If you love fishing, you might be wondering how you can venture further and deeper into the water - without getting wet, and without the luxury of a fishing boat.
You could use a sit-in kayak or canoe - but then again, where would you put your stuff, and how would you stand up?
The answer is to meet halfway between a fishing boat and a kayak: a sit-on-top fishing kayak.
Anglers like sit-on-top fishing kayaks because they allow you to stand up and fish, have plenty of open deck space for accessing and storing your gear, and they’re easy to get in and out of. They’re also nice and stable, which is always a bonus when you’re out on the water.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t fret. We’ve scoured the web for the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks out there, and have even thrown in a handy Buyer’s Guide.
So, let’s get started.
OUR TOP PICK
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is constructed of UV-protected, high-density polyethylene, so it’s robust enough to withstand a variety of weather conditions, and won’t fade in the sun.
If you’re someone who likes to take their time when out on the water, you’ll love the features of this kayak that have been designed with comfort in mind.
The Angler 100 has multiple footrest positions for different sized riders and an adjustable padded backrest and seat pad for maximum comfort and support on long fishing sessions.
The deep hull tracking channels and flat bottom ensure maximum stability on the water, so you can stand up without worrying about going over the side.
They’ve also designed this kayak with plenty of storage options: there are front and rear cord straps for your gear, and two 6” storage compartments in the rear and center of the kayak.
The sharp bow of the boat helps promote speed and tracking, while the tracking skeg helps keep the kayak straight while you’re paddling.
It’s also equipped with front and rear t-handles for easy carrying.
- Constructed from quality materials that are UV protected and durable
- Multiple footrest positions and padded seat for maximum comfort
- Cord straps and storage compartments for your gear
- Sharp bow promotes speed and tracking
- Tracking skeg helps keep the kayak straight
- Paddle included
- It’s quite narrow, so not much room to stand up on
Pelican is a well-known brand when it comes to fishing kayaks, and it’s easy to see why.
This angler kayak has a multi-chine flat bottom hull to ensure maximum stability when casting lines and reeling in fish, which makes it ideal for those who lack kayaking experience or anyone who simply prioritizes stability over speed.
Pelican’s unique manufacturing process allows them to include additional flotation inside the hull of all of their sit-on-tops in order to meet or surpass ABYC Standards.
This process keeps Pelican kayaks super lightweight while still ensuring they’re solid and buoyant.
The Sentinel measures 9'6" and weighs only 44 lb, so it’s incredibly easy to transport and store.
It’s constructed from Pelican’s unique proprietary multi-layer material RAM-X, which is made of exceptionally durable high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE).
This means less material is needed to produce the kayak, but that the material is durable and can better resist impacts and breakage compared with other kayaks on the market.
The end result is a lightweight kayak that is super durable, oh, and it also comes equipped with the ExoPak, a removable storage compartment that fits perfectly into the tank well.
- Multi chine flat bottom hull to ensure maximum stability
- Super lightweight while still remaining solid and buoyant
- Constructed from proprietary multi-layer material RAM-X which ensures maximum durability while remaining lightweight
- Comes equipped with a removable storage compartment
- Mesh storage pocket and cord straps
- The seat is quite shallow compared to others
Inflatable kayaks can be great if you’re looking for a boat that’s super lightweight and convenient to transport.
This Intex Pro kayak is specifically designed for fishing.
It’s made from a super tough laminate PVC with a polyester core which makes it lightweight yet highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact, and sunlight, as well gasoline, oil, and saltwater.
With high-pressure inflation, this kayak provides optimal rigidity and stability, and it’s also equipped with high-pressure spring-loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation.
The great thing about this kayak is it comes equipped with everything you need for fishing: it includes 2 removable skews for deep and shallow water, 2 floor-mounted footrests, 2 integrated recessed fishing rod holders, 2 adjustable bucket seats, a c1removable and adjustable mounting bracket for additional accessories, such as GPS systems, fish finders, swivel fishing rod holders, etc. and a carry bag and repair patch - so you’ll always be prepared for whatever the day throws at you.
This kayak also has generous storage space in the bow and stern with stainless steel D rings for tying down dry bags and gear.
