The new generations of sit-in fishing kayaks have changed the game of fishing. Anglers are turning to kayaks instead of small boats or yachts, and for a good reason.
With more comfortable seating options, better performance, and modern rigging in one user-friendly package, the latest generation of sit-in fishing kayaks are turning heads more often. And they're beloved by anglers for their ability to get into hard to reach fishing areas.
Check out our review on some of the best sit-in kayaks for fishing.
Wilderness Systems Pungo 105
Driftsun Sculpin Rotomolded Sit-in Kayak
V-Shaped Hardshell, Single
Inflatable, Single or Tandem Use
Sun Dolphin Excursion 10
Sit on vs. Sit Inside Kayak For Fishing
Sit-in fishing kayaks are far more comfortable than most of the alternative options on the water. This is because you'll be largely protected from the elements, and they provide a drier ride than a sit-on-top kayak.
One downside to a sit-in kayak is that flipping can be a lot more dangerous because your kayak will likely be filled with water. Users are pretty confined in a large cockpit once they’re on the water, so you lose some freedom of movement, compared to sit on top kayaks.
On the bright side, as there’s less movement, there’s less of a chance of having your kayak flipping in the first place. They tend to be a lot more stable, easier to get in and out once docked, and they're great for paddlers in cooler, calmer waters.
Specific sit-in kayaks will have more features nowadays, and they differ from brand to brand, so make sure you're aware of what you need for your sit-in kayak before investing.
How to Choose a Quality Sit-In Fishing Kayak
When it comes to choosing your new sit-in kayak, you'll need to consider which waterways you'd use. Sit-in kayaks tend to come in two styles, and these styles heavily determine whether it's freshwater or saltwater friendly.
A recreational sit-inside kayak is great for freshwater, and they tend to be broader and shorter in size, giving you a lot more space within the cockpit.
The other option is a touring kayak. They tend to be longer and a lot more narrow. This size makes it easier to cover more distance at a faster pace. They paddle much more efficiently than recreational kayaks, especially in harsh weather conditions.
If you're new to kayak fishing and you're hoping to spend most of your time in saltwater, consider a sit-on-top kayak instead. Only very experienced kayakers should take sit-inside kayaks into saltwater.
Size & Weight Capacity
With new technologies and new materials coming onto the market each year, the size and weight of a new sit-in kayak are less than ever. You’ll have a lot of options in size based on your height and weight. These factors should determine your cockpit dimensions and the overall length of the kayak.
In terms of weight capacity, recreational and touring kayaks usually hold about 200 to 400 pounds. Some models have smart waterproof compartments that are easily accessible through hatches in the deck. Tandem sit-in kayaks hold up to 700 pounds, depending on the model and size.
A kayak's stability depends on four key design factors- the length, width, hull design, and your weight vs. the designed carry weight of the kayak. If you get a fishing kayak that can withhold your weight and your equipment without feeling uneasy, you'll feel a lot more stable.
If you have a naturally good balance and buy a good quality kayak, you'll feel confident standing in no time. Otherwise, practice standing and sitting on dry land before trying so on the water.
Tracking, Speed & Maneuverability
Tracking, speed, and maneuverability are three components that will help you get to where you’ll intend to fish. A kayak with good tracking is usually hard to turn from winds, and one that doesn't track tends to be easier to turn.
Non-track kayaks take less force to get knocked off course and have better maneuverability. The hull design and length will ultimately affect the speed of your kayak.
Comfort & User-Friendliness
If you get a good quality kayak, they often have a built-in backrest and high-quality seat. Accompany this with a ton of space for your legs to move around nicely, and you’ll feel nice and secure. Sit-in kayaks also tend to be easier to use and pack, compared to sit-on-top kayaks.
There are fewer pieces to play with, and they're easier to transport, too.
Storage & Maintenance Needs
Kayaks need to be cleaned and inspected after every use. If there's any cracks or dents caused by a fishing excursion, they'll need to be properly taken care of. It is also essential to regularly sand down fiberglass kayaks and rub UV salve into plastic UV kayaks.
