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Canoe vs Kayak Fishing: Which is Better?

canoe vs kayak fishing
Written by Simon Michel
Last Update: March 3, 2022

An inflatable canoe or kayak can greatly enhance your fishing experience on lakes, rivers, and even the ocean if you spend a lot of time outdoors.

What makes canoe fishing different from kayak fishing? They both have their advantages and disadvantages. But what’s the best boat for fishing?

We’ll see both sides of the coin here!

canoe vs kayak fishing

Canoe Fishing

canoe vs kayak fishing

Advantages of a Canoe

  • More stability due to their width
  • Easier to enter and exit
  • Higher load capacity can carry more equipment
  • A better view of surroundings due to higher seating position
  • Solo portaging

Disadvantages of a Canoe

  • Open cockpits exposure to water spray
  • A less efficient hull design
  • Hard to maneuver
  • Harder to transport due to the heavyweight

Kayak Fishing

canoe vs kayak fishing

Advantages of a Kayak

  • Better hull design
  • Less effort to move
  • Lightweight
  • Closed cockpits
  • Dry storage holds
  • Rolled upright when capsized

Disadvantages of a Kayak

  • Less stable
  • Harder to get in and out of
  • Low load capacity, so gear is limited

Canoe vs Kayak Fishing: How Do They Differ?



Canoes are equipped with paddles that are single-bladed and move water backward from both sides. Canoe paddles with single blades have the benefit of making steering easier than kayak paddles.

Canoes can be pushed left or right by paddling on one side. In order to maintain a straight line, paddlers must switch sides.


Both sides of the kayak are paddled simultaneously with dual-bladed paddles. Kayaks can be navigated straighter with dual-bladed paddles.

Stealth level


Kayaks with slim designs cut through water well. Paddling and steering become easier and more efficient with a double-ended paddle.

If you like to cover a lot of water when out on the river or lake, a kayak is the right tool for you.


It is a bit slower and harder to steer a canoe than a kayak. It doesn’t perform as well on the water as a kayak because of its large design. A canoe is steered by switching from side to side with a single-handed paddle out of the water.

You will definitely be more efficient and faster fishing in a one- or two-person kayak with a friend.

Restored designs


There are many different designs of kayaks. Kayak designs have evolved to accommodate anglers, from inflatable kayaks to open-top designs. For short outings on calm water, inflatable kayaks are a good option.

Transportability is the main advantage of inflatable kayaks. This kayak can be inflated and deflated easily and is easy to pack down and store in any car trunk. The ones that are not inflatable can sit in a trailer or on top of a car rack.


The new materials used in canoe construction provide increased performance by reducing the canoe’s weight. This is great for portaging a canoe from one area of water to the next.

In addition, fishing rocky rivers are now easier and safer due to improved durability without worrying about damaging the bottom.

Staying put

Anchoring is tricky with both canoes and kayaks. The best anchor for both types is a homemade anchor from sand and a milk jug. Just easily fill the bottle with sand and adjust the weight as you wish. My favorite anchor is a milk jug filled with sand.

The anchor can be hauled up from either the bow or the stern of either craft (don’t overbalance when lifting them) or with a pulley system.

Capacity and storage


A canoe’s design allows rods and gear to be stored even when there are multiple people on board. Furthermore, canoes are available with flat bottoms, making it easy for tackle boxes to stand upright and store other equipment.

Wooden seats and frames are also common on canoes, making them ideally suited for securing gear.


Kayak storage is more difficult. Kayaks tend to have less storage space than canoes due to their closed-top design.

A fishing rod or tackle box can be tied into a section behind the kayak. There isn’t much room inside for fishing gear.

Fly fishing vs Conventional fishing


canoe vs kayak fishing

Fly fishing is usually more successful in canoes than kayaks. Fly anglers enjoy the stability and room provided by canoes for backcasting, managing fly lines, and shifting positions.

Also, fly anglers accumulate line prior to recasting after stripping in a fly. In between casts, this line can be stored in the bottom of a canoe.


canoe vs kayak fishing

Conventional fishing with kayaks is a great option. Fly rod casting with a kayak without an open-top design is not easy.

With that said, kayaks have plenty of space for lines and storage, so conventional rods can easily be cast from seated positions.

Ocean fishing


canoe vs kayak fishing

Canoeing in the ocean can be hazardous due to the waves. A canoe that has an open top is susceptible to crashing waves that can fill the canoe with water. You should stay close to shore or in calm water when you are fishing on the ocean in a canoe.


canoe vs kayak fishing

A kayak’s closed-top design allows anglers to explore the ocean more freely. Water does not fill up a boat as readily as it does in a canoe.

In many kayaks, the hole where the angler sits also has skirts or waterproof covers. Besides keeping water from entering, skirts on the ocean can also keep anglers safe and dry.

