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Kayaking Series: Picking The Right Kayak

When I do my talk, “Kayak Fishing:  Let’s Get Started”, I ask the question, “can you have fun in any kayak?”  The answer is, yes! But, will you have more fun in a kayak most appropriate for how and where you will be kayaking and again, the answer is yes.


My suggestion is to talk with staff at stores that sell kayaks, check on-line forums, ask you friends who kayak and check the web sites of manufacturers. The primary types of kayaks are Sit-On-Top (SOT) and Sit-In. For fishing and if you have a challenge getting in and out of a kayak, I recommend a SOT. For fishing you have more deck space for all your gear and for those wanting easy entry, there is nothing easier than simply sitting down on the seat in a foot or so of water.  The challenge with the SOT is that they are heavier making transport a little more challenging.


For those who are simply out to enjoy nature and able to get in and out of a kayak easily possibly, a Sit-In is for you. These would be more your recreational or touring kayaks. The recreational Sit-Ins will have a large cockpit and easier to get in and out than the touring kayak with the smaller cockpit. These are lighter, making transport easier.


I have noticed a trend in recent years with people buying shorter kayaks in the 9’ to 11” range in both SOT and Sit-In.  Personally, I prefer a longer kayak for better tracking and more speed. So, my preference would be 11’ to 14’.  For bigger water like we have in Door County, a longer kayak is going to be a better choice. But, as noted earlier, you can have fun in any kayak.


Another more recent trend are the self-propelled kayaks, especially for fishing. I have one and for fishing really like it. But, being somewhat of a purist, for much of my fishing I am still paddling and for my recreational kayaking, I would prefer to paddle. As nice as the self-propelled kayaks are, they are even heavier than the SOT kayaks presenting even more of a challenge in transporting.


This was just a quick overview of what you should consider when looking for the best kayak for you. As always, if you have any questions, I am happy to answer them. Just email me at



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