Fishing from a kayak is by no means a new tradition. Cultures across the globe have used this method for centuries. All you need is the best sit on top kayak for fishing to join this tradition in the newest and most effective way possible.
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Why should you use a Sit on Top Kayak for Fishing?
- Why should you use a Sit on Top Kayak for Fishing?
- Advantages of a Sit on Top vs Sit In
- How to pick?
- Top Sit On Kayak for Fishing
There are many advantages to using any kayak for fishing. One of the most compelling of these reasons is cost. They are a fraction of the cost of any other type of boat, often available for less than what many people spend on fishing gear.
They are also much quieter in the water than any other craft and with a little practice, you can be almost silent. During spawning season, it is possible to get right on top of the fish virtually undetected. It is easy to imagine that they see you as nothing more than a floating log and will rarely react to your presence.
Accessing areas that most other boats cannot is a strength that will allow you to fish areas that rarely ever see a fisherman. The draft is so shallow it takes just a few inches of water. They can be easily carried around obstacles and are highly maneuverable on the water. Places that people in big bass boats only dream of are no challenge at all.
Advantages of a Sit on Top vs Sit In
Of the two types of Kayaks, the sit on version has become the standard for serious fishing. While the advantages above exist with either type, a sit on offers just a little more.
The primary reason is that you get more on-deck real estate to work with and far more storage. You can have more rod holders, more attachment points, and many even have a dedicated space for a fishfinder. There are models with live wells built in and that is not even getting into the various other storage hatches, cargo areas, and underdeck dry-storage offered on many models.
Sit Ons are also much more stable in most cases than sit in models. The wider beam and shallow draft make a combination that can handle hooking and pulling in even the largest fish. People catch sharks from sit on top kayaks.
They are easier to board than a sit in version and easier to self-rescue if you get dunked. No matter the water situation, they will float upside down or right side up. A sit in model may fill with water and sink but short of some drastic accident that rips the kayak apart, a sit on will remain on top of the water.
Comfort is another great reason. The seats are far better on top than inside. There may be a few exceptions to this rule but they are rare. Some even have seats that elevate for easier casting and a more relaxed posture when you are fishing then lower for paddling.
How to pick?
While they are not so different than a standard kayak, there are a few points about a fishing model that you want to pay special attention to. To get the most out of your purchase, here are a few points to consider:
This will mostly be determined by the water you fish and it is always a tradeoff. A longer craft will track better, have more speed, and make getting to your fishing hole a much more enjoyable task. A shorter craft is much more maneuverable, will fit into places a longer one will not, and can be taken on very small streams.
Longer is better for lakes and larger rivers where speed is important. Shorter is better for smaller lakes, streams that are full of obstructions, and getting into hard to reach areas.
Capacity & Storage
The overall capacity is generally decided by the size but many smaller models have a large capacity. When you are fishing and may have to paddle a long distance to get to your favorite spot, having all the gear you need with you is important. There is no easy way to go back and get it.
You need to make sure your choice has the capacity to hold all the gear you may need and plenty of places to store it while you are on the water. This can be poles, nets, tackle, live bait, a fish finder, lunch, and anything else you may want to take along.
An additional concern with capacity comes when you do catch a fish. For bass and smaller species, it will rarely be an issue but once you go for catfish, musky, and other large species, you want a boat that can stand up to the fight. Something that won’t become unstable under pressure and that will allow you to get your catch onboard.
Everyone is aware of kayaks that use paddles. This is the standard and how most will get around but it is not the only option. It is cheap and very versatile making it the perfect choice for most people. Many even enjoy the act of paddling but it keeps your hands full so you can’t cast.
If you are looking for something else, there are several peddle drive systems out there. These are often quite quick and very convenient. They allow you to troll as you move and maneuver even while you are casting. The cost of a peddle model is often much more but may be worth it for some avid fishermen.
Top Sit On Kayak for Fishing
1. Perception Pescador Pilot
If you are looking for the perfect trolling craft for your local lakes, rivers, and even coastal waters, the Pescador was made for you! Perception has a long history of making the best products in the industry and this is absolutely no exception. This is the type of kayak you see in competition fishing and used by some of the most avid anglers.
