Buying your first kayak can be quite an experience, there are so many models! This article will help you choose between a sit-in and a sit-on-top kayak.
With kayak fishing steadily gaining popularity, companies have fine tuned their kayaks to be catered toward anglers. Although sit on top style kayaks tend to dominate today’s market, long before this style was even thought of, people were fishing from sit-in kayaks.
In this article we’ll look at what makes a good sit-inside fishing kayak, look at various models, and learn some tips and tricks for fishing from one.
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At a Glance: Best Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks
Comparison Table: Best Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks
|Model||Specs||Where To Buy|
Perception Kayaks Sound 9.5
|Size: 9’6” x 28”|
Weight: 38 lbs.
Capacity: 300 lbs.
Old Town Loon 126 Angler
|Size: 12’6” x 31”|
Weight: 60 lbs.
Capacity: 390 lbs.
Pelican Argo 100x Angler Kayak
|Size: 10’ x 28”|
Weight: 36.8 lbs.
Capacity: 275 lbs.
Old Town Vapor 10 Angler
|Size: 10’ x 28.5”|
Weight: 49 lbs.
Capacity: 276 lbs.
Best Sit-Inside Fishing Kayak Reviews
Best Overall: Perception Kayaks Sound 9.5
Length: 9’6” (289.56 cm)
Width: 28” (71.12 cm)
Weight: 38 lbs. (17.24 kg)
Capacity: 300 lbs. (136.08 kg)
Coming in at 9 foot 6 inches long, the Perception Sound 9.5 is the perfect mixture of size and weight. It has ample storage and a wide cockpit to make climbing in and out easy. Weighing in at only 38lbs, it’s also lightweight enough to be carried solo to and from the water.
Like most sit-in kayaks, the Sound 9.5 is designed for quiet backwaters and its tri keel hull provides a paddler with great stability and easy tracking. A small workstation or “dashboard” is located in front of the cockpit and has mounting points for all types of accessories.
If you’ve ever spent an extended period of time sitting in a kayak, you know how important a comfortable seat can be.
The seat in the Sound 9.5 is fully adjustable. Butterfly clips located on the back allow the seat to be adjusted up and down, and straps along the side let the seat move forward or backward. This allows an angler to customize the seat exactly how they wish to optimize comfort and back support.
- Lightweight so it’s a breeze to carry to and from the water
- External stern storage with bungees to easily reach tackle and gear
- Flush mount rod holders behind the seat for easy access
- Ample “dashboard” with mounting points for accessories
- Great value at $539
- No hatches for easy access to storage, any gear in front has to be reached through the cockpit
Best Premium: Old Town Loon 126 Angler
Length: 12’6” (381 cm)
Width: 31” (78.74 cm)
Weight: 60 lbs. (27.22 kg)
Capacity: 390 lbs. (176.9 kg)
Coming in on the larger side, the Old Town Loon 126 Angler boasts a 390 lb weight capacity at only 12 foot 6 inches long. It’s also a touch wider than most sit-in kayaks making it one of the more stable boats on the market. If you’re looking for a sit-in fishing kayak to suit larger anglers, look no further.
Though it is great for calmer, inland waters, the Loon 126 Angler’s larger size means it can handle bigger waters and still track well in rough conditions.
This kayak features Old Town’s new ACS2 seat which is one of the more comfortable seats out there. Extra cushioning on the back and an improved, breathable surface allows for more airflow and water drainage. In addition, the seat adjusts in four different ways to customize backrest height, angle, thigh support and lumbar support.
Finally the removable front work deck is a unique feature. It offers anglers tackle storage and comes with a built-in USB port.
- Longer fishing kayak means it tracks great, suitable for bigger water
- Great weight capacity for more gear or larger anglers
- Rear hatch for safe and easily accessible internal storage for your fishing adventures
- Removable work deck in front of the cockpit to store tackle
- Aside from the work deck, there’s very little room to actually work for it being 12’ 6” long
- A little pricey for what you get at $1400
Best Budget: Pelican Argo 100x Angler Kayak
Length: 10’ (304.8 cm)
Width: 28” (71.12 cm)
Weight: 36.8 lbs. (16.69 kg)
Capacity: 275 lbs. (124.74 kg)
The Pelican Argo 100x Angler Kayak is a fantastic budget kayak for the angler who’s looking to simply grab and go. At only 10 feet long and lightweight, transporting this kayak couldn’t be easier.
