21 Things People Ask Before Buying a Fishing Kayak

When I first began to research buying a fishing kayak for myself, I was overwhelmed with the variety and choices available with so many different styles of kayaks and their options. Friends will ask me about purchasing a kayak, and I receive the same questions from many of them. One thing to consider is your budget, and the amount of money you have set aside to make a purchase will be a huge factor in your final buying decisions.

Listed below are 21 of the most commonly asked questions people ask when looking to buy their first fishing kayak. This article will quickly answer them from different styles, colors, body height, and weight, and what you’ll need to carry with you.

With kayak fishing, there are as many options available to you as there are options in the differing types and styles of fishing—offshore, inshore, lakes, river systems, etc. You also have trolling, casting, fly rodding, fishing for bass, panfish, saltwater species, trout, crappie, walleye, too. Let’s get to some of the most common questions!

Should I Buy a Kayak for Fishing?

The quick and short answer is, I believe you should buy a fishing kayak! A kayak can reach water and fish that other boats cannot. They are also way less expensive to buy than even most of the smaller used boats you’ll run across. A kayak is easier to store when not in use, and only requires registration in most U.S. States if you have a motor attached to it.

You can find used fishing kayaks in price ranges that may begin around a couple of hundred dollars for a smaller, simpler kayak with a paddle and anchor. Or you can find people upgrading to better kayaks and selling their old kayak with many accessories for thousands of dollars.

Do Fishing Kayaks Tip Easily?

Some kayaks do tip easily. Many of the smaller inexpensive kayaks you can buy from the discount stores do have a narrower beam (width) than their more expensive fishing-specific counterparts. If you lean too far to the side, they tend to roll over and tip into the water.

The fishing-specific kayaks are built with stability in mind. There are kayaks which are more difficult to tip or flip with, and many kayaks are made stable enough you can fish standing up or even walk around on them!

Is It Hard to Fish From a Kayak?

No, fishing from a kayak isn’t hard! What is hard is not wanting to bring everything along with you on your kayak! Space and storage areas on a fishing kayak will be limited compared to other forms of fishing, but the actual fishing part itself is easy.

You can bring a couple of fishing rods along, a small box of tackle and lures, and you’re set for the day. Casting a fishing rod from a seated position isn’t difficult either, and you’ll quickly find how peaceful it is on the water, you’ll blend into the environment and see more wildlife and other things as well.

What Do You Need for Kayak Fishing?

The first thing you’ll need is a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). Safety on the water is paramount. Click here to read a quick article on three top PFD’s and the one I chose, and why. If you were to tip over or fall in for some reason, a PFD can and will save your life.

Of course, you’ll need a paddle! And possibly an emergency paddle in case you break yours, or it drifts away. Then the following are items you may want to consider bringing along are First-Aid kit, sunblock, safety whistle, a rope an anchor of some sort, and a good pocket knife in case you become entangled in your anchor rope.

An often overlooked item that is nice to have is a paddle leash. It attaches to the paddle and your seat, or an anchor point on your kayak, and keep the paddle from drifting off when fighting a fish or just losing your grip on it.

What Is The Best Size Kayak for a Beginner?

The best size kayak to for a beginner depends on what type of water you’ll be fishing on. Smaller bodies of water such as ponds or small lakes, or if you plan on fishing in protected bays, can be done with a 10′ to 12′ kayak.

If you’re planning on fishing offshore or large lakes and may encounter a lot of windy days or whitecaps, kayaks of 14′ or longer are better. I would suggest starting with a smaller kayak and learning to handle it well than graduate to a larger kayak of you need one.

The best way to is to try a few different kayaks out. Very often, a few friends will have kayaks they will let you use when you’re beginning. Another thing you can do is contact a local sporting good store and see when they may have local kayak demonstrations. You’ll often have different kayak manufacturers there and can try out as many as you like.

Which Kayak is Best For Fishing?

As far as I’m concerned, SOT (Sit-on-Top) kayaks are the best type of kayak for fishing. They are easy to get in and out of, more stable, you do sit higher in the water than you would in a Sit-In kayak, and there are “scupper” holes (holes in the kayak) that allow water to drain out of them. Plus, I always feel as if I have a lot more room than the other types of kayaks.

