Sit-in vs Sit-on Kayak for Fishing: What to Choose?

Thomas Krik

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Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

sit-in vs sit-on kayak for fishing

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, fishing on a sit-in or a sit-on-top kayak gives you a whole new experience. However, you have to decide which kayak style complements your specific situation.

Each kayak type presents unique weaknesses and strengths, so it’s confusing to pick the best platform for your sport. Hence, the following article will guide you to learn everything about sit-in vs sit-on kayaks for fishing. So, grab your paddles, and let’s explore the fascinating world of these two types of kayaks!

To have an initial idea of the distinctions between a sit-inside kayak vs a sit-on-top kayak, take a look at this quick comparison table:

Sit-in Kayak Sit-on Kayak
Stability Much stable on choppy waters Only stable on calm waters
Storage Enclosed compartments Most are open storage
Maneuverability Easy for beginners Quite complex
Comfortability Less comfortable More comfortable
Weight Lighter Heavier
Speed Faster Slower
Cost Reasonable price Steeper cost

What are Sit-in Kayaks?

part-of-sit-in-kayakAs you can gauge from its name, a sit-in fishing kayak allows the anglers to sit lower in an enclosed cockpit with their legs under the hull. This seating position provides a lower center of gravity and more efficient paddling than its sit-on-top peers.

Furthermore, sit-in kayaks have a unique hull design that provides optimal tracking and stability on the water. They’re also narrower and lighter to maneuver, which makes them ideal for navigating tight fishing spots.

On the bright side, riding on a sit-in fishing kayak is beneficial in colder regions. You can drape a kayak skirt on the cockpit opening to protect yourself against rain, heat, or cold weather.

What Are Sit-on Kayaks?

part-of-sit-on-kayakOpposite to SIKs, sit-on kayaks have open decks. The angler or paddler will sit on top rather than inside a closed cockpit. Thus, you’ll have a commanding view of the water during fishing or recreational activities.

SOTs are also called stand-on-top kayaks because you can rise when casting. You can move freely or change your position comfortably, especially when reeling in that trophy catch.

Moreover, their hull has a broader design, making them much more stable in calm waters. However, the elevated center of gravity makes you more susceptible to flipping over on choppy waters.

Similarities Between Sit-in and Sit-on Kayaks

similarities-between-sit-in-and-sit-on-kayaksAlthough these kayaks differ in many ways, they share a few things in common. For example:

1. Stealth

Kayaks, regardless of their type, offer a discreet approach to fishing spots. They allow anglers to get closer to fish without scaring them away. Also, their smaller profile makes it easier to get to narrow fishing frontiers that larger boats cannot.

2. Great for recreation

Paddling a kayak, whether sit-in or sit-on, offers an opportunity for relaxation and a closer connection to nature, adding to the enjoyment of the fishing experience. You can use either kayak to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and enjoy the solitude of being in the great outdoors.

Differences Between Sit-in and Sit-on Kayaks

differences-between-sit-in-and-sit-on-kayaksWhen it comes to fishing, the kayak you use can impact your overall experience. So, let’s uncover notable differences that might help you select the perfect kayak option:

1. Stability


In the kayak world, there are two kinds of stability: primary and secondary. Primary stability means the boat’s initial steadiness when standing on calm waters.

Sit-on kayaks are winners for this factor, making it easier to move around and stand up while fishing on lakes and ponds.

Secondary stability is the kayak’s tendency to remain stable when you lean it to one side. Sit-in kayaks are more resistant to sharp turns and currents, allowing for more efficient paddling and better control in rougher waters.

2. Storage space


Are you wondering about storage compartments in an open vs closed kayak? Generally, sit-on-top kayaks have open and accessible storage areas on their decks, making it easier to grab your gear while fishing.

Meanwhile, sit-in kayaks have enclosed bulkheads that may provide better protection for gear. Your things can be less accessible during fishing or paddling, but they stay dry and safe from splashing water.

3. Design


As discussed, sit-in kayaks feature a closed cockpit, where your lower body is enclosed within the hull. This design may protect you from harsh conditions, but re-entering the boat during capsize can be challenging.

Contrastingly, sit-on-top kayaks have an open deck design. Your seat is elevated, giving you a brilliant vantage point while fishing. Also, their design gives you effortless entry and exit or self-rescue when tipping over.

4. Performance


Sit-in kayaks generally offer better performance on the water. They’re sleek, fast, and easy to pilot in any direction.

Additionally, the long and narrow design of the boat allows it to stay on course. Unlike sit-on kayaks, you don’t need extra effort when paddling. You can even use your body to shift directions and make stiffer turns.