This will help with the kayak’s longevity. If your kayak is inflatable, be sure to clean and dry it thoroughly before you store it away. And, always remember to shield any kayak from the sun when storing.
Budget & Warranty
There's a wide range of sit-in kayaks from $150 to over $2,000 on the market. So, before you start looking around, try to understand your needs and have a realistic budget in mind. Higher priced sit-in kayaks tend to be higher quality, comfortable, and are often larger or have more extra features.
Buying from a reputable brand usually means you'll have some warranty, but be sure to check this before making your purchase. It could come in very handy!
5 Best Sit-In Fishing Kayaks Reviewed
1. Wilderness Systems Pungo 105
Best sit-in Fishing Kayak
10' 6" x 30"
Phase 3 AirPro seating system
Our top pick for the best-selling sit-inside recreational kayak has to be the Systems Pungo 105. Wilderness used some original design elements for a previous mode with a modern flair, giving the angler everything they need when on the water. This easy to manage kayak will provide you with excellent stability, unmatched speed, with premium comfort so you can spend hours on the water.
The Phase 3 AirPro seating system is what makes Wilderness Systems the world's most comfortable kayaks. It's adjustable and comfortable, allowing you to be fully immersed in your on-water excursion. You won't have to worry about getting too hot; this seating system offers mesh-covered honeycomb-vented foam. This is for better airflow and to keep you cool. There are adjustable footrests for different size anglers, and if you’re very tall, you can opt for the 12.5-foot model.
Storage won’t be an issue on this kayak either. It features a removable dry box, two cup holders, SlideTrax to hold mounts for smartphones, fishing rods, and other accessories, like a fishfinder. There is also a recess designed for the Wilderness Systems Lithium Battery (sold separately), so you won't get any dead batteries while on the water. It's the best sit-in kayak for anglers looking to conquer ponds, quiet lakes, or slow, deep rivers.
2. Driftsun Sculpin Rotomolded Sit-in Kayak
V-Shaped Hardshell, Single
12' 6" x 26”
SmartTrack Foot Operated Rudder
This unique sit-in kayak is our runner up for several reasons, but one feature that sets this kayak apart is its foot-operated rudder. This will allow you to steer the kayak with ease using your feet. You can cruise, freeing your hands so that you can concentrate on finding fish. You'll be casting and steering like a pro in this Sculpin Rotomolded Sit-in Kayak
Once you receive your new kayak, you’ll be pleased with the tough, impact-resistant rotomolded plastic hull design. It’s in a V-shape and is designed for a solid, responsive, and smooth ride. Its 12 ft length and can withhold 25 kg in weight, making it a solid and steady kayak for most beginner and experienced anglers. With storage being a priority for most anglers, Driftsun has kitted this sit-in kayak with front and back dry storage compartments. It’s also rigged with a rod holder to give anglers a better fishing position.
The cockpit is easily accessible and very spacious to get in and out of. The seat isn't the best of the best, but it's padded and can be adjusted for the angler's comfort. The Sculpin Rotomolded Sit-in Kayak is a great all-rounder and comes with Aluminum Paddles that you won’t feel the need to replace. You could be steering and fishing in no time!
3. Perception Flash 9.5
best sit-in fishing kayak under $500
9’ 6” x 28.5”
Rear drain plug allows for easy cleaning and draining.
If you’re looking for a sit-in kayak that is all about quality, but at a good price, then the Flash 9.5 could be your kayak of choice. Perception released the Flash 10.5 to improve stability and make it easier for anglers to paddle. These characteristics and more make this sit-in kayak a steal priced just below $500.
This kayak is shorter and slightly wider than some of its competition on our list. It allows the kayak to maneuver exceptionally with adjustable foot braces to accommodate paddlers of different sizes. And, getting lost won't be a problem, you'll have dual tracking channels to keep the kayak on course. The seat in the kayak is slightly higher than in most and gives the angler a better sightline for fishing. The high Seat Back for back protection allows the angler to be out all day without worries.
Cruise through lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers, and calm coastal environments in the Flash 10.5. This kayak is very much ideal for beginners and leisurely afternoon voyages. This kayak also features two built-in rod holders as well as cup holders and a small gear storage box. So, you won’t need to leave a thing off your packing list.
