This kayak technique article on how to catch fish from your sea kayak on a handline was originally published in Adventure Kayak magazine.
Handlines offer fishing without the fuss. A simple plastic spool or wooden shuttle wrapped with 60 to 100 meters of monofilament line, a handline avoids the storage hassles and maintenance woes of a rod and reel.
Handlines are dirt cheap to buy (5 to 10 dollars for a 4- to 6-inch spool) and damned easy to make yourself—use a jigsaw to cut 1-inch plywood into an I-shape with one end roughly the width of your grip, and wrap the line around a shaft of 5 to 6 inches.
Handlines are best used for trolling or jigging. Save casting for the cottage; without the mechanical advantage of a rod to assist your toss, you’re more likely to capsize than catch a fish. Kayaks are the perfect vehicle for trolling since most paddlers tour at the ideal pace for spoons and diving Rapalas. Whatever method or lure you use, heavy line (15- to 20-pound test) is necessary since handlines don’t offer the line-saving flex and drag capabilities of a rod and reel.
For hands-free trolling, attach the handline spool to your kayak’s deck line with an 18-inch length of bungee. Play out as much line as you want and tuck the spool under your deck bungees. When you get a bite, the spool will be pulled off your deck and the bungee will dampen the initial jerk, set the lure and keep the spool within easy reach for the retrieve.
Tip: to avoid snags and shredded Gore-Tex, replace troublesome treble hooks with single hooks.