SUP Fishing Tips Compiled From Experienced SUP Anglers

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SUP Fishing can give you that extra edge when it comes to finding and catching those fish that are in inaccessible spots from boats or even kayaks. They are also a heck of a lot easier to transport! Meaning, that fewer expletives are flung as you are carrying your vessel to the shoreline.

Below we have compiled a whole list of expert SUP fishermen as to what their set-ups are, some tips to implement, and how to become a deadly efficient SUP Fisherman.

Ready? Let’s go fishin!

SUP Fishing Accessories

Below are some set-ups that we have compiled to help you get an idea of what set-up to use and where. We also have a separate article on this in our Paddleboard fishing Setup Guide.

Minimalist Fishing Set-up

The above video by Fishingreminder is a perfect illustration of how you don’t need a huge budget or to bring the whole kitchen sink with you on your SUP.

For this setup, all you need is:

  • Lots of Water
  • Fishing Licence
  • Paddle
  • Fishing Rod
  • Lure
  • Backpack
  • Net and/ or Lip gripper
  • Fish bag (recommended if you are out there for long periods) 

With this set-up, there are limitations though, especially when speaking to light inflatable paddleboards. 

Some limitations with this setup include:

  • You can’t fish in windy conditions, especially offshore
  • Rod must always be stashed in deck bungees
  • You must be extra mindful of the currents

In Fact, if you are just starting out I’d recommend just sticking to smaller lakes on calm days first so that you can get used to the movements involved in fetching your fishing rod, casting, etc. 

Pro Fishing Set-Up

This set-up is for anglers that do like to bring the so-called “kitchen sink” with them. For this particular setup to work, you need to find the right fishing SUP for YOU. Thankfully we give you some ideas of Fishing Paddle Boards that can be used with this setup. 

For those who want some bullet points on what to look for in a board:

  • The board should be 11’ long plus
  • 34-36” Width is the sweet spot for stability
  • The board should have a maximum capacity of about 400 lbs or at the very least tested and paddled at that weight
  • The board should have tracks or action mounts to hold things like rods, anchors, and even cameras, drink holders, etc.
  • The board should have an ample amount of free D rings available to strap things like Milk Crates and Coolers and kayak conversion kits

So you have an idea of what characteristics your SUP should have but what the heck do you bring with you? 

Below we will outline what Outdoor Allie uses for her SUP fishing Set-up. We will also sneak in some other ideas for people that have inflatable SUPs.

Fishing Accessories to Bring Paddle Boarding

  • Lots of Water (especially if off-shore) 
  • SUP Paddle
  • Fishing License
  • PFD (If you are not a strong swimmer make sure its a life vest)
  • Whistle (Often required by law) 
  • SUP Leash (Keeps you from losing your board)
  • Action Mounts or Gear Tracks for:
    • Fishing Rod Holders
    • Action Camera Holders
    • Cell Phone Holders
    • Cup Holders
    • Anchors
    • Drink Holders
    • Paddle Holders
    • Fishfinders for Offshore Use
  • Paddle Leash or Tiedown
  • Fishing Rack
  • Fish Bag
  • Gloves
  • Net and/ or Lip gripper
  • Bag or tackle box for
    • Tackle
    • Fish Rulers
    • Fish ruler/ Identification guide for what sizes you can legally keep
    • Fishing line
    • Pliers
  • Sunscreen
  • Milk Crate
  • Cooler for
    • Drinks
    • Dry Gear Storage
    • Livewell
    • Can be used as a Seat
  • SUP Seat/ Kayak Conversion Kit
  • Motor with motor mount

Obviously, it would be hard to try to fit every single thing from the above list onto a paddle board. So choose what you feel you need and go from there. A PFD, Whistle, lots of drinking water, a rod, lures, a paddle, a license, and a bag are essentials though

SUP Fishing Tips for Getting Started

Below are some SUP fishing tips to keep in mind when you are getting your legs water ready for fishing. 

Take Your SUP On Some Paddling Trips First

As tempting as it is to try and strap that fishing rod onto your SUP and go it’s best to start out just paddling the board first. 

Paddle Boards are different beasts from boats and kayaks so it’s best to get used to them by getting out there and just paddling. An Example of the learning curve done by FishAholic Fishing, who never stood on a paddle board can be seen below. 

Before you even put a rod or a cooler on it, take the board out, just you, your vest, and the paddle that’s it!

Palm Beach Pete

When you are out there get used to balance and try mimicking fishing motions. Many experienced SUP anglers say that the best way to learn the limits of your paddle board is to purposely tilt the board and learn its limits. 

You will probably have a fall or two but that’s good! You now know your SUP limits!

Lookup Your Local Laws and See What You Need

Most of the time this means fishing licenses! Most often you can get fishing licenses based on one day, a week, or get a yearly license. The duration, terms, and prices will be determined by each state or province. 

For Example. Florida has separate licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing.

