How Do You Fish for Trout in a Kayak? A Guide That Gets Results

Fishing for trout in a kayak can be a challenging experience. It can be easily accomplished as long as you have the right kind of kayak and set up as well as the perfect trolling technique.

How do you fish for trout in a kayak? In order to fish for trout in a kayak, you need to make sure you have the right kind of kayak and the best gear set up for lading trout. It’s recommended to go for a sit-on-top kayak and use a light rod with medium power and fast action paired with a spinning reel and monofilament line.

Keep reading to learn more tips about how to successfully fish for trout from a kayak. If you’re looking for a Kayak upgrade that won’t empty your bank account, check out these kayaks under $500 here.

How to Choose a Kayak for Trout Fishing?

Kayak with rod to show how to fish for trout in a kayak

First, you will need to determine the type of kayak you want to use. When it comes to fishing for trout, sit-on-top kayaks are the most recommended.

Sit-on-top kayaks have a lot of advantages for trout anglers. They offer a wide range of motion for casting and trolling which is useful when targeting powerful fish like trout. They’re also more stable and less prone to capsizing

The majority of sit-on-top kayaks are specifically designed for anglers as they come with standing platforms that allow anglers to stand up while fishing. They also have built-in rod holders and a sufficient amount of space on the top of the deck to attach all your fishing gear.

You will also need to determine the shape of the kayak. Going for a longer, wider kayak is good for reeling in trout as it offers more stability and flexibility, however, it can be relatively slower.

On the other hand, going for a thinner, narrower kayak will offer you more speed, which will help you cover more distance and get to the best fishing spots faster.

The Best Kayaks for Trout Fishing

Choosing the best kayak among several options can be overwhelming. So, to help you out here are some of my top choices for kayaks:

The Sun Dolphin Journey is the perfect choice if you’re a beginner looking for a fishing kayak.

It has a wide frame which offers more stability and safety. It’s also good for still waters.

It is made from a durable polyethylene material that is slightly UV-resistant. This will help keep the kayak intact when it hits rocks.

Since it’s designed for fishing, it’s also light in weight and easy to carry. It comes with a lot of storage options for your fishing gears as well as a portable accessory carrier and two mounts with a fishing rod holder.

Its weight capacity is about 280 pounds which is considerably good. However, you will still need to take note of the gear and number of fish you bring abroad, so you won’t overload your boat.

Another option is Pelican Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak.

What makes it ideal for fishing is that it comes with a lot of fishing accessories such as two flush mount rod holders, a paddle tie-down to store your paddle, and six accessory eyelets to attach gear on your kayak.

The bottom hull design provides more stability and great tracking. It has a weight capacity of 325 pounds. It’s also lightweight and easy to carry with two retractable carrying handles.

It includes a padded seat cushion and an adjustable backrest cushion to provide more support as well as adjustable footrests and secure foot bracing.

For many more options, check out my picks for the best ocean fishing kayaks here or the best river fishing kayaks here.

How to Choose the Right Gear for Trout?

Best Trout Fishing Lines

One of the best things about fishing for trout is that the gear you need is very simple as well as affordable.

Let’s break down the essential set-up you’ll need.

Best Rod and A Reel for Trout

A lighter rod would be better to increase accuracy when casting. It’s recommended to pick a rod with medium power and fast action that’s about 6-7 feet in length.

When it comes to reels, it’s recommended to go for a spinning reel with a good wind ratio and drag paired with a monofilament line of 6-10-pound test.

I have a full guide with the best Rods for Trout Fishing here that is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for rods that will just give you the absolute best bang for your buck. For lines, check out my picks for the best trout fishing lines here.

Best lures and baits for trout

The recommended types of lures to use to catch trout are spinnerbait or crankbait as they’re effective in most bodies of water. You might also want to try a variety of live bait options such as crickets, minnows, and fish eggs, and nightcrawlers.

The most important factor in choosing a lure that’s flexible. This will give you a better chance to attract the attention of the trout and get them to bite while you’re trolling in the kayak.

