How To Choose A Fishing Canoe or Kayak (For Both Sea And Freshwater)


Fishing Canoe

A fishing kayak is a big ticket purchase. They can run between a few hundred to up to 7000 dollars. The best ones will hit as many of your requirements as possible for your budget and a lot of planning is going to be needed before your purchase. We will address the most important of those considerations below.

Fishing Kayak suitability is dependent on a number of key factors. Sea, fresh, flat rivers, or large seas all need to be factored in to a purchase. Budget should also be considered as kayaks range from 800 to 1000’s of dollars. Size, storage and transportation are other important aspects also.   

Below we Highlight the main considerations when choosing a kayak (and canoe) for fishing including the following factors. Just click on one to jump to the section, or feel free to read down.

  • Differences between Fishing Kayaks and Canoes
  • Size of Fishing Kayaks
  • Sea Fishing or Freshwater Fishing Kayaks
  • Price of fishing Kayaks
  • Functionality / Stability / Portability of Fishing Kayaks
  • Power system for Fishing Kayaks – (foot, motor or paddle)
  • Recommendations
  • New or used Fishing Kayaks

Differences Between Fishing Canoes and Kayaks

Best Fishing Canoe

If you have found yourself on this page the chances are you already know the difference between a kayak and a canoe but just to be sure we will detail it below. The differences between fishing kayaks and canoes are a little more pronounced though.

In kayaks you are seated and use a double bladed paddle, in a canoe you kneel and use a single bladed paddle.

Fishing Canoes

Fishing Canoes give more open space for storing rods and other fishing gear and equipment. They are massively more suited to inland fishing, especially on lakes. Their extra storage means more equipment certainly but it also means larger equipment.

This enables longer and more involved fishing trips with over night and camping equipment being stowed, with out overloading and affecting stability.

As a rule of thumb they are less easy to control that a fishing kayak, unless you are paddling a huge sea kayak. Depending on the model their length and width offer more stability and fishing standing is easier than in a kayak.

Comfort is important, and the seating position when fishing is higher in a canoe than a kayak and more natural. It is very much down to the individual though, and has been negated somewhat by the introduction of beach chair style seats n fishing kayaks now. Still it is worth trying out both to be sure which suits you better.

Fishing Kayaks

best saltwater fishing kayaks

You will have to consider if you are looking for an open or sealed sea kayak firstly, and fishing kayaks tend to be a hybrid of both. They will contain sealed deck hatches like sea kayaks but open areas for easy access to coolers and tackle boxes.

Now most made for purpose fishing kayaks are fitted with beach style seating which gives more flexibility and are more comfortable than the old plastic versions. It is important to be comfortable, and to have the freedom to move around if you are planning longer fishing trips.

This seating position, lower in the boat, makes them more stable while seated, however their reduced width makes them less stable if standing. Some being better at dealing with this than others, but the seating arrangement makes it less likely you will need to stand as much.

What Size of Fishing Kayak Do You Need?

The answer to this depends on you and where you are planning t0 use it, your size, and what you will be loading on to it. it. Sea Kayaks can range from 10 to 14ft long.

The simple rule of thumb is the shorter a kayak is the more maneuverable and slower it is and the longer the faster and less maneuverable it is. This is important.

If you are fishing mainly on creeks, smaller lakes or rivers without making longer trips then a more maneuverable option is likely to suit you better. You wont need the speed as much.

However, if you are on the sea or on the big lakes then speed and length are going to be more important. These also have the added bonus of having more storage and often provide the opportunity ( at extra cost of course) of installing trolling motors or pedals, fish finders and cooler options.

Your size matters with all kayaks and canoes, the taller and heavier you are especially if north of 200lb it is better to get a kayak or canoe that is longer. They all have a maximum loading weight and with all the fishing gear and coolers and then you on top of that it can quickly add up.

Sea or Freshwater Fishing Kayaks

Freshwater kayak fishing

Which type of Fishing kayak will suit will really depend on your plans for its use. However, if you are planning tight river or long sea journeys there ae some aspects of kayak design to consider.

For the sake of these differences we will leave out the closed deck versions of kayaks and just focus on open deck purpose built fishing kayaks.

Although there are of course differences between river and sea fishing the underlying issues are the same. if you are planning on long trips with the potential of waves and weather you are going to be both more comfortable in a larger, longer boat than a shorter one.

If you take that same boat onto a winding creek you are going to find your self struggling to make corners. For most paddlers the middle ground is going to suit best. Something with length but not the extremes of either option is going to suit most days on the water.

Hobie, Old Town and Perception offer brand name security in a series of 12ft Fishing Kayaks ( and prices of course) . We will highlight the best of the ”allrounders” at the end. but you can check out prices here if you need to.

How Much Does a Fishing Kayak Cost

Well isn’t this the question. They are not cheap, its why we advise buying a second hand fishign kayak first. If you can borrow a friends for a day or two to try one it would be useful as well.

They are priced, decent ones, from about 800 to 4000 USD. The actual price depends on brand, length, features and motorization. A bare bones perception fishing kayak can be picked up for a shade 600 USD, and a fulling kitted out Pro Angler from Hobie is currently upwards of 4000 USD.

If you are looking at Tandem versions then, again depending on brand you can add 1-2000 USD to these prices.

