Kayak Bass Fishing: Essential Guide (With Tips and Recommendations) for Getting Started

Last updated on March 5th, 2023

kayak bass fisherman

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When most people think of bass fishing, they imagine someone standing in a boat with a motor, casting a lure into the water. However, bass can also be caught from a kayak and we see this approach becoming an increasingly popular alternative to more traditional methods.

In fact, bass fishing from a kayak can be a very rewarding experience, especially for those who enjoy fishing in smaller bodies of water.

In this article, we will take look at some of the most important benefits and advantages of fishing for bass from a kayak, how to choose your kayak for targeting bass as well as essential gear and accessories, and what baits and lures work best (with a few recommendations along the way).

Finally, we will discuss some productive tactics, techniques, and tips to help you catch more bass from your kayak. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fisherman, it’s never too late to learn something new! So, let’s get started…

Fishing for Bass from a Kayak: The Benefits and Advantages

In the world of sports fishing, kayak bass fishing is a relatively new phenomenon. But there are some compelling reasons why it is catching on. Kayaks are smaller, lighter, more portable, and often less expensive than boats. They are also quiet and stealthy, making them great for sneaking up on bass.

If you love being outdoors and fishing, then a day of fishing for bass from a kayak is a great way to spend your time.

kayak angler holds bass

In kayak bass fishing, the angler uses a kayak to navigate the waterways and cast to their chosen bass fishing spots. Two of the kayak’s biggest advantages are that it provides the angler with a stealthy and low-profile way to fish and that it is great for getting into tight fishing spots where larger boats cannot go.

The kayak also allows the angler to cover a lot of water, and to quickly move from spot to spot.

Then there are the purely personal benefits of fishing from a kayak. It lets us challenge ourselves and gives us a very rewarding way to bass fish while also getting closer to nature in a more environmentally sustainable way. Lastly, fishing for bass out of a kayak is a great workout, too.

A Few Key Reasons to Fish for Bass from a Kayak:

  • Cost-effective
  • Lightweight, easy to transport/maneuver
  • Access to water not easily reached with bass boats/motorboats – ponds, backwater bays, creek mouths…
  • Great way to interact with nature, enjoy the outdoors, smaller carbon footprint

Choosing Your Bass Fishing Kayak (What to Consider)

When kayak fishing, it’s important to have a vessel that is stable, yet agile in the water. With so many kayaks on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.

Since we are looking for a kayak that is specifically designed for bass fishing, there are a few key features to consider: size, stability, and construction materials.

The first is the size of the kayak – that is, the length and width of the kayak. You’ll want something that is large enough to hold all of your gear, but not so large. After all, the length and width affect the kayak’s weight, speed, maneuverability, and stability.

Remember, for bass fishing we want a kayak that is light and nimble yet designed for stability and durability.

Another important feature to consider is the materials used in the construction of the kayak.
Some kayaks are made with plastic or polyethylene, while others are made with fiberglass or carbon fiber.

Plastic (polyethylene) kayaks are the most affordable and are the most common type of kayak. They are durable, but they are not as light as fiberglass or carbon fiber kayaks.

Fiberglass kayaks are lighter than plastic kayaks and are more durable than carbon fiber kayaks.

Carbon fiber kayaks are the lightest and most expensive kayaks. They are also the most fragile.

Keep in mind that in the end the type of kayak you choose should be based on your individual needs and preferences.

When it comes to fishing kayaks for bass, things such as design, construction, and size play an important role in the selection process. Some kayaks are designed specifically for anglers, while others can be used for fishing, but may not be as ideal as a dedicated fishing kayak.

There are a few other things to consider…

Where Will You Be Fishing?

If you’ll be fishing in large, open bodies of water, you’ll want a kayak with a lot of stability and a large cargo capacity. If you’ll be fishing in smaller, more confined areas, you’ll want a kayak with a smaller footprint and better maneuverability.

What Type of Bass Kayak – Sit-On-Top or Sit-In?

