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Sit-in vs. Sit-on Kayaks: A Fishing Perspective? 2024

Sit-In Vs Sit On Kayak

Sit-In Vs Sit On Kayak

The debate between a sit-in kayak (SIK) and a sit-on-top kayak (SOT) for fishing continues to be a hot topic among anglers. Both kayak styles have unique pros and cons, making it challenging to determine the best option for fishing. To help you make an informed decision, let's look at the critical differences between sit-in vs. sit-on kayaks for fishing.

A sit-in kayak provides more protection from the elements and is an excellent choice for cooler weather or choppy waters. In contrast, sit-on-top kayaks offer superior stability and more room to move around, making them better suited for warm weather and calm waters.

Regarding storage, sit-in kayaks tend to have more space to store gear, while sit-on-top kayaks offer greater accessibility to your bag while on the water. Regarding ease of use, sit-on-top kayaks are generally easier to get in and out of, while sit-in kayaks may require more effort.

The decision between a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak for fishing will depend on various factors, such as the type of fishing you'll be doing, the conditions you'll be fishing in, and your comfort level.

Regarding "sit in vs. sit on the kayak for fishing" or "fishing kayak sit in or on top," the best choice will ultimately depend on your individual needs and preferences.

Fishing Kayak

Fishing Kayak

Let's look at why a kayak is even worth fishing from. We are experiencing the current boom for several reasons, many of which have contributed.

1- Kayak Fishing Is A Cheap Sport.

Kayaks can range in price from $180 to more than $2000. So, a kayak is an excellent alternative if you're tired of fishing from the shore but can't justify buying a fishing kayak.

2- Easier To Maintain 

There is no need to do complicated maintenance on the surface besides washing off any dirt or mud that may have accumulated there. Your kayak can last long if treated well and not thrown around.

3- Strike Hard-To-Reach Spots.

If you want to go somewhere, a kayak will get you there. No matter your kayak fishing style, you can carry it down a river, paddle it in saltwater marshes, cruise in small creeks, or take it offshore, wherever your kayaking adventure takes you.

4- Silent And Deadly: Stealth.

You can sneak up on spooky fish with this. If you paddle silently into an area, you can drift toward the fish without scaring them. It is okay to bang your paddle against the side of the kayak if you are careful not to knock it against the side.

5- Stows Easily

The kayak doesn't occupy as much space as a Jon boat so you can store it almost anywhere. This is because the kayak is lightweight and slender. Sheds, basements, garages, or even back porches are perfect places to keep them, and they are Ideal for those with limited space.

A Sit-In Kayak vs. a Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak: What's The Difference?

Kayak Fishing

Kayak Fishing

One obvious answer to the comparison between (sitting in kayaks vs. sitting on a kayak) is one allows you to sit in a kayak (SIK), and the other will enable you to have a skirt on the outside, which protects your lower body from the water and the sun. You are exposed to the elements because the SOT, or sit-on-top kayak, has no shell outside you.

The SIK would be extremely useful during cooler and windier parts of the year, and the extra protection of the hull will keep you warm during the day. Additionally, you can rest the cockpit on your shoulder, making it easier to carry than its counterparts.

The SDKs, or sit-in kayaks, have the potential to sink if something goes wrong and the kayak flips. As a result, you've lost your kayak and all of your gear.

Getting in and out of the SOT is much easier; you can even stand on most of them and cast.

As well as ample storage space, SIK has an area directly behind and in front of the paddler that can hold either a cooler or a fishing bag.

Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks

Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks

Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks designed with a sit-on-top (SOT) style are increasingly popular among anglers. These kayaks are known for their ease of use and versatility, making them a top choice for fishing enthusiasts.

Some key benefits of using a sit-on-top fishing kayak include the following:

    Convenient for warm weather: With a sit-on-top kayak, anglers can paddle without worrying about filling the kayak with water.Self-bailing design: The scupper holes in a sit-on-top kayak allow for water to drain off the deck, making them capable of self-bailing.Quick to learn: The learning curve for safety and competency in a sit-on-top kayak is shorter than other kayak types.Easy to enter and exit: Compared to sit-in kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks are much easier to enter and exit, making them an excellent option for anglers who need to cool off, avoid obstacles, or wade fish.Increased stability: Many fishing sit-on-top kayaks are designed with a broader and more stable base, making them an excellent option for anglers who value peace.Option to stand while fishing: Some sit-on-top fishing kayaks are wide enough to allow anglers to stand, although wider kayaks tend to move more slowly than their narrower counterparts.Wide range of options: The market for sit-on-top kayaks is driven by consumer demand, providing anglers with a wide range of options.Ample storage space: Sit-on-top fishing kayaks typically have much storage space for gear, electronics, and other essentials, making it easy for anglers to access their equipment.Cost savings: Many sit-on-top fishing kayaks come standard with fishing gear, saving anglers money compared to purchasing fishing accessories separately.