As of 2022 It’s structured as :

  • Resident Annual:  $17.00
  • Resident Five-Year:  $79.00
  • Non-Resident Annual:  $47.00
  • Non-Resident 3-Day:  $17.00
  • Non-Resident 7-Day:  $30.00

Many of these jurisdictions also require that when paddling a vessel like a paddle board you are required to wear a PFD and a whistle.

As quoted by the US Coast Guard:

What boating safety regulations apply to a SUP?

Like any paddlecraft, a SUP operating outside a surfing or swimming area is subject to the NAVRLES,

carriage requirements for PFDs, VDS, sound producing device, navigation lights, and accident reporting.

VDS refers to Virtual Distress Signals and are applied to people SUP fishing off-shore in California. If you are just starting out on a lake you don’t need this. Soundproofing device can be a whistle and navigation lights are required when it’s dark out. 

Just use a simple Google search before heading out to the lake so that you know the laws, licenses and requirements. 

Wear a PFD!

Okay, so we know its required by law to have a PFD but I’m a good swimmer so it shouldn’t apply to me.”

Wrong. The point of a PFD is to have extra flotation in those “just in case” scenarios. 

In fact 75% of paddleboarding deaths in 2019 could have been reverted if the paddler was using a PFD!

What kind of PFD you want will depend more so on you. 

I personally have been wearing vest PFDs for most of my paddling life so I don’t really mind them. I personally like the Onyx Movevent PDF that I have as it’s lightweight, fits well and is pretty affordable. I also appreciated the fact that it came with a whistle (Another item that you are required to have by law).”

– Editor’s Note

But other people hate wearing a vest of any kind as they live in hot climates. Or they just don’t want to mess up their tan (the nerve of those life vests!). For those people, I would recommend a Belt PFD. Onyx makes a Belt pack that inflates as soon as you pull the tab. 

While these belt PFDs do have less of an initial cost you do have to replace the CO2 cartridge every time you use it!

Be Wary of Outdoor Elements

I start the day checking tides and winds.

Bri Andrassy

Outside elements such as wind, currents, tides, and waves are all outside effects that you need to be wary of. You can bypass all of this if you look at the weather and go on a calm day.

If you are out casting and the wind is blowing your SUP you have to try and multi-task by trying to get your paddle to stop the SUP from being swayed. It can often prove to be a bit of a difficult task.

However, you can mitigate some of this by having a heavier SUP with more gear. This is not to say that you will be completely unaffected but it will help you not get bullied by the wind as much. 

Bring a Fishing Buddy

Yes, that includes you lone wolf angler! When first starting out, bring a friend that can help you out. What vessel they use does not matter. What matters more is the fact that their presence will greatly improve your survival rate should something (extremely unlikely) happen.

It’s also great to get inside intel on honey holes that your friend fishes at. 

Choose your Rod Wisely

fishing rod cast

To cover a variety of species and techniques, choose a medium-heavy, six-foot, parabolic rod. Less backbone means I can bring the fish closer to the board without high sticking and breaking the rod. I use a conventional reel spooled with 30-pound braid and four feet of 30-pound monofilament leader. When I’m targeting bluefish, I’ll switch to 100-pound wire leader.

Dan Dejkunchorn (Project Manager Sea Eagle)

The type of rod you use will depend on the environment in which you are fishing and the fish you want to catch. Your Rod choice for offshore fishing will be much different from fishing for bass in your local lake. 

Still, if you want to cover all of the bases a medium to a medium-Heavy rod that is between 5-7 feet should do the job for many types of fish close to shore. 

Fishing and Paddle Board Behavior

3 Must Know Tips for Anglers

1, Have Vertical Rod Holders Easily accessible while standing
2. Don’t be afraid to get off the board and wade, especially if you don’t have an anchor
3. Control Your paddle by keeping it by your side, Use a DYI waist paddle holder

– Luke Simonds (Salt Strong)

Once you are capable of standing and fishing on a SUP, vertical rod holders, like those found on coolers are very handy to have as you don’t have to bend over to retrieve them. If you are a DIY fisherman you can also make your own!

Something you don’t always think about when paddleboard fishing is where to put your paddle while casting. Luke Simonds’s DYI technique is a great idea. Paddle Boards such as Bote HD Aero also have paddle holders that are positioned in a way where you can easily grab it when standing up. 

Hunter Harlow also has some further tips that can help you:

  1. Learn to keep your balance before you start fishing (back paddling forward paddling, casting motions)
  2. Efficiently pack and place gear on your board (things you need access to on the front, things you don’t need as much on the back)
  3. Look for places where fish hunt like eddies, boulders, reefs, piers
  4. Zone placement (place your SUP strategically before you make a cast)
  5. Always keep a lookout for water hazards like sunken logs boulders or anything that you think is shallow enough to get hung up on, fast moving currents

#5 is a big one for me. It is easy to get distracted pitching a cast or reeling in a fish but you also have to keep a lookout for those tricky sunken logs and rocks in the water. 

There have been many times when I’m paddling and out of nowhere an old sawed-off log comes out of nowhere which makes me take evasive action. 

Offshore SUP Fishing Tips

SUP fishing sounds all nice and dandy but what about for offshore use? 

