Best Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak – Our FAVORITE Picks
We’ve had a look at the best fishing kayaks, and the best sit-on-top kayaks. How about the best sit-on-top (SOT) fishing kayaks?
You’re probably here trying to find out exactly what it is, and whether or not to consider one for kayak fishing. It’s ok, we hear you…
Top SOT Kayaks - At a Glance
They are a popular type of kayak, and for good reasons (don’t worry, we’re going to give you them all!). But which are our favorite SOT fishing kayaks for sale? And which is the right kayak for you?
21 Best Sit On Top Fishing Kayaks
Ok, so let us run through the most recommended fishing kayaks on the market today with some of our best fishing kayak reviews to help you on your quest for a new kayak.
1: Perception Kayak Pescador Pro 120 Angling 12ft Kayak (best overall)
This 12ft craft, designed specifically for kayak fishing, is at the upper end of the budget scale. As such, it is generally more stable and tracks better than other cheaper kayaks. All thanks to its multi-chine hull to increase stability. It's also durable, made from high-density polyethylene.
It is capable of carrying up to 350lb loads, so bigger folk, or avid fishermen carrying larger loads, will like this. The kayak itself weighs 65lbs. The seat is padded, on the bottom (deck) as well as the back, and it folds away.
It also comes with features you would expect from a fishing ‘yak priced at the higher end of the budget spectrum. It has a Scotty adjustable front rod holder, and 2 fixed rear holders. There’s a Keepers foot brace system to keep your legs in position, and there are storage areas both open and covered at the front, center and rear (bungee cords at rear).
A nice addition is the anchor kit and anchor trolley, so you can float in the one spot, fishin’. There are also gear tracks to attach accessories.
2: Perception Outlaw 11.5 (best value)
The Perception Outlaw is an exceptionally stable fishing kayak that benefits from having silent traction pads on the deck so you can stand up safely, even if you don't have perfect balance, and minimize noise if you drop anything. It features an elevated seating system for sight fishing and you can even stow the ergonomic seat to create a fully walkable deck.
There is plenty of space to store your fishing tackle, including a large rear tank well, cup holders, double-barrel rod holders, and gear tracks (that double as handles) for adding personal accessories and gadgets to improve your fishing experience. The stern well is built to hold up to a 35 liter cooler. It also features a transducer scupper for mounting a fish finder (sold separately).
This can be one of the best fishing kayaks if you want a combination of stability and deck space. As well as great stability, it also has a lot of good storage options. However, there’s no dry storage, which may not suit everyone.
3: Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 (best high-end)
The ATAK 120 is just over 12 feet long and designed for serious anglers, whether you’re fly fishing or saltwater fishing. This is not a lightweight kayak, but it can be ideal if you have a kayak cart or trolley to help you get it from A to B. This is a more compact version than the ATAK 140, which can make it more useful for fishing in smaller lakes and rivers.
One of the best features is the standing deck, with noise-reducing traction pads for grip and a stand-assist strap to make it easier to get in and out of your seat.
Another great feature is the AirPro max seating system. This benefits from having a suspension system for added comfort during long days on the water. The mesh seat can also be reclined for relaxing and can be positioned either higher or lower depending on whether you’re sight fishing or paddling.
This is a spacious kayak, with ample room for your fishing tackle, as well as a removable center console and transducer scupper for fish finders and other electronics.
4: Jackson Bite Fishing Kayak (best color)
The Jackson Bite is a very roomy fishing kayak, with a large, open-concept deck to allow for easy entry, as well as stand up fishing, as well as a large open cockpit for comfort. There is a lot of storage space, with storage wells at both the bow and stern, with bungee cords to let you tie all your equipment down.
You’ll find cup holders, fishing rod holders, and recessed storage areas for tackle boxes and trays. There are also mounting points and gear tracks if you want to customize the boat by adding additional accessories and extra rods. And you can even add a trolling motor (sold separately) to make it a motorized kayak.
The Comfort seating system can let you extend your visibility by allowing you to sit higher off the deck. It also benefits from having breathable mesh fabric for added comfort and additional drainage. The Bite also comes with a replaceable skid plate to improve the vessel’s longevity and sliding footrests for multiple footrest positions.
5: Old Town Topwater PDL Angler (best pedal system)
The Old Town Topwater PDL is made for kayak fishing with a built-in pedal drive system that can let you power across the water, using pedal propulsion, to your favorite fishing spot at a faster speed compared to paddle kayaks. This can keep your hands free for casting or trolling and let you approach in stealth mode.
