canoe or kayak for fishing?

Im hoping that you guys can steer me in the right direction.First im 57 and not quite as slim as I use to be, my weight is 235. I was an avid canoer but its been 35 yrs. since ive been in one. I miss the quietness of paddling and want to get back to doing alot of fishing. I have never been in a kayak and canoes have changed alot over the years. Lakes and slow moving water will be my main areas of use, no ocean or whitewater.If you can recommend a type of kayak I should look at as well as any canoe that would make my fishing easier and more fun it would really help. Thanks

SOT kayak or a solo canoe
If you’re going to be out by yourself, I’d recommend an SOT (sit-on-top) recreational kayak. They are easy to paddle. They feel tippy at first, but literally within half an hour to forty-five minutes, you’ll be comfortable with that feeling. They actually take quite a lot to tip them over. They are also very easy to learn to self-rescue if you do flip.

There are a number of models, but get one that is pedigreed and are used frequently by fishermen. Some models to consider are:

Wilderness Systems Tarpon

Malibu X

Ocean Kayak has several models (Drifter, Navigator are the ones I remember best, but also Malibu II which I have)

There are lots and lots and lots of other models. I’d recommend checking out one of the many fishing from kayak books available. I can personally recommend “My Life in a Kayak” by Jeff Little and “Kayakfishing: The Revolution” by Ken Dauber (I think).

Good luck. It’s a wonderful way to get out and reduce stress.

Also, something to consider if you’re 57 and having some arthritis in your shoulders, or maybe some loss of strength that many of us over 40 are experiencing, weight could be a significant factor for you. While it doesn’t make any difference on mild water while drift fishing, it does make a huge difference getting the kayak on and off your transport vehicle and between your vehicle to the water’s edge.

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Thanks Big D
Nice to find someone that knows how to help without an ego or negitive comments. Will look into those books. Was wondering about a pack canoe. Any thoughts?

Mohawk Solo 14
I have never paddled a SOT but I fished out of an Old Town Dirigo all last summer, found it to be too confining for my liking. I was interested in a Pack but ended up purchasing a Mohawk Solo 14. I have had it on the water four times now and I absolutely love it!! The people at Mohawk are wonderful to work with. Check them out:

Just my 2 cents

canoe or kayak for fishing ??

Kayak vs Canoe
I have both and fish out of both. I like the canoe for its interior spaciousness and that you can just throw stuff in. For me, the kayaks are easier to paddle. I have both sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks that I fish out of, but for fishing I would definitely recommend a SOT.

Several manufacturers (eg. Wilderness, Native, Heritage) have crossovers or hybrids - deep-hulled SOTs. To some extent they try to bridge that gap between canoes and kayaks, and are good fishing platforms.

Test paddle if you can, and in the end just pick what you like. You’ll know it when you see/feel it.

Finally, if you’ll be going alone, make sure you take weight (not yours, the boat) into consideration. The difficulty in wrestling a boat on/off a roof rack can sometimes affect you enthusium for going out in the first place.


There’s a good reason why the Old Town Pack is still in production. It’s a good boat and well suited to fishing.

I haven’t paddled the Mohawk mentioned above, but like Mohawk canoes in general.

It’s a matter of personal preference, really. I like both canoes and kayaks. I find kayaks more intimate to the water than canoes, and that’s a good bit of why I’m out fishing. Canoes are just so incredibly utilitarian. Comfort, good handling, lots of room for stuff.

Each boat has drawbacks, each advantages. I like the SOTs for fishing. I like canoes for sunning myself on the river while floating aimlessly. I’ve got a humongous canoe for family trips. I put a motor on it and motor upstream to prevent all that work, then float back down. Work is not why I go fishing. :slight_smile:

My suggestion is to find a boat of either kind that is pedigreed to the kind of water you mean to fish. For instance, I fish in mild to swift rivers and streams with up to class 3 rapids. I usually fish from a Dagger Approach, which is an aggressively lines sit-in recreational kayak. It’s good for that kind of water, but with a rounded hull that’s only 10’ long would be a disaster if I had to do long open water crossings.

