How to Choose a Kayak for Fishing


Fishing with a kayak provides new opportunities to stalk fish in areas that larger or motorised boats cannot easily access. It combines the serenity of paddling low on the water with the excitement of reeling in a large fish. You can be stealthy as you glide over waters to your favourite fishing spot and sneak up on fish without spooking them with a slimmer profile and better portability than traditional boats.

When shopping for a fishing kayak, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from. Here are some important decision points to help you narrow down your options when shopping. Also, follow My Kayak Guide for more updates on kayaking, fishing kayaks, paddling, paddle boarding, surfboards and wakeboards. 

  • Choose between a sit-on-top, inflatable, or traditional sit-in kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks are the easiest to enter and exit, while inflatable kayaks are ideal for those with limited storage space.
  • Choose whether you want to paddle or pedal. You may prefer the exercise and simplicity of paddling, or you may prefer the benefits of pedalling with your feet to keep your hands free for fishing.
  • How much weight are you transporting? You should consider the boat’s weight capacity. Consider your own weight as well as the amount of gear you intend to transport. Are you a minimalist or do you prefer to have a lot of options?
  • Do you want to fish standing up? Stability is essential in this situation.Wider hulls are more stable, allowing you to cast farther and more confidently while standing; however, the boat may be slower.
  • How will you transport the kayak? How easy is it to move and lift the kayak? Can you transport it to where you want to fish on your own? Is it possible to transport it on the roof of your car or in the bed of your truck, or will a trailer be required?

Types of Fishing Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks

Because of the ease and convenience of getting on and off of sit-on-top kayaks, they are more popular for fishing.

  • They’re generally more stable, and many allow you to stand up in them, which is useful when casting or reeling in large fish.
  • Scupper holes allow them to self-bailing, eliminating the need to pump out water.
  • You have a better view because you sit higher on the water than in sit-in kayaks, which is especially useful when sight fishing.
  • Sit-on-tops are likely to get wet, so they’re not ideal in colder climates unless you’re properly dressed.
  • They tend to be heavier than comparable sit-in kayaks.
  • Because you can dangle your legs and turn your body around to reach rear hatches and other parts of the kayak while fishing, it’s easier to access storage.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are an excellent choice for those with limited storage space because they pack down relatively small. If your kayak does not come with a pump, you should purchase one.

  • They are lightweight and portable once inflated.
  • They aren’t as rigid, so pay attention to where you launch and land.
  • They are easier to transport because they deflate.
  • Some high-quality models may allow you to stand up in them, while others may not.
  • Some inflatables may not paddle as well or as quickly as hard shells.

Traditional Sit-in kayaks

A spray skirt is usually available as an option on sit-in kayaks to keep water out of the cockpit. They’re not as popular for fishing, but they’re a better option if you want to stay dry.

  • They are much more efficient to paddle, but you can’t move your body as freely as you would if you were sitting on top.
  • They aren’t self-bailing, so if you get a lot of water in the cockpit (say, from a big wave), you’ll need a bilge pump.
  • Because you’re sitting lower in the water than a sit-on-top, your sight fishing options are more limited.
  • Sit-in kayaks help protect and insulate your lower body from the elements in colder waters.

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