Choosing a Sit On Top Kayak

How to choose a fishing kayak

‘SOT’ kayaks are our preference but all will be explained.

Anyone looking into getting into the sport is usually met with a mine field of which ‘yak’ to look for as well as all the other equipment and then the cost of it all where some are put off, most get into it on a budget (self included) and a few of the richer folks just go out and buy whatever they want seeing as they can. This goes out to those without the funds or limited budget but also might help those more fortunate choose the right kayak.

Sit on Top kayaks are favoured throughout the sport because of their hollow, sealed/air tight hull which makes its floatation qualities excellent. They also have ‘scupper holes’ along their build which let water pass through so if a wave crashes over the top it simply leaks out the holes.

This is a ‘play boat’ type SOT kayak. I bought one to play in surf with but also fished from it while others borrowed my kayak to try out. It wasn’t very good to fish from as the bow has very little depth…

but in the surf it a bloody jet! I had loads of fun on it!

Some ‘SOT’s are aimed specifically at fishing have got rod holders and other fittings like anchor trolleys and have many places where you can adapt the kayak to suit your own needs and that is a major attraction to most new comers as they get to ‘tinker’ and who doesn’t like a bit tinker? Choose the one that suits you’re arm length and paddle zone (the area where your paddle moves front and back) around the cockpit where you sit so the rods don’t catch the paddle.

This was my “bairn”, The Hobie Outback. Quite simply the best fishing platform I’ve ever owned. Fast, quick to turn (too quick with the over sized rudder on) and as stable as can be at 12ft long and 3fr wide

When looking for the right kayak for yourself the first thing you need to look at it yourself! Your height, weight, fitness and capabilities ie; can you swim?, got any ailments like arthritis, injuries, amputations etc. An 18+ stone guy on a Galaxy Cruz (just an example as its popular) sized kayak (9ft) is going to push it under a bit (think of pushing a cork under water) coupled with gear so a longer kayak ideally 13ft (4 metres) is better all round as it can hold more weight, tracks better and has better stability for larger people.

One of the most over looked aspects of choosing a ‘yak is equipment weight and storage! Yeah you can buy a kayak that fits you’re weight and build but will it take the extra weight of all the gear your lugging along. Lead weighted rigs are a huge extra and anchors, things like this which seem small but are heavy and add that extra weight to alter the balance on the water. The best option is to weigh your gear as best you can. Maybe one piece at a time or a few at a time in a box or whatever then total it and add that you your weight THEN look for a kayak. However most of us buy the gear after the ‘yak so when choosing one always allow a stone or so more in weight.

Kayak Fishing UK was put up in early 2004 when the Ocean Prowler was the in thing to have. It’s 13,4″ft and 28″ wide it was slender, stable and quick on the water with plenty storage space and from there a lot of newer kayaks were imaged on it going by the sites history. There’s a lot of posts in there going back to 2007 (the earliest forum back up found and imported upon forum rebuild).

The OK Prowler Ultra 4.3 was an innovation when it was released and I grabbed one immediately! The centre hatch is on a hinge so you can spin it over to either side. The bow gave it lots of speed and it’s tracking is amazing! I loved this ‘yak until I one day during a re-entry drill we found I was unable to get back on it as my Nookie Rivermonster PFD had a protruding front pouch that got stuck on the raised centre hatch. I soon got rid of both! Do read up on PFD’s

If you aim to paddle or fish on inland lakes and rivers then maybe a shorter ‘yak as mentioned might be suitable as you can manoeuvre them better and quicker in smaller spaces where a 13ft ‘yak might get half way around then get tipped by the current. On the sea the larger the ‘yak the better it is is the general conception especially around the UK. Personally the Hobie Outback has been my best ever fishing ‘yak and it’s only 12ft long but is 3ft wide. Now anyone reading this new to the sport might think that would make it slower but add the pedal system and wide rudder and steering system and you’ll be blown away! I’ve pedalled Coniston water in the lake district at 10mph in the past and covered the lake and back in an hour for exercise. So, if you can afford one I’d personally recommend one!

If, like most newcomers (noobs/newbies) you’re on a tight budget then often the way forward is to look for a newer cheaper ‘yak or as we recommend look for a good used set up for sale (usually beginning or end of summer season). Two of the most popular sea going kayaks of the moment (2019) are the Galaxy Sturgeon and the Ocean Trident 13. The Sturgeon is made in China and imported and distributed by Galaxy Kayaks and is proving a very big hit in the UK. The ‘OK’ Trident is available in 3 sizes, is built in New Zealand and the USA and is a lot more expensive. Look into the build materials, hull thickness and UV protected plastics as well as layout and whether additional extras are a viable option.

Getting to know other ‘yak anglers is the best way to get into the sport, turn up at meets, go to an organised launch or safety meet where many turn up to practice re-entries and try out other kayaks. Join our forums and Facebook group and others and ask questions. If someone gives a stupid answer you can just ignore them and move on but most are responsible adults and very helpful. Overall the best option is to ask questions and don’t be afraid of it. No question you ask is ‘stupid’ as often seen on the net.

Lastly, choose a ‘yak that suits YOU and you only! the internet is very persuasive and some people push what they have on others i.e. “I’ve got this, you should get one” but you may not like it so take you’re time and ask as many questions as you can but do bear in mind laziness is mainly frowned upon and joining a FB group or forum to post and ask “I’ve got £500 to buy a kayak, what can i get?” is not recommended. Poke around the internet and see what’s out there then maybe ask is it this one or the other? and get others involved in your thread, that way people won’t scroll past it yawning LOL.

Good luck and happy hunting (then fishing)