The rise of jet ski fishing

The rise of jet ski fishing

January 2021

Fishing from a jet ski? Years ago, that may have raised eyebrows. But as trends reveal, the versatile jet ski has becoming an increasingly popular vessel from which to fish.

As the team at Jet Drift would say: “fishing and riding a jet ski are both full of fun so why not try them together?” Or, as is so eloquently expressed on The Fishing Website… jet ski fishing is “a classic combination - pure unadulterated speed melded with angling, resulting in a potent and addictive mix”.

We don’t have to look far for an indication of the popularity of this vessel that’s increasingly become a viable alternative to a small fishing boat. One of the fastest growth areas for jet ski sales in New Zealand is sport fishing, according to Boating New Zealand.

The continuing growth in popularity of jet skis as a fishing craft correlates with an increase in the size of their hulls. During the last decade, the sizes of various ski models have become bigger which equates to more stability in the water. Jet ski anglers attest that good skis will handle rough water without pounding their riders to a pulp and they’re amazingly stable at rest, making them good fishing platforms. A jet ski such as the WaveRunner or Sea-Doo Fish Pro, for example, is reputed for its stability - anglers can safely stand with both feet on one side deck without risk of capsizing.

Why so popular?

There’s good reason why many anglers like to fish from a jet ski. For starters, they claim it’s a totally different experience to fishing from a boat, as jet skis offer better access to the water, and some thrilling rides. Jet skis can be fished from easily. Easy handling, great maneuverability, lower ownership costs (than trailer boats) are regularly-given reasons in favour of this type of watercraft.

A good indication of jet ski fishing's popularity is the TV shows and digital media that have been dedicated to it. New Zealand’s high-profile jet ski fisherman Kirk Davis can wax lyrical on the subject. Kirk is the creator and host of the television and social media series The Jetski Fishing Show, with these growing out of his desire to share the exceptional fishing he was enjoying from his jet ski. His videoed fishing escapades became the feature of a popular web series and regular segment on TV fishing and diving show Fishy Business. We feel all this makes him a credible source of jet ski fishing information!

Our aficionado, and others tell us jet ski fishing is fantastic for a whole host of reasons.

The pros of fishing from a jet ski:

  • They are easy to operate and manoeuvre due to their size. That maneuverability makes them suitable for different types of fishing (jig, drift, troll)
  • They burn less fuel than bigger boats (good for the wallet and environment)
  • They are faster than most boats, which mean less time travelling, more time fishing
  • They are closer to the water, which means you can reach your fish more easily
  • They’re easy to tow, launch, store and park
  • Less time is required for preparation and wash down
  • They have the range to go a long way (there’s the ability to carry enough fuel to cover a range of more than 100 nautical miles, for example.)
  • They come with a massive fun factor. Enjoy the adrenaline rush while heading to and from your fishing spots.

“With so much demand on people’s time these days, the ability to launch a jet ski, blast out to your chosen fishing ground and then return home within a few hours should not be undervalued,” says Kirk Davis.

The cons of fishing from a jet ski:

  • Passenger capacity isn’t really a thing. Fishing from a jet ski is mainly a solo activity (even if your jet ski has three-person capacity). Maybe get a mate to join you on another jet ski
  • There’s limited space and storage capacity. Here’s what could be described as a good problem…you may run out of space to store your catch if you are having a particularly good day
  • Seating isn’t as comfortable as in a boat as you don’t have a backrest
  • Jet skis don’t offer protection from the elements.

Working on the assumption you feel the positives outweigh the negatives then what’s the best jet ski to buy?

Jet ski shopping with fishing in mind

Have a talk to your favourite boat dealer to discuss what’s best for your needs and budget.

Various jet ski fishing websites offer thoughts on which jet skis are best for fishing, with these suggestions including:

  1. Sea-Doo Fish Pro
  2. Yamaha FX HO Cruiser
  3. Kawasaki Ultra LX
  4. Yamaha’s 2020 WaveRunner Line-UP

Check out this website for a video covering the best jet skis for fishing. The summation states the best are the most spacious three-seater models with the biggest swim platform and weight capacity and 150-180 HP, naturally-aspirated engines.