What makes it perfect? Perception’s own peddle drive system for a start. This is an easy to use, speedy, and efficient way of getting around your local fishing spot. But it doesn’t stop there. Even without a peddle system, this is perhaps the best boat of its type.
The seat alone makes this a worthy purchase being perhaps the most comfortable you can get and allowing you to elevate for a better position when casting. It comes with spacious storage in the bow, a huge cargo area behind the seat, and two areas ahead of the seat for everything else you may need.
For rod holders, you get 4 aft and two mounting rails by the cockpit. It has a space designed for your fishfinder. About everything you need for your next fishing adventure is included along with a ton of quality and safety features to make sure your time on the water is the best it can be. If you are serious about fishing, this exactly the craft for you.
2. Vibe Sea Ghost 130
If you want to scale it back to a more conventional option and save some money, Vibe may be the way to go. They are one of the oldest and most respected names in the sit-on market and for very good reason. There are thousands of Vibe’s products on the water and the Sea Ghost may be the most popular.
At 13 feet long, this is a sizable kayak but that means it tracks near perfect and can get a good bit of speed. The extra length also adds to the capacity giving the Sea Ghost a massive 550-pound capacity. Plenty enough to carry all your essential gear and still have enough for you and the largest fish you can find.
Much like the Pescador, the Sea Ghost has an amazing seat that is far more comfortable than you would expect. It has two positions, one for paddling and the other for sight-casting or just to get you a little farther above the water. This couples with the adjustable foot pegs for a better, more stable paddling stroke and more efficient movement.
You will get two rod holders in the rear and long gear tracks up front for your fishing rods. The center console can hold all of your important gear and is fish-finder ready. There is an additional bow hatch that is waterproof and a huge cargo area rear of the seat. If you are looking for a traditional paddle system, this is a great boat and a great value!
3. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-TK181 Tandem
If you are here, you likely agree that fishing is fun but it can be even more fun with a friend. Tandems designed to hold two are becoming more common but the one offered by USA base BKC is among the best! Especially when you pack if full of great features and sell it for a budget price.
Most tandems come in at around 12 to 13 foot and this one is no exception. This gives you the capacity you need for two adults and tracking that is good enough to handle two paddlers. In total this boat can hold 440 pounds worth or people and gear and still make good time on the water. It is efficient, fast, and easily handled by one if you want to take a day to yourself.
The seats are a little lackluster but are the most common model you will find. They do provide adequate back support and decent padding but nowhere near what is offered on some high-end models. If you spend all day on the water, you may feel it but otherwise, these are quite comfortable and put you in a good paddling position.
Each occupant gets their own waterproof storage hatch and there is a larger cargo area in the rear. With two adults, this is about all the capacity can likely take. The front seat has a single swivel rod holder while the rear seat has two. Both get two molded-in holders for a total of 7 mounting positions. If you can’t catch fish with that many rods, maybe you should get off the water.
4. Vibe Skipjack 90
While all the previous options have been long, what if you are looking for something shorter for small water and maximum maneuverability? Well, Vibe has you covered there as well with their smaller Skipjack series. This is a short, light, stable craft to get you into tight spots and find those hard to reach bass areas.
At just 9 feet long and weighing only 46 pounds, this is sized perfectly for small water and tight confines. It slides easily between logs and snags while still managing to track quite well. The Skipjack probably won’t win many races but that isn’t it’s niche. This was made to be affordable and maneuverable above all else and for that, it is truly magnificent.
When it comes to flush mount seats, Vibe has done about the best it is possible to do. It may never equal the seats in larger kayaks but this is the best standard seat on the market. It offers ample support, has a wide back to cradle the shoulders for paddling, and is soft enough for a long day fishing.
When it comes to rod holders, you can turn the Skipjack into a fish slaying platform with 5 molded in holders and a mounting point for a swivel holder. There are a total of 3 waterproof storage hatches and a sizeable cargo area behind the seat. The console does have a fishfinder mounting location but no additional storage. Still, you should have plenty of space for your most important gear.
5. Emotion Stealth
Sometimes you want to get back to simplicity and Emotion is the brand to help you do that. Just remember that simple doesn’t mean less. You just get more for your money without all of the extras you may not want to pay for. In the early days of Kayak fishing, this was one of the most popular brands and they have stayed that way for over a decade.
