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Boat vs. Kayak for Fishing – Pros and Cons of Both

A woman holding her catch on a kayak.

Fishing is a popular, adventurous, and exciting activity, ideal for having fun with family and friends.

But fishing from a boat or kayak is more thrilling than fishing from the shore. Of course, you don’t want to be stranded at the shore and watch all types of fishing crafts targeting the spots you want.

Talking of fishing crafts, which one, boat fishing or kayak fishing, would you go for? Aren’t they basically the same?

Technically yes, boat fishing and kayak fishing are basically similar. But there’re some significant differences you can’t ignore.

Boat fishing is suitable for larger water bodies, big rivers, lakes, and oceans, while kayak fishing is limited to medium-sized or small sources. Boats are superior, expensive, and require fueling. And kayak is sleek, cheaper, and mainly manually operated.

Let’s dig into what each entails, their differences, pros and cons, and how you get to decide which to go for.

Boat Fishing

A man fishing on the middle of the ocean.

Most fishers are likely to dream about and aspire toward a fishing boat. This fishing craft has come a long way from the old-style rowboat that you might have in mind.

Fishing boats have an engine; they function with either fuel (mostly fossil fuel) or a battery. They’re an ideal vehicle for skilled fishers who regularly travel to the deep seas or big rivers.

Even though fishing boats are huge and powerful, driving them is stress-free. You won’t have to spend much of your strength to get to your favorite fishing spot.

The boat can move fast and cover a long distance within no time. Nonetheless, with all the good things about fishing boats, you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets to acquire one.

Types of Fishing Boats: Features, Design, and Cost

Bass Boats: In the world of fishing boats, bass boats are the corvettes, with all the whistles and bells. They come with 250-350 HP engines, trolling systems, and plenty of storage space. A new bass boat typically costs $20,000-$50,000.

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Aluminum Fishing Boat

These are the most popular boats you’ll come across. They do well in freshwater fishing for trolling and drift fishing. Flat bottomed aluminum boats are also known as Jon boats. They’re popular with duck hunters and bow fishers.

Pontoon Boats

A pontoon boat is the fishing craft you need if you want a large company on the water. They’re simply the floating barbeque parties; flat, large, with pontoons side to side. You can find a new one anywhere from $50,000- $100,00

Pros and Cons of Fishing Boats

Pros

  • Have a wider variety of sitting options for comfort
  • Have ample space to store fishing equipment
  • Fishing boats have been around much longer — there’re many models to choose from
  • Can cover long distances for a shorter period
  • Can get into the deep seas and other larger water bodies
  • Safer and hard to capsize

Cons

  • Expensive — you’re likely to pay more for a fishing boat than a kayak
  • You must have a trailer to transport it, and you need assistance to put the boat on and off the trailer
  • It comes with a pinch of having to buy fuel

Kayak Fishing

A person on a kayak holding his catch.

A kayak is a narrow watercraft that’s lightweight and sleek in design. They’re smaller compared to boats and obviously less powerful.

Kayaks are mainly used for sport, though they’re dedicated crafts famous for fishing. It’s propelled by a paddle; with either your legs or your hands. Therefore, your physical strength is the engine for this small craftsmanship.

The kayak’s top speed has a strict hard limit. Regularly you shouldn’t even expect to cover a long distance with a kayak.

However, you can travel to spots that would be otherwise impossible, thanks to the narrow and lightweight design. This makes it possible for uncontested fishing grounds and species.

Types of Kayaks: Features, Design, and Cost

I will talk about the types of kayaks for the sit-on-top model for this article.

Economy kayaks

These are more of your beginner kayaks with minimal fittings. They may have a one-rod holder and a few strap-down Para cords near the front-rear. The kayaks are meant for casual anglers. Their pricing range from $200-$500

Angler kayaks

They are great for more enthusiastic anglers. The kayaks have additional features and fishing accessories. You can get yourself one for $600-$2,000

Pedal kayaks

The premium kayaks are considered the top of the line. They have all the bells and whistles, a paddle, and a pedal system that allows you to use leg propulsion to move around the water. Their price approaches the cost of a full-fledged fishing boat.

