Sit On Vs Sit In Kayak For Fishing: Which Should You Choose?

sit on kayak to fishing

Kayak fishing has surged in popularity across the country in recent years. The combination of a good rod and the ability to sneak into new fishing grounds that larger fishing vessels struggle makes a productive and satisfactory excursion. 

While the decision to jump into this irresistible pastime is easy to make, you’re going to face a dilemma at once – deciding between sit-on vs sit-in kayak for fishing. So, which one is better?

sit on vs sit in kayak fishing

Sit-On Vs Sit-In Kayak For Fishing: Similarities & Differences


There are some similarities in design between sit-on and sit-in kayaks. They both have a deck (the top of the boat), hull (the bottom of the boat).  Their fronts are called the bow, and the backs are stern. 

You can often see deck lines or bungee cords in X, XX, II, or III patterns to secure the paddle during a paddle float re-entry. In addition, there might be a stern rudder at the stern of either sit-in kayaks (SIKs) or sit-on kayaks (SOTs) that you can control by foot pedals to turn the boat in the desired direction.

Both types have seats on the deck and foot support such as footwells or foot paddles. Foot paddles are especially useful for long fishing excursions. Top-of-the-line kayaks are also equipped with a built-in backrest for lumbar support without overloading the boat, which is highly appreciated if you’re paddling for long hours.


The main distinction between SIKs and SOTs is the presence of a cockpit in the SIKs. This closed compartment is where the anglers climb to sit inside the hull with their legs placed under the deck. Sitting in this position means that the paddlers are at or below the water level. 

In contrast, the seat and footwells are all positioned on the actual deck of SOTs so that the anglers will sit slightly above the water level and their center of gravity is higher as a result. This nature of SOTs makes them easier to flip, and, to compensate, kayak manufacturers typically make these boats wider than SIKs of the same length. 

Besides, the rim around the SIKs allows you to attach a spray skirt to cover the cockpit opening. Its primary function is to keep the water from splashing onto the deck and casting on your legs while using the paddle. 

kayak sit in

Unfortunately, paddling with SOTs means you won’t have anything to shield your body from the riffle or splashed water. In other words, it’s hard to stay dry with this kayak style. 

As a result, SIKs are preferable for angling in cold weather or chilly bodies of water. SOTs, on the other hand, are more prevalent in warm climates where the fishers will appreciate being wet to get away from the scorching heat.

Pros & Cons Of Sit-In Kayak Fishing

sit in kayak fishing


Protection against elements

The cockpit lets the paddlers strap a spray skirt for more protection against rough water and weather conditions. This feature gives sit-in kayaks an edge for fishing during the cooler months of the year. Also, the lower center of gravity makes the boat less likely to be blown by a strong wind, making this kayak style a solid choice for windy conditions. 

More agile and faster

Due to the lower profile, SIKs don’t need to be as wide as SOTs. A slimmer and longer body makes them faster and easy to paddle. As a result, you can get around the water more effectively and cover more hot fishing spots in a day. Also, you only need to use a short paddle and less effort to propel the boat forward efficiently, thanks to the narrow beams.

More maneuverable

The closed cockpit inevitably entails a sense of confinement for the legs. However, it lets the anglers rest their legs against the underside of the deck. This position translates to more leverage for control over the boat and increased maneuverability. 

Less water gets to the cockpit

Unlike a sit-on model, a sit-in kayak does not have a self-bailing hole in the hull. The purpose of this design means no water will penetrate through the hull to pool the cockpit. So your cockpit and your body will stay dry as long as there’s no big wave to splash water over the bow. 


The main disadvantage of SIKs is that their cockpit traps the anglers, which can be dangerous if they capsize. These boats are also challenging to exist for a swim or re-entry after the anglers capsize. 

Self-rescue is more complicated than with sit-on models. If you capsize, the cockpit will fill with water. There is some learning curve as to how to bilge pump the water out of the cockpit. 

Moreover, SIKs have limited storage sizes compared to SOTs. The smaller hatch covers and the absence of a tank well at the stern will make you narrow down the gear choices for the fishing day. 

Pros & Cons Of Sit-On Kayak Fishing

sit on kayak to fishing


No confinement

When sitting on top of the deck, you won’t feel confined as you would with a SIK. You can comfortably stretch your legs whenever you want, making long-hour fishing excursions less tiring and more enjoyable. Also, the absence of a cockpit means that SOTs are better for anglers with big body sizes.

Straightforward entry and exit

Another advantage of sit-on fishing kayaks is that they let the fishers slide into the water more quickly for a quick dip and climb back onto it with equal ease. The deck and hull of these kayaks are entirely sealed so that the kayaks won’t swamp in the event of capsizing. If they flip over, all you need to do is flip it back, pull yourself back onto the deck to start paddling immediately. There’s no need to get back to the shore or get the water out of the cockpit. 

More storage space

SOTs offer you more room for storing your fishing gear. The deck space is also enough for mounting essential fishing gears such as fish finders or rod holders. Meanwhile, the open tank well at the stern is ideal for placing a live well or cooler tank.

pros of sit on kayak

Because everything is on the deck, you can access the gear with more ease compared to SIKs. You’re likely to struggle to get your hands into the cockpit to find the gear with a SIK. 

More stable

Since SOTs have a higher center of gravity than their sit-in counterparts, they are often wider and offer more initial stability. To simply put, they will remain stable and upright while the anglers are sitting directly above the keel. On top of that, these kayaks allow the anglers to stand and observe before casting.


The open construction will leave you exposed to the elements. There is no protection against the waves and the sun as SIKs. Also, the wider beam makes the SOTs more stable yet also slower. Therefore, they require more effort from the fishers to propel them forward, making them a poor choice for long-distance paddling. 

Due to their higher center of gravity, SOT kayaks are more likely to be affected by wind. They are also heavier than SIKs and harder to transport and stow.

When Should You Choose Sit-In Or Sit On Kayak For Fishing? 

When to choose sit-in kayak fishing?

The main advantage of these boats is they offer more protection to the anglers, making them perfect for cold, windy conditions. 

Sit-in kayaks are an excellent option for distance paddling without exhausting the anglers as much as their sit-in counterparts. In addition, since they are faster and more nimble, they would help the paddlers reach more fishing spots in a day, making them ideal choices for those who don’t have a lot of time for this creational activity. 

When to choose sit-on kayak fishing?

When it comes to fishing, sit-on kayaks are highly favored by many anglers, especially those fishing in hot weather. 

The open space enables a good range of motions for casting and reeling. In addition, serious anglers will enjoy ample storage space for their fishing rods and tackle boxes. Last but not least, the ability to give the legs a stretch from time to time is crucial for long fishing excursions.


There are many differences between sit-on vs sit-in kayak for fishing, so it won’t be that hard to decide. Either sit-in or sit-on kayaks make it easier to access fishing grounds. 

However, many serious anglers swear by sit-on kayaks for their larger storage space, their ability to facilitate casting, the comfort of legs on extended fishing excursions, and more. That said, sit-in boats have a niche market to them as they will keep the anglers warmer in chilly weather or help them get around water easier. 


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