What’s The Difference Between a Fishing Kayak and a Regular Kayak?

A fishing kayak is set up expressly for fishing. It will very often, depending upon the manufacturer, have rod holders built in, gear tracks for attaching other fishing accessories, storage compartments for tackle and gear, and a good comfortable seat, among other features. The best kayaks will allow you to stand up and fish as well, they are very stable.

You can fish from a regular kayak, and that’s the type of kayak I first fished from, but not for very long! Regular kayaks are designed to be out on the water and having fun paddling around, not specifically for fishing. You can fish from them, but they are somewhat limiting at times.

What Is The Difference Between a Sit On Top Kayak and a Sit Inside Kayak?

The most significant difference between a SOT (Sit on Top) kayak and the sit-inside kayak is an enclosed cockpit where you sit, versus a seat where you sit above the deck of a SOT kayak. Both versions should have wells to place your feet or foot pedals that you can adjust to the length of your legs for your comfort.

Both will have some type of seating, but the SOT seat will be far more comfortable, in my opinion, than the sit-inside version. The seat on a SOT kayak will generally have far better adjustability than a sit-inside cockpit. I’ve found sit-inside seats will rub my lower back and create a hot spot if not careful.

Is a Sit On Top Kayak Better for Fishing?

In my opinion, I like to fish from a Sit on Top (SOT) kayak far more than a sit-inside kayak. When fishing from a SOT, you can stand and cast much of the time if you prefer, while you cannot do that easily from a sit-inside kayak. The SOT is much stabler but often will not paddle as fast as a sit-inside kayak.

You will get a little wetter on occasion in a SOT kayak when paddling, but the scupper holes will allow water to drain out of the kayak. Also, if you flip the kayak, this style is much easier to reenter than a sit-inside.

Which Kayak is Most Stable?

The most stable of the kayaks are the Sit on Top (SOT) with a wide beam (width). My personal choice for my first real fishing kayak was the Wilderness Systems ATAK 120, an extremely stable SOT kayak. There is an option for an AirPro 3D Max ATAK Seat that you can actually stand upon, it’s that stable.

Can You Fish From a Regular Kayak?

Yes, you can fish from a regular kayak. Regular kayaks are a great way to find out if you are going to enjoy the sport. Once you decide you enjoy it, you may want to invest in a specialized fishing kayak and equipment which enhance your fishing experience. Click here to read my article on fishing from a regular kayak.

What Color Kayak is Best for Fishing?

Some people are superstitious about kayak colors when it comes to fishing. Much like bananas are bad luck on a fishing boat! But in the end, whatever color you choose will be your personal preference.

Overall, the specific color of kayak doesn’t matter when it comes to the fish. It is the shadows and movement from above, which will scare and spook fish. Kayak colors, which will make you visible to other boaters like yellow or orange, are far more critical for your safety. Here is a good article I wrote Kayak Color: Does It Matter When Fishing? which you might find interesting on color choices.

What Size Kayak Do I Need for My Height?

Your height is a small part of choosing the kayak. You’ll need to consider your type of fishing, style of kayak, the length of your fishing days or nights, and how much storage you need for the gear you plan on bringing.

Shorter kayaks are more maneuverable, while longer kayaks will track better in the water. A wider kayak will be more stable while the narrower kayak will paddle faster as it cuts through the water easier.

Legroom is a crucial issue here. You’ll want a kayak deck that is long enough for you to sit comfortably, with the adjustable foot pedals to place your feet upon. With less gear and storage needs, a smaller kayak may suit you. Add more gear and storage needs, with your legroom included, you may want to choose a longer length kayak.

Which is Better a 10 ft or 12 ft Kayak?

In choosing between a 10′ or 12′ fishing kayak, I’ll take the 12′ every day! The kayak I currently fish from is a 12′ version and is a great first-time kayak as well as an advanced fishing kayak.

