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Why Choose a Sit-in Kayak for Fishing?
Now, that’s a very good question, as more often than not, it’s the sit-on-top variety that holds some significant advantages over their sit-in counterparts.
However, sit-in kayaks do have a few notable plus points they can bring to the table.
In a nutshell:
They are generally smaller/slimmer and much lighter than sit-on-tops, which makes them easier to transport.
They’re better at handling waves and whitewater. In fact, they’re capable of better performance across the board when it comes to speed and tracking.
With a covered deck, they offer more protection from the elements, so you’ll stay warmer and drier than you would using a sit-on-top. You can use a spray skirt with many models, too.
They tend to be cheaper when it comes to the price point – all things being equal.
The Pungo 120 from Wilderness Systems is another versatile recreational kayak that can be kitted out to suit the preferences of the angler.
It’s one of their best-selling models as a result, and features an ingenious dashboard system that can be customized depending on what gear and tech you require.
Add one of these next-level fish finders, articulated rod holder, GPS, sport camera, and more. And it even has a dedicated watertight hatch for a battery pack to power electronics.
The Phase 3 AirPro seat is super comfortable, fully adjustable, and provides ergonomic support for the lower back, while the sleek hull design ensures it performs as one of the best in its class no matter the conditions.
Sleek, lightweight design.
Rear hatch with sealed bulkhead.
Two cup holders.
SlideTrax accessory rails.
No pre-installed fishing accessories.
This is an extremely popular recreational kayak that will suit anyone who wants to enjoy a number of water-based adventures, including touring, kayak camping, and fishing. Bear in mind you need to add your own fishing features aftermarket, though, and don’t forget a travel fishing rod to save on space.
Perception is renowned for making some of the best entry-level recreational kayaks out there, with affordable quality and performance as standard.
Ideal for beginners and intermediate paddlers, the Sound 10.5 sit-inside kayak is a versatile craft that features a dashboard that’s compatible with accessory mount systems, so you can customize your center console how you see fit.
The Tri-keel hull offers excellent stability and smooth steering, while the comfortable, ergonomic zone seat provides all-day-long support where you need it, with quick-adjust footrests to accommodate paddlers of all sizes.
And when you consider the price point, this looks like a very tasty option indeed.
Large rear tank well with bungee.
Two molded fishing rod holders.
Front and rear molded handles.
Durable and lightweight design.
Ideal for larger users.
Dashboard accessories sold separately.
For this price, there’s a ridiculous amount of features and performance packed into the Perception Sound, so much so, that it’s probably the best sit in fishing kayak under $500 on the market.
And that large tank well is just crying out for one of these awesome fishing coolers – so what are you waiting for?
Constructed of UV-protected high-density polyethylene, it’s super strong and durable, with two flush-mounted rod holders, and an articulated rod holder in the center console within convenient reach.
Inside, there are multiple foot rests to accommodate paddlers of all sizes, and the large cockpit is easy to access, with a high seat back for additional comfort.
Great price point.
Storage hatch with bungee.
Paddle holder straps.
Stability chine rails and stable bottom.
Molded cup holder.
As basic as they come.
Short on storage space.
An excellent no-frills fishing kayak that has everything you need to get started at a price you can afford. You don’t need all the bells and whistles to catch fish – and this kayak is the perfect example of that. Just remember you also need to protect yourself from those UV rays with a decent fishing hat.
The Old Town Trip angler kayak is a super-fun little craft that’s another highly versatile recreational boat.
At 10 feet long, it’s lightweight and compact, with a stable hull and foot brace system to help you feel steady – even when you’re in a bit of chop.
It has two, flush-mounted rod holders built-in, with a large storage hatch to the stern for stashing extra belongings, such as one of these awesome fishing jackets.
Made of single-layer polyethylene, it’s very durable, and has a molded cockpit tray for added convenience – including a cup holder for beverages.
And with comfort-flex seating and thigh pads, you can be sure of a comfortable fishing experience all day long.
Name to trust.
Affordable price point.
Anchor trolley system.
Molded paddle rest.
Bungee deck webbing.
Attractive blue finish.
Not compatible with a rudder.
A terrific little play boat that can handle still lakes and slow rivers, as well as some whitewater with a bit more pep.
Probably one of the best compact fishing kayaks out there, it’s very easy to transport and store. But if you’re looking for the ultimate in portability, check out this review on the best inflatable fishing kayaks, instead.
This Pelican recreational sit-in kayak is a thing of beauty.
The Argo 100XR Cosmos has been lovingly designed and made with a patented RAM-X material, which basically means it offers a high molecular weight, with a top layer of advanced resin, that provides extra strength and durability while remaining lightweight overall.
Even if the boffins have come up with more confusing technology, in simple terms this is a solid kayak that combines a spacious cockpit with a super-comfortable chair that’s not a million miles away from a premium sit-on-top seat.
And it’s portable, meaning you can remove the seating from your kayak and use it to relax around the campfire after a full day’s fishing.
Great price point.
