May 25, 2020 12 min read

1. Introduction

You love fishing and you’d rather do it on the water than from the confines of the shore - but what watercraft is best to get the most enjoyment? There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation when it comes to the question of kayak fishing vs paddle board fishing. Because kayaks have been around for longer, people have a default mental image of fisherman casting a line from their kayak. The times are changing and today stand up paddle board (SUP) fishing is becoming increasingly popular - and it also happens to be a much more enjoyable fishing experience.

2. Why You’ll Love SUP Fishing More Than Kayak Fishing

sup fishing

Fishing from a paddle board is a dream come true. When you and your stand up paddle board are out on the water, it feels like the world is yours - or at least, the world of fish is yours. Here are just a few reasons you’ll love it as much as we do - and a whole lot more than you’ll love kayak fishing.

Versatile - In More Ways Than One

When you fish from a SUP, you’ve got endless opportunities at your fingertips. You can tweak just about any variable of the fishing experience that you want for optimal results. For starters, when you’re standing up on your SUP, you have the vantage point, views, and reach to cast your line in any direction or at any angle you want. You’ll have the advantage of height as you stand to see excellent spots that you might not have noticed before.

You can also switch up your environment with ease. Let’s say you want to spend your morning fishing on the ocean or saltwater bay, and your afternoon fishing on clear freshwater lake. Well, no problem! A stand up paddle board can thrive in either environment, whether you’re in flat water or choppy spots.

Of course, there’s also the fact that your paddle board isn’t just versatile for different types of fishing, but for different types of activities in general. If paddle board fishing isn’t your only waterborne hobby, your SUP can provide you with a pathway to other activities you enjoy too. You can try out SUP yoga, SUP touring, all around SUP, or adrenaline-heavy activities like SUP racing and whitewater SUP. If you’re a person who needs regular doses of both a meditative hobby like fishing and high-intensity cardio to stay sane, a stand up paddle board can meet all of your needs.

SUPs Have Advantages Over Boats

SUPs offer a sense of ease and adaptability that boats simply don’t. For starters, your fishing paddle board can get you to fishing destinations in places that are tough to reach by boat, like narrow caverns. SUPs are also gloriously quiet, with no splashing sounds to spook the fish or distract you from your peaceful escape.

When you fish from paddle boards, you’ll also have the advantage of portability. Fishing kayaks and other boats are a pain to carry, even when they’re designed to be as portable as possible. They’re heavy, and if you don’t have a buddy to help you lift, you’ll need to drag your kayak along the sandy, rocky shore to the water. SUPs usually come with side handles for easy lifting, and can be carried across land with little trouble. And of course, if you fish from an inflatable SUP (also called an iSUP), it will be delightfully lightweight.

SUP Fishing Is A Great Workout

Fishing is a stationary activity, so any movement you can squeeze in on a fishing trip is well worth it. When you fish on a stand up paddle board, you won’t even need to try hard to ensure you get the physical activity you need. For starters, you’ll need to paddle to your fishing spot from the shore, which gets you started on an active foot before your fishing session even begins. SUP is a full body workout. Your core, arms, shoulders, and legs will all love the burn and the energy hit you’ll get from it.

Once you cast your line, you’ll have the advantage of fishing while standing up, which is much better for your body than sitting in a boat as you fish. If you’re tired of standing, you can change your position on a SUP throughout the fishing experience: stand, sit, kneel, crouch, or lie-down. This is a big advantage over kayaks where you are stuck in the seated position the whole time.

Convenient

There’s nothing like a SUP to make your fishing experience super chill. Paddle boards are more lightweight than kayaks, and iSUPs are especially light and breezy. iSUPs are inflated just before use, so if you need to drive to your fishing spot, you can pop your iSUP in its accompanying SUP backpack, tuck it into the trunk of your car, and be off. It will take up less space than your fishing rods!

On days when you’re not on the water, you can easily store your iSUP by putting it back into its backpack and tucking it into any free spot in your home. Hard/epoxy paddle boards are larger, but they are still easier to store than fishing kayaks because of their flatter shape and lighter weight. You can display your hard SUP on your wall, place it on a special SUP rack, or tuck it into your garage.

Of course, the ultimate convenience perk of a fishing paddle board is its endless customizability. SUPs have plenty of add-on and storage capabilities to provide space for bungees, coolers, tackle boxes, and anything else you might want to make your fishing experience easier or more fun.

Excellent Vantage Point

Remember that scene in The Lion King Simba and Mufasa gaze out upon “everything the light touches,” and Mufasa tells him that it’s all his? Paddle board fishing is kind of like that! Casting your line - and deciding where to cast that line - from a standing position gives you a range of vision unlike anything you’ve experienced when fishing from a kayak or from land. When your view is from a higher point (i.e. from standing), you simply see farther and have the range to spot ideal areas to cast your line.

