Are Fishing Kayaks Good For Rivers?

Are Fishing Kayaks Good For Rivers?

Fishing kayaks are essentially regular kayaks that have been modified for the benefit of the angler. These vessels provide a way for the angler to reach places that before were impossible. 

A fishing kayak allows you to make casts in waters that are unreachable by land and unnavigable with large boats. This gives you a huge edge in your fishing and could be the difference between a day to remember or an uneventful blank.

So, can you use a fishing kayak in a river to help you locate and capture big pike, trout, and other river species?

In short, yes. you definitely can use a fishing kayak in a river but they aren’t suitable for all conditions. There are a few things you should know and some preparations that should be made before taking to the river in a fishing kayak.

In this read, we’ll be delving into the benefits of fishing kayaks, what environments you can use them in, how you can stay safe on the river, and when you should choose a different type of kayak.

What is a Fishing Kayak?

A fishing kayak is designed to make the paddling angler's life easier and more efficient on the water. 

Fishing kayaks are almost always based on a sit-on kayak design. This is because sit-on kayaks provide the user with more room to turn and reach around. They also provide a lot more usable loading space for tackle storage compared to sit-in kayaks. However, the nature of this style of kayak makes it less stable in rougher conditions because the majority of your weight is situated above water level.

Fishing kayaks are often wider than recreational sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks. This makes them far more stable in the water (ideal for making casts and tying rigs while afloat) but less efficient at paddling. This isn’t usually an issue though, because you often want to cover distances more slowly to ensure you have time to make several casts and cover a lot of water along your route. 

Fishing kayaks are also wider to accommodate the vast array of gear that the angler may need to take with them. 

Are Fishing Kayaks Different From Regular Kayaks?

Fishing kayaks differ from regular kayaks in several ways but they also share similarities. The basis of a fishing kayak is exactly the same as any other sit-on kayak. The differences lie in the additions that are made to the vessel to make your fishing easier and more efficient. 

Additions such as rod holders are commonplace on a fishing kayak but other modifications such as foot-controlled rudders and/or paddles are also seen on higher-end kayaks. These additions are made to make the angler's life easier but they don't affect the overall performance of the basic sit-on kayak body. As mentioned, fishing kayaks are often wider as well to increase stability and provide extra room for fishing tackle.

Regular kayaks, recreational vessels for example, tend to be more agile on the water. They don’t have as many features and come in sit-in and sit-on-top designs. Recreational kayaks are designed for covering distances and they have been optimised to make the paddler’s life, rather than the angler’s life, much easier and more efficient.

You’ll be able to cover longer distances far quicker on a regular kayak compared to a fishing kayak but you’ll lack space for tackle and the ability to perform a controlled drift while you make casts along a stretch of river. 

Can You Use a Fishing Kayak in a River?

You most certainly can use a fishing kayak on a river. Fishing kayaks are designed to cope with fishing environments — it’d be pretty silly for a manufacturer to design a fishing kayak that isn’t usable on a river. However, they definitely aren’t made for every environment….

Luckily for us as anglers, most river species won’t be residing in rapid stretches of white water. If they were, we’d struggle to get there on an open-top fishing kayak. 

Of course, you have to be sensible with where you go on a fishing kayak. Not because “fishing kayaks” can’t navigate rougher waters, but because open-top kayaks aren’t suitable or safe in rough conditions. 

As with any form of kayaking, it’s important to plan. You should always research the stretch of river you plan on fishing before you put paddle to water and make your first cast from a kayak. If you have a route in mind, make sure there are no weirs or rough rapids on it. 

You’re best sticking to calmer stretches of river on a fishing kayak. One, because open-top kayaks are less stable in rough conditions, and two, because you do not want to capsize with all your kit onboard!

When Should You Use a Sit-in River Kayak Instead of a Fishing Kayak?

Now you understand the conditions you should avoid when using a fishing kayak, it’s pretty obvious when you should opt for a different kind of vessel. 

If you’re planning a multi-day camping trip on a river that has some sections of rough water and/or weirs and want to fish along the way, you may have to have a rethink. 

If it’s possible to get out of the water and navigate the rough stretches on land with your kayak without much issues, by all means, bring the fishing yak! You definitely won’t regret it. However, if there are several rougher sections along the route or it’s impossible to walk the banks, you may want to opt for a different type of vessel.

A sit-in kayak designed for river navigation will suit you far better on this type of journey. If fishing is an important part of the trip, you can always mount a rod holder and create easy-to-reach tackle storage solutions to make your angling life easier.

A Final Word: Can You Use a Fishing Kayak on a River?

You definitely can use a fishing kayak on a river but there are a few situations where a sit-in kayak will perform better. 

If you’re the angler that purely wants to put paddle to water for your angling ventures, then a fishing kayak is the only way. However, if you’re the person that cares more about general paddling than fishing, then a recreational kayak will suit you far better. 

Recreational kayaks (regular kayaks) are designed to be more efficient — making it possible to cover larger distances quickly with less effort.

Fishing kayaks are designed to be more stable in the water, accommodate an angler’s kit, and drift slower in the water — making it easier to make casts, keep your kit accessible, and cover a lot of water in a controlled fashion.

Hopefully this article has given you an insight into the world of fishing from a kayak. If you were unsure of whether a regular kayak or a fishing kayak is better for your river-going activities, you should now know what the best option for you is.

Thanks for reading and tight lines for you anglers out there!

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