Recreational vs Angler Kayaks?

Hi everyone! I’m a newbie and have a question I hope someone can help me with. My husband and I are wanting to get 2 SOT kayaks suitable for beginners. We have rented several times in the Nashville area, fell in love with the sport, and want to be able to go out whenever we want. We live in walking distance of a lake and several creeks and within 20 minutes of several class 1 rivers, so those will be our main areas. The problem I’m having while shopping is most of the stores around here carry angler kayaks. What is the difference (if any) between a recreational SOT and an anger SOT? No one in the stores I’ve been to has seemed knowledgeable enough to answer this question. Thanks in advance for any advice!

My observation is that angler kayaks
are built like tanks and are just as heavy.They are made to carry a lot of gear and tend to be short, like 12’.

There aren’t many just fun to paddle, reasonably light weight SOT.

Hurricane Skimmers and RTM Disco are the only ones I know of until you get into surf skis like the Epic V8 or V5.

Angler kayaks are built as fishing platforms (as you’d expect) with stability taking preference over performance and lots of angler specific features like rod holders, bait wells, places designed to store a cooler, etc.

I may be different
I have owned several sit-in kayaks for recreational purposes and in my case, they were all uncomfortable. My butt and legs would always cramp up and I had not opportunity to ever stand up. So, I sold them and am about to get a fishing kayak that I will only occasionally use to go fishing. It is the Eddyline C-135 that weighs only 69 pounds. They have other sit-on-tops that are much less expensive if this one is out of your budget. What interested me is the comfortable seating, ease to get in and out, great stability, and plenty of room to easily stand in. Plus, it is a beautiful kayak in my opinion. Eddyline is highly regarded as an easy to paddle kayak as well. I suggest that you add this manufacturer to your list to ponder.

From what I can see:
The fishing kayaks have all kinds of rod holders and some of them are so wide and stable that you can easily stand in them.

I even saw one that had a “live well”

They are big business now!

Jack L

My experience
I started paddling a SOT last summer and ran into the same things you are. I use a SOT because of a bad knee that doesn’t bend anymore. I use my kayak for day and multi-day paddling. I don’t use it to fish. Finding the right SOT that handles well and doesn’t have all the fishing bells and whistles can be a challenge. The Ocean Kayak Tetra series might be a good fit for you. The folks at ACK (Austin Canoe &Kayak) were very helpful with helping me get a kayak that suited my needs.

1st poster nailed it
when they said that fishing kayaks are built like tanks. This is true. They are usually wide, stable platforms that allow anglers to stand up in without fear of rolling and made to hold a lot of gear. They are also usually quite heavy. And they were also right in that many of them do not track and perform nearly as well as a recreational yak. It really comes down to what percentage of the time you’ll use it for fishing vs. paddling.

What you can do is find a comfortable, stable recreational yak and mount some rod holders yourself so you can have the best of both worlds. There are plenty of YouTube videos that will show you how to do this and is usually not too complicate for people who are used to DIY.

I’ve got a couple of SOT and fishing yak reviews on my blog that might be helpful for you in figuring all this out:

Do some looking
If I were you, I would not rule out a sink (sit inside kayak). There are plenty of recreational kayaks that are very easy to get in and out of, are extremely stable and can be fished from. These kayaks will be far better to paddle in general than most dedicated fishing yaks.

Look around on the Internet and see what Current Designs, Jackson, Stellar, Eddyline, Wilderness Systems, Perception, and others have to offer.

You will have a much better paddling experience in boats that are 14’, or longer. Whatever you do, do not settle for a cheap beginner paddle. I highly recommend a Carlisle Expedition–a great paddle for the money, but shop around for this too. The same goes for life jackets. Do not buy life jackets that are not specifically made for paddling. Resign yourselves to pfd’s that are probably going to be pretty close to $80 each.

Good choices
Since you want a recreational SOT and not a fishing kayak, here are a few to look at. All are under $1000 and not geared towards anglers.

Ocean Kayak Tetra 10 & 12

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 & 120

The WS Pungo is also a good option for a sit inside with a large cockpit. I tried out one of these and it was nice, but wouldn’t work with my bad knee.

My SOT is a Necky Vector 13. Very nice SOT that I use for 2-4 night camping. Unfortunately they discontinued this model. I’m in the market for a 14 foot SOT now. Finding one that’s more of a touring SOT and not a fishing craft isn’t easy.

Cheapo fishing kayaks
are simply rec kayaks to which have been added several rod holders, different color plastic, and they cost $100+ more than the base rec model.

True fishing kayaks are longer, wider, heavier, have adjustable height seats, and cost a lot more $$$. Most are so wide that they are stable enough to stand up & fish.