You finally saved up and bought your first fishing kayak! Congrats! You load up your new vessel and head out to find some giants on your local waters. You know the small water like the back of your hand and you get your first hit! You load up and BOOM set the hook! Just to have the bass spit you 10 feet from your kayak. No big deal… but after the 10th fish, you begin to wonder, “What happened?”
There are a few possible reasons for your missed fish. Most solutions however, require you to tweak your gear and your hookset.
Your kayak may be acting as a shock absorber in your system. When fishing from the bank or from a bigger boat, you are better planted and heavy. The lines we typically fish have some stretch, but that is the only stretch in your rig/system! When you fish from a kayak or small jon boat, you introduce a less stable and movable vessel that may prevent some hook penetration on a hard mouthed fish. Try changing some of your mono rigs to straight braid, or shorten your leader to reduce stretch. This may improve your hookup ratio, and improve your landing percentage!
Adjust the Angle of Your Hookset
Remember, when you are sitting in a kayak or small jon boat, you are sitting lower to the water compared to on a bass boat or high bank. With certain baits, you may need to tweak your hookset and raise your rod tip to a more vertical position. For example, on surface baits, you may want to set the hook up vertically to curve the hook up into the roof of a bass’ mouth, rather than straight out of its mouth. This imitates the angle from a bass boat or high bank. Lastly, be sure to set the hook with authority!
Treat Your Gear to a Once Over
Just because you’re fishing from an inexpensive vessel, doesn’t mean you should fish your “extra” gear. Your hooks should still be razor sharp! Try going through your kayak/small water fishing gear and sharpen/replace all your hooks to ensure good hook penetration! This is the easiest but most tedious suggestion I can offer. I frequently resharpen hooks and replace them when needed. This helps ensure I confidently give each and every fish every bit of the thump each hookset.
Hopefully this helps those of you scratching your heads throughout the adjustment from bank fishing to kayak fishing. These simple changes can drastically improve your landing percentage on the water for those willing to adjust. Now get out and hook yourself a monster! Tight lines!