Kayaking can be great fun at the best of times, but there’s really nothing like sitting out on the open water with a fishing rod in your hand, waiting to see if you manage to get a bite.
Fishing trips tend to last for a couple of hours at least, so you’ll want to be floating about in something that’s at least vaguely comfortable. If you’ve ever been on a regular kayak before, you’ll probably notice that they’re not as wide as fishing kayaks, as there’s less need for space to store your equipment.
There are three different types of fishing kayaks, but we’d recommend the sit-in variety as they’re comfortable, durable, and a much warmer option.
Sit-in kayaks are the perfect choice if it takes some serious paddling to get to your favorite fishing spot as they’re great for traveling long distances. But how do they compare to sit-on-top kayaks, and what makes a good sit-in kayak?
We answer these questions and any more you might have in our buyer’s guide, and we’ve also included 5 reviews of some of the best sit-in kayaks that are currently available on Amazon for you to consider.
OUR TOP PICK
Kicking off our list of kayak reviews is the Maxim sit-in recreational kayak from one of our favorite brands, Pelican.
It’s perfect for beginners and experienced anglers alike thanks to a low center of gravity that improves the stability of the kayak when you’re out on the water.
You won’t end up scaring the fish away with your furious paddling as the kayak’s excellent agility and tracking provide you with greater navigational control. The Shallow V Chine hull design also helps to improve stability and the overall performance of this kayak.
At 36 lbs (16kg), it’s super lightweight and easy to transport. It was manufactured using Pelican’s Twin Sheet Thermoforming (TST) technology which means you have three layers of durable material to uphold the kayak’s structural integrity, with a weight limit of 275 lbs.
The kayak’s design combines comfort and practicality. It features ERGOFOAM seating with padded seat cushions and adjustable padded backrest support, as well as a useful storage hatch that allows you to pack your gear and protect your belongings from water damage, although the one improvement we would make would be to make this a bit deeper than it is.
- Portable: The size and weight of the kayak mean it’s easy to carry or travel with.
- Comfortable: It’s built with ERGOFOAM seating and molded footrests for added comfort and secure foot bracing when needed.
- Design: There are a number of handy features like the bottle holder, safety features like the drain plug that prevents water from infiltrating the kayak, and the overall design ensures high-quality performance.
- Storage Options: Store your stuff and keep it safe in the useful storage hatch and platform which comes with a bungee cord.
- Weight: This is the most lightweight kayak option we’ve included making it easier to travel with.
- Storage Size: The storage hatch is slightly on the shallow side which limits what items/how many things you can store.
The kayak coming in at a close second is this Emotion Guster sit-in kayak which performs almost as impressively as our top pick thanks to its well-constructed design. You can enjoy comfort, traveling at fast speeds with precise tracking, and stability as well as storage space.
At 48 lbs (21.7 kg) it's over 10 lbs heavier than the kayak we recommended as our top pick so you’ll have a harder workout trying to transport it from location A to B.
You may also find it trickier to load/unload which is worth taking into consideration if you’ll be fishing on your own.
Made from high-density polyethylene material, the kayak is durable and should last you for years to come, even with fitting lots of fishing kayak trips in between. It’s also backed by a 5-year limited warranty which protects your purchase against manufacturer’s defects.
Additionally, there are multiple features that make this kayak a great option for fishing, like the ledge-lock paddle keeper that prevents your paddles from slipping while you focus on handling your rod and you can brace yourself when battling with a stubborn catch thanks to the heavy-duty foot braces which are also adjustable.
- Stability: The flat-bottomed ST Performance hull and the wide design helps to improve the stability of the kayak.
- Storage: The below-deck oval storage keeps your belongings dry and out of the way.
- Portability: Though it’s heavier, there are easy-carry handles that make it easier to transport your kayak when it’s out of the water.
- Fishing-Friendly Features: Keep your paddles in place with the ledge-lock paddle keeper and use the foot-braces to steady yourself as you reel in your latest catch!
