In the market for a fishing kayak? The choices can be overwhelming!
Pick Your Style: Sit-On-Top or Sit-In?
The first major decision you’ll make when choosing a fishing kayak is whether to go for a sit-on-top or a sit-in style. To help you decide, let’s examine the pros and cons of each style and consider some other important factors.
Want a quick answer? Sit-on-top kayaks are the best choice for fishing.
Sit-On-Top Kayaks: The Top Choice
Sit-on-top kayaks have emerged as the preferred option among fishermen. These kayaks offer unparalleled ease of use.
Sit-on-top kayaks have an open deck where you sit on top. Unlike sit-in kayaks, your legs are not enclosed inside the kayak. All the important features, including foot braces, are located on top of the kayak.
Pros of Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks
- Perfect for warm weather: You can get wet without worrying about filling your kayak with water. The deck is designed to handle water splashes from paddling or casting, and there are scupper holes to drain any water that enters.
- Self-bailing: Scupper holes allow water to drain off the deck. In warmer weather, you can leave them open to allow for quick drainage. If desired, you can block them with scupper plugs or valves.
- Easy to learn and use: Sit-on-top kayaks have a lower learning curve in terms of proficiency and safety.
- Easy entry and exit: Getting in and out of a sit-on-top kayak is much simpler than with a sit-in kayak. This is particularly useful when wade fishing or maneuvering around obstacles.
- Stability: Fishing kayaks are increasingly designed for stability, and sit-on-top kayaks excel in this aspect.
- Stand while fishing: Wider sit-on-top kayaks allow you to stand while fishing. However, keep in mind that wider kayaks sacrifice speed, so consider your priorities.
- Versatility: Sit-on-top kayaks come in various types and styles to suit your fishing preferences.
- Fishing accessories and savings: Most sit-on-top fishing kayaks come with extra fishing accessories as standard, saving you money and installation hassle. However, if you prefer to customize your kayak, options are available.
- Ample storage space and easy access: Sit-on-top kayaks provide plenty of room to store your fishing gear, electronics, and other essentials. Look for features like watertight hatches and tiedown areas.
- Wide range of options: The demand for sit-on-top fishing kayaks has driven the market, resulting in an extensive selection for fishermen.
Cons of Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks
- Wet ride: Sit-on-top kayaks can be wet, which may be uncomfortable in cold weather or water conditions. Consider investing in a suitable dry suit for warmth.
- Exposure to weather conditions and water temperatures: Sit-on-top kayaks leave you more exposed to the elements compared to sit-in kayaks. If it’s cold, you’ll feel the chill without proper gear. Rain, heat, wind, or snow can affect your comfort.
- Challenging in windy conditions: Sit-on-top kayaks can be harder to control when it’s windy. An anchor or anchor stake can come in handy in such situations.
- Higher center of gravity: Sit-on-top kayaks have a higher center of balance compared to sit-in kayaks of the same width. This means they can be easier to tip over. However, wider sit-on-tops compensate for this, but they are heavier.
- Heavier: Sit-on-top kayaks tend to be heavier than sit-in kayaks. If you need to transport your kayak overland, you might need a kayak cart.
Sit-In Fishing Kayaks: The Traditional Choice
Sit-in kayaks are what most people visualize when they think of a kayak. They have a cockpit where you sit inside the kayak.
Sit-in kayaks are popular in cold-weather regions, as they provide the option to add a kayak skirt that keeps water out of the cockpit.
Pros of Sit-In Fishing Kayaks
- Agility and speed: Sit-in kayaks provide greater speed, control, and maneuverability.
- Lower physical demand: Their design makes them easier to paddle, especially on longer fishing trips.
- Lighter weight: Sit-in kayaks weigh less than sit-on-top kayaks, making them easier to transport.
- Easy to carry: The cockpit of a sit-in kayak allows for convenient shoulder carrying.
- Lower wind exposure: Sit-in kayaks are less affected by wind, as there is less surface area exposed to the elements.
- Reduced exposure to weather and water temperatures: Being inside the cockpit provides some protection against the elements. Adding a kayak skirt further enhances comfort.
- Warm rides: Sit-in kayaks are warmer, making them suitable for fishing in cooler weather. With a kayak skirt, your body heat stays inside the cockpit, reducing the need for a bilge pump.
- Ample waterproof storage: Sit-in kayaks typically offer more waterproof storage compared to sit-on-top models.
Cons of Sit-In Fishing Kayaks
- Lower position: Sitting inside a sit-in kayak means you are lower to the water’s surface. This may not be ideal for some fishermen.
- Higher skill level required: Mastery of certain skills, such as water exiting and reentry, is necessary with sit-in kayaks.
- Challenging reentry: Exiting and reentering a sit-in kayak from the water can be difficult without swamping the kayak.
- Need for a bilge pump: Without a kayak skirt, water may enter the cockpit. A bilge pump or sponge is usually necessary to remove the water.
- Potential discomfort in warm weather: Sit-in kayaks lack ventilation for your lower half. This can lead to heat and stuffiness, especially if you’re using a kayak skirt.
- Limited gear space: Sit-in kayaks offer less storage room for fishing gear, and accessing it while on the water may be challenging.
- Fewer options in the market: The demand for sit-in fishing kayaks is lower than for sit-on-top kayaks, resulting in fewer prebuilt options.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Kayak
In addition to selecting between sit-on-top and sit-in styles, there are other important factors to keep in mind:
- Type of fishing
- Fishing style
- Kayaking skill level
- Water type (river, ocean, or lake)
- Location (open water or tight spaces)
- Water and air temperature
- Wind speeds
- Ability to stand up while fishing
These factors will help guide you toward the right kayak. Some factors may influence whether a sit-on-top or a sit-in kayak is the better choice.
Size, Weight, and Load Capacity
The size, weight, and maximum load capacity are crucial considerations when choosing a fishing kayak.
The average weight of a polyethylene sit-on-top fishing kayak is around 77lbs, while a sit-in kayak weighs approximately 52lbs. These figures may vary depending on the specific model and features. Ensure that you can transport and handle your chosen kayak comfortably.
Size and shape directly affect a kayak’s tracking and speed. Additionally, consider storage and transportation limitations when selecting the appropriate size.
For more details on specific kayak models, refer to the tables below. Please note that there are more options available for sit-on-top kayaks due to their popularity among fishermen. However, a few sit-in kayaks are specially designed or customized for fishing purposes.
Remember to stay safe while kayaking and always carry the necessary safety equipment.
Sit-on-top kayaks offer convenience and versatility, while sit-in kayaks provide specific advantages. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your fishing style and personal preferences.
If you’re looking to save money, consider purchasing a fishing kayak that is already outfitted for your needs. However, if you prefer customizing your kayak, options are available.
Enjoy your fishing adventures and explore the waters with your ideal fishing kayak!