Matching the boat to the water and the intended purpose is what it’s all about - and of course personal preference makes a big difference. I know some paddlers who wouldn’t be caught dead in a recreational kayak, and others who disdain solo canoes. But really, for what you describe either one is well suited to the job. If you go kayak, I do highly recommend the SOT rather than a sit-in for ease of use, comfort (you can move around a lot more on an SOT), and for the ease of recovery if you take a spill. There are sit-ins that are well suited for what you describe too, but there’s a little more planning and learning involved in being able to self-rescue. They do tend to be lighter and less expensive than similar SOT’s, which is a ‘pro.’

  • Big D

Canoe vs kayak
Frosty - you’re a few years older than me, but not by much. I don’t like sitting in just one position for very long (it makes me stiff and sore), and that is one reason why I prefer a canoe. The only real disadvantage I notice to a kayak for fishing is the canoe’s bigger exposure to wind. If you don’t have a lot of wind where you will fish - or if you don’t like fishing in the wind anyway - you might want to familiarize yourself with what is available in canoes these days before committing to a kayak.

I don’t know much about kayak prices, but you can get into a pretty nice used canoe that weighs about 60lbs or under for much less than $1000 if you look hard enough. You could get a used Old Town Penobscot and a whole lot of gear for less than that.

Agree on moving around
That’s one of the things I like about SOTs. There’s a good bit of opportunity to change seating position. Cross legs, uncross, turn sideways and dangle feet in the water like fishing from a dock, etc. They’re also easy to beach and re-enter. Beach it on a shoals, put your feet on either side of the boat, stand up. That’s it. To leave again, straddle it and sit down. That simple. You do have more movement WITHIN the boat in a canoe, but not a lot more. SOTs allow for a good bit of movement and changing seating position. A wide canoe allows you to stand and fish if that’s important to you. I usually use a canoe when I fly fish for that reason. I prefer to fly cast when standing, and I haven’t got the balance to do that in a kayak but in my humongous canoe, I can do it fairly easily.

  • Big D

And consider the Manta Ray 14 over the Tarpon. At 255#, the Tarpons is pretty wet at your legs.


Canoe, definitely
Now I don’t say that out of any overall preference for canoes. I got started fishing from paddlecraft in an Ocean Kayak Frenzy, used it both on the bay side and the Gulf side of Galveston Island. I still use the Frenzy on the Gulf side, would not even think of using a canoe in surf or on the open Gulf. But I lost a two-man kayak in Hurricane Ike, and since my family had grown by 1, I bought a 3 man canoe to replace it, a lot easier to manage a toddler in. Turns out, it is a lot easier to manage bay fishing in. More room to move around in, more room to store gear, and when you land a fish, you don’t have to plop it in your lap (especially nice when the flounder you thought you were fighting turns out to be a stingray :wink: ). I use a kayak paddle when paddling it by myself.

Canoe or kayak… depends on where you paddle and what you want to do. I am 61, 238 lbs. Getting into my Loon 120 (48lbs I think)is a chore but ok. The problem is the seat and the time spent in it. I and my buds put additional pads & padding in them: My friends have other types of small 10 and 12 ’ yaks. We paddle lakes and mild rivers, and fish. I much prefer my OT Disco 119 (43 lbs), using a double paddle when windy or for speed, single blade for fun (also drier). I almost bought an OT Penobscot 16RX (58lbs)yesterday, to paddle solo. Although heavier, not too bad, (I have a trailer) should be more stable and faster. I really like to paddle when snowing, and need the room to carry dry clothes, etc.

Native ULTIMATE 14.5 SOLO This is a very comfortable hybrid that paddles well.

WS Pungo 140 and the Heritage Redfish 14 are boats I own and recommend. Most of the larger SOT’s are poor paddlers (great fishing platforms)…something to consider. Demo some boats before you buy.

I am 5’7. 240 pounds and 50+ years old. I have a canoe and a kayak, and fish out of both of them. It depends on what kind of fishing you are going to do, and where.

If you need to go through fast water and heavy currents in rivers to get to your fishing spots, or just plan to fly fish, and only need to carry a fly rod and fishing vest, then a kayak would be perfect for you (providing you are in good enough shape to be able to get in and out of one).

