How to Catch Rainbow Trout in a Kayak.

How to Catch Rainbow Trout in a Kayak.

Nothing beats landing a monster rainbow in a kayak on a nice frosty morning in the fall. I grew up a bank and boat fisherman and I bet it cost me some monster rainbows. Rainbow trout are predators, they stalk the shallows and eat like crazy. In rivers, they wait behind rocks for their prey and strike aggressively. In a kayak, you can sneak up on them quietly with no foot or motor vibrations. This allows a fisherman to catch some of those bigger, smarter rainbow trouts.

Stay Quiet

One of the biggest advantages of fishing for rainbows is stealth. Rainbows are predators but the bigger rainbows are alive because they are afraid. The only surface briefly and spook easily. Trying staying far out from the shore and casting in with spinners and spoons. Never cast in the same spot more than once and drift freely down a shoreline. Make as little noise as possible and you will hook into a large rainbow in your kayak.

Kayak Fishing with A Rapala

Trolling for rainbow trout in your kayak

Trolling for rainbow trout can be kind of difficult because of the position of your poles. Unless you're using a pedal drive you're going to have to have the poles position behind your seat. I have found that you can use a small ice fishing pole and keep one off to the side of your kayak and another behind your seat. You're going to want to keep a shorter leader line so that you can get a big fish. Some people like to use Dodgers but this makes a longer leader line and a harder job to net a fish. I would try to troll with wedding rings, spoons and Rapalas. 

Most rainbow trout sit at different levels throughout the day. Move around until you locate the fish. Use the weight chart below to figure out your trolling depth. This will be dependent upon your speed and you might want to look into getting something that tells you how fast you are going in your kayak. Some people use a fish finder while others just use boat speedometers or apps on their phone. 

Put an electric motor on your kayak

It might be a good idea to install an electric motor on your kayak when trolling for rainbows.This will free up your hands and allow you to fish for long periods of time. It doesn't take a very large electric trolling motor and battery to keep you trolling for rainbow trout all day. This will also allow you to keep a constant speed that helps you gauge how deep you will be fishing. Keep in mind though, this means that you will make some noise and vibration in the water.

You might also be considering a fishfinder where you would need a battery setup anyways. When purchasing a kayak I always look for types with some sort of flat transom, for example, the NuCanoe Flint Or Nucanoe F12. This makes installing an electric motor very easy. 

NuCanoe F12

Fishing lakes from a kayak

One of the best methods for catching large rainbows in a lake from a kayak is paddling upwind and then drifting down the lake. You can drift through large flats, the edges of coves and big rainbows will sometimes even stack up in the middle of the lake. You want to find the depth where the trout are and then drift a worm and a marshmallow through these trout areas. You will bounce your marshmallow and your worm off the bottom occasionally retrieving your bait. Once the wind has taken you to the end of your line you will paddle up and then drift back down the lake. You can also do this casting spinners or fly fishing. Minimize paddling and consider this one of the stealthy ways to hook into a large rainbow. 

Kayaks on a river bank

Fishing rivers for rainbow trout from a kayak

The best way to hook large rainbows in a river is to drift a worm and the salmon egg. You will use weight according to how quickly the river is flowing. This is going to be a little more difficult than fishing in a lake. I would suggest mapping out a river and kayaking it a couple of times before trying to catch rainbows in it. Kayaking in rivers can be dangerous in itself, but it can be especially dangerous to hook into a large rainbow and not be able to control your kayak and drift down into some logs or undercurrents.

This is why it is a good idea to learn how fast the river you are fishing in is flowing that way you will be able to gauge how to maneuver your kayak through the river and into the fishing holes. If you have a pedal kayak it might make things a little easier than if you have a paddle kayak. Your hands are not going to be very free when you hook into a large rainbow so keep that in mind when planning your next river trip. 

Lastly don't be afraid to use your kayak to access good bank fishing spots on a river. You can use your kayak to access some amazing holes and drift lines.

Anchoring while fishing for rainbows

Another way to find some monsters is to anchor your kayak in hot holes. One of the greatest things about anchoring in a kayak is you get the best of both worlds. You get the element that you’d find in a boat to hold steady out in the middle of the water, but you also still have the stealth that comes with fishing from a quiet kayak. For someone who really wants to deck their kayak out, check out these anchors made specifically for kayaks. For do-it-yourself-ers, you can easily make your own anchor out of some paracord and a weight. Just remember, it can be dangerous to keep a bunch of anchor line out on your kayak. It’s easy to get tangled up on the kayak, or if you tip you could get drug under with the line. If you do make your own kayak anchor just remember to make a way for you to keep the anchor line from getting caught up on you or anything else on your kayak. 

Down below are some items you might consider getting for trout fishing from a kayak.

Yackattack leverage fishing net


YakAttack Leverage Landing Net

This is one of the sweetest nets out there. You can one-hand land a fish all day with this net. Its quick, sturdy, and a must if you think you're going to get into some large rainbows. Don't be the guy who lost a large rainbow trout because you forgot your net.


Kokanee Smelly Jelly

Smelly Jelly

Put some of this one your marshmallows and you will hammer the trout. I prefer this Kokanee flavor because the trout love it and so do the Kokanee. A good all-around flavor to have. Even bass hammer this flavor.

The perfect kayak anchor


A solid quick anchor will help you set up on top of a school of rainbows. A lot of the times a big school of rainbow trout will stage up on a cliff edge or even just a bush. Get positioned and cast into the school. An anchor will allow you to really concentrate on catching fish and not paddling or peddling all day.


One thought on “How to Catch Rainbow Trout in a Kayak.

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