Paddleboard Fishing Setup

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You’ve been fishing from your kayak for a couple of hours when you notice an untouched, reedy spot that looks promising. You’d like to paddle to it but can’t. The kayak is simply too big and clunky.

Just then, you watch as a neighbor fishes from a paddleboard. He quietly and expertly maneuvers his board right into the spot you wanted. No problem. Moments later, you hear him land a nice-sized trout.

That could have been yours.

Maybe you’re considering ditching your kayak in favor of a paddleboard. Or perhaps you’re willing to add a paddleboard to your arsenal of fishing craft. If so, keep reading because we’re going to go deep into the best Paddleboard Fishing Setup available for those just starting out.

Looking for a Fishing Paddle Board? We got you here!

Paddleboard Versatility

Standup paddle board (SUP) fishing may be the fastest-growing leisure activity on the water today. As you venture to your fishing locale, you are likely to see more people casting from paddleboards now than at any time in the past. 

Photo From Salt Life Paddle Board Fishing Set Up Video

There are several good reasons for this. 

  1. Paddleboards are light, tough, and stable. They offer easy access to areas often left untouched by other fishing craft. Plus, they’re fun to maneuver, create a solid workout, and are easy to transport. 
  2. SUP fishing can be as fun on quiet waters of the California Delta or along the coastlines of Canada. 
  3. Fishing from a standup paddleboard gives fishermen and fisherwomen almost limitless opportunities at their fingertips. Anglers can adjust and modify practically any variable of the fishing experience to gain peak angling results.
  4. To begin with, when someone is standing up on a SUP, they have higher points, more expansive views, and the ability to cast in any direction
  5. Standing allows those out on the water to gain a clearer panorama of excellent spots that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  6. Fishing seems more natural from the standing position. It’s easier to cast and land fish grounded with both legs underneath you than sitting down.
  7. Anglers can also easily modify their environment. They can spend the morning fishing on the ocean or in a saltwater bay, and by the afternoon, quickly pivot to a crystal-clear freshwater lake
  8. SUPs allow you to choose either spin or fly fishing because you can customize them to fit just about any angler’s needs. 
  9. SUPs are agile, so they’re a better companion when trawlers decide to shift positions on the fly or cast from a narrow inlet.
  10. Other advantages of a paddleboard are its smaller size and lighter weight. Individual fishermen and women don’t require any help carrying a SUP to and from the water.
  11. SUPs fit nicely on top of or in the back of a jeep, truck, or SUV. Inflatable boards easily pack into their own carrying cases.
  12. Paddleboards are not just versatile for various types of fishing but also for other diverse kinds of activities. SUPs provide a base for and a conduit to other enjoyable hobbies, including yoga, touring, racing, and navigating whitewater. 
  13. They can provide a regular dose of meditative bliss while awaiting fish to bite. They also offer a bit of workout while paddling to and from those idyllic spots. 
  14. There may be nothing more cathartic than paddling a board out to a quiet spot away from the crowds for those who enjoy getting out on the water.
  15. Likewise, there may be nothing more refreshing than keeping your balance and wits about you while reeling in the catch of the day.

Standup paddleboards meet an array of needs and wants.

What Makes a Good Fishing Paddle Board

There are two basic shapes of paddle boards: All-Around and Touring. Both can be modified for fishing although most fishermen prefer All-Around or wider fishing specific boards.

All-Around

All-Around paddleboards feature a raised, round nose, called a planing hull. It juts slightly out of the water to create a natural buoy against choppy waves as you paddle.

The base is a bit wider than people’s normal stance. This gives the board good balance, and it allows any rider to plant their feet solidly beneath the shoulders firmly.

Its design allows paddlers to cruise lakes and rivers with ease and provides a strong option for beginners.

One drawback: it’s a little bulkier than other boards, so it’s also a little slower.

Touring

Touring paddleboards come with a pointed nose, called a displacement hull that cuts through the water. This feature makes them quite a bit faster.

It still provides ample space to ground your legs beneath you, but it is more challenging to balance because the water pushes around the board.

Touring boards are designed for more experienced paddlers who want to go quickly across the water and cover further distances.

One drawback: because it’s longer and straighter, you might lose some maneuverability and stability.

