Why Should I Use a Kayak for Fishing? (Pro anglers weigh in)

I’ve been casting a line for carp, bass, pike, and walleye every year since 1980. That doesn’t mean I’m better than the next guy, but it does mean I have some ideas on just about every angle of angling!

When it comes to your fishing craft, I have some strong thoughts, and here is my best case for using an angling kayak for your fishing excursions.


3 Reasons You May Want to Consider Kayak Fishing – Just to get you started!

When it comes to fishing, there are a variety of methods and boats that can be used. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Kayaks are becoming increasingly popular for fishing, especially in shallow waters. Here are some of the reasons why kayaks are an excellent choice for fishing:

The first reason is that kayaks are very versatile. They can be used in a variety of different waters, from calm lakes to rough rivers. In addition, kayaks are relatively easy to transport and can be launched from various locations.

While it is true that many solo canoes are considerably lighter than a fishing kayak, it’s also true that the kayak provides a vastly superior comfort level while casting or trolling.

The second reason is that kayaks provide a unique fishing experience. Unlike other boats, kayaks allow you to get up close and personal with the fish. This means that in some cases you can more easily spot fish and cast your line in the perfect spot.

The third reason is that kayaks are relatively inexpensive. When compared to a Ranger Bass Boat, kayaks are a more affordable option by no small margin! Do you have the cash to snag a new bass boat for $80,000 or a new fishing kayak for $900?

If you go for the $900 option, you’ll also maintain a physique that will make you a little more proud and healthy while still enjoying your favorite hobby.

In addition, kayaks require less maintenance than other boats (and let’s not even get started with insurance, monthly payments, learning to drive with a big trailer, and getting a proper license and skillset for a big bass boat).

For these reasons, kayaks are an excellent option for anyone who is interested in fishing. They are versatile, provide a unique experience, and are relatively affordable.


What Makes a Fishing Kayak Different?

Most everyone knows the basic look and design of a touring kayak. It’s similar to the kayaks in the history books showing the Inuit sea vessels from hundreds of years ago.

Fishing kayaks look quite a bit different and are designed to provide anglers with a stable platform from which to fish.

Unlike traditional kayaks, fishing kayaks are usually outfitted with features like rod holders, live wells, and fish finders. They also tend to have a more open design, which makes it easier to move around and cast a line.

Most fishing kayaks are designed to allow the angler to stand while casting.

Nearly all fishing kayaks offer a raised seat (seat bottom is at or above the gunwales or sides of the kayak while sit-in kayaks have a much lower seat that is located in the bottom of the kayak hull or belly.

In addition, fishing kayaks are often equipped with multiple storage compartments that can be used to store tackle, bait, and other gear. While fishing kayaks generally cost more than traditional kayaks, they offer anglers a number of advantages that make them well worth the investment.

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I have personally tested a half dozen new fishing kayaks this season and all of them have all the features (except the pedal propulsion system) shown in the diagram above.

Additionally, they ALL offer the option of attaching a trolling motor either in the pedal propulsion well, or on a cross-bar located just behind the seat.

Trolling motor batteries are usually accommodated in the rear hatch, front hatch or the storage area just behind the angler’s seat.


What Type of Fishing Kayak is the Best?

When it comes to choosing a kayak for fishing, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider the type of fishing you’ll be doing.

If you’re planning on fishing in calm waters, for example, a sit-on-top kayak might be a good option.

In fact, fishing kayaks are all “officially” sit-on-top models, whether you’re fishing in a small pond or off-shore big ocean waves. These kayaks are stable and easy to get in and out of, making them a good choice for novice and professional anglers.

If you’re planning on fishing in rougher waters, however, an argument could be made for using a sit-inside kayak. These kayaks are more maneuverable and offer more protection from the elements.

However, research shows that in most cases, a good ocean fishing sit-on kayak is the best option since it is specifically designed for the purpose of rough water angling, and if they can’t handle the degree of “roughness”, then you likely should not be fishing at all in any kayak!

Another thing to consider is the size of the kayak. If you’re a solo fisher, a smaller kayak might be a good option. If you’re planning on fishing with a partner, however, a larger kayak might be a better choice.

Finally, consider your budget. Kayaks can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

It’s important to choose a kayak that fits your budget and your needs. My own experience would tell me to never skimp on a fishing kayak. If you can’t afford exactly what you want, consider a second-hand fishing kayak that is perhaps a bit smaller with fewer features.

