Really Confused???

I’m a newbie so here’s my question…I want to get a fishing kayak but unsure about a sink or sot. I guess advantages of both. My main question is how wet do you get in a sot? I’ve had people say get a sot but expect to get wet. I’ve had people say a sink is better if you’re fishing colder water. I will only be fishing calm lakes & the biggest wave would probably be a boat wake. Plan on using it for spring bite which would be around 40+ degrees. Would just throw it in the back of my pickup (Sr10) which with the tailgate down would be 8 ft. Is it just a matter of wearing waders when it’s colder water? Just how wet will I get with a sot in calm water? Thanks

You will get wet
I have a picture of a group of us getting back from paddling a pretty calm river in near zero temperatures. Our boats, spray skirts,and dry suits are covered in a sheet of ice. You will get wet. The purpose of a sit inside kayak and all that equipment was to keep the water off of us. Just the couple of drips that fall on you from each paddle stroke will add up to a lot of water in a while. Sorry but a SOT is not a good idea if it is too cold to tolerate wetness.

Waders are a very bad idea. In my non paddling life I am a trout fisherman so I wear waders a lot. The biggest worry with waders and the biggest killer of river fishermen is falling in. Waders fill with water and turn into anchors. Do not wear them in a situation where you might go overboard.

If you want to use a SOT in cold water consider a dry suit which will likely cost as much as the boat. Remember in a paddle craft you need to dress for immersion. If you are on a boat enough you will eventually swim. Your life expectancy swimming in 40 degree water without protection is not very long.


I agree and disagree
On an SOT, you will get water on you - period. There’s no avoiding it. Some of the seats are low enough that you’re sitting in water but there’s enough boats now that have addressed that issue it’s avoidable.

As far as a SinK, you will get equally wet unless you use a skirt. If you use a skirt, it is possible to stay surprisingly dry. It doesn’t matter. When it comes to cold water paddling you must always plan for an unintentional swim.

On the waders issue, I disagree. I have and use each a “jeans” style of waist high waders, and also chest-high waders. With either pair, I wear a nylon “weight belt” snugly around my middle. Over that, I wear a semi-dry top (the neck is neoprene, otherwise it is a dry top). Over that, I wear my PFD snugly. With this set-up, when I have tested in warm current, I got a small drip of water down my neck and that’s it. My waders did not fill with water in current. It is a bit difficult to swim with wading boots on, but when I wear NRS river shoes instead it is much easier.

I’m also a wading fisherman, and even when wading while fishing, I am careful to wear a wading belt around my waist high waders. If the water is swift or more than knee deep, I also wear a PFD. With this outfit, I have fallen in swift, spring water and gotten enough water down my back to be unpleasant and my pants were moistened but not sopping wet. There was no ‘filling up’ to become an ‘anchor’. While this is a risk, the risk is easily mitigated with a snug wading belt and a snug PFD. If you have a semi-dry or dry top over it, it’s almost completely mitigated.

My suggestion to you is if you get a SOT, then you should get some dry pants (rather than waders) specifically made for paddling. However, if you are a wading fisherman and already have a pair of breathable waders and can take appropriate precaution to keep water from going down them, they’ll work. Dry pants can be purchased from NRS for under $200. On sale (like now) you can find some for around $100. A semi-drytop or drytop combined with it will give you a way to stay safe and can save your life from a dunking in cold water. NRS’ website is I have no affiliation with NRS aside from that of a satisfied customer.

Always, in any condition, wear your PFD and wear it snugly. I do not care how well you swim, nor how calm the water is. Wear your PFD. Three different rescue veterans with roughly 60 years of rescue experience between them have told me that they have never done a body recovery of someone wearing a PFD. It’s possible to drown with PFD on, surely, but 60 years of experience is nothing to sneeze at.

With some sensible and relatively inexpensive (when it is compared to the value of your life) clothing made for cold weather paddling is a far better way to stay safe and dry than SOT versus SinK, in my opinion. The reason is that SOT versus SinK assumes you will not fall out, which is not a prudent assumption.

Finally, in most cases dress for the water temperature and not for the air temperature.

  • Big D

Big D has a good point. If you wear a tight belt at the top of your waders every time you go our then the chanced of them killing you goes down substantially. He is also right that you should take care with your boots not to have too much weight there.


Here’s a video that seems relevant

Note that this is still water on the Chesapeake Bay at Kiptopeke State Park. There is no current there.

Notice how smoothly the guy in the video gets back into his kayak. That comes from practice, not from necessity. If you get a kayak, be sure to practice your safety skills in warm water.

  • Big D

I dont mean to anger anyone but that wader issue is baloney. Unless using heavy rubbers, nothing will happen. Water in waders is neutrally buoyant. Ihave fallen into the channel and swam out in rubber hips.

One last thing
Panic is the largest enemy. Dont panic, you should be fine.

to short?
The biggest problem I see in the kayak business with begginers is they buy kayaks that are to short for their body size and wheight. The reason is because little childrens kayaks are cheapand they dont want to spend much on their first kayak. If a kayak is to short for you then it doeasnt float you either which makes it wet, slow, and unstable. If a kayak is to small it wont track well and be very dificultto paddle in wind. A 200pound man shouldnt consider anything under 12 feet. Always go with a SOT if you are serious about fishing and safety. Doing a reentry from a sit inside takes time and skills a begginer does not have.

