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January 10, 2022 12 min read

DIY Yourself A Paddle Board Fishing Setup

Paddle board with fishing setup

Are you a keen angler who wants to get into the hardest-to-reach nooks and crannies of a lake? Or maybe you want to try a new angle on fishing? SUP fishing combines two fantastic elements, paddle boarding and fishing! So, how do you go about creating the best paddle board fishing setup?

Fishing from a paddle board is relaxing, therapeutic, and above all else, fun! If you want to join the SUP fishing club, you need to get your paddle board set up for the challenge. 

We’re going to talk you through everything, from which paddle board is best, to the additional accessories you’ll need to get you started on your SUP fishing journey. Keep reading to find out the best way to rig up a paddle board fishing setup.

What Is SUP Fishing?

SUP fishing is an alternative to traditional fishing. It is an experience and a full immersion into nature. Fishing from a paddle board is getting more and more popular, mainly because it is super fun and relaxing.

You don’t need special licenses to paddle a SUP as you would to man a boat and trailer for a fishing excursion. All you need is your trusted paddle board fishing setup, potentially a permit or fishing license (depending on where you are fishing), and your paddle strength to get you out there.

You are guaranteed to have a rush of endorphins. And hopefully, you will catch a fish or two while you are out on the water!

Why Use A Stand Up Paddle Board For Fishing?

So why use a stand up paddle board for fishing trips over sitting on the river bank, lakeside, or even a kayak? Paddle boards offer heaps of advantages when it comes to fishing:

  • Fantastic vantage point – increased visibility of where you are fishing with the height advantage of standing up, on top of the fish.
  • SUPs are lightweight and easy to manoeuverinflatable paddle boards even more so! 
  • Quiet and tranquil – the fish won’t get spooked by engine noise or splashing, you just need to perfect your paddle stroke technique. 
  • Quick and easy to transport – no trailers needed, either load on your vehicle’s roof rack or in the back if you have an inflatable stand up paddle board setup. 
  • Affordable mode of transport to get you out on the water fishing.
  • Paddle boarding is super fun!

Best Paddle Boards For SUP Fishing

Man fly fishing on a GILI komodo inflatable paddle board

Finding the best fishing paddle board can be a daunting task. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Carefully consider your needs and break it down into the following components.

Shape And Size 

Shape and size are important. The best fishing SUPs are wide across the deck, nose, and tail. This gives better stability and is crucial for loading on all your fishing gear. A larger and wide board also provides a sturdy platform to cast your line from.

Generally, All Around paddle boards are perfect for SUP fishing. These paddle boards are versatile and suitable for most water conditions.

Weight Capacity

Weight capacity needs careful consideration. The best fishing paddle boards should easily be able to support you and all your fishing equipment, without getting weighed down. 

Ideally, you need to be looking for a paddle board with a weight capacity of around 250-300 lbs. This should be more than enough to carry you and all your gear for a day out on the water fishing.

Attachment Points

Attachment points are crucial. D-rings and action/Scotty mounts allow you to securely fasten SUP fishing accessories, like rod holders, coolboxes, tackle boxes, and so on. 

With bungee cords, you can lash down all your gear securely, creating a great paddle board fishing setup. So attachment points are a must!

Epoxy vs. Inflatable SUPs

Inflatable vs solid paddle boards is a time old debate in the world of paddle boarding. For SUP fishing, inflatable paddle boards come into their own. 

iSUPs are generally thicker and sit out of the water more. This gives you a more stable platform while keeping the deck dry (to a certain degree). Inflatables are also lighter and super easy to manoeuver through the water and on land. So when you have all your fishing gear loaded on, a lighter board will be a blessing. 

Epoxy paddle boards are easily damaged when navigating through shallow waters, which you may experience trying to get to the best fishing spots. 

Ultimately, inflatable paddle boards are the best option for anyone looking to get into SUP fishing! Need some recommendations? Here are our top 3 iSUPs that are perfect for the job.

