Welcome to “Samurai” Fly Shop. If you’re here because you want to learn a better way to sight cast to fish from a kayak or SUP with a flyrod, you’re in the right place. Articles and instruction in, what I call, the “Samurai” System for sight casting with a flyrod, from a SUP or kayak.
Fly fishing from a kayak or SUP can be frustrating, even in a local pond fishing for bluegills, but take that to a higher level, sight casting to redfish in the saltwater marshes, and that frustration can become maddening. When I first tried fishing from my kayak, I was sitting down of course, because that’s what you do in a kayak, you sit. My first challenge was casting from a sitting position. It requires good form without much elbow room to keep tight loops that won’t fall into the water.
Then I made my first adventures into the marsh for redfish. It was a whole new ballgame, heavier flys, longer casts, accurate casting to moving fish, spooky fish requiring quick responses. The first problem I ran into was, the paddle or maybe I should say it in a way Sergeant Snorkel would understand , the %&*# ! PADDLE! It’s not that I hate paddles, it’s just that when you see a fish, you want the rod to be in your hands, not the paddle. The scenario is this, a nice redfish rises out of the depths for what you know will be only a few seconds and there you are holding this paddle instead of a rod. The feeling you get is that you wish Scottie would beam the paddle up to the Enterprise and replace it with your flyrod. It was frustrating for me to spot a fish but after getting rid of the paddle, picking up my rod and making a few false casts to get some line out, the fish was gone. After taking my eyes off the fish to complete these tasks, often I wouldn’t even know where he went. The fish would just be gone or out of range. Most of the time I just blew the opportunity by banging the boat trying to secure the paddle. Just the motion of securing the paddle would scare the fish because moving around in the boat would telegraph my presence. Then of course there were the times when I managed to put the paddle away without scaring the fish and pick up the flyrod only to find the wind had turned me so that I was no longer facing the fish. It was frustrating, but there’s nothing like catching a redfish on fly and the rush from the few fish I was catching kept me looking for solutions. I solved the wind problem by adding bow and stern anchors with jam cleats I could operate with one hand; however, solving that problem just added some new ones because now I had more things to do before I could cast to a fish.
After doing some guided flats boat trips I learned the value of height above the water in seeing fish. I learned the value of really good Polarized sunglasses. I also became aware of the need to spot fish in the water, the ones that are just coming in to range that can disappear without ever being seen.
The clincher for me was one day in the marsh I decided to stand up and stretch my legs, only to see a redfish mere feet away that I couldn’t see until I stood up. I happened to be looking in the direction of the fish when I stood up and the fish just materialized in front of me, making me realize the value in standing. That was the motivation I needed and I became a stand up fly fisher right then and there, and I won’t be going back. Standing up in my kayak and using my new fish spotting skills I started catching many more fish. I was also able to cast to them better because myself and everyone else in the world can cast better standing than sitting. I could even pole the kayak more quietly by pulling myself with the paddle tip in the mud which is far more stealthy than paddling. ”Pulling” through the mud is better because there is no water movement for the fish to detect through his lateral line. The mullet are your indicator. If the mullet are jumping and running before you get to them, you need to be more stealthy. The closer to you the mullet jump, the better.
With these innovations I still had problems to solve. Getting rid of the paddle in a quiet way, stabilizing the boat and getting the rod in hand and ready to cast couldn’t be done without taking my eyes off the fish.
My next attempt at a solution was the purchase of a fixed rod holder to have the rod in front of me in a way that I could grasp it more easily. I quickly realized that I still had to squat down to reach the rod and still had to take my eyes off the fish to get the rod. Sometimes the fly line would foul on some part of the boat. Also the rod was in the way of swapping the paddle back and forth from one side of the kayak to the other when poling the kayak. I also found out it was good for breaking rods. The fixed rod holder found the dustbin.