Storage Space / Functionality / Portability of Sea Fishing Kayaks

best saltwater fishing kayak

Functionality of a Sea Fishing Kayak

Do not underestimate the importance of good capacity and storage space in a canoe and kayak. Most are going to hold a decent amount but depending on your fishing preferences it could get over loaded pretty quickly. There are options to maximize this with add ons and equipment but starting from a good range is better.

Kayaks like the very reasonably priced Percetion Pescador Pro are a good medium to high entry level kayak that provides options for storage. However on most you are looking at being able to put a cooler in the bow or stern of the boat and have a tackle box / kit close to you as well.

Good options will include dry wells ( and possible even bait wells) to store valuable phones, car keys and wallets. As a rule we always keep these in a mini dry bad as well ( accidents happen)

There should be places to keep drinks, and items you will need to hand as well as rod holders both for actual fishing and for when you are paddling to and from your spot.

It kind of goes without saying that as prices rise these features become more standard, but as nice as it is to have all the gear the price may not justify it. ( trust me I am trying to justify buying a Hobie tandem for 5000 and just cant do it)

Accessories. Extras and Stability

If you can see yourself fully kitting out the kayak to near expedition level it would be wise to look at the larger boats. Trolling Motors are becoming more common to see, and are rudders, anchor sets and fish finders. For all of these you will need the room on 12ft and over boats.

Newer models have been designed to provide space to fit a lot of these accessories but the lower priced versions you will have some decisions on what to take and to leave off the boat.

It is the add ons that can cause issues with stability ( which lets face it is pretty vital to a boat of any description!) The mroe you add to the kayak the more weight it becoming an issue.

A wider boat, like the Perception Outlaw are stable beasts! however there are better aimed at lakes or inshore waters. You are able to stand on these in flat water, but add waves and your balancing skills may come to be tested. As always you have to consider the conditions yo fish in to decide which kayak is going to perform best.

Sea kayak fishing

Portability of your sea kayak.

I com from a background of surf kayaking and white water, those kayaks we jsut threw on our shoulders and marched off. With Fishing Kayaks, especially sit on top models, that is oh so different.

You may need to consider a kayak trailer if you have likely portages or are taking it from home to the water without a car. (if you are lucky enough to live close to where you fish)

A full loaded fishing Kayak can commonly weigh upwards of 350lb, and that is, for me!, pushing the limits of waht i consider reasonable to pick up and move on my own.

If you are launching from the back of a truck straight into the water, or you store your boat at a marina or canoe club then you can worry less about the weight ( more about the storage costs I guess though) and load her up with anything you like!

In a nutshell, fishing kayaks are heavy and you are really going to need to think about how you are transporting this to and from the water.

Power and Propulsion Systems for Fishing Kayaks

trolling motor for fishing kayaks

This deserves an article on its own, and it will get one but its on an arm length list at the moment so in the meantime lets just cover the basics here to help you choose if you want some automation on your hand powered craft!

Trolling Motors for Fishing Kayaks

We have a few articles on these as an option for kayaks, which are worth reading. You have to be a little careful with both weight of the motor and the thrust it provides. (these are usually designed for much bigger boats.)

However they are great if you are having to do long trips and can propel you along at about 5mph, which is much faster than you can paddle for any length of time. Aquos, Minn Kota and Newport make small versions for less than 150 USD.

Pedal Systems for Fishing Kayaks

Most branded makers of fishing kayaks have models that include pedal power. Basically slightly higher end pedalos really. However craft like the Hobie pro angler are really high end systems (and high prices) and can move the boat faster than paddles and even some trolling motors at around 3.5 to 4.5 mph. It also give the legs a work out, which is rare in kayaking!

It is not really feasible to fit one of these to an existing Kayak although there are ways. If you cant stretch to a Hobie then Perception offer their version for about half the price.

Recommendations

Should You Buy a Used or New Fishing Kayak.

There is certainly a case for buying a used fishing kayak. You are likely to be able to pick up a used model that your budget just couldn’t stretch to with a new model. That discount can be pretty attractive!

There is also no waiting, try ordering a Fishing Kayak from a dealer and see what happens ( unless you are very lucky!) it will be a wait. Sometimes months.

However make sure where possible you give them a good check out, and even better a test paddle. ( to make sure its watertight still. ), if it has paddle systems make sure they are rust free and still working.

It would be better to buy it from a kayak club or fishign club if there are any around.

However if you have the money then you have the piece of mind when buying new. Like with everything there are trade offs to be made. There is too much to cover in this little area so we will cover this in our next article about the pros and cons of buying fishing kayaks new or second hand.

Best Fishing Kayaks

Fishing Canoe
  1. FeelFree Moken 12.5

The Feel Free Moken 12.5 is good for standing and fast to fish in a fresh and saltwater.

Pros

  • Quick release modular Uni-Track system and Easy Seal Hatch
  • It launches nice and easy
  • Length: 9’, width: 42 pounds
  • 195 pounds capacity
Fishing Canoe

2. Hobie Mirage Outback

 

The Hobie Mirage Outback has a stable platform for anglers and fishermen with its great design and comfortable seat.

Pros

  • It allows full power reverse propulsion
  • Length: 12’1’’, width:  33’’
  • It weighs 96 lbs.
  • It has a maximum capacity of 400 lbs.

Conclusion

I’m sure you are all ready to choose the best kayak or canoe for you. I wish this guide helps you a lot. Enjoy fishing!




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