Swift Water Kayak Fishing Tips

4-minute read + 16 minutes of video

Kayak fishing in swift water requires different skills than flatwater kayak fishing. IN these two videos Bending Branches ProStaffer Drew Gregory covers basic river fishing tricks he uses all the time that you can learn too.

Use the Proper Kayak

For swift water kayak fishing it’s important you use a kayak designed for rivers. Drew likes Crescent Kayaks’ Shoalie because of its maneuverability. It’s designed with a flat hull so the water runs underneath it, rather than the water grabbing it and bringing it along downstream.

When you paddle across the current, keep your weight to the rear to allow that water to slide underneath. Without steep walls or undulations in the hull, the water has nothing to catch onto and can keep running smoothly below your boat.

Don’t Anchor Your Kayak

Even though moving water requires you to continually reposition your kayak, you don’t want to anchor in fast-moving water.

Why? “If I hook a fish here,” says Drew, “the fish is going to pull me into swift current. If you’re anchored, you can never bring a fish—especially a fish of any size—upstream in heavy current.”

Instead, being unanchored allows you to follow the fish downstream so you don’t break your line and lose the fish. Keep your paddle handy for minor adjustments so your kayak stays aligned with the current.

Keep an Eye on the River

If you’re going to kayak fish on swift water it’s imperative you have proper kayaking skills for whitewater. You always want to go down rapids straightforward and in control. Learn the basic strokes and get some practice without your fishing gear first.

Drew Gregory kayak fishes in swift water

Always keep an eye on the river and where you’re headed

Always assess the river while you’re reeling in a fish. You need to know when to drop your rod and pick up your paddle to keep your kayak in control.

As in the above video, sometimes Drew needs to just get the fish in the boat until he can paddle into calmer water to measure and release it. Learn to read a river’s current for both hazards and for where the fish are most likely to be.

Kayak fishing in swift water is an invigorating activity that challenges you physically and mentally as you give your attention to both the fishing and the river.

Drew’s Swift Water Gear List

Drew goes into the gear he likes to use for river fishing starting at minute 6. He emphasizes he likes to use a 7-foot 3-inch rod for a couple reasons:

  • It gives him extra casting length for high-volume areas into calm pools
  • It allows him to use heavier baits that work well in fast water

Drew partnered with Crescent Kayaks to design the Shoalie kayak he uses in these videos. It’s made for swiftwater fishing and handles extremely well in those conditions.

He’s using Bending Branches’ Angler Pro Fiberglass kayak fishing paddle with the Copperhead pattern. This ultra-lightweight high-performance paddle won’t tire you out even during a full day on the water.

Now take a look at the second video:

Learn the Draw Stroke

In this 5-minute video, Drew focuses on how the underrated draw stroke helps anglers maneuver their fishing kayak with precision from side to side. This is something you can’t do with a motor or a pedal system.

With the draw stroke, you position your kayak paddle vertically and pull or draw the downward blade towards you repeatedly. This moves your kayak toward that side without forward or backward movement.

This is especially handy when you want to keep your kayak parallel to and close to the shore while you cast.

kayak angler using the draw stroke to position his kayak

Drew demonstrates the draw stroke in the above video

The best use of the draw stroke is with a lighter-weight fishing kayak like the Shoalie—which is just 75 pounds. Larger and heavier kayaks are harder to move laterally, especially when they’re loaded down with gear.

Again, as a kayak angler you’ll have a better fishing experience and enjoy more success when you know your paddle strokes and can handle your kayak in the types of water you want to fish.

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

More for you...