For beginners its a tough ask to be balancing on a SUP touring board.

Ideal Paddle Boards for Fishing

Inflatable SUP

Inflatable paddleboards can be blown up or collapsed as needed for easy transport and storage. They even come with their own carrying cases or travel bags

But just because they are inflatable doesn’t mean they will pop like a toy in your backyard pool. These SUPs are super durable, made from military-grade PVC that is nearly impossible to puncture. 

*Remember to bring along a battery-operated pump, or one that plugs into your car lighter, or you’ll be exhausted before getting on the water.*

Sea Eagle FS 126 Fully Rigged!

There are a variety of options in the marketplace:

  • Nixy – The 9’6″ Huntington combines stability and performance in a lightweight frame. It boasts two layers of PVC with reinforced carbon on the sides yet only weighs 18.75 pounds. That means you can do arm curls with it and not get tired.
  • iRocker – The Blackfin XL board is 35” wide and can carry up to 450 pounds. Another board made of dual-layer, military-grade PVC, you can practically hear the drill instructor telling you how safe it is. 
  • Sea Eagle – The FS126 is the fishermans dream. It featured 4 rod holders, and can stage 2 people on it! They wern’t messing around with a board that has tons of carho room and a 500 lb maximum capacity!
  • Bluefin – The 12’ board is made so durably it can withstand up to 28 PSI of pressure. That means you can practically put a stocked refrigerator on it, and it won’t sink. It also includes a fiberglass paddle. 
  • Bote – The HD Aero 11’6’” board is a family-friendly alternative that weighs about 20 pounds while maintaining rigidity, stability, and performance. You won’t have to worry whether it’s your son, daughter, or grandpa out on the water. It’s going to keep them afloat. 
  • Fish Stalker – The iStocker features a “three chamber” catamaran design that will support 500 pounds on a 12’ by 34” frame. It comes loaded with extras, including eight threaded inserts and a bevy of D-rings for accessories or coolers. It’s set up so the fish can simply jump on board. 

Rigid SUP

An epoxy/fiberglass SUP is sturdy and solid. It’s ready to hit the water as soon as you get there and get it off your car rack.

As its name implies, the board is stiffer than any inflatable. And stiffer boards can go faster than inflatables. They also can handle better in various water conditions.

But epoxy SUPs are also more challenging to take on extended vacations, especially if you’re planning to fly. The cost to transport a rigid paddle board is almost like buying another round-trip ticket.

Here are a few of the best rigid SUPs on the market:

  • Cruiser – The Xplorer Woody utilizes a polycarbonate shell with fiberglass and Kevlar construction. It holds up to 325 pounds so that a good size cooler can tag along for the ride. 
  • Stand On Liquid – The Hudson comes in two colors, moss green and tiger orange, which have a surfer’s vibe and can be seen far away. It even features a recessed carry handle for ease of movement. 
  • Connelly – The Echo includes a cargo area with places to attach bungee cords and a 9” center fin filled with glass. A little heavier at 34 pounds, it can hold up to 260. 
  • Pau Hana – The Big E-Z Angler provides a 36” wide stable platform to land your catch, 25 accessory attachment points, and four through holes. The company has also trademarked its new impact-resistant technology.  

Whichever paddleboard you ultimately choose to outfit for fishing will provide a wide range of motion for casting your line. It will also allow you to rotate 360 degrees at any time while on your feet. 

Remember to select a board that will ultimately meet the weight capacity of both you and your gear. Boards can accommodate between 200 and 500 pounds. 

Expect to spend at least $600 for a good SUP Fishing board. Prices go up from there, with $1,100 the approximate average for an excellent initial SUP setup.

Now, think about a paddle. Most come in carbon or fiberglass. If you expect to stand and paddle, make sure it is the correct length for your height and wingspan, so you don’t have to bend over and hurt your back.

Some anglers like to use their spare kayak paddles, so they can sit in a chair or on top of their ice chests to maneuver their SUPs into position.

Either way, experts say a stiff and light paddle will improve efficiency. 

Essential SUP Fishing Accessories

Once the decision to go with a rigid or inflatable SUP is made, then it’s time to choose what type of gear you want to furnish it with. There are lots to choose from.

