Which Fishing Kayak Is Right For You?
Are you confused about which fishing kayak you should buy? If you have never used a kayak before, you may not be sure which one you will need. Read on and we’ll try to break down the basic differences that will allow you to make an informed purchase.
There are basically 2 types of kayaks.
They are Sit On Tops (SOT) and Sit In Kayaks (SIK). Each type has models that fish well. Before discussing the merits and differences of each type, let’s first discuss fishing kayaks in general.
What makes a kayak a good fishing kayak?
Anglers often have needs that may be different from someone who is strictly paddling. Some of the basic features anglers prefer in a kayak are stability, storage, and enough flat surfaces to bolt on fishing extras like rod holders and depth finders. Performance and maneuverability, while important to many, may not be the main factors when choosing your first fishing kayak.
Start your decision process by answering some basic questions that will help you select the most appropriate kayak models for you.
1. Consider yourself first.
What are your height, weight, inseam measurements and general condition? If you are a large or very tall man, there are certain kayaks that will suit you better. In fact, this will make your decision easier because finding the right kayak will be more a matter of finding one that handles your size and weight more than anything else. Look for kayaks with plenty of legroom and a weight capacity that suits you and your gear.
If you are a small to average sized person, getting a large, heavy, 600 pound capacity kayak is probably not your best bet. But if you are going to fish in the ocean, a very small kayak would not be the best option either. As you will see, choosing a kayak can be something of a compromise. As you read, consider the different factors and consider them when making your choice.
2. What vehicle are you going to use to transport your kayak?
If you plan to transport your kayak in the bed of a pickup truck, a larger, heavier kayak presents no problem. However, if you have a large SUV, such as a Suburban 4WD, you need to consider the weight of the kayak because it will take extra effort to raise and lower the kayak from the roof of said vehicle. The bottom line is that if your kayak is easy to load and unload, you will use it more often.
3. Where do you plan to use the kayak?
Will your kayak be used exclusively in fresh water? If so, where? Lakes, ponds, small rivers and streams? Will you be fishing large open bodies of water with lots of waves and chops? Do you plan to use your kayak in salt water? Planning to fish in the ocean and launch your kayak through the waves? How do you plan to get your kayak on the water? Can you just drive it to the water and launch it or do you plan to launch it in remote areas where you can’t drive your vehicle to the water’s edge? All these factors are important when choosing your kayak.
4. What fishing methods do you like to use?
Do you use only one style? Do you use artificial lures, live bait fishing or both? If you are going to use bait, do you want to use live-bait or dead-bait? Will you need room for a livewell in your kayak? Do you plan to anchor and sail? Do you fly fish? The type of equipment you plan to attach and carry will affect your decision. In short, the way(s) you fish can affect which kayaks will best suit your needs.
5. What kind of fisherman are you?
Are you strictly a catch and release fisherman, do you like to take food home from time to time, or do you take fish home regularly? Where are you going to store your catch? Is there space in/on the kayak you have selected?
What style of kayak is right for you? A sit on top or sit inside kayak?
Sit In Kayaks are the traditional type of kayaks. When most people think of kayaks, this is the type that usually comes to mind. They are similar to canoes in that you sit inside on the lower hull of the kayak. The seats offer more initial protection from the elements, however, in harsher conditions, they can fill with water without the proper accessories. In adverse conditions, they are often equipped with a spray skirt. A skirt is a cover that surrounds you and the opening in the kayak that prevents water from entering. When using a skirt you may inadvertently limit access to items inside the kayak, but if you are a basic angler this may be right for you.
Sit On Top kayaks are a new generation of kayaks. They look kind of like a modified surfboard and you sit on them instead of on them. SOTs have what are known as scuppers, which allow water to drain out of the cabin. This way, when water floods the kayak, the cabin may be briefly flooded, but will drain quickly, eliminating the need to pump out the water. This is especially beneficial in places like the surf zone.
Both styles of kayaks are useful for anglers and within each style there are models that are better suited to you than others. Let’s go back to some of those questions above and see why they are important to help you choose which of these types of kayak will be best for you.
Anglers do something in a kayak that most paddlers don’t: they fish. Therefore, having a relatively stable platform can be very important, especially for a person who is new to the sport and to kayaking. When kayakers talk about stability they talk about 2 types. Initial and secondary. Initial stability is the side-to-side wobble you feel when you sit in a kayak. Secondary stability is when the kayak is getting close to its flip point and how much forgiveness it has before you actually flip.
