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Photo by Tidal Roots

As fly fishermen, we pride ourselves in understanding the nuances of our discipline and making slight adjustments to increase our success — to turn a good day into an epic one. In my experience this rings true in most of these outdoor pursuits that we enjoy. Fishing from a stand up paddle board (SUP) certainly falls into this category.

As many of you know, I love fishing from my SUP. It lets me do things that I couldn’t dream of on a bigger boat.

They are portable, fairly inexpensive in the scheme of boats, and let you access places you could never get to with other watercraft. SUP fishing can be incredibly rewarding but missing a couple key pieces of gear can be the difference between fighting the wind or fighting fish all day. So whether you are on the salt, the river, or your favorite still water, remember these tips to increase your enjoyment on the water. Kyle Schaefer, co-owner of Tidal Roots, which crafts some of the most beautiful handmade wooden SUPs you’ll ever see, walks us through the do’s and don’ts of SUP fishing:

1. Work With the Elements
SUPs are light weight and ride high on the water’s surface, needless to say current and wind can play a big role in your day. Make sure you are taking into account the wind, currents, and tide when choosing your fishing grounds. More often than not, you will be fighting at least one element when paddling to or from your fishing destination. It’s important to work with the winds, tides, and currents to move you in the direction that you want to fish or to help you work a section of water. And remember that you will have to paddle back to where you put in, keeping in mind that it may be against the elements.

2. Anchors Away
I always carry a small anchor with me when I’m SUP fishing, and use it every time I’m out on the water for one reason or another. I will often paddle to a fishy spot and anchor up. This enables me to spend more time fishing without having to focus on getting into position. Lets say you are drifting through a hot spot and break a fly off. It’s a great idea to delicately drop an anchor and re-tie so you don’t miss an opportunity for a strike.

3. Line Management
This is always an important issue. When it’s done correctly, you are ready for the next cast. And when you hook a monster and the run is on, your line will slide smoothly through the eyes of your fly rod, “knot free.” Here are some solutions to managing your line effectively on a SUP:

Stripping Mat: a spiky mat that lays on your paddleboard at your feet and collects your line as you retrieve your fly. The mat helps to keep you line on the board when a wave comes by and washes your neat pile of fly line off. Also, the mat protects from the wind tangling you line.

Stripping Basket: Some anglers prefer this because they can wear it around their waist. The basket serves the same purpose as the mat. It just boils down to personal preference.

4. Storage
You have two basic options: attaching your gear to your paddle board deck rigging in a dry bag or carrying your gear on your back in a waterproof pack. Either way you go, make sure that your gear is quickly accessible and that you can reach it comfortably from your paddling position. Having all your essentials within reach with aid in easy fly changes, or in switching to a sinking line when the fish are deeper than expected.

There are plenty of boards on the market that offer certain combinations of accessories tailored for fishing that will help you to streamline your experience. But every SUP enthusiast has his or her own preferences, and focusing on how you use of your fishing equipment and constantly tweaking them will help you to become a pro in no time. Remember, hooking a big fish on your SUP is the best free ride in town! As always, enjoy your time on the water connecting to the outdoors, and fish on!