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Sit On Top vs Sit In Kayak for Fishing – KayakFisherly

Sit On Top vs Sit In Kayak for Fishing
Written by Jeremy Stevens
Last Update: August 14, 2023

Not only is kayaking fun but you can also use your kayak for fishing in different types of water bodies. However, not all kayaks are suited for anglers and the seat position is an important factor here.

Kayak for Fishing

Seat-on-top kayaks offer more space, stability, and comfort while sit-in kayaks are known for their speed, maneuverability, and control. Today we’re making a head-to-head comparison to find out what works best for you.

Sit On Top vs Sit In Kayak: What Are They?

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks

In SOT, the seat and the paddles are not inside the kayak and above the water surface.

SOT is wider and more spacious than sit-inside kayaks. Besides, they’re heavy that results in more stability but lesser speed.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks

In short, SOT has a nice combination of all the features that makes fishing a more enjoyable experience.

Sit-in kayaks (SIK)

With Sit-in Kayaks (SIKs) you’ll have to sit inside the hull. The paddles are also at the water surface level here that requires less physical strength to maneuver.

Sit-in kayaks (SIK)

This is the best option to protect yourself from severe cold and high wind.

Do note that SIK is also the first choice among kayak sprinters and roughwater kayakers.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak for fishing – Pros

1. Seat position and comfortability

You can adjust the seat height and get a better view of the fish and the surrounding water from a higher position.

Since the seat of a SOT is not inside the hull, you can get in and get out easily. This becomes obvious when you’ve to kayak for long hours e.g. 4-5 hours or more.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak for fishing - Pros

You’ll really need the flexibility to stretch yourself out or stand up that only SOTs can offer!

2. Unsinkability

Sit-on-top kayaks are equipped with small holes named scuppers.

Even if water gets inside the hull somehow, the kayak will still float because the water will be drained through the holes. This is why they’re so beginner-friendly.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak for fishing - Pros

What’s more, you won’t lose any fishing or kayaking gear if they are tied with your kayak.

3. Storage

Kayak fishing enthusiasts often worry about where to store their catch for long hours. SOTs are more user-friendly here with more space.

How? If you heighten the seat, you’ll get enough space for a soft cooler to fit underneath.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak for fishing - Pros

Apart from that, most of them have enough space both on the bow and the stern to accommodate your belongings. A floating cooler option may also be available to store fish.

4. Cargo hatch

Sea kayaks usually have cargo hatches installed in either stern or bow, or both.

The manufacturers often claim that they’re air-and water-tight if installed properly but we recommend that you carry your things in a dry bag for better protection.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak for fishing - Pros

5. Stability

Stability is a matter of concern especially if you’re into spin-cast or fly fishing. 

SOTs are built in a way that allows you to stand whenever you need e.g. to observe the condition of water before casting.

You may argue that theoretically SIKs should be more stable because they have less center of gravity than SOTs.

However, many SOT manufacturers now offer wider kayaks to mitigate the high center of gravity but this slows down the speed of the kayak.

Aside from fishing, if you are into sprint racing or kayaking in white waters, you’ll get full control over your SIK with better stability in any condition since it will move according to your body movements.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak for fishing - Pros

But when fishing, you’ll need your SOT to support your movements and stay in its place.

Also, when casting or reeling in your reel, you won’t be able to stabilize your kayak with added effort.

Sit-on-top (SOT) kayak for fishing – Cons

Not suitable for cold and wind

Unlike SIKs, SOTs can’t save you from cold breezes and water splashes but swimsuits and warm clothes can be your savior.

Sit-inside kayak (SIK) for fishing – Pros

Safety from cold and wind

This type effectively shields your body from cold water splashes or rough wind.

Sit-inside kayak (SIK) for fishing - Pros

Speed and weight

Narrow and lightweight, SIKs naturally have some speed that you’ll long for when you’re in a hurry and need to reach shallow places fast.

Sit-in kayak (SIK) for fishing – Cons

No scuppers

Without scuppers, there is a high chance that SIKs will sink if if they flip over or water  gets into the hull, which means you’re going to lose all your tackle. That’s why you need to be extra careful when you use your SIK.

Hard to get in and out

Sitting inside an SIK almost feels like you’re wearing the boat like a cloth! You can’t even stand up to observe the water condition or fish; so, forget about the convenience of easily getting in and out like SOTs.

Sit On Top vs Sit In Kayak for Fishing – Who’s the Winner?

We believe sit-on-tops are the most angler-friendly kayaks out there today. Their  high and low sitting positions allow you to stand up any time you want and this gives you an advantage when reeling in hard-fighting fish.

Sit on top vs sit in kayak for fishing - Who’s the winner

Additionally, the SOT is more stable and easier to get on and off. I’m sure you know the importance of remaining stable when fishing.

What’s more? If flipped over you can easily get back in it and it won’t fill up with water.

But if you are fishing in winter or windy weather, a sit-in kayak is your best bet. SIKs can also help you where you need speed rather than stability.

Undoubtedly, SIKs have better control and maneuverability due to their lower center of gravity that’s important when kayaking in rough sea or sprinting; but they cannot provide the stability you need for fishing.

Features to look for before purchasing


Storage is the most prominent factor you should be looking for when you buy your next kayak. The storage capacity varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

You can install a storage compartment in some models of kayaks.  Watch this video for detailed instructions on how to install a cargo hatch.


Remember, a narrow and lightweight kayak glides better.

Usually, SIK kayaks are shorter and narrower. They are a good companion for long trips.

On the other hand, SOT kayaks are heavier. They provide better stability but are not speedy compared to SIK. If you long for stability, for a SIK.

Features to look for before purchasing a kayak


It’s not only about stretching your legs but also is about getting a better viewpoint. Sitting in the same position for hours can be exhausting to many people. SOT is the perfect choice for them.

However, if you are okay with sitting in the same positions for hours without any issue, SIK can be your best option.


Sit-on-top kayaks are mostly built with plastic (not a very high-performing material) that makes them heavy whereas sit-ins are versatile.

You will get faster, stiffer, and stronger materials available for sit-ins such as Kevlar and fiberglass.

Your kayaking Skill

It solely depends on your kayaking skills.

For example, if you are a pro then buy a sit-in. The extra maneuverability will serve you well.

We recommend using a sit-on-top kayak if you are a beginner or are not a frequent user.

A quick look at the benefits of Kayak Fishing?

  • Enjoyable
  • Affordable
  • A fun sport
  • An effective and intimate way of fishing
  • Verry little manpower or maintenance required
  • Can be done in a variety of water types
  • Provides better accessibility
  • Easily portable
  • Good for mental and physical health


1. Can you fish from a sit-on-top kayak?

Ans: Yes, of course. They are in fact more fishing-friendly than their sit-inside counterparts.

2. Which is easier: sit-in or sit on top of a kayak?

Ans. This answer is a tricky one. Your kayaking capability will decide which one is easier. For example, the sit-in is more of a pro thing and sit-on-top is recommended for beginners.

3. Where to keep fish in a kayak?

Ans: Generally, you can store them in the hatch, on the deck, or in the stringer. There are also special floating coolers available to keep your fish safe and cold.

About the author

Jeremy Stevens

Jeremy has been obsessed with bodyboarding and surfboarding ever since he was a kid. He always wanted to be part of this sport for his love of this sports. Having received his degrees in Economics, he had to change his track and eventually got himself into the watercraft manufacturing industry. As an insider he’s had the opportunity to monitor and keep track of the latest trends and designs.

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