Rivers vs lakes


Kayaks are easier to handle on rivers than canoes. Having a closed-top makes kayaks less prone to soaking up water. Kayaks are easier to transport when you get to the bottom of the float.


In general, canoes make better lake boats. An angler fishing on a calm lake does not have to maneuver around rocks or worry about the water splashing over the boat’s sides. You can get a lot done canoeing on a lake thanks to calm navigation

Ease of transport


Generally, a canoe is larger and wider than a kayak. It can be very difficult to lift a canoe to the top of a car and strap it down.

The width of canoes makes them difficult to handle, and they require at least two people to transport safely. Due to their size, large vehicles like trucks or SUVs can easily transport them.


Especially when dealing with one-person kayaks, they are a bit smaller, making them easier to transport. The size of two-person kayaks can make it difficult to fit in a small car, and they can get quite bulky.

Kayaks can be strapped to the roof of almost any car if you have a car rack. If you are going to fish multiple bodies of water and transport your boat frequently, a kayak is the best choice.

Group outings


Canoes have the advantage of having plenty of room to accommodate dogs or a group of kids.

Canoes typically accommodate three people, making it easy for friends to go on any outing together.

What’s more, a dog and a few items of gear can still be taken even with three people.


Multi-person kayaks are also available. Most kayaks are designed to carry two anglers comfortably and are used for exploring lakes, rivers, and ocean coves.

Kayaks do not have the best design for taking furry friends fishing. This is due to their closed-top design.



A canoe floats higher than a kayak. The boat is, therefore, less stable when fishing. Especially if you tend to fish while standing, it will take more time and practice to be able to do so.


You’re more stable in a kayak since your weight is closer to the water. In addition to a wider beam, sit-on-tops are typically more stable. You can even stand on them.



canoe vs kayak fishing

Kayaks are propelled forward with an easy, slow stroke that gives life to lures. When the rod is directly behind the angler, it will not interfere with propulsion.

Acceleration and deceleration of a kayak also contribute to the performance of a kayak when trolling.


canoe vs kayak fishing

Canoes can also be used for trolling, although paddling with a line in the water isn’t as convenient as kayaking. Most canoes have no spot for securely holding a fishing rod while paddling.


canoe vs kayak fishing

$399.00 Bean Manatee Kayak

canoe vs kayak fishing

$2300.00 4.15M Pedal King

There isn’t much difference in the price of canoes and kayaks. You can find very basic ones for a couple of hundred dollars, but the more high-end models will have you paying out $1000.

Things to Consider When Choosing Between Canoe and Kayak Fishing

What time frame are you on the water for?

Canoes are ideal for paddlers who frequently paddle on calm waters. If you plan to paddle on large bodies of water or on the surf, kayaks are more suited.

Are you taking the family or going solo?

Kayaks are a better option if you like fishing alone. In contrast, if you plan to go on vacation with your family, you would be better off buying a single canoe instead of two or more kayaks.

What are you interested in?

For rapids and fast waters, kayaks are ideal. Go for the kayak if you’re looking for thrills and adventure. If you want to have a good time, maybe with family or friends, then a canoe would be the perfect choice

What about long-term returns from the investment boat?

Canoes can be used by both individuals and families. If you are on your own now but plan on paddling with family members someday in the future, it would be wise to get a canoe.

As kayaks are mainly for solo use for independent and challenging fishing expeditions as part of self-exploration.

When Should You Go Canoe Fishing?

Kayaking season does not start or end on any set date.

Due to the fact that weather conditions can vary based on where you kayak, you should check the forecast beforehand.

The weather conditions determine when kayakers begin the season based on their experience level and personal preferences.

When Should You Go Kayak Fishing?

The winds can pick up in the afternoon, making kayaking more difficult, so it is usually better to kayak in the morning. If you can, head into the wind for the first portion of your trip.

When you’re tired, later on, you can use the downwind to help pull you along.


1. Can you stand up in canoes or kayaks?

Ans: There’s no reason you can’t stand up in a canoe or kayak as long as they are designed for it. Make sure the craft you choose has a smooth, stable hull.

About the author

Simon Michel

The plight of life sometimes takes you to extremes of nature and guess what, you learn the best lessons in your most difficult times. As a keen sea explorer with several years spent in yachts business, I had damn busy schedules throughout 13 years of my career. I used to free my mind from my mundane days in the sea with extreme fishing expeditions when this became not just a fun activity, but a life saver. You could say, I employed most types of fishing techniques but nothing felt better than fly fishing. That drew my whole attention for a good number of reasons. I mean, it’s an amazing feeling when you are in a light mood with buddies munching snacks and casting the fishing road. I look forward to making the most of my leisure time with this fantastic sport.

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