Fishing is one of the most relaxing and, at times, exhilarating pastimes known to man. For thousands of years, fishing has been relied on as a way to capture and provide food. But the activity is also a great way to unwind and commune with nature for a time. Today people can be found fishing from shore, from small boats to large boats, from kayaks and even surf boards. All of these anglers have one thing in common: they dream of catching the big one. However, if that does not happen, at least the activity has provided them with some much needed solace as a consolation prize.
There is currently a new fishing style that is taking the world by storm: SUP Fishing.
SUP Fishing—or Stand Up Paddle Board Fishing—is a fun and exciting way to angle. Also known as “Extreme Fishing” and even “Man on Fish,” the practice of SUP fishing is being taken up by thousands of outdoor enthusiasts, mostly because it adds an extra degree of difficulty to the already challenging pursuit. Paddle boards, which are very wide and stable, can take fisherman almost anywhere they want to go, but most importantly, it gets them to the fish. It also adds an extra degree of exercise into the equation, making it very appealing for fitness enthusiasts who also enjoy fishing.
To help get you started with this fun and challenging activity, in the following article we will provide a beginner’s guide to SUP fishing, including a list of some of the equipment you will need to properly outfit your board for fishing. We will also highlight some of the advantages of SUP Fishing and some basic tips for making your next adventure very safe and productive.
What Gear You Will Need
Before we get into the specific items you will need for SUP Fishing, let’s first talk about the Stand-Up Paddle Board and the Paddle. If you’re reading this article, chances are you already own a stand-up paddle board and a paddle to propel it. However, if you haven’t already made this all-important purchase, here are some tips for selecting the ideal board for fishing.
A Paddle Board
The Hull Type
When choosing a stand-up paddle board for fishing, the first thing you will need to consider is the hull type. There are essentially two main hull types when it comes to these boards: a planing hull and a displacement hull.
Stand-up Paddle Boards (SUPs) with a displacement hull are typically pointy at the bow, or front of the boat. This feature allows the board to cut through water more easily, thus making them faster than SUPs with a planing hull. However, because these types of paddle boards are usually not equipped to carry a lot of extra weight, your best bet for a SUP when fishing is one with a planing hull.
A planing hull is flat and wide, similar to a surfboard. It is designed to ride on top of the water and be very maneuverable. Both of these features make it a great choice for fishing.
SUP Weight Capacity
When selecting a stand-up paddle board for fishing, you will need to consider its weight capacity—how much weight it can hold. Of course, the first thing you will need to factor in is your own weight, followed by the weight of the gear you plan to pack. The overall weight capacity will determine how stable the board is. Naturally, boards with a superior weight capacity tend to be very stable in the water, but in purchasing this type it may mean you have to sacrifice a bit of on-water mobility. Be sure to ask your SUP dealer about the weight capacity of different boards and explain how you plan to use the board.
The length of the stand-up paddleboard you choose is also a very important factor. For the purpose of fishing, your best bet is probably a medium-sized to large board—somewhere around 11-12 feet in length. These boards are recommended for all-around use, are very stable in the water, and are much more maneuverable than the VERY large SUPs. The larger paddle boards are also designed specifically for standing up or kneeling during the entire trip.
According to experts, the width of the SUP you choose should be relative to your own size and how you plan to use it. Narrow boards can be great for racing, but they typically are not large enough and lack the weight capacity for a fishing outing. Very wide boards tend to be equally stable—a good idea when you consider all the movements and jerking that often go hand in hand with landing a fish.
A SUP paddle looks somewhat like a stretched-out canoe paddle with a tear-drop-shaped blade that angles forward for the utmost in paddling efficiency. As you might guess, the perfect paddle for SUP fishing will depend somewhat on the type of board you purchase. However, the most significant factor in choosing the correct paddle to propel your SUP is your own height. Here is how you should measure the perfect paddle: With one arm stretched straight above your head, raise your paddle and stand it end on end—with one end on the ground. If the top of the paddle reaches to roughly your wrist—this is the ideal sized paddle for you.
Now that you have the perfect stand-up paddle board and paddle, let’s look at some of the items you will need to ensure you are fully ready for your SUP Fishing excursion.
The type of fishing pole you select for SUP will depend on where you fish and the types of fish you are hoping to catch. Shorter and more flexible fishing poles are great for freshwater fishing. These poles are extremely lightweight and very easy to stow away. However, if you plan to try your hand at saltwater fishing—where the fish can be much larger—you will probably need a longer and more rigid saltwater rod that can handle the extra weight.
Tackle and Bait
Tackle consists of things like hooks, line, weights, swivels, bait and more. When SUP fishing it’s important to take just enough tackle to get you through the entire fishing day (going ashore for more tackle can be a nuisance), but not too much that it adds a lot of extra weight to the board.
