Fishing Sit-In Kayaks – Buying Guide, Reviews, and Comparison
If you’re only interested in finding the best sit in kayak for fishing and lack the patience to go through all the buying tips and reviews we’ve compiled, we’ll get it out of the way that the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 is definitely our top pick. We’ve reached our conclusion after going through all the best kayak reviews we could find online, both from experts and satisfied owners. The Excursion 10’s primary asset seems to be its great stability, which coupled with an easy to transport compact frame and a lot of available space inside, make it the ideal kayak for those who are just getting into the sport. We were also surprised to find that such good quality can come at a relatively low cost, as Sun Dolphin’s product can be purchased significantly cheaper than less well-rated competitors! If the Excursion 10 is unavailable for some reason, and you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, you could go for its close cousin the Excursion SS 11, an equally compact and maneuverable kayak.
Our top choices
After scouring the internet for the best information available regarding sit-in kayaks, our researchers concluded that the below products offer the best dynamic performance and practicality for any angler looking to get into kayak fishing.
Sun Dolphin Excursion 10
Thanks to its relatively low profile and wide, significantly rounded hull on an overall short frame the Excursion 10 has remarkable handling characteristics and offers enough stability for even the greenest kayaker to feel confident on slow rivers and lakes. More experienced users will find little problem in using it on light surf off a jetty, and while it’s not the ideal shape for cutting through fast river currents, it can do the job reasonably well.
It’s compact size, and lightweight will make it easy to store and carry to and from your fishing grounds. According to user reports, it can easily fit in an SUV with the back seats pulled all the way down, meaning you won’t be required to buy a specialist rack if you don’t own a truck.
Surprisingly, the compact frame doesn’t come at the expense of interior space and practicality. You can hold sensitive pieces of equipment in the dry container behind the chair and fit a rod on two flush mounts and one swivel mount.
Its design confers great maneuverability and stability. The sit-in distribution makes for a lower center of gravity overall, and the extra-wide, rounded hull prevents shaking. You can also turn it on a dime thanks to the relative flatness of the central section.
It’s very convenient for casual kayakers since at only 10 feet long is small enough to be stored in a tool shed or to fit in most family sized cars with only minimal preparation.
Since it’s been specifically designed for angling, it comes already equipped with everything you will need for the job: three-rod mounts and plenty of interior space.
Its cost can be surprisingly low, with no discernible trade-off in quality we are aware of since it’s consistently better rated than more expensive products.
Due to its specific stocky frame, it doesn’t handle fast river currents and waves with the same ease as more slender models, but it’s still manageable for experienced users.Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10
The Excursion SS 10 is basically the slightly upgraded version of the basic 10. It has the same compact hull, meaning the same excellent stability, tracking and turning characteristics on flat water. Their dimensions are for all intents and purposes equal, with 11 x 30 x 120 inches height width and length at just 41 pounds, which makes for the same great day to day convenience. You will, however, have to pay a little extra for the SS. What are you paying for exactly?
First and foremost, a somewhat better carrying capacity. The SS has a larger dry container that you can even remove to fit in fishing equipment you don’t mind getting wet or even a second person of appropriate size. Customers seem to like this a lot, since it means they can safely get their kids in the kayak for a ride, with the model being reported to fit in a child as old as ten. It also has a dedicated electronics console, which is extremely useful if you want to listen to the radio while fishing or use your camera to take nature photos. It also allows for a lot of leg space, with men as tall as 6’5’’ finding it adequate after some minor adjustments.
The Excursion series provides great maneuverability and stability on calm water, thanks to its rounded, relatively flat bottom, wide construction and low center of gravity.
Its compact size allows for great day to day convenience. It’s easy to store in a tool shed or a rack in the garage, which means it won’t have to be exposed to the elements. It doesn’t necessarily require any special rigging to be carried in a family sized car.
It features the same convenience features as other specialized fishing kayaks in the Excursion series, meaning three-rod holders and lots of space inside.
Storage capacity is where this product shines. It has a roomy storage compartment, a unique removable pack and a dedicated electronics console for the well-prepared fisherman.
Much like other boats with similar hydrodynamic characteristics, it can experience problems when negotiating fast river streams or medium sized waves.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12
This kayak’s long and lean design makes it equally suitable for piercing through small waves, river currents and turning on a dime in still water. It has a rounded bottom that gets as wide as 29.5 inches near the center of weight, which provides for great stability when leaning onto an angle or struggling with a stubborn catch.
To provide adequate extra comfort for a variety of body types, the Aruba SS features adjustable foot braces and protective thigh pads, that seem to accommodate well men as tall as 6’5” with only minor modifications.
