Canoes vs. Kayaks?

If you were doing solo touring and light fishing on flat creeks, rivers, and lakes, which would you choose and why?


Brace yourself…
I would recommend you search the archives for this is an age old debate, and has sparked many opinions, and even some heated arguements in the past here. It all comes down to ability, and personal preference really. Although I grew up in a canoe, I am big into kayaking now, but I can definitely see some distinctly great advantages to using a canoe in the areas, and for the tasks you are talking about. It is my belief that getting in and out of a canoe is easier on the rivers, is easier for most portaging, or dragging over the gravel bars, etc…in and along the river. Providing you are properly equipped with dry bags and such it is also easier to access, and keep gear. A canoe will generally hold more gear. The only reason I have a Sea-kayak now instead of a kayak is I paddle in extreme waves, and weather on the ocean. To be honest, if it wasn’t for that, I would still be using my canoe. If you are paddling in an area where there is regularly heavy wind, heavy waves, etc…that would be the only reason I would consider a kayak, and I would strongly recommend a rudder if you do. I’ll avoid the speed issue as to not insight an arguement and merely recommend you use your common-sense to see which is faster.

That being said, my kayak serves me well for all around paddling.I paddle everywhere. Lakes, rivers, oceans, etc…and in all weather, but I will say this. If I was going to paddling only Lakes, and rivers in mostly mild conditions, and fishing even on long tours I’d most likely be using a canoe. Ofcourse that all depends on the model of whichever you choose. Also keep in mind that alot of you proper choice will depend on things such as physical build/condition such as size, age, etc…, pretty much anything that might limit your physical ability.

Trying both is the best solution. Attend a demo, or go find a dealer who will allow you to try them out. You might even consider booking a trip so to use both. All canoes, are not created equal to say the least. There are many here who can help you choose the best canoe for your needs, and I’m sure you can find everything you need to know.

Best of luck in your decision, and assuming you are looking to purchase for the first time welcome to the sport of paddling, and to


No question - a canoe
I am both a canoer and a kayaker and if I were going fishing, (which I used to but don’t any more) on flat calm water I would use a canoe.

The main reason would be the amount of space that is available to keep your fishing tackle, and bring a fish into the boat.

Secondly you are sitting higher, and you will be able to cast farther.

The only way I would use a kayak over the canoe is if I had to paddle a long distance to get to a good fishing spot.



By the way, don’t bring a Bluefish into a kayak cockpit. They leave nasty scars on leg muscles!



The best of Both A Tarpon 160 SOT… or a scupper pro.

Personal Preference
If the creeks, rivers and lakes you planning to fish are located in Kentucky, then there are a few variables to consider:

Mostly solo or tandem?

More time on streams or lakes?

A lot of time on creeks?

Time of year?

As a Buckeye, I buy an annual non-resident KY fishing license and make several trips a year to fish streams for smallmouth. If mostly lake or large river fishing I would prefer the canoe, however for your Bluegrass creeks and small rivers I would rather use a rec yak. A rec yak in the 10’-12’ range has the maneuverability needed for some of the tight turns in your creeks, the low seating allows for easier casts beneath the overhanging trees, the large cockpit makes it easy to hop in and out to wade, and for me is just plain more comfortable to sit in all day and fish. When fishing the pre-spawn in the spring, the streams are usually up a bit and the yak makes it easier to catch the small eddies that hold fish.

I’ve fished from canoes for nearly 40 years and although I’ve paddled WW yaks for over 25 years, I only discovered stream fishing from rec yaks about 5 years ago. Now, probably 80% of my paddling time is spent fishing from rec yaks.

It comes down to personal preference for fishing craft. I fish from my yaks, canoes and raft as the situation dictates and enjoy them all.


Different purposes
If you’re going to go have fun on a float with a buddy or take a kid or a dog or a funny little honey along, a tandem canoe is your best bet.

If you like sitting and having everything at arm’s length, and if you like to go attain upstream to allow yourself the opportunity to take a drift a second, third, etc., time, then a single seat kayak is well suited to you.

If you like paddling from one spot to the next, then getting out and wading the spots, then either a single canoe or a SOT kayak are well suited.

You can trick out any of them just about any way you like. I floated a section with a fellow this year that added outriggers, motor mount/trolling motor, anchor, raised “bass boat” seat, and a large cooler (which doubled as an ottoman) to a tandem canoe and made it into what I started calling his fishing lounge. Comfort was his top priority, and comfort was what he got.

It’s all what you’re into.

  • Big D

I’ve been kayaking for about five years and canoeing for less than five months. One big advantage the canoe has over a kayak (IMHO) is that getting it on the water is much easier. I save a lot of time when I take my canoe to the lake because I can drive a shorter distance to a hilly, rough trail that I would not dream of carrying or wheeling my kayak on. But, can easily carry my canoe on. With my kayak, I have to drive to the other side of the lake to the boat launch. For fishing, you might enjoy being able to put in wherever you wanted (more or less). Also, like someone else said being able to take along a partner or a dog is nice too.

Similar question
I was in your same shoes a few years back. Initially, I was keen on getting a kayak but opted for the canoe and have been very happy with the decision. The logistics of fishing from a kayak seemed a bit daunting to me. Management of fishing gear seems like it would have to be easier in a canoe. I was also intimidated by the keyhole entry of a kayak (a sit on top would correct both of these issues I think). But the best thing about getting a nice little tandem (an Explorer) is the amazing number of people that would have never wanted to go camping or fishing that love going in a canoe.

I use both for lake fishing. The kayak is the choice when the breeze kicks up or it’s raining --with a skirt on, I can stay warm and dry while most other fishermen are looking miserable. The canoe just has too much sail area, although a drift sock makes a huge difference.

But on still days, the canoe just feels better. I paddle kneeling with an improvised saddle, and find that to be a very comfortable way to pursue fish.

Portability is more about weight than size. I find the canoe easier to carry, but that’ll depend on the models you compare.

Consider a SOT
An SOT can be the best of both worlds.

I paddled canoes for many years. I sold off the last one 5-6 years ago, but I paddle the NORCAL Coast and do a lot of surf launches/landings.

Personally, I would be inclined towards a canoe anywhere they are feasible. Just easier to use and more room for fishing.

Buy both if you can…
I started kayak fishing about 10 years ago and started with an Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro which I loved, with a rudder…very important for fishing currents and in wind.

Now I fish out of a solo canoe and sold the SOT and only use my touring kayak when ocean fishing or going out of the surf.

Since you will not be going out of surf and only fishing lakes and rivers then the solo canoe is a wonderful thing. Only reservations are: If going a very long distance in windy conditions a ruddered kayak is great for this. But then again if it’s that windy why go fishing? You would probably fish a creek or river instead of a large lake.

Get a lightweight solo canoe the Vagabond is a great fishing platform.

Having fished and paddled both, to me at my age, 57, the kayak is much more comfortable. Last year I used my 12 foot kayak more than I used my Old Town Pack Canoe in the previous ten years in total.

Advantages to both
I fish out of a solo canoe and a kayak. Depends on the conditions as to which boat I’ll use. If hauling everything including the kitchen sink I take the canoe. It’s nice having a cooler full of ice cold drinks on a blistering hot summer day. Nice to take along a couple extra rods and that big tackle box too. Folding chair for shore breaks? No problem.

But, the kayak is a pretty comfortable ride and I can cover alot of water much quicker and the wind doesn’t effect it much. It’s easier to carry to the put in and the seat has a handy slot that just fits a 12 oz. can.

So everytime I go it’s always canoe or kayak…canoe or kayak. Tough choice, but you win either way.