Sit-on-top fishing kayaks differ from traditional kayaks because you sit on top of them rather than inside a cockpit. These types of kayaks are ideal for those who live in warm climates and don't mind getting wet or those who don't like the idea of being enclosed within their boat.

When buying a sit-on-top kayak, there are a number of questions you must ask to ensure that you make the right purchase. Those questions include:

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  1. What is your experience level?
  2. What do you plan to do with the kayak?
  3. How much storage space do you need?
  4. How much weight and size can you handle?
  5. What is your budget?

What is your experience level?

Whether you are new to sit-on-top fishing kayaks or an experienced user, there are three characteristics that you must evaluate while on the hunt for a new vessel: stability, turning and tracking.

Stability refers to how stable the kayak feels, both when you climb in and when you are in motion. Generally, kayaks that feel very stable when they are not moving won't feel as stable when they are in motion, and vice versa. If you're new to using a kayaking for fishing, consider a vessel that is very stable when not in motion. With this kind of boat, you'll be able to spend more time thinking about the fish and less about your balance.

How easily a boat turns will be very important depending on the activity you plan to engage in. If you're planning to take your kayak out for leisurely fishing trips, tight turning isn't much of a concern. However, if you plan to ride a fast-moving river and need to avoid obstacles, turning becomes extremely important.

Tracking describes how well a kayak holds a steady line. If you plan to take your sit-on-top fishing kayak out for day trips or long excursions, you'll want to maintain a very steady line to reduce your paddling efforts and keep up your speed. On the other hand, steady tracking isn't important if you're fishing or navigating a river.

What do you plan to do with the kayak?

If you're a beginner and have not used a kayak before or you only plan to take the kayak out for short trips on relatively flat water, a recreational kayak would be the best choice for you. Probably the most popular kind of sit-on-top fishing kayak, recreational varieties are ideal for all ages, most experience levels and a wide range of activities. Recreational kayaks are the kind that you most often see used by tourists at resorts and hotels in warm locales.

As recreational kayaks are very stable when not in motion, they're great for fishing on lakes, rivers and bays. These kayaks are less steady when you're traveling, but as travel to your fishing spot will only take a fraction of your day, it isn't a great concern. Take note that recreational kayaks are designed for relatively calm waters and are not suitable for the open ocean or raging rivers.

If you are a more experienced kayaker and want to take your boat out on to a fast-moving river when you're not fishing, you'll need a whitewater sit-on-top kayak. Some may argue that sit-on-tops are not suitable for rafting, but they certainly are so long as you find the right accessories and build.

When choosing a sit-on-top for river rafting, look for a kayak installed with thigh straps. A good deal of navigating river water involves using your body to move the kayak: the thigh straps will afford you that ability. You'll also want to find a kayak that is snug to your body; the more areas where your body contacts the boat, including your feet and back, the easier it will be to maneuver the craft.

Generally, sit-on-top fishing kayaks are wider than the sit-in kayaks that are usually employed for whitewater sports. That means that they are tougher to steer. If you plan to take your sit-on kayak to the river, be aware of the river's conditions and your skill level to ensure your safety. One advantage that sit-on-tops have over kayaks is that they are much easier to get back into should you capsize since they won't fill with water and offer a large surface area for mounting.

If you want to take a sit-on-top fishing kayak to the open ocean, you'll want to find something that can handle the wind and surf. Generally, longer kayaks provide better stability against waves, allowing you to sail right over them. Sit-on-top kayaks are typically seen as the safest type of kayak for the ocean because it is impossible to become trapped inside of one upon capsized and remounting is easy.

How much storage space do you need?

A sit-on-top fishing kayak isn't going to do you much good if you can't take it out with you because it's too heavy or too large to transport. As such, you need to take a close look at your handling capabilities before making a decision. Will you always have help to lift a heavy craft? Are you a single person who will has to rely on his own strength?

If you will often be on your own, you'll need to find a kayak that you can lift on your own. If you're using a trailer as opposed to mounting your kayak to the roof of your car, you can physically afford to purchase something a little heavier. However, if you only have a car roof or truck bed for transportation purposes, you will need a craft that you can lift over your head.

In terms of rigid kayaks, those made of fiberglass will be among the lightest. They are extremely durable, but if you drop one, you risk cracking it. Sit-on-top fishing kayaks made of carbon fiber or kevlar are alsot available — and much lighter — but they are very expensive. If you need a boat that is more portable, you can also consider fabric ones or inflatable ones, which can easily be stored in a closet and transported in a back seat or trunk.

Should you be in a position where you will always have help loading and unloading your kayak, weight is really of no concern to you. However, keep in mind that you must still transport your boat, and if you only have a sedan or truck, you are limited to how long of a vessel you can carry. Attempting to carry a kayak that is too long for your car poses all kinds of trouble, including impaired vision through the windshield due to the overhang.

Plastic is the heaviest of the materials used in making kayaks; it's also easy to find plastic kayaks that are still lightweight. On the plus side, plastic is extremely durable and difficult to damage, and it's eco-friendly: You can find kayaks made out of recycled materials: you can even recycle a plastic kayak at the end of its life.

What is your budget?

A sound piece of advice to consider when purchasing a kayak is that you should buy the best you can afford. If you're a beginner, you're likely to fall in love with kayaking, and if you purchase a basic, entry-level vessel, you'll quickly outgrow it.

Generally, plastic sit-on-top kayaks are the least expensive. Next comes fiberglass, followed by special materials like kevlar and carbon fiber.

You also to remember that you need to purchase gear for your next sit-on-top fishing kayak, such as paddles and safety equipment.

