Last year my wife and I rented a couple of SOT kayaks and used them to paddle around our local lake. We enjoyed it so much we have decided to purchase our own this year. We are looking at some entry level kayaks to use at the lakes and rivers here in Illinois. I am also an avid fisherman and I would like to get a fishing kayak but I don't know if there is a difference, performance wise, between a fishing kayak and a touring/recreational kayak. I don't want to struggle to keep up with my wife if we decide to kayak for 4 to 5 hours on a river or lake. Would I be able to use a fishing kayak like a regular touring/recreation kayak?


5 Answers 5


Yes, there is definitely a performance difference between different types of kayaks. In fact, there are performance differences among the same types of kayaks. For example, a 14-foot kayak will always track more straightly than a 10-foot kayak. A wide recreational kayak will always have more primary stability than a narrower touring kayak.

Even if you both get the same type of kayak I suspect you'll find they work differently for each of you. No doubt you both do not weigh the same -- if you're heavier, a given kayak will sit lower in the water than for her. That may result in increased stability, or it could mean that you capsize easily. Alternatively, consider height and armspan: if she's short she may find it difficult to paddle in a wide rec kayak where the paddle is constantly bumping the edge of the boat.

In short: you should each look for a kayak that suits you. That means you will see performance differences between the two kayaks, but if the boats really do suit each of you, that won't be a problem because you've found something that fits well. As to a fishing kayak specifically, if you get a longer kayak than her you'll likely be able to keep up with her on a day trip (though at the expense of maneuverability).

Of course, keeping up with a partner is about more than the just the kayak. The paddle will also make a difference (especially its weight as it relates to your fatigue), and paddling technique can be a big difference between feeling good at the end of an outing and feeling whipped.


There are a few differences between the SOT kayaks and a touring kayak that you'll want to consider.


SOT kayaks tend to be shorter and wider than touring boats. This can make SOT's a little more stable but a longer boat will track better (go straight). The more rough the water you want to travel in the longer boat you want.


Touring boats will have much more storage in them as that's what they're meant to do. It's usually covered storage in the bow and stern of the boat. Sometimes SOT's have storage but most of the time it's sitting on top of the boat with you. Having gear on top of the boat makes it more accessible but easier to lose in the waves.

Ease of Use

SOT's are easy to use. Just sit on them and go. Touring boats take a little practice getting into and out of. A nylon or neoprene skirt to go around the cockpit and around your waist is a good thing to have in rough water or just to prevent drips from the paddle falling onto your lap. Using a skirt makes them a little more complicated to get into an out of though.


Touring boats tend to be longer and have more features so they'll probably cost you more. All the SOT's I've seen are made out of roto-molded plastic which is the least expensive to make. You can get touring boats out of roto-molded plastic, thermoformed plastic or fiberglass. Roto-molded is cheaper, heavier but very durable. Thermoformed is lighter and faster but more expensive. Fibreglass is the most expensive, the fastest but the most fragile.

Weather conditions

Rougher conditions in the water will warrant a longer boat and probably one of the touring variety. The longer boats will be more stable and you'll be much more dry being inside the touring boat with a skirt covering the cockpit.

Hope that helps.


I have used a touring kayak for fishing, and it works out ok. You can rig up a rod holder in your cockpit, but paddling is a bit awkward, though this is probably also a problem with any kayak used for fishing.

It might be somewhat difficult to use a fishing kayak on overnight trips given that most fishing kayaks are sit on top (SOT) and have no internal storage.

  • I brought a sit on top recently with two internal dry sack storage holds and a open bit at the back - and a splash proof back on the back of the seats we brought :) is possible for a STOP to have good storage
    – Aravona
    Jul 18, 2014 at 10:51

I would recommend checking out something like Hobie's Mirage pedal driven kayaks. With their spiffy pedal drive, you can trivially outrun(outpedal?) just about anyone while hardly breaking a sweat. Additionally, because you power yourself with your feet, your hands are free for fishing. The mirage drive is also quiet as a corpse. No splashing sounds from your paddles, whatsoever.

A guy I know has one of their fishing-specific models, and loves it.

However, if you ever want to go on an overnight camping adventure via your kayaks, the storage capacity of the Hobies is pretty bad, and while in general portaging kayaks is no fun, portaging a Hobie kayak would be especially miserable.

Otherwise, you could try getting a tandem traditional kayak. Perhaps you can sweet-talk your wife into paddling while you fish?


I have been considering just the same. I have come up with two kayacks that I like. The first is a fishing kayak by kudo. It tracks well and speed is good. I have a strong upper body so it makes it easier for me but its all in the core. Try different techniques as you will get tired just doing one.

The other kayak is a 14 foot looksha by Necky. I have been eyeing that one for 3 years now. It is a sit in oh the kudo is a sit on top which I stood up in and tried paddle boarding on it. Great stability. The looksha tracks and maneuvers great.

Not stable enough for fishing, what are you going to do when you land the mother of all fishes? How you bring that into the boat? Consider what you do more spending time with the wife or fishing in a kayak?

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