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Pros and Cons of Fishing Kayaks

Pros

  • They’re affordable
  • Portable, you can quickly move them around
  • You can fish in spots that a boat wouldn’t access
  • You won’t need to buy fuel
  • No noisy trolling motor, so you can sneak up on fish

Cons

  • Slow-motion, even the fastest kayak won’t get beyond ten mph
  • Movements take your physical effort
  • Limited space

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Boat and a Kayak for Fishing

A family on a boat going fishing.

Before you decide on which one you want, think thoroughly. The boat and the kayak have both pros and cons. So you can’t get one and have it all.

Comfort and Space

A boat provides better options than a kayak when it comes to space and comfort. The boat has ample space for all fishing gear, food and drinks, emergency kits, and a back, everything else you might need.

With a boat, you’ll have more comfort to sit and move around and the freedom to bring a few buddies to spice up the adventure.

Though a kayak is still lovely, your options are limited. You’ll have to carry only the necessary fishing equipment.

A kayak is lightweight, meaning you’ll need to pack your necessary belongings very efficiently and maintain a balance when storing them.

But there’re benefits to the kayak: you can fish without worries, and you won’t have to worry about constant engine noise, technical difficulty, or fuel running out.

Fishing Location

Fishing boats and kayaks give you different access to fishing grounds. If you want to go far from the shore to the deep sea, boats are pretty much the best option.

You can pack your boat and go to the deep sea for several days. You can catch as many fish and pack them in your boat. The kayak is out of the question for all these.

Talking of kayaks, they’re lightweight and portable. You can quickly deploy and transport the vessel with your car without assistance.

By being smaller and sleeker, kayakers can access inland water bodies that are off-limits for boats. They get access to fish species that are out of the limit for boat anglers.

But again, being less powerful and manually operated makes kayaks have a hard time going beyond shallower waters or traveling for long distances.

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Safety Regards

A man helping an old man on his kayak.

It’s a straightforward answer. Boats beat kayaks when it comes to safety.

Kayaks are mainly for fishing, sports, and adventures. If not careful, you can easily capsize. You’ll have to remain cautious of animals such as sharks, alligators, poisonous snakes, etc.

Boats have a wider hull and a larger frame. Their center of gravity is pretty stable compared to a kayak. You don’t have to fear getting capsized without a strong current or storm.

Your Budget

Whereas you can get a decent fishing kayak in three digits, an average fishing boat might cost you five digits. You will have to add a few more for the trailer that’ll carry the ship to and from the shore.

Are fishing boats overpriced? Definitely no. It’s just that a boat has more to offer than a kayak. Considering the benefits that come with a boat, the cost is reasonable.

But options and perks aren’t the only deciding factor. If you have a limited budget and can’t go beyond four-digit, it’s recommendable to get a high-quality kayak. It might serve you better than a low-cost boat. 

Comparison Table

Are you still undecided about the two fishing crafts? Worry not. I’ve prepared a comparison table that can help you choose at a glance. Here you go:

Fishing Environment

Vessel Calm water Islands Rough water Ocean
Boat limited
Kayak limited x

Intended Purpose

Vessel Sports Fishing Utility work Leisure
Boat limited
Kayaks limited

Pros and cons

Vessels Space for Gear Space for Passengers Outboard Motor Paddle
Boat
Kayak limited limited limited

Closing Thoughts

An old man on his small boat with fishing rod.

After taking a deep look at the differences between boat fishing and kayak fishing, which would you call the best?

I guess there’s no straight answer to this; it’s all on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the kind of water you fish, your budget, physical fitness, etc. You’ll need to go down the pros and cons to decide what’s essential for you.

If your budget isn’t constrained, you don’t like hauling around a fishing vessel, and you want to carry family and friends out for fishing, the boat is for you.

But if you don’t intend to spend much, like the idea of paddling on the water, and want to get to less accessible fishing spots, you’ll never go wrong with a kayak.