Up front, this a sizable craft at 11 feet long which gives it excellent tracking and very good stability. With a little practice, you can stand and fish with confidence. With a maximum capacity of 300 pounds, the Stealth rides fairly low in the water, this is what gives it that extra support and stability. That should be enough for most any adult and plenty of gear.
The seat is a standard model used in a lot of smaller craft like this. It offers some support and adjustability with a little padding. You may need to take a break and stretch your legs every now and then but it is effective and very cost efficient as a design while still being better than the cheaper seats in some boats.
You do get two rod holders behind the seat and a swivel holder up front. There is no place for a fishfinder on such a basic craft. For storage, you get a front and read cargo area and a single waterproof hatch. This is often enough and that is what the Stealth is. Just enough without being excessive to maximize usability and minimize the price.
6. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-FK184 Single
For another great smaller option we need to come back to BKC who has one of the most stable small boats on the market for people who want a compact design that still allows you to haul in huge fish. This is the perfect boat for the job and can handle itself on just about any water.
At just 9 feet long and quite wide, this BKC is not a speed demon by any means. It tends to feel sluggish and slow. However, it is immensely stable and can take on a massive 330 pounds in its compact design. This makes it great for smaller lakes and streams and a blast for float fishing.
Seating is pretty average but far better than any other option for this price. It is quite supportive and adjusts to just where you are comfortable. Padding is adequate but not exceptional. What it does best is get you in a perfect paddle position for clean, powerful strokes.
You are going to get the BKC standard 4 flush mount rod holders and a swivel holder included. This combined with the massive amount of storage available ensures you have all the gear you need. You get both bow and cockpit dry hatches for your important gear and a sizeable cargo area in the rear. It is fish finder capable and quite roomy. This is a beast of a fishing rig and one that is easy to transport around.
7. Lifetime Tamarack
It is always a good idea to have a budget option or two as long as you don’t lose out on too much quality. For those interested in getting into kayak fishing without investing heavily can look to one of the most popular options on the market with Lifetime.
At 10 feet long with a narrow beam, this is a good tracking little craft. It may not equal some of the high-end brands but it is fairly quick and still quite nimble in the water. The capacity isn’t astounding at only 275 pounds but for the recreational angler, this should be plenty. Most people never need the massive capacity of some of these options anyway.
The seat is not spectacular but for short trips, it works fine. You can always get a replacement seat if you decide you want that addition later. One of the high points of the seat is that it is nearly indestructible and an overall novel design not used by any other company with its flush design.
For all your fishing tackle you are going to get the standard read rod holders and a side mounted swivel holder. There is room to mount a fishfinder if you are innovative in how you do it, many people have. The rear cargo area is quite sizable and contains one of the two under deck hatches for your important gear. It is missing console storage so getting your gear out can be a challenge. Otherwise, this is a great watercraft for a great price!
8. Sun Dolphin Journey
Our final budget option is probably one of the most popular and commonly seen kayaks around until you get into the big leagues. There are literally thousands of these dotting the lakes and streams of almost every part of this country. They aren’t exceptional but are easily the most affordable way to get on the water and cast a line.
At just 10 feet long and with a capacity of only 250 pounds, this is not the straightest sailing vessel you can get. It does take a little more effort to get where you are going but that is the cost of a short boat. If you are smaller or lighter, you will get better performance but as you get close to the max it will suffer.
The seat is not great and an added waterproof cushion will go a long way into improving your experience. This is a cheap addition and very worth it. The back is low but if you are young and have no back issues, it works well and allows you a lot more freedom to cast.
You do get the two rear rod holders and an included swivel holder on the console area. You also get a small console storage that is perfect for a cellphone, keys, and wallet but that is about all that will fit. There is additional storage in the rear covered cargo area. Most users will open this up for additional space and ditch the cover. Still, with a little modification, this is a capable craft that can be purchased for less than half of most competitors.
Until you have tried it, you will never understand the experience of fishing from like this. It changes the sport in all good ways. Leagues are springing up every year and even pro tournaments. If you want to get in on the action or just give it a shot, these are the best sit on top kayaks for fishing you can find priced to give everyone an opportunity.