Best Sit On Top Fishing Kayak

by Richard Dravick

April 15, 2019

best sit on top fishing kayak

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 In vs Sit On Top Kayak 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:

  • They have an enclosed seating area/cockpit
  • Most have spray skirts thus keep you dry as you paddle
  • They shelter you from the wind because you sit lower ride
  • They are also narrower and faster
  • The only downside with them is that if flipped they retain a lot of water

Factors to consider when buying a fishing kayak

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:

1. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Kayak

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak review

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.


  • It’s worth the price
  • Lightweight thus fast and easy to move around even by one person
  • It’s very stable for any body types
  • Includes fishing rod holders for convenience when fishing
  • Very stable and fast
  • Great tracking
  • Made of high-quality materials


  • Although the seat is comfortable, it might feel uncomfortable after long periods because it’s not well cushioned. However, you can choose to either upgrade/replace it or add some cushion if you will need to sit on it for several hours.

2. Hobie Pro Angler 12 Fishing Kayak

Hobie Mirage 180 Pro Angler 12 Kayak

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.


  • Reliable and powerful Hobie Mirage Drive
  • Has a broad beam thus very stable
  • Very roomy thus more comfortable and enough storage
  • The seat is comfortable/ Vantage seating system
  • Great built ins: ice chest, hidden tackle boxes and four rod storage
  • Fully customizable and allows various add-ons to better your fishing experience
  • It’s designed to handle various water conditions
  • Allows hands free kayaking


  • Quite expensive, but worth it
  • It might be heavy for some people especially in the first few uses, but you can get someone to help you carry it.

3. Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS - Best Under $500

Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-on-top fishing kayak

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.


  • Great budget priced kayak
  • Tracks well, paddles with ease, and it’s very versatile
  • Very stable, but not enough to allow you fish while standing
  • Has enough storage
  • Comfortable seating area
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Great workmanship for durability


  • As much as the Journey 10 SS is very stable, it cannot offer enough stability for one to fish while standing up.
  • The rear storage can be a hassle to access once on the water, but it’s very secure.
  • It’s also not the best for extended trips, has a low load capacity and it’s not that fast.

4. Lifetime Tamarack 10ft - Best 10ft SOT Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Tamarak Sit-on-top fishing kayak

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.


  • Lightweight fishing kayak
  • Spacious enough for a comfortable fishing experience
  • Very stable thanks to the Rail Chinned Hull
  • Paddle included
  • Gives a great value for the money
  • Has a solid tracking ability


  • As much as it’s stable, it’s not the fastest option
  • The seat needs extra padding to be comfortable for longer trips. However, the padded backrest adds some comfort when on long paddling adventures.
  • Fishing while standing is not a great idea for taller individuals as the stability might not be enough
  • Because of its size, it might not be comfortable enough for taller people

5. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 and Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak

Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Angler Sit On Top Fishing 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.


  • Very stable
  • Plenty of storage
  • They have plenty of fishing features
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Features a rudder for easy turning
  • Comfortable seat
  • Feature hatches with bags


  • The front hatch in either can be tricky to reach once on water, but you can easily reach the back one.

What are the most popular brands?

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.

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Final Thoughts:

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.

About the author 

Richard Dravick  -  I created this site to help people who like myself enjoy kayaking and fishing. Kayaking allows you enjoy all the great themes of nature that are around us everywhere and combining this with fishing can create some of the most memorable times in life.
Please let me know if you have enjoyed these reviews and if you have thoughts on what you would like to see for future reviews so that I can keep the content fresh.

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