How to Hand Line in Kayak Fishing

How to Hand Line in Kayak Fishing
Managing fishing rods while kayaking can prove difficult. While paddling, figuring out where to store your rod takes time and requires permanently attaching specialized fishing rod holders to your kayak. Instead of fishing with a rod and reel, try using a hand line for kayak fishing. Using a hand line with 100 to 200 yards of 40-pound test monofilament tipped with a 20-foot leader of 20-pound test takes the hassle out of fishing in your kayak.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cliffhanger hook
  • Bungee cord
  • Tackle
  • Dipsy Diver
  • Paddle leash
  • Diver's game bag
Step 1
Attach a loop of bungee cord to a cliffhanger hook and tie it to your kayak's deck line. While trolling for fish, you'll use the hook to hold your line. When a fish strikes, it pulls on the hook instead of directly on your hand line. This stops the fish from taking the hand line from your deck.
Step 2
Tie your desired tackle onto the leader. If you're fishing deep water, consider adding a Dipsy Diver to your line. A Dipsy Diver pulls the line down and holds it at depths that sinkers and regular tackle can't.
Step 3
Pay out the desired length of line. When fishing the surface or shallow depths, try to get a good distance between your kayak and the tackle. The further away, the less likely your boat will spook the fish. For deep water, lower enough line to get the tackle to the depth the fish are at.
Step 4
Tie a slip knot about a foot away from your hand line's winder. Hook this knot around the cliffhanger. When you get a strike, the speed of your kayak combined with the pull from the bungee sets the hook. Stash the hand line under your kayak's deck lines.
Step 5
Paddle your kayak along until you hook a fish. Maintain a 2- to 3-knot speed while paddling. Once your rig sets the hook, you're ready to pull the fish in.
Step 6
Unhook the slip knot from the cliffhanger and wind the line in, using the hand line's winder. Use a paddle leash to keep your paddle attached to the kayak while you pull the line in.
Step 7
Net the fish, using a diver's game bag. The hoop on the bag locks closed, keeping the fish secured until you paddle back to shore.

Tips & Warnings

When fishing deep water, talk to charter boat captains to find out how deep the fish are swimming.
40-pound line is tough to break and might present an entanglement risk. Wind all extra line onto your hand line and always carry an accessible knife.

Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

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