5. Ease of transport and handling


Both kayak styles are lightweight and portable. However, sit-on-top kayaks tend to be slightly heavier due to their more robust construction, making it pretty demanding for solo paddlers to transport.

Moreover, SOTs can hold more weight capacity than a sit-in model. Hence, they’re a better choice for heavier anglers or people carrying plenty of gear.

6. Level of comfort


The comfortability of a kayak sit on top vs sit in depends on your preferences. In sit-in kayaks, you can enjoy a long fishing trip while shielded against the elements (think of intense heat and cold weather!). However, you’ll be confined to one position during your fishing journey.

On sit-on-top kayaks, you have all the freedom to move while paddling or casting. You can wriggle around or stretch your legs as much as you want. You’ll be exposed to sun and water splashes, though.

7. Price range


The cost of a sit-in and sit-on kayak for fishing can vary widely, depending on the models, brand, and features. Typically, SOTs are slightly expensive but are more robust.

Sit-in kayaks are somewhat cheaper but less durable than their sit-on counterparts. Nevertheless, kayaks come in various styles and prices, so there’s something to fit every budget.

Sit-On Vs Sit-in Kayak: Pros and Cons

Let’s dive into the benefits and disadvantages of using either kayak for fishing:

1. Sit-on kayaks

  • Has scupper holes that drain water off the deck.
  • Safer and easier to learn for novice paddlers and anglers.
  • The open deck design allows you to shift position and move freely.
  • Accessible and ample storage space for your stuff.
  • Get on and off of the kayak with ease.
  • Elevated seats give you a better view of the water.
  • Ability to customize and mount your fishing gear.
  • Have a broader and flatter hull that makes them extremely stable in placid waters.
  • Bulkier and heavier.
  • Possibility of getting drenched.
  • Difficult to track and navigate on rough waters.
  • Can be less affordable.

2. Sit-in kayaks

  • Faster, more maneuverable, and easier to control.
  • You’ll stay warm and dry during your fishing trip.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Offer increased stability in choppy, rough conditions.
  • The complexity adds a thrill to your adventure.
  • Limited yet waterproof storage.
  • The cockpit limits your exposure to harsh elements.
  • A bit intimidating to learn for novice paddlers.
  • An enclosed top kayak is cchallenging to slip in and off the boat.
  • Storage space can be insufficient for your gear.
  • No scupper holes to drain off water automatically.

Which Kayak is Better?

There is no clear-cut right or wrong answer to which kayak style is better for fishing. After learning about each kayak’s unique features, it will be up to you to decide which kayak matches your needs.

SIKs are the most stable kayak for fishing, especially in rough waters. However, many anglers won’t favor this kayak style due to comfortability issues. You’re confined in a closed area and have limited mobility while casting your lure.

That said, most fishing enthusiasts would consider using a sit-on kayak. The reason is that they can enjoy luxury comfort, easy accessibility, and versatility. Additionally, these kayaks have stable platforms that make shifting positions a breeze.

Considerations When Selecting a Fishing Kayak


Here are some crucial factors you should consider before making a final purchase:

  1. Skill level — When deciding on a kayak, consider your paddling abilities. Sit-in kayak is a little intimidating to paddle, while sit-on kayaks have a lower learning curve.
  2. Weather conditions — Your choices will also depend on the weather in your area. SIKs are suited for warmer climates, while SOTs are excellent in colder regions.
  3. Your needs and preferences — It’s best to consider your storage needs, comfort level, budget, and fishing locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are sitting on top kayaks more stable?

Yes. SOTs are generally considered more stable than sit-in kayaks, especially when it comes to primary stability. They have a wider beam and a raised center of gravity that contributes to their incredible stability.

What features to look for in a fishing kayak?

Good kayaks for fishing should offer rock-solid primary stability, enough storage, and enhanced comfort. In addition, the kayak has a higher weight capacity and mounting rails for your fishing gear.

What are some alternative kayak types for anglers?

Depending on your preferences and angling styles, there are other alternative kayaks for fishing. You can find an array of fishing kayaks, including inflatable kayaks, pedal-driven kayaks, fly-fishing kayaks, and tandem fishing kayaks.


In the end, both types of fishing kayaks offer distinct benefits and disadvantages. After understanding their specific characteristics and differences, you should have enough knowledge to make an informed decision. Ultimately, the choice between sit-in vs sit-on kayaks for fishing comes down to your preferences and fishing needs.

Many models are surefire to suit your style of fishing, whether you want to stand on top kayak or not. No matter which kayak you choose, we’re sure it will make your experience on the water more enjoyable and memorable!

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