GILI Adventure iSUP

GILI adventure paddle board with fishing rod

Dimensions: 11' x 32" x 6" (238 L) / 12’ x 32” x 6” (272 L)

Weight capacity: 290 lbs / 330 lbs

Board weight: 22 lbs / 23 lbs

The GILI Adventure Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is made for the outdoor enthusiast, designed to explore hidden lakes and out-of-the-way places. This is the ultimate adventurer’s board and is a good option for SUP fishing. The rocker is slightly higher than other paddle boards, meaning it can handle choppy waters.

Our latest model is equipped with three action mounts, a removable rear bungee, two rear Scotty mounts, and a total of 20 d-rings. That is more than enough to get you going with an awesome paddle board fishing setup.

GILI Meno iSUP

GILI Meno inflatable paddle board with fishing accessories

Dimensions: 10'6 x 35" x 6" (245 L) / 11'6 x 35" x 6" (270 L)

Weight capacity: 450 lbs / 485 lbs

Board weight: 23 lbs / 24 lbs

The GILI Meno Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is a wide board that is up for everything. This is a super fun board and the most stable SUP in the GILI collection. Performance and versatility are key!

A pointed nose means you glide effortlessly through the water with each stroke. With action camera mounts, three rear Scotty mounts, and 18 d-rings across the board, this is a great option for fishing adventures. 

GILI Manta Ray Multi Person iSUP

Man fishing on GILI Manta inflatable paddle board

Dimensions: 12' x 45" x 8" (590 L) / 15' x 56" x 8" (735 L)

Weight capacity: 725 lbs / 1150 lbs

Board weight: 35 lbs / 52 lbs

The GILI Manta Ray Multi Person Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is designed to be shared. This is the largest SUP in the GILI quiver and is designed for fun! The incredible size of this paddle board means you can take your best buddy, or your furry friend, along for the fishing adventure. 

There are two huge bungee storage systems on deck along with five action mounts, four Scotty mounts, and a total of twenty two d-ring points. You won’t find anything better equipped for adventures than this one!

Essentials For The Best SUP Fishing Setup

Man fishing on a paddle board with accessories

So what essentials are needed to make the best paddle board fishing setup? From the SUP and rod to the cool box and anchor. Here is everything you need to make a SUP fishing setup that will turn heads.

Paddle Board

Obviously, you need a paddle board for SUP fishing. Big and wide is best. This will give you greater stability and more space on the deck to take your fishing gear along with you. 

Inflatable paddle boards are ideal for fishing excursions. You will be raised slightly higher out of the water compared to fiberglass boards, giving you a better vantage point and keeping all your gear dry. iSUPs are also lighter and are often easier to manoeuver in and out of the water. 

Fishing Rod

Again, an obvious note, but you need a fishing rod. This goes without saying.

Some even opt for a simple hand line as a super lightweight and compact fishing method. The smaller the fishing rod the better – after all, we have not got an abundance of space to hand. One main advantage of using a rod over a hand line is you can reach further out from your SUP, dropping your lure into rocky outcrops and coves. 

Rod Holder

Having a rod holder mounted on your SUP is a game changer when it comes to SUP fishing. It frees up your hands so you can navigate your board into the perfect spot with your paddle. It also allows you to go hands free and just enjoy the moment, all while keeping your fishing rod in reach.

The GILI fishing rod holder is a simple accessory that threads onto an action mount on your board. It has an adjustable angle to give you the perfect hold for your rod. There is a locking mechanism so your rod and reel are always secure.

Paddle Holder

GILI yellow adventure paddle board holder

Likewise, a paddle holder is also revolutionary, whether you are SUP fishing or simply going for a pleasurable cruise. All of the GILI paddle boards come with a pre-fitted paddle holder on one rail. This allows you to go hands free and relax knowing your paddle isn’t going to float away. 

For SUP fishing, a paddle holder is essential. This will mean you can focus solely on catching fish! 

Tackle and Cooler Box

Having a bigger board means you can bring all your gear along with you, which includes tackle and cooler boxes. Using the d-rings and bungee cords, secure your gear in place on the nose and toward the back of the SUP, keeping the weight central.

