Kayak Bass Fishing: 27 Unique Tips & Tactics To Becoming The Bass King
If you are an avid angler and you are looking to get better at kayak fishing, you landed at the perfect spot! In this article, I am going to give you all the tips you need to know for kayak bass fishing. This article will come in handy for everyone, from beginners to advanced kayak anglers.
In this article, you will find many tips and tactics you probably haven't thought about before. All of them are very helpful, beyond basic tips.
How did I come up with these tips?
Before I wrote this article, I noticed all of the other articles and blog posts that talk about this topic (tips for kayak bass fishing) are very “obvious” tips (no kidding, Sherlock! I didn’t think of “having fun” or "wearing sunscreen" when going out with my yak…), so I decided to really put some dedication to building something that is actually helpful for you.
I did a lot of research on different videos, blogs, forums, facebook groups, in combination with personal experience to come up with these tips. I made sure to only share the tips that I think are truly helpful. I made sure to leave out the "obvious" tips (the exception could be tip #15... I just had to include it).
With all of this being said, let's jump into this!
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #1: Have the proper kayak position/angle when fishing bass during sunny days (Casting shadows)
Predatory birds also cast a shadow when they are flying over fish, so fish have developed an instinct that tells them to hide when there is a shadow coming from above.
This is ten times more important when fishing bedding bass, because bedding bass are usually easily spooked. They are in a situation where they move to shallower waters, lay eggs and attempt to reproduce their species. Because of this, they become very vulnerable to predators. This makes bass very skittish.
You have to consider casting shadows as one of the essential elements that will determine whether you catch bass or not.
The solution for this is to approach the bass with the sun facing you. The sun has to be in front of you. This will make the casting shadows be behind you, and thus they will be far away from the bass you are targeting. This eliminates the casting shadows problem.
If the sun is behind you, you will have to go around that area very silently. If you are fishing for bedding bass, you will have to do this extra silently.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #2: Be considerate with bedding bass
This applies specially for tournaments. When tournament anglers go fish beds, those bass are usually released when the tournament ends, and they are released far away from where they were caught. It’s a long chain of events that are caused by this, and it ends up with the death of hundreds of unborn or very young bass.
If you are doing the normal catch and release, this shouldn’t be a problem. I just want to lay this point out. Some anglers might not be aware of this.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #3: Be silent and approach slowly (in vs out of the water noise)
Approach bass silently. This is a general rule but applies even more when fishing bedding bass. Be subtle with your paddle strokes. Don’t approach too quickly. Be silent from yards before getting to your target spot. On the other hand, other sounds like any item hitting the floor, closing the hatch to abruptly, or making a strong enough noise, could also spook bass away.
In vs Out Of The Water Noises (Sound Through Air vs Sound Through Water)
The sounds you make inside the water (for example, dropping an item on your yak, bumping something, or anything that will transmit vibrations through the water) travel much faster than they do through air (out of the water). Air vibrations (AKA sounds) are often “bounced” from the surface of the water, so a lot of the surface noise does not go through the water.
The point I'm are trying to make is that sounds outside the water are much less influential unless they are too loud, although this depends on what the situation is. If you are approaching bedding bass, just to play it safe, be as silent and slow as possible. But if it’s any other type of situation, then you don’t have to be extremely silent with outside of the water noises. Just don’t be obnoxiously loud.
Instead, be more mindful with noises that are made directly in the water like aggressive paddle strokes, very rough movements from your kayak, and anything that will transmit vibrations to the water.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #4: Know where and how to position your kayak when fishing deep water drop-offs and steep ledges
A ledge is simply a part where the depth changes drastically and considerably. They are great to find bass. You want to keep your bait near those structures. You can achieve this by casting in a parallel way. When fishing on ledges and drop-offs, cast parallel and the bait will remain close to the structure.