4. Intex Excursion Pro
Best tandem sit-in kayak for fishing
Inflatable, Single or Tandem Use
151” x 13” x 18”
Material: Super-tough laminate material with a polyester core
90 days Limited
Looking for a lightweight, travel-friendly sit-in kayak that can fit two? Here’s an inflatable tandem kayak, the Excursion Pro, by Intex. If you’ve always considered inflatable kayaks as a cheap, not so good option, then think again.
This model is great for its tough exterior with a polyester core making it resistant to damage from abrasion, impact, and sunlight. You'll also get a pressure gauge included with the kayak to check if each chamber is inflated to the recommended PSI.
The seating options are adjustable to fit either a single user or two. The seats are attached with durable velcro and can be adjusted forward or backward, depending on your height and size. You can fit two adults comfortably, with enough leg space for you and your loved one to enjoy the water for hours.
Even though the Excursion Pro kayak is designed for two people, it's surprisingly priced at the same price point as many single-person kayaks with many similar features. Another great feature is its usability as a touring as well as a fishing kayak. Intex is known for providing high-quality products over a reasonable price, and the Excursion Pro isn’t any different.
5. Sun Dolphin Excursion 10
Best Rated Model
30” x 13”
Made from Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene
If you're looking for the best rated model, you're probably looking for the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak. Anglers everywhere will love this stable, durable, and easy to carry recreational kayak to fish lakes, rivers, and to get to hard to reach spots. From protective thigh pads for ultimate comfort to the large cockpit, this single-user kayak isn't just made with good materials, but practicality, too.
The hull is in a V shape and is composed of rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex with high-density polyethylene to give excellent protection even in harsh sunlight. The seat is extremely comfortable with an adjustable padded seat to suit your height. Some anglers say it’s not the most comfortable seat compared to others on the market. However, most users cope with this small problem, thanks to its numerous strengths.
You’ll also be impressed with the swivel rod holder, two mounted rod holders, and the very many small storage compartments that Sun Dolphin thought of. There are even dry storage compartments that you’d never guess were there, and for a 10-foot kayak, you can fit quite a bit on this boat. Couple these features with a paddle and water bottle holder, and you'll have everything at your fingertips for your next fishing excursion.
Tips When Fishing Using A Sit-Inside Kayak
Now that you've got a range of information on some of the best sit-in kayaks on the market, it's time to invest and install everything you'll need before using it. Here are some handy tips that some anglers forget when setting up their new kayaks.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What are the top brands of sit-in fishing kayaks?
Some of the bigger and better-known brands that are beloved by anglers are Sun Dolphin, Intex, and Wilderness Systems. These brands don’t just cater to sit-in kayaks, but they have a range of inflatable, tandem, and sit-on-top kayaks available, too.
How do I rig a sit-in kayak for fishing?
Many fishing kayaks nowadays come with some basic equipment to help you rig your kayak for more storage. You can use a 5 feet rope with hooks on the front portion on the kayak for rigging. For more tips, use this video tutorial below. Be sure that you know the limitations of your particular craft and do not exceed them.
Can I install a motor on a sit-in fishing kayak?
Installing a trolling motor can make your kayak cruise easier and with a lot more fun, but it may also weigh your kayak down quite a bit. If you're adding a trolling motor to any kayak, focus on sit-on-top kayaks as it will feel a lot more stable and will work more effectively.
Where is the best place to find sit-in fishing kayaks for sale?
You can check out some local fishing tackle stores to see if they have the model you desire. Otherwise, you can always buy directly from Amazon. You can read other anglers' opinions before you order. It also recommends perfectly matching paddles and racks for the model you may go for.
As you can see from our list above, you can find sit-in kayaks that suit many anglers' needs and at different price points. The Wilderness Systems Pungo 105 kayak is a great all-rounder, giving you superior stability, ease of use, and a ton of added features. You'll also have plenty of space and good handling, so your fishing trip on your new sit-in kayak will go by smooth sailing.