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December 19, 2021 6 min read

SUP Fly Fishing

Man SUP fishing on a lake using a GILI Manta

Fishing from a SUP has increased in popularity over recent years and anglers are finding it a convenient and cost-effective way to fly fish from the water. 

What is SUP Fishing and Why You Should Fish From a SUP

SUP fishing is what the name suggests, fishing from a stand up paddle board. 

Fishing from a SUP has some major benefits and advantages that you won’t get from other types of boats. 

They Are Cost-Effective

Paddle boards are relatively cheaper than traditional fishing boats and if you don’t have the budget for a boat, purchasing a stand up paddle board would be a good investment that you could use for years to come. 

They Have No Sides

An added benefit of a paddle board is the fact that they lie flat on the water and give you obstacle-free 360-degree angles. 

Boats, on the other hand, have sides that can interfere with casting, reeling, and landing of your catch. 

They Are Quiet

GILI inflatable board with a fishing rod holder

Paddle boards are human-powered and are extremely quiet on the water, meaning they won’t scare away your potential catch. 

Being able to creep up on your catch can be a huge benefit that you won’t get from motorized boats. 

They Can Be Taken Anywhere

Out of reach bodies of water are easily accessible by paddle boards and you’ll find yourself fishing on less crowded waters because of this. 

They Are Easy to Transport

Inflatable SUPs especially are easy to transport. Once deflated, an inflatable SUP can pack down to the size of a duffel bag or backpack and can easily be transported to and from the water. 

Even with an epoxy SUP, a roof rack can be installed to the top of your car and your SUP can be lifted on and off easily.

Boats, however, need to be towed behind your car and transportation can prove more challenging. 

Stand Up Paddle Board Types

There are three different paddle board types that you can purchase and use for your fishing trip. 

Inflatable Boards

Man fly fishing on a GILI inflatable paddle board

Inflatable boards are a great solution for people with limited at-home storage space. Once deflated, they can be carried on your back and inflated at the water's edge. 

Although an inflatable paddle board may not seem sturdy enough for fishing, once they are properly inflated, they can hold a surprising amount of weight while keeping their rigidity. 

Hard Fiberglass Boards

Hard fiberglass boards are the fastest type of paddle board and can glide through the water with ease. If your desired fishing spot requires paddling a long distance to reach, purchasing a hard fiberglass board may be in your best interest. 

Soft Top Boards

Soft top boards tend to be the heaviest of all paddle boards, but they make up for this by having a large deck space, which makes them great for fishing. 

Their squishy outer layer is also extremely comfortable to sit on, and they can hold a lot of added gear weight. 

Paddle Board Fishing Essentials

When you use your paddle board for fishing, there are a few additional essentials you’ll need to take along with you. 

Fishing Rod Holders and Paddle Holders

GILI meno inflatable paddle board with fishing rod and cooler bag

Whether you take out one rod or numerous, having a fishing rod holder can free up your hands and make fishing from a paddle board a lot easier. 

Rod holders that can accommodate both short and long fishing rods will keep your poles separated on the deck and prevent them from falling in the water

Rod holders like the GILI Fishing Rod Holder can easily be threaded into action mounts on the deck of your SUP. 

Similarly, paddle holders are an essential bit of kit for SUP fishing. Velcro paddle holders that clip onto front and back D-rings on your SUP can neatly and securely store your paddle out of the way. 

Anchor

A breeze or current can easily move you out of excellent fishing spots, so we recommend purchasing an anchor for more stability and to keep you in place when you’re trying to reel in your catch.

SUP anchors, like the GILI Folding Grapnel Anchor, are lightweight and can fold down for easy storage. 

PFD

Whenever you take your paddle board out, you should always be wearing a personal flotation device.

PFDs are an important piece of gear that can save your life if an accident were to occur. Ensure you are checking your PFD for any damage before and after every use. 

Leash

With a sudden movement from reeling in a big fish, you could find yourself in the water with your board floating away from you - not an ideal situation!

