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Home Articles Kayak fishing with a longline

Kayak fishing with a longline

Kayak Long Line fishing article written for NZKayak Magazine in 2009

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The benefits of kayaks, as a fishing platform have been recognized by long line fisherman for years in NZ. Whilst I have been fishing from kayaks for several years now it is only recently that I have had a chance to try this form of kayak fishing which has been in practice, long before dedicated fishing kayaks hit the market. As I soon discovered this style of fishing is not only successful and efficient at catching fish it is also a very sociable and family friendly fishing option.

How it works

There are many long line kits available on the market and after some research I am using one from Paul’s Fishing Kites (PFK). The team at PFK is extremely knowledgeable of their trade and offered me sound advice on all the ins and outs of successful long line fishing. This kit is a kayak specific long line kit which consists of a float, weighted sinker, small sand anchor, a 10” spool with 30meters of 100kg mono dropper line, 12 X 5/0 Target snapper hook trace set complete with trace board (traditional 25 hooks sets are a little less kayak friendly but can be used). The relative compactness of this kit means it can be stowed in most kayak hatches, tank wells or fish bags with ease.  Or as i am now doing I can simply attached it to the G-Holds from RAILBLAZA and have it baited and ready to go…

As with any form of hunting and gathering from a kayak it pays to be organized before getting out on the water. If I am using my sit on top fishing kayak, I will pre bait the hook trace set before setting out on the water and stow in the rear tank well, under the insulated cover. When heading out in a sea kayak, to avoid unnecessary smell in my hatches, I prefer to have the pre cut baits in a zip lock bag and bait up when ready to deploy the long line. UPDATE: with the addition of a couple RAILBLAZA G-holds I can now pre bait the longline and have it set up behind me while paddling out int the sea kayak (both tandem and single sea kayaks)…everything else is contained in my STS Insulated fish bag which is strapped to the deck of the kayak at easy reach behind me, this means I no longer have to open hatches while on the water…

[image icon=”zoom” lightbox=”true”]http://www.paddleguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Long-line-on-g-holds.jpg[/image] [image icon=”zoom” lightbox=”true”]http://www.paddleguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Snapper-on-long-line-in-beachcomber-sea-kayak.jpg[/image]


Whilst sit on top kayaks offer the better deck working area for deploying and retrieving the long line, with the right planning, using a sit in kayak can also be effective.  Those that have a sea kayak will no doubt have a paddle float which comes in handy to set as an outrigger to stabilize the kayak when setting the line, and again when retrieving. Another option I use when going for a morning paddle session is to tow the long line out stowed in a pod (like a trailer) and set it close to the point I plan to return. The pod stays attached as the float and the rest goes back in the pod hatch. On the way back from my paddle I simply pull in the line (and hopefully that nights dinner) stow it back in the pod and tow it all back to the beach. For this I can use the Chill Pod from Viking kayaks see my review of this HERE 


 Setting & bait

Choosing the right spot to set your long lines is important both for catching fish and for eliminating gear losses. A sandy bottom located near a reef or weed bed is best.  I have dropped the long line in areas that look relatively barren and lifeless on my fish finder, only to find I have caught some of my best snapper from these spots. Setting in foul ground will only lead to one thing, Snags!! It becomes both very difficult and dangerous to try and free these lines from a kayak when a snag occurs and it is not a good look cutting off all that line and leaving it to rubbish the ocean floor. I have had most success in water no deeper than 10 meters which means you should not need to paddle for more than 10 – 15 mins before setting.


The fresher the bait the better! Fresh baits are less likely to be sucked off the hook and result in a higher chance of a hook up. At present I can’t say any bait has worked better than others as long as it is fresh. Baits don’t need to be any larger than 50 – 70cm long & 20 -25cm wide. I have used fresh kawahai, mullet, bonito, and squid & even stingray, all with similar success. When a fish grabs the bait and tries to run it will only get as far as the next stopper before the tension goes on and the target hook sets itself in the fish’s mouth.

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The Target Snapper Hooks developed by PFK are by far the best part of this kit and key to the success I have gained since using it. The claim of this hook is that it can increase your catch of snapper by over 30%, increase your catch of snapper over 45cm by 300%, reduce undersized fish caught by 50% and take the number of gut hooked fish down to only 1% of your catch!! The knowledgeable team at PFK assured me of these facts and was cautious of a good sales pitch. I can assure you with confidence and experience that all these claims have proven correct. I have enjoyed the success of this hook so much I am now using it when fishing baits on my rod.

[image icon=”zoom” lightbox=”true”]http://www.paddleguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/P10001651.jpg[/image] [image icon=”zoom” lightbox=”true”]http://www.paddleguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/snapper-with-hook.jpg[/image]

 Deploying the long line is quite simple but again it pays to be organized and have your deck area free of clutter while deploying. The first step is attaching a weight to the start of the Mono line then drop that over the side and allow the line to run off the spool stopping it only to attach one of the pre baited traces. There are stoppers attached to the mono line spaced roughly 1 meter apart, each trace is clipped on every 2nd space. This allows enough distance between the hooks to avoid tangles both when deploying and when fish hook up. Once all traces are attached the small sand anchor is then clipped on and let to run freely to the bottom..

With both the weight at the start of the line and the anchor placed after the last baited hook all 12 hooks will now sit on or near the bottom floating naturally with the current, the perfect position for bottom feeding fish such as snapper. The remainder of the line is then let off the spool and attached to the float; the empty spool and trace tray can then be stowed away on the kayak.  At this point you can do many things, go for a paddle, head back to the beach and join the family or go and fish another spot with a rod. Retrieving is pretty much the same in reverse and should take no more than 10 – 15mins to do. On the sound advice given to me by the guys at PFK I never leave the line for more the 45 mins as this is ample time to have several fish hooked, any longer and you risk losing those distressed fish to something hungrier than you. In fact on many occasions when setting in a good spot you will feel fish hooking up as you are setting the line, obviously it would pay not to leave the line set for too long in this situation. Better to bring it up after a short period and maybe reset it if the fishing is good.


Always carry at least 2 sharp knifes with you (1 as a back up in case you lose the other). By sharp I mean sharp enough to cut the heavy mono line without effort.  The two situations I have encountered where a sharp knife has been most beneficial are –

  • When my line became snagged to a point where I could not release it. This was the first and last time I set over foul ground!
  • The second situation occurs when you hook something undesired like a stingray, which is not un common and can make a real mess of things.

If you are going to be opening hatches, while retrieving the line, make sure they are either fitted with sealed bulkheads or adequate buoyancy in case of capsize.

Get the Kids involved

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There is nothing more rewarding than providing my family with fresh fish and what is even more rewarding is sharing this experience with my oldest sonMilan (pictured above). Any one who has taken their kids fishing will know that kids can lose interest very quickly so the experience needs to be both interactive and short. It also pays to keep them warm and well fed. Taking him out on the kayak to set the long line is both quick and fun for both of us. While we wait for the fish to get hooked on the long line we have a snack, have a chat about what’s going on around us and I teach him some techniques with his rod. My son looks forward to doing getting out again as much as I do (Mum gets a well earned break) the only small problem i see coming is where to put his younger brother when he is old enough to join?


See it in action

Here are a couple of my videos where you will see the longline in action, from deploying to retrieving with fish…enjoy


for more info  on the Pauls fishing kite longline see the following link


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