This is a relatively compact pedal drive kayak that can be ideal for smaller bodies of water, as it’s crafted to be easy to maneuver (although you may need a paddle as well for pedal drive fishing). However, it weighs a lot - over 100 pounds - so it might not be the easiest to haul to the lake by yourself.
This pedal kayak features an ElementAir seating system with a breathable mesh seat that can be positioned high or low depending on your preference, giving you a better vantage point to sight fish. You’ll also find a universal transducer mounting system for easy installation of your fish finder.
This is a wide, incredibly stable pedal kayak with a DoubleU pontoon hull and a non-slip deck that you can stand on to fish. It also benefits from having rod and tackle storage organization, plus a rear storage area for a fishing crate or cooler.
6: Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak
This angler kayak is designed with plenty of features to lure in even the most avid angler.
One of the best things about this kayak is that it comes with a paddle, so you can set off to your honey hole as soon as you get it. It also benefits from having a rudder, which can help with tracking.
It's built with two flush mount rod holders plus four gear tracks that can let you customize your craft, including adding additional rod holders or allow you to mount other accessories.
It has a large rear tank well with bungee rigging, which can be ideal for holding your crate or cooler. Further storage includes a 20 inch bow hatch with a bag insert as well as a smaller hatch in the back, also with a bag insert, so you can keep smaller items safe and dry.
The quick-drying mesh fabric seat is padded and features an adjustable seat back for added comfort. There is also a a center console that’s ideal for mounting accessories and storing smaller items.
It’s a stable vessel that’s built to handle a range of conditions, including the ocean and, with the huge 550 pound capacity you should have no problem bringing along everything you’ll need for a successful day’s fishing.
7: Bonafide SS127 Ultimate Fishing Kayak
The Bonafide SS127 is built with stability and practicality in mind and could be ideal for ocean or lake kayak fishing.
Designed with a hybrid catamaran style hull, it is built to offer a high level of stability, allowing you to stand up to fish from the standing platform. There are even PerchPads on top of the gunwales that you can stand on.
The HiRise seat allows you to sit higher in the vessel, giving you a better view for fishing and can allow you better access to the under seat storage. The seat can also be lowered for easier paddling.
This craft features a large hinged bow hatch, as well as a rear storage deck with bungee cords. There’s also a center console where you can mount additional accessories, such as a fish finder. The console benefits from having a dry storage option for smaller items or valuables, making it ideal for fly fishermen.
The SS127 also comes with rod tip holders and built-in gear tracks that can let you attach a camera, GPS or some rod holders. It's filled with fishing features and can hold almost 500 lbs.
8: Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot SS Fishing Kayak
This is a great all rounder. This 10 feet long dark green cruiser has been designed for the angler at heart and could fit in the back of a pickup truck. It can also be easy to maneuver in tight spaces.
Weight carrying limit on this is 250lb. We highly recommend going for the 12ft alternative if you are anywhere near approaching this weight or if you are taller than average.
The Journey kayak tracks well considering the price. It’s not going to be as stable or move around as well as the Perception offering above, but depending on your budget and how often you intend using it, this kayak could work out well for you.
So what cool features does it have? Well, it has rod holders (we kind of like to think that a fishing kayak would, haha), 3 in total. There’s an adjustable holder just in front of the seat and two molded rod holders behind the seat.
There are paddle keeps and a storage area at the front. Elastic cord is used to help hold items in place.
There’s another storage area at the rear (stern). Inside is a removable pod Sun Dolphin have named it a ‘Portable Accessory Carrier’ that can be towed behind the kayak if desired.
The seat is padded at the rear, but the deck is not. You may need to improvise with something that will cushion you if you intend to sit for long periods of time. Or just buy another seat. Rather than having multiple molded foot wells to cater for different paddler heights, the Journey has a sliding foot support.
9: Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak
It’s been around for a few years now – and with good reason! The Lifetime Sport Fisher can be used as a solo or a tandem – up to you. However at 10ft, with its user friendly, compact design it’s going to be a bit of a squeeze for two, so it is probably in its element with a single paddler. Especially with all the fishing gear on board.
But it just shows you don't always have to spend upwards of a thousand dollars for fishing features, especially if you don't need all the bells and whistles.
It can hold up to 500 lbs (vital for 2 people!). There are handles at the bow end and on the side for lifting around.
