Fishing kayaks became very popular in the last decade because they offer a much cheaper and more accessible alternative to traditional boats. As many new companies have entered the kayak manufacturing business, the most commonly offered design has become the sit-on-top (SOT) kayak.
The fishing kayak is the ultimate trendy vehicle for fishing maniacs: sporty and ecological on the one hand, practical and catching on the other. It combines the advantages of a real fishing boat with the flexibility of a belly boat.
If you’re also interested in fishing and kayaking, or just looking for a new outdoor activity, read on to learn the most important things about fishing kayaks.
What Is a Fishing Kayak?
Fishing kayaks are perfect fishing boats. They are in the free segment between belly and motorboats, are “eco” and also sporty.
Kayaks are smaller and therefore much more maneuverable than regular boats. With the fishing kayak, you can reach any part of the lake. This makes it ideal for mountain lakes, small rivers, remote waters, or those where no motorboats are allowed.
And unlike the boat, you do not need a boating license for kayaking.
Other advantages of fishing kayaks include:
- Greater choice of fishing areas
- Discreet, almost silent approach to fish
- Speed and good driving characteristics
- Sporty activity with paddle or pedals
- Practical storage space for equipment
Alternatives to Fishing Kayaks
Canoes, inflatable boats, and belly boats are similar alternatives to boats, let’s see how they compare to kayaks when it comes to fishing:
An inflatable boat or kayak scores points for transportation and storage. However, they often lack stability as they are too light and buoyant.
Belly boats are very suitable for shorter distances and smaller lakes. Without a motor, however, it is more difficult to get back to shore in windy conditions or currents.
Many people use the terms canoe (Canadian canoe) and kayak synonymously. Yet the canoe is wider and requires a stand-up paddle instead of a double paddle. Fixed watercrafts such as canoes or kayaks generally have better handling characteristics.
Related Reading: Why does my kayak need plug holes?
Which Type of Kayak Is Best for Fishing?
There is no one kayak for everyone. Basically, you can fish with any kayak. Yes, sit-on-tops might be the vessel of choice for many, but even so there are a lot of fishing kayaks built specifically for different types of anglers.
- Wider kayaks are more stable and have better carrying capacity.
- Pedal-powered kayaks provide room for the arms to properly grip the fishing rod rather than paddling all the way
- Longer kayaks have proven to be faster and cover a greater distance (but can be quite difficult to transport and maneuver in small/narrow spaces)
The typical fishing kayak is a SOT model, where you are above the waterline with the vehicle seat. Since you’ll be spending many hours sitting down on your fishing trip, a comfortable seat is important.
On the other hand, sit-in kayaks are primarily made for touring and sports enthusiasts.
Are Fishing Kayaks Worth Buying?
If you just want to do some fishing and expand your fleet at a reasonable price, a cheaper folding or inflatable kayak will do.
Passionate fishermen and professional anglers, on the other hand, have a lot of equipment and are not satisfied with the simplest version even when it comes to fishing kayaks.
The easy way to get a fishing kayak is to rent one. No matter if you want to go kayaking alone for a weekend, or if you are planning an extensive fishing vacation to Norway.
Many things are more fun in pairs, which also applies to kayak fishing. You can support each other and the already stress-free handling of the kayak becomes even more relaxed with a kayaking partner.
What Length Is Best for a Fishing Kayak?
A reasonable length of over 3 meters and a comparatively large width of the kayak allow you to kayak fishing and casting while standing. The stability of a fishing kayak is gained mainly through width, not length.
Still, storage space for your fishing equipment is also a decisive criterion when buying a kayak, and you have more storage with longer kayaks.
Related Reading: How to build a dog kayak sidecar
How Much Do Fishing Kayaks Cost?
The initial cost can be daunting. Depending on the manufacturer, the price of a fishing kayak varies greatly. In addition to the cost of the kayak, you should not underestimate all the money that can be spent on accessories and add-ons like life jackets, floating buoys, anchors, and so on.
Check out this list of different types and prices to get an idea of the average kayak price:
|Type/Material||Price from||Suitable for||Example|
(PVC, Hypalon, or Nitrylon)
|little over $170||– beginners|
– leisure kayaking
– short excursions
|$230 to $340||– occasional trips |
– tandem kayaks
|$1,150 to $4,500||– professional|
– white water fishing
– open sea trips
Expensive kayaks, unlike inexpensive all-rounders, are additionally equipped with a range of special equipment. For example, many fishing kayaks have fishing rod holders, are built extra wide and are equipped with a pedal drive.