If you plan on jug fishing, running trotlines, bait fishing, bass fishing, catfishing, bowfishing, camping, etc…, then you probably need a canoe. I actually have the best of both worlds. My main boat is a Mad River Adventure 16 ‘Yakanoe’. It’s sort of a hybrid boat combining the best features of canoes and kayaks. It is faster than a canoe, more roomy than a kayak, and I even put on a pair of retractable stablizers on it so I can stand up for bowfishing. If I could only have 1 boat, this would be it.

Good Luck, and happy fishing.

Like a lot here I
also have both. I have a Wilderness Pungo and it is a great kayak to fish out of in Rivers and lakes. I also have a Old Towne Hunter Royalex canoe that I enjoy when I want to stay dry. In warm summer weather the Pungo is hard to beat. I have yet to get a SOT but may one day if I get a good deal on a used one. Picked up the old towne for $175.00. Not bad for a mint royalex canoe.

If you’re drawn to an OT Pack I’d say try one out somewhere. It’ll feel tippy for a few minutes but you’ll soon learn just how forgiving they are. I have one and love how light it is…very nimble on the water…carries plenty of stuff. I prefer an ottertail paddle but i do keep a kayak paddle for when I’m in the middle if a windy lake. Overall, I absolutely love mine. I troll with my flyrod with it, very nice boat to fish and explore from.

I have owned a few We-no-nah canoes and they were all good for fishing/tripping.

I fished from a Pungo 120 for two years and it was an excellent platform except after a few hours I felt a little cramped. I also was often left wanting for easier gear access. It does however have an excellent seat that offers much adjustment and I’ve sat as long as 6 hours at a time. I’m now fishing from a Mad River Synergy and couldn’t be happier. I’ve got lots of room and getting at my gear is much easier. If I was smaller (I’m 6’1" 245lbs) I probably would have kept my Pungo but for a guy my size the Synergy is just about perfect

Here is my Pungo rigged…

Here is my Synergy…

The type of water…
you fish has a lot to do with it. You said “lakes and slow moving water”, but there is a world of difference between lakes and SMALLER slow moving streams. If you are fishing lakes and wide, slow rivers, the criteria are similar. But if you are fishing narrow, twisty little streams, you need something quite different from fishing lakes.

The others have noted some of the differences between kayaks and canoes. The biggest drawback, maybe the ONLY drawback, to a good solo canoe is the wind, which as has been noted, affects the higher sides of the canoe more than the low sides of yaks. This can be a major consideration on lakes and wide, slow rivers.

On the other hand, a solo canoe that is matched to your waters can do anything a kayak can do, and does a lot of things better when it comes to fishing. The most notable of these things are that it can carry a LOT more gear, and carry it where it is a lot handier to reach when you need it. I fish mainly smaller, fast but not whitewater, streams for smallmouth bass, and I carry five fishing rods and two different tackle containers full of lures. I doubt that anyone can carry that amount of tackle in a kayak.

Another notable advantage when fishing is that you can sit up higher in the canoe, which I find easier both for seeing fish-holding structure and for casting and working some lures.

Third advantage is that it’s easier to stow spare fishing rods where the tips are not hanging outside the watercraft to get hung on brush. Again this is mainly an advantage in smaller waters with a lot of brush.

Fourth advantage is that there are a lot of solo canoes that are lighter in weight than most kayaks.

But if you don’t mind limiting your tackle carrying capacity, and if wind is going to be a factor, the SOT yak might still be your best choice.

i did paddle a ffew yak.

all kayaks are good…but not for every type off water and every paddlers.

i am 6 feet…about 230pound.

my 1 choice would be a ultimate 14.5 solo…wish i have and its not becasue i have one its becau most people that try it love it…its an hybrid best off both world…tons off space very stabile more then most.

and you not sher bet a kayak and a canoe…that way you get both in the same boat.

it all depend what you want to do wit it.

if you think going camping…or bring a friend or wife or your dog etc…canoes is the way to go…

and this you can do wit a 14,5 or the 16 ultimate to.

sit on tops…great for fishing…sit sideway feet in the water etc…a bit colder in cold weater and more wet.

but a bit more safety if you turn over you can go back on. …but have ato do a bit off practice for this in hot water hhaha.

andd like some said…tarpon 140…malibu…cobras…etc all good my 2 cents

good luck wit your purchase.