Can You Fish From a Paddle Board? | Tips and Setup Info


So, you have the whole day to yourself. Do you take the paddleboard out for a long cruise on the lake? Or, do you stalk the banks and hunt some largemouth bass to bend your rod? Why not combine the two and go fishing on your paddleboard?

You can definitely fish from a paddleboard. Due to its stealth, maneuverability, and versatility, a paddleboard makes an excellent fishing vessel. However, you will want to use one of the mid-sized or larger boards to give you room to maneuver and store your fishing gear.

There are a few things to keep in mind when fishing from a paddleboard. With a little bit of preparation, your fishing trip will be more fun and productive.

Paddleboard Fishing Setup

Just the basics for a fun day of Bass fishing

I try to keep my stand up paddleboard as uncluttered as possible, while also taking everything I’ll need for the day. So, here is a list of what I take:

  • Milk Crate (with two rod holders attached)
  • 2 Rods
  • Small Tackle Box
  • Small Cooler

These are all the extras I take along with the usual gear; my paddle, leash, life jacket, and phone.

Take a look at the picture, and you can see the setup. I attach my milk crate to using the front tie-downs. I use bungees to connect the rod holders to the crate. In the crate, I keep my life jacket and tackle box ( I also where a tackle belt with my most-used items).

I attach my cooler to using bungees and the rear tie-downs. Usually, I just take a small six-pack size cooler with snacks and drinks. Occasionally, however, I will take a bigger cooler that can double as a seat.

General Fishing Tips

I figure that if you are asking this question, then you have a bit of fishing experience. Therefore, I won’t be going into too much detail here.

Because It is hard to paddle and fish at the same time, I like to let wind or current be my friend. I try to position myself so that the wind will push me along the shore that I am working. If there is no wind, I like to work an area pretty hard before paddling to a different location.

Right before I leave a location, I will bounce a bait off the bottom in several spots to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

Lures and Bait That I Use

I don’t know where you will be trying to catch your fish, but around here, my lure of choice is a soft plastic that I pitch into grassy areas along the bank. This is a great way to catch bass.

In deeper water, I’ll cast a spinnerbait and work it back pretty quickly.

But you know how it is, bass will devour a plastic worm one minute and the next, completely ignore it.

When I’m paddling, my main goal for a lure (other than a bass swallowing it) is the ease of use on a paddleboard. I like to use lures that are easy to change. I also like to keep my second rod baited with a different lure. If I find something that the bass like that particular day, I’ll bait both rods with the same lure.

Fishing pole and lake
Fishing pole and lake

Tips Tricks

  • Use a paddleboard anchor on windy days at productive sites
  • Cooler doubles as a seat
  • PFD doubles as a seat cushion
  • You can troll with spinnerbaits
  • Organized tackle is especially important on a stand-up paddleboard

Paddleboard Fishing Safety

If you know me, you know that I usually have a word to say about safety. So, here it is. Make sure you wear your leash and have a life jacket on board. Some areas might require you also to carry a whistle, so double-check.

Remember that you are on a paddleboard, and it will be less stable than your bass boat. With that in mind, keep an eye out for boat wakes or anything else that can make you lose your balance. There are hooks involved, so If you go overboard, know where they are and avoid them.

Licensing

Don’t forget that you probably need to obtain a fishing license even when fishing from a sup. This can be a costly mistake so please don’t make it. Go to Walmart or wherever and pay the small fee for your fishing privelage.

Best Paddleboard for Fishing

There are some really, really cool SUPs (Stand-up paddleboards) out there specifically designed for fishing. They have extra tie downs, they have extra buoyancy, and they are wider for more stability. However, all those extras add to the price tag.

If we want to talk in general terms, I would go with a large inflatable versus the same hard paddleboard. Inflatables are more buoyant so they can hold a bigger person and more gear. They also tend to be less expensive and easier to transport.

While you can make just about any SUP work, but I would choose a large inflatable because of the stability. For that reason, here is the one that I recommend.

