A chance encounter with my old surfboard shaper, Ian Kitching, who happens to be another addict of the long rod, landed me with the loan of his concept SUP FISHER board.
Ian, having shaped surfboards for over ten years, decided to combine his fishing knowledge with his understanding of surfboards and hydrodynamics to create the SUP Fisher.
SUP, for those that don’t know, stands for stand up paddle. Stand up paddle boards are basically a combination of surfboard and canoe, making for an extremely stable and stealthy platform from which to fish. The first time I saw a SUP being used for fly fishing was when a video on youtube sporting a young lady casting away went viral. They have grown massively in popularity since then and are being featured on overseas websites such as SkinnyWaterCulture.
Anyway, this encounter ended with Ian loaning me his board for a couple of days so that I could give it a try.
The SUPFisher is awesome. I loved its mobility and the fact that I can stand while sighting fish and casting.
I found that I was able to target fish sight fishing in water depths that are out of range for a wading angler. With the use of a drogue, you can adjust the speed of your drift so that you can quietly float up to fish and ambush them.
The SUPFisher allows the fisherman to stay relatively dry and if it weren’t for the fact that I would be wading the really shallow sections of the lagoon, my waders would have been totally unnecessary. A cooler box attached by bungies means lunch and refreshments are kept cool AND when you need a rest or have a snack urge, there’s a dry place to eat, sit (or lie for a quick snooze) and put the backpack down.
I used the SUPFisher to fish the deeper areas of the lagoon. My focus was on grunter so I gave these areas a cursory going over to get the feel of the board. I believe it will bring a whole new dimension for fly fishermen when targetting fish that are in water that is out of reach of wading and walking. The elevation gives one far better sight than a canoe or float tube and you stay out of the water (a happy thought when on the bigger estuaries such as the Breede or Knysna). It also allows the fisherman to get to fishable areas in relative silence. I was really surprised how close I would drift to fish before they spooked.
When the water is just above knee deep and shallower, I will walk and wade. But here you either can anchor the board or drag it behind you with a ‘cow tail’. The board is still hugely effective in moving far distances across both deep and shallow water. It eliminates wading which can offer spook more fish that is necessary.
Ian’s SUPFisher is a basic design that is built from a standard 11’6″ mould. The hull and deck are set in separate moulds, the hollow area underfoot is filled with EPS Foam so that the board is solid without any bounce and the round hatch opens to a dry box that is big enough for cameras, wallets, phones and car keys.
The hull sports a proper v-design which combined with the box fin in the rear, keeps the board on good straight tack. The basic design is standard and sound.
However, because Ian makes the board from scratch there are many additions that can be added to make the board suit you and your needs. Sit down with him and discuss your requirements, he’s open to suggestions and ideas. And his eagerness is infectious!
The video that went viral – not really much to it except for a girl casting a flyrod.
A cool video that, although not fly fishing based, gives you a clear view of the advantages of the board.
And a fly fishing one: