Home > Kayak Types > Fishing Kayaks > Kayak Fishing Gear and Accessories > Bump Boards For Fishing Explained

Bump Boards For Fishing Explained

Mark Armstrong
Updated on:
- If you buy via a link on this page, we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you. Learn more
- Read our review guidelines

Maybe you’ve been wondering what a bump board fishing tool is and why some kayak anglers use them. Bump boards can be useful tools for measuring fish quickly and easily.

But is a bump board different to a fish ruler? And do you need one on your kayak? To help you discover a little more about how these measuring tools work, we’ve put together some information on how and when to use them.

Bump Boards For Fishing Explained - Pinterest ImagePin

What Is A Bump Board For Fishing And When Are They Used?

A bump board is essentially a fish ruler. But the difference is that a bump board has a lip on one end for the mouth of the fish to rest on while you measure the length.

Bump boards are usually wider than most fish rulers and allow the fish to lay flat while you take its measurements (and photos) laying on the board.

A bump board can usually hold the weight of the fish while you’re measuring it, so your hands aren’t tied by holding on to it. This can give you a more accurate measurement, as there will be less movement on the ruler from both you and the fish.

Standard fish rulers will tend to require you to hold the fish in place while you measure it, which can affect the accuracy of your measurements as you may not always be able to hold the fish still.

Bump boards come in a range of designs. Folding or adjustable ones can be better for casual kayak fishing, as these can often be easier to store and travel with. Adjustable ones are often not allowed for fishing tournaments as they can be less accurate.

Some bump boards are designed to float, which can be useful for kayak fishing where dropping things overboard can be pretty easy. Not all bump boards will float so it can be a good idea to attach a tether to the board so you can secure it to your deck or gear bag.

Tournament Angling

Bump boards are commonly used by tournament kayak anglers as a way of measuring fish during catch and release fishing.

> Need a license for catch and release fishing?

Essentially, anglers measure their catch using the bump board and take a photo that shows the length of the fish against the bump board. Each angler does this and the photos then determine the winner of the tournament by showing who caught the largest fish.

However, some bump boards can be easily tampered with to alter the measurements. This has led to some big-money tournaments only allowing certain bump boards to be used to prevent cheating.

Aluminum bump boards that have the numbers CNC machine-cut are usually the ones that are approved by Kayak Bass Fishing for tournaments, as these cannot be easily altered or cut.

Most folding plastic bump boards are generally not allowed for top-level kayak fishing tournaments. But folding bump boards are usually more convenient for fishing from a kayak due to the limited space available. Some local-level tournaments may still allow folding or adjustable bump boards. 

How To Use A Bump Board Properly

Step 1: Wet The Board

The first thing you should do before you use your bump board is wet it. This is so that it’s comfortable for the fish and helps to maintain the protective slime on the skin of the fish. So when you release the fish, any unnecessary harm to the fish is minimized.

It’s also a good idea to keep the bump board stored out of the sun so that it doesn’t get too hot before you start reeling in your haul.

Step 2: Place Your Fish

Place your bump board in a secure location on your kayak so that you’re ready to go before you start handling your fish.

Place your fish on the bump board with its mouth touching the lip of the board. Do this carefully, holding the fish’s jaw in one hand and its tail in the other.

Lay the fish flat along the cradle of the board. Hold the mouth in place at the lip and hold the tail toward the end of the board.

Step 3: Measure Your Catch

With your fish in place on the bump board, you can now measure your catch to the nearest quarter-inch.

Our 5 Favorite Bump Boards For Measuring Fish

1: YakGear Fish Stik

YakGear Fish StikPin
  • Length: 36 inches

The YakGear Fish Stik can be an excellent choice for kayak fishing, as it’s been designed specifically for kayak anglers. It folds down to just 12-inches so you can easily stow it in a hatch, under your seat, or in your crate.

This fish ruler bump board comes in a range of bright colors so that it’s easy to spot, especially if you drop it in the lake. A handy feature if you do happen to drop it overboard is that it floats.

There’s also a slot in the bump board so you can measure your catch while it’s still on the fishing line.

2: Hafaspot Ketch Karbonate Board

Hafaspot Ketch Karbonate BoardPin
  • Length: 32 inches

This Hafaspot Ketch Karbonate bump board is a durable but lightweight option if you’re looking for a heavy-duty fish ruler. This bump board can measure fish up to 32-inches long and comes in a bright color for visibility.

It’s a pretty large bump board. It’s 5-inches wide and it does not fold. So it may be more difficult to easily stow if you’re limited for space on your deck.

This strong bump board is designed to be easy to read, with dark numbers, and can be a good choice for tournament-level anglers who need to take accurate readings and clear photos. It also has a built-in cradle to help hold the fish in place.

This Hafaspot Ketch bump board is KBF-approved for bass fishing tournaments so it can be an ideal choice if you like to participate in competitive kayak fishing events.

3: Rapala RMFR 60” Magnum Folding Ruler

Rapala RMFR 60” Magnum Folding RulerPin
  • Length: 60 inches

The Rapala RMFR Magnum can be an ideal choice for measuring larger fish up to 60-inches long. It is designed to be easy to read with large, clear numbers molded into the high-impact plastic.

It has both inches and centimeter measurements for convenience and international usage.

A great feature of this bump board is that it folds down for easy storage. This means you can easily store it on your deck or under your seat.

> How to rig your kayak deck

It has three sections that fold, so it measures just 20-inches when folded. This can also be useful for measuring fish that are under 20-inches without having to open up the whole board.

However, this bump board does not float so you might want to attach a tether to keep it attached to your kayak.

4: Hobie Hawg Trough

Hobie Hawg TroughPin
  • Length: 30 inches

The Hobie Hawg Trough is a durable bump board that can measure fish from 8-inches up to 30-inches. It’s one of the most popular bump boards for kayak anglers.

If you plan to measure fish that are smaller than 8-inches, however, this won’t be suitable.

This bump board has a concave design to help cradle the fish in place for accurate measurements.

There are holes on either end of the board to let you attach a leash to keep it safely secured to your deck. A leash or tether is advised as this bump board does not float.

However, the Hawg Trough also does not fold or adjust in length, so it may be considered a little too long for some kayak anglers to store.

5: Frabill Expandable Bump Board

Frabill Expandable Bump BoardPin
  • Length: 36 inches

The Frabill Expandable Bump Board can be an affordable option for any kayak angler on a budget. It can be great for measuring fish from 8-inches to 36-inches with a sliding adjustment feature that can keep it compact for easy storage on your deck.

It’s a lightweight bump board that features a foam insert that’s designed to add flotation to the board in case it falls off your deck. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed to float. A leash or tether is still recommended, just in case.

A useful feature of this bump board is that it has pre-drilled mounting holes so you can easily mount it to your deck as a permanent measuring solution for your fishing trips. Alternatively, you could use the holes to attach a tether so you don’t lose it.

Final Words

Bump boards can be a useful tool for kayak fishing. Like a fish ruler, bump boards can measure your catch. But unlike a fish ruler, you can get accurate measurements without having to hold the weight of the fish by yourself.

If you’re looking to purchase a bump board for yourself, think about whether you’ll be fishing for recreation or taking part in tournaments. A folding plastic bump board can be a better choice for recreational kayak fishing but it may not cut it with the tournament crowd.

Let us know your thoughts on bump boards. Leave us a comment and remember to share this for others to check out.

Leave a Comment