If you’re an avid fisherman who prefers sit-on-top kayaks to sit-ins, then why not consider getting a kayak model that qualifies as both?
With sit-on-tops becoming more popular and dominating the recreational kayaking market, we decided it was time to make this article to showcase some of the great sit-on-top fishing kayaks that are available online.
There are six kayaks in total, and for each one, we’ve written a small entry where we’ve detailed why we think they’re worthy of being chosen.
We’ve also put into writing the benefits and limitations of sit-on-top kayaks so you can read what you’re getting into, make a more-informed purchasing decision, and make sure that you get it right the first time around.
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The first kayak we have to show you is the Pescador Pro 12 Fishing Kayak from Perception Kayaks, a large twelve-foot model that sits at the higher end of most budgets. You get what you pay for, however, so expect a stable ride that tracks better than the cheaper kayaks out there.
Made in the USA, the Pescador Pro 12 features a multi-chine hull which is partly why it has such great tracking capability whilst being relatively narrow and lightweight. It weighs sixty-five pounds, from which it carries an impressive three hundred and fifty pounds. This high carry capacity is great for larger fishermen and anglers who are bringing a lot of fishing gear aboard and need accommodation for it all.
The seat of this kayak is padded on both the bottom and the back, so it's comfortable whilst supporting your back, though it can be folded away if you need some extra wriggle room. They’re also made with breathable mesh, so they won’t get too stuffy when sat in all day. Whilst it’s one of the more expensive kayaks, it’s in no way a high-end fishing kayak but you’d think otherwise when seeing some of the added features built into them.
There are two fixed rod holders behind that padded seat and one at the front that’s useful for temporarily storing active rods. When sitting, a foot brace system keeps your legs in position to keep you stable and centered in the kayak. The kayak itself also has an anchor kit and trolley that allows you to hunker down in one place, so you don’t drift away from that perfect fishing sweet spot.
As for that storage we mentioned, you’ll find both open and dry storage areas at every point of the kayak, the front, center, and the rear, which features bungee cords to fasten your gear to the deck of these open-decked models.
Second on our list is the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Angler Fishing Kayak which, as the name implies, is decked out with so many features that should reel in most fishermen looking for a new ride. When navigating in this kayak model, one of the first things you should notice is that it features a rudder to help with tracking and turning. Great tracking is something you should be looking for anyway, but it also makes this the standout choice if you plan to fish in narrow streams that require more control and finesse to navigate.
For fishing, the Sea Ghost 130 features a pair of flush-mounted rod holders, but there are also four gear tracks that add a whole world of customizability to this craft. This can include mounting all sorts of accessories but, since we’re talking about fishing, you can add even more rod holders here, too.
Speaking of storage, a large rear tank well and the accompanying bungee cords are just asking for a cooler or crate to be fastened to the craft, allowing you to properly store catches once you’ve nabbed them. There’s also a twenty-inch bow hatch that has a bag insert, so any contents placed into it will be kept dry. A smaller but otherwise identical hatch is right by the seat too, where you can store your personal effects and valuables away from your hardier fishing gear.
That seat is made from a quick-drying mesh that’s also padded and adjustable, enabling both comfort and customizability, something that’s useful for propping yourself up to get a good vantage point on the waters around you. It should be able to accommodate you and much, much more thanks to its gargantuan five-hundred-and-fifty-pound carry capacity. With this model, you don’t need to feel insecure about bringing your entire fishing arsenal along to get the job properly done.
The third kayak we chose is the Bonafide SS127 Ultimate Sit On Top Fishing Kayak, one that’s ideal for those who worry about the stability of their fishing crafts. It’s designed to be a hybrid between your typical sit-on-top kayak and a catamaran, affording it even more stability than the more standard sit-on-top models out there. This added stability makes it a shoo-in for lake fishing and enables you to more confidently stand at its built-in standing platform, or any of the PerchPads traction pads around the craft that are made to stand on.
