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As an avid kayak tournament angler I’m always striving to improve my efficiency while out on the water. To me being more efficient means an increased opportunity for putting more fish in the boat. Most kayak fishing tournaments are 8 hours long. I want to make sure I’m getting the most out of every minute of my day. Sometimes the difference between winning and second place is those few extra casts you were able to make by being more efficient with your time. A by-product of being a more efficient angler is less stress and fewer hiccups occurring throughout your time on the water. I don’t know about you but even when I’m tournament fishing I’m all about having a fun and stress-free day. After all we’re not making a living doing this. I want to share with you some of the things I do to help me be a more efficient angler. Some are small ideas that take little to no time at all to become proficient at and others are larger ideas that require some preparation. I’ll break these tips down into two categories. Things you can do pre-tournament day and things to do during the tournament.
I always start my pre-tournament prep by checking weather reports and scouting the tournament waters by either pre-fishing and/or looking at maps. The biggest goal I’m trying to accomplish by doing this is to develop some kind of general pattern and to eliminate areas on that particular body of water. While this takes the most time of any other tip I can give you, it’s also the most important one and the best way to increase your efficiency. Think about how much time you would waste in a day trying to figure out what to do from scratch without any prior knowledge.
Always have a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C, D, and E. If things didn’t work out for Plan A you don’t want to waste even more precious time experimenting and trying to think what to do next. Have your plans already thought out beforehand so you don’t have to think about it, all you’ll have to do is act. I know getting caught up in the moment can cause doubt and overthinking at times. To remedy this, write yourself some “cheat sheets” with your backup plans and keep it in your PFD. It’s a great little way to keep yourself focused and your head in the game.
Remember to keep your gear in top operating conditioning. A failure to a piece of gear can really throw a damper in your day. Make sure all your reels are properly cleaned, greased, and lubed. Check/replace any line that looks suspect or needs re-spooled. Also spray all of your spools with line conditioner once they have been checked/re-spooled. Run a cue tip through all your rod eyes to insure none are damaged in any way. Double check any batteries you use to insure they are fully charged. Go over your kayak and make sure everything is tightened down and organized properly. Once these things are done, have all of your gear packed and ready to go the night before. If you’re the forgetful type like I am, make a checklist and double check it as you’re loading everything up. Getting to your launch before realizing you forgot something is a terrible way to start your tournament off.

I carry all of my tackle in a YakAttack Black Pak. It holds everything I may need over the course of a day and as is often the case, an excess amount of stuff I’ll never use but always end up bringing along anyways. To help save some time I always keep one Plano box under my seat in quick easy reach with a variety of baits in it. This box will include baits that I already have tied on, some different colors of those same baits, and ones that I’m confident that I’ll need at some point in the day. All of my soft plastics in this box will be pre-rigged and ready to tie on. This might sound like overkill but over the course of a day it can add up to a great deal of time savings.
During The Tournament
During tournament day there are some small things that you can do that add up to make a lot of extra lure chucking time and keep you well organized. No matter what lure you’re using at the time, once it exits the “strike zone” reel it in fast and move on to your next cast. I rarely have more than a few seconds between the time my lure is out of the water and my next cast is made. To do this, I’m already searching for my next target to cast to while I’m reeling in the previous cast. This is a “machine gun” approach that is very effective when power fishing and allows you to cover more water, more efficiently. The more time your lures spend in the strike zones the greater your odds of catching more fish.
Keep your net on the deck in front of you within reach. Seems simple enough right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories about lost fish cause people had their nets staged behind them in a holder and they couldn’t get it out quick enough because it got tangled in something. Also I’ve heard plenty horror stories about lures getting tangled in nets while trying to cast. As soon as you launch your kayak just put the net down in front of you, you’ll be surprised just how much easier it makes things for you and you might just get to tell the story of the one you got, not the one that got away. Speaking of nets, get yourself a rubber coated one. Not only are they easier on the fish but hooks don’t get caught up in them. Anyone that has landed a fish in a nylon net with a treble hook lure can attest to how long it takes to unsnag those hooks and most of the time you’ll end up cutting them out basically destroying the net.
When power fishing, especially topwaters, always have a follow up bait ready for any misses or blow ups that didn’t hook-up. I keep this bait rigged and laying on my deck right in front of me next to my net anytime I’m power fishing so I can get that bait out there as quickly as possible. Some of my favorite follow up baits are flukes and senkos.
Apply these tips anytime you’re out fishing and they’ll become second nature to you and you’ll soon be doing them without even thinking about it. Being a more efficient angler is all about making the most of your time on the water. It also helps cut down on stress making your time on the water all the more enjoyable like it should be.

– Bill Durboraw