Sit-on-top kayaks for fishing provide anglers with ease of use, versatility, stability, and ample storage space, making them a top choice for fishing enthusiasts. Whether a beginner or an experienced angler, a fishing sit-on-top kayak is an excellent investment for your next fishing trip.

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks have some significant cons to consider before making a purchase. Firstly, sit-on-top kayaks are known for being a wet ride. While wet in warm weather is not always negative, drenched in cold temperatures can be dangerous and potentially lead to hypothermia. In these cases, investing in a dry suit may be necessary to stay warm.

Another downside to sit-on-top kayaks is that they expose paddlers to weather conditions and water temperatures to a greater extent than sit-in kayaks. If the air or water temperature is cold, it is essential to wear a dry suit as it will trap heat inside and keep you warm. In addition, windy conditions can make sit-on-top kayaks more challenging to steer than other types of kayaks, so it may be a good idea to bring an anchor or anchor stake to help in these conditions.

The center of balance in sit-on-top kayaks is higher than in sit-in kayaks of the same width, making them more prone to flipping. However, wider kayaks can compensate for this balance difference, which means they are heavier. Sit-on-top kayaks are typically heavier than sit-in kayaks, so investing in a kayak cart from Sea to Summit may be necessary to transport the overland for any significant distance.

Related Kayak Types, Best fishing kayak for the money

Sit-In Fishing Kayaks

Sit-In Fishing Kayaks

Sit-In Fishing Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks are the conventional type of kayaks that most people imagine when they think of a kayak. They have a cockpit where you can enter and control the vessel. The regions of the country that experience colder temperatures are the most avid users of sit-in kayaks. The cockpit of these kayaks can be sealed off with an optional kayak skirt, which wraps around the paddler and extends over the cockpit's opening. This helps to keep water out of the kayak.

Regarding pros, sit-in kayaks offer incredible speed, control, and maneuverability, allowing you to move faster. The design of these boats places less strain on the paddler's body, making them easier to maneuver even during extended fishing trips. Additionally, sit-in kayaks weigh less than sit-on-top kayaks, making them easier to transport and attach to your vehicle's kayak carrier. They are also designed to be carried on the shoulder, making them easier to transport.

Sit-in kayaks have a lower wind exposure compared to sit-on-top kayaks, reducing the amount of area exposed to the air. Sitting in the cockpit of a sit-in kayak also decreases exposure to unfavorable weather conditions and water temperatures. Using a kayak skirt will further limit your exposure to the elements.

Sit-in kayaks offer a warmer ride, making them ideal for fishing in cooler weather. Using a kayak skirt will help trap your body heat inside the cockpit, keeping you even more generous and reducing the need for a bilge pump. This makes sit-in kayaks an excellent choice for anglers who prefer fishing in cooler weather and want a kayak that can be used in a broader range of conditions throughout the year.

Finally, sit-in kayaks provide more waterproof storage space compared to sit-on-top kayaks.

Related Top Fishing Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks, a more traditional kayak, offer a different experience than sit-on-top kayaks. With a cockpit that you can enter and control the kayak from, sit-in kayaks are more commonly used in regions with colder temperatures. These kayaks can also be sealed off with an optional skirt that wraps around the paddler and extends over the cockpit opening to keep water out.

However, specific challenges come with using sit-in kayaks. Firstly, you are positioned at a lower angle than a sit-on-top kayak, which can be challenging for some anglers. Additionally, sit-in kayaks require more advanced skills, such as evacuating and reentering the water in case of capsizing.

Getting in and out of a sit-in kayak can be difficult, and if you're not using a kayak skirt, a bilge pump is necessary to remove the water that will inevitably enter the cockpit. The lack of ventilation for the lower half can also make it hot and stuffy, especially in warm weather. Regarding storage, fishing gear has less space, which can also be difficult to access while in motion.

Finally, the decrease in demand for sit-in fishing kayaks has reduced the number of pre-built options available to anglers.

Related Best river fishing kayaks

What To Look For In Fishing Kayaks?

kayak fishing

kayak fishing

It's essential to understand the differences between sit-on-top kayaks and sit-in kayaks, as each type has pros and cons.