However, it is important to remember to only pack what is needed. Don’t bring the full tackle bag selection that you would use from the lakeshore. Sure, bring a selection of lures and bait, but try to keep it minimal to save on space and weight. 

Regarding your cooler box, you can choose a hard shell and double it up as a seat. This is a great space and weight saving trick for anyone with a slightly smaller paddle board. 

PFD

PFDs (personal flotation device) are important and you should always pay close attention to specific regulations for where you plan to paddle. Some states require you to wear a coast guard approved PFD while paddling a vessel, this includes a SUP.

We recommend using a PFD when SUP fishing for several reasons. Firstly, safety is always a number one priority. However, the convenience and practicality of a life jacket are winner points in our eyes! You can get awesome specific fishing life jackets that have loads of pockets and loops for you to hook extra tackle and bait – super handy when you are out fishing on a paddle board.

Anchor

Anchors keep you in one place which is useful for anglers. Drifting along the water can spook the fish or you could simply move past a good spot. To save you from constantly having to pick up your paddle and move back into your preferred position, use an anchor!

Our GILI Kayak and Paddle Board Anchor Kit is lightweight and compact, making it perfect for SUP fishing adventures. You can tuck it away in your tackle box, or under a bungee cargo net while paddling out to the best fishing spot.

Net And Bucket

Woman fishing on a paddle board with tackle box

A net and bucket are super handy to have for any fishing trip, not just on a paddle board. You will need somewhere to put your fish during the session. And you never know when you may need a net to scoop up and catch fish in the water!

SUP Ankle Leash 

While you hope you won’t fall in while casting a line out from your paddle board, it can happen! It is good to prepare for the worst. And after all, you do not want to have to go swimming after all your gear half way through your SUP fishing trip!

A coiled ankle leash will stay out of your way while you focus on your fishing session.

Optional SUP Fishing Accessories

Why stop there? Add on some more of the best paddle board fishing accessories to have the most successful SUP fishing experience.

Seat

If you are planning on spending the whole day on the water fishing, then you may appreciate adding a seat to your setup. There are three ways you can go:

Each has its pros and cons. While the kayak seat may be more comfortable, the fold out chair is higher up making it easier to spot fish and cast a line. Using a hard cooler box is space-saving and frees up more of the deck pad for you to move about on.

Ultimately, it is a personal preference. Only you can decide what works best for you and your paddle board fishing setup.

Light

Having a good light (besides the flashlight on your phone) could be beneficial if you are fishing late afternoon. As you push into dusk, you may not be ready to pack up and call it a day yet!

Dry Bag

GILI Air paddle board with blue dry bag

Dry bags are a valuable piece of equipment that every paddle boarder is grateful to have. Get yourself a medium-sized dry bag that you can sling over your shoulder or stow away under the bungee at the nose. This will keep all your valuables safe from the water. You can even bring an extra layer or jacket, just in case the temperature drops while you are out there.

Sun Protection 

Are you going to be fishing in sunny conditions? The last thing you want is to get fried. Make sure you load up on sunblock, appropriate clothing, and polarized sunglasses. 

Long sleeve rash guards are great paddle boarding swimwear that offers heaps of protection against harmful UV rays. We also recommend wearing a bucket hat or baseball cap to keep the sun off your head.

The best sunglasses for paddle board fishing float and are polarized. This specialized lens will help you see into the water as you move from sunny to shady spots throughout the fishing session.

Fanny Pack/Cell phone Holder 

The ’90s called, they said its most loved accessory is making a comeback! Get your hands on a fanny pack for a super handy and convenient storage pocket while you’re out on the water. You can stow away your phone, keys, pocket knife, and even snacks – all the essentials in an easy to reach location!

You may also be interested in getting a waterproof phone case. This is a good accessory to ensure your phone is kept safe while you’re SUP fishing, while also keeping you connected if needed.

