Another newby big guy fishing kayak

Another newbie big guy fishing kayak

Similiar to another post I’m looking for a fishing kayak. I’ve been

paddling already on and off for about 10 years. I’m just a recreational

flat water paddler, and very mild rivers.

I have a loon 138 for solo paddling and a Loon 160 for when I go out with

my son.

For specs, I’m 5’5" tall and weight 290, so I’m a big dude.

I’ve fished out of both of my kayaks. What I’ve found with what I have is


The loon 138 is nice, and I can fit my tackle box and rod in front of me

and one laying behind the seat, but if I were to keep any fish, I have no

room to put the fish anywhere. I could hang them on a stringer while

fishing, but what to do with them when paddling back to the launch area. I

haven’t come up with anything for that. Also being my size it’s not like

I’m limber or small enough to just turn around in the seat to grab

something behind me. I can reach my arm back and grab a rod laying behind

the seat, but I can’t turn enough to actually be able to see it.

The loon 160 fished great when there were two people in the boat. I was in

the back seat and kept my tackle, bucket and rod right in front of me.

the 160 is nice is that it has room, but I don’t enjoy paddling it solo,

it’s a big heavy boat and doesn’t seem to track very straight with a solo


So it started me down the path of thinking about looking for a used sit on

top kayak for fishing. It would be a definite safety improvement as if you

dump out in a loon in the middle of a lake, there’s no getting back in it.

and with my size, even if the loon was not full of water, it would still be

hard for me to get into.

When I first bought kayaks we tried some SOT’s but didn’t like them as most

that we rented had no seat or back support and we thought that’s the way

they all were. Also didn’t care for sitting in a puddle of water the whole

time, we though that was normal also.

But now I see nice seats available and plugs for the drain holes. I’ve

started thinking SOT again.

I don’t really have the funds for a brand new kayak, so anyone reccomend

something for a big guy to set up for fishing that won’t break the bank,

Used is fine also. I’m in no hurry to buy and have plenty of time to look

around for something.



What kind of fishing & water?
If you are fishing in calm, flat rivers or in calm bays and such, then I’d recommend that you get a Tarpon 140 as a first choice, though there are many similar kayaks from Native, Ocean Kayak, Malibu, etc.

If you are fishing faster flowing rivers, then I’d recommend a Tarpon 120, again with the recognition that there are many other 12’ SOTs out there suitable to the job.

If you are fishing where there is surf, such as an unprotected bay or with ocean launches, then wait for someone else to chime in as I don’t know anything about that kind of fishing.

As far as sitting in a puddle, don’t worry about it. Really. SOTs are better for kayak fishing for a number of reasons, some of which include safety. That Loon 138 you have (which is a good boat, by the way) will hold an awful lot of water if you ever flip. You’re going to have to pump that out, then get way up over the side to get back into the cockpit without flipping it back over. If you haven’t practiced it in controlled conditions, you’ll never be able to do it in open water. But an SOT you don’t have to pump and you don’t have to get over the cockpit. You just get on it, reseat yourself, and paddle. If you’re not fit (which it seems you are not from your description of yourself), an SOT is a much, much safer boat for you, even if it requires ‘sitting in a puddle’.

  • Big D

Most sit on tops are coming with seats now, they use to be an additional purchase. If you rented one from somewhere it’s a good chance they just gave you a cheap setup. I see it all too often where I paddle a lot when a group comes out and the rental company drops them off a handful of 10’ sit on tops with no seats.

As far as being wet in a sit on top, kayak fishing is a wet sport so get use to it. It is possible to find kayaks that don’t hold water in the footwells though. I currently use the Ocean Kayak Trident 13 and it’s a “dry ride”. The Manta ray series was the same way. My old Tarpon 140 held about 2" of water in the footwells even when I paddled it without gear.

At 5’5" and 290 you’ll need a kayak with a lot of capacity to keep water from standing in it. But you need to try them out on the water first. For example the Ocean Kayak Drifter and Ocean Kayak Big Game both hold 450lbs and 550lbs respectively. While the Drifter has one of the highest capacities it is also known as the “SwampA$$” due to the amount of water it holds. The Big Game is completely dry.

I could keep on an on about water in the kayak but it’s something you just need to realize is unavoidable. At some point during your day you will get wet. Most of my fishing is done sitting side saddle on my Trident so when I pull my legs in water runs down my pant leg into the seat.

You’re on the right path so far though, ditch the sit inside and get a good sit on top.

Manta Ray 14
Much drier than the Tarpon 14 in my experience.

Tarpon tracks straighter, but almost to a fault IMO.


Ride 135
I fish regularly with a guy who goes 275 and he has a Wilderness Ride 135. It seems to do the job for him although with it’s wider hull and pontoon style bottom, it’s a little harder to maneuver than some.

I like that suggestion!
WS The Ride 135 is a nice boat well suited to a fair number of different fishing conditions. It is heavy and a bit hard to turn, but not the barge you’d expect speed wise and definitely has initial stability enough for just about anyone to fish from it.

When it comes to fishing, I think it’s hard to have too much initial stability because paddlers are so often distracted from the sorts of things that make having initial stability to spare convenient to have. I do think that “tracking” is vastly over-rated for most mild-water kinds of fishing.

  • Big D

sit on top fishing
Hi, I fish the OK Drifter nice and wide pretty dry, great stability. It’s kind of slow in the wind but tracks ok, goes good on flat days not much glide. I use mine strickly for offshore (Atlantic off NJ) fishing. Paddling through the surf and back again. I have no trouble getting in and out, but…coming back in with a 4’ surf behind you, you better know what you’re doing and there’s nothing better then good storage and lots of research and practice. On a flat water surface I think you’d be surprised how stable this yak can be and because it’s now an older model they can be had cheap. Good luck in your search.

big guy fishing yaks
There are 3 or 4 “big guy” yaks that are always mentioned…

  1. OK Big Game
  2. Malibu X Factor
  3. Cobra F&D
  4. WS ride 135

    I have an X-factor, when it came out, it was widely touted as the most stable yak made & I can tell you that I go a little over 3 bills & carry at least 50# of stuff with me. On flat water, it stays very dry with the majority of water coming from paddle drips.

    A whole bunch of folks are raving about the R135 lately so it is definately worth test paddling.

    The biggest key is to paddle a few different boats before you buy.

Two more ideas
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160. The Tarpon 140 was mentioned but not this one which is two feet more capacity for stuff and two feet faster than the 140.

Another great idea that I used in the past was to set up a canoe for rowing. It is very easy to get to the stuff. Canoes hold a lot and they row much faster than they paddle solo.

I can give you a canoe rowing link if you send me an email.