Kayaking and fly fishing can be a beautiful marriage. They complement each other in so many ways. Fly fishing for example, you must be extremely stealthy and you have to use most of your senses. Eyes, to engulf your surroundings and zero in on your target. Mind, to evaluate the wind, speed, and direction for the perfect cast. Then your body, to feel the load of the line bending through the eyes and then as it transmits the energy through the rod. Kayaking is nearly the same with a stealthy approach where you need to utilize your senses. Eyes, to see your surroundings and take the desired path. Mind, to process the wind, current, and speed to get you to your destination. Then your body, to transmit the power and energy through your paddle as you glide through the water. Both kayaking and fly fishing are a full body experience and I can’t think of a stealthier way to do both…
People kayak for many reasons. Some for the sport, exercise and health. Others to sight-see and to enjoy nature to the fullest. Many kayakers go to places where most boats or people can’t get to. I kayak to do all of these things and also for FISHING! Kayaks are one the most quiet/stealthy ways to move through the water with little disturbance. They can take you to places that you didn’t even know existed. There is no other feeling in the world like being in a remote area, where all you can hear is the wind pouring through the tree tops, birds squawking on the shoreline, and water as it pushes through the blade of your paddle. Just when you are wondering to yourself if anyone has ever been here before… a fish pushes out from the mangroves. Your heart starts to flutter and knees begin to shake as your mind starts to race towards a plan of action.
Similarly, people fly fish for many reasons. Some do it for the beauty and artistry. Others for a more primitive feel of fishing. Lots of people fly fish for the sheer challenge of it. I do it for all of these reasons and much more. There are so many motions that a fly angler goes through to landing that special catch. First picking the right rod, reel, and line leader for the task at hand. Then choosing just the right fly that matches the hatch of the area and the targeted species. Once you’ve managed to located the fish, now all of your primal hunting instincts start to kick in. You feel the direction of the wind in your face as you determine the direction of the tide for the perfect cast. You listen to the line as it loops back and forth, trying to sync your breathing. The line lays down onto the water and then the fly to follow with the slightest splash. The fish turns on the fly, you hold your breath as you begin to strip your line. Strip, strip, and BOOM! Fish On! A huge sigh of relief exhales. The sound of the screaming drag sends chills down your spine. When the fish finally makes its way into your net, you are filled with emotions that are indescribable!
The similarities between kayaking and fly fishing make for a fantastic joint venture. I believe that those who are drawn to fly fishing would definitely love the fun and challenge of trying it from a kayak. Look me up if you are ever on the west coast of Florida and I’ll show you how it’s done!
Tight lines & Screaming Drags!
Eric Hensen is a RiverBum Pro, and the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC, Eric Henson has over 30 years fly fishing experience and frequents the waters of Tampa Bay down to Charlotte Harbor in Florida. His favorite targets are redfish, snook, trout and tarpon. Read more on Eric at his website and blog.