Is Kayak Fishing Safe?
If you are wondering if a big fish could capsize the kayak – the answer is no. Unless a great white shark is attacking, a fish cannot capsize the kayak. However, there are some other, often neglected risks to which I want to draw your attention.
It may seem that fishing kayaks are super easy and foolproof to operate, but that largely depends on your skills in handling them and where you are going. Especially if you’re out on your own, you need to take some safety precautions before you paddle.
Here is a list of useful tips on how to properly prepare for kayak fishing:
- Only go out if you feel fit!
- Be sober so you can judge if you are fit
- Use only one neon-colored flag in the stern for your safety
- Always wear a life jacket or life vest
- Go either barefoot or in a dry suit
- Secure your paddle with a lock or a safety line
- Have a charged cell phone with you and preferably an extra battery
- Make sure your safety gear is in good condition
- Never go out in low light conditions without an overhead light
- Think about getting a lifeline (a long dog leash might do)
- Take enough drinking water!
Is Fishing From a Kayak Hard?
By now, you must be feeling eager and ready to pack your fishing gear and embark on your next kayak adventure. But to enjoy the high depth of experience without incident, you need to know the technical rules of the game by which fishing kayaks operate.
If this is your first time throwing a fishing rod from a kayak, you’ll probably feel wobbly, like the kayak could tip over. Obviously, it needs getting used to, so try to relax and trust your boat to do what it was built to do.
A fishing kayak is simply the optimal boat for fishing. It’s lightweight, stable, and comfortable, and you can change your position particularly quietly and easily while fishing.
Due to their narrow design, fishing kayaks are not intended to stand up in it, or the probability of falling into the water is very high.
Here are some of the things to look out for when preparing for your trip:
The weight of the kayak determines how flexible it will be later on. Simple rule: If you can’t get it onto the roof of your car alone, you usually can’t get it into the water alone either.
You can not load kayaks as heavy as you want. Depending on the model, the carrying capacity of fishing kayaks can vary from just over 100 to well over 200 kilograms. If you already weigh 90 kilos (or 200 pounds) without winter clothing, you should consider a higher load capacity. This way you have the necessary reserves for additional fishing gear, provisions, and of course the caught fish.
Paddle or pedal?
Pedal-powered kayaks are very popular because they make trolling and pelagic fishing easier. However, pedal kayaks are also more expensive than paddle kayaks.
In addition, pedal drives require regular maintenance and care or they will break down. Pedal drives are also at a disadvantage on shallow, obstacle-rich, and heavily weedy waters because they can be blocked or even damaged by grounding and by wood and weed in the water.
For anglers used to fishing from shore or the stable foredeck of a boat, this can be the most difficult adjustment. Similarly, efficient kayak fishing requires skill in handling the paddle with one hand.
Can Fishing Kayaks Be Used on the Ocean & River?
Absolutely! But since, as mentioned above, a sit-on-top kayak is the most commonly used kayak for fishing, there is one important detail you need to keep in mind when you take it out on the water.
With a SOT, you sit open on top of the kayak, rather than in a closed cockpit. This means that splashing water penetrates the kayak more easily, which is often the case in the sea, ocean, or rivers.
Today’s fishing kayaks are therefore equipped with scuppers that allow water to drain out of the kayak, making them suitable for stronger currents or breaking waves.
Read our entire post on scupper holes and kayak plugs here.
Where Do You Store Fish on a Fishing Kayak?
Of course, anglers have to stow their catch somewhere. As soon as the first fish is hooked, this question should already be settled.
With kayaks that offer storage in the stern and bow, many kayak anglers simply use one of the two compartments for gear and personal items and the other one for the catch. The main advantage of this method is that the compartment is easy to clean. A garden hose is usually sufficient for this purpose.
Another variant is a simple bucket – undoubtedly the oldest and most basic solution. The bottom of the bucket can be covered with a thick layer of ice cubes for additional cooling. After new fish are thrown into the bucket, ice cubes go on top of them, and so the catch remains fresh.
Nonetheless, in the hot summer months, a cool box is worth investing in, so you won’t have to worry about the fish you catch spoiling.
Not without reason, fishing kayaks are gaining more and more popularity. Hardly any other type of fishing offers such intensity and depth of experience. You can hardly get closer to the fish, closer to the bite, closer to nature than with a fishing kayak.
After the initial uncertainty, the newcomer merges with the element of water and enjoys the silent and fast gliding along.