3 molded-in rod holders are on board, paddle holders on the sides, and there’s even a hole for a sail (not included). There are also carry handles on the sides
Comes with 2 paddles and 2 padded backrests (no deck padding sadly). Also comes with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty, which is good for peace of mind.
This is another great all-rounder in a good price range…
10: Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Fishing Kayak
This 13ft kayak tracks really well. The hull design means it also remains stable, even if the waters aren’t flat and could be ideal for the open ocean. There are options at the stern to attach a rudder should your intentions be to fish in choppier waters.
There is open storage at the back with bungee cords to hold items down. There’s also a small covered storage are in the center, perfect for grabbing small items that you need in a hurry. At the bow, there’s a larger covered storage area for bigger valuables.
This beast has a 325 pound storage capacity limit – so it’s a strong ox. But if you want to carry 500 lbs of gear, this probably isn't going to work. It has a padded (back and bottom) foldaway seat. There are varied molded foot wells and two rod holders behind the seat. You'll also find side carry handles for easy car topping and lifting.
Comes in 2 colors, brown camo and ‘urban’ camo. But you might not be able to stand in this one, as you might not have enough space or initial stability.
11. Sea Eagle 350FX Fishing Explorer
This Sea Eagle 350FX is a rugged inflatable kayak with a flat bottom that’s built for stability, durability and versatility, with a UV protected design.
It can handle flatwater as well as up to Class IV rapids, so you can fish just about anywhere from this boat, including shallow areas and rough seas. It’s quick to set up, easy to use and has a generous capacity so you can bring along all the gear you’ll need to reel in your prize catch.
There’s rod storage, a fish ruler and it’s even electric motor ready.
12. Wilderness Systems Radar 135
The Radar 135 is a solid, durable kayak that’s built for long fishing adventures and can be useful for fly fishermen. It features a comfortable Phase 3 AirPro seat which lets you sit higher for better sight casting.
There is plenty of space for you and your gear, with a roomy deck for standing. But this is a heavy boat (90 pounds), which may be difficult to haul without a buddy or cart.
13. Driftsun Teton 120 Tandem Fishing Kayak
The Driftsun Teton 120 is a two person fishing kayak that comes with two padded seats and two paddles, so it can be great for beginners.
This is a stable boat that features two dry storage hatches, as well as bungee rigging for larger gear. It has scupper plugs, four flush mount capped rod holders, and two paddle holders.
14. Sea Eagle 385FTA FastTrack Angler
The Sea Eagle 385FTA is inflatable, with a high capacity for up to three people. It’s very stable, with a standing deck for easier casting. It comes in a range of packages to suit different anglers, with options for fishing features including a 360 degree swivel seat for solo anglers.
It also has a built-in fish ruler, customizable front and rear spray skirts, and it’s motor ready for trolling and hands free fishing. The rigid inflatable keel with tapered bow is great for breaking surf and offers many of the same features as hard shell kayaks.
15. Aquaglide Chinook 90
This Aquaglide Chinook 90 is a 9 foot inflatable recreational kayak that can be great for fishing (or other sports) on small rivers and lakes as it’s easy to maneuver and convenient for accessing hard to reach spots. It's also ideal for backcountry kayak fishing.
It’s stable, durable and comes with a padded seat, rod holders, and storage. It’s also very lightweight, weighing just 19 pounds, and can be stored easily at home and in your car.
16. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
The new Tarpon 120 features excellent primary and secondary stability, making it great for kayak fishing on a range of waters. It has a spacious rear tank well with a mesh cover, a removable dry box, a magnetic water bottle strap, and gear tracks for mounting your own accessories.
It also features a comfortable, fully adjustable Phase 3 AirPro seating system for improved comfort with adjustable foot braces, and comes with a replaceable skid plate.
17. BKC TK122 Angler
This Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122 is a 12 foot 6 inch tandem fishing kayak that can be ideal for fishing with a buddy.
It can also be paddled solo if you want more space for extra gear for an overnight fishing trip.
It includes two paddles, two aluminum framed seats and four rod holders, as well as accessory tracks, scupper plugs and space for a crate or cooler.
18. Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler
The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler is a compact, durable fishing kayak that can be great for river fishing and short kayak fishing trips.
There’s plenty of storage areas for tackle and rods, including a removable compartment and flush mount holders. It also has a cup holder, paddle holder and a phone holder, as well as eyelets for securing gear.
19. Lifetime Pro Angler 118
The Lifetime Pro Angler 118 is an 11 foot 8 inch fishing kayak with an incredibly spacious deck that’s ideal for standing. It has a stable tunnel hull, an adjustable framed seating system and ample storage.