You may think that an inflatable would be dangerous around those hooks, but think again. These things are made of multi-layers of ultra-sturdy PVC fabric. Heck! You could toss an inflatable off the roof of your house onto a gravel driveway, and it would be fine. Don’t try that with a fiberglass board.

If you wanted to go all out, there are stand-up paddleboards that, not only have the extras listed above but also have pedals for propulsion. This would allow you to use your feet to move the board, while you can focus your hands on the perfect cast.

Advantage of a Paddleboard Over a Kayak

Other than the comfort factor (sitting in a kayak gets a little painful on this old man’s back), using a SUP allows you a much higher point of view. You can really see into the water and track your prey better.

Here are a few of other benefits of paddleboards over kayaks:

  • More Maneuverable- Nothing beats a sup in this department. There is pretty much no spot that isn’t accessible in your average paddleboard. And, standing up allows for maximum visibility while maneuvering around.
  • More room- There is simply a lot more room to store stuff on the deck of a sup. Instead of having so much room wasted with your body, while standing it is easy to fit just about everything you could ever need. This includes a cooler for when you want a cold one.
  • Easier to transport- Since many stand up paddleboards are inflatable, they are far easier to bring along. This saves you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Disadvantages of Fishing From a Paddleboard

Okay, so it isn’t all fun and games. There are a few things that you have to watch out for when fishing from a sup. They are:

  • Stability Issues- Standing can be a major issue, especially when it’s windy. I definitely recommend choosing a calmer day to go fishing on a sup. Of course, your mileage will vary based on the size of your board and your experience level. Some guys or gals have no problems maneuvering, staying afloat, and catching fish on a windy day. You have to just decide this for yourself
  • You Travel as Far- Since they aren’t quite as fast and you have to be careful in open water, you are generally more confined in your fishing range using a sup. This has never been an issue for me since fish tend to congregate near the shore anyway.

Extra Fishing Accessories

So, you want to pimp out your SUP. You want to make it a bass fishing machine! Well, here are some of the gadgets that my friends use

  1. Depth/Fish Finder. That’s right. You can add a transducer to the underside of your hull and have a fish finder right on your paddleboard
  2. Suction cup Rod Holders. These can be used in place of attaching your rod holders to a mild crate.
  3. Paddleboard Stabilizer. These are like training wheels for your SUP. They do add quite a bit of stability when casting.

What If the Fish Aren’t Biting

This has happened to me more often than I’d care to admit. But no biggie. There is, as they say, plenty of fish in the water. If I have worked a whole lake, I will do one of two things.

If it’s early enough in the day, I’ll just pack up and try another body of water. The great thing about the SUP is that it can be unpacked and loaded pretty quickly, so you aren’t forced to stay in one lake.

The second option is my kids’ favorite option. I just go into Bluegill bobber mode. It’s relaxing, and I usually won’t get skunked.

Casting a Net From a Paddle Board

I have taken all my camping gear and gone camping on my stand-up paddleboard. I have surfed on it, toured, explored and fished on my SUP. I have even taken crab traps out and caught Blue Crabs from my SUP, but I had never tried to throw a cast net from my paddleboard until recently.

It takes a little bit of practice and some balance, but you can throw a cast net from a SUP. It is easier from your knees, but after a few tries, you can catch bait by throwing your cast net standing up.

Benefits of Cast Netting from a SUP

One of the great benefits of casting from a stand-up paddleboard versus a canoe or kayak is that you have a much better view of the bait or at least the signs of the baitfish. That extra 3 feet you get by standing up really helps see what you are trying to catch.

Not only seeing the fish, but it is quite a bit easier (once you get the hang of it) to throw a net from a standing position than sitting down. Even if you choose to cast from your knees, the absence of a gunwale is beneficial to you. There is less to get in the way of your toss.

Catching bait with a cast net is different than catching fish with a hook and bait. You are not just blindly hoping a fish will swim by. In order to capture the bait, you usually have to see them, and then be able to throw the net on top of them. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been prowling the shoreline looking for bait to throw a cast net on, only to see them about 3 feet farther than my line would reach.

