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Sit-Inside Boats For The Sit-On-Top Crowd

Canoes and sit-inside kayaks have been used for fishing by many of our ancestors. But it seems that once someone put a rod holder on a surf board the sport of kayak fishing from sit-on-top kayaks became the only way to go. When I got involved in kayak fishing a few years ago, I didn't even look at canoes or sit-inside boats because sit-on-tops seemed to be the only logical option. And, that's mainly because that was what was being actively marketed to potential kayak anglers. This also meant that those older type boats weren't cool - and we must be cool. But there's something to be said about using proven features, function, and fashion to meet the demands of first time paddlers and seasoned veterans alike.

But there are times when a sit-inside vessel of some sort is a better choice for paddle angling. If you need to carry a lot of gear for camping or a multi-day trip, or if need to get in out of the elements, then some form of sit-inside boat may be what you need.

The two types of boat I'd like to talk about are canoes and open cockpit sit-inside poly kayaks. I know a lot of you have been using these types of boats for many years, and the information I attempt to pass along isn't news to you. As I did my research, I quickly discovered that many of the veteran sit-on-top paddle anglers I spoke with started out in canoes and sit-inside kayaks. They were very patient in answering my rookie questions.

But, I'm hoping that some of my sit-on-top brethren will take a look at these boats - there's a lot to see. I investigated boats that could be used for day trips, moderate paddles, on lakes, streams, or bays. None of those 2 week treks, no class 3 rapids. This was done in an attempt to be able to compare them to popular sit-on-top fishing kayaks, and show that these boats definitely have their place in paddle fishing. I tried to limit my boats to around 12' in length. Since these styles of boats have been around a long time, there were a lot of choices. So, I simply will speak of the ones I heard the most about.


I freely admit I'm no expert on fishing from these types of craft, so I consulted those who I feel are. First, I consulted a local Florida guide who is a regular forum member here on paddling.com (Thanks Chrystal). She fishes for a living, can use pretty much any vessel she wants. Her choice for a canoe is the Old Town "Pack".

Let's review the numbers:

  • Length: 12' 0"
  • Width: 32"
  • Weight: 33 lbs (made of "Royalex")
  • Capacity: 578 lbs
  • Price: $739.00 (price may vary)

One of the major benefits of this boat is the fact that you can easily stand in it and sight cast, much like you would with some sit-on-tops. But in this case, you're already in a seated position, with knees bent, and can steady yourself on the gunwales as you rise. It's light enough for just about anyone to carry. And, should paddling get to be too tough on your shoulders/back, it can accept a trolling motor. For you purists out there, there's no shame in getting some help when you need it. Besides, on rough days you can tow your paddle buddies back to the launch. I've had this done for me, and it's very nice at the end of a long day.

As far as a downside, it can catch some wind due to its high sides. Another friend of mine who owns one said it was similar to a "paper cup" on those days. But she also went from paddling a very well known sit-on-top kayak to this boat, and absolutely loves it. All in all, she states that it's a worthwhile trade-off. Based on both of their recommendations, I certainly want to give this boat a demo.

Sit Inside Cockpit Boats:

There are a bazillion makes and models of these. Most aren't specifically designed to be fishing boats, but can certainly be fished from. As I researched the available makes and models I soon discovered that one boat seemed to be a popular choice. That boat was the Pungo series, made by Wilderness Systems. This boat is offered in a number of lengths, but we'll talk about the Pungo 120.

Let's review the numbers:

  • Length: 12' 0"
  • Width: 29"
  • Weight: 49 lbs
  • Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Price: $699.00 (price may vary)

One thing I noticed as I questioned Pungo owner's, is that even though most have gone on to other sit-inside boats or to sit-on-top boats, they still own their old Pungo kicking around. Sit inside boats offer a lower enter of gravity than a sit-on-top, so they're often more stable, which is perfect for a beginner. The Pungo has a sealed hatch behind the seat, which is perfect for dry storage. There are several places on this boat where you can mount a rod holder, and that's really all you need in order to make this basic boat into a fishing boat. Paddle fishing is supposed to be simple, and this type of boat encourages that.

Making The Change:

These 2 boats all certainly will do the job, but for me, I need a few extra things. I need more cockpit storage (because I carry too much stuff), and I need a slick way to anchor my boat. On a traditional sit-on-top boat, I normally just use a PVC stake-out pole in order to hold my position. If it's too deep, I go with an anchor on an after market trolley system. But, obviously a stake out pole won't work on a sit-inside or canoe. The same trolley system will work for an anchor, but that's something that will need to be installed. However, I did stumble across one boat in my travels that addresses that issue, gives me the storage I need, and is easiest on my wallet. That boat is the AdvantEdge by Emotion Kayaks.

Let's review the numbers:

  • Length: 12' 7"
  • Width: 28"
  • Weight: 45 lbs
  • Capacity: 325 lbs (EST.)
  • Price: $599.00 (price may vary)

I've had a chance to paddle this boat on several occasions, and like many other sit-inside boats, the simplicity will knock you out. Like most, it has a sealed aft bulkhead which provides flotation and dry storage. But this boat has a ton of storage in the cockpit, which is great for storing all the stuff that I seem to insist on taking with me every time I go fish. It has mesh side pockets on either side of the cockpit, a built in drink holder in the seat, and a waterproof box that fits in a "glove compartment" in the front of the cockpit. That's perfect for your wallet, camera, keys, cell phone, GPS, etc. This boat also sports some rather interesting handles on either end. They work great as handles of course, but from a fishing perspective, for me they work great as a place to run an anchor line. I simply run my anchor line through the rear handle and tie it off in the cockpit. Once I get where I want to stay put, I drop it and tie it off again. Throw a rod holder on to the front of the cockpit and you're ready to go.


There will always be trade-offs between the different styles of boats. But, that's why there are so many choices available, and there's bound to be one that speaks to you.

  • Canoes are easier to get in and out of than sit-inside kayaks in case you want to wade.
  • Canoes and kayaks don't drain, so a sponge or hand operated bilge pump are necessary.
  • Sit-inside boats are easier to paddle and have better glide than most sit-on-tops. So for longer distances, they may be a better choice.
  • … the list goes on …

For those of you that are slaves to a sit-on-top, break those chains ! I'm not suggesting that you completely convert, but you certainly owe it to yourself to check out these breed of boats, and maybe ADD one to your fleet.

See you out on the water …

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