It seems like a week doesn’t go by without encountering someone new to the sport of kayak fishing. Most have done some sort of fishing before and are now moving into the kayak fishing realm, but many are starting from scratch and want to know where to begin. A great place to start is with a basic kayak fishing checklist and then to build from there.
My friends at Bending Branches and I worked up a basic kayak fishing checklist to help jumpstart the new kayak angler.
Here is a summary of the “list” itself. The full checklist and more details are available on the Bending Branches blog, go check it out.
Basic Kayak Fishing Checklist:
There are many other things advanced kayak anglers use, but the list above is all you need to get the most out of a fun day on the water.
My first day kayak fishing included a cooler with some water, one fishing rod, a few lures, and a rented kayak and paddle. As I spent more time fishing and going on kayak fishing trips with others, the checklist above seems to be among the most common needs for a weekend kayak angler. Every kayak fisherman sets up their kayak and has their own checklist, so I would expect that you would do the same as you adjust to your goals, fishing destination and style of fishing.
You may have read my articles about the new 2018 model Bending Branches Angler Pro and how it is an elite paddle for the kayak angler. Another new paddle that us the ultimate level for kayak fishing is also being released, the brand new Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon.
This paddle is full carbon from tip to tip, making it the toughest, lightest and highest performance kayak fishing paddle on the planet. The blade shape is the same as the new Bending Branches Angler Pro, including the performance ridge along the middle of the blade to direct water across the face when paddling, making entering and exiting the water almost effortless.
If this were not enough, the most amazing aspect of the new Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon is an unbelievable weight of only 25.5 ounces! This is well below the weight of all other high performance fishing paddles, cutting 3 ounces off of the 2018 Angler Pro. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on this paddle!
Specifications of the Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon
$399.95 (Snap) $424.95 (Plus)
Weight: 25.5 oz
Full carbon construction from tip-to-tip
Same blade shape as the Angler Pro, but Compression Molded Carbon construction
Available in lengths from 230-260cm in 10cm increments and in the Plus ferrule, 230-245cm or 240-255cm
The newly redesigned Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle not only has increased performance specs but has a new lineup of innovative blade designs. These new paddles will not only move you like never before on the water – but you’re going to have a stylish and distinctive look while paddling. All of these improvements come with a lower price point than before – $299.95 for snap and $324.95 for adjustable length and feather ferrule.
New Angler Pro Paddle Designs
Previously, the Angler Pro came in a limited number of blade styles (Sea Green, Camo and Realtree Max) which were attractive but somewhat understated visual representations. I’ve been using the Sea Green primarily due to high visibility for big body of water fishing but also have the Camo version for a more stealthy approach.
With the 2018 Bending Branches Angler Pro paddles, they have really upped the game in providing some dynamic and visually striking designs. These styles are great and they did a very good job of soliciting opinions from staffers during the research phase – meaning these are designs that real kayak anglers said they would love. I’m also liking the fact that even though they are all vibrant color schemes, you can likely find one to match your kayak.
The crew at Bending Branches have stepped up the paddle game once again with their newly redesigned Bending Branches Angler Pro fishing paddle. Already the best paddle on the market, the Angler Pro has received several upgrades that will enhance any kayak fishing day on the water. As an avid Angler Pro user, I’ve touted it as the toughest and best paddle on the market before. This new version has me very excited and will be worth the upgrade no matter what you are currently paddling with – and now with a lower price point!
Designed for Performance
Science has come into play in making the Bending Branches Angler Pro an even better and more efficient water moving machine. Some of the changes in the 2018 model include a reshaping and redesign of the blade to optimize water displacement with maximum effectiveness. The blade now has a ridge running down its length which directs water across the face when paddling, making entering and exiting the water almost effortless. The shape has also been enhanced, making the paddle blade a bit shorter and a bit taller.
Bending Branches has taken it to the next level in regard to strength vs weight. Already a market leader for a premier kayak fishing paddle at 30 ounces, the new Bending Branches Angler Pro sets a new bar at 28.5 ounces, a 5% weight reduction which will make a tremendous difference with hours on the water. With this weight drop, no strength or durability is sacrificed. The Angler Pro is still built with a high grade carbon shaft and tough as nails fiberglass blade.