A lot of anglers make the mistake of casting at a far distance from the structure they are targeting. They cast against that structure. This will cause the bait to bounce off the structure and sink in a way that is towards you and your kayak, further and further away from the structure you were aiming at. It’s kind of a pendulum motion. The point is that you should position your kayak as near to the structure you are targeting as possible and cast parallel to it. This tip was inspired by this resource.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #5: When fishing down the bank from your yak, cast on the right angle
When you are trying to find your strike zones when fishing from your kayak down the bank, and you don’t know what strike zone the bass are in, then you have to do your casts in a 60° angle. The reason for this is that if you cast straight to the bank, you will have your bait in each strike zone for a very small amount of time.
The optimal thing to do here is to cast between a 50° and 60° angle. This will let you be in each strike zone for a fairly decent amount of time (10+ seconds on each strike zone, more or less). The key is to find the depth where most fish are located. Once you have located a depth where you are getting many bites, stick to that depth zone. I got this tip from the Youtube channel Fish The Moment. Those dudes share lot's of value in their channel, I highly suggest to check them out. Here is their video on strike zones, check it out:
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #6: Avoid getting snagged on a tree by doing this
When your line gets stuck on a tree but not completely snagged, what you have to avoid is going crazy, doing aggressive motions all over the place and getting your bait and line really snagged.
What will get you snagged is that pendulum or “swing” motion that the line and lure do when they are hanging on that tree branch, and you are pulling and pulling the line. This will make the line get tangled up all over the place, resulting in a big mess.
The optimal thing to do is avoid making any movement until the swinging motion of your bait/line stops. You can also do this by letting the lure touch the water.
The next step is to pull the line in an upwards motion in a quick and decisive motion, making the lure “hop” over that tree branch. After that, the problem should be fixed.
If your bait does get snagged and messy, make sure not to pull in an upwards motion, because with enough force, you will break your rod. Instead, pull in a backwards motion (pull towards you). Don’t pull too hard because you could mess up your reel.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #7: Take advantage of the small size of your yak (2 key points)
Being conscious about the advantages of fishing on a kayak will enable you to exploit those advantages. It’s important for you to know them.
The first advantage of kayak fishing is that you can easily get into very shallow water (even 5 or 6 inches of water) with no problem with a kayak due to its size/weight. With a kayak, you can get into remote areas on any body of water. One thing you could even do is use a larger boat to transport your kayak, and then use your kayak to get into very narrow areas that are full of bass.
The second advantage of fishing with a kayak is that you can basically position your kayak however and wherever you want without much trouble. Being able to position your kayak in certain areas, and in certain positions gives a big plus to kayaks over other watercrafts.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #8: Take a rain suit with you
Invest a little bit of money in a rain suit. Avoid buying a cheap one as they will leak after a short amount of time of using it. The key here is to not leave it in your truck or car. Take it with you, it’s one of the fishing essentials you need to take with you (remember it’s key to pack as light as you can).
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #9: Take full advantage of the stealth of the kayak
One of the biggest advantages of having a kayak is stealth. You can approach a spot very silently unnoticed. On the other hand, other watercrafts with motors on them have that disadvantage. They are much more noticeable to fish when approaching.
Take advantage of the stealth of your fishing kayak. Approach silently. You won’t spook fish away. It’s a huge advantage. Learn how to paddle silently.
This takes us to the next tip:
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #10: Get foamy
Glue a piece of foam on the top rail of your yak, which is where you rest your paddle when you exchange them for your rod and reel.
It might be a pain to rest your paddle on the sides without making noise, since both are hard materials. This is why I suggest adding some foam to the top rail. This will let you silently rest your paddle, adding stealth to your kayak. Remember what I said earlier. Bumping stuff against your kayak will emit vibrations through the water, spooking fish away.
The second place where you will want to place some foam is that specific place where you are always going to have your essentials (which I mention in tip #14). This will eliminate the possibility of you making any noise when putting an item down that will spook fish away.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #11: Learn how to drift
This is huge. It’s a skill that will pay off. This also adds to the stealth element.
Position your boat in a way that you can drift through the water by using the current of the water, or by letting the wind move you without using one single paddle stroke. Bass will not even know you are there.
This is something that depends on where you are fishing and/or weather conditions, but if you can, make it work for you. Make sure you are silent when anchoring.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #12: Don’t rely only on electronics to locate bass
It’s a combination of common sense and electronics that will take you to the next level. By relying only on one or the other, you will be limiting yourself.
