Sit On vs Sit In Kayak for Fishing? Our Take

sit on vs sit in kayak for fishing. our take

As an essential accessory to kayak fishing, you might also have wondered which is better when you compare a sit on vs sit in kayak for fishing?

Why should you go for a kayak instead of using a regular boat or canoe in the first place?

Welcome to the decades’ long debate that’s been going among anglers.

Which type should you buy? Well, it depends…

Key Kayak Fishing Facts

• A kayak for fishing is affordable both in the short term and long term. Apart from the low initial cost, you also save on maintenance, insurance and towing costs in the long term.

• A kayak is versatile. It makes it easy for you to access waterways that you would not ordinarily access using a canoe or a boat.

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• A kayak is highly portable. You can easily strap one or two to your car’s roof rack.

• Kayak provides a unique fishing experience that you cannot experience with a canoe or a boat. It offers a relaxed fishing experience at a slow pace. It also gives you the ability to fish from a low angle.

• Kayaking offers you a mix of exercise workouts as you paddle along.

• A kayak is easier to control and steer while fishing compared to a boat or a canoe.

For fishing, we recommend a sit on top (SOT) kayak. We think these are also better for scuba diving. For those into recreational kayaking, especially touring kayaking, we recommend sit in kayaks.

Sit On vs Sit In Kayak for Fishing – Similarities and Differences.

Which type of kayak should you go for?

In order to answer this question, it is only proper that you get to know the similarities and differences that exist between sit on and sit in kayaks.

The Similarities

• Both types of kayaks feature a sitting cockpit. However, a sit on kayak features a molded (open) cockpit.
• Both feature a stern and bow at the back and front respectively.
• They both have a deck (the top part) and hull (the bottom part).

The Differences

• A sit on kayak is designed to be shorter and wider. Sit in kayaks are designed to be long and narrow.
• Sit in kayaks are faster because of their design. SOT kayaks are generally slower. 
• An SOT kayak has adequate storage space compared to a sit in kayak.
• An SOT kayak is more stable on water compared to a sit in kayak.
• A sit in kayak provides more protection from splashing water and the cold, unlike an SOT.

In addition to the similarities and differences we have looked at above, the following factors also come into play when considering between these two types of kayaks for fishing.

Paddling Experience

You need to take your paddling experience into account when considering a sit on vs sit in fishing kayak. For a beginner, an SOT kayak is better to start with. It is stable and you are less likely to tip over. You can also turn it over easily in case it tips over.

A sit in kayak is technical in terms of balance. You need to master the art of balancing to control it effectively. Furthermore, you will need to bail out before bailing out the water in case it tips over in order to continue paddling.

Check out our list of the top kayaks for fishing for ideas.

Fishing Environment

Your choice of the better kayak for fishing should partly be informed by your regular fishing environment. You need to consider whether you prefer to fish on rivers, lakes or on the open sea or ocean.

Fishing in rivers presents various challenges including rocks. Although a sit in kayak may seem the better for river fishing, you need to note that sit in kayaks generally lie deeper in the water compared to sit on kayaks. Furthermore, a sit in kayak is generally faster than a sit on kayak, something you may not prefer when fishing.

A sit on kayak turns out to be better for river fishing. Its short and wide design provides for slow-paced fishing as it slides smoothly past obstacles.

Unlike fishing on a river, fishing on a lake presents minimal challenges. This is because the water is generally calm and still. However, you are exposed to wind and you are most likely to paddle over long distances.

A sit in kayak is certainly what you need for lake fishing. Its narrow and long design makes it easy for you stick to a straight fishing path to cover distances at good speed.

Planning to fish on the sea or ocean? A sit in kayak is better. It’s fast speed and ability to fight tides between islands and in narrow channels is beneficial.

Prevailing Weather Condition

The prevailing weather condition at your locality should inform your best kayak for fishing.

A sit in kayak is best in case your location experiences cold weather most of the time. Its enclosed cockpit keeps you dry so long as you have a skirt on. Your legs also remain trapped inside for protection against chilly wind.

A sit on kayak is best if you fish in an area that experiences warm or cool weather most of the season. It is also designed with scupper holes for self-bailing. You can also buy scupper plugs to prevent the inflow of water.

Fish Target

What do you regularly fish for? This is important because it influences the fishing kayak you need to buy.

You are better off with a sit in kayak if your fish target is the small fish. A sit on kayak is the best if your target is the big and heavy fish. This is because it is stable and you can, therefore, stand to cast or pull a fishing net with fish back on board without the risk of tipping over.

Storage Capacity

This is a very important factor to consider when comparing a sit on vs sit in kayak for fishing.

When considering a kayak’s storage capacity, you need to take into account the storage for your fishing gear and the fish. You ideally need to choose a kayak with straps (for your jacket, life preserver, and tackle), rod holders, and a dry storage box in the hull.

A sit on kayak generally has sufficient storage space compared to a sit in kayak.

Custom Accessories

Kayaks have come a long way ever since they were introduced. Your choice of the better kayak for fishing may be informed by how detailed you can customize it to suit your fishing need.

It is, therefore, necessary to consider the kind of accessories that you may want to add. Such accessories as Scotty mount, anchor system, and rudder are worth investing in.

A sit on kayak is the better option when it comes to customization. Its design and size give you room to add custom accessories to enhance your fishing experience.

Level of Comfort

You will definitely want to be comfortable while kayak fishing. The better kayak, therefore, is one that will make you feel comfortable while fishing and paddling.

A sit on kayak turns out to be the better of the two. Unlike a sit in kayak that restricts your movement and keeps your legs stuck inside, a sit on kayak makes it easy for you to move around or to customize your seat to one that is more comfortable. You can also sit in a side saddle position by hanging your legs on the sides.


Which type of kayak do you settle for when comparing a sit on vs sit in kayak for fishing?

Both sit on and sit on kayaks provide for an enhanced fishing experience. However, they perform differently in different situations and circumstances.

From our experience and speaking with many other anglers, a sit on top kayak for fishing is the most preferred option and hence, our recommended kayak for fishing. This is irrespective of whether you are a beginner or an established angler. It certainly has many advantages over a sit in kayak.

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