise remained unexplored.
Silent Approach: Stealth is the Name of the Game
Both Kayaks and SUP are rather quiet through the water. Although the pedal kayaks do cause more of a rucket which can spook fish. Stealth is a crucial element when it comes to fly fishing success. In contrast, an SUP’s minimalistic design and quiet operation enable you to approach your targets with a stealthy grace. You can paddle silently, making it easier to sneak up on fish without alerting them to your presence. The element of surprise is invaluable in fooling even the most finicky of trout or bass.
Clean casting deck: Less tangles and frustrations
One of the key advantages of using a stand-up paddle board (SUP) for fly fishing is the clean casting deck it offers. Unlike fishing kayaks, which often come with cluttered decks, and especially pedal boats with their mechanisms that seem designed to catch and tangle fly lines, an SUP provides a refreshingly uncluttered space. With fewer obstacles to contend with, you can focus on perfecting your casting technique and immersing yourself in the art of fly fishing.
The counter argument. Areas where Kayaks have an advantage.
Kayaks offer superior storage options compared to SUP boards. This is what makes them so great when fishing with conventional tackle. It is possible to bring a half dozen rods out with you onto the lake. When fly fishing, there is rarely any need for more than one, or maybe two rods. So the kayaks ability to bring a lot of extra gear is not really a big advantage for fly fishing.
Even when fishing from a SUP, it is advisable to bring a cooler out with you. Not only are they ideal to keep a drink cold, but they also provide a handy place to seat and take a rest. Standing and paddling all day does get a bit tiring.
When it comes to speed, kayaks generally outperform SUP boards. The design of a kayak allows for better hydrodynamics, as they sit lower in the water and have a narrower profile. This enables kayakers to cut through the water with less resistance, resulting in increased speed and efficiency.
Kayaks also have the advantage of using double-bladed paddles, which provide a more powerful and efficient stroke compared to the single-bladed paddle used in stand-up paddle boarding. These factors contribute to kayaks’ ability to cover longer distances and maintain higher speeds, making them a better choice for anyone who needs to cover many miles while fishing.
In conclusion, the SUP is the ultimate fly fishing kayak due to its design emphasizing standing, clean casting deck, and elevated position for better sight-fishing. It offers freedom of movement and unrestricted casting motion, allowing for precise and fluid casts, enhancing the fly fishing experience.
Portability and a stealthy approach for fly fishing. Its lightweight design allows easy transport to remote waters, while a clean casting deck minimizes tangles and distractions, allowing for a focused and immersive fly fishing experience.
It’s worth noting that kayaks have advantages in terms of gear storage and speed, making them ideal for conventional tackle fishing and covering longer distances. However, for most fly anglers, the benefits of an SUP far outweigh these considerations