I’ve been kayak fishing for a few years now and in that time have seen a lot of guys that have chosen the wrong sit on top fishing kayak. (aka SOT)
Some had one that was way too small. Others had theirs without enough space to do the rigging they wanted and it was overcrowded as a result. And some others had more kayak than they needed for what they wanted to do.
Somewhere there is a happy medium that would have gotten them in the right kayak.
How do you find the right SOT fishing kayak? First, you need to read the handy buyer’s guide just below that will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Then read further down for my list of the best sit on top fishing kayaks.
Let’s dive right in and see which one is going to be best for you.
What Is A Sit On Top Kayak?
Unlike a sit inside kayak, a SOT has you on the outside of the kayak. The cockpit is really a deck with a seat and the kayak floats due to it being hollow inside. It is sealed but usually has hatches that can be opened.
The design makes it ideal as a fishing platform since you are out in the open where you can move around on the deck and have lots of equipment rigged to fish.
Here are some more advantages of using a sit on top fishing kayak:
- Easy to use – A SOT is a great fishing kayak for beginners since there is a much lower learning curve to fish out of one. You have the option of using a paddle or even a pedal system making it even easier.
- Safer to use – Since a SOT won’t sink unless the hull has been compromised with either a puncture or a hatch left open they are much safer to use. They are harder to tip over than sit inside ones and getting in is easy since you just slide right back on top.
- Lots of storage space – Since the hull is hollow, you can use it for dry storage for all kinds of gear. Put your camping gear in there, extra clothes or all of your fishing stuff you need for the day.
- Comfortable – I tried a sit inside fishing kayak and couldn’t stand the feeling that I was restricted in there. On a SOT you have really comfortable stadium seats available and much more room to move. Some people like to fish sitting side saddle on a kayak or even just open their legs up to let their feet cool off in the water. Accessing your gear is easier too so this all adds up to extra comfort.
How To Choose The Right One
There are a number of factors to consider when looking to buy a sit on top fishing kayak. There are so many different models available that it can be hard to say which one you should get.
The only way to really know is to evaluate your needs and how you plan to fish so then you can zero in on the best sit on top fishing kayak that ticks all of your boxes.
Here are the features you want to see in a kayak:
This ties in with how safe the kayak is going to be for you. In essence the wider a kayak is the more stable it is. You’re going to be moving around a lot when trying to grab your gear and especially when you are fighting and landing a fish.
There is always going to be a risk involved when you are fishing, but to minimize it look for a wide kayak.
There are two kinds of stability and different types of kayaks will be better at one or the other.
Primary stability and secondary stability they are called.
Primary stability is when it is hard to tip over a kayak. The wider the kayak, the better the primary stability.
Now, you can only have one or the other, so that means kayaks with good primary stability are not good for their secondary stability. This means that once the kayak is in fact tipping, the point of no return happens fast so it is very difficult to recover and not flip.
Kayaks with good secondary stability are usually narrower and longer than ones with good primary. As a result they feel very tippy. When you lean or sit broadside to a wave, it feels like it could go right over, and sometimes it will. But, with good secondary stability, you can recover with some experience and keep it from tipping over.
How much water are you looking to cover in a day? If you are just dinking around a small lake or pond then speed is not a huge concern.
If you are out on the salt and need to chase feeding birds a half mile from the launch, then you’ll want to be speedy.
How fast a kayak is depends on the width, as a wide, flat bottom is slower than a narrow kayak with a deep keel and chines.
If you plan to be ready for lots of fishing eventualities then having a good amount of deck space is needed to be able mount your gear. You’ll want space for your rods, fish finder a good seat and other essentials.
Behind your seat, make sure you have the space in the well for a milk crate, cooler, bucket or any other type of storage vessel for your gear or catch.
How You Plan To Fish
Do you plan on fly fishing from your kayak? Then you’ll need one with low gunwales and a deck that allows for standing while casting.
The same goes for guys that fish the salt flats and need to do sight casting.
Or, maybe you plan to troll and just want to slowly make your way across that lake or bay with a line behind you. Then you’ll want to have a deck that can allow for mounting some horizontal rod holders. Or, if you have the budget, you can opt for a pedal-powered kayak so you can hold your rod while trolling as your feet do the work.
These all have to do with the best kind of kayak is going to suit you.
Always pay attention to the weight requirements. Both because of the safety concerns if you are over the limit, but also the performance.
If you weigh more than your kayak can handle then you can easily tip over when leaning or fighting a fish.
Not only that, but if you have scupper holes in your deck then you’ll find you are sitting in a puddle the whole day of fishing. Now, you can put scupper plugs in there to keep the water from coming up, but when you have waves coming over the gunwales then there is no way for it to drain when you have plugs in.
Our List For The Best SOT Fishing Kayaks
BKC RA220 11.6′ Single Fishing Kayak
Calling themselves the Swiss Army Knife of kayaks, the Brooklyn Kayak Co. know how to market themselves. They have designed a sit on top fishing kayak that pretty much does it all.
Let’s start with stability and control. The width of the hull is 34 inches giving you very good primary stability. In fact, you can even easily stand up for sight fishing or fly fishing if that’s how you fish. As far as control goes, you have a very responsive rudder system that is also foot controlled. Taking one less thing to do with your hands away is always a good thing. This way you can turn on the fly while you have a paddle in hand.
