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What Makes a Kayak a Fishing Kayak?

Last Updated on September 7, 2022 by Donnell Henderson

Kayaking is an activity that connects you with the natural world and lets you enjoy the outdoors in a way that doesn’t require any special skills. Of course, it’s not just about splashing around on a lake or river—it can also be an effective way to fish with minimal effort. There are many different kinds of kayaks, and fishing kayaks are specifically designed to allow you to sit in one place while using your fishing rod and bait.

The best kayak for fishing is one that is comfortable, easy to use, durable, affordable, and able to withstand the elements of nature. When choosing your kayak, consider how often you plan on using it and how seriously you take fishing. A recreational kayak may be the right fit for leisurely trips. If you’re looking for something more serious and want to get the most out of your fishing experience in terms of comfort and convenience, a fishing kayak may be the way to go.

We know that not all kayaks are the same. So what makes a kayak a fishing kayak? Read on to find out.

What Makes Kayak Fishing Appealing?

Shallow, slow-moving waterways. A large school of small fish. An exciting, cross-country journey. Fishing kayaks allow people to enjoy these things in a way they never could before. There are a number of things that most fishing kayaks tend to have, like, such as fishing rod holders, fish finder, fishing gear, and water storage space.

A small boat that has the stability of a canoe and the speed of a jet ski, the fishing kayak is an ideal vessel for people who want to get out on a waterway but don’t want anything bigger than their own two feet to do so. Modeled after native Alaskan hunting kayaks, modern fishing kayaks are designed with a low center of gravity and plenty of storage space. This makes it easy to keep your tackle at arm’s length while you’re paddling, without any chance of tipping over.


What Makes a Kayak a Fishing Kayak

More important than features, though, is how comfortable you feel on your new boat. While you might be tempted by the idea of having all the features your buddies do, if you don’t feel safe or stable on it—even when standing still—you won’t be able to enjoy yourself out on the water as much as you would in a craft that fits you like a glove.

What Makes a Fishing Kayak a Fishing Kayak?

Well, there are many ways to answer that question. The first thing that springs to mind is “storage space.” A fishing kayak needs to have a lot of extra room in order to carry all the extra gear you need for an adventurous day on the water. The next most important thing is stability since a good fishing kayak will be able to keep you upright even in choppy waters. Durability is another big factor. You don’t want to spend your money on something that’s going to crack or tear after just a few uses.

“Kayak” may be the name of the class of boats, but not all kayaks can be used for fishing: some are too small, and some are too unstable, for example. To find out which ones fit the bill, check out our reviews of some of our favorite fishing kayaks you can get for $1000 or even kayaks for as little as $500!

Sit-Inside vs. Sit-On-Top Kayaks

When it comes to choosing a kayak, the first question most people ask is whether they should get a sit-inside or a sit-on-top. The answer depends on what kind of fishing you aim to do.

A sit-inside kayak is one that has a large compartment in the middle of it. It’s ideal for fishing because of its great storage capacity and easy access to your gear. A sit-inside kayak is generally better suited for longer trips in rougher waters like those in turbulent rivers or in the open sea, as it provides a high level of stability. This makes it more maneuverable than a sit-on-top kayak, even though it’s slightly slower in open water. Check out our tips for going kayak fishing in the river.

The opposite of a sit-inside kayak would be a sit-on-top model. These are ideal for fishermen who want to travel short distances over calm water in pursuit of smaller fish. That’s because they’re extremely stable and easy to get on and off of—or simply climb back into after dropping out of them at each spot—and that gives you plenty of mobility.

Inflatable fishing kayaks and pedal kayaks are almost always sit-on-tops. However, an inflatable kayak is a bit different from the rest. It’s designed for fishing in calm waters and can be easily packed up and transported when you’re done for the day. Touring kayaks are designed for longer trips and have more storage space than other types of kayaks. Recreational kayaks are good for shorter trips and have less storage space.

What to Look for in a Quality Fishing Kayak

fishing kayak

While plenty of quality fishing kayaks are on the market, navigating through all the options can be difficult. Being an avid kayaker and fisherman myself, I’ve put together a list of things to look for when purchasing such type of kayak:


This is the most important factor in choosing a fishing kayak. A longer kayak will allow you more space to move around and fish, so if you’re planning on doing any distance paddling, you’ll want something at least 12 feet long.

Cockpit Size

The cockpit is the section of the boat you sit in while paddling. A large cockpit is more comfortable because you have room to stretch out your legs and allow a cooler or even another person to join you on longer trips.


While some may say that width is important for stability, I’ve found that a little extra width makes it easier to paddle and allows for more storage space in the cockpit.


If you want ultimate control over your boat and don’t mind sacrificing speed, get a rudder. It will allow you to steer precisely without having to paddle backward.

Drain Plug

A drain plug lets water out of your boat more easily


The layout of your kayak is very important in how you position yourself in the cockpit and how you paddle. For example, a kayak that is designed for fishing will have rod holders and multiple positions for fishing poles to ensure you are able to fish comfortably and accurately. Some designs, such as a fishing kayak with a foot brace, will require you to sit in the seat with your knees bent so that you can move freely.


Performance is a key concept in kayak fishing, and it’s something a lot of people don’t think about when they’re on the water. That’s because it’s hard to see how your performance can be improved while you’re sitting still in a kayak, but there are certain factors that will make a huge difference. Those factors include:

Locating fish before you cast – The first thing to consider is where the fish are. If you’re casting without any information about what’s happening underneath you, you could miss out on the best spots or just waste time and energy casting at empty water. Always have a plan for what you’ll do if the fish aren’t where you expected them to be.

Fishing with purpose – Fish aren’t random creatures that just swim around aimlessly—they’re looking for food, shelter, and other things that keep them safe and comfortable. Figure out what those things are and get in their way!

Fishing with confidence – Confidence is an important part of fishing. The less confident you are about your abilities, the more likely you’ll hesitate when there’s action happening beneath your boat. Be decisive!


Think of your GPS as a fishing buddy, always right there by your side, ready to give you directions. The GPS tracker is an amazing tool for kayak fishermen. It simplifies the process of long-distance fishing, bringing you and your fish home safe and sound.

You can track both position and speed in real-time, so you can plan your day’s route. You can also record your catches and use the data to improve on future trips. Even if you don’t own a boat, but you often ride along with friends who do or take day trips from shore, a kayak GPS tracker will make it much easier for you to track where people are going and how fast they’re moving.

Storage and Transportation

Folding kayaks are the best for storage and transportation. They take up much less space and can easily be carried downstairs, into the back of a truck, or even onto public transportation. Especially if you’re in a city, it’s crucial to have a kayak that you can store compactly and transport easily. A rigid-hulled kayak will require extra steps for each of these and can really get in the way when you need to get from one place to another.

The most important thing to remember when transporting your kayak is to make sure it’s secure. If it is not strapped down properly, things could go awry while you’re driving. Many accidents have been caused by unrestrained items flying around during a vehicle collision. Not only do proper straps keep the kayak in one place, but they also protect fragile parts like rudders, hatches, and fin boxes.


There are plenty of reasons to enjoy kayak fishing, from being able to go where people can’t to being able to give your back a break. It’s a good idea to invest in a good pair of sunglasses for your eyes, and definitely wear sunscreen for your skin. As you learn the ropes and gain experience with the process, you’ll find that fishing from a kayak is just as fun as from a boat!

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