What's The Difference Between a Regular Kayak and a Fishing Kayak?

If you're into fishing and enjoy outdoor sports, kayaking can be an excellent way to stay active and practice the hobby you love. Kayak fishing allows you to get out onto your local water in search of fish that may not be reachable by land. 

Kayaks are small self-propelled vessels that can cruise silently into areas that larger boats can't. So, do you need a fishing-specific kayak to casr from or can you use a regular one? 

You may be wondering what the difference really is between a regular kayak and a fishing kayak and whether you need to splash out on an angling-specific vessel. 

In this article, we'll be looking at the differences between fishing kayaks and regular kayaks. We'll also be looking at how versatile fishing kayaks are compared to your average recreational kayaks so you can figure out what type of boat will suit you best. 

Whether you're an avid angler or someone who likes to dabble in a bit of fishing every now and then, this read will be valuable to you. 

What Defines a Kayak?

So what defines a kayak? 

A kayak is a small water-going vessel that requires the use of a dual-bladed paddle. They usually have a pointed bow and stern (the front and rear of the boat) and seat one to two people. 

Kayaks come in several different forms but they all basically serve the same purpose. Although kayaks for use in fresh and saltwater, recreational paddling, whitewater, fishing, and touring exist, they all have relatively similar designs. 

The two main types of kayak you'll find are open-top and sit-in. 

The open-top kayak places you on top of the vessel with your legs exposed. These kayaks sit higher in the water and the majority of your weight will be above water level. 

The sit-in kayak features a covered hull and a cockpit. You sit inside the cockpit with your legs under the hull. You sit below water level in this type of kayak and you're much closer to the water's surface. 

So how is your typical fishing kayak different from a regular kayak? Let's take a look at what features these kayaks have that differentiates them:

What is a Regular Kayak? 

"Regular kayak" is a pretty broad term to be honest. There are several different styles of kayaks that are made for different purposes. However, let's assume that a "regular" kayak is your typical kayak for recreational purposes. 

Recreational kayaks come in two categories. We mentioned these in the last section: open-top (sit on) and sit-in kayaks. 

Recreational kayaks are made for casual paddling on the weekends. They can cope with stillwater and your typical slow flowing river. 

A sit-in recreational kayak is more versatile as it can deal with rougher conditions. You can use these kayaks to navigate rivers and they'll cope with faster flowing water to some degree. 

On the other hand, open-top kayaks are more suited for casual paddling on stillwater and calmer waters because they're less stable. You're also more exposed on an open top kayak for obvious reasons however they are easier to get in and out of. 

What is a Fishing Kayak?

Fishing kayaks are almost always open-top. This is because the upright seating position and easily reached storage spaces on the deck make it ideal for the angler. Open-top kayaks are easy to move about on which makes casting in all directions possible. This design also makes it a bit easier to net and handle your captures. 

Although fishing kayaks have more or less the same design as your standard recreational sit-on, they do have a lot more in the way of features. These additional features make fishing from the vessel far easier, more functional, and more enjoyable. 

Fishing kayaks usually feature a foot-controlled rudder of some kind. This allows the angler to control the direction of the boat while they're playing a fish. They will also feature multiple rod holders for storage, trawling, and for when you're rigging up or changing lures out on the water. 

Fishing kayaks will often have placement for tackle bags and sometimes built-in storage spaces that are easily accessible by the angler while the boat is out on the water. 

Some kayaks will even feature foot-controlled paddles however it definitely comes at a cost. These paddles are used to propel the boat forward and backwards without the need of a hand-held paddle. This is great for the angler that wants to stay on the move and keep their hands free for casting at all times. 

Can You Use a Regular Kayak for Fishing?

Now you know the differences between fishing kayaks and regular kayaks, you may be wondering whether you really need a fishing kayak or can simply fish from a recreational kayak. 

You can definitely use a regular kayak for fishing. However, if you're serious about angling a fishing kayak will benefit you far more. 

If you already have a recreational kayak and want to dabble in a bit of fishing, definitely don't hold back. It's well worth heading out on your existing kayak regardless of whether it's an open-top or sit-in. You will find it easier to fish from an open-top kayak but it's not impossible to use sit-in vessels. 

If you haven't yet purchased a kayak you may be wondering what's more versatile: a fishing kayak or regular kayak. 

If you enjoy fishing and fancy starting to kayak fish but also want to use a kayak for weekend paddles, short tours, and camping you may be better off going with a recreational kayak. Open-top and sit-in kayaks can be used for a wide range of purposes. 

Open-top kayaks are definitely better for fishing and will suffice for short tours and camping on slow-flowing rivers and stillwaters. However, if you're more ambitious with the kind of tours you want to do, it could be a wise idea to get a sit-in kayak. 

Remember, there are ways to make your regular kayak more fishing friendly. You can customise your vessel by adding more storage options and rod holders to turn your regular kayak into something that's ideal for a range of different scenarios.

Can You Use a Fishing Kayak for Other Forms of Kayaking?

As we mentioned, you can use a regular kayak for fishing although a fishing kayak would be more ideal for the avid angler. So, can you use a fishing kayak for other forms of the sport and is a fishing kayak more versatile?

You can definitely use a fishing kayak for other forms of kayaking however they may not be as versatile as some regular kayaks. 

Because of the open-top design and upright seating position, they aren’t ideal for fast flowing water or touring long distances. That's not to say you can't load up your fishing yak with camping gear for a couple days touring your local stillwater or slow-flowing river though. 

If you're looking for a kayak for a range of different paddling activities then you'd be better off with a standard kayak that'll suit a broader range of activities. However, if you're the mad keen angler that wants to primarily fish from a kayak but also wants to dabble in some other forms of the sport, a fishing kayak will be your best option. 

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