Canoe or Kayak: Which is Better for Fishing?


Did You Know?
Though they are completely different boats altogether, many people often confuse a kayak for a canoe. Even in Olympics nomenclature, they are both grouped together under the sporting event of ‘Canoeing’!!!

Just imagine… it’s early dawn, the heavens blush pink as the first few rays of the sun kiss the virgin sky. Breathing in the crisp morning air, you are drifting carelessly through the thick curtains of mist swirling over the serene waters, surrounded by the pleasant sounds of birds and animals as they wake up to a brand new day. What a perfect way to unwind, isn’t it? Add to that a boat and fishing rod, and you have your perfect weekend getaway.

Fishing has long been considered as one of the best forms of rejuvenation. It takes away the stress and monotony of everyday life and refreshes you completely―muscle and mind! Among the primary considerations for an enjoyable and revitalizing fishing experience is having a good sturdy fishing boat. In this article, we discuss the merits of two of the most popular fishing boats―the canoe and the kayak. Which one is the best for your weekend getaway? Let’s find out.

The Canoe
A canoe is a narrow vessel originally used by Native Americans. Traditionally made of red or yellow cedar, it was made to be lightweight and durable. Modern-day canoes are made of plastic, fiber, polycarbonate, and even out of inflatable materials. Canoes are generally designed to carry more than one person. They are traditionally propelled manually using a single-bladed paddle, but a motor can be fitted to it too.
Design and Construction
Canoe Parts

Typically, a canoe is anywhere from 13 to 18 ft long. The front end is where the bow seat is, while the rear end houses the stern seat. For first timers, it might be a little difficult to identify the difference between these two crafts, as they look almost similar. However, on careful observation, you will notice that the bow seat is a little wider and is placed closer to the center in a canoe. The person sitting on the bow is responsible only for paddling, while the one seated on the stern has to look after the steering as well.

Right in the middle of the canoe is the yoke, which is designed to enable you to carry the canoe on your shoulders. On either sides of the yoke are parallel wooden struts called thwarts, which serve the purpose of ‘thwarting’ crosswise impacts.

The outer part of the sides of the canoe is called the outwale, while the inner side is called the inwale. The bottom of the canoe is called the hull. The design of the hull especially affects its performance. The shallow ‘v’ design is considered to be the most versatile, as it establishes a good balance between stability and maneuverability.

Canoe Fishing
Canoe Fishing

Canoe fishing has been going on for hundreds of years. Being small in size, they are particularly good for maneuvering to remote locations on rivers, lakes, ponds, and other small water bodies. Larger canoes are capable of seating 4 persons and a fair amount of fishing gear. Modern-day vessels come fitted with a sonar-based fish finder and GPS. They also have comfortable seating arrangements to help you enjoy long hours on-board.

Fishing requires skill, and while on a canoe, even more so. Canoes are inherently prone to capsizing, especially in inexperienced hands. Being light-weight, medium- to large-sized fish can easily tow them. If there is more than one person, then one can do the fishing while others can handle steering the boat. While fishing solo, one needs to be careful to keep to the center of the boat as much as possible while fighting the fish, to avoid creating an imbalance. In such cases, it is also advisable to consider using an anchor.

Advantages of Canoe Fishing

1) Carries More People and Equipment: The design allows you to carry up to 4 people on-board for fishing expeditions. The extra space can even be utilized to carry more equipment.

2) Higher Seating: On a canoe, you sit higher over the water. This offers you a wider view of the fish swimming under your craft.

3) Comfortable: Canoes allow you to sit, kneel, and even stand, making them comfortable and perfect for various fishing positions.

Carrying a Canoe

Carrying a Canoe

Family Canoeing

Family Canoeing
The Kayak
Kayaks have been around for thousands of years. They were first used by the Inuit, Yup’ik, and Aleut people for their hunting expeditions. Originally designed to carry only one person, kayaks are small and narrow boats propelled by double-bladed paddles. They have a covered deck that prevents entry of water in the cockpit. This feature also allows the more experienced kayaker to flip over their boats, capsizing it, and then flipping it back to the correct position again.
Design and Construction

Modern-day kayaks are very different in their designs compared to the traditional ones. They are manufactured using computer-aided design methods. Though the traditional wood designs are still used, most modern kayaks are made from plastic, polyvinyl, fiberglass, Kevlar, aluminum, etc.