A wet sport

– Last Updated: Jul-03-13 5:32 PM EST –

You ultimately will get wet one way or another. If you choose sit-on-top you can get one that rides higher in the water and that will probably spare you most boat wakes. You will get wet from your paddle and most like getting in and out of the boat. You also can get wet when the fish decides to get lively right beside the boat, I have been soaked that way before. If you are heavy like me then you can get soaked by water coming up through the scupper holes. I have actually sticks come through the scupper hole pushing out my plug and sticking me in the back of the leg. When I'm fishing in cold weather I do wear chest waders and that is good because that is another layer of insulation. The best thing to do is plan on getting wet.

Waders and water
Full waders are neutrally buoyant - as long as you don’t try to get OUT of the water. Because then they weigh a flipping ton. They also work just like a drift chute if you try to swim in them, because of all that mass of water inside. It’s hard to get all that weight moving, in other words.

Full waders do kill people. That’s the bottom line.

I stay dry…
I fish several times a week from my SinK. I have a small 10’ kayak that I’ve set up for fishing specifically on calm lakes and slow creeks. I mainly fly fish from it. I have a short spray skirt mounted to the cockpit. I access the lakes via smooth shallow beach areas. I can say with certainty that now that I’ve learned the right procedures for ingress and egress as well as line management that I very very rarely get wet at all. My hands get wet from stripping in line but thats it. I usually wear jeans and sneakers in cooler weather. Ive got getting in and out down to a science where even my feet stay bone dry. It can be done but youll need to figure out what works for you.

ingress / egress with paddle
If you have a dock and the top of your yak is about at the top of it, you can use your paddle as a brace-one hand locks the shaft behind your cockpit the other hand reaches as far up the dock as possible. You stabilize the yak to the dock or slightly elevated shore and slide your but across the shaft and on to the solid surface. I dry exit this way when ever possible from my sit in yaks.

btw, you’d have to have a death wish to be in any boat in waders without the safety belt cinched as high up as you can comfortably stand it. I use them with caution (low wind, low waves, slow rivers) and always with the belt. Always.


cold water fishing
I would not want to sit on top of a kayak in 40 degree water. A boat with a cockpit is much warmer. Dress for immersion in either case.

nailed it
barrell I wish I’d read your post a year ago… it would have saved me a bit of heartache and a new kayak. I made the exact mistake you pointed out is common among beginners like myself. I’ve sorted myself out now with a better setup, hopefully it helps my fishing some some spring.

On the other hand if you flip over and are in the water which style would you prefer. It takes 3 seconds to climb back on thee sit on top. It can take 45 minutes to reenter the cockpit boat. Bottom line here is 40 degrees is too cold for a beginner. Start with you new kayak in the early summer. Practice paddling, launching, and reentry all summer long and maybe youll be ready for cold water buy late fall.

The issue with waders

– Last Updated: Dec-28-13 10:37 PM EST –

People need to realize that all the different kinds of waders out there are the same in name only. The kind of waders worn by the guy in that video posted above are about as dangerous as an extra pair of pants. The kind of waders that initiated the idea that "waders are dangerous" are far too big, heavy (about 12 to 15 pounds!!), restrictive of movement, and over-sized to even consider wearing when in a kayak. In the old days, that was the only kind of waders available. Modern lightweight, form-fitting waders shouldn't present much risk at all, especially with a waist belt.

Oh, and since the OP is mainly thinking about staying dry while sitting in the boat, how about saving one- or two-hundred dollars and just wear rain pants?

Skewed reasoning
The idea that it’s good to be “enclosed and warm” is a kayaker’s idea, not a fishermen’s idea. If you can dress warm enough to fish out of an open boat, the idea that you must be enclosed in a cockpit just to be comfortable seems pretty odd, especially when considering how much more difficult it is to have easy access to your gear, etc. To me, it makes more sense to choose a boat that’s better suited for fishing than to choose one that helps protect you from the weather.

be comfortable but survive discomfort
That is my approach. If I am going fishing in my SIK when it is cold, I do use a skirt but it is a nylon touring type, not a whitewater skirt. If I go over and roll up, I will still have a little water inside. But it will keep paddle drips and most splashes out of the boat. If I am going to venture more than a few feet from shore, then I do dress for full immersion just in case. But mostly I will restrict cold trips to shallow and/or near shore places and carry extra clothes in a dry bag.

"kayaker’s idea"
I somewhat agree with that. I read a similar discussion at another site where someone made the observation that kayakers who take up fishing tend to be in SIKs while fishermen who get a kayak to fish from prefer the SOT. Purely for fishing, the SOT does make more sense to me, even though I am a SIK puppy. But my reasons for referring the SIK are more about running rivers and just being what I am used to than comfort and convenience.

might wanna check out a small & stable
boat with either an electric or gas motor…for early spring w/cold water.