Re-Enter a Capsized Fishing Kayak

4-minute read + 11-minute video

Active kayak anglers know there’s a chance, however slight, they may end up in the water for one reason or another. The best way to prepare for that is to practice flipping your kayak back over from the water and getting back on.

overhead view of man fishing in a kayak

(Photo courtesy of Chad Hoover)

Chad Hoover is one of Bending Branches’ Pro Staff team members. He released the video below to teach you how to re-enter a capsized fishing kayak:

Remain Calm and Have a Plan

If you should flip your kayak and end up in the water, your first action is to grab hold of your kayak and not let go again, especially if you’re in current.

Many anglers keep their PFD loose while they fish. If that’s you, the next thing you’ll do when in the water is tighten it up so it doesn’t interfere with your re-entry.

Chad keeps an adjustable drag strap on the bow of every fishing kayak he owns. If you do the same, you’ll have a built-in tool to help you flip your kayak back over quite easily.

Hand-over-hand yourself until you reach the bow and can undo your drag strap. Then take it, hand-over-hand, with you to one side of your kayak.

Attach the strap to the handle, flip the other ends over the hull, and you have a ready-made tool to get your kayak turned back upright.

Be sure and take a break if you need to and…don’t “freak out!”

Flip Your Kayak Over

The reasons this particular drag strap is so handy is its adjustability and built-in handle. As Chad demonstrates in the video, once you’re back on the opposite side of your boat, place one foot in the handle underwater, then grab a hold of the loose strap.

man flipping his overturned kayak over in the water with the drag strap

Using your body weight as leverage, pull with your hands and push down with your foot to get your kayak flipped over.

Hopefully, you’ve kept your paddle secure in its holder, so it’s still in place at this point!

Re-enter Your Kayak

Now you’re ready to get back on your kayak. Here are the steps:

  • Chad likes to lay his kayak’s seat all the way back so its horizontal. If you keep a Black Box behind it, that may not be possible.
  • Use the handle of your drag strap once again for your foot, to give you a little leverage. Be sure your PFD is tight, including the shoulders.
  • You’ll want to remove anything from that side of your kayak that could interfere with you climbing back on.

man hoisting himself on top of kayak on his belly

  • Let your PFD keep your torso up and lay out as flat as you can near the water’s surface. With one fluid motion, do the “Superman Pull”—pull yourself onto the boat and lay on your belly across it.

man turning himself in the kayak to sit down

  • Bring your legs in and rotate so you’re sitting on the boat. It doesn’t matter if you’re on your kayak’s seat yet at this point.
  • Regain your composure and then move onto your seat.

Chad’s formula: Belly, butt, boat.

Practice Re-Entry and Test Your Kayak’s Stability

Practice flipping and climbing back on several times on a warm day in warm water. This will give you the confidence you need for those times it may happen to you unexpectedly “in the field.”

Also, stand up in your kayak and test its stability. How far can you lean to one side before you reach the tipping point? Can you lift one foot quickly to reposition? Many new kayak anglers realize their fishing kayak is more stable than they think.

Dress for the Water Temps

Part of fishing safely is “dressing for immersion” if you fish on cold waters. No angler plans to fall in, but things happen.

Water that’s cold enough to cause elevated heart rate and fast breathing can be very dangerous. So be sure you dress to protect yourself in the event of a capsize by wearing the right apparel.

For more on that, read Safety First: Dress for Immersion When Paddling.

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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