In the past, fishing fell into two categories: from a boat or the bank. Boats were typically small craft with an outboard motor, or for those lucky few, a custom bass boat. This is no longer the case. Paddle craft fishing, such as in a kayak, is not only growing but, in many cases, the preferred option due to its low cost and ability to access fishing areas not possible with a power boat. Paddle craft fishing started with kayaks, but with the massive growth of Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUP) and their new designs specifically made for fishing, there are many options to pick from. Now the big question is Kayak or SUP - what do you buy?
There are lots of reviews online and YouTube about the different paddle craft brands and the latest models. For this article, I will not get into the specifics but wanted to focus on identifying the major benefits and limitations between kayaks and SUP fishing so you can focus your search for a specific brand or model.
The kayak fishing market has been well established for many years with evolving options for customization with numerous brands specifically designed for fishing with new models each year. Kayaks for fishing utilize a wide sit-on-top configuration for stability and access to your fishing gear. Sit- on- top kayaks are typically made out of plastic so they can be easily customized to add rod holders, fish finders, coolers, GoPro attachments, elevated seats and are very durable when launching and landing over rocks or concrete boat ramps. This style of kayak can carry a lot gear, be launched in shallow water, and is very stable when seated. Several brands are outfitted with trolling motors and the latest feature becoming very popular for hands free propulsion, is the foot pedal option that can be peddled similar to a bicycle.
The available features and innovated designs for kayaks is very impressive and can rival the features on any bass boat but all of this comes at a price and weight. The base models for fishing kayaks can range from $800- $1,200 and can be customized with numerous aftermarket features. A fully kitted out kayak with a pedal drive system ranges from $2,000 - $4,000.
The price is one drawback to high end models, but there is also the issue of weight and transportation. These kayaks can typically weight over 100 pounds, so loading it onto your roof rack is not really practical and will probably exceed its weight limit. To safely transport a fully loaded fishing kayak, your best options are a pick-up truck or a trailer. A helping hand is always welcomed.
When your kayak is loaded up with fishing gear, food/snacks, and cooler, it will be too heavy to carry and difficult to drag so you will also need a set of transportation wheels.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is currently the fastest growing paddle sport in the industry and that is starting to flow over to fishing as well. The paddle sport industry has recognized this potential market and has started developing SUPs specifically for fishing; outfitted with the latest rod holders, cooler attachments, paddle holders and seats. SUPs by design are made for standing so they are great for fishing as it tends to feel more natural. SUPs are light and easy to transport making getting onto the water quick and easy. SUPs come in multiple materials like fiberglass, foam, plastic and inflatable. Most high-end boards are fiberglass but this will evolve with the sport. SUPs can range from a few hundred to the custom fishing models $1,000-$2,000.
SUPS tend to be cheaper, lighter, easier to transport and built for standing. However, they have more physical limitations related to stability and the amount of gear you can take.
A SUP is more sensitive to weight and mobility than a kayak so you will need to limit your gear and be well organized so essential equipment can be easily accessed.
SUPS are designed to be paddled while standing, creating more sail area thus making them more influenced by the wind. The water current also causes a SUP to weather vane as they do not have a keel. A SUP is excellent for drift fishing but if you do not plan your approach properly, you will be constantly trying to maneuver into the right location or heading, especially if there is any wind.
Something Else to Consider:
The inflatable technology for both Kayaks and SUPs has greatly improved over the past few years, but for fishing, I have to give the edge to the SUPs in this category. The inflatable SUPs performance is on par with rigid boards as well as outfitted with the latest fishing options and tie downs.
Either of these will make for a great fishing platform and will greatly simplify transportation where it can be thrown into the back of your truck or car without messing with roof rack or tie downs. My personal favorite is hiking into remote locations with my inflatable SUP not accessible by other paddle craft, I was able to try this out during a recent trip to Colorado.
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Remember to bring your kids fishing any chance you can. The fishing may suffer but the memories will last forever, Happy Paddling and FishingTM
Shamrock Paddling Company LLC
PO BOX 590899
Houston, TX 77259
Tel: 832 985-5190