That being said, we do love going off grid for a while. Every now and then you need to escape reality and leave your phone behind!

Cup Holder

A cup holder may not be essential, but it sure is handy for long days out on the water with your fishing SUP! This accessory fits onto an action mount, similar to rod holders.

Rigging Up Your SUP For Fishing

Now for the technicalities of rigging up your paddle board for fishing. Think accessory mounts, distributing weight evenly of heavy gear, and how to secure other fishing equipment.

Weight Distribution

Distributing weight evenly across the SUP is a foundational skill of paddle boarding that is imperative for SUP fishing. It’s all about maintaining balance and keeping the board as stable as possible. 

You need to keep the heavy gear in the center of the SUP, evenly spread from nose to tail in a balanced manner. Imagine there is a line going down the center of the board. This is where you’re aiming for.

When loading up your fishing SUP setup, remember to factor in your own body weight as well. You are going to be standing in the center of the SUP, so be sure to give yourself some space amongst your fishing gear. 

Scotty Mounts 

Scotty mounts are going to be your best friends when you start SUP fishing. You will use these to fit fishing rod holders, action cameras, and cup holders, along with other fishing accessories. 

Stand up paddle boards with these accessory mounts already installed will stand out to be the better boards.

Bungee Cords

Woman catch a fish on a GILI inflatable paddle board

All of the SUPs in our GILI collection come with removable bungee cord storage systems on the nose and rear of the board. This is a super handy way to stow away dry bags, water bottles, and smaller items you want to take with you. 

You can then make use of additional bungee cords and the d-rings across the deck to secure and lash down fishing cooler boxes, buckets, and tackle bags. You will soon get to grips with how best to use bungee cords, getting creative and efficient in your fastenings. 

9 Top Tips For Creating The Perfect Paddle Board Fishing Setup

  1. Spread out the weight evenly across the SUP, balancing from nose to tail, rail to rail.
  2. Set up all your gear/accessories on the board before launching in the water.
  3. Load on your heavy cool boxes and fishing rods once launched in the water.
  4. Start paddling on your knees to help find your balance before standing.
  5. Pack only what you need, don’t overload your gear.
  6. Use vertical rod holders to save you from bending down.
  7. Anchors are a good idea to keep you stationary at one point and not scaring off schools of fish.
  8. Always choose safety first.
  9. Experiment with your setup! Everyone is different and you’ll soon learn what works best for you.

FAQ’S

🏆 How do you set up a fishing SUP?

Transforming a general SUP into a fishing SUP is straightforward. All you need is your basic fishing gear, accessory mounts on the board, and plenty of bungee cords and d-rings to secure everything down. 

Prepare your setup ahead of your fishing trip. If possible, load up all your gear onto the SUP in shallow waters as it will get heavy to carry. Keep the weight evenly distributed across the SUP and don’t be scared to experiment with how you load the board.


👍 Can you fish off an inflatable paddle board?

Yes! Fishing from inflatable paddle boards is a great way to get out into nature, offering you a new perspective on fishing. Inflatables are versatile and some are even designed to be used for fishing. iSUPs give you a height advantage and a better vantage point over using fishing kayaks. 


🏝️ How do I attach a cooler to SUP?

In order to safely attach a cooler to a SUP, you need bungee cords and d-rings. Choose an appropriate position on the board; often this is just behind where you would stand in the middle of the SUP. Place the cooler box on the middle line of the paddle board and use bungee cords through the handles and around the box, attaching to d-ring points. 


❓ What should I look for in a fishing SUP?

The best fishing SUP is wide and long, giving you maximum stability. All around inflatable SUP options are often perfect for fishing as they sit higher out of the water and are more stable than fiberglass boards. The most ideal dimensions for a paddle board for fishing are 11’ x 32” x 6”.


📦 Is fishing from a SUP better than from a kayak?

Kayak fishing is another popular choice for anglers. However, we believe that fishing from a SUP is far better! You get a height advantage, so you can spot the fish more easily, as well as be able to reach your gear quicker.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


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