The Best Kayak Color for Fishing – Does Kayak Color Matter? (Answered!)

Have you ever wondered what a fish sees?

And when you’re shopping for a new fishing craft, have you asked yourself – does kayak color matter?

In this bite-sized article, we’ve got the answer to both of those questions.

Let’s get stuck in.

Does kayak color matter?

When it comes to safety – yes. When it comes to performance – barely. And when it comes to fish – absolutely not.

Table of Contents

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The Best Kayak Color for Fishing – Too Long, Didn’t Read

Before we go into a little more detail, here’s what you came here to find out:

  • Yes, fish see in color.
  • No, kayak color doesn’t matter for catching said fish.

While choosing the right color for your lures might help you depending on the species you’re trying to catch, there has never been any evidence that one color of kayak will help or hinder you over another.

There are many other more important factors when it comes to choosing the best fishing kayaks, such as size and weight, hardshell or inflatable, features and comfort.

Follow that link to get you started.

But there are some instances when kayak color does matter.

Read on to find out what they are.

kayak fisherman in early morning fishing

Fish and Color

Anglers (and scientists) have long been interested in what a fish actually sees.

It can be incredibly helpful when choosing lures – and some believe it’s also influential when choosing everything from the color of your kayak to what you’re wearing.

Without going into too much jargony science-speak, most fish do see and register colors. What colors they see will depend on the species of fish.

A trout or a salmon, for example, will see more colors than humans do across the spectrum.

Whereas a largemouth bass has difficulty with yellows and whites, but can register greens and reds well.

Walleye see oranges and reds the best, with greens and yellows also registering. But they’re not so hot with fluorescents, which is why such lures will likely not give you any extra benefit.

It’s important to know the enemy! Take some time to learn what colors the particular species you’re trying to catch can see in – and you can adjust your lures and methods accordingly.

The following video will also help when it comes to understanding how colors look to fish underwater.

Fish and Kayak Color

So, does this knowledge affect the color choice of your fishing kayak?

In short, the answer is no.

There has never been any proven data to say that a particular color of kayak will help you catch more fish than any other.

And given the fact that you will be some distance away from the fish when casting anyway, the chances of them “seeing” you are actually quite slim.

Especially when fishing around cover and structure.

You’re far more likely to spook the fish with erratic paddling, splashing, or banging about on your boat. Or as the shadow of your kayak passes above them.

To help reduce noise, you might like to try a kayak that has EVA deck padding, like most of the options in this selection of the best stand-up fishing kayaks.

And you might have better fortune with pedals over paddles when it comes to whisper-quiet stalking. Check out this review of the best pedal drive fishing kayaks on the market.

fisherman in small sit-on-top fishing kayak on river

Kayak Color and Performance

Does kayak color affect the performance of the kayak?

There is a school of thought that certain color pigments are heavier than others, and as such it might impact the way a kayak behaves in the water.

While there might be some truth to this, in reality, the effect on your kayak is going to be negligible.

There are certainly more important factors than color schemes when it comes to kayak performance.

Check out this article on the lightest fishing kayaks on the market, for example.

But what about reflections and sun blindness?

In that case, there is a chance that kayak color might affect YOUR performance.

If you’re fishing in super-bright sunshine in a fluorescent yellow kayak, your eyes will soon know all about it!

As such, some kayak anglers prefer darker-colored boats to minimize reflection when on the water.

Or, you could simply wear a pair of good fishing sunglasses instead!

Kayak Color and Personal Preference

One man’s Dali is another man’s Picasso.

When it comes to aesthetics, only you can decide if you like a particular kayak color or not.

Personally, I prefer more muted colors, with a smart, brushed effect that looks classy. Something like the Vibe Shearwater 125 for example.

Whereas others might prefer something a little more “noisy,” like the Jackson Bite.

Everyone’s taste is different, and if fishing kayak color truly made a difference for catching fish, then kayak companies would design all their kayaks to be that particular hue.

Aside from personal preference, the only genuine impact that kayak color has is going to be on safety.

angler fishing from the kayak in the river

Kayak Color and Safety

The number-one reason that kayak color is important is for safety on the water.

Kayaks have a small profile. They sit low in the water, and can be difficult to see – especially from large vessels.

That’s why they’re most commonly available in bold, bright colors and designs.


  • You’re more visible in low-light and poor conditions.
  • You’re more visible in an emergency situation.
  • You’re more visible to larger watercraft.

But what is the safest color for a fishing kayak? Or any kayak for that matter?

It depends on certain factors.

Time of day, location, weather conditions, distances, water color…

But generally speaking, bright greens, yellows, and orange hues are the easiest to spot.

Reds and blues are more of a challenge.

Avoid browns, blacks, and grays if you’re particularly concerned about being visible on the water.

Alternatively, you can use a high-vis flag or other such devices for additional peace of mind.

And always make sure you’re wearing an accredited fishing PFD – even on calm, quiet waters with little to no traffic.

Follow this link for even more top tips on kayak fishing safety.

man in white kayak fishing


Can I paint the bottom of my kayak?

You can – but why would you want to? Some anglers like to paint the bottom of their kayaks black or dark blue, but there’s no evidence it makes a difference.

The fish will still see a shadow above them, either way.

And if you happen to capsize, and your hull blends in with the water, you’re going to be a lot harder to spot if rescue is required.

What’s the best camouflage for a kayak?

Some folks use their kayaks for hunting, and this is where the color scheme matters a great deal.

The best camouflage for your kayak in this situation will depend on where you’re actually hunting.

Like a chameleon, you should take your surroundings into account and match accordingly.

Do bright-colored kayaks scare fish?

No. There is no evidence that a fish is going to get spooked because you’re paddling something as outrageous as a Jackson fishing kayak.

Otherwise, they would surely never dare give those things such a crazy design!

Does fishing line color make a difference?

Yes, it does.

For more information, check out this in-depth article on does fishing line color matter?

Are sharks attracted to kayak colors?

Great question.

Kayak color doesn’t matter when it comes to sharks.

Like other fish, they are more likely to register the contrast between the water and the shadow of the boat.

Shark attacks on kayakers are rare, but they happen because the animal has mistaken the craft for a tasty seal, rather than it being the fault of a particular color.


Does kayak color matter?

When it comes to safety – yes. When it comes to personal preference – that’s up to you. When it comes to performance – barely.

And when it comes to fish – absolutely not.

I hope this article has cleared up this debate once and for all. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

And no matter what color kayak you’re rocking, stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy fishing!

Stuart Jameson

Stuart is passionate about travel, kayaking, camping and the great outdoors in general. He's not quite as enthusiastic about angling as his father was, but out of the two of them, he's yet to hook his ear lobe while fly-fishing, which he sees as an absolute win.

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