Stand-up for Fly Fishing

I made some notes about stand-up vs sit-down fly fishing from a kayak this weekend.   I wanted to make a short trip to a friend’s lake for a little bream fishing and my Kajun Kayak was hanging up in the garage but my 14.5 foot sit-in which I have had for about 20 years was outside on a rack and easy to get to.  Actually it is the kayak I started with years ago, I bought it primarily for deer hunting and then turned it into a marsh red fishing kayak when I got the bug around 2002 or 2003.  The photo below is my son using the yak, which is not really designed for stand-up but it works well regardless.


The issue with my sit-in is that I can’t wear my belt because the stripping bucket doesn’t fit when I sit down in the yak.  That is actually why I made the stripping bucket fit onto the rod holder with just velcro, it’s easy to yank it off and put it on whenever I stand up and I figured other kayakers would have that same problem.   My son uses my old kayak and so I had him in mind.    Before the new foam bucket, I used a blue bucket version which had straps that just hung on the rod holder.  It was really easy to take off and put on so I made the foam bucket easy as well.

Of course this weekend I was just bream fishing and so when I got tired I just sat down in the yak since I wasn’t sight casting.  I was pulling the bucket off and just letting it sit in my lap as I stripped line into it.


Now that I use my system all the time, regardless of whether I am sight casting or not, I really feel that folks are missing out by not using some kind of stripping bucket for line management.   I was able to bring the fish in and keep my line in the bucket and my casting was not hampered by the line hanging up in the boat.

The experience made me appreciate my Kajun KC12 which is the best kayak for stand-up which I have used so far, but the point of the article is that I also made several observations while sitting and fishing that I guess I had just forgotten about :

  • Sitting in a SINK, it is more difficult to use the double haul adequately while sitting down.   I was constrained by the sitting position and had little movement for hauling.  Combined with the fact that I couldn’t roll my shoulder much either, my casting style was really cramped.  Of course for bream, it didn’t matter, but it made me remember the days when I tried fishing in the marsh sitting down.
  • I had to keep my elbows slightly elevated to avoid contact with the boat and it was tiring and of course it was hampering my casting.
  • Stripping the line in to work the fly was hampered by the sitting position.  Bream fishing I was just using slow, short strips, but working a sighted red fish is more difficult, sometimes requiring long and fast strips.  I remember attempting it in my early days, when I wasn’t very successful at sight fishing with a fly rod.

Of course, many newcomers to kayak/SUP sight casting with a fly rod just don’t realize all of the benefits standing provides so I thought I might list them:

  • Seeing the fish.  The most important benefit.  Sitting down you are primarily looking for tailers, crawlers, wakers and backers.  Fish “out” of the water in other words. Those are all bonus fish, gravy.  Of course you look for them and cast to them, standing or sitting, but to really catch fish in satisfying numbers you must sight fish in the water.  There are far more fish to be seen than there are actively out of the water and you will see the most by standing.  You will also see them further away than when sitting. Every little bit of distance you can add to the sighted fish will give you an advantage to working him.
  • Poling or “pushing” the boat.  It’s far easier to manipulate the boat in shallow water while standing and for stealth the kayaker should push or pull the boat.  Putting the paddle in the mud and pulling against it is the best practice.  This is far stealthier than paddling which swishes the water and puts vibrations in the water the fish can feel.  In my opinion, the swish of the paddle makes vibrations like a shark or porpoises’ tail, not much can spook a redfish more than that.
  • Perspective.  Standing and casting to the fish you will have a much better perspective of the distance.  As I was bream fishing while sitting I thought I was casting right against the vegetation, but once I stood, I could easily see that I wasn’t casting nearly as close as I thought.  Being right on the water it is hard to determine how close your cast is to an object.
  • Degrees of freedom when casting.   While sitting I had a much narrower angle I could cast in than when standing.  When standing you have extra freedom by being able to turn your hips and shoulder as well as moving your feet slightly.  That’s important because sometimes you have to make an off-hand cast.  Fish don’t give you time to manipulate the boat much and sometimes its risky to attempt it because you may spook the fish attempting a maneuver.
  • Working close fish.   I catch fish very close to the boat.  That is where the “Samurai” System shines.  When you are very close to a fish, the slightest movement can send him off in a mud cloud.  With the SS, you simply lay the paddle in the holder, acquire the rod, all without shifting your weight, and you can then sometimes just dangle the fly in front of a fish’s face.  I have done it plenty of times.
  • The long fish.  Everybody casts further and more easily standing than sitting.  Enough said.

Well, those were the observations I made and I guess I wrote them down as a reminder to myself but hopefully this will be helpful to others.

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