Stand-Up Fishing Tactics: PauHana Pro Sean Callinan | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
SUP fishing on open water takes hard work for big pay-off. Sean Callinan

A SUP fishing pro knows whats up when fishing from a SUP board.


Sean Callinan


+Licensed Connecticut Guide

+Yale University Fly Fishing/Tying Instructor (4 years)

+SUP Fishing Guide for PadddlePaddle (

+ SUP Fishing Guide for Harborside Marina & Paddleworks (Clinton, CT)

+Host of  International Fly Fishing Film Festival at Yale University, benefitting River’s of Recovery & Take a Vet Fishing (Branford, CT)

+Why Knot Fishing 2015 Fall Run Striper Classic 3rd Place finisher in Fly-Boat Division (#1 SUP).

+Pau Hana Surf Supply Ambassador

+Rugged Creek Fly Rods Eastern Sales Representative

Target fish:

+Striped Bass

+False Albacore


+Atlantic Salmon

+black sea bass

+large & smallmouth bass


+Boulder fields

+sand bars

+rip currents



Best boat:

Pau Hana Big EZ angler because of its lightweight, multi accessory adaptability and 36 inch wide stability

Essential accessories? Tips for rigging:

+Rod holders,  gopro mount, Orion Cooler, Garmin Fish Finder, Paddle Clip, Pliers with nippers, lip grips, laceless neoprene booties, polarized sunglasses, PFD, leash, waterproof fishpond bag

+Two rods with different weight lines (Ie striped bass: One flop-drop & one casting; 600 grain sinking line with tungsten rattle fly and 150-300 grain sinking or intermediate line.

+ With the potential of toothy fish in area I will use 2-4 inches of wirebite between leader & fly

+ position rod holders on left and right side just behind you while keeping casting side rod holder clear when casting

+ Keep all gear on rear half of board behind you when fishing

Stand-up tips? Suggestions for standing-up, staying-up, sitting down:

+The essentials to conserving energy: relax your feet and shoulders, breathe and keep soft knees. 

+Your body is sail so use it to your advantage for managing your drifts, especially in boulder fields, breachways, blitzing fish

+Line Management: eliminate any attachments/objects near feet.  The board is essentially your stripping basket so keep it clear (laceless, smooth top booties help)

+fight fish while kneeling to lower center of gravity for more control

Sight Fishing Tips: See more fish, hook more fish, catch more fish…

When approaching fish, sit or kneel for more stealth approach

Stay within casting distance of bait pods

Great sight-fishing story. Share your best, funniest, most instructional or inspirational sight-fishing story.

Honing in on Harbor Blues and False Albacore in Niantic bay can be quite the thrill, especially on the fly from boat or a personal watercraft such as a Standup Paddle Board (SUP).  I match my rods with either a Rio Striper line with a 26ft sinking head and intermediate running line or Rio's Outbound Short with Intermediate head.  6-8ft mono leader, wire bite tippet (for blues), large & small Bunker patterns, eel patterns (at night), Clouser Minnows and synthetic hair Spread fly's (butterfish) all work exceptionally well due being quite sparse and lacking buoyancy. 

If you paddle slowly and are observant, you’ll see and discover gifts on the water that are hard to believe, especially when fishing Connecticut’s bountiful estuaries such as Niantic Bay.     

After calling it a day, I slowly drove west along Niantic Bay, exhaustedly gazing beyond the tip of my SUP, which was dripping salt and sand on my windshield at the blood-orange sky in the distance. I had spent the summer day chasing false albacore and harbor bluefish on my standup paddle board (SUP) while only landing and releasing a dozen or so blues. The sun had just set  beneath a calm, humid sky making way for a waxing moon rising to the east.  Bidding a farewell glance at the bay one last time, I noticed a cloud of birds less than 20 feet from shore diving at boiling waters below.  A double-take to confirm, blinker on and an immediate U-turn followed without hesitation. “Could this be it?” I thought. “Nah more blues. But what if I’m right?” 

A recurring thought hounded me, picturing my first false albacore landed on a fly on my SUP after weeks of pursuing them Watch Hill, RI to Norwalk, CT, hooking up on a several albies and harbor bluefish, but only landing the blues. 

I parked in a now empty lot, grabbed my board, rod, headlamp and paddle, and raced to the beach, launching onto the low-tide, glassy bay.  Feeling my heart rate rise, I squinted through sweaty eyes a half-mile distant and saw the birds still working. 

As I paddled closer, the birds were more spread out as the predators had strategically parted the bait balls along the rocky beach. I knelt, jamming my paddle into its holder.  I quickly grabbed my rod as I glided into ideal position for a cast.  The humid air filled my lungs as I blew the salt from my lips while settling my stance.  Stripping the line in with the fly just below the surface, I noticed an albacore race at it and underneath my board, followed by three others.  One wet cast and one haul to get the line back out there 30ft.

The second cast unfurled onto the water, sank a few inches, I gave one hard strip, and felt the tug of a lifetime. This was the one. I leaned back and tightened my drag as I could see my chartreuse line zipping through the guides.  A SUP sleigh ride was underway along the beach of Niantic Bay. 

Lift the rod, reel in line and repeat.  One quality of SUP fly fishing is that you draw yourself to the fish nearly twice as fast as you would from any other platform.  I've learned that by anticipating the fish spotting the board, I’m ready to loosen my drag to let the fish run. I find it keeps me on my board, rather than next to it. 

After 10 minutes of tightening and loosening the drag during explosive runs, the fish began to tire.  I turned my rod and lifted, exposing the fish’s side and head 10 ft out and drew it closer. Grabbing the leader, I stared at its large eye and pointed jaw, which were glistening in the moonlight as I slid it from the water onto the board.  The battle was over.  I was beaming as I dislodged the mangled fly, bowed to give this magnificent specimen my gratitude before its release.

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