A sit-on-top kayak is an excellent option for those who enjoy fishing in warm weather. It allows for easy access and the possibility of getting wet without worrying about water filling the kayak. Additionally, the learning curve for using a sit-on-top kayak is shorter, and they are typically more stable.

On the other hand, sit-in kayaks are more suitable for those who prefer fishing in cooler weather. They provide better speed, control, maneuverability, and more waterproof storage space. However, they are typically more challenging to get in and out of and can get hot and stuffy in warm weather.

Ultimately, it's essential to consider your specific needs and preferences when deciding between a sit-on-top or sit-in fishing kayak. The amount of gear you plan to bring, the conditions you will be fishing, and your comfort level are all important factors to remember.

Equipment Storage

Regarding storage space, sit-on-top (SOT) and sit-in kayaks (SIK) offer different options. SOTs often have designated storage spaces in the front or back of the kayak, making it easy for anglers to access their gear while fishing. The stability of a SOT allows anglers to quickly turn around and grab what they need without worrying about tipping the kayak over.

On the other hand, SIKs typically have two storage areas, one behind the angler and another behind the seat. The specific storage options can vary based on the model, but one is typically used for items that need to stay dry, while the other is designed for a tackle box or smaller items. The elastic banding in the latter storage space helps keep things secure and within reach.

Stability For Lifetime Kayaks



They allow the angler to stand up and better view the water, making it ideal for fly and spin-cast fishing. In the event of a flip, SOTs can be easily rolled back, and the water drains quickly through the scupper holes, allowing you to return to fishing immediately. On the other hand, sit-in kayaks (SIKs) are more maneuverable and controllable when paddling, allowing anglers to cover a lot of water quickly. However, they may not have the stability for casting and standing and can pose a problem if they flip over, especially in moving water. Climbing back into a flipped SIK can be more challenging than returning to a SOT. Before taking a SIK out, practicing getting back into it in a controlled environment is recommended.

Related two people sit in the fishing kayak

3- Comfort Inside

kayak fishing

kayak fishing

A SIK might be better if you want to be protected from elements like wind and rain. The enclosed cockpit provides a barrier against the elements, which can be especially helpful on colder days. Additionally, a SIK is a way to go if you want a drier ride. The kayak's design helps keep water out, which can make a big difference on rainy days.

Regarding weight and portability, it's important to note that SIKs are typically lighter and easier to carry than SOTs. So, if you plan on transporting your kayak by yourself, a SIK might be a better option.

Ultimately, the choice between a SIK and a SOT comes down to personal preference and the type of fishing you plan on doing. Both types of kayaks have advantages and disadvantages, so it's essential to weigh your options and choose the one best suited to your needs and style of fishing.

Related Closed Kayaks

Sit-In Kayaks: The Best Choice For Kayak Fishing

When considering a fishing kayak, weighing the pros and cons of Sit-In Kayaks (SIK) and Sit-On-Top Kayaks (SOT) is essential. While both types have their benefits, many anglers consider the SOT the superior fishing option.

One of the main reasons for this is the stability of the SOT. Its design, similar to that of a surfboard, provides a more stable platform for casting and fishing. Additionally, the gear storage in an SOT is more convenient, as the front or back of the kayak is typically designated for storage. This allows anglers to quickly turn around and access their tackle box or gear bag.

Another advantage of the SOT is that it is unsinkable, with scupper holes that allow water to drain instantly. This means the angler won't lose all their gear even if the kayak flips over.

The ease of accessing gear and hopping in and out of the kayak is another factor that makes SOTs a popular choice among anglers. The design of the SOT allows for a more excellent range of movements and positions, providing anglers with more freedom and comfort.

In comparison, SIKs offer more control and maneuverability when paddling but are limited in stability and space. Sitting in a SIK means that the angler is essentially confined to one position for the duration of the trip, and getting back into the kayak if it flips over can be challenging.




Kayak anglers will have different needs, but the SOT seems to improve over the SIK in all categories.

It could be argued that an SIK is advantageous during the cooler months as it provides extra protection from the elements like wind and water. Fortunately, a few additional layers, as well as waterproof pants, can help fix this problem.

It's much more important than you think to be able to exit your kayak and stretch your legs while fishing. It is incredibly tiring and uncomfortable to spend a whole day in a SIK without having the option of getting out.

In addition, since there is extra space for gear storage, you can choose exactly how you want to use it. Similarly, you can choose what to include in the SIK, but your options must be narrowed with such a limited area.

SOTs often provide space for a crate filled with gear. You can attach several kayak and fishing accessories, from rod holders to sonar. Alternatively, you can use the other open area to store more oversized items, such as a cooler or live well.

