Is SUP Fishing for Real? Is it for You?

Is SUP Fishing for Real? Is it for You?

Posted by phil kelly on


Fishing RackHow many of you have trouble standing up on a paddle-board to start? It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I must confess, that in the ocean, I tip over far too much. On a lake with speed boat wakes, yep those get me too, so what do you think happens when you load chairs, ice chests, fishing poles and more on top?

I was amazed when I saw someone using a SUP to fish. I thought it was a phenomenal idea, kind of a 2-for-1. Another use for a paddle-board that probably doesn’t get enough use. But then I saw someone one an inflatable SUP and I was “mind blown” all over again. I was amazed how little I knew about this phenomenon and needed to learn more.

Who knew? After an hour or so on search engines and countless sites, I came to find that it's really popular in many parts of the country. It clearly is more popular on lakes and the East Coast than on the wave infested West Coast, but really popular none the less. I was also amazed at the range of creativity people had on the SUP fishing rigs. You had the simple ones that strapped a chair to the top of the SUP all the way to full blown dedicated fishing SUPs.

They all looked really good, but I kept thinking about how these would do on the water and what about falling over and what about paddling out, as I like to knee paddle out past the waves. So, you know what happened next, right? I had to try it. I took my 12’ Degree 33 SUP down the Carlsbad lagoon to try it out. My set up: short Tommy Bahama beach chair, rack clips (poles under chair and clips hold them to chair legs) hooks/bait/gear in pocket on back of chair,
waterproof bag, leash, paddle, pole, and Yeti roadie cooler. I strapped the chair and cooler to the board via cinch straps and really cranked them down hard.

OK, I was ready to test. As soon as I got on it, I realized I was back heavy and popped a wheelie and fell backwards. Ah, the issue is where to place the chair and cooler. Seemed easy to do onshore, but I wasn’t on it then. Also, I was flying solo, so no help. It was now trial and error time. I unstrapped everything and just got on the SUP with the chair and placed it where I thought it might work and say on it. Major wobbles, but eventually moved it to a good place and I marked it. Then I moved it a little but forward more to compensate for the cooler that would go on back. OK, time to strap it all down and try again.

After a few more adjustments, I had the balance right, but could I paddle it? I didn’t need to knee paddle as I was in calm water but it seemed like the chair was right where I wanted to stand. I straddled the chair and paddled out. Once out, it was pretty easy to move about in calm water. A wakeboard boat had me cussing and almost overboard, but I survived. You definitely need the waterproof backpack for phone, keys, wallet and anything you want to keep dry, because after paddling, I found the bag and cooler were wet all over.

One thing that I really wanted was a wider board and then I thought about “outriggers”! What a great idea, I have to make these. I was a little disappointed when I realized someone had already thought of it…but good for me, as I ordered a set.

After experimenting and researching, I figured there are three main categories of SUP fishing rigs.

• Simple DIY – strapping a chair onto the SUP with a cinch strap and anything else you can put under the front paracord.
• Deluxe DIY- a wide variety of configs but they usually include a chair, cooler, waterproof bag, paddle, leash, fishing gear box or bag, and fishing rod holders. The holders can be attached to the cooler, chairs or to the board with scotty mounts. Everything is usually attached to the board with cinch straps around the board or through board top hooks.
• Fishing SUP/Kayaks – these are paddle-board and thin kayaks that are specifically made for fishing. They have hooks or mounts in the board surface for attachment and usually have a seat, cooler, storage box, waterproof bag, scotty mounts, paddle, leash and some get really outrageous with fish finders, stereos, and stand-up handrails.

I forgot to add about the roll-over on my experiment. As I got closer to shore I wanted to see what would happen if I fell over and capsized. Over I went from a sitting position, and the board capsized and stayed there. I still had the leash on and was in shallow enough water so I was able to stand up. I flipped the board right side up and the chair, cooler, bag, poles, clips were all still attached. I just needed to snag the paddle. Ok, so it is possible to have all this gear with you and fish on a SUP.

If you’re going to go for the full-blown fishing SUP or Kayak, you’ll be set back $600.00 – $ 1000.00 depending upon the options. If you’re going to DIY, you’ll be in for lots of experiments. You could strap on what’s in our garage and spend hundreds on components. It occurs to me that someone needs to make a reference guide for each major SUP board and what the recommended chair, cooler, bag, rack clips, pole holders and other items are for that board. A new business?

In Summary, Fishing SUP is for REAL!

Basic DIY



Deluxe DIY

Fishing Rack Dry Bag



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