With electronics, you will be able to know the depths of structures, water temperatures, etc., but you won’t exploit that information if you don’t know anything about bass habits, likes, dislikes, food sources, behavior, etc.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #13: Learn how to land fish properly
When having a fish they are about to catch, kayak anglers often make the mistake of grabbing the rod by the tip with one hand, while trying to grab the bass with the other hand.
This will only lead to disappointment, as fish will often break lose if you are doing it like this.
The correct thing to do is to change the rod to the other side of the kayak where the bass is, and push the rod up and away from the fish (which often ends up with the rod being in a nearly vertical position). Grab the rod by the handle and avoid grabbing it by the tip. I found a youtube video by Chad Hoover that explains it very well (by the way, check out his channel. He has very useful stuff that will help you a lot):
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #14: Keep your gear in the same spot, always!
You will create muscle memory for when you need a specific item. For example, if you need a different lure, you will automatically go to the side storage on the right side to get them. This will save you a lot of time and in case you need to get something very quickly (for example, the pliers, water bottle, lures, any type of terminal tackle), you will be able to get a hang of it right away instead of having to look for it.
I recommend doing it only for the items you frequently need the most. If not it loses its purpose.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #15: Getting a PFD is nonnegotiable
I know, I know! I promised you non-obvious tips, but I want to mention this one because it’s really important. Don’t take Personal Flotation Devices as something you don’t need or something annoying. There are many people who lose their lives for not using a PFD. Just get one, it’s worth the expense.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #16: Have your setups ready to use
Changing your baits and rigs back and forth can be time consuming. Yes, you might have to change the bait on one of the rods in situations where you require a specific bait or rig. But think about what lures you are going to be using the most in that specific fishing trip and have your setups ready by the time you get in the water. These are the small details that make a difference.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #17: Frog the slop for largemouth bass
If you don’t know what slop is, it’s a part of the water that forms a type of “blanket”, which is composed of vegetation. It’s a very thick and dense layer of vegetation. Most anglers despise this (I admit it can be a pain to clean your bait from all those plants every few retrieves), but the fact is that this type of cover is beyond great for largemouth bass.
Now, let’s think about the advantage of having any type of watercraft: you can reach any part of the lake or pond effortlesly. With that being said, it’s a great opportunity to go to the “heart” of this type of cover. And when talking about kayaks, they are perfect because of they have stealth. This is especially important when you are in shallow water.
Putting it all together, throwing topwater frogs on a kayak is the best way to fish this type of cover. If you encounter this type of cover when you are on your kayak, don’t think twice about throwing a few frogs at those spots. Hollow-bodied frogs and soft plastic frogs are both great options for this.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #18: Avoid treble hooks or use a net
When it comes to treble hooks, they can be problematic. They can get stuck on the side of your yak. Or in a worse case scenario, they can get stuck on your leg or another part of your body. Trust me, you won’t have a nice day if that happens! When you are on a kayak, try to use single hook lures. If you are going to use a treble hook, make sure you land the fish with a net, which is the moment when accidents can happen.
This is only when it comes to kayak fishing. If you are on a bigger boat where you have more freedom of movement and more stability, you’ll be fine with treble hooks. To wrap up this tip, check out what happened to this dude (ouch!):
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #19: Go light in terms of rods and reels
You don’t need more than 2 to 3 rods. An all-around spinning setup, an all around casting setup, and if you HAVE to add another one, take one for heavy cover. This is my take on this. It’s simple and it works. If you have more experience and you know what’s up, then you can anticipate weather conditions, season, and location, and then choose 2 to 3 rods based on those conditions. Those are the rods you will use that specific day. If you can keep it down to 2 rod and reel combos, that’s even better.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #20: Take out the Spinnerbaits
Spinnerbaits are the most versatile and simple search baits you can use. They are also weedless (up to a certain point). They are great to throw from your kayak at weedlines, ledges and structures. One of the major reasons that a spinnerbait is great to use when kayak fishing is because it is a horizontal presentation. This is extremely convenient when kayak fishing because when sitting, you are generally very low to the water.