Access

Aboard a SUP, the world is your oyster. Whatever fishing spot is calling to you can be yours - all you have to do is paddle there. When you’re on a fishing kayak, the situation is a little different. Your options are limited by where you can squeeze your kayak, and whether you’re able to maneuver the boat.

3. Types of Fishing Paddle Boards

There are two main types of fishing SUPs you’ll need to know about: epoxy SUPs and inflatable SUPs. Any type of paddle board can be used for fishing, so it’s about choosing the best option for your fishing grounds. These are just some of the benefits of each type of fishing SUP:

Epoxy SUP

  • Very responsive and agile for navigating tight spaces
  • Better tracking, glide, and control
  • Very efficient for longer journeys

Inflatable SUPs

  • Super easy to transport and store
  • Incredibly durable (won't ding or scratch on impact)
  • Very stable for beginners and active movements (like casting a line)

4. Types of Fishing Kayaks

tandem kayak fishing

When choosing a kayak to fish from, you’ll be faced with a choice between a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-in kayak. Most beginner paddlers opt for sit-on kayaks, because they are harder to sink and are a lower price commitment. Their stability makes them excellent platforms for fishing, but they are severely lacking in storage, especially when you compare them to the customizable capabilities of paddle boards.

Sit-on-top kayaks do well on calmer waters, so if you like fishing in placid lakes, you’ll enjoy them. They’re also very kid-friendly, so if you’re taking a little one on a fishing trip, these kayaks are well-suited.

A sit-in kayak is a more intricate set-up. With a cockpit that reaches your waist, your legs and lower body will be encased within the kayak. Sit-in kayaks are pricier, and while entry level kayakers can certainly use them, they’re especially popular among more advanced kayakers. They’re a good option for anyone who prefers to fish in colder temperatures, as the inside of the cockpit will keep your legs warm. They’re also a bit easier to carry since you can rest the cockpit on your shoulder, though not nearly as easy to carry compared to a fishing paddle board!

5. The Pros and Cons of Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing has its ups and downs. Let's take a closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of casting your line from a kayak.

Kayak Fishing Pros

  • Since you get to sit down on a fishing kayak, you can relax your lower body
  • Kayaks move quickly, and can get you to your fishing spot fast
  • Some fishing kayaks offer a decent amount of storage
 

Kayak Fishing Cons

  • You won’t have a robust vantage point or range of motion when casting your line
  • It’s harder to maneuver into hard-to-reach fishing spots that paddle boards can access
  • Kayaks are bigger, heavier, and harder to store between fishing trips
  • You won’t get a very robust workout when sitting in your fishing kayak
  • Kayaks are cumbersome, difficult to carry, and a hassle to transport
  • Fishing kayaks are at risk of flipping over or getting waterlogged, and when they do, they are much more difficult to get back onto than a fishing paddle board 

6. SUP Fishing vs. Kayak Fishing

Fishing is enjoyable no matter how you do it, but the activity’s relaxing qualities and fun factor are majorly impacted by which vessel you choose to fish from. Here’s how things stack up point by point, and why SUP fishing is simply better than kayak fishing.

Here's a quick rundown on the reasons why SUP fishing is better than kayak fishing:

  • Versatility - you can sit, stand, kneel, or even lie down on your SUP while casting, trolling, or even fly fishing
  • Vantage point - get 360 degree vision on your fishing grounds
  • Maneuverability - SUPs are extremely agile in tight spaces, which helps when you want to get through the weeds and logs to your favourite spot
  • Storage - pack your cooler, tackle box, and all the spare gear you need for your trip
  • Fitness - get a full body workout during your fishing adventure

Fishing Versatility

A fishing kayak can help you reach more exciting destinations on the water than you would from land, but that’s about where its versatility ends. A fishing paddle board can offer similar perks, but also provides a much wider range of motion for casting your line, and even the direction you face while fishing. You can pivot 360 degrees in an instant just on your feet, whereas in a fishing kayak you’d have to maneuver your boat to face a different direction. SUPs also provide the option to enjoy both spin fishing and fly fishing because of the ability to bring extra gear and change your position on the paddle board instantly.

Vantage Point

There’s no question that your vantage point for fishing is infinitely better on a paddle board. Think about it: would you rather have a view from a low seated position and only see what’s in front of you, or would you prefer to be standing for a wide-reaching view, with the capability of turning 360 degrees whenever you need to? It’s no contest!

Maneuverability

Neither watercraft is particularly hard to maneuver, but SUPs are a bit easier to manage. They’re more lightweight (especially iSUPs) and are incredibly agile, so they’re a better companion when you want to shift positions on the fly or fish from a narrow space.

Space For Gear

To fish right, you’ll need your trusty gear - your tackle box, poles, and cold drinks to fuel you. Sit-in kayaks have a decent amount of built-in storage capability, and sit-on-top kayaks have very little. But one thing all fishing kayaks lack is the ability to drastically adjust on-board storage options in the blink of an eye. On a fishing SUP, you can use bungees, Scotty (fishing rod) mounts, and other attachments to set up storage for tackle boxes, dry bags, coolers, and anything else you might need. Because it’s customizable, you can have as much or as little storage as you want. If you want to move around more freely on the board while fishing, all you need to do is detach the bungees and clear the board for extra empty space. Your board is completely adaptable to your needs!!

