Seeing as a SUP has unfortunately become my primary method of floatation for fishing lately, I thought that I would put together a short essentials list to help you out as you go through the frustrations of learning to fish effectively from your SUP.
So… Your missus has insisted on purchasing a SUP so that she can do yoga on it and keep up with the trendies at gym. You checked this inflatable board out and schemed that it’s a great idea to fish off it. My first word of advice is don’t. Kill that idea immediately!
However, if you have no other choice or are stubborn like me, then start slow. Do not be tempted to load your SUP up on your first outing and disappear into the haze of the horizon. This will only end in embarrassment. Stay close to shore and keep your gear to a minimum (think: can I swim with it?) because something is going to land in the water. My suggestion is a rod and backpack – that’s it, or you’re going to look like this guy. But worse…
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**PS – I would never call a SUP the ultimate fly fishing vehicle; they’re clumsy, hate wind and can leave you feeling like you have the balance of drunk (although this could also be from the later mentioned beers)…
Have a few outings like this. Doing so will build confidence in your ability recover balance every time you make a quick movement or look too far over your shoulder. Also take a cooler with a few beers to leave on the beach; these are to help deal with the realisation that you’re no longer as athletic as you used to be and that the 9 to 5 has taken the ruggedness out of you, even though it hasn’t helped you afford a real boat.
Once you have a build up a fictitious belief in yourself (whether through actual practice or too many beers), it’s time head out on a longer trip.
Here some pointers to not totally fluff it:
- Check the weather
If the wind is blowing offshore, be sure to take flares and an emergency beacon. Seriously though, SUPs, especially inflatables, have a very defined relationship with wind; they are a slave to it. If it’s pumping offshore or a big blow is predicted, don’t be that guy who needs a pickup from the coast guard or NSRI.
- Take enough liquids
2.1 Paddling all day in the sun gets hot. You sweat. Replacing this sweat is crucial to not dehydrating. Drink water. I suggest a smaller cooler box – this can also be used as seat when you need to catch your breath – because there’s nothing better than drinking water that is ice cold water while exerting yourself on a hot day. Except drinking beer. And ice cold beer is what you will have at the end (or any point) of your outing if you take a cooler. It also works well for keeping your lunch cold.
2.2 But get a cooler with closures/clips because there is nothing worse than seeing your last beers float off because you fell off your SUP because of your first few beers. Cooler boxes that seal also make awesome floatation devices when your SUP gets speared but the spine of a big fish or your third beer causes a horrible cast that embeds the fly in your board.
- Take an anchor
As mentioned, SUPs drift fast. And when that fourth beer kicks in and you want a nap, you’ll be super stoked you have a small anchor (with rope) to secure your SUP in one place while doze off. Also great for keeping you positioned next to channels, gullies and holes. The anchor rope can also be used for tying off next to your buddy when you need to schmooze a few beers off him.
- Take a drogue
If you know what that is it, it probably means that you try hide your dark past of taking part in trout fishing competitions. It took Siri at least four goes to spell it right. Normal people call them water anchors. I discovered how they work by accident when the shopping bag I had tied to the SUP that I had had my lunch in because the cooler was full, fell overboard. I then fell overboard when the bag acted like a recyclable hand brake. That bag is still my water anchor and makes for really nice long slow drifts…
- Use a utility basket
A fly line is like a teenager; it get entangled with anything if given half a chance. Remove your fly line’s temptations and carry a small basket that you can place the anchor, rope, loose fly boxes, etc in. It’s a horrible place to be, choosing between casting at big fish or retrieving your last box flies as it floats in the opposite direction. And it gets worse when your fly line, after you chose the fish over the flies, gets snagged in the anchor and causes the fish to bolt in reaction your poor attempt at regaining balance with cursing Murphy. And of course, Murphy will then rub in it by having your paddle join your fly box as they float directly into the glare of the early afternoon sun.
They make good pillows for when the fish aren’t biting and you want to sleep off your beers. Also work better as a floatation device than a cooler box when your SUP gets speared but the spine of a big fish or your third beer causes a horrible cast that embeds the fly in your board.
- Use tie downs
Loose stuff falls off when you wobble…
The last step is place all these items on the SUP in such a way that you can reach them without looking like a monkey that’s been eating overripe Amarulas while you struggle to maneuver around your board as your grasp for that beer to ease the pain of that big fish you just spooked!
Good luck out there!
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Another good weekend with the SUP and a flyrod. Getting onto the water anywhere is always such relief from the madness of the city. But when that water happens to be an incredible fishery… @dalemccarthy • • • • • • • • #feathersandfluoro #themissionflymag #flyfishing #insearchofblue #aquaholic #wishyouwerethere #fishing #sup #getoutside #desertlife