How to Choose the Right Fishing Kayak

Many people are bewildered by the idea of choosing kayaks over motorboats for fishing. There are 3 major reasons for choosing a kayak. Firstly, a fishing kayak and the accompanying gear is far less expensive than a motorboat. It is also very easy to transport and is low-maintainence. Second, the angler is provided with a much more stealthy approach in a kayak to wary schools of fish. Lastly, Kayak-fishing is a very personal and intimate challenge when landing large freshwater and saltwater fish for an angler, compared to motorboat fishing.

So, Which kayak would suit you best?

The best kayak for you depends on various factors such as your body type, the type of fishing, fishing location, storage and transportation options and of course, your personal preference.

Two Types of Fishing:

  • Fresh water Fishing: This can be done on still water or moving water.
  • Salt water Fishing: This can be divided into inshore and offshore fishing.

Each type of fishing presents the angler with different conditions for paddling, and requires different types of kayaks to meet the needs of those particular conditions.

Types of Fishing Kayaks Out There:

Single-Person Fishing Kayak:

A single-person kayak is a boat with one cockpit. Using a double blade paddle, it can be propelled across the water. If you prefer going on solo trips, a single-person kayak is best for you.


  • Easy to Maneuver
  • Lighter in weight
  • Smaller in size
  • Less Expensive
  • Easy to transport


  • Hold less gear
  • Accommodates only one person

Tandem Kayaks or Two Person Fishing Kayaks:

Most kayakers prefer to have a companion while out in the water. Two Person Fishing Kayaks are kayaks with two cockpits that are behind each other, but facing the same direction. The kayakers propel themselves across the water by using double bladed paddles.

These kayaks were first made for hunting, by Eskimos. Nowadays, they are used for activities like whitewater rafting, surfing etc. apart from fishing.


  • Carry more gear than a single person kayak (but they need to carry twice as much gear as it involves gear for 2 people)
  • They are more stable than single kayaks
  • Can be used to learn tips and tricks of paddling by shadowing an expert kayaker


  • Cannot be paddled alone easily
  • Difficult to rescue and pump dry
  • More expensive
  • Heavier

Types of Kayaks Based on Style:

Sit On Top Fishing Kayaks:

Sit-On-Top kayaks are extremely popular for fishing. Shaped like the traditional Sit-In Kayaks, but instead of sitting inside the cavity of the kayak, you sit in a molded or an attached seat on top of the kayak. The rotationally-molded hull is hollow and pretty much air-sigh thus making it unsinkable. Many of these kayaks have scupper holes (to permit the water to drain from the top deck).


  • Tough
  • Inexpensive
  • High degree of initial stability
  • Easy to enter and exit
  • Easy to use
  • Good for larger body types
  • Easier to self rescue
  • In-hull storage available
  • Easy to accessorize
  • Available in many models


  • Have a low degree of secondary stability
  • Slower due to their extra width
  • Difficult to handle on and off water
  • they do not allow the paddler to use their body weight effectively to control the boat
  • Heavy
  • Require more effort to paddle

Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks are great for fishing in open water and light winds (less than 15mph speed). Since they are heavy, they provide a good amount of exercise to the paddler. However, people with heart problems and those who are uncomfortable with long distance paddling should not use these kayaks.

Sit-In Fishing Kayaks:

Sit-In Kayak is a traditional watercraft, which dates back to 4000 years. It was developed for hunting and fishing on coastal waters, rivers and lakes. These kayaks have a more efficient hull design which requires the user to sit inside the hull. They often have a Spray skirt, that keeps them waterproof from dripping off the paddle or from waves. Bulkheads limit water infiltration and a properly fitted hatch cover provide dry storage and safety. These kayaks are used widely in white water, however, some kayaks are specifically designed for fishing.


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Low center of gravity
  • Long and narrow design allows greater speed
  • Warm in cold weather
  • Allow the paddler to use their body weight to control the kayak


  • Little Storage
  • Less comfortable
  • Difficult self-rescue
  • Limited accessory mounting

Sit-In Fishing Kayaks are ideal for extremely cold water, strong waves and currents and windy days.

Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks vs. Sit-In Fishing Kayaks:

The main difference between the two types of kayaks is that in a Sit-On-Top Kayak, there is a wide open cockpit. It is designed with holes in the bilge to allow drainage of water that may enter the cockpit. As they are constructed using a double-hull construction in such a way that there is air enclosed in between the outer and inner hulls, Sit-On-Top kayaks are pretty much unsinkable. Enclosed cockpits in Sit-In Kayaks do not permit the ease of fishing due to limited view as much as Sit-On-Top Kayaks.

Sit-on-Top kayaks are 10-16 feet in length and have a wider beam compared to Sit-In Kayaks, which gives them a wide range of initial stability, which means they are very stable when a paddler sits upright on the keel. However, they have a low degree of secondary stability,so they feel a little unstable when leaned on the side. But, Sit-On-Top kayaks are easy to re-enter in case if a large fish manages to pull the paddler out of the cockpit or in case of a capsize.

Hence, Sit-On-Top fishing Kayaks make a paddler feel secure due to their unsinkable hulls, un-enclosed cockpits and high degree of initial stability.

On the contrary, Sit-In kayaks are more swift, provide a better control over the kayak for the paddler and handle rough waters better while protecting against the elements.


When it comes to choosing between Sit-On-Top Kayaks and Sit-In Kayaks, there is not clear cut answer, even for expert paddlers. The reason for this dilemma is that both these kayaks come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, and even the highly experienced fishermen have their own preferences for one over the other. However, a huge majority of fishermen prefer the Sit-On-Top type of fishing kayak over the Sit-In type.

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