Do you sit on top? Do you sit in? Do you both? Check out Chris Funk and Kayak Kevin Whitley’s Debate column from the Winter 2015 Kayak Angler.

Weigh in on your favorite type of kayak for fishing and tell us why.

Sit On Top

Kayak Kevin Whitley

Kevin SinK

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

Also, 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’m 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.

Finally, 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 Kayak

Chris Funk

Funk SOT

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

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 (there aren’t any).

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

These are great qualities for new 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.

Kayak Kevin Whitley ( is a blogger, vlogger and filmmaker. In 2005, Whitley paddled a sit-on-top kayak 1,800 miles from Pensacola, Florida, to Norfolk, VA.

Chris Funk ( is a freelance photographer and writer and a member of Jackson Kayak’s fishing team. He prefers a sit-inside kayak for grab-and-go fishing and taking newcomers on their first fishing trips. 


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Ric Burnley
“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.


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