- Comfort: The kayak features adjustable padded seat backs and pads for added cushioning.
- Weight: It’s on the heavier side meaning you might struggle more to load it onto your vehicle when it’s time to head home.
Next up, we have another Pelican sit-in recreational kayak. It’s heavier than our top pick at 42 lbs, so it will take a bit more strength to carry and load it back onto your car, but it also has a higher weight capacity limit of 300 lbs so you can fit more on the kayak as a result.
Out of the two Pelican kayaks we’ve reviewed, this is the option that is probably better suited to total beginners as it’s designed to be easy and convenient to use.
Getting in and out of your kayak is easier than ever thanks to the spacious cockpits and its stability on the water.
You’ll be able to maintain the great condition of this kayak for years thanks to the highly durable patented RAM-X premium material with which it is manufactured.
The high molecular weight polyethylene features an advanced resin top layer which provides more rigid support for the overall structure, further helping to keep this kayak stable.
The design is well thought out and includes benefits like the ERGOCOAST portable seating system that allows you to remove and use your seat elsewhere.
There are also convenient carrying handles that help you transport the kayak when you need to travel.
- Size: It’s spacious enough that the cockpits allow for easy entry and there’s enough room to bring and store all your essential equipment.
- Portable: It’s not too heavy to carry and there are handy carrying handles that make it easier to transport the kayak.
- Comfortable: It’s built with ERGOFOAM seating and molded footrests for added comfort and secure foot bracing when needed.
- Capacity: It has the second-highest weight capacity out of the kayaks we’ve reviewed.
- Durability: This well-constructed kayak is made using premium materials and won’t suffer aesthetic damage like scratches or dents easily.
- Delivery: Some customers report that their kayak arrived damaged due to poor packaging or that there were accessories missing.
Next on our list is the Perception Sound sit-in kayak. This is one of the more affordable options we’ve included in this list and it provides surprisingly good value for money.
You’ll stay safe and surprisingly stable thanks to the smooth steering that is afforded by the tri-keel hull this kayak is designed with. Whether you prefer to fish on lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers, or calm coastal bodies of water, this kayak can handle it all.
It comes with a number of useful features that are designed with kayak fishing in mind, like the two molded fishing rod holders to keep your line steady while you paddle, and the large open storage area that’s close enough for you to easily access your essential equipment.
You can also purchase Perception’s Solo Mount accessory system separately for more.
Most importantly, you’ll be pleased to know that this kayak is another comfortable option despite its affordable price. There is extra cushioning provided in the form of the ergonomic Zone Seat and an adjustable backrest to suit your exact height and back support needs.
- Price: It’s an affordable option that offers great value for money, especially for beginners.
- Capacity: This kayak has the largest weight capacity limit which is 353 lbs.
- Comfortable: It’s cushioned, comfy, and will support your back no matter how tall you are thanks to the adjustable backrest.
- Stability: It stays smooth and stable on the water thanks to a Tri-keel hull design.
- Paddle Holder: The paddle holder this kayak used to come with is no longer a standard feature.
Lastly, we looked at the Lifetime Cruze sit-in kayak, the cheapest option you’ll find in this article, not that that makes it an inferior choice in any way!
In fact, this is one of the best options if you’re still new to kayak fishing and you want to test the waters before committing to a more expensive kayak which you might then regret.
The high-density polyethylene material that this kayak is made with ensures long-lasting use and means it’s not easy to damage the brightly colored purple exterior.
Plus, it’s UV protected so it’s better equipped to deal with harsh weather conditions. There’s also a 5-year limited warranty that should give you peace of mind as this protects you against defects.
In terms of the design, it’s fairly standard with a sharp bow for faster speeds and accurate tracking, as well as a flat-bottomed hull for stability. The deep hull channels also help to improve tracking and there are chine rails so you can move around safely.
No matter your own size, you’ll fit comfortably in this kayak thanks to the adjustable footrest position and the 275-lbs maximum weight limit.
