Canoes and kayaks have been used as a platform for fishing since the invention of these watercraft! The choice between the two as to which would be best for fishing depends on many factors that include not only the characteristics of the boats but also the waters you normally fish in and, of course, personal preference. If we take an objective view of both boats as a fishing platform, it may help you to decide on the best option for your type of fishing!

A kayak that is rigged for fishing is the best option as a small fishing vessel. The canoe has application in this role, but the purpose-built fishing kayak has advantages such as stability, hands-free propulsion, maneuverability, and versatility that make it the better option.

Modern kayaks and canoes are both quality watercraft, but they are intended for different purposes and are manufactured with different types of waters in mind. There is certainly scope for both of these types of boats when we talk about using them for fishing. So, the question should not be which is best for fishing, but which is best for you for fishing!

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Canoe Vs. Kayak For Fishing

Canoes were developed centuries ago in many cultures around the world as a means of navigating waterways or overcoming water as a barrier to travel. A canoe is a narrow, lightweight boat that is pointed at both ends, and the interior of the boat is generally open.

The kayak was originally similar in shape to a canoe, but it was shorter than a canoe. A kayak can be pointed at both ends or only have the front of the boat pointed and the back end a more rounded shape. Kayaks were generally enclosed to encapsulate the paddler and keep the interior of the boat dry.

The modern fishing kayak and the modern canoe have developed upon these ancestral roots to improve upon the original designs and materials to make them suitable for modern recreational and fishing activities.

To establish which vessel will be the best for fishing, or at least for your fishing requirements, we need to examine some of the requirements for solo fishing vessels and see how each boat meets these requirements.

The criteria that we need to investigate for fishing from a kayak and a canoe will be the following.

  • Stability.
  • Space.
  • Maneuverability.
  • Versatility.
  • Propulsion.
Canoe Vs. Kayak Which Is The Best For Fishing?

Which Is Better For Stability; A Kayak Or A Canoe?

When you are sitting in a canoe, you are generally sitting quite high above the water. This makes the canoe somewhat top-heavy, which reduces the stability of the boat. When you sit in or on a kayak, you are sitting much closer to the water, which lowers the combined center of gravity and makes the kayak more stable.

A kayak is more stable than a canoe as a fishing platform. The lower sitting position and the wide, low base of the kayak lower the center of gravity, making it a more stable fishing platform, even for standing and fishing. A canoe is more top-heavy because of the design and is less stable in the water.

There are two basic variations of fishing kayaks; sit-in kayaks and sit-on kayaks. However, in both versions, you are sitting lower in the water than your would in a canoe. The base of the kayak is also often wider than that of a canoe, giving greater stability, especially in rough or turbulent water.

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Which Offers More Space For Fishing, A Kayak Or A Canoe?

The open-top design of a canoe and the generally larger size of the vessel immediately offer more space available to the angler for gear. Kayaks, by comparison, have only limited space for gear and equipment.

Canoes offer more space for gear and people than a fishing kayak. There is more space in a canoe than a kayak for all your fishing gear, but your equipment is exposed to the elements, and you risk losing a lot of gear should the canoe capsize. Kayak space is more limited but better protected.

A canoe has ample space for all your fishing equipment, but your gear is also more at risk of being lost in the event of a canoe tip over. You would need to find a way to protect your gear or secure it in the canoe to make sure it stays put.

Kayaks may have less space, but the space is normally in the form of enclosed compartments that offer better weather protection and security in the event of a tip-over.

Kayak fishing for Tuna

Which Is More Maneuverable For Fishing, A Kayak Or A Canoe?

The purpose of fishing in a smaller vessel is to be able to access fishing spots that are not accessible by larger boats. Both the canoe and the kayak are highly maneuverable, but the kayak has the edge because of its shorter length.

A fishing kayak is more maneuverable than a canoe because it is shorter than a canoe. This allows the kayak to access smaller channels in the water and have the ability to turn around in these narrow spaces. The kayak is also quick to react to changes in direction by the paddler.

However, a canoe is more comfortable for longer trips and can get to faster speeds than a fishing kayak, so if you need to paddle some distance to your fishing spots, a canoe may be preferable.

What Is More Versatile For Fishing, A Kayak Or A Canoe?

Versatility depends on what characteristics of the vessel are important to you. A canoe can be used for fishing as well as recreation, making it more versatile than a fishing kayak which is rigged with fishing in mind rather than recreation. From a water perspective, a kayak is more versatile since it can be used in rough water as well as calm water.

From a purely fishing perspective, a fishing kayak is more versatile than a canoe because it can be outfitted with more accessories such as a rudder and propulsion systems, and it can be used on calm and rough water. A kayak is also more maneuverable and more stable.

This is not to say that a canoe does not have any versatility. A canoe has the advantage of being able to carry more than one angler at a time and carrying more gear, even all your camping gear, for an overnight fishing trip!

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Which Offers Better Propulsion For Fishing, A Kayak Or A Canoe?

A canoe is only propelled by the person sitting in the canoe paddling the vessel with the paddles. Paddling requires the use of both hands, which limits fishing while moving. A kayak has more options for propulsion and steering in this regard.

Fishing kayaks offer better propulsion for the vessel than a canoe. You can get pedal propulsion and rudder systems for fishing kayaks which allow you to propel your kayak while keeping your hands free for fishing. You still have paddles available for traveling longer distances.

These propulsion and steering systems also allow you to adjust the position of the kayak while you are fighting a fish, without the need to put the rod down and pick up a paddle. These additional propulsion options are not available for a canoe.


The choice of a kayak or a canoe for fishing will also be influenced by the portability of the craft and the price. A kayak is an easier vessel to transport than a canoe, which offers a better option for people who have smaller vehicles.

A canoe is also generally a pricier purchase than a kayak, which may sway some people towards opting for a kayak over a canoe.

As an angler looking for a good option for a fishing platform, you would need to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of both the kayak and the canoe and determine which one makes the most sense for your fishing.


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