Even though this kayak is on the smaller side, I found it surprisingly stable thanks to a twin arched, multi chine hull. The addition of foam blocks within the hull also provides extra floatation and added stability.
I like the fishability of the Pelican Argo 100x Angler, which is impressive given its size. It boasts two flush mounted rod holders as well as a swivel rod holder on the bow. There’s ample storage in the rear tank well and a front hatch in the bow makes for easy access to internal storage.
Although work space might be a little limited in my opinion, this kayak does feature a small work station just in front of the cockpit to make re-rigging and tying much easier. A convenient water bottle holder in front of the seat is also a nice touch which I always appreciate.
- Very lightweight to make transporting a breeze
- Rear tank well and front hatch for internal storage
- Simple design with easy access rod holders
- Great price: At $389 its tough to find a fishing kayak that’s close to this price
- Seat backrest can be adjusted, but not the seat bottom
- The mesh bungee combo in the rear tank well is not an angler’s friend. Think about hooks and mesh.
- Limited weight capacity
Runner Up: Old Town Vapor 10 Angler
Length: 10’ (304.8 cm)
Width: 28.5” (72.39 cm)
Weight: 49 lbs. (22.23 kg)
Capacity: 276 lbs. (125.19 kg)
Another smaller option I want to mention is the Old Town Vapor 10 Angler. At 10 feet long, transporting this boat to and from the water isn’t much of a challenge. Its compact size also means navigating through tight, twisting bodies of water will be much easier.
The thing I like the most about the Vapor 10 Angler is its huge cockpit. This gives you extra work room and makes climbing into and out of the boat a breeze.
Unfortunately, the Vapor doesn’t have Old Town’s new ACS2 seat, which would make this boat even more compelling. That said, it does come with a comfortable and adjustable comfort flex seat.
My favorite features of the Vapor include an anchor trolley system, adjustable foot braces, built in cup holders, molded-in paddle rest, thigh pads, and a stern storage well. I always look for features that not only help with comfort but also make a kayak easier to fish from.
- Big, wide cockpit which allows for extra work room
- Includes an anchor trolley system and built in cup holders
- Relatively small rear well for storage
- High profile means it will catch the wind easily
- Strange design choice for carry handles. Feels like a waste of space for a 10’ kayak
- Limited weight capacity
What is a Sit-In Fishing Kayak?
Unlike your narrow, sleek, sit-inside kayaks with the enclosed cockpit and skirt, modern day sit-inside fishing kayaks are designed with anglers in mind.
Typically they are wider, have more space inside, and boast a larger cockpit than your traditional sit-in kayak. Other features may include molded in rod holders, or even additional dry storage for various fishing gear or a tackle box.
What Features Make a Good Sit-In Fishing Kayak?
There are a few features that set sit-in fishing kayaks apart from your normal sit-inside kayak. These features usually help make fishing easy and are designed more for the act of fishing rather than paddling efficiency.
Stability is one of the most important features to consider when selecting a fishing kayak.
You aren’t simply going to be paddling across a lake. You’re going to be casting, landing fish, and changing tackle quite often. With these extra movements in mind, finding a stable platform to fish from becomes crucial.
An advantage of a sit-inside kayak is that they sit lower in the water than your standard sit on top (that has to use scupper holes). Being lower in the water makes for a much more stable boat.
A fishing kayak in general is wider than a normal kayak, and the sit-inside versions are no exception to that. The extra width makes getting into and out of the kayak easier, and helps add to the stability.
For most sit-in fishing kayaks, you want to stick with a width between 28”-34”. Any narrower and you start to lose valuable internal space, and any wider will make paddling a nightmare.
Length is another important feature to consider when selecting a fishing kayak. Take into consideration the type of water you plan to fish in.
Fishing from a sit-inside kayak is great on slow moving rivers, inland bayous, and twisting creeks. The ability to turn easily comes into play and since tracking isn’t that important when paddling short distances, most of the sit-in fishing kayaks are relatively short.