Ice Chest or Cooler
Fishing can make even the hardiest souls hungry and thirsty. The good news is, not only will an ice chest or cooler keep your food and drinks cold; it can also double as a makeshift seat, preventing you from having to stand all day. You can also buy rubber stabilizers that will ensure your cooler does not slip and slide around.
Stabilizers, which are attached to either side of your stand-up paddleboard, are a great addition to any SUP that is going to be used for fishing. Even if you have the greatest balance in the world, the weight of the extra gear and the motion involved in casting and reeling may have you spending half of your day in the water.
Although not completely necessary, a GPS device can help you mark your favorite fishing hotspot so you can come back the following day and clean up.
A Water Proof Case
A small waterproof case mounted on the stand-up paddle board is ideal for storing items like cell phones wallets, money, keys, glasses and more.
If you plan to do any night fishing, a SUP board light is an absolute must. Not only do these lights help you navigate your own path after dark, it also makes you visible to other boats and vessels on the water. An good alternative is a headlamp.
Standing up all day when SUP fishing can get tiring, but a detachable seat with a back can solve this problem. Some seats currently being marketed even have drink holders and a place to secure your fishing pole.
Clip on rod holders can come in very handy during your fishing trip. Just cast away, set the line and put your rod in the holder as you enjoy the beautiful day on the water.
To prevent yourself from drifting as you fish your favorite hole, you can purchase a small anchor that attaches to the rear of your SUP. These types of anchors are heavy enough to prevent drift, yet light enough to pull up easily when you’re ready to move on.
Even if you’re an experienced angler and swimmer, you still should always wear a life jacket, or PFD, when you’re out on the water. So, be sure to look for one that is designed for paddle boarders before you hit the water looking for fish.
The Advantages of SUP Fishing
There are many advantages or benefits to fishing on a stand-up paddle board. Here we will talk about a few of those advantages in more detail.
Fishing from the shore or in a boat can certainly be relaxing. However, for those interested in a little physical fitness during their off time, SUP fishing is definitely the way to go. From the paddling it requires in a stand-up position to the balance it takes to properly cast and land a fish on a stand-up paddle board, this activity will definitely get your heart pumping—in more ways than one.
Fishing from a SUP allows you to get almost anywhere—even more so than you could in a boat or kayak. SUP fishing enables you to cruise anywhere on the waterway, even into shallow places where you wouldn’t dream of taking a boat. Also, launching a stand-up paddle board is also a snap. Practically anywhere you can get to on foot you can launch a SUP, including lakes, rivers, streams and even the ocean.
There is a certain challenge to SUP Fishing that cannot be replicated by any other type of fishing. Regardless of the size, attempting to land a fish while simultaneously balancing on a narrow, floating platform is difficult—and it is that level of difficulty that makes SUP fishing so exhilarating.
SUP Fishing Tips
If you’re planning on setting out on a SUP fishing excursion you are definitely in for the experience of a lifetime. Here are just a few basic tips for making your adventure both convenient and successful.
Bring the Minimum
If you’re the type of fisherman that likes to bring a whole handful of fishing rods and a suitcase worth of tackle, SUP fishing is probably not for you. Bringing a lot of gear means keeping track of a lot of gear when on the paddleboard—which may translate to LOSING a lot of gear. Gear can also slow you down and prevent you from getting into tight places. Just remember, when it comes to SUP fishing, less is definitely best.
Include a Net
When it comes time to land your first fish from a stand-up paddleboard, you are going to need a net. Attempting to wrestle a fish onto your board and successfully remove the hook without falling off is next to impossible. Make sure the net you choose is long enough to allow you to successfully net the fish from a standing position, yet light enough to prevent you from losing your balance.
Plan Your Entrance and Exit Points Carefully
Just because an area may be good for launching your stand-up paddle board it does not mean that coming in will be just as easy. Therefore, be sure to plan out your exit point before you launch so you won’t be stuck with nowhere to land.
Get a License
Fishing regardless of where it is done, almost always requires a license. In fact, in some waterways you may need to have a specialized license that allows you to catch certain types of fish. Fishing without a license is illegal, and the fines for such an offense are very steep, so make sure you have all the proper credentials before hitting the water.
Know the Rules
Although some types of fish can be taken regardless of their size, others have length and/or weight restrictions. If you bring in a specific type of fish that is either too small or too large to be legal it can be a very costly mistake.
Although the goal of any fishing trip is to catch fish, don’t get too upset if you come up empty—some days are just like that. Instead, try to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy it. As a famous man once said, “even the worst day of fishing is better than the best day of working.”