Skip to Content

Night Kayak Fishing: Tips and Rigging Tricks

Night Kayak Fishing: Tips and Rigging Tricks

During the summer, when the water temps get high, the best time to catch fish is at night.

However, night fishing is a little different than day fishing. It requires different gear and, of course, increased safety measures when fishing from a kayak.

The Tackle You Need for Night Fishing

The good news about bass fishing at night is that all your rods and reels will work; you only need to change up the lures you’re throwing.

Fishing at night is similar to fishing in murky water. Fish are not able to see lures as well due to the low light. This means using dark lures, such as black and blue or black and red, will help your lure stand out just enough for the bass to key in on it.

Another way to combat the low-light conditions is to use lures with a lot of vibration, such as chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.

night kayak leds

Here are five of my favorites:

Z-Man Chatterbait – The original and still one of the best chatterbaits. Great for night fishing since the vibration helps attract fish in low light.

Booyah Pond Magic Spinnerbait – A versatile 1/2-ounce spinnerbait in a black/chartreuse color that works well at night. The willow leaf blade provides good vibration.

Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg Jr – A 3/8 oz chatterbait with a compact profile. The black/blue color works well in low-light conditions.

Strike King Burner Spinnerbait – A 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with a single willow leaf blade. The bright Colorado blade flashes in the moonlight.

Z-Man Jack Hammer Chatterbait – A premium chatterbait with a wide gap hook and Gamakatsu blade. The green pumpkin color stands out at night. The vibration attracts fish.

The vibration of these lures allows bass to use their lateral line to find your bait instead of relying on their nose or eyes.

Rigging a Night Fishing Kayak

Now that you have a better idea of what fishing tackle to use at night, we need to focus on staying safe.

The most critical kayak fishing tip is to always wear your PFD. It’s easy to flip or fall out of your kayak, and that’s dangerous enough during the day, but at night it’s much more dangerous.


The next most important safety factor is to remain visible to other boaters. I do this by rigging my kayak with lights and wearing a headlamp.

I installed two LED pods and red and green navigational lights at the bow of my kayak. At the stern, I have a Yak Attack Visi-Pole, so I have a light visible from any angle.

The reason I went with LED lights was that I could use a lightweight battery that doesn’t take up much room in my kayak.

Lastly, I wear a headlamp so I can see how to tie knots and handle fish in the kayak.

While fishing, I rarely use the LED pods or my headlamp to keep the bugs to a minimum.

However, when I’m traveling, I turn on the LED pods to see where I’m going.

Kayak Fish Finder

Even when you’re fishing in clear water at night, it’s difficult to see what the bottom looks like; that’s where a fish finder helps.

Knowing the depth and contour of the bottom will help you understand which lures to throw; most budget-friendly options do this.

However, at night, it’s also essential to have a GPS fish finder combo. It’s easy to get turned around at night, so having a lake will help you keep your bearings.

You’ll spend less time wondering where you are and more time fishing at your honey hole when you use a fish finder with GPS mapping capabilities.

Don’t forget to turn your brightness down on the screen. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time seeing.

night kayak light

A Few Tips to Take With You

Here are a few tips I think will help make your night kayak fishing trip a bit more enjoyable and effective:

  • Rig up all your rods before heading out on the water. In low light, it can be challenging to tie knots and attach lures, so have everything ready to go in advance. Organize tackle boxes and gear as well.
  • Dress warmly in breathable layers. Temperatures can drop quickly at night, so dress appropriately. Avoid cotton, which stays wet. Instead, choose moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester or wool along with a windproof outer layer. Bring extra layers you can add if needed. Staying dry and warm will keep you fishing longer.
  • Use lures that make noise, vibration, or disturbance. When visibility is low, fish depend more on their lateral line sense to find food. Chatterbaits, rattle traps, surface frogs, and spinnerbaits are all excellent night lures. Match colors to the clarity of the water; go with bright colors in stained water and dark, muted hues in clear water.
  • Have a plan to safely navigate back to your launch point. Use marker buoys or GPS to keep track of your location. Carry a backup battery-powered lantern or light for emergency visibility. Always tell someone where you’ll be fishing and when to expect you back.
  • Fish slowly and methodically. Work structure and cover thoroughly with multiple casts. Fish often strike lightly at night, so pay close attention to any small ticks or bumps on your line. Stay alert!

Last Cast

Bass become more active at night during the hottest stretch of summer, so if you’re struggling to catch anything, it’s worth heading out at night.

Keep these tips in mind to stay safe and increase your chances of landing a lunker when everyone else can’t get a bite!