For this style of fishing kayak I suggest sticking to the 9’-13’ range. Any longer and you’ll begin having a hard time turning the kayak around tight corners.
Another reason to stick with shorter kayaks is the weight involved. Longer kayaks equal more plastic and more plastic equals more weight.
Before purchasing a kayak, really consider the boat weight. Will you be able to get it on and off the car easily? What about a long carry down to the water’s edge?
Luckily for sit-inside kayaks, they weigh far less than your average sit on top. Sit on top kayaks have at least double the amount of plastic because they’re practically a big contained air bubble.
Most of these sit-in fishing kayaks come in under 50lbs which makes hauling them around infinitely easier than a 100+lb sit on top kayak.
A huge advantage to a sit-in over sit on top kayak is weight capacity. Generally speaking a sit-in has a much greater weight capacity compared to length.
This can really come in handy when filling the kayak full of gear. The extra internal storage means that there’s plenty of room for additional gear and even things like camping equipment. A sit on top kayak doesn’t have the luxury of being able to safely store nearly as much gear.
Most sit-in kayaks can hold upwards of 300lbs and are perfect for lots of gear or larger paddlers.
Let’s face it, one of the coolest kayak features is the ability to accessorize your boat exactly the way you want it.
Be it rails for rod holders, fish finders, dry storage for batteries, or even simply extra storage space for a tackle box, accessories can be key in helping make a successful fishing trip.
When choosing a fishing kayak, have a list of accessories that you would like to have. The kayak doesn’t necessarily have to come with them, but at least have the ability to easily add these accessories.
Benefits of a Sit-In Fishing Kayak
Although many would argue that the fishing benefits of a sit on top kayak outweigh those of a sit-inside, there are several benefits that are unique to sit-ins.
Be it the burning sun or a cold, rainy day, a sit-in fishing kayak offers better protection from the elements simply because you actually sit-inside. With your legs out of the way, and many kayaks offering the option of skirt attachments, at least half of your body can be protected at all times.
Weight Capacity vs Overall Weight
The nice thing with a sit-inside kayak is that you can really load them down. Whether it’s gear or a heavier angler, they’re typically made to carry a lot of weight.
Now you may be sitting there reading the specs on a sit-in versus a sit on and notice that they might have a relatively similar weight limit. While that can be true, consider the overall weight of the boat.
Sit on kayaks will always weigh significantly more for the same weight capacity because they need over double the amount of plastic to make them float properly. If you’re trying to fish by yourself and unload a kayak from the car, a 60 lb boat sounds a lot nicer than 120 lbs.
Ample storage space is a feature that grabs the attention of most kayak anglers because let’s face it, we have a lot of gear. Most sit-in style kayaks will have plenty of internal storage space and room for all your fishing gear.
Sit-In Kayak Fishing Tips
Although fishing from a sit-in versus a sit-on kayak is very similar, there are a few things to take into consideration with the sit-in styles.
Consider what you’re going to do with a fish when you actually get it to the boat and land it. Sit-inside styles lack any real deck space. So unless you want to drop a flopping, angry fish with hooks attached to it into your lap, think about a net or small gaff.
For those kayak anglers who like to troll, look into sit-ins that have (or have the option) of a rudder system. Typically these come with adjustable foot braces that are linked to the rudder via cables.
Finally, always carry some sort of bilge with you. Unlike the sit on tops, sit-ins aren’t self bailing. Heavy rain or a few good waves means you might find yourself sitting in a puddle of water.
Absolutely! Long before sit-in kayaks became so popular as a fishing kayak, anglers were using sit-ins. They offer unique benefits for paddlers such as more storage space and protection from the elements.
That depends on what you’re looking for out of a fishing kayak. If stability, storage space, and protection from weather are most important, sit-ins shine. If speed, accessorization, or the option to fish bigger waters are important, stick with the sit ons.
A hybrid sit-in kayak refers to the modern style that mixes features of both sit-ins and sit on top kayaks. These have a larger cockpit design that typically don’t take advantage of a skirt to prevent water coming in. The advantage of this design is more usable space.