Many recreational kayaks have tremendous initial stability but have a very steep secondary. When they reach their secondary limit, they literally leave you. Conversely, there are kayaks that wobble like crazy but are very forgiving when they reach the unloading point. Most recreational fishing kayaks have a good compromise of both initial and secondary stability.
Since you sit on or near the floor of a SIK, they tend to appear more stable. In the SOT you sit in the kayak and since it has a double hull you also sit higher. This higher seating position can make an SOT initially appear less stable. If you have a SOT and a SIK that are the same length and width, the SIK will probably be more stable. Because of this, SOT designers tend to make their kayaks wider. So no matter what style you choose, there will be a model that you will feel comfortable with.
Initial stability may seem more important to beginners and secondary stability more important to experienced kayakers. It makes sense. The beginner has not yet developed a sense of balance. It’s a lot like learning to ride a bike. When you start, it’s new, so you think about it more. After a short while it becomes second nature and you don’t think about it at all.
Speed: Generally, the longer and narrower a kayak is, the faster it is. SIKs are usually faster, however there are also fast SOTs. Speed is only important if you need it. If most of your fishing is close to shore or in small, sheltered areas, then you probably won’t need a long, fast kayak. However, if you are fishing in a large reservoir, bay, sound, or the open ocean, the ability to cover distance can be very important to you. A SIK of the same size is usually faster because it is narrower than a SOT of the same length.
If you are going to fish in small streams or narrow estuaries, you will probably want a kayak that is easy to maneuver. A long, fast touring kayak will be more difficult to use in these situations and could affect your overall fishing experience. A shorter SOT or SIK will suit you better if these types of environments. In big water, making a tight turn is usually not crucial, so a longer kayak is not a problem.
Compatible with accessories:
One of the joys of kayak fishing is turning a simple recreational kayak into a very efficient and compact fishing boat. This is done by adding fishing accessories. How much you add depends largely on your style of fishing and your philosophy about gear. Some anglers only carry a rod and a few lures, while others like to carry a lot of tackle. No matter what your preference is, simply adding a rod holder will greatly increase the fishing capacity of your kayak. Many flat surfaces are good for mounting accessories.
Anglers tend to carry a lot of gear with them. Organizing this equipment requires that the kayak you have chosen has adequate storage. It doesn’t have to be much, but it’s nice to have a few different places to put your stuff. SOT kayaks have a double hull, which means there is plenty of potential storage space below deck. Depending on your needs this may be very important to you. Maybe you plan to camp or make long journeys in your kayak. This large, relatively dry storage area may appeal to you. If you plan on launching your kayak through the waves, this space will allow you to store your rods below deck, keeping them safe as you pass through the surf zone. Many SIKs have hatches that offer access to sealed compartments in the hull. Many of the SIKs used by anglers also have large open cabins that make it easy to access gear that you may have stored around it. Milk crates and other plastic containers can also be used for external storage. They fit in the tank wells of many SOT kayaks and can also be strapped to the deck of SIKs.
Kayak fishing takes place in many different environments, from large bays, sounds, and even the open ocean, but many of us also fish in very small waters. A small shallow river can be fished very easily with a short and light kayak. Such a kayak will be easier to get around obstacles such as logs, log jams, rocks, waterfalls and spillways, rushing water and rocky shallows. There will be times when you need to carry or tow your kayak through, over, or through these places. In these types of situations, a smaller, lighter kayak is the best option.
Some Kayaks to consider:
Kayaks suitable for big and tall paddlers:
1. Hobie interior
2. Hobie Revolution
3. Hobie Adventure
4. Hobie’s Quest
5. Ocean Kayak Marauding Trident 15
6.Ocean Kayak Prowler Great Hunting
7. Heritage Redfish 14
8. Native manta ray 14
9. native last 16
10. Wild Systems Tarpon 160i
11. Pungo Wildlife Systems 140
12. Walk in wild systems 135
13. Malibu X-Factor
Kayaks suitable for average to small paddlers (Average to small paddlers have few restrictions and can use almost any sit-on or sit-on kayak that suits their needs. Here are some popular options):
1. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
2. Pungo Wildlife Systems 120
3. Native manta ray 12
4. Hobie Sports
5. Hobie Revolution
6. Hobie Indoors
7. Hobie’s Quest
8. Malibu Mini-X
9. Koho Perception
10. Perception of the patriotic fisherman
Best of luck in making a decision. I hope to see you soon in the water.