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks are a wonderful option for both novice kayakers and those with plenty of experience. There are a lot of questions to think about before making a purchase, but if you start with the above, you'll head in the right direction.

Sit on Top fishing kayaks are preferred over the sit inside type for one specific reason: if you tip over, you can flip the boat back upright and climb back on board. With a sit inside, you’ll need the know-how to roll the kayak back to an upright position without losing your gear or getting trapped inside by some quirk of fate.

Some anglers believe that a sit inside will give you more protection from getting wet but the truth is so much simpler than that. If you’re using a kayak, you are going to get wet.Period.

Our Top 3 Sit on top fishing kayaks are designed primarily for use in rivers, lakes, ponds and shallow areas. These models are neither used for running rapids nor for setting out on an ocean voyage, even though some verified users have tested their own fate by taking them into “parts”.

Top 3 Sit on Top Fishing Kayaks
Sit on top Fishing Kayaks #1: Malibu Stealth 14 #2: Future Beach Fishing Kayak #3: Lifetime Sport Fisher Tandem
Storage Available 3-hatch System plus rod holders 12’’x20” Elliptcal storage hatch plus bungee open deck 6” storage hatch and open deck plus 2 rod holders
Max Support Weight 550 lbs. 300 lbs. 500 lbs.
Seating Seat not included Adjustable, padded backrest w/ hard seat Molded with 2 padded back rests
Width / Stability 33”/ excellent stability 29”/ good stability 36”/ good stability in 2’ waves
Power Method Paddle only Paddle only Paddle only
Unique Features Mount for motor availble at extra cost Multi-channel hull for better tracking Tandem and can hold up to 3 people
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

#Number 1

Malibu Kayaks Stealth 14 Sit on Top Kayak (Fish and Dive Package)

Even though this Malibu is specifically made for fishing, recreational users love it as well. There is sufficient room for storing camping gear, fishing gear and supplies for a weekend of camping and fishing.

The two molded-in rod holders of the unit are ready and waiting for your convenience and if you add a plumbing kit (available as an extra) you may risk self-draining at the flip of a switch.

  • 550 pound weight capacity
  • 3-hatch system
  • Circulating bait tank with side hatches
  • Extra-large Gator hatch with bungee system
  • 4 rod holders
  • Adjustable foot track system
  • Approximately 14-feet by 33” wide at beam

This solo fishing kayak is rated to carry up to 550-pounds leaving more than enough room for you, your gear and any catch you drag on board. The triple hatch system plus the circulating bait tank with extra side hatches for small tools, plus the Gator hatch with bungee open deck storage is easy to reach and use while standing or sitting.

Pros:

Stability, quality construction, excellent casting platform; excellent variety of storage

Cons:

Seat not included; motor mount extra;

With an Amazon perfect customer rating of 5 stars (out of 7 reviews), the Malibu Kayaks Stealth 14 Sit on Top Kayak is worth the price.

#Number 2

Future Beach Angler 160 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

Future Beach is neither the youngest or oldest manufacturer in the fishing kayak business but it is the fastest growing brand as it begins making its mark in the national market. As a result, The company is known to produce quality fishing yaks at a reasonable price. The Angler 160 is especially designed for beginners who want the flexibility of a fishing yak and the maneuverability of a recreational yak.

  • 300-pound weight capacity
  • Padded seat back with molded seat
  • Open deck bungee stern well holds 5-gallon bucket
  • 12” x 20” elliptical storage hatch
  • Multi-channel hull
  • 2 Flush mounted rod holders
  • Self-bailing cockpit approximately 18” x 42”
  • Approximately 10-feet x 30”

Angler 160 has a 30” width that gives it excellent stability and a sharp chine allowing it to move through the water— including shallows with the ease of a recreational kayak. The stern well can be used for your bait bucket or for gear that needs to stay out of the water. With the bungee system for open deck additional storage, you have extra storage within easy reach while fishing. Additionally, flush mounted rod holders prevents them from being accidentally knocked off or broken when fighting the big one!

Pros:

Stability, Quality, maneuverability, storage, shallow water fishing, price

Cons:

No rudder install possible, seat may be uncomfortable for older person

Since it’s only ten feet long, one person can usually handle loading and unloading it from a car top, truck bed or small trailer.

With an Amazon perfect customer rating of 5 stars (out of 5 reviews), the Future Beach Angler 160 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak is worth the price tag.

#Number 3

Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak

Lifetime’s 10-Foot Sport Tandem Fishing Kayak is one of the favorites at Amazon. Lifetime has been gaining fans over the last few years since hitting the national market. The quality of materials and ease of transport are only two of its most popular features.

  • 500-pound Weight Capacity
  • Tunnel hull design
  • 3 rod holders
  • Interior storage hatch
  • Bungee open deck storage
  • 3-contoured adult-sized seat molds
  • 2-padded backrests
  • 10-feet by 36” wide

The weight capacity of 500-pounds allows for a solo angler to load up for a week of camping and adventure or for two adults and a child (or pet) to go out for a great weekend. The tunnel hull of he unit allows the yak to stay stable as you drag in your personal Moby Dick whether you stand up to fish or sit side-saddle. There’s plenty of room to stretch your legs when sitting and the casting platforms allow you to choose which area of the yak you prefer to fish.

Pros:

Quality for the money, Tandem but small enough for solo, storage, price

Cons:

No bottom seat for long hours fishing, minimal extras require adding on for personal preference

With an Amazon perfect customer rating of 4.4 stars (out of 95 reviews), the Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak is worth the retailing price.