Using a paddle board leash is an extra level of security that will keep your SUP close to you at all times. 

Paddle

A paddle may seem like an obvious fishing essential, but we are focusing more on the type of paddle you take out with you.

Paddling over long distances can be tiresome, and you don’t want all your fishing energy to just go into paddling. 

A good paddle goes a long way and purchasing one made of carbon fiber will improve your paddling ability and require less energy to reach your fishing destination. 

Tackle Case

GILI meno inflatable paddle board with complete fishing accessories

As with fishing on land, you will want all your favorite fishing baits, hooks, and tools on hand when you are on your board. 

As you will be trying to stay under a total weight limit, it is best to only take what you need and leave the rest in your main on-land tackle box

Dry Bag

Dry bags are a good accessory to keep all your valuables safe and away from the water. Packing your dry bag with your phone, a water bottle, bugs spray, and sunscreen will give you easy access to them and prevent them from getting damaged. 

Net

When fishing from a paddle board, it is easy to lose your balance when you’re trying to get a fish onto the deck. 

A lightweight fishing net with an adjustable handle can slot into a rod holder and reduce the chance of you falling in the water while landing a fish. 

SUP Fishing Configurations

The way you set up your paddle board will differ between anglers. Your fishing setup comes down to the gear you take on board and the way you like to fish. 

Paddle Board Seats

Some anglers find it useful to install a paddle board seat or to use a cooler as a seat. As you may already be taking a cooler box on board with you to store drinks or your catch for the day, using it as a seat will double its usage and lower the total weight of all your fishing gear. 

Additionally, you can purchase a detachable SUP seat like the GILI detachable Paddle Board Seat that can hook onto your board’s D-rings and provide you with a comfy backrest to fish from. 

Tips for SUP Fishing

Man SUP fishing with light equipments using a GILI Air

If you are new to SUP fishing, here are some tips to help you have the best SUP fishing experience possible.

  • Pack Light - Your board has a maximum weight capacity, and you should try to stay as much under it as possible. Not only will added weight slow you down, but if you do fall in, it could all end up in the water with you. 
  • Always Wear a PFD - Safety is key and you should always wear a PFD when out on the water. 
  • Prepare in Advance - Plan the route you will take and pack all necessary gear the night or day before your fishing trip.
  • Check the Weather- Whenever you are heading out on the water, it is important to check the weather forecast to ensure you will not be out during a storm or in heavy winds. 
  • Be Comfortable on Your Paddle Board- If it is your first time on a paddle board, take your board out for practice runs before you load up all your fishing gear. Stand up paddle boarding is fairly easy, but it may take a few tries to really get the hang of it. 
  • Take Snacks and Water- Water especially is an important thing to take SUP fishing. Paddling and fishing require tremendous amounts of energy, and you will need to stay hydrated throughout your entire trip. If you’re paddling on a sunny day, make sure you pack extra water just in case. 

FAQ’S

🏆 Can you fly fish from a SUP?

Fly fishing from a SUP is incredibly easy because you have 360-degrees of un-obstructed surroundings. 

SUPs, unlike traditional fishing boats, don’t have sides to them to interfere with your casting, reeling, and catch landing. 

Additional accessories can be added onto your SUP to transform it into a SUP fishing rig. 


👍 How do you fly fish with a paddle board?

Fly fishing from a paddle board can be done in the exact same way as you would on land. 

The main difference is that you’ll need to maintain stability while fishing at the same time. Once you’ve got the hang of balancing on the board, you can load up your gear, paddle out to your desired location, and catch fish as you normally would. 


🏝️ Is fishing from a paddle board better than from a boat?

Fishing from a paddle board has great benefits and gives you an entirely different fishing experience than if you were to fish from a boat. 

Paddle boards are less expensive, quieter, and easier to transport. Fishing from a SUP allows you to head out to remote destinations and fish where larger boats cannot reach.

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant

Based in Bali, her favorite SUP spot is the GILI Islands themselves. Travel is another passion of hers - she dreams to see the entire world one day.


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