Boasting a sit-in design, it has good dry carrying capacity and a total weight allowance of 395 pounds. These can be distributed under a covered console or in the innovative portable accessory carrier, which is basically a removable backpack strapped to the kayak with bungee cord. The carrier can also be used on land or towed behind the boat for extra storage.
At only 48 pounds, the Aruba SS is surprisingly light for a 12-foot kayak, which coupled with its removable handles gives it great portability, although you shouldn’t expect the same convenience as offered by a more compact model.
The Aruba has a versatile design which provides good dynamics characteristics both on lakes and rivers or light surf. It holds relatively well to currents and small waves thanks to its slender body and adequately high rocker, while it provides good stability and tracking on still water.
It has a good weight carrying capacity, and sensible items can be protected in the dry space provided by the portable accessory carrier. This can be removed and towed behind for even more carrying capacity.
It has been designed with the needs of the kayak angler in mind, featuring multiple specialized rod holders.
To add to its convenience and versatility, it can be adjusted to accommodate particularly tall men.
The relatively wide body which confers it good stability is not equally appreciated by all, with some users finding it rather slow for a 12-foot kayak.
While most customers have found it roomy, a small part of the front console does have to be shaved off in order for it to fit substantially tall people comfortably.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Third Coast Huron 100
When fishing kayaks are concerned, there is always a tradeoff between good dynamic performance and practicality for fishing. It’s enough to take one look at the hull of a Third Coast Huron 100 to see that this model tends to favor the former. Don’t get us wrong, the Huron 100 is still a good fishing boat, designed to meet the needs of an angler (otherwise we wouldn’t have given it a place on our list), but it’s sleek design can make it fun to ride even for kayakers with some experience under their belt.
First off, its bow meets the water at a steeper angle than what you can find in other similar models. This gives it better speed, and it also makes it less susceptible to side currents, which means it will handle better on fast rivers or in the surf.
The Huron’s hull does bulk towards the middle for added stability, but most of the part that’s submerged when moving forward is sleek enough to allow for good speed (at least for a fishing kayak)
For a better ride quality, the huron also features an adjustable seat with pull straps and the two dry storage compartments make it practical for fishing.
This Third Coast model offers good dynamic performance which will ensure that even experienced kayaker will have some fun moving between the best angling spots.
It has two dry storage compartments accessible via tight clamshell hatches. This ensures that your belongings won’t get drenched while saving you the bother of having to fasten or unfasten bungee cord.
Its four carrying handles make it easier to transport and will also prove helpful if the kayak happens to capsize.
It’s outfitted with two flush mount rod holders so you won’t have to apply any modifications to get it ready for fishing.
As with any versatile model, the Huron 100 might not perform in any of the roles it’s aimed towards as well as a more specialized design. It might not prove the best kayak for angling or the best sporting kayak, but it’s still a workable mix between the two.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Emotion Glide 90387
As the name suggests, this Emotion Glide model is aimed at providing both good dynamic performance and a stable platform for fishing. Its slight V-shaped hull tracks well and is wide enough to prevent capsizing if a fisherman would lean for greater reach. If the hull might happen to catch water, the Sport Angler has built in foam blocks to ensure additional buoyancy.
It’s compact frame ensures great manoeuvrability on flat bodies of water and the ultra-light seat with a padded backrest will provide great comfort as you effortlessly steer this little boat across a slick lake surface.
At only 116 inches in length and 40 pounds, this model will prove particularly easy to handle, both on and off the water. It can easily fit in most cars without special preparations, and some of its parts can fold for adequate storage. It has two handles to carry it around by and a paddle keeper to help you keep track of its paddle.
To provide convenience while fishing, it features bungee cords to secure gear, rod holders, and water bottle holders, two of each.
The Sport Angler’s very small size ensures for easy storage and transport. It will be a breeze to get on and off the water with only 40 pounds to carry.
It has good tracking and stability, thanks to the slight V shape of its hull. As any other model of a similar design, it handles particularly well on lakes, calm estuaries, and slow rivers.
It comes sufficiently equipped for kayak fishing, with two storage units, two rod holders and dedicated space for water bottles.
Last but not least, the Sport Angler is particularly pretty to look at, with very clean, oval shapes that remind of a traditional kayak.
As a stocky 10-footer, it is not really ideal for fast rivers or even moderately wavy seas. It won’t prove impossible to handle under this conditions, but they are bound to prove a significant challenge for inexperienced kayakers.Buy from Amazon.com for ($449)
Since you’re looking for a sit-in kayak, we’ve already guessed that you want something that provides a little covering against the wind or cold water and a more stable platform. With these in mind, what are some other things to consider when looking for the best sit inside fishing kayak?