Advice shared on those websites include the following considerations:

  • Bigger skis provide superior performance and comfort in rough water and tend to be more stable at rest, making them better fishing platforms
  • Certain jet skis have a reputation for being more comfortable in rough water, so take heed if you are planning all-seasons fishing or running well offshore
  • A fishing jet ski should have a decent fuel range
  • Four-stroke jet skis are preferable in terms of fuel economy. Naturally-aspirated, four-strokes are more fuel efficient than supercharged models (trade the horsepower for range and reliability)
  • A fishing jet ski should offer plenty of dry storage - some models offer a large locker in front of the handlebars, a glovebox, and a sealed dry locker for phones and car keys. And, of course, there’s the need for a large ice box on the transom.

Don’t forget to accessorise!

General consensus has it that the following are the most important accessories:

  • Fishing rod holder
  • Jet ski fishing rack
  • Cooler (in which to store catch and refreshments)
  • And a fish finder/GPS combo (especially if you are planning to go out far).

In addition, there are several worthwhile fishing accessories and modifications available that are well worth a look. Complete fishing kits that include the frame, rod holders, ice box (some include a bait tray), along with a range of accessories and safety equipment, are available from jet ski dealers to suit a range of models. There is some very high-end gear being customized for jet skis.

Electronics are also an important tool for the serious jet ski fisher. Technology is improving all the time so talk to your dealer about what’s the latest and greatest.

The website offers advice on what should be in your tackle box - remember less is more with jet ski fishing as most trips are short and sweet.

And, here’s a gear list to check out on the accessories front.

Jet ski fishing the safest way

Let’s take a word or two from the wise. Our jet ski fishing advocate Kirk takes safety seriously. Here’s what we can learn from him:

  • He always wears the kill switch lanyard around his wrist, in case he is thrown from the ski. Trip the kill switch and the jet ski engine will immediately stop so the vessel comes to rest
  • As required by law, Kirk wears a life jacket - a model designed specifically for a jet ski. He carries a waterproof VHF radio in one of the life jacket’s pockets and also clips an ACR personal locator beacon onto the jacket near the shoulder.

“People often put emergency equipment in one of the ski’s storage compartments, but that’s no good should you and your ski part company,” explains Kirk. “Having them easily accessible in your life vest means they’re on your person when you need them most - in the water!”

Other considerations include:

  • Take two forms of communication - a fully charged mobile in a dry bag stored in the glovebox and wear a waterproof handheld VHF
  • Be sure to have your Coastguard membership up to date
  • If your trips are on the more adventurous side, a PLB is a worthwhile investment. For extra safety and security, a GPS tracking system is another option
  • Always check the weather and water conditions when jet ski fishing on the ocean. Never put yourself at risk by jet ski fishing in bad weather.

Where to go for advice?

For support and advice, speak to your boat dealer, conduct some internet research (this website, for example), join a club or community of fellow jet ski fishing enthusiasts, speak to the experts, or post questions on a fishing forum such as  

Most enthusiasts are enthused about sharing their knowledge and experience and you just can’t beat advice from the real experts, like Andrew Hill (you can find his contact details on his facebook page.) or Kirt Davis (you can follow Kirk on Facebook and on instagram


And last but not least… when you’ve done all the research into the wonders of this sport and purchased what’s required, don’t forget to ensure your investment is a secure one. Having your jet ski insured will enable you to relax and enjoy your adventures all the more.

Just like car insurance, boat (and jet ski) insurance can cover all the things that might happen to your jet ski like accidental and malicious damage, fire, theft of and from the jet ski, issues when trailering, and third-party damage.

Mariner Marine has been offering Kiwis boat insurance in New Zealand for over a decade with specialist marine insurance cover for all types of watercraft.

Just give us a call on 0800 466 467 and let’s talk jet skis and insurance quotes!

With insurance taken care of you can concentrate on getting out and reeling those fish in!