Do you sit on top of your trusty kayak as you paddle away from the launch? Or, do you sit inside? How about both? Kayak Angler contributors Chris Funk and Kayak Kevin Whitley dive into the details of these two types of boat and debate which is best for fishing, sit-on-top or sit-in kayaks? Which side of the fence do you sit on?

Which Type of Kayak is Best for Fishing?

Sit-On-Top Kayaks

Kayak Kevin Whitley

Blogger, Filmmaker, Pro Staffer for Old Town, Kokatat, Aqua-Bound and more
man holds a fish caught from a sit-on-top kayak
In 2005, Kayak Kevin Whitley paddled a sit-on-top kayak 1,800 miles from Pensacola, Florida, to Norfolk, VA. | Photo: Kayak Kevin Whitley

Even though most sit-in kayaks are faster, I choose to paddle a sit-on-top kayak on long distance tours because I don’t like to be confined. In addition to their spaciousness, here are four more reasons that I choose to sit on top.

Sit-on-tops are easy. Just plop down and paddle off. I can load all my gear in seconds and everything is in reach.

[ Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide: See all sit-on-top kayaks ]

I feel safer. If I fall off my kayak, I just slide back on. I pull myself belly-first across the seat, turn over, plant myself in the seat and swing my legs in.

I feel more comfortable. I can sit cross-legged, hang my feet over the sides or even sit sidesaddle. Not only does this relieve tension and pressure, but it allows me to access the whole kayak while on the water. I can slide to the bow or turn around and grab stuff in the stern.

I have more agility. I use my legs while I’m fishing. I can drag a leg to turn the boat or kick to move backwards. When I land a big fish, I dip a leg in the water and use it to scoop the fish into the boat.

Sit-Inside Kayaks

Chris Funk

Photographer, Writer, Jackson Kayak Fishing Team Member, Pro Staffer for Bending Branches, RAM Mounts and more
man stands and fishes from a sit-inside fishing kayak
A sit-inside kayak is great for grab-and-go fishing and taking newcomers on their first fishing trips. | Photo: Chris Funk

When I am running and gunning, I like to use a light kayak and get on the water as fast as possible.

Sit-insides are lighter. Sit-inside kayaks use less plastic, so they are often lighter than a similarly sized sit-on-top. I can throw the kayak on my shoulder, grab a handful of gear, paddle and fishing rod, and I’m on the water in minutes. Many places I fish require me to portage over logs and rocks, this is easier with a lighter kayak.

I have more room for storage. As a photographer and fisherman, I carry a lot of tackle and photo equipment. I can store gear inside the boat where it won’t fall out or get wet. When I’m camping, I can fit a ton of stuff in my sit-inside. And I don’t lose anything through the scuppers, because there aren’t any.

Better performance. In a sit-inside, I sit lower to the water improving stability and tracking. The boats tend to be sleeker and faster, too.

Great for newer paddlers. My wife feels more comfortable and safe sitting inside the boat. And the lower seating position puts shorter arms closer to the water—great for kids.

This article was first published in the Spring 2019 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Are you fishing from the wrong kind of boat? | Feature photo: Courtesy of Old Town Canoes & Kayaks



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