January 25, 2024
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Editor's Note: Click here for a companion article detailing the nuances of fly fishing from SUPs.
There are tons of paddleboards on the market available in just about every big-box store and online retailer. If you’ve been on these SUPs before, perhaps for family fun, and you liked it then you are ahead of the game, but if your first experience on one of these boards wasn’t great, don’t fret. There are boards designed specifically for fishing that are wider and more stable that can really make a difference in your enjoyment and success on the water.
When shopping for a board, look for wider models, most often marketed for fishing or fly fish-ing, specifically, such as the boards in this article. Longer paddleboards provide better tracking and stability, while wider boards offer more surface area for maneuvering. Strike a balance based on your body type, fishing location, and personal preferences. However, keep in mind that many paddleboards designed for fishing can now accommodate two anglers at a time, which really helps solve some of the control issues inherent with trying to steer and fish at the same time.
Attachment points are key. Most boards for fishing have plenty of them and they are well positioned for things like a cooler and other items. You can always add your own attachment points and D-rings by purchasing mounts from a company such as YakAttack (yakattack.us). These adhere to the PVC board with a super-strong glue so that you can customize any board with just about any type of holder (including those for GoPros) imaginable.
Material is important. One of the wonders of these boards is that they are designed to inflate between 15 and 20 psi. That means they are rock hard. When they are properly inflated, you have firm footing and it’s not like you’re surfing on a pool toy. However, the PVC is susceptible to punctures, whether from a rock, coral, oysters, or even a sharp fish spine. The best fishing models use extremely durable PVCs, top-grade valves, and better adhesives on the seams so that your board lasts longer with just some routine maintenance.
NRS Heron 110
The new-for-2024 NRS Heron 110 is the widest and most stable board in the field, making it a logical choice for standing up in rivers or tidal currents, or for fishing with two people. It has tons of attachment points to strap down things like coolers, speakers, lean bars, or a padded seat. It also has four pre-mounted YakAttack accessory pads fore and aft, making it easy to attach rod holders, an anchor, or an anchor trolley.
- Length: 11’
- Width: 39”
- Weight: 30.4 pounds
- Capacity: 300 pounds
- Valve Type: Bravo
$1,345 | nrs.com
Flycraft Mountain SUP Pro Fish
The PRO FISH package has two Gravity Fins mounted on a swivel so they pop up when you hit rocks or other obstacles in shallow water. The mount for the Gravity Fins also hosts the pulley for the built-in anchor system, which you can control from the Gear Tower where you can have your rods and cold drinks at the ready. The PRO FISH package also includes the paddle, but not the cooler.
- Length: 10’2”
- Width: 33.5”
- Weight: 25 pounds
- Capacity: 275 pounds
- Valve Type: LeAfield C7
$2,295 | flycraftusa.com
Dave Scadden Paddlesports Grand Slam
Dave Scaddden’s Grand Slam SUP has been haunting fish on tropical flats and inland reservoirs for years, but the new version for 2024 has an integrated inflatable leg brace like you’d find at the front of a drift boat for extra stability. The sturdy console also serves as a rod and cup holder so you are not constantly up/down on the board. There are two carry handles and 12 welded D-rings, so there are plenty of options to strap down coolers, dry bags, and other accessories.
- Length: 11’6”
- Width: 30”
- Weight: 26 pounds
- Capacity: 300 pounds
- Valve Type: Bravo
$1,299 | davescaddenpaddlesports.com
BOTE Rackham Aero Bug Slinger Backwater
The Rackham Aero Bug Slinger Backwater comes with a two-piece adjustable paddle and a dry bag to house everything you need to get out on the water. Bote products come with tons of ways to customize your board. The Tackle Rac shown here ($229, not included) holds two rods close at hand so you are ready to cast when you paddle into position. The KULA 5 MAGNEPOD Cooler keeps your drinks cold, serves as a seat when you want to sit and paddle, and has a mag-netic attachment point on the lid to hold your pliers, nippers, and other tools.
- Length: 12’4”
- Width: 38”
- Weight: 45 pounds
- Capacity: 400 pounds
- Valve Type: Halkey-Roberts
$1,549 | boteboard.com
Jay Nichols is the Fly Fisherman Northeast regional editor, fly-fishing editor for Stackpole Books, and publisher of Headwater Media Group. He lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.