I would only recommend offshore fishing if you already have a decent amount of experience on a paddleboard in offshore conditions or you do offshore fishing with a fishing kayak. 

For those that are still interested here’s a preparation of what you need below. 

Some tips from Palm Beach Pete:

  • Hard Paddle Boards with V Hulls are a must
  • Everything must be secured on the board
  • Get a Gaff for hauling bigger fish up
  • Get a fish bag to throw fish in  as it keeps them fresh
  • Things to Bring with you on your SUP
    • Fish finder with GPS as you get deeper
    • Camera Mount
    • Marine Radio
    • Life Vest / Whistle
    • Flare for Safety
    • Cooler or Drybox
    • Good pair of fishing sunglasses (polarized)
    • Have secure rod holders
    • Lip grips
    • Pliers
    • Cup Holders (bring a lot of fluids)
    • Nightlight with a flag
    • Live Baitwell (must-have for sailfish)
    • Little net
    • Leash
    • Drift Chute (for when you hook bigger fish) 

SUP Fishing vs Kayak Fishing

Somehow as soon as SUP fishing is mentioned in a sentence, kayak fishing is always followed close behind! So what’s better? 

Well my eager paddling friend I cannot tell you outright as everyone’s preferences in what they want will be different! So when should you use a paddle board vs when should you use a fishing kayak? 

When to Use a Paddle Board for Fishing

  • When you want to fish in those harder to reach shallower depths
  • You want a more full-body workout
  • You want something more portable and lightweight to bring with you (Atoll is perfect for this)
  • You want to spot-fish from above (You are able to see into the water much better) 
  • You want to be more stealthy to sneak up on fish
  • You are on a budget
  • You want a vessel that is lightweight to carry to the shoreline
  • Easier to Store in Off-season
  • You want a vessel that is easy to launch

Probably the biggest reason you get a SUP for fishing is the portability and storage factor.  Yes, this is dependent on how much gear you bring and what kind of SUP you have with you. But on a whole, it is much easier to transport a SUP from your house -> to the car -> to the shoreline. 

Another big advantage is that you can spot fish from above like an Osprey before striking! Harry Madison of Bote Boards states:

The paddleboard is perfect for sight fishing grass flats and shallows redfish prefer. I’m constantly looking for movement or a change in water color. I find fish by listening for bait breaking. 

To find tarpon, I paddle along the beach in 10 to 15 feet of water, looking for fish moving along the sandbar. I’ll listen for them to roll or free jump. When I see tarpon, I move ahead of the fish so I have time to set down my paddle and make a cast.”

Now, if you were to sit a brand new angler in a kayak or a paddle board, there is no doubt in my mind that he/she would have a much easier time getting used to a fishing kayak.  This brings us to the question…

When to Use a Kayak for Fishing

  • If you prefer sitting in comfort (many fishing kayaks have custom seats that are ridiculously comfy)
  • You are just starting out
  • You want more room for storage (kayaks come with an assortment of hatches)
  • You want to feel safer while fishing (a lower center of gravity means fewer chances of tipping) 
  • You don’t want to get Bullied by the wind as much
  • Offshore fishing is easier
  • Kayaks come with more options for accessories
  • You want to be more steady when catching a big fish
  • More access to different types of fishing environments 

While this site is paddle board predominant I can’t help but feel that kayaks have their place too in the fishing world. In Fact the kayak fishing industry has taken off by leaps and bounds and they are still more popular for fishing than paddle boards for the moment. 

Another thing that gives a big plus to kayaks is:

Not all paddle boards are going to be easy to fish from (many of the paddle boards today are easy to flip over), whereas most decent kayaks are pretty easy to wet a line from and not worry about falling in with all of your rods and tackle

Joseph Simonds (Salt Strong

And in a way he’s right. If you were to buy a cheap board from Amazon and buy a cheap kayak from the same place, you will probably have a better time on the kayak as it would be the more stable vessel. 

With paddle boards you do have to do your research when it comes to what you pick. Thankfully we already did a lot of this for you when recommending Fishing Paddle Boards!

What Have We Learned?

There is certainly a good amount of information in this article so what are the key things to focus on? We’ll summarize the most important stuff below.

  1. Determine if you are a fishing minimalist or want a more substantial setup
  2. The Essentials are
    • Rod
    • Paddle
    • PFD
    • Whistle
    • Tackle
    • Lots of Water
    • Lures
    • Fishing License
    • Some sort of bag (preferable waterproof for gear)
  3. Determine if a Kayak or a SUP is best for you
  4. When you get a SUP practice on it before going out
  5. Make sure you are in accordance with local laws and jurisdictions
    • Life Vest
    • Whistle
    • Fishing License
  6. Be Wary of Outdoor elements and what they do to the board
  7. Bring a fishing buddy when starting out
  8. Choose the Right Rod for the job
  9. Understand Paddle Board Behavior when fishing
  10. Understand the dangers of Offshore fishing 

Tell us about your fishing plans or setup on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear it!

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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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