What is a sit-on-top fishing kayak? With traditional sit-in kayaks, you sit inside the kayak, but the sit on top fishing Kayaks feature a molded-in depression on top of the kayak where you will sit. Simply put, you won’t be in an enclosed space.
Most of the sit on top (SOT) fishing kayaks are made of tough molded plastic, but you will also come across some made of fiberglass which are more expensive. Sit on top kayaks are made for a variety of uses including those designed for fishing, touring, surfing, scuba diving and many others. Let's look at the best sit on top kayaks for fishing.
Sit on top kayaks, just like sit inside kayaks come as singles or doubles (tandem) so you can select the best one for your needs whether you are looking for a single person kayak or two person kayak. Again, they are available as inflatables or hard shelled kayaks so you can choose one based on your preferences. The top of these kayaks is the deck, the bottom the hull, the front is called the bow while the back is referred to as the stern; just as with boats.
The SOT kayaks are user-friendly because they are very comfortable especially for people with long legs, larger body types, and those with limited flexibility. They are also easy to paddle and to get in and out of.
SOT kayaks are also much easier for self-rescuing as they have an open deck so you are very unlikely to be trapped in them if they tip over. This might not be so easy with an enclosed deck or sit in kayak. The sit on top kayaks are not enclosed so you won’t feel confined in them.
SOT fishing kayaks are wider than sit inside kayaks making them more stable. The only downside to this is that they are slower so it will take you longer to get to your favorite fishing hole. This is not, however, to say that there are no fast SOT kayaks. Some models are very quick, but not as quick as sit inside kayaks.
You are not limited to the type of water that you can use your SOT kayak on. They can be used in various types of water including lakes, canals, salt water and rivers.
There are, however, some features that are only in a sit in fishing kayak. A sit in fishing kayak is better at preventing water from reaching the paddler. They have a spray skirt so you don’t get a wet ride as it is the case with a SOT. Also, with a SOT, you get no protection from the wind but the good thing is that they are self-bailing as they have scupper holes to allow the water to drain through.
Sit in Kayaks:
Where will you be paddling? At the beach or a sheltered lake? You have to consider this because of the wind. The sit inside fishing kayak will at least shield your lower body from the winds thus feels a little warmer if you are out in cooler weather. However, the sit on top kayak offers no shielding from the wind.
How will the water be? Warm or cold? Remember that the sit on top fishing kayaks are not enclosed and so you will be wet while paddling. However, a sit inside fishing kayak keeps you dry throughout (as long as the water is not rough) so if you are afraid that the water will be too cold for you they are the best option.
How Fast Do You Want To Go? for a kayak to be fast, it has to be narrow. However, speed is a matter of preference and different models will have different speeds. Also, keep in mind that a wider kayak will be slower, but more stable.
The Kayak’s Length: the length of your kayak will determine how fast it can go and also how stable it will be. Longer and narrower kayaks travel faster, and wider types are slower, but more stable. In your search you will notice that most sit-on-top fishing kayaks are wider and this is why they are often referred to as recreational kayaks as they are slower and more stable.
The seat: you need a comfortable seat especially for long fishing trips. Ensure that the seat is well cushioned and the backrest should be comfortable and adjustable as well.
Other factors: storage, durability, ease of getting in and out, weight, stability, etc.
And now let's take a closer look at the top 5 best sit on top fishing kayaks on the market:
This is a very sleek and fast sit-on-top fishing kayak. It is also very sturdy so even heavier people will be comfortable using it. The Ocean Prowler is 13’4’ long and 28” wide with a weight capacity of 325 lbs. It is also smooth and has plenty of storage space so you can easily store and also access your gear. Its paddle holders work perfectly well and it also has fantastic built-in rod holders. You will like the seat because it is well made and comfortable. You can actually sit on it for a long time without any discomfort.
Additionally, the Ocean Kayak Prowler, it’s designed to drain the water quickly for a comfortable fishing environment. The built-in foot rests are not adjustable, but they are very comfortable. The carrying handles are sturdy and comfortable making transport easy.
The Prowler is well built and suitable for everyday use; you won’t have to worry about rocks or scratches. You can actually use it in any type of water whether they are small or large rivers, ponds, lakes, or the ocean. It is also very easy to transport thanks to its lightweight and strong handles. With proper care and maintenance, this kayak can be used for very many years.
The Hobie Pro Angler 12 is on of the best fishing kayaks that you can buy. The most impressive part about the Hobie the quality of workmanship. It looks and feels strong, its very stable and you won’t have to worry about having a paddle in the way while fishing. The Hobie Pro weighs 98 lbs. empty weight, and 120 lbs. when fully rigged. The Hobie is 12’ long and 36” wide with a weight capacity of 500 lbs. The Hobies lightweight means that you can easily lift it to the top of your car without any help. Another benefit of the Hobie is that everything is within arms-reach making it fully functional for both fishing and sports.