You can adapt each fishing paddleboard individually with seats, storage, rod holders, and coolers. They can have small anchors attached and a place for small motors if the need arises. 

It really is up to you.

Experienced paddleboard fishers say a few pieces of safety equipment should always be on board. 

Below is a list of things no paddleboard fisher should ever be without.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

The U.S. Coast Guard requires PFDs on many bodies of water. The reason is apparent. PFDs keep people afloat when they fall into the water. And everyone falls off a paddleboard occasionally.

There are fishing specific life vests you can use that feature more pockets, lashes and tabs. These can be used for lures, bobbers, pliers, whistles, line or anything else you need within arms reach.

Fishing PFD’s are a bit bulky for normal SUP use but if you are using them for fishing it saves you some room in the tackle box.

Ankle Leash

Many paddleboards have this attachment included, and it’s a big help in keeping the board from wandering off.

Whistle

This handy device will alert others when you are in trouble. It is also mandated in many governing bodies. So don’t get caught without one!

Anchor

Add a sturdy but small anchor to keep your SUP secure at your desired spot. Doing this allows you to focus on fishing. Otherwise you may be caught fumbling your paddle just to stay in one spot!

Many SUP Fisherman say this is the most practical accessory you can bring with you! Anchors within the 3.5 pounds range will do the job.

Cooler

An ice chest is a requirement for all day fishing excursions. You can use them to keep your lunch or your beverages cold.

You can also use it to keep your catch nice and cold until you’re ready to gut and clean.Although I reccomend you compartmentalize it a bit of you are using it for both!

A word of caution though, SUP Coolers are ideal for wider paddle board builds and higher maximum capacities. If you have a SUP that has something less than a 200 lb max capacity you may run into some issues.

Tackle Box

What fishing experience would be complete without a place to hold your lures, reels, extra line, tools, tape, etc.? You are fishing, after all. 

The size of the tackle box depends on how much gear you want to bring. Ususally smaller to medium sized tackle boxes work well on paddle boards.

Scotty Mounts

iRocker Mount

Also known as hands free fishing. Have a few rods going at the same time to increase your chances of a strike.

Add sturdy rod holders to the board so you can bring more than one rod. This prevents you from losing them if the waves get strong or you simply lose balance. You might also want to set down your rod to take a break, eat lunch, or hydrate.

Many good quality paddle board maufacturers have deck mounts that you can screw these rod holders into. If you don’t have a SUP that has those accessories than there are rod holders you can attach to your cooler.

The list does not just stop at rod holders though, you can also add drink holders, camera mounts, phone holders, Go Pro mounts.

Most of the above ISUP choices features these mounts.

Flashlight with batteries

This is in case you begin before sunrise or stay out past sunset.

Add-On Fishing Accessories That Make Life Easier

Now that you have the essentials taken care of, there are many other items you may wish to bring along on your paddleboard fishing expedition. Here is a list of things many paddleboard fishers find irresistible:

Stabilizers 

Add an outrigger to keep the board steady. This vital piece of equipment means you can comfortably take on bigger fish without any fears of tipping over.

You can find some of these on Amazon. They are ususally good for most SUP’s but check for size restrictions

Seat

Add a detachable chair to rest your legs once when you begin to tire out. You can also place portable back supports on top of your cooler to turn it into a seat.

While many sizes fit all the more well thought out ones are from SUP manufacturers like iRocker, Nixy, Thurso SUP and Bluefin. For more details on the kind of seat you should get check out our Best Sup Seats post.

Fishing Net

Once you land a fish, you want to be able to get it on the board and into your cooler.

The size of your fishing net depends on a few different criteria:

  • Where you are fishing
  • They types of fish you are looking for
  • The size of your paddle board

When it comes to paddle boards, the more portable the better.

Drift Chute

Add a small umbrella or parachute to the back of the board. This slows your drift as you get closer to the fish. below is a video demonstation on how to use one.

Paddle Holder

Add a mount for your paddle because balancing it on your lap isn’t practical, and leaving it loose on the board will likely mean it will slip off.

As they say, You don’t want to be down Sh**’s creek without a paddle!

