In the past few years, kayak manufacturers have been leaning towards kayaks that are easy to stand in and fish from. My Malibu Kayaks “Stealth 14” was one of the first kayaks specifically designed for ease of standing. The extremely stable hull, coupled with a large flat area to stand, made it an ideal to sight cast from. Other manufacturers soon jumped on board and the trend took off. This article is not about which kayak is best for this application; they all have their good and bad qualities. Rather, this article will focus on is the question of whether being able to stand is really that beneficial.
I’ve thought about this subject at length, so I thought I would break it down into several categories and see if it’s really worth it.
This one is a no-brainer. Standing is much better; you can create more speed and leverage with the rod while standing versus sitting. For the most part, your spare rods are out of the way, and you also have a better range around the kayak to cast in many different directions.
By “kayak control” I mean, “Can you keep the kayak pointed in the general direction you want to fish?” On most days you can while standing, but if the wind comes up, you act like a big sail and keeping the kayak pointed in the general direction you wish to fish can become a chore. The use of stakeout pole or an anchor system becomes necessary. If your kayak is equipped with a rudder, a simple adjustment is usually all that is required to keep you on track while sitting during a windy day. With too many variables, this one is a push.
Sitting in your kayak is way more stable than standing, hands down. There is the fact that not everyone is able to stand and fish; some can stand, but not all can do both effectively. Sitting wins.
Now we come to the real reason I wrote this article: visibility. You want to see the fish before they see you - but does it always work that way? I think not. I think in most cases, when standing up in the kayak the fish can see you well before you see them. I don’t have exact numbers to back up my observations, but in my 12 years on the water fishing out of a kayak, the fish win this battle. When working the flats, the conditions have to be nearly perfect for you to tip the scales in your favor. Take into account that you are at most standing just a few inches higher than the surface of the water, which really doesn’t give you the sight advantage you would think. Put a slight chop on the water, and you have lost the slight advantage you may have had. You have to be quick in sighting the fish, but even then the outcome is in doubt; once you can see them, they can most assuredly see you. I have developed a technique to overcome this. It’s really not a technique, it’s just something I do out of habit: once I spot a fish, I will crouch down (it’s been called the “crouching tiger” pose) and make a cast. By doing this, I cut down my silhouette and decrease the chances that the fish will see me. Most times, it works.
Sitting severely restricts your ability to see any distance at all, but drastically decreases the chance you will be seen. How many fish have you glided over? I know I have been right on top of tailing redfish before they knew what hit them. This one is another push, I guess.
What does all this mean? Standing isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It has its advantages and disadvantages, and when you get right down to it maybe it isn’t worth it at all.
Besides, I like to wade fish anyway.
Until next time…