Stylish design and finish.
Super lightweight yet durable.
Rear storage hatch.
Rigging racks for accessories.
No fishing features included at sale.
I’m in love with this kayak, and I’m considering adding it to my fleet, not least because of that ingenious chair, and its attractive design in general. And while it doesn’t initially come with any fishing features, it’s designed to be fully customizable, so you can always add rod holders “et al.” aftermarket.
There was no way I was going to leave out the Old Town Vapor 10 Angler in a review on the best sit-in fishing kayaks.
Made from a durable polyethylene construction, it offers excellent stability and tracking through the water, with a large, spray skirt compatible cockpit that’s easy to enter and exit.
An anchor trolley system is built in for securing your craft when required, and two flush mounted rod holders can be found within easy reach.
The comfort-flex seat is padded and fully adjustable, and the molded dashboard is perfect as a workstation for tackle.
A paddle rest keeps things hands free, and a large tank well to the stern is ideal for storing extra gear and equipment for your adventure.
Name to trust.
Affordable price point.
Bungee deck webbing.
Built-in carry handles.
Excellent tracking and paddling.
Ideal for beginners.
None to speak of.
Another brilliant fishing kayak from Old Town that offers superb performance in the water, with the pilot enjoying a roomy, comfortable cockpit experience that’s suitable for larger anglers. And don’t leave home without a pair of these practical fishing gloves which will also protect your hands while paddling.
How to Choose the Best Sit-In Kayak for Fishing
Below, you’ll find a handy buyer’s guide that covers all the things you should be looking out for when choosing the best sit-in fishing kayak for your needs.
Size and Weight
Once you’ve decided to try a sit-in kayak, choosing its size and overall weight is probably your next priority.
Sit-in kayaks tend to be slimmer than their sit-on-top counterparts, but not necessarily longer. The thinner and longer the kayak is, the faster it will go, and the better it will track through the water.
However, it won’t be the most maneuverable, which is why you’ll notice whitewater kayaks are generally stubby little boats built to turn on a dime.
Less bulk also means less weight, and as mentioned, one of the main advantages of sit-in kayaks is they are usually much lighter and easier to transport than other versions.
As a rule of thumb, I would say you want to be looking at kayak around 10-12 feet in length, weighing in the region of 40-50 lbs.
That’s just a guideline though, and you’re not really going to find much difference in performance between these kayaks when the margins are so small.
And when it comes to fishing, you’re not really looking for a world-beating speed machine, just so long as it can handle the conditions you’re out in, and you can manage to get it to and from the water easily.
One of the downsides when it comes to sit-in kayaks versus sit-on-top versions is their seating. In short, they can leave a lot to be desired.
Sit-on-top kayaks have the space to be kitted out with the latest metal-frame lawn chairs for the ultimate comfort, but with sit-in kayaks you tend to be lucky if you get a decent padded seat.
However, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, and sit-inside kayaks that have improved on this – so look out for options with the best possible seating configuration if this is something that concerns you.
And remember – you can always customize and upgrade your kayak with more comfortable seating options aftermarket. That’s what I did with my sit-in touring kayak, and it made a vast improvement and stopped my backside going numb.
A major plus point for sit-in kayaks is that they are much more adept at handling whitewater, choppy and tidal conditions, and anywhere things might be flowing with a bit more pep.
While this isn’t always necessary for fishing, it’s nice to have in case you do encounter it, and it makes sit-in kayaks much more versatile as a result.
Generally speaking, they’ve got sit-on-top kayaks beat when it comes to performance. They’re much faster and more maneuverable – all things being equal.
So if you want a craft that can handle it all, and be capable of landing a catch while you’re at it – then keep your eyes open for sit-inside fishing kayaks with a hull designed for improved performance.
While it’s true that sit-on-top kayaks tend to offer more scope for fishing-friendly features, there’s no reason that sit-in kayaks can’t hold their own with a few useful additions.
Flush-mounted rod holders are probably the most common feature, but look out for accessory-tracks and railings in some models, so you can add your own gear and equipment.
You should still be able to add articulated rod holders, GPS, fish finders, sports cameras, and anything else you fancy if you choose a good sit-in fishing kayak in the first place.
They work best when they maximize the comparatively small amount of space, and some include ingenious center consoles and/or cockpit work decks for such possibilities.
Most sit-inside kayaks will also be compatible with a spray skirt, which means you can stay extra warm and dry in more challenging conditions.
And don’t forget to look out for those paddle holders. A true fishing kayak is going to be pretty useless without them.
Likewise, sit-in kayaks tend to be a bit shy on storage space – and the lack of a large, stern tank well can put some anglers off.
But that’s only if you’re the type of person who wants to pack a full fishing crate or cooler, or a large saltwater tackle bag, for example.
Most sit-in fishing kayaks will still have excellent storage hatch options, and enough space to stash everything you need for the day.
But unless you’re in a large touring kayak, or one of these premium pedal drive fishing craft, the emphasis is going to be on traveling light with less tackle and gear.
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.