- Super durable and resistant to damage
- Room for two people
- A rigid and stable design with high-pressure inflation
- High-pressure spring-loaded valves for easy inflation and deflation
- Comes with all the necessary features for angling
- Generous storage space for your gear
- Comes with hi-output pump, carry bag, and two paddles
- The bag is not very durable or watertight
The Pelican Basscreek 100xp is lightweight and easy to carry thanks to its two retractable carrying handles.
The camouflage design makes it perfect for fishing, as does the multi-chine flat bottom hull which ensures extra stability and great tracking.
It has storage for all your gear thanks to the quick-lock hatch at the front, plus a 4" day hatch with a storage bag, and a storage platform with bungee cords on the rear.
You’ll also find all the necessary features for fishing: including a swivel rod holder and two flush mount rod holders, a bottle holder, a paddle tie-down, and six accessory eyelets for attaching gear.
Pelican has also ensured maximum comfort with the adjustable footrests and secure foot bracing, and the ERGOFIT G2 seating system which includes a padded seat cushion and an adjustable backrest cushion to provide better support on long fishing trips.
As with all Pelican kayaks you’re guaranteed high quality with multi-layer material RAM-X construction made of exceptionally durable high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE).
This ensures your kayak can withstand more damage and adverse weather conditions while remaining lightweight and fully maneuverable.
- Multi-chine flat bottom hull which ensures extra stability
- Swivel rod holder and many other features designed specifically for fishing
- ERGOFIT G2 seating system and adjustable footrests for maximum comfort
- Made from high quality, super durable materials
- Plenty of storage for your gear
- Lightweight and easy to transport thanks to carrying handles
- Some users required an additional seat cushion for comfort
The Sun Dolphin Journey kayak is lightweight and easy to carry, with an open cockpit that’s easy to get in and out of.
It’s ideal for use on lakes and rivers, and the flat bottom provides maximum stability while tracking and paddling with ease.
It’s constructed out of a rugged UV-stabilized fortiflex high-density polyethylene, so it’s durable enough to take on various weather conditions.
This kayak has been optimized for fishing and includes two flush mount rod holders, one swivel rod holder, a storage compartment, shock cord deck rigging, and a water bottle holder.
Not only this, but it’s been designed with your safety and comfort in mind, and comes equipped with an adjustable padded seat, adjustable foot braces, and protective thigh pads.
One of the best things about the Journey kayak is the spacious cockpit, which provides plenty of room for you to balance your legs in the correct kayaking position, and ensures you can stand up on the kayak while maintaining your balance.
- Spacious, open cockpit for easy entry
- Two flush mount rod holders and one swivel rod holder
- Made from rugged UV-stabilized fortiflex high-density polyethylene
- Large, comfortable seating area with adjustable padded seat and adjustable foot braces
- Self-bailing and storage compartments
- Protective thigh pads
- Some aspects of the kayak are cheaply built
Best Sit On Top Fishing Kayak Buying Guide
Inflatable kayaks feature heavily on the market these days, and it’s no surprise why: they’re compact and easy to use, are super lightweight, and they’re made of high-density and durable materials that won’t snag or puncture easily.
That said, they’re not invincible, so they do require a little more caution than traditional kayaks, and of course, there’s always the risk of the seams bursting.
However, with a good quality inflatable kayak, so long as you inflate it fully, there’s no reason why a puncture should occur unless you’re purposely dragging the kayak over rocks or sharp gravel.
Therefore, if you need a lightweight option and don’t have the storage for a traditional hard-shell kayak, an inflatable is a good option.
When it comes to choosing a fishing kayak, your main priority should be stability, as you want a kayak that will keep you on the water - not in it! Particularly if you’re going to be standing up, turning, reeling in, and so forth.
Let’s take a look at the most common types of kayak hulls out there:
- Flat hulls; these are usually used for a variety of purposes, however, generally, flat hulls combine stability and maneuverability, which is of course helped by factors such as the length and width of the kayak.
- Rounded Hulls; as you might have guessed, these hulls have rounded edges that give the kayak a ‘torpedo’ shape that reduces water resistance, and, as a result, boosts speed.