Dry Bag

Add another insulated bag to prevent your fishing license, extra clothes, and other items from getting wet.

There a ton of different sizes and choices you can choose. They are also a relatively inexpensive item to have.

At this point theres almost no excuse not to have one, because when you are out on the watwer you never know!

Cell Phone Case

Add a waterproof case for your cell phone that can be hung around your neck or elsewhere. This way, you can get to it quickly and take those important photos or text your spouse.

Bungee Cords

Add some tension cords to keep everything secure to the board.

Many boards come with these bungee cords. All the ISUPs in the above list come with them,

Motor

Many fisherman will start off paddling and then ask themselves wait? Why am I doing that? I gotta keep some energy for the fishing! There are many SUP’s that are compatable to use with motors like the Sea Eagle FS126 in the above photo.

When you get close to your destination, lift the motor and quietly paddle to the shallows.

Barbecue

Putting this on the list is a bit optimistic but hey, sometimes its great to use your imagination! This set-up is recommended for bigger SUP’s that are stable as a tank. 

SUP Tackle Rack

irocker fishing rack

This lightweight (4 pounds) rack can take the place of stand-alone rod holders and provide a couple more places to hang equipment.

Fanny Pack

These versatile little bags that hang on your waist can hold important documents, like your ID, keys, or cell phone.

As you become more familiar with your board and through trial and error, you will find the right amount and size of the gear to enjoy your time on the water thoroughly. 

If this list is overwhelming to you don’t worry, there are plenty of fisherman who are minimalists who do just as well!

Paddle Board Fishing Tips

Make sure to get ready for your SUP fishing trip in advance, so you have all you need and want when you are out there trolling. Nothing ruins a trip more than having to go back to the car or bait shop to get things that should have been on the board, to begin with. 

  • Next, check the weather forecast ahead of time. Even if you usually like to fish in the rain, it’s a bummer when you didn’t expect it and brought the wrong clothes. 
  • Check the water conditions, too. You should consider wind, current, and tides before you paddle off on your route.
  • Take the time to familiarize yourself with your new paddleboard before taking it out on a full-fledged fishing expedition. Ensure your SUP’s safety when you get on and off it.
  • In addition, practice balancing and steadying yourself on the board a few times before you add gear. Take it out and paddle for a few minutes to gain comfort on the board. 
  • Then, add some elementary gear, such as your pole and net. Try casting and reeling from the SUP to ensure you can do so without falling off. 
  • Once you are comfortable, load more of your gear on the paddleboard. Get the feel. Try different combinations of gear locations to discover what works best. 
  • Pack all accessories and gear at least the night before your trip so you can wake up and go.
  • Don’t forget to take bottled water and snacks along to keep hydrated and energized. 

Expect the unexpected. Have a backup plan and an emergency plan in case things go wrong. Hopefully, they won’t. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing like the convenience of a handy SUP to provide a refreshing and relaxing fishing experience. 

You can easily store paddle boards on days when you’re not on the water. If you buy an inflatable SUP, simply fold it back into its carrying case and find an empty spot in your home or garage. Then, toss it in the trunk for transport.

If you decide on a rigid/epoxy paddleboard, you can store it in the corner of a room, on a special rack, or in the garage. It can also be easily attached to the roof rack of your car.

If you can, keep your SUP inside because sunlight and temperature changes tend to affect the foam and fiberglass over time. 

You want your SUP to last. And it will if treated appropriately.

Moving at a stealthy and leisurely pace, open to the world around you, you can enjoy the scenery of lakes, rivers, and other waterways like never before. 

It can seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be.

  1. Pick the right board and paddle. 
  2. Pick the right accessories for personal comfort.
  3. Practice moving about the water without falling overboard — practice casting and reeling from the standing position.

Then, let your imagination run wild and dare to venture into those places you’ve only dreamed about, where the fish are plentiful and unsuspectingly susceptible to being hooked and reeled in. Good Luck

Got any fishing recommendations? Feel free to tell us in the comments or Facebook page!

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Author:
Hey, My name is Derek Lenze and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports and over 10 years of various paddle boarding experience. My new-found passion is bringing my stand up paddle boaring knowledge in an explainable and actionable way all the while giving you my unbiased takes.

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