The price will drop significantly. Don’t settle for a different design (ie. sit-in kayak) if your main activity will be angling.

With these things in mind, you should be able to choose the best kayak for fishing.


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Kayaks made specifically for fishing are typically fairly stable and therefore safe. They are also not difficult at all to fish from since they have no walls (gunwales) beside you and usually include a raised seat.

Is it Difficult to Fish From a Kayak?

It is not actually difficult to fish from a kayak compared to any other vessel, but, like any boat, it has advantages and disadvantages.

Any angler will tell you that there are a number of challenges that come with fishing from a kayak when compared to a bass boat or other large vessel.

First, there is the issue of stability. Unlike a bass boat, a kayak is more prone to tipping, which can make it difficult to land a big fish or fight a fish while standing.

Second, there is the issue of access. Because kayaks are small and low to the water (yet still catch wind), it can be difficult to reach certain areas of the lake if waves are larger and the wind is strong.

Finally, there is the issue of storage. Kayaks have limited storage space, which can make it difficult to bring all of the necessary gear. The storage hatches seldom offer more space than is needed for 2 beer cans.

Despite these challenges, fishing from a kayak offers the angler a whole host of advantages not enjoyed by bass boat anglers, any other motorboat anglers, canoe anglers or shoreline anglers.


Is Kayak Fishing Safe?

Kayak fishing is a popular activity that combines the excitement of fishing with the challenge of paddling a kayak.

While kayak fishing is generally safe, there are some risks to be aware of. The most common danger is capsizing, which can occur if the kayak is overturned by a wave or if the fisherman falls out of the kayak.

To avoid capsizing, it is important to wear a life jacket and to stay aware of the conditions on the water. Additionally, paddlers should be aware of their surroundings and know how to identify potential hazards, such as rocks and other boaters.

It’s generally best to over-estimate every possible dangerous obstacle or condition while on the water in a small craft like a kayak.

When you’re challenged by a boat’s wake, assume the waves are bigger than you actually think they should be and take necessary steps (like pointing just slightly off directly into the waves).

If you know you can stand up in your kayak, don’t do it unless for some reason it’s absolutely necessary, and then only in calm waters (preferably near shore).

I’m hoping you get the point by now! It’s never a bad idea to be overly safe.

By the way, further to this point, the victims in a HUGE percentage of drownings everywhere each year are found without a lifejacket and their pants/shorts zipper is found undone. If you have to pee, be exceptionally careful and always wear your PFD.

By taking some simple precautions, kayak fishing can be a safe and enjoyable activity.


Are Fishing Kayaks Expensive?

When it comes to fishing kayaks, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Some people believe that fishing kayaks are brutally expensive, while others think that they offer a way to save money on your fishing trips.

So, what is the truth? Are fishing kayaks expensive or cheap?

Obviously, compared to motorboats, even a well-appointed kayak will be less expensive, while comparing a great, new fishing kayak to a budget, used kayak, it will appear far too pricey.

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the type of kayak you purchase and the features you want.

For example, a high-end fishing kayak can cost over $5,000, while a basic model may only cost a few hundred dollars. However, there are a number of ways to save money on your fishing kayak purchase, including buying used kayaks and opting for less-expensive models.

In addition, many kayak dealers offer financing options, which can help to make your purchase more affordable.

So, are fishing kayaks expensive? The answer is, that it depends. However, there are a number of ways to save money on your purchase, making fishing kayaks a more affordable option than you may think.


More Reasons to Choose Kayak Fishing Over Boats or Canoes!

1 – No Motorboats Allowed

Compared to any fishing boat, a kayak is a far better option if your priorities are in sync with its qualities. For example, many lakes around the country do not allow motorboats, so that eliminates all vessels aside from canoes.

2 – Cost

The cost of a motorboat (even a used one) will automatically put it out of reach for a huge segment of our nation’s demographic. Kayaks bring angling to the masses!

3 – Better Angling / More Fish

In lakes and rivers that allow motorboats and where motorboats have access, fishing is often not as good given the angling pressure on that body of water. Kayaks can take you out of that scenario and offer you an advantage.

