sit on or sit in?

would you reccomend a sit on or a sit in kayak for still water bass fishing?What are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

Yak fishing
Sit on - all the way. A good stable sit-on will allow you to stand when you want. That’s essential for flipping into cover, fly fishing, and other tactics. All kayaks designed expressly for fishing are sit-ons, to the best of my knowledge.

The apex of that pile is the Hobie Pro Angler, but there are other kinds if you don’t mind using a paddle when you could be holding a rod. I wanted a kayak exclusively for fishing, and after a lot of research bought a PA-14. No regrets at all.

If you’ll just be fishing in warm…
weather, a SOT.

But if you’ll be fishing in cold or cool spring or fall weather, I would get a sit in with a good size cockpit.

Jack L

I’ve done both…
Issues for me included the following:

  • hooks - closed cockpit kayaks and barbed hooks seem to have a natural affinity for nylon straps; most open boats have more easily avoided straps
  • still vs. moving water - in a river, it is simply easier to do a lot of the things you may need to do on an open boat, including the transition from fishing to paddling
  • open ocean is where a closed boat has advantages, especially on the edges of a kelp forest where it is really easy to “anchor” yourself to the kelp; you do need a way to stow the rod safely (I use pvc elbow joints and bungee cords - I attach the elbow to the boat with the cords and jam the rod handle into the pipe - works amazingly well)
  • many open boats have easy solutions and more options for holding the rod and tying down gear
  • lures vs. bait - if you change lures or if you have to replace bait often, the open boat has a distinct advantage; in a closed boat you pretty much have to design a surface in front of you for cutting bait, holding the knife, etc.
  • people talk about the stability of open boats a lot, but I’ve not had a problem with this in the closed cockpit; sure, you probably won’t be standing up, but aiming or controlling a cast isn’t any harder while sitting with a good sidearm cast (unless the lure finds a nice nylon strap to grab on to ): )


article in Cal Kayaker
The new issue of California Kayaker Magazine (readable online for free at has an article on boat types that may be worth a read.

In general, kayak fisherman tend toward SOTs. More ability to move around on the boat and access gear all over the boat seems to be the reason. But, you are more exposed to elements with a SOT )and in general, your butt will always be wet), so if you are in cold areas, you may want to consider a SINK as a way to stay warm (or spend more money on appropriate clothing).

Why not a canoe?
Certain people here get pretty perturbed when a potential solution that wasn’t asked about gets mentioned, but as a person who fishes from a solo canoe, I never can imagine why someone fishing “quiet water” would choose to use any kind of kayak instead. The only reason I can think of is that with a solo canoe, you actually need to learn how to paddle reasonably well (and you need to enjoy paddling to make that happen) to avoid forever being stuck within the “high-frustration” portion of the learning curve when fishing, whereas anyone can make a rec kayak or basic SOT go where they want it to on quiet water without much practice.

The big advantage of a canoe is that if you can kneel, you are much higher so you can see better and cast with a greater variety of motions (including better options for snapping your lure back under overhanging branches and into other tight spots). Also, when kneeling you can twist your upper body to face a broader range of directions, and the range of directions you can comfortably point your fishing rod is in turn amplified that much more. Try sitting on a flat pillow on your living room floor with your legs straight out in front of you, fishing rod in hand, and see how big an arc is available for casting or fighting fish. Then get up on your knees and do the same thing. There’s no comparison between the two methods. Even if you don’t kneel, sitting on the seat of a canoe gets you well up off the water, and there’s plenty of room to pivot your seating position to the right and left. In any kayak, all you can do is position yourself facing exactly toward the front.

Perhaps a minor issue for most people, but a big one if you like hard-to-get-to waters, is that canoes are lighter than kayaks (especially lighter than SOTs) and even not considering the weight difference they are MUCH easier to carry.

I wouldn’t go to the trouble of explaining this, but canoes are definitely “forgotten boats” today, in spite of the fact that there’re a greater variety of fine solo models available nowadays than there ever were back when canoes were still king.

I’d go with a SOT
There are SOT’s that have cup holder galore and seats that put Lazy Boy recliners to shame. If the fish aren’t biting, you can just kick back and snooze in total comfort!

Forgotten Boats???
Try telling that to Mrs. Deuce. She never lets me forget how many there are in the back yard. I agree that they’re great for fishing. I’ve had some great times doing that very thing.

Too funny!
That’s a good one. Of course you knew what I meant. It seems that a person almost has to become a canoe enthusiast before becoming aware that a solo paddler need not feel like a dwarf inside some big, ungainly craft like the ones we knew in Boy Scouts or summer camp.

I love soloing my sixteen foot Explorer. In fact, felt kinda funny last time there was someone in the bow. I ordered some outfitting goodies today for my recently acquired Sunburst. Can’t wait to take some trips in that one.

There are
a few SINK fishing kayaks, but the majority are definitely SOTs.

Stability and storage and reach
You’re fishing, not racing. You want stability, ability to hold much gear at times, and layout that allows you to reach any of your gear anytime you need it without difficulty.

As much as I prefer Sit Insides for general kayaking, those criteria scream SOT to me.