Fishing Kayak vs Regular Kayak (And Which Is Best For Fishing)

If you’re looking for a new kayak to take fishing, you might be wondering what the best option is. Maybe you have a standard kayak already or maybe you need to go out and buy one. In this post, I’m going to be talking about the difference between a regular kayak and one that’s built for fishing.

The main difference between a fishing kayak and a standard kayak is that you normally sit on top of a fishing kayak while a regular kayak is something you sit in. Since you’re sitting on top of a fishing kayak, you’ll have much more space on the deck for all your gear and you’ll actually be able to stand in calm water. Sure, you could fish out of a normal kayak but you’ll have a much more enjoyable time on one that’s built for fishing.

At the time of writing this, I only have a sit-in kayak and I do fish out of it. I have tried one that’s built for fishing and I’ll definitely admit that it’s 10 times better. The seats are more comfortable, the hull is more stable, and it’s easier to move around. I’ll be getting one in the near future for sure.

Sit-In vs Sit-On

The first thing you need to decide between is whether or not to get a sit-in or a sit-on kayak. Both can be used for fishing but if I had to pick one myself I’d get a sit on top every single time.

sit on kayak

The first reason is that you’ll have much more room for all your gear because you won’t have the sit-in cockpit as you would on a standard recreational kayak. On a regular kayak, you’d normally have the main cockpit and then dry storage on the back. It’s pretty small and won’t be able to fit all your gear.

The second reason is that a sit on kayak is self-bailing. Anytime you get water in a recreational kayak it’ll just sit there until you scoop it out yourself. If you have a sit on top kayak, it’ll actually take the water out for you.

sit in kayak

As I said before, I have a standard kayak and it does work for fishing. I got it a number of years ago because it was cheap, but I’ve been able to rig it up for fishing with extra storage, anchors, rod holders, and stabilizers. That being said, if I had to make that decision again I’d go with a sit on top kayak 100%.

Length & Width

The next thing you have to think about is what length and width you want. It’s not really a huge deal when it comes to fishing but each of them has its own pros and cons that could make your life a bit easier.

When it comes to length, you’ll need to figure out whether you need speed or maneuverability. Shorter kayaks will be easier to control while longer kayaks will be a lot faster.

If you’re going to be fishing smaller bodies of water such as ponds and lakes then you’ll probably want something a bit shorter (under 12 feet). You probably won’t need to go that far to get to your spot and that’s why speed isn’t that important. You’ll be able to control the kayak better and will be able to get into tighter spots.

If you’re going to be fishing larger bodies of water such as the ocean or big lakes then you might want something a little bigger (above 12 feet). You’ll have more of a distance to go and that’s why speed is important. Sometimes you need to get to a spot quickly, and a bigger kayak will help you do that.

When it comes to width, I’m a big fan of something wider because it’ll be more stable. Nobody wants to tip their kayak and having something a little wider will help with that. Also, if you’re going to be standing, you’ll definitely want something wide enough.

It might impact the speed a bit but I’m willing to sacrifice that all day long for the added stability. If I had to pick, I’d go with a kayak that’s at least 35 inches wide. That width should have enough speed and you’ll be able to stand up in calmer water.

Our Favorite Fishing Kayaks

There are a bunch of solid options to pick from when it comes to kayaks and I think the best thing to do is go with the one that’s on sale when you’re out looking. I’ll just briefly touch on some of our overall favorites.

Our three favorite companies (in no particular order) would have to be Hobie, Old Town, and Western Canoe Kayak. All of them make models at different price points and they’re all really solid when it comes to fishing. Here are some of our favorite models.

Mirage Pro Angler 12 – This is one of Hobie’s higher-end models and I like it because it has fins and pedals. You can easily turn the kayak in super tight areas and you can use the pedals instead of paddling (which is way easier). This model is 12 feet long and it’s 36 inches wide. You’ll be able to stand and fish no problem. The overall capacity is 500 lbs and it comes with rod holders and plenty of room for all your gear. See it on Amazon.

Old Town Sportsman 106 – If you’re looking for something a little smaller and less expensive then this could be perfect for you. Old Town does make more advanced kayaks as well but this would have to be our favorite under $1000. The length is 10.5 feet and the width is 34.5 inches. Even though it’s a little smaller, it still has plenty of room for all your stuff, you can mount accessories, and you can stand up in it.

old town 106

WCK Wilderness Radar 115 – This is another really solid fishing kayak and it’s in the middle in terms of price. The seat is extremely comfortable and you can either use paddles, pedals, or power to drive it. The length of this kayak is 11 feet 8 inches and the width is 34.5 inches. The weight capacity is 450 lbs and that should be plenty for you and all your stuff. See it on Amazon.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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