There are a lot of trade-offs with this one. More elongated shapes make for better speed and are more suitable for breaking through waves and managing fast river currents. However, shorter and wider platforms tend to handle easier on flat surfaces, such as lakes. The latter also makes for better convenience, as they are easier to transport and store.
The section of the hull is generally what confers it stability. The wider the body around the center of gravity, the more stable it will be, but that is far from the only thing to look for. Boats with a flat bottom and with sides that tend to fall at a relatively straight angle tend to have better stability than hard V shapes, although the latter are a better fit for speed. Rounded bottoms make for better maneuverability overall.
The rocker, meaning the bottom line of the hull as seen from the side, governs both speed and handling in moving water. The best fishing kayaks tend to have a flat rocker in order to maximize the internal space an angler needs for storing various tools. However, the rounded rocker with an upswept bow typical to sporting kayaks makes for better dynamic performance.
Transport and storing
It goes without saying that a bigger kayak will be less convenient to transport to the desired destination, and also harder to keep around the house. If you own a decent sized truck or don’t mind mounting a specialized rack on your car (which increases fuel consumption), you could go for a larger 12 foot+ sized model. But if you don’t really want for your new hobby to impose any additional costs, we suggest you settle for a 10-footer. These are easy to carry in any truck and fit inside most SUVs with only minor adjustments.
Size and convenience
A bigger size, however, doesn’t always translate to more space for internal storage. If you tend to be an angler who wants and needs every piece of gear at hand, look for a kayak with large storage compartments and a sizeable carrying capacity. A big plus with sit in kayaks is that you will generally benefit from dry spaces where you could keep food or electronics, but you won’t have to limit yourself to those.
You can attach various containers to your craft with a bungee cord, so look for designs that easily allow for that possibility (the craft generally comes already outfitted with cords and these are easy to spot in any photo.)
The maximum weight allowance is generally dictated by volume or the amount of water the craft displaces. This is not necessarily a factor of raw exterior dimensions, such as length or width, since short, more compact models tend to have a greater volume for their size than leaner ones. We suggest you ask the retailer or manufacturer for the exact figure.
We’ve already mentioned that an angling kayak should allow for better storage options than a sporting one, but another aspect where these two are different is that of outfitting. An angling kayak wouldn’t be much without some dedicated rod holders. These come in various shapes and sizes, but always allow for some degree of movement for the rod.
Most fishing kayaks are generally outfitted with two or three rod holders, in order to cover multiple directions. The more of them there are, the better.
Anglers rarely find that what seems to fit their needs in the store actually works when out on the lake, so the original placement for the rod holders should weigh little when deciding whether to buy a kayak. These are easy to move to a more suitable spot with the aid of some power tools. Rigging and outfitting a kayak is a common practice with anglers, and there’s a lot of advice to find on the matter.
|Sun Dolphin Excursion 10||Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10||Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12|
|The good||This product offers particularly good dynamic performance in the environment it’s been designed for, which makes it an ideal unit for beginners who prefer fishing on relatively still bodies of water. It’s also been praised by users for offering good day to day convenience and a lot of available space, basically everything a lake fisherman will need.||The SS is the upgraded and somewhat more expensive version of the Excursion 10. It performs similarly well on still bodies of water and it’s equally convenient for day to day use. However, the extra purchasing cost is redeemed by the better organized interior space, which makes it a lot more attractive for people who prefer carrying a lot of equipment.||This is a highly versatile 12-foot kayak that can be used adequately well in a variety of circumstances, be it fishing from lakes, rivers or on a calm sea. It can be adapted to fit men of all body sizes and its large carrying capacity makes it great for any type of fishing or nature outing. The consumer reports it has gathered are favorable.|
|The bad||Since it’s specialized for flat water, it doesn’t handle very well on the surf or on fast rivers. This detail limits its versatility, which might be something that could bother some owners.||It’s handling characteristics aren’t that well suited for fast rivers or a rough seashore. Some might not enjoy the trade-off between price and convenience compared to the basic model.||Some customers find it a bit sluggish for a 12-foot kayak, but the superior stability it gains because of this makes it better suited for fishing. Therefore, this factor might not be a drawback for some.|
|The bottom line||It’s considered a great boat for beginners but doesn’t really have any drawbacks that would make it less practical for experienced kayakers.||An all around fine kayak that offers good dynamic qualities on still water while adding extra convenience thanks to its superior carrying capacity.||A good versatile product that opens itself up for a wide range of uses. Its few faults can be remedied with ease, so it offers excellent value.|