You get a lot of deck space to rig the kayak however you like. There are already two flush mount rod holders and a horizontal rod holder, but you can always add more. Plus the rail tracks make it easy to add more gear to mount without any drilling holes.
For storage, you get a very generous rectangle hatch right within reach while you are sitting in your seat for easy access.
Then in addition to that there is a larger hatch right up front. The rear well has enough space to add a milk crate or small cooler. It even has a recess that perfectly fits a 5 gallon bucket.
For comfort the stadium seat has a solid aluminum frame so it will last a long time and not break in to where it becomes uncomfortable. Plus it is elevated to keep your rear end out of a sloshing puddle all day long and is angled to allow you to stand easily without an assist bar. The foot pegs are adjustable on the fly since they have a cable system to move them.
It is somewhere in between heavy and light. I know that sounds like a cop out but this is kind of subjective. I have a 68 pound kayak and feel like it is just on the cusp of being too heavy. But others may feel that this weight is fine and be able to handle loading it on a roof rack or carrying it to the launch themselves.
Overall I really like these new kayaks and feel like they offer a ton of value. The price is definitely right for all the features you get.
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
Taking the kayak fishing world by storm is Vibe fishing kayaks and chief among their models is the Sea Ghost. Stealthy and quick, you can easily get on some fish and start slaying.
At 13 feet long and 33 inches wide, it offers stability and speed at the same time. It does have decent primary stability but the length and the keel design are great for secondary stability. With a weight rating of 500 pounds, you can load it up with gear and be heavy yourself and still get great stability and tracking.
If you need to cover a lot of water and want to do it quickly and without needing to adjust your tracking constantly then this is a great choice for kayak.
The toe controlled rudder frees up your hands to keep paddling while you steer for some nice efficiency of movement. Rigging is also really customizable not only due to the sizable deck but also the gear tracks on the rails so you can add rod holders or a fish finder without drilling. There is even a dedicated scupper for the transducer so you don’t have to go through the hull.
Storage is awesome on this with two Plano tackle box tray holders, an 8 inch hatch with waterproof bags, a sizable front storage hatch and a rear well with bungee tie down for you milk crate or other gear.
The price might be on the high side for some, but when you consider all you get for the money, I think it provides a great value. The money and time you will save on rigging on things like the fish finder set up makes it worth it on its own.
Perception Pescador Pro Sit On Top Kayak
A very solid contender for the best sit on top fishing kayak for beginners is the Pescador Pro.
It doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles but it is well designed and works really well.
Stability is excellent and is an integral part of the design. In fact, the entire hull is a single molded piece. It is unsinkable as there is no access to the inside. Which does have a drawback in a way.
Since there is no access inside the hull, you can do any drilling so rigging is a bit of a challenge. Luckily there are YakAttack Gear Trac rails on the gunwales so you can add rod holders or a fish finder there without needing to drill.
At 12 feet long it is speedy with very good tracking. Getting on the fish is fast and deadly silent. Since it only weighs 57 pounds, it can easily be loaded on a roof rack by yourself and can also be carried to the launch if you are strong enough.
Comfort is also a big feature on this sit on top fishing kayak. The seat gives you good support on your lower lumbar while also angling away towards the top so you can sit comfortably with a PFD on. Which reminds me to remind you to always follow kayak safety precautions when out on the water!
If you are a minimalist when it comes to fishing and don’t want to be loaded up too much then this kayak fits the bill. I will add that I do wish the price were a bit lower since there aren’t a lot of add ons, but since it is a well made kayak I think the price is justified.
Hobie 2019 Mirage Outback
To me this is the number one type of SOT fishing kayak out there. I have this model though a few years older so lacking some of the newest features that put this kayak over the top. Maybe it’s time for me to upgrade?
The first thing I love about these new Hobie’s is the 180 degree Mirage drive so you can actually go in reverse.
Besides that improvement, the hull is also redesigned. They added some width for stability and added a flatter deck so you can now stand up in the Outback. Before, you may have been able to pull it off but it wasn’t recommended. The tracking is much better and the rudder stays in place much easier. One of the things I am not crazy about when it comes to my Outback is that the rudder tends to move around and I am often needing to tighten up the cables. This one also has two independent rudder controls so if one breaks you can still use the other to steer.
In a word the new deck is just Wow. There is so much there to allow you to do some serious rigging. Two H rail guides on each side allow you to mount any type of rod holder or fish finder whereas before you had to go with Hobie gear which can be expensive.
The rectangle hatch on deck is very spacious and allows for a lot of tackle to be placed inside plus you cell phone and other stuff if you need. The front storage is a bit smaller than the older versions so if you have a hatch bucket it won’t fit into this one.
This is an amazing kayak that also comes with a jaw dropping price. It is very expensive. I will say though that if you can find a way to afford it it is worth every penny.
I hope these reviews help you to decide on a fishing kayak. I know how hard it is to choose as I have been there myself.
This list does have a kayak in pretty much every price range so whatever your budget you will find the right one here.
If you have any questions about these sit on top fishing kayaks, then let me know by dropping a line in the comment box below.