Storage On Land

Finding a good place to store your fishing kayak is about as annoying as a chore can get. The boats are big and bulky, and no matter where you try to put them in your home or backyard, they’re going to take up more space than you want them to. Oh, and good luck getting them on top of your car to transport to the water - it’s not a fun process.

Paddle boards, on the other hand, adapt well to storage. Whether you’re working with a hard SUP or an inflatable SUP, you’ll have an easier time finding a place to keep them in your home. If you have an iSUP, you can easily deflate it and tuck it into a SUP backpack for easy transport by car or even airplane. Hard SUPs, while not being able to deflate, have a narrower shape than kayaks, so much more convenient to place in a corner of your living room or garage.

Fitness

You can certainly burn calories on a kayak, but nothing beats the full body boost of paddling on a SUP. When fishing, your main workout for the day will be your paddle out to the fishing spot and back again. If you fish from a kayak, you’ll work your arms and shoulders on this journey. If you fish from a paddle board, you’ll work your arms, shoulders, legs, core, and all kinds of muscles you never knew you had. It’s an extra fitness boost with one simple switch to your routine.

sleeping on kayak

What’s More Fun? Kayak or SUP Fishing?

Do we even need to ask this question? We may be biased, but we’re also correct: the reality is that there’s no bias necessary for most people to agree that paddle board fishing is a heck of an adventure that kayak fishing can’t compete with. When kayak fishing, you can have a good time. When SUP fishing, you can have a rip-roaring adventure of wide-cast lines, full body strength training and cardio, and nearly unlimited access to the best angles and widest variety of hard-to-reach fishing spots. Oh, and did we mention that standing is better for your endorphins? SUP fishing is to kayak fishing what swimming in the ocean is to splashing in a kiddie pool.

7. Types Of SUP Fishing Accessories

In just a few minutes, a regular paddle board can be transformed into a top-of-the-line fishing vessel. Here are some of the accessories that can help you get your SUP into top fishing shape.

  • Paddle Board Anchor: to keep your SUP secured in place so you can focus on fishing
  • SUP Leash: so your SUP won’t go rogue and float away if you fall off your board
  • PFD: a personal flotation device helps keep you safe, and is required by the coast guard on many bodies of water
  • Fishing Gear & Accessories: bring your tackle box, fishing rod, and other gear out on the water with you
  • Scotty Mounts / Fishing Rod Holders: equip your paddle board with mounts and rod holders that can hold your fishing pole on board
  • Cooler Deck Bag: this bag can keep your drinks and snacks cold for you while you fish
  • Dry Bag: to keep your phone, camera, extra clothes, and most treasured gear safe
  • Paddle Board Kayak Seat: so you can always take a break and have a seat when needed (and so you can enjoy the comfort level of a kayak with the perks of a SUP!)

8. The Best SUP Fishing Boards

Some of our favorite GILI boards are designed with SUP fishing in mind. With Scotty mounts and the capacity to hold extra gear and weight, one of these boards could become your new favorite fishing buddy.

GILI 12' Adventure Paddle Board

12' Adventure Paddle Board with Scotty Mounts for Fishing

Just as the name says, this 12’ board is made with adventure in mind. Paddle it out to hard-to-reach fishing spots for your best catch. If you need to travel some distance through challenging waters to get to your destination, the GILI Adventure is the ideal combination of speed and storage - and it's got three scotty mounts for your rold holders and fish finder.

Shop the GILI Adventure Lineup

GILI 11'6 XL Meno Paddle Board

GILI 11'6 Meno Fishing Paddle Board: SUP Fishing vs Kayak Fishing

At 35" wide, the 11'6 GILI Meno offers plenty of space to store your tackle box and gear while you kick back and cast a line. This board is the optimal watercraft to carry all your tackle to your favorite spot for an awesome day fishing with 3 built-in Scotty Mounts.

Shop the GILI 11'6 Meno Fishing Paddle Board

Wrapping Up

Sometimes in life, we’re faced with major decisions. Cats or dogs? Peanut butter or jelly? But luckily for us, SUP fishing vs kayak fishing is not one of those predicaments. At the end of the day, there’s simply no question that paddle board fishing is more beneficial - and more fun - than kayak fishing. From the ease of movement, the full body workout, and the convenience to the far-reaching vantage point, fishing on a paddle board is simply a delight. So stand up, paddle, and get ready to cast your line far and wide.

Warren Tsoi
Warren Tsoi

Editor - Warren is an avid waterman and conservationist who will take any chance to be outdoors. He believes the best way to protect our environment is to get people outside to appreciate nature.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.