It’s Easy to Fly Cast from a Kayak with these 4 Tips

4-minute read + 5-minute video

By Donald Dehm

Do you ever wonder if there are special secrets or tricks to fly casting from a kayak?

Bending Branches ProStaffer and fly angler, Donald Dehm standing in his kayak, fishing

Author Donald Dehm

As an avid kayak fly angler who learned to fly fish after learning to kayak, I can tell you there are a few tips, but no real secrets or tricks.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

The biggest tip I can offer is practice, practice, practice. Yes, I know it’s the same thing you’ve heard in other areas of fly fishing, but it’s true with fly casting from kayaks as well.

Practice the following tips and you’ll be a more confident kayak fly angler. They’ll help you achieve more accuracy and distance when using the long rod in a little plastic boat.

NOTE from Bending Branches: For the most flexibility with your kayak fly fishing excursions, use a sit-on-top kayak designed for fishing. These kayaks are wide and very stable. You can fish from a seated or standing position, giving you more options in different conditions. Be sure to practice casting from a standing position on your kayak in safe, shallow water before you head out fishing!

2. Practice Fly Casting While Sitting on the Ground

Practice your fly casting while you’re sitting on the ground. Or if your kayak has a removable seat, sit in it on the ground and practice casting.

Sitting down when casting offers some challenges that standing does not:

  • Your fly line is much closer to the water surface, so you must increase your line speed when making casts…
  • You have a smaller platform that has a condensed casting area…
  • There could be multiple things in your casting area that can hinder you from full freedom of movement.

Donald shows a fish he caught from his kayak

3. Learn Casts that Work from a Kayak

There are three casts I use more than any others when fly casting from a kayak.

First is the normal BACK CAST/OVERHEAD CAST, but with a high-sticking aspect on the back cast. This helps keep your fly line off the water a bit when using this traditional casting method.

Second, is the ROLL CAST. You may find this one very easy to use in the kayak when standing, but can be difficult to perform when sitting.

Third, the SIDE ARM CAST is one that I use more than any other. It allows me to keep the fly line off the water and out of any overhead obstacles such as trees. You must increase the speed of the side-arm cast to ensure your fly line and fly don’t hit the water’s surface, but this cast has been very productive for me in more situations than any other.

There’s another cast I’ve adopted lately—the BELGIAN CAST. It can be a bit difficult to learn and become proficient at, but there are great YouTube videos, instructors and information on how to learn this cast efficiently.  

The Belgian cast is a continuous-motion cast. There’s no stop between the back cast motion and the forward cast. Because it keeps the fly well away from the caster, it’s a safer cast to use when casting large flies or weighted flies like streamers. It can also be used to cast safely in the wind.

4. Bring an Old Towel to Make Casting Easier

I’ll leave you with this golden tip for your kayak fly fishing adventures—bring along an old towel on your next trip.

Dip the towel into the water, wring it out and lay it across the area of the kayak in front of your lap and where you’ll be stripping line. This will help mitigate snags and provide better line management for you.

The reasons you want to wet the towel:

  • The wind won’t be able to blow it off your kayak…
  • A wet towel doesn’t tangle as easily in your feet and legs…
  • Helps to provide a slicker surface for the fly line to release…
  • Provides a cooling sensation on warmer days.

Be sure to dampen the towel now and again, or you may find yourself chasing that towel down the river or across the lake.

Donald demonstrates how he uses an old towel over the front of his kayak to help with his fly fishing

An old towel will make things easier for kayak fly fishing

Tight lines and safe paddles to you all!

Donald is the owner of Floating Feathers Kayak Fly Fishing School. Learn more on Facebook and at Photos courtesy of Donald Dehm.

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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