What You Need to Know About Trout

Trout are easy fish to catch. You just need to familiarize yourself with their behavior to maximize your chances of catching them.

The most popular types of trout are brown trout, rainbow trout, steelhead, and lake trout. Their diet mainly consists of insects, crustaceans, and small fish.  A trout’s ideal habitat is cold, clean oxygenated water.

The Best Spots for Catching Trout

They live in both still and moving waters. They are mostly found in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular spots to catch trout in the US:

  • Colorado River – It is famous for having huge amounts of trout fish. The month of June would probably be the best time to fish for trout here.
  • San Juan River – It’s known to have rainbow trout that’s about 16 to 18 inches in length.
  • Yellowstone River – This mixed water river is very popular for rich amounts of different kinds of trout such as cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout.
  • Bighorn River – It is known for having hatches that attract trout and make them come close to the surface to feed.
  • Deschutes River – It’s also known for the golden hatches that cause a lot of big trout to come to the surface especially during spring and early summer.

Best Times for Catching Trout

The best time of the year to go trout fishing is during spring and fall. At this time, most lakes will be stocked as the water will be cooler and the trout will be more active.

The ideal time of the day to fish for is the early morning when the water temperature is cold. At this time the oxygen content is higher in the water which will ensure that the rainbow trout are feeding and active.

How to Troll for Trout from a Kayak?

Trolling is one of the most popular and effective fishing techniques to catch Trout.

When trolling for trout in a kayak, the most important thing you need to do is set up your rods properly. It’s best to go with one or two rods so that you can manage them more easily.

Next you need to let out enough line and paddle through the water with just enough speed to give your lure the proper action. The amount of line you release depends mainly on how deep the water is. The movement of the kayak will attract trout and get them to bite.

Here are some useful tips that will help you improve your trolling technique:

  • Make sure to install a rod holder – This is a must in order to be able to paddle your kayak efficiently. Unless you have a kayak with a pedal or an electric motor which will allow you to hold your rod in your hands while you troll.
  • Keep your rod angled out – This will put more pressure on the trout as they bite, which will help with setting the hook. It will also make the rod a lot easier for you to grab, so you will be able to start reeling the fish in as fast as possible.
  • Add straps to secure the rods – This will help prevent strong trout from pulling the rod of your kayak if you do not grab it fast enough to reel the trout in.
  • Keep the line as tight as possible – This will help ensure that your paddle strokes will cause the lure to move under the water and give the trout the illusion that the bait is alive which will ultimately increase your chances of getting a bite.
  • Keep your noise to a minimum. – Try not to knock your paddle or rod against the kayak or the water’s surface, especially when you’re trolling in shallow water. This is because any loud noise or banging on the kayak’s deck or sides can scare the fish away.
  • Use the wind to your advantage –  Paddle in the direction of the wind while having your trolling rig out behind your kayak.
  • Be efficient when changing your lure – Practice changing lures quickly before your trip. You would need to be efficient with one-handed casting and paddling

For more trout fishing tips, check out my guide for lake trout fishing here and these 15 lake trout pro tactics that you don’t know about (probably).

Related Questions

How Fast Should You Troll in A Kayak?

The ideal speed to maintain while kayaking is 2-3 mph. Trolling at this speed will ensure that the lure is at the right depth and movement to attract trout. However, it mostly depends on whether you’re moving with or against the current.

How to Control Lure Depth When Trolling in A Kayak?

Controlling the lure depth when trolling mostly depends on the speed of your kayak as well the weight of the lure. Kayaking at a fasts speed with lighter lures will cause them to rise higher in the water while heavier lures will dive deeper.

What Are the Favorite Places for Trout to Lie in Rivers?

The favorite places for Trout to lie in rivers are in deep pools or by steep banks where it’s cooler and out of sight from predators, beneath rapids to avoid the top flow of current, in riffles and runs where the current is slow after coming down hard from a steep rapid or waterfall.

Helpful Resources 

Fly Fishing for Trout: The Next Level – Book by Tom Rosenbauer (you can check it on Amazon here as well)

How to Troll in a kayak