- V-Shaped Hulls; these hulls have a sharper ‘V’ shape that cuts through the water allowing them to track in a straight line. Kayaks with V-shaped hulls are generally fast but also have a tendency to tip, as they offer more secondary stability rather than primary.
- Pontoon Hulls (AKA Tunnel); these hulls offer great stability, and they combine the primary stability of a flat hull with the secondary stability of a rounded, resulting in the greatest stability available. That said, these hulls aren’t the fastest, but they’re decent at tracking.
Given that fishing kayaks need to be stable, it looks like your best bet would be a flat hull, or a pontoon/tunnel-shaped one.
On our list, we’ve featured the most basic kayak models, which are propelled with paddle power, but pedals are also an option to consider.
Another increasingly popular option is an electric motor-powered kayak, but these are of course a lot more expensive.
Length and width
The general rule of thumb is the longer the kayak, the faster it’ll be and the easier it’ll be able to cover distances, however, a long kayak means you lose maneuverability, plus, speed isn’t really our priority when it comes to kayaks for fishing.
We’re more concerned about the width of the kayak, as the wider it is, the more stable it is likely to be, and of course, the more capacity it will be able to store. Extra-wide and stable kayaks allow the angler to stand and sight-cast to fish in the shallows.
That said, it’s important to recognize that width isn’t the only factor affecting stability, there’s also the shape of the hull which plays a vital role.
Weight is another important consideration because this will impact how you transport and carry your kayak. A heavy kayak will require a wheeled cart to transport it on, which is another added cost to factor into your purchase.
Some kayaks come with handle designs to help with portability, while inflatable kayaks have the advantage of being able to inflate and deflate, which means you can carry them in the handy bag they come in.
If you’re purchasing a hard-shell kayak, you should also consider your cartop capacity - that’s if your fishing location isn’t within walking distance.
Fishing kayaks also differ from leisure kayaks because they’ll usually offer more storage compartments. Consider how much storage you’ll need onboard your kayak - will you be keeping fish or a change of clothing, will you be storing live-bait on-board?
You should also check that the kayak is specifically designed for fishing so that you have mounts for your rods, as well as plenty of other storage compartments for the rest of your gear.
Also, consider little extras such as drink holders - these can make a big difference, especially on a hot day when you want your water to be easily accessible.
Seat and ergonomics
If you’re going to be kayaking for long periods at a time, you definitely need to put comfort high up on your list of priorities.
Many less expensive kayaks have molded-in seats or basic removable seating pads, whereas some of the more sophisticated fishing kayaks may offer adjustable “lawn chair” style seats that offer superior back support.
You also want to look out for adjustable footrests that accommodate your size and anatomy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are sit-on-top kayaks better for fishing?
Long story short, sit on top kayaks are preferable for anglers because they’re more versatile. They feature a spacious, open cockpit that provides more space to sit comfortably, and some are even spacious and stable enough to stand up on.
They’re extremely stable boats and are far easier to get to grips with than sit-in fishing kayaks, plus they offer greater safety as they’re generally less likely to tip, particularly if you go for one with a flat or pontoon hull.
Is it worth getting a fishing kayak?
We’d say it’s definitely worth it, after all, there’s only so much you can catch from outside of the water. Kayaks are versatile vessels that allow you to fish in different bodies of water, and, as a result, catch a wider variety of fish.
They also allow you to explore more of the water - you may stumble across lakes, rivers, or coves you never knew existed, plus every fishing trip will feel like more of an adventure.
How dangerous is kayaking?
Like any water sport, there’s some degree of risk involved in kayaking. That’s why you should always tell your family or friends when and where you’re going kayaking, and for how long you’ll be gone for.
It’s also important that you always wear a life jacket. When you’re new to kayaking, don’t go too far out in the water, and avoid kayaking in adverse conditions.
If possible, try to avoid kayaking alone, especially when you’re new to the sport. It’s also important to take it easy at first, don’t go out in deep, open waters straight away, and get to grips with the paddling technique before you venture into the water.
If you take precautions, kayaking is relatively safe, especially in a sit-on-top kayak with a flat hull that will provide maximum stability.