Fishing Kayak vs Regular Kayak: What’s the Difference?

Thomas Krik

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Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

fishing kayak vs regular kayak

If you’ve been shopping around for a kayak, you’ve probably come to realize that fishing and regular kayaks are very different.

Basically, fishing kayaks are regular kayaks that have been modified to meet the needs of anglers. They’re specifically designed for fishing enthusiasts, while regular kayaks are mainly for recreational activities.

To help you make a more informed choice, we’ll explore and compare a fishing kayak vs a regular kayak. Keep rowing with us, and let’s start this exciting adventure!

First, take a look at this quick comparison table:

Fishing Kayak Regular Kayak
Purpose Fishing Recreation/Leisure
Storage Sufficient space for storage Limited space
Stability More stable Less stable
Seating design Mostly sit-on-top Mostly sit-in
Size Shorter but wider Longer and narrower
Price More expensive Less expensive

Fishing Kayak – A Kayak Specifically Designed for Fishing


As its name suggests, a fishing kayak is a type of kayak for fishing. In other words, it’s uniquely designed with the angler in mind. It helps them reach remote locations and sneak up on fish with ease and stealth.

Moreover, this watercraft is an excellent kayak for fishing and recreation. You can use it to spend a fun day in the waters and fish at the same time.

Fishing kayaks allow you to maneuver close to the water while still being able to stand up and fish comfortably. These angler kayaks are typically longer, larger, and can hold more weight than a regular kayak.

Generally, they’re sit-on-top kayaks with built-in rod holders and storage. Its stability makes it easy for anglers to catch fish effectively. Additionally, its convenient design keeps essential fishing gear close at hand.

1. Remarkable features

A standard fishing kayak has unique features that set it apart from a regular kayak. However, remember that different fishing kayaks may have different features.


Typically, the following features make fishing kayaks unique:

  • Built-in rod holders

Fishing kayaks often have fixed or removable rod holders. This feature lets you easily prepare several rods, reels, and line combinations before or during your fishing trip.

  • Gear support

You also don’t have to worry about positioning your specific fishing gear. Usually, fishing kayaks have tracks to secure accessories like your fish finder or camera.

  • Waterproof storage

Another unique feature of fishing kayaks is their storage compartments. Whether you’re an angler who likes to tote around a cooler or a tackle box, you’ll find hatches or tank wells to secure your items.

  • Comfortable seats

Many fishing kayaks include comfortable seats with back support. In addition, the seats are elevated to give you a better view of the water when fishing.

  • Scupper holes

Fishing kayaks may also have scupper holes that allow water to drain out of the hull. Water drainage keeps water out of the cockpit deck and the kayak dry.

2. Pros & cons

  • Greater stability
  • Ability to stand while fishing
  • Enough storage for your fishing gear
  • Easy to access due to roomier cockpits
  • Can be used as a fishing or recreational kayak
  • Heavier and less portable
  • Requires ample space for storage
  • More expensive than regular kayak

Regular Kayak – A Kayak Mainly for Recreation Purposes


Also known as recreational kayaks, regular kayaks are small, narrow watercraft for people who want to enjoy a leisurely paddle on the waters. Unlike fishing kayaks, they’re ideal for kayaking or exploring lakes, oceans, and streams. Hence, they’re a popular choice for outdoor buffs who want to paddle around in the water for fun or exercise.

Typically, regular kayaks are propelled by a double-bladed paddle. Usually, they’re sit-in or sit-on kayaks without any special features for angling or storing fishing gear.

There are many types of kayaks, each designed for a different purpose. For example, you can use an ocean kayak to explore serene coastal and open waters. A sea kayak is specific for battling choppy seas and getting in your adrenaline rush.

1. Distinct features

Regular kayaks are simple vessels. They don’t have any special features, except for:


  • Vivid colors: Regular kayaks usually have vibrant colors.
  • Sit-inside design: Most recreational kayaks are designed with sit-in hulls that are suitable for recreational paddling. The design makes it simple for the kayak to maneuver and paddle.

2. Pros & cons

  • Lighter and easier to carry or transport
  • Minimal repairs or maintenance service
  • Faster and easier to maneuver
  • Affordable price
  • Available in various designs and styles
  • Less stable
  • Lack of storage space
  • Not as versatile as the angler kayak

What Differentiates a Fishing Kayak From a Regular Kayak?

Many people often talk about a fishing kayak vs a recreational kayak. It’s because some assume that these kayaks are similar. While both are used for water adventures, they differ in many ways.

Below, we’ll explore the difference between a fishing kayak and a recreational kayak:

1. Weight capacity


Fishing kayaks can accommodate a higher load capacity than regular kayaks. In general, these vessels can carry up to 500 lbs of cargo. You can take all your fishing equipment without thinking about overloading and sinking.

Regular kayaks are designed for typical adventures, which means they can only carry lighter loads. In most cases, you can only load up to 250 lbs in a regular kayak.

2. Seats


Another notable difference is their seats. Usually, fishing kayaks have cushy seats with footrests and back support. This makes paddling and steering easier and more comfortable. Also, the seats are elevated and adjustable for effortless entry and exit.

Some high-end kayaks may have similar seats. However, fishing kayaks offer better and more advanced seating.

