Is Fishing from a Kayak Hard? The Pros and Cons

Kayaks are both small and narrow, which makes you wonder how viable the vessel is for fishing. Are you going to have a hard time or is a kayak alright for fishing?

Fishing from a kayak is not regarded as hard. Using a kayak for fishing can be advantageous, as your boat draws less water and is quieter so you can catch more fish. However, the lack of space makes fishing from a kayak difficult, as does the fact that it’s hard to stay dry.

In today’s guide, we’ll go over both the pros and cons of fishing from a kayak so you can decide if it’s something you want to do. There’s lots of great information to come, so make sure you keep reading!

Comparing the Upsides and Downsides of Fishing From a Kayak

pros and cons table of using a kayak when fishing.

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The Upsides of Fishing from a Kayak

Let’s get underway by looking at the advantages of fishing from a kayak, as there certainly are many of them!

Once you see all these perks, you’ll realize that fishing from a kayak is not too terribly challenging. 

Fishing from a Kayak Is Considered Easy

Are you new to fishing? If so, then your first fishing boat shouldn’t be a walkaround boat or a center console, but rather, a kayak!

Many anglers find that fishing from a kayak is easy.

That’s likely due to the personalization options that a kayak affords.

Kayaks do have the option of being motorized, but if you’d prefer to manually paddle, that’s an option as well. Want more info on choosing the best paddle? Check out our Kayak Paddle Selection Guide.

The small size of a kayak is incredibly beginner-friendly, as is how lightweight this boat is.

Even if you’re fishing on your lonesome in a kayak, you can gain the confidence through repeated outings that you need to become a better angler.

Check out our other article, “Is fishing in a Kayak safe?”

It’s Easier to Sneak Up on Fish

When fishing, the approach you take in the water is everything.

If yours is a loud trolling motor, then by the time you reach your optimal spot in the water, you might be disappointed to learn that all the fish have scurried away. Your engine scared them all off.

That won’t be the case nearly as much with a kayak.

Kayaks don’t draw much water as they traverse the waves. More so, you’re a lot lower to the water.

On top of that, not all kayaks are motorized. If yours isn’t, then it’s even easier for you to perfect the silent approach.

By the time you find your spot on the water, the fish will not be able to hear you coming, that’s for sure!

You’ll be able to catch them unawares and possibly reel in more catches than if you were using a big, motorized fishing boat. That’s an excellent feeling.

You Can Usually Bring at Least One Other Person Along

While most of the kayaks on the market are for a single user, they’re not all like that!

If you’re interested, you can always opt for a two-person kayak. 

One of you would sit in the front and act as the eyes of the boat while someone else would be in the back.

Two-person kayaks are usually longer than a single-person kayak to accommodate the second person, but they’re not altogether extremely bigger boats.

The benefit of a two-person kayak is that one of you can watch the front while the other person watches the back.

You will have to learn to paddle in tandem to navigate using the boat and find a paddling cadence that’s just gentle enough to prevent scaring off the fish.

You and your buddy will be able to talk throughout the day though, and they can offer you fishing tips (and vice-versa).

The company can make the day go faster and the experience less lonely, which is always nice!

Kayaks Are Simple to Take Care Of

When you’re done kayaking for the day, you don’t have to deal with nearly the same extensive maintenance requirements as someone with a fishing boat does.

If you’re fishing in saltwater, then you should rinse off your boat when you’re done for the day. 

That’s actually a good habit to get into regardless, as you can remove dirt and other trace particles and dislodge barnacles before they can stick.

Once your kayak is clean, just keep it somewhere dry and cool where it’s not exposed to sunlight.

If your kayak isn’t motorized, then you don’t have to worry about engine maintenance. That’s one less significant and expensive task off your list.

You also have more storage options for your kayak when the offseason arrives. 

Since kayaks are smaller boats, you might be able to stash yours in your garage or your shed until the weather gets warmer.

There’s no need to dock it at a marina or pay for a storage facility, the costs of which do add up over the months.

You Can Reach Many Bodies of Water

Since kayaks are smaller boats with a lower profile, this opens up your fishing options substantially compared to selecting a fishing boat.

You can easily navigate through ponds, lakes, rivers, along rocky shorelines, and in shallow and deep waters alike.

You’ll find that you have access to a greater array of fish species and perhaps non-fish creatures as well such as lobsters and crabs. 

You Can Use a Simpler Setup, Which Some Anglers Find Relaxing

Kayaks, as we’ve made clear throughout this section, are very simple in their setup, especially compared to nonmotorized boats.

You don’t need to double-check that you have enough gas or that your motor is in working condition. You can simply grab your paddles and go.

Otherwise, you only need a life jacket, your fishing rod, your bait, and a small cooler.

Since kayak fishing is so uncomplicated, lots of anglers have found it’s very relaxing compared to other forms of fishing from a boat. 