Specifications of the Bending Branches Angler Pro:
As a competitive kayak fishing tournament angler I am a big believer in the importance of having a quality paddle while fishing. Other than your kayak and your PFD, it is the next most important piece of equipment you can have on the water. In this Bending Branches Angler Pro Paddle Review I’ll share some thoughts on why this is the ultimate paddle for kayak fishing.
My fleet consists of three kayaks (Wilderness Tarpon100, Wilderness Ride115, and Hobie Pro Angler 12) and four Bending Branches paddles (Sunrise, Angler Ace and two Angler Pros). Bending Branches is my preferred brand because of their superior
engineering, durability, flawless construction and they are assembled in the USA. Within their paddle lineup, the Angler Ace is a great option, but this is an Angler Pro paddle review, so we’ll focus on that model.
More Power, Faster Speed
Whether using a full paddle with my Ride115 or a half paddle on my Hobie PA12, the 104″ surface area of the blade on the Angler Pro provides maximum water displacement to help move you along quickly or to make a turn easier and with less effort. The T-700 Carbon shaft makes a long day on the water easier on your shoulders and joints by providing just the right amount of flex to maximize your paddle stroke and minimizing strain. At only 30 oz. this paddling power comes in an amazingly light package.
Tough as Nails
When I got my first Angler Pro it was a thing of beauty, I was sooo paranoid about scuffing it or messing it up because it looked awesome. Soon though I was using it to fend off everything from rocks to docks and have really put a lot of stress on the blades. This thing is practically indestructible and still looks great. For off the water toughness, just read this previous article about how I used my paddle to help rescue someone on the side of the interstate. The blade on this paddle stands up to anything I’ve been able to throw at it thanks to multi-layer fiberglass blades.
In addition to paddling power and toughness, the Angler Pro comes with several other elite features that make it the ultimate paddle for kayak fishing:
Comes either with a three hole snap-button ferrule feature allowing you to feather the blade angles, and also available with a telescoping ferrule for an adjustable length.
Tape measure imprinted on handle…I use mine sometimes to
determine water visibility by putting one end of the paddle down and measuring with the handle.
Stylish color options include Sea Green, Camo and RealTree Max5. I have one in Sea Grean which is a high visibility color for safety on the water and one in Camo which is a sharp, understated look.
The Angler Pro with a snap-button ferrule comes in sizes ranging from 220cm to 260cm, in 10cm increments. With the Plus ferrule, the Angler Pro is available in adjustable lengths of 230-245cm and 240-255cm. For larger sit on top kayaks, or taller anglers, lean toward the longer length.
Although the price of $329.95 isn’t cheap, you truly get what you pay for. And, what you get with this paddle is unparalleled performance and toughness to give you a competitive edge on the water. I hope you enjoyed this Pro Angler paddle review and will consider it for your kayak fishing needs.
Caught this Arkansas largemouth bass while kayak bass fishing at Swepco Lake. Hooked it in two feet of water using a Bandit 100 in Green Speckled Craw pattern armed with Owner Stinger treble hooks. Was 20″ and weighed 5.55 pounds.
Gear setup: Hobie Pro Angler 12, Bending Branches Pro Angler Paddle, Dobyns Fury Rod, P-Line 12lb Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles and Fish Allure Scented tab applied to back of bait.
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This recent spotlight features one of the most exclusive kayak bass fishing tournaments in the country, a product feature, tips for fishing with kids and one of my favorite tackle sources:
The Yak4It Tournament of Champions at Lake Fork, Texas, is coming up in November and I’m excited to have qualified again this year to compete. This tournament is by invitation only and qualifiers are selected from tournament circuits or events around the country based on how the anglers have performed in those events. This is the second year in a row I will be competing representing Arkansas along with other qualifiers from the state. The tournament is held at famous Lake Fork and Lake Fork Marina and Motel serves as the epicenter of the event. Last year was my first time on the lake, am hoping for a better finish this year.
Heddon is an old school fishing brand that I love to throw because I simply catch fish with these lures. Here is a nice video from Heddon showing off some pond fishin’ with a Pop’n Image.
Kayak Fishing Blog is my favorite website for reading about kayak fishing topics and once again they have a great article, this one on 15 Tips for Kayaking with Kids. Taking kids out on the water is a great way to create a legacy and grow the sport. Make it a great trip by using the tips in their handy infographic.