The seat is a HiRise seating system that elevates you above the vessel, allowing you to see around you. This is great for navigation in general, of course, but also places you above the action so you have a more bird’s eye view of the fish around you. It also frees up some room directly beneath you to store some extra gear, which is always a plus. Once you’re done fishing and need to get paddling, you can lower the seat to make it easier on yourself, too.
For storage, there’s a large hinged hatch at the bow whilst, at the rear, you’ll find a tank well complete with bungee cords to fasten items to the craft’s deck. A center console by the seating system allows you to set up accessories like fish finders, for example. That console even has a dry storage option where you can put your personal effects like your phone and wallet.
No fishing kayak is complete without rod tip holders, so you’ll be glad to know that there’s some built into this kayak. Not only that, but there are also several GearTracs to which you can attach even more rod holders, or other helpful devices like GPS or cameras.
Next up is an all-rounder craft that’s sure to please the average angler, the Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot SS Fishing Kayak. It has a lower weight limit than the above kayaks at two hundred and fifty pounds, but this should be enough for a lot of you. There is a larger, twelve-foot alternative that you could get if you’re taller, or need more support for your gear.
Considering the price of this craft, the Journey tracks and paddles with ease. However, it may take some getting used to since it’s not as stable as the products higher up on this list. Weighing in at just fifty-six pounds, it’s an easy craft to carry, even more so because of the retractable carrying handles at each side.
Being a fishing kayak, it has more than enough rod holders than you should need. There are three main ones, the first being an adjustable holder in front of the craft’s seating arrangement and the other two being fixed holders behind the seat. There are also paddle holders to free up your hands and elastic cord that you can use to secure gear to the deck of the kayak.
At the stern there’s a main storage area for the bulk of your gear but, if you need even more storage capacity, this kayak comes with Sun Dolphin’s Portable Accessory Carrier pod that disconnects from the kayak’s body and can be towed behind the craft. This PAC too carries two hundred and fifty pounds, effectively doubling the carrying capacity of this kayak.
The seating arrangement is padded but the deck isn’t, so we’d suggest having a cushion handy if you want to maximize your comfort when in these kayaks for long periods of time. Where many kayak models opt for multiple footrests that you can choose depending on your height, the Journey has a sliding foot support system to make it easier and more intuitive to use no matter how tall you are.
At fifth place, we have the Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, a tried and true model that’s been around for quite a while but this is just a testament to how it’s still being bought by anglers looking for a reliable fishing craft. Its body is made with a high-density, UV-protected polyethylene that’s been blow molded to make it even more durable.
As the product name says, it’s handy as a solo or a tandem kayak, making it perfect for a buddy fishing trip if that’s what you have planned. It’s only ten feet, so it’s probably at its best with just the one fisherman plus gear, but it’s still nice to have the option of bringing a fishing mate.
The carrying capacity reflects its tandem design, being capable of hauling a massive five hundred and fifty pounds. The craft itself weighs just sixty and comes with handles at the bow and the side to help you lift and carry this kayak around.
Where fishing is concerned, this kayak has three-rod holders that you can have operating all at once. It also comes with two paddles that can be fitted into flush paddle holders at either side of the craft. There’s also a hole for a sail, though you’d need to source that yourself if
Last but not least, we have the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak. It’s a larger craft at thirteen feet long but tracks very well for its size. This is because the hull is designed with good tracking in mind, as well as stability no matter whether the waters are still or active. There’s even rudder compatibility at the stern so you can add your own rudders to navigate harsher waters effectively.
Such a large craft obviously has quite a lot of storage options, with open storage at the back and bungee cords there to hold gear down. At the center and bow end are covered storage areas for concealing gear that has no business being exposed to the elements, including your personal effects and electronics.
