Kayak vs Canoe Fishing – Which is Better?

kayak vs canoe fishing

The kayak vs canoe fishing debate isn’t new. While both vessel types have many similarities, there are subtle distinctions that make them drastically different.

Which is better for fishing after all – a kayak or a canoe? Let’s try to find an answer to this question.

Kayak vs canoe fishing

We’ve mentioned above that there are some distinctions that set kayaks and canoes apart. Well, below, we are going to overview those which matter in the context of fishing. For each feature, we will pick the winner and briefly explain the reasoning behind our choice.

Remember that the features below are fishing-specific. For a more general comparison, check out our separate post.


Winner – Canoe

Kayaks and canoes have very different hull designs, which is a thing that hugely impacts the comfort level you are getting in each vessel type.

Since kayaks are usually more compact, they tend to be less comfortable than canoes. In a kayak with its limited freedom of movement, you are basically forced into one seating position.

The downsides of this won’t be noticeable during shorter trips, but if on the water for a long time, you’ll probably understand what we mean when your muscles start to ache and demand that you change position.

Things are a little better in sit-on-top kayaks, but sit-in kayaks with their hulls enclosing your lower body will probably make you very uncomfortable during longer trips.

In canoes, on the other hand, you have more wiggle room, which should allow you to position yourself more comfortably during longer trips. The increased freedom of movement may not make a difference during shorter fishing trips, but it most likely will when fishing hours long.


Winner – Kayak

In a kayak, your body is positioned closer to the water, which contributes to the overall stability of the vessel. Of course, wider kayaks are going to be more stable than narrow ones, but kayaks generally provide a sturdier ground for your feet to rest on while fishing.

Canoes, albeit by no means unstable, are less steady than kayaks since the passengers’ weight is higher above the water. The decreased stability of a canoe will especially be felt when fishing from a standing position.

Storage space

Winner – Canoe

Canoes definitely have the edge when it comes to storage space. While there are kayaks out there that have absolutely enormous storage capacities, canoes tend to have more gear storage space due to their typically larger sizes.

Aside from that, a thing that many anglers like about canoes is that getting your things in them is much easier due to their open design.

Not only that, but canoes also tend to have higher weight capacities. Although there are kayaks out there that can easily carry several hundreds of pounds of gear, you can find a larger number of canoes that can do the same and even more. 

Gear safety

Winner – Kayak

Canoes tend to be better in terms of storage space, but things go the other way around when it comes to gear safety.

You see, in a typical canoe, your gear isn’t going to be well-protected from the splashes of water or rain. Canoe hulls usually don’t have enclosed spaces for gear protection. Of course, you can bring your things along in a dry bag, but the point is that canoes usually don’t have any integrated features for gear protection.

Kayaks, on the other hand, very often come with sealed storage compartments specifically designed to protect your gear from water. These storage compartments may be unable to protect your gear in the event of capsizing, but sudden splashes should be no problem for them.

Fishing techniques

Winner – Canoe

When it comes to fishing techniques, we think that canoes have the edge over kayaks.

In a typical kayak, you don’t have too much freedom of movement, as we mentioned above. As a result, you can use less of your body to fish. Often, you are restricted to just your upper body when casting.

In canoes with their greater amount of wiggle room, it is easier to position yourself properly and to use your body for casting the bait farther.

Aside from that, the average canoe allows you to fish while standing, while a typical kayak doesn’t. Kayaks may have better stability, but they don’t always have the foot room in order to allow you to fish while standing.

Fishing on the move

Winner – Canoe

In this category, we think that canoes are better since they allow for fishing on the move with simple modifications.

If a vessel – be it a kayak or canoe – doesn’t have some kind of a propulsion mechanism – you won’t be able to fish on the go, unless you paddle with one hand and hold the rod with the other. However, some kayaks and canoes do allow mounting of propulsion systems for hands-free boating.

Typically, canoes can be equipped with motors while kayaks can either take kayak pedals or motors.

Most canoes that you will find can easily accept boat motors with little to no modifications. On the other hand, only a small number of kayaks can be equipped with pedals for propulsion, and an even smaller number of models have mounting points for boat motors.

What this means is that if you have a canoe, it is more likely that you will be able to mount a boat motor to it than it would be with a kayak. Due to this, canoes provide more opportunities for fishing on the move.

Fishing accessories

Winner – None

In regard to fishing accessories, there really are no winners. Canoes and kayaks can be equally well-equipped for fishing since there is a wide array of fishing accessories available for both vessel types. Fishing rod holders, fish finders, and many other pieces of fishing equipment are available for either vessel.

Kayak vs canoe fishing – Which is better?

Kayak vs canoe fishing – which one is going to be better for you in the end?

Well, this question is up to you to answer. What we can say is that either vessel type has its good and bad sides, and there are no clear winners in this comparison.

Sure, canoes are better in some aspects, but you won’t care about these if you don’t need canoes’ advantages, right? The same goes for kayaks.

You will be able to determine which one is better for you only by precisely understanding what you need, what kind of gear you will be carrying with you, or what techniques you want to be using.

However, you may want to fish from both anyway to get a feel of what is better for you.

With that being said, remember that the features we overviewed above were related to fishing specifically. We strongly recommend that you check out our Kayak vs Canoe post so that you get a more general idea on what is different between these two types of vessels.

Finally, if you’ve decided that a kayak is better for your fishing tasks, then our roundup of the best kayaks for fishing may be of interest to you.

Author: Jimmy Hurff

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