It also has flush mount fishing rod holders, a fishing ruler, and six feet of gear tracks for mounting your own accessories. But this is a pretty heavy kayak, weighing 85 pounds.
20. Sea Eagle SE370
The Sea Eagle SE370 is a portable recreational kayak that’s lightweight and can be inflated in less than 10 minutes on the shores of your favorite lake. There’s room for you and your fishing gear, with space for your dog. Or you could fish with a buddy, as this inflatable holds up to three people.
It can be ideal for a variety of conditions, with a high level of durability. It’s available in an angler package but can be just as good for recreational paddlers.
21. Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130
This Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 is an inflatable fishing kayak with a removable weedless fin (great for shallow water), wide standing platform with a traction pad, and a comfortable elevated high-back seat. It has mounting points and D-rings for accessories and is designed to handle both flatwater and mild whitewater.
It has a huge capacity of 650 pounds - great for one person or two. It can also be carried in its own backpack for easy transport and loaded into car trunks or backseats.
So, What Exactly Is A Sit-On-Top Kayak?
In a nutshell, a sit-on-top (abbreviated as SOT) is a kayak with an open deck top. Molded areas are used for seating. Often, removable seats are used, so you can add the seat of your choice. Many paddlers are fussy about the seat. After all, you will be sitting in it for long periods of time (we hope!).
They are also relatively easy to board.
There are several reasons so many people choose SOT kayaks for catching fish, with one being they make very stable fishing kayaks.
Kayak Fisherman Skills - Courtesy: americancanoe.org
The problem with SIKs was that being confined to a small cockpit meant you couldn’t move around the actual kayak very well at all - and anglers demand space to move.
Being able to freely move around. Reel in. Cast. Get your gear set up. These are all the little things that fishing folk need to do, and SOTs are a big advantage here.
Not only that, but SOTs allow you to stand up on the ‘yak, which is great for having more of a bird’s-eye view of what’s actually going on down there! Having the freedom to move around also lets the kayaker stretch and move around. So you can stay out fishing for longer. Win!
If you’re stuck in the one position and unable to move around freely, then firstly, there a chance that you will start feeling claustrophobic. And secondly, the chances of aches and pains setting in increases. Both are a result of sitting in the one position all the time.
Fishing In Shallow Waters
This is kinda still within the flexibility category above, but hey, we wanted to break it up a little!
A SOT fishing kayak allows you to easily get in and out of the kayak. Got waders? Well, you can easily jump out and fish from outside the ‘yak.
That’s not so easy in a sit-in kayak. It can be a bit of a pain getting in and out of these, especially if you're doing it all day. In fact, there’s more chance of capsizing the kayak when wearing waders.
Capsizing with all your fishing gear on board......is not so cool!
Storing The Catch
SOT fishing kayaks are generally better for storing your fish once you have caught them. The best kayaks often come with molded-in covered storage compartments, so you can keep the fish separate from everything else.
The downside with SIKs is that you're more likely to have to keep them in the cockpit or tow with stringers (for those that don’t know, stringers are used to hook your caught fish, and are generally used with floats to keep the fish, within sight, in the water).
Of course, you could keep your bags on top of the kayak. But this isn’t recommended for more than a few minutes (unless you're sure it's cool enough). It’s just too risky to eat fish that haven’t been kept fresh.
Sit On Top vs Sit In Kayak For Fishing
We’ve already covered off a lot of the advantages and disadvantages of going either sit-on-top or sit-in (for fishing at least).
This is just a high-level view of the differences between the two.
In general, SOTs are better (for most people anyway). They allow for more freedom of movement (which will be high on an anglers list of priorities), and in some ways, can be safer, with improved paddler interface. This depends on the person of course.
You can also add a pedal system to some models, giving you additional methods of propulsion for added versatility. A pedal system wouldn't work with a sit-inside because of the design of the hull and the fact that water needs to be kept out of the cockpit.
US stats courstesy: americancanoe.org
Competent kayakers may prefer the sit inside type, because they can confidently roll if they capsize. But even experienced paddlers may struggle if out at sea and the waves keep crashing in. Of course, on calmer or flat waters (like slow rivers or lakes), this won't not matter.
Overall, in our opinion, SOT is going to be the kayak choice for most fishing folk.
And we're done!
The ATAK 120 from Wilderness Systems is an incredible kayak for those with a higher budget.
Do you own any of these fishing SOTs? Maybe you own something different? Feel free to let us know about it below...