“What size kayak do I need?” is only one of the questions you need to ask yourself when buying a fishing or performance kayak type. Consider the weight capacity, length, depth, width, and other elements before committing to a kayak.
What size kayak do I need? Beginning kayakers may wonder about length, width, and kayak weight before they buy. There are a few things you should know before hitting the water.
Weight capacity, hull shape, and the type of material used to make the kayak are other factors you need to consider when kayak shopping. Renting a few different kayak types before buying will help you decide how to spend your hard-earned money.
Don’t buy a kayak solely based on budget or online reviews. Think about what’s right for you. How many people will use the kayak at one time? Will you bring supplies on the kayak? Will you use the kayak for a short trip on calm waters, or over several days on a camping trip? Here are some tips on choosing the right kayak.
Sports Kayak Sizes and Lengths
Sports kayaks are geared for fishing, hunting, or another specific activity. A fishing kayak should have wet wells for storing fish, rod holders, and comfortable seats. Look for a sport or fishing kayak that’s between ten and 14 feet long.
A fishing kayak’s length will make a difference in how it moves once it’s on the water. A kayak measuring less than 11 feet will be easier to maneuver. Shorter kayaks are better for ponds, creeks, and backwaters.
Use a kayak longer than 12 feet if you fish in rivers, big lakes, or the ocean. Consider your body size, too. Tall people or kayakers who weigh 250 pounds or more should opt for a kayak that’s 11 feet or longer.
The Old Town Predator 13 Kayak is 13 feet, two inches long and has a 425-pound weight capacity, so it’s perfect for most enthusiastic anglers, and you won’t need to worry about maxing out the weight capacity. This kayak also has built-in storage for gear.
Fishing kayakers are sometimes called anglers. These kayaks are stable and have storage space for gears and equipment and allow you to cast a fishing line without wobbling the boat. You can even mount an electric motor to drive the kayak, but you’ll need to make sure the kayak build is extra stable.
Anglers contain wide beams, and the widest ones measure 42 inches. Fishing kayaks tend to be much wider than standard recreational kayaks.
Wider kayaks let you stand while your fish or paddle. The widest kayaks may have less tracking and speed, but you can add a skeg or rudder to correct these issues. A narrow kayak will let you paddle faster in rapids or calm water.
Weight Capacity Matters, Too
Add up your weight (and the weight of your fishing company, if you have one), plus the gear you’re hauling. Choose a boat that handles a little over that weight total. An overloaded boat sits too low in the water and impedes paddling.
Most kayaks have a listed weight capacity. A weight capacity of 350 pounds stands for the total amount of weight a kayak can hold and stay afloat. A sit on top kayak with that weight limit would be mostly under the water. You couldn’t paddle that kayak at that weight capacity.
Subtract 25 percent from the stated weight capacity to make sure you’re safe. For example, use 262 and one-half pounds as a safe number for a 350-pound weight capacity kayak. Add the weight of your gear, shoes, and clothes to your body weight; then make sure the total is 25 percent less than the stated weight capacity of the kayak.
Your angler will maneuver better, and you’ll feel secure when you determine your safe zone weight limit before using a kayak.
The Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-on-Top kayak is one of the highest weight capacity fishing kayaks we’ve found. This kayak has a 395-pound capacity and weighs 48 pounds. The portable accessory carrier that comes with the kayak can be used for storage or as a tow-behind.
Sit-In or Sit on Top?
The size of your kayak and its weight capacity are important factors when choosing a boat, but you’ll also need to decide between a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak. Some sit-on-top kayaks have space for storage, but many of these vessels have little to no storage space.
Choose a sit-on-top kayak if you don’t like the idea of sitting in a cockpit and are okay with learning how to exit the boat if you capsize.
A sit-on-top offers the following features:
Sit-in kayaks are excellent for paddling to the best fishing location. These kayaks have covered cargo storage spaces, and are comfortable in cool air and water. You can paddle more efficiently in these kayaks than in a sit-on-top kayak.
The position of your body inside the boat gives you better maneuvering control in rough waters.
Where Will You Go Fishing?
The answer to what size kayak do I need? and other elements also depends on the location of your fishing or recreational expeditions. Any sit-on-top or sit-in angling or recreational kayak will work for lake fishing.
Wind, currents, and waves affect kayaking on the coast. A sit-in boat with a rudder or drop-down skeg will help you maneuver better. A sit-on-top is an excellent option if you live in a warm climate.
Choose a sturdy boat if you’ll be floating easily on a river. A sit-in or sit-on-top kayak gives you a stable location for leisurely fishing.
Crossover boats for use in flowing and calm waters may be sit-in or sit-on-top and usually includes a skeg.
Other Kayak-Buying Tips
Kayaks come in different hull shapes. A V-shape makes the boat stay straight, while smooth bottoms make them spin. You’ll want a kayak that goes straight or has good “tracking” if you’re going over a distance. You don’t need to worry about tracking if you’re running rapids.
U-shaped or smooth bottomed kayaks feel unstable when you first put them in the water. Smooth-bottomed boats will stay stable once you move to harsher water, while V shapes are suited to calm, flat water.
Sit-on-top kayaks often feature tri-shaped hulls. These hulls give you a center keel to keep the boat straight and shoulders that resemble pontoons for secondary stability. A tri-shaped hull has less speed than other hulls, but it adds stability for fishing or diving.
Sit-on-top kayaks are gaining popularity. You can fish, dive, or surf more easily with a sit-on-top kayak than with a sit inside kayak. It’s hard to sink a sit-on-top kayak, but if it does flip over, you can ride it like a surfboard. Choose sit-on-top kayaks that are between nine and 14 feet long.
Choose a kayak with a deep hull if you have long legs and need more storage.
Most fishing kayaks cost between $200 and $1500, so there’s something for every budget. Youth kayaks and inflatable kayaks may cost under $200. The Pelican Sport Strike 120X Kayak is one of the best budget anglers. This boat tracks well and stays stable, so it’s perfect for new kayakers.
Do your research before buying a kayak. Purchasing a cheaper angler won’t work for you if it isn’t the right size/weight capacity. You’d be better off waiting a bit and saving up for the right model.
Motorized Fishing Kayaks
Fishing kayaks are supposed to offer a calm, leisurely angling experience, but you may want to get to the fish faster by buying a motorized kayak. You still need to consider your height and weight as well as the width/length of the boat. The motor will add weight to the kayak, so take that into account when figuring the total weight capacity.
The best-motorized fishing kayaks are 11 to 12 feet long, and 30 to 31 inches wide and have a weight capacity of 300 pounds.
Sampling Kayak Sizes
Learn about properly maneuvering an angler before figuring out what size kayak do I need?
Take a few kayaking classes and talk to your instructor and other kayakers for tips. Test out kayaks during class or rent one from your local recreation center or park. Renting different kayak types is the best way to find the ideal size and weight capacity for your needs.
Consider your torso size, leg length, hip width, and arm length when choosing a kayak. You can add padding, foot pegs, or adjust back straps to make your angler more comfortable.
Upgraded padding adds about $100 to the cost of a kayak, but it will be worth it for an ergonomically correct seat, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time in your kayak. Comfort and the ability to successfully catch and store fish are key buying points regardless of the kayak size.
Ensure you have paddles conducive to high-angle strokes. The paddle shaft is more than 50 degrees vertical relative to the surface of the water, for fishing or performance-orientated kayaking.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay