Kayak fishing, why only sit-on-top boats

I live in the Pacific Northwest. It’s cold and it’s raining most of the time. There are, however, a lot of cool kayaking opportunities.

Is it a matter of convenience, or is there something more to sit-on-top kayaks and fishing than is apparent to me? How many people use traditional kayaks for fishing? Is it really a dumb idea?

overall Sot’s are just more versatile than SIS’s.The most important thing to remember is that you MUST dress for possible imersion regardless of the water/air temps or yak design.A big advantage with a SOT is if you should flip you can simply right the yak and climb back on easily.With a SIS you must first pump out the water before you can try to get back in.This can be very difficult and time consuming if not impossible under certain conditions.Alot of folks fish from rec style SIS’s.I did for a few years but ive come to prefer SOT’s overall for a number of reasons.Good luck!

a couple reasons
One - The tankwell on SOTs is a perfect thing for having at-the-ready items in reach (tools, tackle, cooler, bait, etc). These tankwells hold a milkcrate or modified cooler quite well. Also, most SOTs have a center console and footwells where you can put lures, cut bait, and other fishing stuff without having to pop a day hatch all the time. SINKs don’t have tankwells or footwells.

Two - Fighting fish, and especially LANDING large fish can get dicey in a kayak. SOTs, being more stable, give the angler more leverage when the fish dives under the kayak at boatside, which is pretty normal behavior for most fish.

BUT, many cold water fishermen have adapted their SINKs to fish from. It IS doable - it requires some forethought. i.e., where do you put a flopping, slimy 15 pound fish in a SINK? Day hatch? Cockpit? Google search for kayak fishing and ask your question and find a SINKer who fishes. Or maybe one will respond here.

For a high performance comp SOT designed for rough water fishing, check out Kaskazi Kayaks


Heritage Kayaks

When you have a moment, check out Heritage Kayak’s “Marquesa” and “Redfish” models. This SOT boat may be the answer to your needs. The cockpit is large and deep, the boat is dry and comes with great scupperplugs. Carry a Pack towel to wipe up drips from your paddle and you are good to go.

Given the cockpit layout, the Marquesa is fast becoming a favorite of fly anglers here in Florida. A plus, the kayak is stable enough to easily stand in for sight casting. I have paddled one for a very windy afternoon and found that it was quite comfortable and my fanny stayed plenty dry.

For more on the Marquesa, you might take a look at http://outdoorsbest.zeroforum.com/zerothread?id=327591

Hope this helps,

Chrystal Murray


Sit-on-top for sure …

– Last Updated: Apr-05-05 8:15 AM EST –

Bob …

Lots of choices in the sit-on-top arena these days, (of course I'll point you over to my house at www.emotionkayaks.com), but I can only echo what others have said here. For ease of rigging, access to gear, and ability to recover from an unscheduled departure from the craft, sit-on-tops are the way to go.

To be contrary
I used sit on tops for quite a while to fish out of. Predominantly Scupper Pro’s and Tarpon 160’s. Nice boats, but they weren’t what I wanted after all. I switched to a sit inside and have been pretty happy with it. Why, you ask? Drier ride, gear stays dry, more comfortable, faster, like way faster than an SOT, more stable, no annoying leaks around the scupper holes. (Out of 4 SOT’s I owned 2 had leaks around the scupper holes). Did I mention that it’s a drier ride? Did I tell you it was faster? (read easier to paddle) Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with sit on tops and they do offer that safety cushion of easy re-entry. But, you asked if anyone uses a traditional kayak. I do and I like it. Though to be honest these days most of my fishing is freshwater and I use a canoe…but that’s a whole other story.

SIK’s have their place …
I can definitely attest to the speed and dryness of SIKs. When Emotion came out with the Edge 9.8 cockpit kayak, I got one and honestly didn’t think I’d use it that much for fishing. The same day I got it we also got a blast of cold windy weather (cold for central Florida anyway). Of course, I still had to go get that boat wet. Well, the boat got wet, but I didn’t - that was very nice. The next weekend, I paddled it on a much better day. Went fishing with some buddies who were all in T120’s. I had no problem keeping up with them in my 9’ 8" boat. So, I’m sure the longer SIKs would smoke a T120 or comparable craft. Now, I keep the Edge 9.8 on my truck at all times. I’ve been known to take it out at lunch, only taking off my shoes when I get in. SOT’s are still my primary fishing kayaks, but SIKs certainly have their place.

Good insights. Thank you.

Considering the input, here’s where my head is at the moment:

If I want a great fishing boat I should go for SOT boat.

If I want a great open water boat I should go for a SIK.

If those are the two poles, I can put a slider on the line and decide on which side I want to compromise.

I can also consider buying two boats (wife will find that an undesirable solution)

The problem, as usual, is guessing what I’ll really end up using it for.

Sit in yaks only
I started kayak fishing approx. 3 years ago. Currently own 3 sit in side kayaks. No problem fishing from any of them. Would like to try a sit on top to see if there is much difference or advantage. Currently looking for a interesting sot to purchase. My present boats are a Old Town Otter, Old Town Castine, QCC 400 XL. Keep your options open. Try as many as possible before buying.

started out with sit on top
then the need for speed and distance became an issue as well as a dry ride in winter. So, I bought a touring kayak sit in.

Pro’s: great for distance paddling to remote fishing site while remaining warm and dry. My method: Rod holder can be mounted at arms length in front of you with rod pointing directly behind you for trolling. Once fish is caught the sprayskirt acts like a table where you bring fish on to it to remove hook and put into a mesh bag for dinner later or return to water. Once I catch a fish I put it into a mesh bag and fish is held down by deck bungie. When a place comes up to get out of boat I put fish in soft cooler kept in back hatch. Pliers are kept next to rod holder in sheath and so is boga grip. A very small tackle box is kept in an under deck bag. A lanyard around neck (yakgear.com)is used to keep clippers, etc handy. The spray skirt has a mesh pocket for leader material and tailors tape to measure fish.

But my ultimate favorite boat to fish from in summer and winter is a solo canoe. Mine is a vagabond solo by wenonah rigged for fishing. I paddle it with a kayak paddle. But that is only used for day trips where I don’t cover lot of water.

Pros and cons,
First let me say that there are advantages and disadvantages to all things.

One of the main advantages to a SOT is stability, since the majority of SOT’s have a wide beam. Another advantage is if you lack bracing and rolling skills after a capsize you get back “on” the SOT, where by with a SINK you have to get back “in” usually requiring a bit more balance. For an “entry level kayaker” used for fishing or not, an SOT has a higher degree of stability.

The advantages to a SINK say 16ft x 24in beam or longer/narrower is the ability to cover more water than in an SOT per the same amount of energy expenditure. Another advantage per most of the general SINK’s with bulkheads is dry storage. Dry storage allows for a fair amount of space for camping gear for days and weeks camping. Make note that the disadvantage of less stability in a SINK stops becoming an issue with added paddling skill level advancement. Good bracing and/or rolling skills can have capsizing become a non-issue.

In most cases in regards to fishing from a kayak I suspect most SINK fisher men and ladies graduated from a more stable kayak or canoe before moving into a SINK.

Not SOT only
I fish from both an SOT and a SinK. The primary advantage for river fishing from a SOT is the ease of dismounting and wading, then remounting. The primary advantage for big water fishing from an SOT is the ease of self-rescue. In both cases, the primary advantage is getting on the boat.

There are lots of trips where that advantage just isn’t terribly meaningful and a SinK’s advantages of additional back support (for those of us with a bit of age), larger interior storage capacity, and ease of outfitting are more appropriate.

You pay your money and you take your choice.

  • Big D

I believe that most of the SOT vs

– Last Updated: May-08-05 10:36 AM EST –

SIK differences disappear, if you review the Kazkasi SOT's. The SKUA is quite fast with low energy expenditure. The Pelican is a little slower, probably a little more versatile for shallow water angling. Since they are available in Kevlar/carbon, they will probably be 8-12 lbs. lighter than US fishing yaks of similar length. Back support? If you have ever been in a Deluxe Surf to Summit seat, than you won't have that issue. You should Google the Ft. Lauderdale Yakfkishing Club Website and review the SuperYaks comparison for more relevant info. Big-D, I'm 75, with a lumbar laminectomy, so weight and back support are serious issues for me. We have Redfish Kayaks seats in our SIKs. They are also awesome.Have been in the Skua, great body fit, 36 lbs. in kevlar/carbon. We ordered two Skuas last week. Shipped the rod holder mounts to S. A. for mine. Wife getting a purple Skua! Will post a review in a few months.

I was faced with the same problem, SOT or SIK. I chose the SIK. I believe it all depends on where you live and type of fishing you do MOST of the time. I live in Michigan and fish mostly lakes, rivers and creeks. Given our climate and fishing conditions I feel the SIK was my best choice if I am only going to own one yak. I chose a rec yak with a large cockpit, stability and good speed, the OT Loon 138, and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for the comment
I’ve got a Surf to Summit Fisherman seat on my SOT. It’s basically the Deluxe seat with two rod holders and a small bag attached to the back of the seat. I hear what you’re saying, but that’s just not as much support as a firm plastic seat with a lumbar pump in it like the Dagger Blackwater series has.

I’m actually considering replacing the seat with a back-band for support only where I need it. Thanks for the reference on that other seat. I’d never heard of it.

The number one most comfortable kayak I’ve ever sat in (upon?) was a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 - an SOT - so my comments aren’t intended to be universal but far more general.

  • Big D

SIK best for fishing… IMO
I’ve owned 1 SOT yak that was recommended to me when I started kayak fishing 5 years ago. I haven’t used it since buying a SIK (Pungo 120). It is more stable, DRY storage, plenty of room for all of my gear for a weekend trip. I mainly catch and release, but whenever I keep the fish, it is just attached to a stringer and towed along. I have a fishfinder, 2 rods, tackle, and frosty beverages all within reach. I don’t know why everyone says it’s so hard to enter it? I can easily stand up, dive out, and climb back in easily in 30 ft of water, without any water entering except a few drops from my wet swim suit. Try standing up on a SOT! good luck!

SOT standing - no problem …
Granted, it’s something that takes a few tries to master, but most SOT fishing kayaks these days are designed to accomodate the standing paddle angler. It all boils down to individual preference …

any boat will do
I was chatting with a whitewater buddy of mine who told me his last boating was taking his creek boat, out in the ocean, to go fishing!

That just goes to show you that anything that floats and will allow a rod holder to be mounted constitutes a fishing vessel. :slight_smile:

Rod holder?
Sheesh… Any idea how many MEGATONS of fish them old cajuns have caught from their pirogues?

You can still build one for under $200.