The most important feature about this kayak is the Mirage Drive. It’s very fast and effortless at cruising speed. You use your legs, not hands, to propel it forward and this is because it features fully adjustable pedals that help propel the fins making a criss-cross motion. If you love a kayak that leaves your hands free as you maneuver to cast, this is the ideal kayak for you. The seat is adjustable to two different heights. It also has great storage for your fishing needs and will keep your gear dry during any bad weather. It might seem expensive compared to other models, but it’s worth every dollar.
You will also like the H bar system which to many is a great plus compared to other models. If you like to stand when fishing, this is the right kayak for you as you can do so even when the wind is howling. And, it only takes seconds to anchor or cast. If you want the best sit-on-top fishing kayak experience, you can not go wrong with the Hobie Pro. It is fully customizable and you can have various add-ons to get the best fishing experience, thanks to the H-rail system. You can use it for casual paddling, but it’s specifically designed to meet the needs of serious fishermen in almost any water condition.
Sun Dolphin is mostly known for their great sit-in fishing kayaks, but they also have several sit-on models and the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is the smallest at 10” in length and 30” width and weighting just 44 lbs. It’s quite compact, but offers a 250 lbs. capacity which is enough for most fishermen. However, because of its size, 10”, anyone taller than 6” might find it uncomfortable especially if they plan to be in it for a long time. But, you can get the next model which is the 12 SS. Anyone who is less than 6ft. tall will find it very comfortable.
For its size, this kayak has decent tracking and it has every feature that you will need for a great fishing experience. They include two flush mount rod holders, a swivel rod holder, a large and comfortable seating area and great thigh protective pads that come in handy when going on longer trips. It also has a paddle holder and adjustable foot braces for easy fishing. The storage area is enough for all the necessary fishing gear though accessing the very secure rear storage area can be tricky.
The only thing to be cautious about after buying this fishing kayak is the scupper holes. There have been some isolated complaints from people who have bought and complained that the holes lett in a lot of water instead of helping to drain it out, which is a common problem with most budget kayaks. However, you can correct or prevent this by resealing the screws and buy some scupper plugs to have a better fishing experience. Overall, this is a great fishing kayak and a good choice for a first fishing kayak purchase.
The Lifetime Tamarack 10 ft. Angler Fishing Kayak is a very stable with big rear and front storage hatches. The Tamarack is 10’ long and 3” wide with a weight capacity of 275 lbs. It’s also a great choice if you are on a budget because despite the affordable price it’s made of high quality materials for durability. Again, it’s from a reputable company when it comes to kayaks and their 5-year warranty is pretty good.
When you look at the construction and design, the first thing that you will notice is the well-designed Hull that gives the kayak great stability while enabling it to track well. And, it features some stability chine rails that keeps smaller people comfortable when they fish while standing. The storage is also enough for everything that you will need while out there fishing and also has hatches where you can store various smaller items including phones, lures, etc. It also has three rod holders and this makes it a perfect fishing kayak. It also comes with a paddle and this is a huge bonus for the price. It also features side and front bungees that come in handy when you need to hold your paddle in place.
It’s a lightweight kayak at 56 lbs. so carrying it is super easy which is advantageous for solo paddlers. Generally, the kayak is comfortable, but you might need to add some padding on the seat as some people don’t find it very comfortable for longer trips. Again, it has a pair of 5” well grooves to keep your feet comfortable when in the kayak.
These two sit-on-top fishing kayaks, the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 and the Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak, have so much in common that the only major difference is their size. And, for the price they are probably the best deal that you will come across. If you love to fish while standing on your kayak, these two offer enough stability for that. The only thing that you should be aware of before purchasing is that they both take more effort than normal kayaks to get them moving, but that is the only downside. You will also find the rudder helpful when you want to turn your kayak quickly.
They both have great front hatches that allow you to store several rods down inside. You also get a fish pod which is easy to buckle and unbuckle. The Sea Ghost 110 weighs 62-pounds while measuring 11-foot and the Sea Ghost 130 weighs 74-pounds while measuring 13-foot. As such, they are both lightweight and perfect as 1-person SOT fishing kayaks. They also have enough storage for your fishing gear and other accessories.
Again, the seat is very comfortable. In fact, it’s better than most more expensive models. If you go for long fishing trips, this seat will provide the needed comfort. You will also find the gear tracks on both very helpful, but you have to be careful with the scupper plugs because they can come out easily. Also, the kayaks have tackle storages on their sides which are helpful for storing stuff like fish grips or any other needed gear. They also have flush mount rod holders that are convenient and easy to reach. They also have a back hatch and a tank well. They are great kayaks for just anyone who is looking for a SOT fishing kayaks.
The most popular sit-on-top fishing kayak brands include: Hobie, Ocean Kayak, Vibe Kayaks, Sun Dolphin, and Lifetime. These companies make a variety of kayak models including sit in models and two person tandem kayaks.
Fishing can be adventurous, fun, and enjoyable, and the right equipment really helps from the right fishing tackle to the right fishing kayak. The first fishing item to consider to reach out of the way and/shallow fishing holes should be a fishing kayak. The two major types are the sit-on-top and sit in kayak. We have highlighted the major differences between the two and also reviewed the best sit on top fishing kayaks to help make your search easier. We have also listed the most popular fishing kayak brands to help you know where to begin your search.