How to Choose a Stand Up Fishing Kayak

Not all kayaks are suitable for stand up fishing. Some aren’t stable enough. Others are too small or don’t offer enough storage space.

So what factors should you look for to find the perfect stand up fishing kayak? 

Read on and you’ll find out.

a. Stability

This is an obvious one. Standing in a kayak is much harder than sitting. Your center of gravity is higher and the boat is likely to wobble. If you are not careful, you can end up taking an unexpected swim. Which is not something you’d like.

To avoid such a wet experience, you have to get a super stable kayak.

How do you know whether a kayak is stable? Partly by its size and hull design. 

Wide kayaks resist side to side wobbling making them more stable. Generally, fishing kayaks are wide (30+ inches). But you have to go wider if you want to be able to stand. Some stand up fishing kayaks are as wide as 38 inches!

It all depends on your experience and body size. Smaller and/or more experienced kayakers can comfortably stand in 31-inch wide kayaks. If you are a big guy or gal and/or a beginner, find a wider boat, from about 34 inches.

You should know that wider kayaks track poorly. If you care about speed try to find a balance.

The V-shaped and rounded hull types don’t have much primary stability. They prioritize performance (speed, maneuverability, and tracking) over stability.

A flat hull is the best for kayak stand up fishing. It offers impeccable stability, especially on calm water.

b. Storage Space and Maximum Load

Don’t be so focused on the standing aspect that you forget you are looking for a fishing boat.

All your angling equipment and essentials have to go in the kayak. And sometimes you’ll be spending the whole day in the water. This requires a lot of storage space.

Every fishing kayak comes with storage areas. But some allow you to bring more stuff than others. You want to have a place for your kayak anchor, cooler, fishing rod holders, snacks, valuables, etc.

Most boats have a tank well at the back and a dry hatch at the front (or just two tank wells at the front and back). Dry hatches are a plus because they protect valuables from getting wet. 

The more the options, the easier it will be to organize your stuff.

The size of the kayak also determines the available storage space.

In addition to your kayak having bungees, wells, and hatches, it should be able to handle a lot of weight. 

Kayaks come with a weight capacity. So your weight and that of your gear should be below the set limit. As you get closer to the maximum load, the yak will start performing poorly.

Note: while arranging your gear, ensure that you distribute the weight evenly to promote stability.

c. Size and Weight

What size kayak should you buy?

Wider boats are more stable. And the longer they are, the better. You will have a bigger platform to stand and maybe walk around. Not to mention more storage space for all your cargo.

But this doesn’t mean that you should buy the biggest kayak you can find.

If it is too wide, then the speed and tracking ability will frustrate you. Wide kayaks have more resistance in the water which slows them down. (This is why racing boats are super narrow.) A width of 34 – 36 inches would be ideal for most people.

If you have confidence in your experience and core strength, you can pick a narrower kayak and enjoy improved speed. For newbies and larger kayakers, feel free to go wider. But know that it will be at the expense of speed.

Length also increases the kayaking platform and promotes straight tracking. But longer boats will be harder to control for most people. For great balance, stick to kayaks that are 10’6 to about 13 feet.

The size of a kayak determines its weight. And since most stand up fishing kayaks are big, they are also heavy. It doesn’t help that many manufacturers use polyethylene. It is solid, affordable, and durable; but heavier than other materials used to make kayaks.

Typically, lightweight boats are less stable. And if a yak is too heavy, transporting it will not be fun. So again, you have to find a balance.

For anglers who’d like to enjoy a huge platform without the trouble of added weight, inflatable kayaks are an option. Yes, there are inflatable stand up fishing kayaks. 

d. Comfort

Other than catching fish, kayak angling is about relaxing. You know, sipping a cold drink as you gaze into the horizon, enjoying the peace and quiet.

Since you spend hours, sometimes even a full day in your kayak, comfort is important.

You are looking for a standing kayak but that doesn’t mean that you won’t sit at some point. And when you do, you want to settle nicely into your chair and stretch out your legs.

Some boats come with uncomfortable seats. The seat should be breathable, well-padded, and adjustable.

Don’t just trust what the manufacturer says. Read user reviews to learn from other kayakers’ experiences. Did they find the seat comfortable? Did they have a problem sitting in it for hours?

You also need sufficient room for your legs. Taller paddlers should get a longer kayak for that.

You may also like: kayak vs canoe – which one is better for fishing.

e. Design

A good fishing kayak has features that make the experience easier. They include fishing rod holders, mounts for GPS devices/fish finders, and paddle parks among others.

The features offer much-needed convenience while out fishing. If you buy a kayak without them, you may be forced to do DIY rigging. And that is just too much work.

The other thing you should consider, as far as design is concerned, is the method of propulsion. Times have changed and you can now choose to paddle or pedal a kayak.

Some anglers opt for the pedal drive kayaks because they are faster (legs are stronger than arms). They also allow you to free your hands. The Hobie Outback is a great example of a pedal-driven fishing kayak that you can stand in.

The main downside is that pedal kayaks can be crazy expensive. Some of them cost as much as $3000. Many people can’t afford to spend that much on a kayak.

But not to worry, paddle kayaks are awesome too. You can access shallow waters easily and there are countless affordable units.

Stand Up Fishing Kayak Q&A

Q: Can You Stand in a Fishing Kayak?

A: Yes, you can. Many fishing kayaks have remarkable stability. The above guide will help you find fishing kayaks that allow you to stand and fish your heart out.

Q: How Do I Paddle a Kayak Standing Up?

A: Well, stand up fishing kayaks come with seats. You paddle while seated and only stand to stretch or cast. However, if you’d like to paddle while standing up, you can do so. Here is a video demonstrating how to do that.

Q: Why Buy a Stand Up Fishing Kayak?

A: Many benefits come with having a kayak you can stand in. First, when you are in the water all day, you can alternate between sitting and standing so you don’t get tired.

Additionally, standing gives you an advantage because you get a wide range of view. You will also be able to cast more accurately.

Q: Can I Use a Stand Up Fishing Kayak with a Motor?

A: Yes. Some fishing kayaks, like the Wilderness Systems Radar 115, are compatible with a motor drive system. Alternatively, you can buy a motorized fishing kayak like the Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 120, or a kayak trolling motor.

Q: Are Stand Up Fishing Kayaks Safe?

A: They are. Stand up fishing kayaks have outstanding stability and are designed for standing in. So you will be safe. And if you fall, which can happen even when you are sitting, you will be fine. Just make sure you always wear your kayak PFD.


Stand up fishing in a kayak has many benefits. But it can only be fun if you pick the right boat. It should be exceptionally stable so you don’t keep falling in the water. Ensure that the storage space will fit all your stuff. Don’t forget to check the size and weight limit.

Also read this article with more kayak fishing tips.

Do you have anything to add or questions about stand up fishing kayaks? Feel free to comment below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *