Sit In or Sit On Kayak for Fishing

Sit in or sit on kayak for fishing

A debated argument between many anglers…the sit in or sit on kayak for fishing?

If you feel stuck or confused as to what is the best type of kayak for fishing,

Well look no further!

Generally when you think of a kayak, you think of the traditional sit in kayak with a high rim around the cockpit with your legs tucked inside.

Although there is also the sit on kayak, it features a more open design where you sit on the kayak into a moulded-in depression that gives you more freedom of movement.

Well, here I’ll be able to give you a good breakdown as to what will get you out on the open water and catching effortlessly.

So, as your well aware, there are 2 types of kayaks, a sit in and a sit on….let’s look at some key differences between each.

Differences between Sit In and Sit On Kayak

Sit on kayak

  • Have a moulded design of the cockpit to allow greater freedom of movement
  • Have a wider frame compared to a sit in kayak
  • Much more stable
  • Typically slower compared to a sit in kayak
  • Has easier access to additional storage

Sit in kayak

  • The paddler sits inside the cockpit
  • The paddler is warmer and drier
  • Has a longer and more narrow frame
  • Much more faster compared to a sit on kayak
  • Better handling and tracking through rougher waters

Whatever kayak you choose that you feel is best for you and best for the environment you will be fishing in, both types will perform to their best ability.

Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks to each type of kayak:

Sit on kayak for fishing

Benefits of the Sit on Kayak

  • You can easily stand up on a sit in kayak allowing for freedom to reel in big catches
  • Sit on kayaks have a wider, flatter frame to the waters surface with increases stability
  • Sit on kayaks are basically unsinkable, if the kayak capsizes simply flip back over and any water left in hull will drain through it scupper holes.
  • They can hold a lot of storage that is easily accessible, great for storing all you’re fishing equipment
  • Having an open frame, allows you to stretch out, hang your feet off the edge or if it’s a warm day- jump in and out of the water easily.
  • They are excellent kayaks for paddlers who may find being constricted in a small space or fear of turning over such as in a sit in kayak.
  • Sit on kayaks are much cheaper to build as they have fewer materials compared to a sit in kayak so can be a lot less expensive.

Drawbacks of the Sit on Kayak

  • Due to the design of the sit on kayak and to compensate for the paddlers high centre of gravity above the waters surface, they can be difficult to paddle with speed.
  • As they have an open frame, they are prone to water splash inside the hull so you may get more wet with a sit on kayak.
  • As they have a moulded design, creating more space for the paddler, it means it less space compared to a sit in kayak.

Sit in kayak for fishing

Benefits of the Sit In Kayak

  • As the sit in kayak as a lower centre of gravity, meaning the paddlers weight is distributed below the waters surface, it allows for increased speed, greater control and more manoeuvrability over the kayak.
  • The entire hull of the kayak is essentially a storage area, wiping out the use of tie downs, which can hold a lot of equipment and fishing gear.
  • By attaching a spray skirt to the cockpit of the kayak and with no drain holes at the bottom, the entire hull remains dry so your gear is fully protected.

Drawbacks of the Sit In Kayak

  • It restricts the freedom of movement of entering and exiting the kayak
  • If the weather is warm and humid, having a spray skirt on can become very discomforting
  • If the kayak flips over and if you haven’t attached a spray skirt, the hull will fill up with water and soak your equipment
  • Trying to get access to equipment quickly can prove very difficult due to limited movement

Both types of kayaks are made from high durable materials such as plastic, fiberglass or kevler with sit on kayaks now coming in inflatable types. These are much easier and lighter to carry and transport but need time to be inflated before entering the water…obviously!

Both kayaks do hold a lot of storage for fishing, camping, food or drink either inside the hull or with storage hatches.


Fishing is a sport of patience and time, and with patience and time …comfort is what allows you to enjoy you’re fishing experience that bit more.

If fishing in a sit in kayak, your movement is restricted as it is an enclosed vessel. Your legs are stuck in once place and minimal room to move.

In a sit on kayak, there is a greater freedom of movement due to its open design. You can move your legs up and down, side straddle off the side and dip your feet in the water.

Sit in kayaks also have a fixed seat that can be comfortable but basically once you sit in, it can be very annoying trying to move around and sit into a better position.

Sit on kayaks are very comfortable and do come in a range of styles and materials to better improve you’re fishing trip. Some models even have the ability to pump up to support the lumber region.

So, after discussing the kayaks, it’s time to look at where you will be fishing and deciding what kayak will be best used to suit your environment.

Where will you be fishing?

Choosing the right kayak for the type of water you will be fishing in is essential.

So, basically it comes down to 3 types of water: Ocean, Lake or River.

Now, before we continue on, both sit in and sit on kayaks will perform without fail in any of these environments but I just want to provide you with a few factors that will definitely benefit you’re fishing experience.


Kayak fishing in the ocean

Getting out into the open ocean can seem daunting and overwhelming although sometimes this is where the best fish is.

At the end of the day, a kayak is a floatation device and its main purpose is to make sure it floats! Simple!

So, if the ocean is your choice of fishing ground by all means, get out there and catch some incredible fish.

Now, with the open ocean, its currents, strong winds and tides can become difficult to track through but with a sit in kayak, it will allows you to steer, track a straight line and is easier to battle against a fighting tide.

However, with the wider design of a sit on kayak, it much easier and effective of staying upright when dealing with the waves and rough water.

Check out some handy kayaking techniques for better control

Always consider the winds, with a sit on kayak it is more susceptible to the wind as it has this wider design but the angler will sit higher in the water,

The sit in kayak is more streamline and the angler has a lower centre of gravity so winds aren’t too much of an issue.


Kayak fishing in a lake

Fishing on a lake can be a very peaceful, tranquil experience with just you and the sounds of the great outdoors, so if you’re planning to fish where the water is calm and slow moving, you may want to consider a sit on top kayak as you can relax, sit back and wait patiently for that big catch.

Now, if the lake you are planning to fish on is quite big, be mindful that a sit on kayak will be slower when travelling long distances, in that case, a sit in kayak may be what your after.


Kayak fishing in a river

Depending on the river you are looking to fish on, whether it be a constant stream of steady water or white rapid waters – they both have their good and bad points for kayaks.

As discussed, having a sit on kayak keeps your weight basically on the waters surface, this allows for more area between the kayak and the river bed where rocks may be a problem as sit on kayaks have the possibility of getting grounded very easily especially if its shallow waters.

There are times you may need to get in and out of the kayak to get past obstacles, so a sit on kayak certainly has the advantage here.

However, in faster moving rivers, a sit in kayak proves excellent as it is easier to track and navigate down faster and rougher waters allow you to reach better fishing points further downstream.

What are you fishing for?

So, if your an experience angler or a complete novice and simply want to leave the shore and venture out to further to where the real fish are then you want the right kayak!

Now, this is where your going to catch the bigger fish….out in the open waters!

So with bigger fish comes the need for bigger storage………and there is no better kayak than the sit on kayak!

The sit on kayak holds a lot of storage that is perfectly accessible and easy to reach in an instant. They can feature 2 or 3 storage containers as well as storage at the stern (the back) that can be tied down.

Tackle box, fishing poles, bait and lunch…easily packed and stored away!

Not only is the sit on kayak great for storage but it also much more stable on the water. For example, when you are reeling in a big catch, you want to use all of your weight and use the power of your legs to reel it in so standing up is essential!

The sit on kayak is very easy to stand on that has a lot of stability so reeling in a big catch should be no effort at all!

Keeping Fish

If your looking to keep what you catch, then you’ll need a place to store your fish.

In a sit in kayak, you will be able to store the fish in the actual cockpit but sometimes this may not be the most convenient. You can also use a stringer which can be attached to the kayak, but depending on the waters you are fishing in this may attract predators.

A sit on kayak has better storage facilities with its storage tanks that are built into the kayak so you don’t have to deal with fish laying down around your feet. Simply pack the storage tank with ice and rest your fish in, they’ll stay chilled for hours.

So….the winner is…

Both types of kayaks will still hold their own when it comes to fishing but it is the small differences that just lets one stand out from the other and that kayak is……drum roll….

The Sit On Kayak

Due to its design with an open cockpit it allows the angler to stand up and bring in those big reels.

It allows the angler to stretch out and relax into many positions making for a more enjoyable fishing day out.

It’s much more stable and sturdy in the water

It has greater storage potential that is easy to access

It is cheaper to buy compared to a sit on kayak

It is much more customisable compared to a sit on kayak with the ability to add accessories such as an elevated seat, a Scotty Mount, an anchoring system and a rudder.

These additional benefits and features is what makes a sit on kayak your perfect companion when looking to fish further out in the waters.

If you do have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

6 comments Add yours
  1. My son is an avid fisherman, so I am pretty sure the sit-on kayak is going to be the best option.  I think the fact that there is just more flexibility and maneuverability in the sit-on version than being stuffed into the sit-in version.  The sit-on version reminds me more of a fishing boat, like a row boat, you know?  Plus, he loves to swim when he’s done, so the sit on is much more conducive to him jumping in or out of the kayak.  Great write-up.  Now I know which one to get him!!!

    1. Hi Babsie

      I agree, the sit on kayak has greater freedom to it and as you say it does allow you to jump in and out of the kayak when you feel like.

      If your son is big into fishing, he should check out this kayak, I’ve done a write up on it here:

  2. I never knew sit on kayaks existed, I have used the traditional sit in kayaks, and like them very much, however I have never tried fishing in one.  I can totally see how a sit on kayak would be a better choice for fishing, offering ease of movement, more stability and more storage space.  I really enjoy kayaking, and might just have to try a sit on kayak.  Thanks for sharing this great review.

    1. Hi Jenny,

      There is actually quite a lot of people that think there is just the sit in kayak. The sit on kayak does certainly allow for more range of motion and sometimes can be more comfortable as you can find a position that suits you best. Fishing is a big element to these kayaks and just opens up another door to people who love fishing.

  3. I really enjoyed the lists of both benefits and drawbacks you listed for the Sitting on the Kayak and in the Kayak. It really nailed the point down perfectly for me.

    It also essentially completely cleared up all the doubts of mine about me pursuing the Sitting in Kayak version. It truly is the choice of mine.

    I’ve always preferred increased speed, greater control and more maneuverability over anything else when I’m kayaking. Doesn’t matter if I’m fishing or just enjoying a river. Sure, the soaking of the equipment has happened to me a few times, but the increased maneuverability is just something that I feel have saved me way more times. 

    All in all – an awesome article. Thank you for sharing all the insights!

    Cheers and have a Great One!

    1. Hi Matiss,

      Thank you, even though the 2 kayaks look similar, they can be used in 2 different complete ways. I’ve tried to address the pros and cons of each and hopefully got it across well. 

      I’m completely the same myself, I prefer the manoeuvrability so I can find my relaxed fit so the sit in kayak in the one for me too.

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