A 10′ kayak will be very maneuverability and is a good kayak for beginners wanting to explore the sport of kayak fishing. The 12′ kayak will track a little better since it’s longer in length and will have additional room behind the seat for storage and gear.

What Size Kayak is Best for a Heavier Person

The weight limit of the kayak itself will be the key. There are a wide variety of choices for larger anglers when it comes to fishing kayaks. Keep in mind a larger, more stable kayak capable of carrying heavier weights will be slightly more expensive and weigh a bit more themselves.

There’s a Weight Limit Chart in my article, Helpful Guide: Kayak Weight Limits Explained for Larger Anglers from four of the top fishing kayak manufacturers to help you out.

What Type of Kayak is Best for Lakes?

If you are looking for a fishing kayak for a local lake and not a lake like the Great Lakes type of lake, I’d recommend a quality Sit on Top (SOT) kayak. If the lake gets pretty windy and choppy and you intend to fish in those conditions for a lengthy time, plan on becoming a bit wet.

I would choose a SOT kayak in the 12′ to 14′ length. The SOT will give you the stability you need, the storage you will want, and the ability to upgrade with additional accessories in the future.

How Much Does a Decent Kayak Cost?

You can find used kayaks at a decent price ranging from a few hundred dollars, up to three thousand dollars and higher. Most of the pricing will be determined by your budget, how you fish, and what accessories you may want in the future.

Expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for a decent used kayak designed specifically for fishing. An inexpensive sit-inside used kayak from a discount store can often be had for $100 and will come with just a paddle. A few companies are also putting recessed rod holders in some of them.

Are Cheap Kayaks Worth It?

The adage that comes into play here is, ‘You get what you pay for!” Are cheap kayaks worth it, not in my opinion. When I purchased mine, the price without shipping was around $1,200, but I knew I would use it hard too.

If you’re uncertain if you will like fishing from a kayak, an inexpensive one from your local Wal-Mart will do to get you out on the water. As you get better and want to move up the kayak ladder, it will be pretty easy to sell, and you can purchase a better, high-quality fishing kayak.

Why Are Fishing Kayaks so Expensive?

The quick answer to this question is expensive kayaks are becoming lighter in weight due to newer materials being developed, all at a higher cost to produce. A significant difference between a cheap kayak and an expensive one is the quality in which it’s made. And the overall balance of the kayak on the water.

If you were to fish from a cheap kayak for half a day, and a quality fishing-specific kayak the other half of the day, you’d see and feel the difference. A difference in handling and a difference in your body being sore at the end of the day.

Is Kayaking Fishing at Night Legal?

Yes, fishing at night is legal in a kayak as long as you adhere to the fishing regulations in the region or area you intend to fish. You will also need an all around white light or lantern to be in compliance with the United States Coast Guard Rules on navigating after dark.

If you need additional information and more details on kayak lighting requirements, click here to read my article, Nighttime Kayaking: Light Requirements Explained.

Where Do You Keep Your Fish When Kayak Fishing?

The most popular way of storing fish you’ve caught is on a stringer and hanging it over the side of the kayak. If you’re not careful and there are snapping turtles common in your waters, they’ll slip up and nibble away!

Another method used by many kayak fishermen are fish baskets. They will protect your fish from turtles, etc. but both stringers and baskets will slow your kayak down. And they will make tracking in a straight line difficult at best.

A hard or soft cooler that fits on your kayak and is filled with a bit of ice is a great way to store your fish. Catch coolers that you fill with ice and place on the bow of your kayak are probably the best way to keep your fish. You can read about catch coolers in my article How Do You Carry a Cooler on a Fishing Kayak?

So there you have some of the most common questions I and others are asked. Just remember, no matter which kayak you choose, how you carry your gear, how much money you spend, or where you keep your fish, always have fun on the water! And good luck to you!

Mike Rodman

Mike enjoys fishing all year round, from fly fishing small streams in Wyoming's higher mountains to kayak fishing the lower altitude lakes and reservoirs. Mike also has a passion for ice fishing. When he has spare time, he'll be found at his rod bench building custom fishing rods.

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