Tag Archives: Fly Fishing in a Kayak

Kayak Cockpit Rod Storage in Jackson Kilroy

1-Rod Ready to Go_300

When floating rivers in a drift boat upon first learning to fly fish, one of the very useful aspects  I liked in that type of watercraft was a rod storage system with secured tip protection.  One of the most important features to a fly angler fishing in a kayak is a clean layout where everything has its place, not imposing on fly line management.

Normally, I carry two or three fly rods rigged up with different scenarios for reducing time spent changing out flies.  Carrying multiple rods maximizes the number of casts to fish while on water.  Getting a little older, my shoulders remind me they don’t like reaching 180 degrees behind seat to release a rod from atop a milk crate.  When shopping for a new kayak a year ago, the Jackson Kilroy’s very efficient rod stowage system intrigued me.  This system, designed much like what I’m used to in a drift boat, allows the angler to store up to four rods along the inside left and right cockpit hull walls, where the rod tips are also stowed securely.

Rod stowage secured along side seat (image taken from rear of kayak)

Rod stowage secured along side seat (image taken from rear of kayak)

Rod tip stows securely inside hull of kayak

Rod tip stows securely inside front hull of kayak

Upon viewing the system for the first time, I was suspect as to whether extracting the rods could feasibly be accomplished while fishing.  Yet I found that when the seat is in the highest position, which I prefer, the rear bungy location can easily be reached without twisting torso, and stress on my shoulder is no more due to the low position of fly rod in storage.  Sliding the rod tip out of the protective sleeve is also a smooth operation.

But I normally like to have one extra rod where I can change out in a matter of seconds very quietly, and as of late hadn’t yet found a solution for this additional need, even in the Kilroy.  As an engineer, I prefer simple solutions to problems.  Taking a little closer look to the options on the current design of the Kilroy this past week while fishing, I realized by simply utilizing the forward bungy strap location of the existing stowage system, the fly rod could be secured backwards!  Securing the rod in this position enabled me quick access to the rod, set a low profile angle for stealth compared to using a rod holder positioned on a milk crate or on top of the kayak, and reduced risk of tip getting caught up in forage behind the kayak due to minimal tip length projecting beyond stern.  Problem solved!

Using the front bungy location of cockpit stowage system to position the rod backwards for quick access.

Using the front bungy location of cockpit stowage system to position the rod backwards for quick access.

The next question that came to mind is whether to use the top or bottom position when carrying another rod on same wall.  Testing with another rod in stowage, I found the rod positioned rearward tucks nicely in behind one positioned in the design intended forward direction when bungied in on top.  When trying the bottom bungy position of the rearward facing rod, the reel protruded into the cockpit, reducing foot room.  Therefore, I recommend utilizing the top position for most efficiently storing the quick access rod in rearward orientation.  Removing the reel from behind the additional rod when needed was a snap.

5-Rod Sleeves Reel_300

I’m really excited to stumble upon such a practical way to utilize an existing feature on the Jackson Kilroy for an additional purpose.  This alternative way to stow a quick use rod will free up space elsewhere for other functions, and make the fishing experience a simpler one that my shoulders will thank me for later!  Are there multi-use features on your kayak?  I’ll bet there are utilities there just waiting for your discovery.

Rear of kayak shown:  Fly rod positioned rearward, using front bungy position within hull just forward of seat.

Rear of kayak shown: Fly rod positioned rearward, using front bungy position within hull just forward of seat.


MJ OluKai_300

Copyright 2016 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved

Similar Fly Fishing Tactics Catch Speckled Trout & Bass

Approaching quiet water on a warm and muggy Gulf Coast morning, early risers in brackish backwater are slashing at pogies.  Instead of observing the aggressive behaviour of bass feeding near and on top, I overcomplicate the strategy and focus on baitfish skipping for their lives.  After an hour of failed attempts with minnow fly patterns, I switch over to a topwater foam fly.  By the third cast, the line is tight with the first of several small to medium-sized bass.

Bass on PopperFast forward six weeks to a 40F cold November morning.  The water is silent.  No sign of fish feeding.  The anticipation isn’t quite as high, but I know bass are close by, and maybe even a salty species since I spied blue crab on the feed in shallows the day before.  Topwater and dry flies are my favorite method to catch fish, and since dawn is breaking, and the water I am fishing is relatively protected, I tie on a bass popper fly.


Bass popper fly chewed on by saltwater speckled trout

The fish seem almost sleepy, but as the sun rises the water slowly comes to life.  The first sign of activity is the increasing frequency of nervous minnows rippling the surface.  Then as it often happens, I’m distracted from my current retrieval pattern while scanning the water for the next cast.  GULP..tight line…then it goes limp.  It’s one of those mornings when every bite counts, and that may just have been the one I regret.

Not long after, I make a short cast to structure at the mouth of an outflow, twitch the fly erratically, and let it rest.  CAWOOOM!  Fish on, and it feels like a heavy bass.  A real good bass!  But then I catch a glimpse of the light blue and silver hues and realize this is no largemouth.  What might just be the largest saltwater speckled trout I’ve ever hooked is putting up a fight that I fear may be over quickly.  Speckled trout have relatively thin facial cheek skin behind lip, and yet I need to put some serious pressure on this fish or lose it in the wood.  She runs underneath my kayak, and for several reasons I’m not in a position to cross over to other side of the vessel to continue the battle.  The only choice is unfortunately grabbing the leader by hand, and encourage the fish to turn and run.  I somehow lose tension and the fish runs.  She’s still on!  After two more runs, several head shakes, and teasing views of the trout just beneath surface, I am in near disbelief upon netting a fat 23.5″, 4.88 lb saltwater speckled trout on a topwater popper fly!

Speckled Trout 23_5

Author, Aaron Rubel, with a 23.5″ saltwater speckled trout caught on a bass popper fly

“Walking the Dog” is a popular technique for luring saltwater fish to topwater on the Gulf Coast.  It is not a tactic that I have been able to emulate with a fly.  So, after a couple years of futile effort trying to do so led me to re-think the strategy.  What I began to contemplate and eventually experiment with changed my perception that saltwater speckled trout and freshwater bass are species worlds apart.

Speckled trout are aggressive when on the feed.  Bass feed angry on topwater.  Speckled trout also like it on top early in the morning, especially on glassy water.  So, I tied some red and white gurgler flies that I had caught bass on prior.  On a November evening a couple of years ago, I cast to structure just like I would to bass.  This time though, it would be in the open salty waters around abandoned piers of Mobile Bay.  Fishing that evening wasn’t on fire, but I caught three trout, with one going 19″.  On a gurgler topwater fly!  The method used was by twitching the light fly with finesse I typically use to target bass.

Since then, the theory that speckled trout will react to smaller than typical patterns on top like those used for bass species have proved effective.  Next time you venture out to target sea trout, take along a two inch popper or gurgler fly, add action that evokes a predatory response to a struggling life form on the surface, and be ready on every cast to connect with a nice salty speck!

For more details on this technique and the exciting day that resulted after catching this personal best speckled trout, visit a story run on Kayak Angler Magazine at link: http://www.rapidmedia.com/kayak-fishing/categories/departments/4017-fly-guy-beats-them-all.html


 Copyright 2014 by icastinayak.com. All rights reserved