There are a few things you need to consider before you buy a kayak for bass fishing. First, you need to decide if you want a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-in kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks are more versatile and are good for fishing in warm waters. Sit-in kayaks are more stable and provide more protection from the weather.

However, sit-on-top kayaks are more versatile and better suited for bass fishing than their sit-in cousins. They allow for more range of motion. A good sit-on-top (with a wide and stable standing platform) will let you stand and fight the fish. That is a huge advantage.

If you’ll be primarily fishing for bass, you’ll want a kayak that is designed for that purpose. If you’ll be fishing for a variety of species, you’ll want a model that is versatile and can handle a range of fishing conditions.

How Will You Propel Your Kayak – Paddle, Pedal, or Motor?

Not so long ago, the only option kayak fisherman had for propulsion through the water was a paddle. Though you can still use traditional paddles, today, more anglers are opting to go with a pedal drive kayak.

A bass fishing kayak with pedals has many advantages over paddle types. For example, it let you cover more water and is less taxing on your body since you are using the legs instead of your arms.

But What I personally really like about being able to peddle is that it frees up my hands to fish, letting me fish and move at the same time. They are more expensive than paddle-only kayaks but well worth it.

Fishing kayaks with motors are a newer trend. We have seen fishing kayaks with trolling motors attached to them before, and many continue to go this route. However, today there are fishing kayaks designed with seamlessly integrated motors or specifically designed to easily be fitted with a trolling motor of your choice.

A motorized bass kayak is a great option for those who want to get out on the water faster and do more fishing without overexerting themselves. These are perfect for anyone with physical limitations and who wants to conserve their strength for fishing.

Two things to keep in mind here. Motorized kayaks are even more expensive than pedal drive kayaks and, in many states, they will have to be registered.

How Much Are you Willing to Spend?

Kayaks range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Obviously, the more high-end features and accessories the kayak offers the greater the cost.

Brands such as Lifetime and Pelican make some reasonably affordable fishing kayaks. Perception offers several quality mid-range models.

On the higher end, BKC and Old Town, though more expensive, are names that can be counted on for excellent fishing kayaks including motorized offerings. There are many others putting out great products, of course.

The most important thing is to buy the model that is best suited to your needs and your budget. Buy the best fishing kayak you can afford and you should be okay.

Standard Bass Fishing Kayak Features

Seating – One feature that is important on any fishing kayak is a comfortable seat. A good seat will keep you in the kayak for longer periods of time, allowing you to fish more effectively.

Today’s kayak seats are not only comfortable but also UV-resistant and durable. Many also allow the angler to adjust the height up and down and swivel 360 degrees. I can’t stress the importance of good seating enough.

Rod Holders – They are essential for anglers, as they allow you to keep your rods secure while you’re not using them. Though standard on fishing kayaks, their design and quality can vary.

Storage – Though most may try to be minimalists, a good bass fishing kayak should have ample storage space/compartments for essential gear, maybe a cooler for your catch or a live-well, and more. Bungee cords or tie-downs are also great to have.

Many top fishing kayaks come with waterproof storage hatches where you can keep your essential items such as car keys, cell phones, etc. dry.

Accessory Mounts – Most bass kayaks will come with mounts for various accessories and gear such as fish finders, trolling motors, and anchors/anchor systems.

These are some of the basic features you’ll find on most quality bass fishing kayaks, but there are a few optional accessories that will definitely make life on the water easier and more fun.