The Perception Pescador Pro makes an excellent SOT kayak.

Our Overall Review
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There are two storage areas, rod holders, and a removable mesh seat to help keep you cool during those hot summer days.

You can easily find SOTs in Perception. Doing so lets you find a kayak with the features you need and, of course, fits within your budget.

Benefits of Sit-Inside Kayak When Fishing

The benefits of SIK include the following:

  • SIK has better maneuverability and control
  • SIK is much quicker
  • It has protection against elements

Sit-inside kayaks are faster and more maneuverable than their counterparts, so if you only have time for an hour of fishing, SIK will allow you to retrieve all the hot spots efficiently.

Due to their maneuverability, these are ideal for narrow, windy, and whitewater rivers.

Realistically, you shouldn't use a SIK for fishing if you're going through rapids fast enough to need it.

Cold and windy weather makes it crucial to protect anglers from the elements. Due to the hull's extra protection, this kayak can be your best option if you are fishing in these conditions.

kayak fishing

kayak fishing

Keep in mind, though, that kayaking is an aquatic sport. Be prepared to purchase a skirt for the hull if you do not want to get wet. This will then roughly halve your gear storage capacity, and you might be better served by purchasing a different kind of kayak at that point.

Paddling Buyer's Guide

Here is a trusted paddling buyer's guide: Sit-on-top kayaks, in particular, often call for a more extended stroke length than sit-in kayaks do. Most sit-on-top kayaks place you above the water compared to their sit-in counterparts. If you have a sit-on-top kayak, it is recommended that you "size up" your paddle so that it is more comfortable to use.


The great thing is that many outdoor companies make gear and electronics specifically for kayak fishing. Buying an expensive bass or clunky Jon boat is no longer necessary just because you want sonar and a trolling motor.

You also feel more in tune with what's happening because you are close to the water. Fish rise to the surface when insects settle on the surface. It also gives you access to areas most anglers could not reach by boat or on foot.

This would be an ideal kayak for someone who is short on time and needs to access areas of the lake or river faster or to navigate whitewater.

However, how much faster will you get to your favorite spot on the lake? What are your chances of encountering whitewater? Consider these factors when buying.

kayak fishing

kayak fishing

Since kayaking is a water sport, you might be better off getting a boat than a sit-inside kayak if you don't want to get wet.

A SOT kayak would be better if you want a kayak to fish from. This kayak does everything you need with excellent gear storage and stability.

Shop around and consider what is most important to you before selecting your fishing SOT.

Would you like more space for gear storage?

Is it more important to you to have a wider model for better stability?

You are guaranteed to find a kayak model within your budget if you look around and ask questions.


Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better sit-in or sit-on-top kayak?

You should choose a sit-in kayak when the water is cold or rough, or if you don't want to get wet. I would recommend a sit-on-top kayak to anyone who is a beginner, is going on vacation, and just wants to have fun. The sit-in kayak is an excellent choice for touring, surfing, and paddling long distances. A sit-on kayak is good for learning, cooling off, getting in and out of a kayak, and getting in and out of the water.

Are sit on top kayaks more stable than sit-in?

It is proven that a sit-inside (open-cockpit) kayak is more stable than a sit-on-top kayak if all other dimensions are equal. The open-cockpit kayak has a lower seating position in the boat, compared to the closed-cockpit kayak. The center of gravity (aka rear-end) of your body is at or very close to the water's surface.

What type of kayak is the most stable?

This is an image result of a Pontoon hull, which is the most stable kayak hull type and provides primary stability. For their excellent stability on calm water, sit-on-top recreational kayaks and fishing kayaks allow for excellent maneuverability on pontoon hulls.

Can sit on top kayaks sink?

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks are nearly impossible to sink under normal circumstances, fortunately. Sitting on top of your sit-on-top kayak and disregarding the weight limit is the most common way to cause your vessel to sink. If you float your kayak for a short period of time, it will stay afloat, but you will not be able to ride it effectively. It should never go below the surface of the water.

Are sit on top kayaks good for Rivers?

For anglers, the sit on top approach is an incredibly stable, storage-friendly river fishing kayak. In fact, choosing the right boat for fishing or hunting is more straightforward than you might imagine, especially since the choices of kayaks available for storage and stealth are so impressive.

Are open or closed kayak better?

There are a few more steps to self-recovery than with a sit-on-top, but recreational models are far easier to get out of with their open cockpits than a touring kayak with a more enclosed cockpit. In addition to being more stable and less prone to tipping, you also have a lower center of gravity that translates to more efficient paddling.

Updated on 10/22/2023
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail 👋 Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott