Stand Up Paddle Board Fishing: Have You Tried This Fly Fishing Approach?

Posted by Hunter Burnette on Tue, Nov 14, 2017

Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash

The new and unique sport of Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) Fly-fishing is happening at rivers, lakes, and oceans across the country. 

I would not advise this sport to any beginner as it takes skill in multiple areas.  First you have to be an avid fly-fisherman who can make casts while focusing on balance. On the other hand you must be able to maneuver and control the Stand UpPaddle board while drifting a fly or nymph rig in the appropriate feeding lane.

One of my favorite locations to practice this sport is on the Chattahoochee River. Not only are there loads of fish, but the water depth is consistent.

The Advantages to SUP Fly-Fishing

The versatility and stability of the boards makes fly-fishing an ease. Not only do they provide an incredible vantage point when casting a fly, but they also are easily maneuverable.

The height advantage allows the paddler to leverage the long paddle while standing up and gives the angler the ability to make quick turns without disturbing the water and thus the fish that he or she is stalking.

It is crucial to know the water you are fishing. This is especially true for the Chattahoochee river in Helen Georgia because of the fast flow and rocks throughout the river. It helps to have run the section of river that you will fish a few times to know where the obstacles are. This helps so much when you are trying to make a long cast and get a good drift for your fly, but you know that a big boulder is approaching or a log underwater.

Badfish Stand Up Paddle Board For Fishing
Image courtesy of Badfish Stand-Up Paddle

Why Stand-Up Paddle (SUP)?

These boards are amazingly sturdy even in turbulent water.  For example; when navigating rapids in the Chattahoochee river the boards flow smoothly up and over the rough water and if the paddler is really adventurous they are able to paddle into the standing waves and surf. This also shows the versatility to the sport as it was originally designed for catching and surfing big waves.  

The performance of each board depends on their designs.  Most of the flat water boards are made with a displacement hull that actually pushes water out to the sides as the front of the board cuts through the water. These are most advantageous when trying to stay on a straight course and for paddling long distances. A concave hull is made for surfing waves and is better suited for fishing rough ocean waters or rivers that have a constant choppy surface.

Fly-Fishing Paddle Boards

I have found there can be many additions to the stand up paddle boards for fly fishing.  Even though these boards were originally designed to surf big waves in Hawaii they can be easily modified for flat water fly-fishing just by changing the shape of the hull and adding accessories that support sight fishing.  A key aspect to these boards for the sport of fly-fishing is that they are light weight and easy to carry.  I have seen some models from badfish that are even portable and can be blown up when hiking into a high mountain lake. These would be a perfect fit for accessing some of the more difficult sections of the Chattahoochee river in north Georgia.

SUP  Fly Fishing
Image courtesy of Badfish Stand-Up Paddle

Top Performers And Accessories

The best performing boards for fly-fishing are those that are made from carbon fiber that have plenty of width for stability.  Whether you are fishing the mangroves in salt water or drifting down a mountain river these boards give an angler the ability to paddle in stealth mode to get incredibly close to feeding fish. Drift fishing is a big deal in moving water so the fact that the board tracks well is very important.  Appropriately placed rod holders are key as well and give the angler the speed of access to change quickly from a dry-fly fishing set up to a nymphing rig. 

Also it is very important to be able to release an anchor while moving down river especially when you see a pod of fish rising that you want to cast to.  Also a small yeti cooler attached right behind the standing platform can be a huge asset to take a break from standing or sit to tie on another fly.

Another important accessory is a paddle holder that fits onto the side of the cooler or on top of the board.  The important part here is that the paddle can be grabbed easily and quickly.  If one is using the SUP in the river it is very important to have a hard rubber fin so that when crossing over rocks it does not hang up or damage the usual carbon fiber fin. 

A carbon fiber paddle that is fit to the requirement of the paddler is essential.  The fact that they are lightweight and easy to paddle makes the fishing experience all the better.  Many times an angler will have to paddle upstream and this is where a light paddle and streamlined board come into place. Because of the incredible power that is produced when standing on top of the board it is a much more efficient way to get up stream quicker or maneuver to another location with ease. 

Fly Fishing Top 5 Flies For The Toccoa River

Unsurpassed Flexibility

Overall these new Stand Up Paddle boards can be taken anywhere and they give an angler the chance to fish for many different species of fish in all kinds of water. It is definitely my preferred way to fly fish not only because of the vantage point and maneuverability, but also because I much prefer to stand and cast while being high on the water as compared to sitting in a kayak.  I also enjoy the ease of carry. When  there is a good hatch coming off of the river I can strap the board on top of my car and slide it quickly into the water once I arrive.  

In order to create the best personalized SUP for fly-fishing, accessories as well as design have to be taken into account.  The length, width and hull design all depend on the body of water one will be fishing. Even if one is not fishing there are many great uses for these boards including long trekking paddles, surfing, and overall fitness.

Are you ready to step into one of the fastest growing sports and hone in your fly-fishing skills?

We've Got Cabins For Your Next Trips To North Georgia

When you plan to visit the Helen area for stand up paddle fly fishing, we'd love to have you stat with us. We've got a large selection of cabins to inject your adventure with a fun and relaxing stay away from home. Click here to view our cabins.

Local Fish Guide & Supply Companies

Whether you need tackle, flies, or a fishing license, these great local companies can serve your fly fishing needs. Call ahead if you're looking for a paddle board, and we suspect they could have one available for you 

Unicoi Outfitters | (706) 878-3083 

7082 S Main St | Helen, GA 30545

Visit their website here

Betty's Country Store | (706) 878-2943

18 Yonah St | Helen, GA 30545

Visit their website here

JC Outdoors | (229) 938-4458

8016 S. Main St. Suite B-1 | Helen, Georgia, GA 30545

Visit their Facebook Page here

Smithgall Woods State Park | (706) 878-3087

61 Tsalaki Trl| Helen, GA 30545

Visit their website here

Our Additional Fishing Articles

We've got multiple articles that make up our fishing article hub. In this fishing portal, you'll find blogs, links, images, and videos that help you have the best fishing experience in North Georgia and around Helen.

Here is a list of these resources. 

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Topics: Things To Do, Fishing, North Georgia
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