Get Onboard the Kayak Fishing Tournament Scene
Newton’s First Law says an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Old Isaac must have been a kayak fisherman. A fishing kayak is constantly at the mercy of wind, waves and current. Even retrieving a lure will pull and turn a kayak. Moreover, sitting in a kayak makes it harder to properly work a lure. Even setting the hook is a challenge, when the boat is not a stable platform.
The best strategy is to anchor the kayak and stand up to fish, but that isn’t always an option. Berkley Pro Angler, 2018 Bassmaster Angler of the Year and kayak fishing enthusiast, Justin Lucas offers tips and tricks for using seven lures fine-tuned for long casts and accurate action.
When bait is snapping and flipping on the surface, break out a cup-faced popper. “A windy day is not the time for a popper,” Justin Lucas says. The concave nose pushes a wave of water leaving a boil on surface, just like a baitfish escaping a predator. Lucas adds, “The best time for a popper is early in the morning and just before dark.” The Bullet Pop 80 is tail weighted for long casts. The weight distribution allows the tail hook to hang down in the water, at a better angle to snag an attacking fish.
The deep nose cone and short body make the Bullet Pop 80 easy for an angler sitting in a kayak to walk or pop with the rod tip held parallel to the water. To entice finicky fish, let the popper pause between pops.
Walk-the-dog style lures are a favorite for calm conditions and low light, but Justin Lucas says, “On a calm day at a clear-water lake, walk-the-dog lures will call fish from as deep as 15 feet.” The challenge to walking the dog is pointing the rod tip towards the water. For an angler sitting in the kayak, the rod is too low to properly work the lure. One option is hold the reel high, even over your head. Or, if it’s possible, stand in the kayak. Many boats have a high-low seat that raises the angler off the water and makes it easier to stand up. Kayak anglers should choose a walk-the-dog topwater lure that is easy to use. The HighJacker has a weighted tail for long casts.
The narrow profile allows the angler to work the lure at high-speed with less action from the rod to get the HighJacker walking. Three razor-sharp Fusion 19 hooks are the best chance to connect on a violent attack. “Fish will swim a long way to eat it,” Lucas adds.
Bass, muskie and other predators spend a lot of time sitting just below the water waiting for a meal to drop out of a tree or fall off the bank. Lucas points out the proptail is perfect for shallow water, especially when the fish are feeding on bream. The Choppo proptail topwater lure is designed to imitate a poor critter that falls in the water and then swims for its life. The lure works best when cast along the bank or around structure, paused, then retrieved at a steady pace.
Casting accuracy is key, an advantage for kayak anglers who can get close to the target. The retrieve is perfect for the kayak, just keep the rod tip low and crank steady. Best yet, Lucas says, “the proptail works spring through fall.”
Before the spawn, Lucas has noticed bass will be slow, lackadaisical, waiting for an easy meal. “Post spawn is the time to turn up the speed on crankbaits,” he says. That’s where the Frittside crankbaits excel. The lure is designed to track straight at any speed, making it reliable even in a drifting and spinning kayak. The Frittside has a tight, fast wobble to excite a strike from sluggish fish in extremely hot or cold water. And it is weighted so even the smaller sizes are simple to cast with baitcasting rod.
Kayaks shine when the fish are close to structure where no motor boat would dare go. To quickly work heavy structure, even twisted and gnarled deadfalls, a square bill crankbait is designed to swim through the rough stuff and bounce off snags and hangs. Lucas says, “Square bill crankbaits go anywhere, any time of year.” The SquareBull 5.5 has a small body with a wide wobble to saunter through the woods and rocks. Feel the SquareBull hit a hard target and pause the retrieve, the lure will float over the speed bump.
Kayaks shine when the fish are close to structure where no motor boat would dare go. To quickly work heavy structure, even twisted and gnarled deadfalls, a square bill crankbait is designed to swim through the rough stuff and bounce off snags and hangs. Lucas says, “Square bill crankbaits go anywhere, any time of year.” The SquareBull 5.5 has a small body with a wide wobble to saunter through the woods and rocks. Feel the SquareBull hit a hard target and pause the retrieve, the lure will float over the speed bump. Fusion 19 hooks are welded with a round bend to engage the needle point with least amount of pressure. The Squarebull series is easy for kayak anglers to accurately pitch into the wood and then bounce it back out. Lucas says, “You can work a square bill around any type of structure.”
Working a large-billed crankbait in a kayak can cause all kinds of problems. The pressure of a deep diver will actually pull the plastic boat slowing the retrieve and muting the lure’s action. Lucas recommends a deep-diving plug for summer bass holding deep in hot water. The Dredger is designed to reach depths of 8 to 26 feet quickly and easy. The small body and weighted bill take the lure deep with the least resistance. A tight wobble requires less pressure to move the lure through the water. To work a big, heavy lure, cast from the side of the kayak to use the boat’s keel as resistance against the lure’s pull.
A kayak is an amazingly versatile fishing platform, but the small, plastic boat has its limits. Many times, the best lure to use in the kayak, is the one that works best from a kayak. Choose lures that can properly be presented from a boat that is constantly moving. Long casts, pinpoint accuracy and easy retrieves make a lure perfect for kayak fishing. To get the most out of Berkley’s kayak-friendly lures, watch pro-tip videos at www.berkley-fishing.com . Then order your favorite colors and see how these seven lures make kayak fishing easier.