|One of my first time kayak fly fishing clients standing up and casting with ease off of the Eddyline C135.|
First up are kayaks. We are fortunate these days, as kayak fishing has exploded in the US so there are tons of makes and models to choose from, each offering pros and cons for fly fishing. Kayaks allow anyone to get out on the water easily and efficiently as using a double bladed paddle allows for a short learning curve, so you can focus on fishing. Also the vast majority of kayaks are made out of rotomolded polyethylene plastic, which is easy to manufacture, leading to reasonable pricing for you, the consumer. When I look at a kayak, the first thing I am looking for is an open deck. If there is anything that will be near my lap that might hang fly line up, I either figure out how to remove or cover it up, or I move on to the next kayak. My top choice in a snag free deck is the Nucanoe Pursuit.
|Close up and zoomed out views of the Nucanoe pursuit as I use it for guided fly fishing trips. Tons of deck space on this yak.|
It has next to no fittings on the deck and the capability to stage up to 4 9 foot long fly rods horizontally on the edges of the boat, so your expensive fly rods are protected and your back cast is clear. Another added bonus is this kayak has a square stern allowing for easy mounting of a trolling motor, which is a growing trend in kayak fishing.Honorable mention in this category goes to the Eddyline C135, which has the second most clean deck out there and is my personal choice for fly fishing the California coast for rockfish (more on this in another article).
|Me in the Eddyline C135 with a Schoolie striper. This kayak has both an open deck and is very lightweight for its size.|
Next up is my personal favorite: canoes! Now I know I am not going to win any popularity contests fly fishing out of a canoe, but for my needs, a canoe is hard to beat. You can find them made out of composite materials, so the hulls are lightweight, they are offered in long lengths of 15 to 16 feet, making them fast on the water, and you can haul a ridiculous amount of weight in them, so if you want to do an overnight camping/fishing trip on the delta you don’t have to decide what not to bring because it is too heavy. My one and only choice for fly fishing the California Delta is Northstar Canoe’s Northwind solo in the white gold layup.
|Efficient on the water with tons of deck space and able to carry 700lbs while weighing in at a mere 38lb hull weight, the canoe is my delta craft of choice!|
This canoe is 15.5 feet long and is constructed of a carbon kevlar inner hull, with fiberglass over the carbon kevlar and then gelcoat over the fiberglass, providing plenty of protection for the occasional rock or rip rap bank that you will find in the delta. In this canoe I can easily keep up with people in pedal drives, and yet maintain the shallow draft that makes a paddle driven craft desireable in the delta and it weighs a mere 38lbs, so most of the time I just throw it over my shoulder and walk it down to the dock or launch ramp, rather than have to wheel it on a cart. Another aspect of the canoe that I enjoy is that with a single bladed paddle, the paddle can easily be stowed completely out of my way.
|An 8lb delta striper on the deck of my canoe.|
There are a couple of downsides to the canoe. One is that using a single bladed paddled requires mastering a few additional strokes that you don’t have to worry about with 2 blades. The other is that it is not very stable to stand up in, due to its rounded edges near the waterline. The other con of not being able to stand up is on long trips you either have to exit the boat on the bank to stretch, which can sometimes be tricky, or you just deal with getting a little sore for sitting in one position. If your idea of a kayak fishing trip is 8 plus hours of being on the water, a canoe not be your craft of choice.
|The Pau Hana Big EZ Angler is as stable or more stable than most fishing kayaks out there and weighs in at a mere 32lbs so it’s easy to get down to the water. It also holds a ton of gear!|
Finally, we’ve got stand up paddleboards. The two reasons that I enjoy stand up paddleboards is they are very lightweight averaging between 30 and 40lbs for common fishing models and still offer a ton of stability. Also you can either sit up on a cooler or stand up entirely, giving you a much higher vantage point than if you were sitting lower to the water in either a canoe or a kayak without a high seat or standing platform option. My top choices in this category are the Pau Hana Big EZ Angler or the Pau Hana Endurance.
|Me paddling the Delta in search of smallmouth on the Pau Hana Endurance. Compared to the Big EZ Angler the pointed bow of the Endurance makes paddling long distances easy.|
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