Why Are Fishing Kayaks Sit On Top?

Have you ever wondered why fishing kayaks are predominantly a sit-on-top design? There are some advantages to this kind of kayak. They are particularly useful when fishing or for beginners – so if you’re querying why fishing kayaks are sit-on-top kayaks, we’re going to explore that now.

Why Are Fishing Kayaks Sit On Top?

There are a few reasons that fishing kayaks are sit-on-top, and the biggest is stability. You can even stand in this kind of kayak without tipping it over (if you’re careful). They are also much easier to get in and out of, and they have more space and easier storage access. They are also self-bailing.

Why Are They More Stable?

Sit on top kayaks are often wider, which gives them extra stability while out on the water. They don’t tip over nearly as easily as narrow kayaks. This makes them ideal for fishing. 

If you are focusing on your line and the fish, you aren’t going to have as much time or attention for watching the water conditions and correcting your boat.

To be able to sit and fish properly, you need this added stability. While narrow kayaks can move more quickly in the water, they tip over far more readily. And this makes it hard to fish from them properly. 

If you aren’t keeping an eye on the water conditions, you might find yourself overboard before you know it.

Some fishing kayaks are so stable that you can stand on them, rather than having to sit. This is an additional advantage of the sit-on-top design; you have a flatter platform to plant your feet. A sit-in kayak would not offer this.

Sometimes you may need to stand while fishing, especially if you wish to get a better angle. A sit-on-top kayak is therefore offering much more flexibility. So you can really enjoy your sport to the maximum, with less worry about what the water is doing and whether you are going to capsize.

However, if you value speed when using a fishing kayak, you may want to look for a narrower, sit-in model. There are fewer kinds available, and you might struggle to find one that suits you, but these will move much more quickly in the water.

They Easier To Get In And Out Of?

According to OtterBeeOutdoors, a sit-on-top kayak has everything on the exterior shell of the boat, including the foot braces. That means that getting out of them is very easy because you aren’t trying to change levels or avoid tipping a hollow part of the boat below the surface left.

You are just moving onto a flat platform. With the increased stability, meaning you can stand on some, it is very easy to get on and off a sit-on top kayak. 

Your legs aren’t enclosed, and you don’t have to “slot” yourself into position. You can just sit down, get comfortable, and go.

That makes disembarking easier, too; there’s no messing around with disentangling yourself from the boat. Simply take your feet away from the braces and stand up.

It is also significantly easier to rescue your sit-on-top kayak and get back onto it if you do capsize while out in the water. And this is a significant benefit. A sit-in kayak often takes on water as it rolls over, and trying to get back into it while away from the shore can make this worse.

As you pull the boat down to lift yourself over the edge, more water is likely to pour in, making your kayak flood and possibly sink. 

A sit-on-top kayak doesn’t have this problem. Indeed, it has self-bailing holes that mean even if you do take on water, it will simply run back out, and the boat will remain buoyant.

This ability to get in and out while in open water is massively advantageous for fishers; if you need to get out to wade around obstacles, cool down, or look at or net fish while standing on the lake bed, you can do so. 

With a sit-in kayak, this is a much more complicated process, and you may find it isn’t really possible to get back in without returning to shore.

What Gives Them Better Storage?

BoardAndKayakLife describes how sit-on-top kayaks usually have areas both behind and in front of the paddler with plenty of space for stowing gear. 

This is important if you are fishing, as you are likely to have many bits and pieces that you need to keep easily accessible.

A sit-in kayak usually has to have sealed containers to ensure that they are waterproof and protect the gear if the kayak flips. Because a sit-on-top kayak won’t fill with water, it’s easier to make compartments accessible.

When you are purchasing your kayak, you should look for waterproof hatches so that you can keep water-sensitive gear safe. 

However, you should also ensure that there are tie-down areas on the hull and storage space behind the seat for fishing gear that won’t mind getting a little wet.

Because sit-on-top kayaks are becoming increasingly common choices for fishing kayaks, you’re more likely to find suitable gear storage solutions in these kayaks. The market demand is driving design choices in the industry. A sit-in kayak is less commonly used for fishing and may not have such good options.

They Are Self-Bailing?

Most sit on top kayaks (even fishing kayaks) have scupper holes. The holes allow the water to drain from out of the boat continually, preventing it from getting flooded. This helps to keep the kayak buoyant and on top of the water.

It means you don’t need to worry about any paddle splashes or waves that bring water into your boat. Instead, this water will drain away again, leaving you free to focus on fishing or paddling to where you want to be.

The disadvantage of these holes is that they allow water to splash into your kayak as you move, but sitting on top kayaks is mostly suitable for kayaking in warm weather anyway, so this may not be too much of an issue. Also, you will rarely stay very dry when using a sit-on-top kayak, so a bit of splashing from the scupper holes shouldn’t be a problem.

If it is, you can purchase scupper plugs to prevent the water from coming in, but this means that you then do need to watch out for splashes that could fill your boat with water. Again, it is better to leave the holes open when you can.

Final Word

All in all, sit on top kayaks are generally better for fishing from. They offer flexibility and stability, and they are easy to get in and out of. 

They may not move as quickly as traditional sit-in kayaks, but they make up for this with their storage and self-bailing.

However, sit on top kayaks are really only suitable for sunny days when the weather is warm. Sit-in kayaks are much better in cold conditions because the hull will protect you from wind and splashes, and an additional skirt can help to keep the water out. 

Be prepared to get wet when using a sit-on kayak!

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