It’s no wonder so many anglers have gravitated towards kayak fishing!

You Get Some Good Exercise Too

Sitting around holding a fishing rod isn’t exactly the best exercise, let’s be real. You’re burning between 130 and 175 calories an hour.

When your boat is motorized, you don’t have to exert yourself in any way as you go from the shoreline to the water.

When kayaking in a nonmotorized boat, you’re in charge of getting around on the water using your paddles. 

The exercise will burn 283 calories an hour if you weigh about 125 pounds.

With all the calories you’re burning, you won’t feel so bad sitting around on your boat all day.

The Downsides of Fishing from a Kayak

Now that we’ve examined what’s so great and easy about fishing from a kayak, it’s time to turn the coin around and look at the negative and more difficult aspects of this activity.

Conditions Are Cramped

If you’ve ever used another type of fishing boat before and then you switch to a kayak, you’re going to find that the available room is far less in a kayak.

Even if a kayak is your first fishing boat, you might be disappointed by the lack of space. 

Your maneuverability will feel hindered, and fishing from the boat can admittedly be an adjustment as well.

Once you get used to it, then it’s no big deal, but you may find yourself all along wishing that your boat was bigger.

You Can’t Bring as Much Equipment

A smaller boat for fishing such as a kayak is going to limit how much fishing gear and equipment you can bring on your fishing expeditions.

If yours is a two-person kayak, you can always use the second seat for your gear, but you have to be careful about weight distribution. 

Paddling the boat will be difficult as well since you’re missing someone in the back to balance out your efforts.

That usually means bringing only as much as the roominess in your kayak affords. You’ll have to get really good at fishing with less and carrying a smaller cooler.

Your fishing days may be shorter as you run out of bait or space in the cooler fast.

Check out our article, “The Best Place to Keep Fish When Using a Kayak.”

You’re Not Going to Be as Comfortable

When fishing, your comfort is paramount. It’s not unusual to spend the entire day on the water, so if you’re not totally cozy, your day can be ruined.

Outside of the usual concerns to comfort such as sunburn and bug bites which can happen on any boat, how spacious your boat is can either enhance or impede your comfort.

We’ve already established that kayaks are small, and the seats aren’t always the best compared to actual fishing boats.

These factors will shorten your time on the water.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Kayak Seats.

You’re Likelier to Get Wet

Every angler knows that they can get wet when they go fishing. Think of it as an occupational hazard, so to speak.

However, your likelihood of getting wet is a lot higher when fishing in a kayak.

You’re a lot lower to the water, so you’re closer to the splash zone, if you want to call it that. 

Even if your lap is protected from the water by the kayak, if your upper half is wet, you’re still going to be in for a bad time.

Now, sit-on-top kayaks do reduce your risk of getting wet but do not altogether eliminate that risk.

You might want to think about wearing some waterproof gear when fishing from a kayak to keep yourself nice and dry. 

You may be the only one among your fishing buddies to sport such gear, especially if they don’t own kayaks, but so be it.

You Can’t Fish as Deep as You May Like

While fishing kayaks are designed for moderately deep water, once you get into oceanic conditions, it’s time to pull back.

Kayaks aren’t very ocean-friendly, and they also don’t do well in other bodies of deep water.

Your boat can easily fill with water if you get splashed by a big wave. Your chances of capsizing are also a lot higher.

Some people assume that because kayaks don’t capsize very often in placid waters that they can never capsize, but that simply isn’t true. 

Any boat can tip over, and the risks are much higher in deeper and rougher waters.

Thus, while you can take a kayak to places that larger boats cannot reach, they still can’t roam totally freely.

You Can Tire Yourself Out Paddling

By far the most difficult part of fishing from a kayak is all the paddling involved.

You may burn calories by paddling, which is always great, but the amount of physical effort you’ll have to expend is difficult!

If you’re not used to manually getting yourself to an optimal spot in the water, then you can find yourself so exhausted and your muscles so shot that you’ll have a hard time concentrating on doing any fishing.

You’ll just be thinking about how you’d rather go home and get some sleep.

Of course, over time, your body does adjust. 

Plus, if you do struggle with the paddling portion of kayaking, you can always buy a motorized kayak.

That said, we did have to mention this, as it’s an impediment to fishing from a kayak.

Check out our Kayak Selection Guide.

Final Thoughts

Fishing from a kayak isn’t hard, per se, but it can be made more difficult if you have to manually paddle to and from your destination.

While the lightweight, narrow qualities of a kayak do afford you more maneuverability into spaces that bigger fishing boats cannot go, you can’t fish in very deep water. 

Your limited room in a kayak can also impede your comfort.

Since there are both advantages and disadvantages to fishing from a kayak, you’ll have to weigh them both carefully.

We at least recommend renting a kayak for a weekend and seeing how you feel in it. You might enjoy the fishing experience enough to stick with it or you could decide that you need another fishing boat.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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