Fishing Kayak Buying Guide
Different Types of Kayak Fishing
You will not be able to choose the perfect fishing kayak for your needs until you are clear on the type of kayak fishing that you will be engaging in. All fishing kayaks are not the same.
There are two types of kayak fishing. One involves fishing in freshwater and the other is saltwater kayak fishing. Those two categories are divided into two additional categories.
It is important that users understand the different types of kayak fishing and the paddling conditions that go with both of them. We’ve outlined the differences below so you will have an easier time sorting through the choices.
Freshwater Kayak Fishing
Fresh water kayak fishing is done in freshwater areas such as rivers, lakes, and ponds. There are two types of freshwater kayak fishing:
- Still Water – This type of kayak fishing can be in any body of water whether it’s a small pond or a huge lake. Shorter, lighter-weight kayaks that have a high degree of stability are good choices for still-water kayak fishing on smaller bodies of water. Recreational and sit on kayaks will work well for this type of fishing. If you are fishing on large bodies of water, speed may be of greater importance than maneuverability. For larger bodies of freshwater, look for kayaks, longer and slimmer, with a lower degree of instability and a low degree of rocker as well.
- Moving Water – Moving water can be a calm blackwater river or a swiftly flowing stream with rapids. There are certain fishing kayaks that are better suited to these types of water than others. Maneuverability is one of the most important features you will want to look for when shopping for a fishing kayak for moving water. Look for kayaks that are shorter and wider with a sit-in area and soft chines. You also want a high degree of secondary stability and a fairly high degree of rocker as well. There are a few sit on models that will work well for this type of fishing but for the most part, the sit-in varieties do better.
Saltwater Kayak Fishing
Saltwater kayak fishing is very popular and also has two basic types: Inshore and offshore.
- Inshore Water – This type of water is going to be adjacent to the shoreline and typically has a depth of 70 feet or less. Inshore kayak fishing can include inlets, sounds, bays, estuaries, saltwater marshes and saltwater creeks, and flats. Users may face strong winds, steep waves and have to paddle long distances. The best fishing kayaks for this type of water are long, slim kayaks that offer a medium amount of rocker. Most anglers prefer the sit on top kayaks because these are unsinkable. It makes it very easy to get back on the kayak should it capsize for any reason. Long, slim sit-in kayaks will also work and require far less work to paddle than the sit on top varieties, making them the favored choice in most cases. Additionally, sit-in kayaks have more secondary stability than sit on top models do which is preferable in rough waters or seas.
- Offshore Water – Offshore waters have a depth of more than 70 feet. Offshore waters are also typically under big skies which makes being in a fishing kayak seem overwhelming. Long, slim kayaks that move swiftly over rough waters and that cross large distances with relative ease are the best choices for offshore kayak fishing. An extra long kayak will also give the angler a little more security since they are in such big water. Sit in kayaks are preferable for this type of kayak fishing especially if the waters get rough as they can do in the ocean.
Things to Consider when Choosing the Right Fishing Kayak
There are many things to consider and think about when it comes to choosing a fishing kayak that will fulfill all of your needs and preferences. We have listed these considerations below.
Skill Level – The angler’s skill levels is very important when deciding on the right fishing kayak. If you are new to kayak fishing, getting started on still water with a shorter, wider kayak with lots of initial stability is a good place to start. You also want it to have a high degree of maneuverability so you will feel confident about keeping the kayak upright and under control.
Both sit-on-top and recreational kayaks are great choices for these conditions. If you have a little bit of experience as a kayak paddler, think about a long, slim kayak with less initial stability and less maneuverability and increased speed and higher degree of secondary stability. This enables you to cover long distances faster.
- Sit-on-top or Sit-in – If you are an expert kayak paddler, there is no specific “rule” about whether a sit on top or a sit in kayak is better. Both types of kayak have a lot of advantages and in the end, most of the choice comes down to personal preference. Over all, the sit on top fishing kayak is the most popular style . Kayak anglers of all skill levels tend to choose this type above the others. Even though sit in kayaks are usually faster, handle rough water better and provide the paddler with more control, anglers love the unsinkable hulls, wide open cockpits, high initial stability and security when reeling in large fish.
Construction – The heaviest type of fishing kayak is made from polyethylene. They are very tough and durable and can last a long time. This is the material you want your kayak to be made of if you will be fishing along rocky shorelines and oyster beds. Poly kayaks are a bit slower than wood or composite and the hull design isn’t always very efficient. They also require more effort to paddle.
Wood fishing kayaks are much lighter than poly models and have stiffer hulls as well making them faster and easier to paddle. The stitch and glue plywood kayaks are a lot less expensive than the composite and poly models. Most wood kayaks have soft chines, offering users a high degree of stability. Composite kayaks have the ability to be molded to shapes that wood and poly kayaks can’t achieve. They have the most efficient hull designs of all the models. They are heavier than wood kayaks and more expensive but the benefits outweigh the added cost.
- Stability or Speed – Inexperienced paddlers usually choose kayaks that have a high degree of initial stability. On the other hand, advanced paddlers prefer kayaks with a higher secondary degree of stability. The wider kayaks are slower than their slimmer counterparts. In general, wide, slow kayaks with high initial stability are better to get for anglers that love fishing on still water and the faster, narrow kayaks with high secondary stability are better for inshore and offshore kayak fishing.
- How Will You Use it – The type of water that you will be fishing on is one of the largest factors in determining the best kayak for your needs. Make sure you have a good idea of where you will be kayak fishing before you choose a kayak.
- Outfitting the Kayak – Many of the kayaks on the market come with all kinds of features for you to enjoy that make the fishing experience even more enjoyable. These include cooler wells, rod racks, paddle holders, anchor trolleys, bait wells and more. You can either add these to a simply designed kayak as aftermarket choices or buy one that already has them. The pre-outfitted models are more expensive and may cost more than you can outfit your kayak for on your own. The benefit to outfitting your own kayak is that you can choose only the features you need and like to use.
- Budget – What a kayak costs is a definite consideration for most people. Decide on a good budget and stick to it. In general you can expect to pay more for the composite models and less for the wood or poly designs.
Kayak fishing is an activity that is very relaxing and enjoyable. It can even be exciting and a challenge depending on the type of water you go fishing on. Having the right information on fishing kayaks can play a large part in helping you choose which type and model is the best to purchase.
Now that you have the information you need on the different types of kayaks and their features and advantages, making an informed decision on just the right fishing kayak for your fishing excursions.
Knowledge is everything and the knowledge this buyer’s guide has provided for you will allow you the confidence to know you have chosen the best model you can.