How to Decide Between a Canoe or Kayak for Fishing

Trying to decide which is better in the battle of canoe vs kayak for fishing can lead to heated discussions. Which is better? Why is one better than the other?

Kayak for fishing

It can be difficult to decide which to go for – canoeing or kayaking for fishing. Both options get you closer to the fish and help you catch a ton of fish, but they require different levels of expertise.

To aid you in making the best decision for you, we’ve put together this guide to go over the pros and cons of canoe and kayak fishing. Each section focuses on a different aspect of fishing from a canoe or kayak and explains the pros and cons of each type of boat.

Canoe vs Kayak for Fishing: Comfort

Comfort should be your first consideration when deciding which boat type is the best option.

Most of the kayaks you’ll use for fishing are sit-on-top kayaks, which give you a low center of gravity but add stability. You sit on this type of kayak with your legs straight out or bent, and you can only face forward because twisting around is difficult.

When you fish in a canoe, you sit much higher, which offers less stability. However, your legs are bent, and you can move around more easily. This is one of the biggest advantages to a canoe vs kayak for fishing for an angler.

For most people, they notice that their backs start spasming when their knees are straight out in front of them. But in a canoe, you can move around to alleviate some of the pressure on your back.

Canoe vs Kayak for Fishing: Moving Around

Moving around a fishing kayak is very different than a canoe. Kayaks use two-bladed paddles. When the paddles are not being used, they are usually balanced across the cockpit or fastened to the deck. You need to put your pole down and pick the kayak paddle up to move.

You need to use a tether to ensure that you don’t lose your paddle. A new kayak trend is a pedal-powered kayak, which uses pedals to move it through the water.

On the other hand, canoes use a single-blade kayak paddle that can be dropped to the deck when it’s not being used. You can also use an electric trolling motor on your canoe if you want to.

Canoe vs Kayak for Fishing: Capacity and Weight

From a hauling standpoint, you need to consider the weight. Canoes tend to weigh less than kayaks. For example, a 12-foot canoe can weigh approximately 23 pounds, while a two-person kayak weighs around 50 pounds.

Anything that weighs over 40 pounds will be difficult to lift onto a car without help.

Kayaks use elastic cords and wells to hold equipment in place. The wells keep the equipment dry and safe if you replace the hatch every time you open it. A kayak angler can just drop their equipment on the deck and call it good with a recreational canoe.

For either boat, you need to make sure that everything is secured so that if you do tip, you aren’t losing too much fishing gear. You can always invest in a life jacket with several little pockets for small fishing gear you need to have on hand while fishing.

Rod holders are going to be essential for both boat types. You’ll want to get rod holders that are easy to adjust – vertically and horizontally. Kayaks for fishing will generally have them permanently attached, but canoes won’t.

canoe vs kayak for fishing
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Canoe vs Kayak for Fishing: Staying in Place

Anchoring can be tricky for both canoes and kayaks, and there are quite a few different types of anchor styles out there. We recommend using a mushroom-style anchor because they’re less likely to get hung up than the grapple-style anchors. You can even use a milk jug full of sand. You can easily adjust the weight, and it will not get hung up easily.

For both boats, you’ll either haul the anchor up hand-over-hand or by using a pulley system to raise it from the stern or bow.

Canoe vs Kayak for Fishing: Fishing Techniques

Standing and casting your line from a boat uses your whole body; reeling in a fish uses even more of your body. When fishing from a canoe or kayak, you only have your shoulders and arms for these movements.

A kayak necessitates a different casting method than a canoe because you’re much closer to the surface of the water and have less of your body to use for the cast. We recommend getting a fishing rod with a longer handle because the long handle keeps the reel away from the rod holder, making it easier to grab when you catch a fish.

The idea of fishing with a canoe or kayak is that you can get closer to the fish beds and enter more quietly than in a regular motorboat, so you don’t need to make long casts. However, this does mean that you need to make accurate casts.

Bottom Line

The only way to know which is better for you in terms of canoe vs kayak for fishing is to give both a try. If you try out one and decide it’s not for you, give the other one a shot. It’s going to take some practice and patience to get fishing down in a canoe or kayak.

You’ll find that both canoeing and kayaking while fishing require some research before you get it right.

Hopefully, this guide has shown you the pros and cons of fishing from a canoe and kayak so you can decide which is best for you.

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