If your local big box store doesn’t carry some of the plastics or lure variations you need, check out Lurenet.com for baits. This site carries only certain product lines (including some big ones like YUM and Booyah) but has the deepest selection from within their offerings. For example, I like to use the YUM 10″ Ribbontail worm in Black/Blue flake, but this is a hard one to find. Lurenet.com has it and a lot more.
Fishing with a topwater bait from a kayak may require a different technique than from a bass boat. Check out this video for a quick tip on working a ‘walk the dog’ style bait like a Heddon Zara Spook.
Bass fishing with a topwater lure is some of the most fun you can have as a kayak angler. Lures like a walking bait, jerkbaits and flukes must be worked with the rod tip parallel to the water. This can be a bit difficult at first, but with a little practice you can tune in your presentation to catch some big bass.
Fellow Arkansas Kayak Angler Jeff Malott won a cool $3,000 this past weekend at the KBS Open on Table Rock Lake. Jeff is a great angler who works hard at his craft and deserved the win. Jeff caught eight bass and turned in a limit of 82″ inches on a post-front day. He is the tournament director for Arkansas Kayak Angler events, one of the founders of the Razoryak Tournament Trail and serves on many other kayak fishing related boards. It’s no surprise an AKA member won on Table Rock; clear and rocky water like that is home turf. Jeff is currently at the top spot in the AOY points for AKA and has a great season. Check out Jeff’s blog, Yakfish Arkansas.
If you are fortunate enough to have a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP), they are a lot of fun. Choosing the right paddle can make all the difference. Bending Branches has this great article about Choosing a Stand-Up Paddle that’s helpful and includes some graphics representing the height of the paddler to the paddle and the right angle at which to make a paddle stroke.
Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers and Arkansas Kayak Anglers have updated their respective Angler of the Year points rankings after their most recent events. In northwest Arkansas, the AOY standings are taking shape with only two events left. Jeff Malott, Dwain Batey, Jason Kincy (me), Decland McDonald and Tim Hotchkin are sitting in the top five spots, with the top three places separated by eight points. Overall, there are 108 anglers in the points race. For WAKA, Brandon Ward and Cody Skelton are in a tight race for first, with Tommy Mcguire, Christa Hibbs and Joe Feyen rounding out the top five. Having only fished two events this year for WAKA, I’m currently sitting at 21 out of 47 anglers.
The same baits paid big dividends in two tourneys in two different locations this past weekend. Over two days I competed in two road-runner kayak bass fishing tournaments on the Razoryak Tournament Trail.
Western Kayak Anglers held their tournament on Saturday and I took my kayak to Charleston Lake in Charleston, Arkansas. Hoping for an early topwater bite was the right move on this small, shallow lake. Within 45 minutes I had three keepers on my Heddon Super Spook Jr. (Foxy Shad) with a Fish Allure scented tab. Later in the morning I hooked into a giant who broke me off with a hard dive right at the yak, taking my spook with them. I was able to add a fourth keeper later in the day with a YUM Dinger (Cajun Neon) around buckbrush, but fell short of the five I needed that day. Still finished 11th in this event on this tough post-front bite day.
Sunday was a different day and a better bite when 74 kayak anglers in NW Arkansas hit the road for Arkansas Kayak Anglers. I went to Beaver Lake to try and capitalize on a really good 2016 bite. Early on, the spook was working again, netting me three keepers on a Super Spook Jr. (Florida Bass) with a Fish Allure scented tab. I’d been experimenting with the relatively new Booyah Bankroll Jig and it did good work that morning. I pulled a nice keeper off of a log and moments later hooked a big one in some brush – which got away thanks to getting wrapped up on the wood. The Bankroll jig is great because of its versatility; I can swim it, flip it or drag it. Thanks to these baits I was able to cull twice and put together a decent limit. There were 30 limits caught on this day but I was able to finish in the top 10 out of 74 for the event and am in 3rd in the overall points race.
Great equipment is key in fishing kayak tournaments, maybe even more than in boat tournaments because you cover much less water. Every bite is critical! Some people ask about my boat setup, so here it is: Native Propel 10 kayak, Bending Branches Angler Pro Paddle, Humminbird Helix 5, and white Hawg Trough.