4 – Pristine Experience

The mood or vibe is very different while fishing in a large motorboat compared to an angling kayak. Kayaks tend to connect you a bit more to the environment by allowing a silent and more “organic” approach to trolling and moving around the lake.

With no 200 Hp Mercury to fire up, you’re more likely to truly experience the beauty of God’s creation around you without injecting an overly-evident element of man’s ingenuity in the form of a waft of cloudy pollution, ungodly noise, or a massive set of waves that crash onto the shore and into smaller boats.


Paddle vs. Foot Drive

It makes sense to just make a reference here to the very different experiences offered by most good fishing kayak manufacturers.

While every kayak is equipped with a double-bladed paddle, many models offer a foot-driven option including pedal-drive or paddle-drive options that use only your leg power for 100% of the kayak’s propulsion.

Often, this option is so attractive to anglers (especially those who love trolling) that it will be the “make-or-break” issue in their decision to purchase a fishing kayak or not!

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Here I am showing off my recently purchased pedal kayak propulsion unit. It’s as big and tough as any trolling motor and can move the kayak at 5 MPH. It’s a great alternative to the timeless art of traditional paddling.

What Do the Pros Say?

Jeff Jones – Vibe Pro Kayak Angler

Jeff was introduced to pro bass kayak angling by his brother, and during one tournament, they were way behind. Then, with only minutes left to weigh in, both of them caught an exceptionally large bass each, which put them on the podium!

Jeff says he was hooked on the sport after that, and was not interested in pursuing bass fishing other than with a kayak!

I like the quiet (of kayak fishing), no engine, being able to cover water under “me-power.”

A paddle kayak fits better in my grab-and-go fishing.

I trade speed and range for maneuverability. The kayak offers a shallow-water advantage

Justin Powell – Orvis Pro & Professional Guide

John S. Deshauteurs – Werner Paddles Pro

John loves to get close to nature and his love of kayak fishing was born while only paddling with a double-blade paddle (no pedal power). He prefers to sneak into small and shallow areas not open to any bass boat or even a kayak powered by a propeller.

He loves paddling his kayak because it teaches him to slow down, analyze and thoroughly cover an area.

Joey Monteleone – TV host and Tennessee Outdoorsman of the Year

Unobtrusiveness and core fitness are reasons why Joey recommends kayak angling. He prefers to use a hand paddle propulsion style rather than pedaling since he likes to work out his upper body. He also says he’s a “purist” and won’t use a paddle-drive or pedal-drive propulsion system.

Joey’s best story (and promotion of kayak angling) was when he was jokingly ridiculed by a group of boat anglers about how slowly he could get back to the dock. He accepted a challenge to race them and took a shortcut through a narrow channel through which no bass boat could fit.

He ended up catching 4 bass along the way and won the race!


The Final Word on Why You Might Want a Fishing Kayak!

We’ve covered a lot of ground in our discussion of why anyone might want an angling kayak.

Reasons are many and varied, and they are different for different anglers. There are, however, some definitive reasons we’ve discussed that everyone can agree on.

They are much easier to transport than traditional fishing boats, making them a great option for those who want to fish in remote areas.

Fishing kayaks provide a more intimate fishing experience, allowing you to get closer to the water and your prey.

Fishing kayaks are relatively stable, meaning you can fish without worrying about capsizing.

And finally, many kayaks come equipped with fishing-specific features, such as rod holders and storage compartments, that make them ideal for anglers.

Whether you’re an experienced fisherman looking for a new challenge or a novice just starting out, a fishing kayak may be the perfect option for you.

Don’t forget that if you’re from Canada, you’ll love our “go-to” store for all our outdoor gear. It’s Atmosphere and it has ALMOST everything you need for camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and more. It doesn’t have high-end fishing kayak brands but it does have all the clothing and gear you’d want while on the water. Check it out:


If you’re in the market for a fishing kayak AND a recreational kayak, here’s a great one that may fit the bill at a lower price than a good fishing kayak!

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The TAHE Fit 132 Kayak with Rudder fits the bill for a great recreational kayak that is very maneuverable and also works well for fishing!


Sources: https://kayakanglermag.com/

Pete Stack

After 40 years of experience canoeing, camping, fishing, hiking and climbing in the Ontario wilderness, Pete is eager to combine his love for the outdoors with his passion to write. It is our hope that his knowledge can be passed on through this site and on Rugged Outdoors Guide on YouTube.

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