Another great advantage of using spinnerbaits when kayak bass fishing is because they are versatile. Remember how in tip #20 and #16, it’s convenient to use as few setups as possible, and to avoid changing between lures back and forth? Well, the spinnerbait is great because it's very versatile and you can use it in lots of scenarios. You don’t have to be switching between lures if you use a spinnerbait. Keep in mind that even though it’s very versatile, it performs at its best when the day is cloudy and windy. This tip is inspired by this resource.
If you want to learn more about what are the baits you should be using when KBF, check out this vid:
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #21: Alligators, big red flag
Don’t go into a pond that is an alligator infested area with a kayak. Well, you can if you want but you are risking your ass if you do. This is specifically talking about kayaks, not power boats or any bigger watercrafts. The reason for this is because the smaller the boat you use in a gator area, the more dangerous and riskier it is (in fact, kayaks are tiny in comparison). Alligator infested areas are not kayak friendly. With that being said, it’s less risky when you are on bigger boats, like a bass boat or any power boat.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #22: Cast to steer
If your kayak is light enough, you might notice that some baits like crankbaits or spinnerbaits are so heavy and have such a level of resistance when retrieving, that they actually pull your yaka little bit. You can use this to your advantage in order to position your kayak with stealth and silently. This one may vary on the kayak, your weight, how much equipment you are carrying, etc. Just try it out and if it works, then great! It’s one more tool you can use to your advantage, if needed. This tip was inspired from this resource.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #23: Need to go against the current? Try this!
When you are in either one of these situations, try going to the sides (shoreline). The current is usually the strongest as you go getting closer to the center of the current. Opposite from that, the flow of the river is considerably weaker on the sides of the river. Take into consideration that the shallower and thinner the body of water is, the weaker the current will be. Use this to your advantage if you are trying to paddle against the current, or if you want to descend down the river flow at a slower speed.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #24: Is the water too hot? Try throwing baits at this spot
Let me quickly mention one of the most basic principles. When the water is too hot, it lacks oxygen. This makes bass to go into deeper water because water gets colder the deeper you go. This typically happens during summertime.
And one great idea is to try fishing under the weeds. Often times, the water located under weeds is cold. And because of this, those spots are extremely attractive to bass. So those places are magical to throw baits at during summertime.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #25: Retrieve slow if water is cold
Unlike the last tip I talked about, now this one is for fishing in cold water. This is usually in early spring, and if your lake is not frozen and you’re up to it; winter time. When the water is too cold, bass are very lethargic. Their body is trying to save energy.
Because of this, if your baits are very quick, they won’t even bother chasing them. Imagine yourself getting up from bed when it’s freezin’. It’s the same situation. And the solution for this is to retrieve your baits very slowly. This is a must when kayak fishing in cold water.
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #26: Don’t ignore your eyesight.
So, you covered a lot of water. You tried a bunch of different spots and baits. Well, one thing you can use as a last resource is to use your eyesight. Try to look visually for areas where you spot bass and bass beds. Obviously, put this into context. This is a bad idea if you are in murky water. But in general, scouting around the lake and visually looking for areas where you see fish is a good strategy.
Check out this vid. It’s very insightful:
Kayak Bass Fishing Tip #27: Lost a hookset? Try this!
If the bass bites and you miss the bite when fishing a topwater lure, there is a follow up tactic you can try. So logically, the bass tried to bite the bait, so it would make sense if in trying to get their meal, they would at least wound their prey.
When you miss a bite, instead of ripping the bait away, just leave it lying there and try twitching it with your rod. This will give the impression that their prey is wounded, and many times, they will strike a second time. This tip, along with a couple other ones, were inspired from this resource.
Before ending this article, I want to share a few videos that are really going to help you out. These are extremely insightful:
And there you go! I truly hope that these tips are helpful to you. If you liked this article, please share it! You have no idea how much you help us when you share one of our articles. That also allows us to keep creating helpful content for you. Really hope you enjoyed the reading. Let us know your opinion in the comments below, or if you have a question, make sure you leave it there as well. I will get back to you as quick as possible. Thank you for sticking with me to the end.
PD. Are you looking for a kayak? Make sure you check out this article!