The craft itself weighs about fifty-six pounds and supports up to four hundred and fifty pounds of carrying capacity, which is a lot for a single-person kayak. The seating area features a Comfort Plus Seat Back that’s padded at the back and the bottom, and folds away when you need it to. It keeps you comfortable whilst the accompanying selection of molded footwells can accommodate anglers of all heights. Behind the seating area are two flush-mounted rod holders that keep your rods in a fixed position.
Best Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak - Buyers Guide
Sit-On-Top Kayaks and Fishing
Sit-on-tops are kayak models with open-decked tops, meaning they’re much easier to get on or off of. They also tend to have removable seats that add a lot of customization to them. So, as you can imagine, there are many properties that sit-on-tops have that make them a great choice for those looking for a reliable fishing vessel. We’ve explored some of these properties below:
Comfort and Flexibility
The main reason for the increase in popularity of sit-on-top kayaks is their earned reputation as being more comfortable than many kayak alternatives. This only makes sense, since you’ll want a comfortable kayak that can support you for long periods, and this only becomes more important when you’re trying to fish.
No longer confined to a small cockpit, anglers can take advantage of their full range of motion, moving with ease when reeling in, casting, and otherwise interacting with any gear you’ve brought aboard. The average kayaker, without any intention of fishing, can greatly appreciate kayaks that don’t make you feel claustrophobic and boxed in, so an open-decked kayak is almost a must for campers, fisherman, and others who have non-standard activities planned for their kayak.
Sit-on-tops also tend to be wider than other kayak types, allowing you to stand and get better visibility of the waters around you. This is ideal for anglers looking for a bird’s eye view of the action, not to mention it’s useful for navigation if you’re operating in narrow, shallow streams, which brings us to our next section.
Shallow Water Fishing
We’ve already talked about how sit-on-tops are better for getting in and out of the boat but, if you have waders or other articles of waterproofed clothing, there’s nothing stopping you from fishing from outside the kayak when in shallower waters. In a perfect world, your kayak will be comfortable enough to accommodate you for long periods without you getting cramped or claustrophobic, but sometimes it’s necessary or just more pleasant to stretch your legs.
Sit-in kayaks can’t be disembarked when out in the water. Not easily, anyway. You’d likely capsize it, especially in waders, which would be disastrous when all your expensive fishing gear is stored on the kayak. These aren’t concerns for sit-on-top kayaks, making them a popular option for those who want to fish in shallow waters specifically.
Sit-on-top kayaks often have molded-in storage compartments and, if you’re looking at the right models, they’ll have a lot of them. One of these hatches can be very useful for storing your catches, so they’ll be kept separate from the rest of your gear and personal effects.
Sit-in kayaks tend to rely on stringers since they don’t usually have as many hatches as sit-on-tops do. On the off chance that your sit-on-top doesn’t have enough hatches for you to have a designated catch stash, it’s still possible to store fish in bags or other third-party containment products that are on the deck of your sit-on-top, preferably fastened so they don’t go anywhere. Just be sure not to keep caught fish improperly stored for too long.
The main point is that you can’t store as much gear with sit-in kayaks since they’re covered in a top shell and you’re confined to the cockpit, whereas with sit-on-tops you have open-decked models that tend to have more gear hatches, too.
Sit-on-tops, because of their popularity with beginners and hobbyist kayakers, tend to be thought of as the novice kayak type. This isn’t unfounded, with the stability that sit-on-tops provide being ideal for beginners to learn how to get to grips with kayaking, but it’s fallacious to assume that kayak fishermen are invested in mastering kayaking.
Sit-in kayaks can be rolled, among other maneuvers, and require more experience to paddle and control. They’re generally faster, which is why sit-in kayaks are used for racing and other kayaking sports, since they’re higher performance kayaks than other alternatives.
As we said, assuming fishermen that use kayaks want and need to graduate from sit-on-top kayaks to the more performance-oriented sit-in kayaks would be incorrect. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing sit-on-top kayaks if you’re only getting them as a means to facilitate another activity, like fishing.