Storage-wise, there’s an oval hatch and extra storage below the deck which helps to keep your gear and equipment safe and dry.
- Portability: The kayak is equipped with both front and rear toggle handles to help you carry it and transport it more easily.
- Price: This is the most affordable option we’ve included in our list which is a great choice for beginners or recent kayak fishing converts.
- Durable: The sturdy design and careful construction mean this kayak can handle frequent use without suffering wear and tear.
- Attractive Design: As well as being practical, the purple exterior is bright and beautiful.
- Quality: It offers great value for money but there are more premium options available.
Top 5 Sit-In Fishing Kayaks Buying Guide
Now you’ve seen some of the best options we could find, but you might still be wondering how to choose between them and what would be the best choice to suit your needs.
That’s why we’ve put together this buyer’s guide for you so that you can see what we considered when choosing which products to review and what we value in a kayak.
Why Should You Choose a Sit-In Kayak?
The first question we asked ourselves when we sat down to research this article was this:
Why are we recommending sit-in kayaks, and why should those who are interested in kayak fishing? Our research reinforced our decision, as there are many benefits to sit-in kayaks.
Warm and Dry - Because you’re sat lower inside the vessel with its lower body to shield you from the wind, sit-in kayaks are often the warmer choice which is great when you’re out on cooler waters. This also helps you to stay dry in the kayak and to avoid any accidental splashback.
Stable - Their design means sit-in kayaks have a low center of gravity that helps to keep them steady on the water. This is ideal for fishing like in any instance when you may need to grapple to get a fish you’ve just caught onto the boat.
Better Control - The enclosed cockpit you’ll find in a sit-inside kayak means you can place your knees up against the underside of the deck, and this gives you much better control over the kayak’s movements and the direction you’re paddling in.
The main downside to a sit-in kayak is the fact that they can be tricky to move around in once you’re actually sat down. Similarly, it can be a bit of a dilemma if your kayak ends up flipped over and facing down in the water as it will come back up with a full hatch.
The first thing to think about when you’re still just toying with the idea of getting a new kayak is what size you’re going to get. Will you be going alone, or do you prefer to fish in pairs? There is a range of sizes available and different sizes are suitable for different purposes.
Sea kayaks are better for traveling reasonable distances as their long and narrow bodies allow them to move through the water with less resistance and faster speeds, whereas recreational kayaks are shorter and wider, making them bulkier but also more stable.
If you don’t exactly travel light when you’re on a fishing trip, the other thing you need to think about is how much space you’ll have to store your gear, equipment, and belongings so that you can easily squeezily everything you need onboard.
Sit-in kayaks are much heavier than, for example, inflatable kayaks, which means weight should be a higher concern on your priorities list. This is especially true if you enjoy solo kayaking, as in this case you’ll be left to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to loading.
When you’re kayaking in a group transporting the kayak is much easier as you’ll have plenty of pairs of hands to help you lift its weight. If you think you’ll struggle to lift the weight of your kayak on your own, you’ll need to factor this into your decision or risk over-exerting yourself.
The majority of kayaks feature a hard shell exterior that’s made from a strong plastic that’s extremely hard-wearing, so provided you take proper care of your kayak, it should last you a long time. Some of the other composite material that kayaks are often made with include:
These alternative options are all much lighter in terms of weight, but they also cost more and they’re less able to withstand the batterings that kayaks are often subjected to on the water and during transit. They’re a less durable option so you will need to take greater care.
Are sit-in kayaks more stable?
Yes, sit-in kayaks are more stable compared to sit-on-top kayaks due to their lower center of gravity that they’re afforded through their design.
This is one of the biggest benefits of a sit-in kayak for kayak fishing as having greater stability is a great advantage on the water.
What is the best brand of kayaks?
One of the best brands to look to when you’re looking to buy a new sit-in kayak is Pelican as they produce reasonably priced, reliable recreational kayaks and have been for years.
Their innovative designs make them a highly popular choice, hence why they made our top pick!