3. Storage space


When it comes to storage, fishing kayaks really shine. They have extra-wide space to stash all your fishing stuff. Their greater width also means more storage area for that extra equipment, such as a big stern tank well.

This isn’t the case in regular kayaks. They may have a few small bungee loops to secure your items. However, the space isn’t as large as in fishing kayaks.

3. Length


The length of a kayak affects its tracking or the efficiency of your paddling strokes. On average, Fishing kayaks are available in multiple sizes, ranging from 10 to 14 inches long. The best-size kayak for fishing is shorter, allowing for easy maneuverability.

Meanwhile, regular kayaks can be as long as 14 to 23 ft. In most situations, kayakers choose the standard kayak length, 14 to 16 ft. These are great for long-time paddling or explorations.

4. Hull design


Many fishing kayaks have a flat hull design, measuring 35 inches. Meanwhile, regular kayaks have 26-30-inch hulls. The wider hull means a good balance of speed and stability.

In addition, an extra wide hull provides enough space to store your fishing essentials. It distributes weight more evenly, which means it can carry heavier loads.

5. Color


You can easily tell a fishing kayak from a regular kayak. Recreational kayaks come in several bright colors while fishing kayaks are usually darker. You don’t want to spook the fish, do you?

6. Cost Comparison


Whether you’re looking for fishing or a regular kayak, the cost can vary greatly. Basically, fishing kayaks cost more because of their special features. Depending on their added features, the price range can be from a few hundred to a thousand dollars. The more advanced or added features a kayak has, the higher the price.

Since they don’t have extra features, regular kayaks tend to be more affordable. Depending on the materials and quality, standard kayaks may cost around $500. However, some advanced regular kayaks may also be expensive.

Overall, the features and model of your chosen kayak will highly impact the cost. When buying, consider shopping around to get the best deal.

Which is Better?


There is no definite answer to this question. Your choice of kayak will depend on your purpose and individual preference.

If you’re a dedicated angler who wants ease and stealth in fishing, then you might want to consider buying yourself an angler kayak.

If you’re looking to paddle on weekends and enjoy the great outdoors, simply pick a regular kayak.

The detailed regular and fishing kayak comparison above should help you pick the best platform for your hobby. Regardless of your choice, you’ll have a fun time out on the water with your kayak!

Choosing the Right Kayak for Your Needs

Consider the following factors to find the best kayak for your needs:


  • Your purpose

Will you use the kayak for fishing or recreational activities? Your answer will help you decide which type to buy.

  • Kayak size

Choosing the best size kayak for fishing will determine the maneuverability and ease of sailing for fishers. For beginners, it’s best to select the average kayak length. Also, you may want to opt for a broader hull for better stability.

  • Sit-in vs sit-on kayaks

Kayaks can be either sit-in or sit-on-top. However, the sit-on-top design is more accessible and favorable for anglers. A sit-in kayak suits a short-time fun on the water.

  • Portability

You should also consider how often you plan to transport your kayak. Typically, fishing kayaks are designed to be heavier than regular kayaks.

  • Skill level

You can choose a fishing kayak if you’re an experienced angler who wants to boost your experience on the water. If you’re a beginner or a casual kayaker, a regular kayak may be a good option to get started.

Popular Kayak Brands

Some well-known kayak brands on the market include:

  • Pelican
  • Perception Kayaks
  • Delta Kayaks
  • NuCanoe
  • Jackson Kayak
  • Hobie
  • Dagger
  • Ocean Kayak
  • Wilderness Systems
  • Ocean Kayak

Frequently Asked Questions


Can you use a fishing kayak for recreation?

Yes. The best thing about fishing kayaks is that they’re great for both fishing and recreational use. In addition, these kayaks are stable, easy to use, and unlikely to tip over.

Does the length of a kayak matter?

A kayak can be helpful when tracking its movements. Shorter kayaks are easier to maneuver, especially in narrow channels. Longer kayaks can be a pain to keep on track.

Are fishing kayaks harder to paddle?

Due to their heavier weight and bigger designs, fishing kayaks are harder to paddle than a typical kayak. However, if you don’t want to paddle while casting your lures, you can choose a pedal or motorized fishing kayak.

The biggest fishing kayak can have a capacity of more than 500 lbs.

What additional equipment do I need for kayak fishing?

Besides a kayak, you’ll need rods, reels, anchor trolley, fish finder, cooler, rudder systems, and more. When using a regular kayak, you’ll have to consider your space before taking all your fishing equipment.

Can a regular kayak be used for fishing?

Yes. You can use a regular kayak for fishing if you have the right gear. However, angling from a fishing kayak will make your experience more enjoyable, especially if you’re an avid angler.

Is it worth it to buy a fishing kayak?

If you’re an avid angler, a fishing kayak would be a worthy investment. It will make your fishing experience more enjoyable and increase your chances of hooking more fish.

Final Thoughts

In summary, both kayaks can be used to have a fun and rewarding experience on the water. While they have significant differences, you can use either kayaks for fishing or recreational purposes. After all, your choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

We hope that this article has cleared up any confusion you may have about a fishing kayak vs a regular kayak. Most importantly, it helped you pick the best platform to enjoy your hobby. See you on the water!

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