Accessories You’ll Want

Here are some accessories that, from personal experience, I consider must-haves (there are plenty of others):

  •  Fish Finder – If you want to catch more fish, use a good fish finder. As stated previously, most fishing kayaks have mounts already in place, so adding a small GPS fish finder is an easy task. If you wanted to keep it even simpler, a castable fish finder is perfect for kayak fishing.
  • Kayak Cart/Trolley – A kayak cart makes transporting your kayak to and from the water a breeze and saves your back. They are small, lightweight, and can be quickly assembled/disassembled and even stored on your kayak.
  • Anchor – A small shallow-water anchor or anchoring system for those windy days or rough currents can save the day. Most are quite inexpensive too.
  • Kayak Crate – This is one kayak accessory that solves so many problems. It can act as additional storage for your tackle boxes, fishing tools/gear, and personal items. Keep everything, organized, safe, and dry. Some even come with attached rod holders for even greater usefulness.
  • Others include a life vest or PFD – safety on the water is always number one. Some even feature storage and zippered pockets for your fishing gear and tackle. A boating or angler first aid kit is also essential on any kayak.

Essential Bass Kayak Gear and Tackle

gear and tackle for fishing bass from kayak

You will also need to select the right gear. This includes a good fishing rod, reel, and tackle. Fishing for bass from a kayak can be a little different than fishing from a boat.

Rod and Reel

For your rod and reel, you can use either baitcasting or spinning setups. Most kayak bass anglers prefer baitcasting because they feel it gives them more power and better casting distance and accuracy.

However, spinning rod/reel setups are generally more sensitive and better suited to lighter lines and smaller, lightweight lures. They are great for finesse presentations. Ultimately, the gear choice comes down to what you are most comfortable with.

You will need to use shorter rods and lighter tackle. A light, quality rod in the 6’6″ to 7’0″ range and a medium to fast gear reel (6.1:1 – 7.1:1+) matched with a 6–12-pound test line is ideal for kayak bass fishing.

Fishing Line

For fishing lines, you can use monofilament, braid, or fluorocarbon. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The best bet is to go with what the situation and your budget call for.

Mono is the old standby and works great in most situations. It is less expensive and more forgiving than the other two but because it stretches, it is less sensitive at detecting some subtle bites.

Braid is more expensive, very strong, and has almost no stretch, which means you’ll be able to detect almost any activity at the end of your line.

Fluoro is nearly invisible in the water and great for presentations that call for stealth. It is on the stiff side (very little stretch), however, making some common knots hard to tie. It is also as costly as braid.

This setup will allow for a variety of situations and for bass to be caught without putting too much stress on the fish.

Baits, Lures, and Techniques

There is a variety of live bait such as worms or minnows that work extremely well. Soft plastics, jigs, crankbaits, and different creature baits are all good choices for lures when bass fishing from a kayak. Looking for rigs, Texas Rigs and Wacky Rigs are two very popular and productive options with kayak fishermen.

Another great way to fish for bass from a kayak is by using a top-water lure. Top-water lures are a great way to get bass to bite, especially early in the morning and late in the evening. Cast your lure towards the structure you are targeting and retrieve it quickly. Be sure to pause the lure in the middle of the retrieve to give the bass a chance to bite.

If you are looking to catch big bass, try using a spinnerbait. Spinnerbaits are a great way to cover a lot of water quickly and are especially effective when fishing in open water. Just be sure to use a heavy-duty spinnerbait if you are targeting big bass.

When fishing for bass from a kayak, the best time of year to fish is generally during the spring and fall months, when the bass are spawning and feeding. However, kayak bass fishing can be productive year-round, depending on the water conditions and the type of bass fishing lure that is being used.

It is important to remember that bass are attracted to large areas of cover, such as weeds, rocks, and fallen trees. When fishing for bass in a kayak, you should locate these hiding spots and use lures that will mimic the natural prey of bass.

Cast your lure towards the structure you are targeting and retrieve it quickly. Remember though, with spinnerbaits and almost any lure, to experiment with your technique, retrieve rate, pauses, etc., to find what works best.


Bass fishing from a kayak is fun and rewarding. It offers many advantages over most other watercraft, with the most notable being that it is stealthy and allows you to get close to the fish in ways they cannot. Fishing deep or shallow, using live bait or artificial lures, kayak bass fishing offers something for everyone.

So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fisherman, get out there and enjoy a great day of kayak bass fishing!

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