How to Fish for Trout in a Kayak? A Complete Guide

Fishing from a kayak can help you catch challenging fish species such as trout. That is because some kayaks are specially designed to give you more control when fishing. Kayaks also allow you to utilize your fishing gear in a way that maximizes your chances of landing more trout fish.

So, how do you fish for trout in a kayak? To fish for trout in a kayak, you first need to choose the right kayak. It’s best to go with a sit-on-top kayak as they’re the most ideal for Trout fishing. You also need to be prepared with a gear setup that would handle trout’s aggressive nature. This includes medium power rods with fast action, a spinning reel, and a braided fishing line.

Continue reading to learn more about what you need when targeting trout and what factors you need to consider when choosing a kayak for trout fishing.

What Do You Need for Trout Fishing?

lures on kayak to show how to fish for trout in a kayak

Trout is one of the most resilient fish species in the United States and they demand a significant level of skill to catch.

On top of having skill, you need to be prepared with the right kind of gear set up to target trout as well as the best baits and lures to attract trout to bite

Let’s take a quick look at everything you’ll need for trout fishing.

Best Gear Setup for Trout Fishing

When targeting trout, it’s recommended to use a fishing rod that’s about 6 to 7 feet in length with fast action and medium power paired with a baitcasting reel. This rod and reel combination will allow you more control over your casting. You can find the best trout fishing rods here.

For the fishing line, you can use a monofilament line with a line test of 6 to 10 pounds. You can also go with a heavier braided line with a line test of 4 to 6 pounds. Here are the best monofilament lines you can get.

A heavier line will be more effective in handling any of the trout’s heavy attacks. You can also attach a fluorocarbon leader to prevent the trout from biting through your mainline.

Best Baits and Lures for Trout Fishing

Trout are usually attracted to natural baits. You can fish for them using small baitfish such as minnows or shiners. You can also catch trout with live worms that are about 2 to 4 inches.

If you’re using artificial bait, it’s best to go with lures that effectively mimic the look and action of live bait such as crankbaits, spoons, and spinners. The vibrations and movement created by these lures will grab the trout’s attention and trigger them to bite.

Keep in mind that trout have excellent vision and they are able to detect colors underwater. So, it’s important to choose your lures in colors that work well with the water conditions you’re fishing in. Bright colored lures work best in clear water while darker colors are more suitable for murky waters.

Scented baits also work very well for trout. I have been using powerbaits for trout and they have worked better than I could ever expect, and you can get the best powerbaits for trout here and learn why do they work so well.

How to Choose the Right Kayak for Trout Fishing?

Choosing the right kayak design can significantly affect your chances of catching trout.

Sit-on-top kayaks are the most common choice for fishing because they’re designed without a cockpit which gives enough space for a wide range of motion when casting and reeling in fish.

The lack of a cockpit provides more space on deck to attach your fishing gear. Some sit-on-top kayaks come with built-in standing platforms that will allow you more stability when fishing while standing up.

There are other important factors to consider when choosing a kayak. Let’s take a quick at some of these factors:


The material used to manufacture the kayak has a significant effect on its durability, so you need to choose a kayak that’s made from high-quality materials to ensure the kayak won’t wear out with use.

Kayaks made from hard plastic materials such as polyethylene are cheap and sufficiently durable but they can be heavy in weight. On the other hand, Kayaks made from composite materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, or fiberglass are a lot lighter and in weight more durable but they’re significantly more expensive.

Length and Width

The length and width of your kayak have a direct effect on how well it performs. This includes the kayak’s stability, speed, and tracking.

Kayaks that are wide and short offer more stability and balance which allows you to cast accurately even when fishing while standing up. On the other hand, long and narrow kayaks offer more speed.

Weight and Weight Capacity

You need to choose a kayak that’s light in weight so you can easily carry and transport it to your fishing spots.

You also need to choose a kayak with a high weight capacity so it can withstand tour weight as well as the weight of your fishing gear and any catches you bring aboard.

Storage Space

You need a kayak with multiple storage options that are accessibly and tightly sealed to carry all your fishing gear as well as your personal belongings


You’ll be spending a long time in your kayak when going on a fishing trip so you need to choose a kayak that comes with accessories and additional features to ensure your comfort.

The kayak should have a well-padded adjustable seat with a solid backrest to reduce back pains from paddling for a long time. If it doesn’t, you can get Kayak seats on amazon but you really need to know how to choose them. I have a complete guide for the best kayaks seats here that is definitely worth checking out as it can not only help you but also save you plenty of money.

It also should come with built-in rod holders and a standing platform to make your fishing experience easier and more comfortable.

What Are the Best Kayaks for Trout Fishing?

Now that you what to look for when choosing a kayak, here are some of the best kayaks on the market that would be ideal for trout fishing:

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 sit-on-top kayak is designed specifically for fishing.

It comes with many features to satisfy every angler’s needs such as built-in flush mounts, swivel fishing rod holders, multiple storage compartments, adjustable foot braces, and a comfortable padded seat.

It’s highly durable and UV-resistant as it’s made from high-density polyethylene materials. It’s also light and easy to transport due to the presence of retractable carrying braces.

If you’re on a tighter budget, The Sevylor Quikpak K1 sit-on-top kayak would be a better option for you as it offers many benefits and accessories for a very affordable price.

This inflatable kayak comes with a high-pressure pump and double-bladed paddle that’s collapsible for easy storage.

It’s very durable and abrasion-resistant as it’s made from reinforced PVC material and since it’s inflatable, it’s lighter in weight and a lot easier to transport and store.

Pro Tips for Trout Fishing from Kayak

Here are some tips you can follow to increase your chances of catching more trout when fishing from a kayak:

  • Use the trolling fishing technique – You need to make sure the rods are set up properly. It’s also best to go with only one or two rods so that you can easily manage them while paddling
  • Install a rod holder – This will allow you to set up your rods for trolling so you can paddle the kayak more efficiently.
  • Keep your rod angled out – This will allow you to set the hook and reel in your catch as quickly as possible
  • Add straps to secure the rods – This will prevent trout from pulling the rod out of your hand during a rough fight.
  • Keep your line as tight as possible –  This will allow your lure to create more action as you paddle through the water which will attract more trout to bite.
  • Control the depth of your lure –  Lure depth depends mainly on the speed of your kayak and the weight of the lure. Paddling at a fast speed when using a light lure will make it rise higher in the water while a heavier lure will dive deeper.
  • Practice changing your lure – You need to be able to change your lures quickly when fishing from a kayak as you will need to do it with one hand while paddling.
  • Keep your noise to a minimum – Avoid knocking your fishing rod or paddle against the kayak or the water surface, especially when fishing in shallow water because any loud noise might scare the trout away.
  • Choose the right time to target trout – The best time of the day to target trout is early morning. During this time, the oxygen content in the water will be higher which will ensure that trout are active and feeding.

Related Questions

Can You Fly Fish for Trout from a Kayak?

You can fly fish for trout from a kayak as long as you have the right gear and right kayak. Make sure to choose a kayak with a stable standing platform and built in rod holders. Keep in mind that the fly fishing technique is more ideal when wading into the water or casting from the shore.

Do You Need an Anchor When Fishing from a Kayak?

You do need an anchor when fishing from a kayak, especially on moving water as it will help maintain your position and reduce any noise that might scare the fish. It’s usually recommended to go for collapsible anchors that weigh about 1-3 pounds when fishing from a kayak.

Helpful Resources 

Trout Fishing Basics

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (you can check the book on Amazon here)

Kayak your way to Freedom

Level Up your Trout Fishing

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