A stand-up paddleboard really helps with that. With a SUP, you can paddle out into the water and chase your prey. It is really nice not to have to count on luck to determine whether you can get close enough to catch them. Just hop on your board and cut them off.

SUP Setup for Cast Netting

When I go fishing with my paddleboard, I usually take a good amount of gear: 2 rods and reels, a tackle box, a cooler, a five-gallon bucket, and my cast net.
If possible, I like to keep my paddleboard as clear from clutter as possible when I catch bait. Meaning, I will leave my fishing (and other) gear on land while I find the bait. The only thing I take, other than my life jacket, is a 5-gallon bucket to keep my catch in.
Once I catch my bait and don’t have to worry about inadvertently, I will return to shore, collect my fishing gear, and head to my fishing spot.

A man throws an open net

Tips on Casting Technique

Not only is cast netting possible from a stand-up paddleboard, but it is a lot of fun, and it improves fishing efficiency. Just remember that it may take a bit of practice, and that balance is key.
Casting your net from a stand-up paddleboard can get hectic at times. So, the first thing I do is make sure my net is ready to throw when I get to the fish. I draw the net in, fold it, and the line just like I was getting ready to throw, but I place it at my feet, coiled and ready to strike.
As I approach the school of fish, I will have my wrist loop already on and will fine-tune my position. With one hand, while I gather my pre-prepared cast net. Then I lay my paddle down and wait for a good opportunity. If the fish go deep or move out of range, I just look for their signs again a chase them.
There is a bit of difference in throwing technique from a SUP versus from land. Balance is key. I try to keep the lower half of my body pretty still, so the toss is mostly with my arms. This makes it a bit harder to throw far, but it does allow me not to join the bait in the water. You just have to keep in mind that the board will shift a bit, so be ready.
Just like everything on a stand-up paddleboard, throwing a cast net takes some getting used to. Don’t be ashamed to try on your knees first before you stand to throw your net. This will allow you to get a feel for how the board reacts with the forces you provide tossing the net.

Cast Net Size

Cast nets come in a variety of sizes, from 3 to 15 feet for a radius. That means that they will open to double that size. I have several cast nets in the 3′ to 8′ range. The 3-foot cast nets are great for kids to learn with. I chose the 3′ Tyzac for my kids. Even if the flounder aren’t biting, they can always catch some baitfish. I sometimes think they would prefer to catch bait than supper.

Generally speaking, the larger the net, the more effort is needed to cast it. The larger nets will at least require more space and organization, so you probably won’t want to use a big net from your stand-up paddleboard. 5′-8′ have worked great for me. I bought my current net from Amazon. You can check it out here. I am not a pro cast netter, but I have used this Tyzac for over four years and have had no problems except a small tear when I cast onto an oyster bed.

Where to Try for Bait

So, you are now comfortable with tossing the cast net. Now you need to know where to find the big schools of baitfish. Well, I do most of my fishing on the coast of North Carolina, so my two main targets are Menhaden and Mullet.
It’s been my experience that Menhaden prefer deeper water and are therefore harder to catch with a cast net from the shore. Mullet will generally hug the shoreline as they look for quiet shallow water away from predators. If they see you, however, they will dart toward deeper water, and they seem to have a knack of going just out of reach of your cast net.
This is why I do like to have my board around when trying to get some bait. What could have been a frustrating day on the beach with my targets out of range, can be turned into a 15-minute paddle with just a few fruitful tosses.

Final Thoughts

Fishing from a paddleboard can be a lot of fun. Just make sure you have all of your gear organized. That way, you can reach any lure at any time when needed. And please, don’t forget to follow all of your usual safety precautions.

Thanks for visiting!

Related Questions

What are the Best Fishing Accessories for a SUP?  I like to keep accessories to a minimum. However, rod holders and an anchor are two that I would suggest.

Tom Walters

I have lived near the coast most of my life and I love all types of watersports. Stand up Paddleboarding is my favorite way to get out on the water, stay fit and have fun. I am the founder of FitFunSUP.com

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