Kayaks are very versatile, and therefore find uses in many different fields, such as leisure touring, racing sports, extreme whitewater sports, fishing, etc. For each of these activities, specialized designs are employed. However, some features remain common in all the variants.

The kayak is pointed on both ends and wide in the middle. The top is almost completely covered, except for the cockpit, which houses the seat where a person can sit or kneel according to preference. The legs can be stretched forward and placed on the foot-braces which are present under the deck, thereby completely covering the person’s lower half. Kayaks also come as sit-on-top models, in which the seats are mounted on the deck rather than inside the cockpit. Though this can seem like a more comfortable option, the drawback is that you will end up getting yourself completely wet, rather than only your upper half in the traditional design.

Kayaks are usually 10 to 20 ft in length, with the longer ones generally being double-seater (two cockpits). The shape of the hull varies from gently rounded ones to the aggressive ‘v’ shaped ones. The round shaped ones have better initial stability, while the ‘v’ shaped ones have more secondary stability, making them more sea worthy.

Attached to the front deck are bungee cords that can be used to tie essential equipment, such as maps, spare paddles, backpacks, etc. Modern kayaks also come with cargo hatches on the front and rear ends, which can be used to store supplies and equipment.

Kayak Fishing
Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing is a relatively modern form, falling under the category of sport-fishing. Being silent on waters, they can be employed in stealth-fishing for approaching the more nervous and easily scared fish. Kayaks are cheaper and have low maintenance costs compared to other fishing boat options.

Modern fishing-specific kayaks are designed and accessorized keeping the sport in mind. The most popular ones are made of polyethylene, due to lower costs and higher durability. They have wider beam spans to allow for more lateral stability. This is done to allow the fisherman to stand while fishing. They also offer increased hull space for a more comfortable sitting over longer durations, and for storing things such as fishing rods, bait-box, anchors, etc. Some anglers even fix outriggers to their boats for increased stability.

The new generation twin hull design catamaran kayaks offer enough stability to allow anglers to both, fish and paddle in standing positions. They are a great option for fly-fishing, and also solve the ergonomic issues that kayak anglers usually face, including space crunch and sitting for long durations without being able to change position.

Fishing techniques on a kayak essentially remains the same as on other boats. The main difference is the positioning and placement of accessories and fishing equipment in the lesser space that is available, and finding out how best to carry out each activity on the smaller craft. Modern fishing kayaks can be fitted with accessories such as rod holders, GPS, bait-box holders, fish finders, etc.

Angling on the seas involves carrying the kayak to the fishing site on a bigger vessel, and then launching offshore on the kayaks. Being lower in cost and environment-friendly, kayak fishing is gaining a lot of popularity in recent times.

Advantages of Kayak Fishing

1) Stability: Kayaks are more stable on the water, and can be used in rough weather as well as on challenging waters. This allows kayak anglers to fish in less than favorable conditions for prized fished.

2) Lower Sitting: A lower and enclosed seating offers you better stability and lower wind resistance when fishing in turbulent waters.

3) Sealed Body: A completely sealed body means that your kayak won’t fill with water even if it gets overturned while battling larger fish. It also means that you and the equipment that you store under the deck will remain drier even during the rains.

Carrying a Kayak

Carrying a Kayak

Family Kayaking

Family Kayaking
Which is Better?
Both the canoe and the kayak offer distinct advantages, But which one is the better craft? The answer is that none is! They are just different boats made for different individuals. But, if you are still confused over which one to choose, here’s a questionnaire designed to help you decide.
Q) Are you a solo-soul or a family guy?
If you like going on solo fishing expeditions, then the kayak would be a better option. But if you are planning to take your family along, then instead of buying two or more kayaks, spending on a single canoe would be the better investment.
Q) How long are you planning to be on the water?
On a canoe, because of its open design, you are free to change your position, making this craft better suited for longer duration fishing expeditions. However, if you are looking for short exploits, the kayak, with its snug single-seating position will suit you just fine.
Q) What exactly are you looking for?

Kayaks are ideal for fast waters and river rapids. So if it’s thrill and adventure that you seek, go for the kayak. It will offer you a more challenging and perhaps a more rewarding experience. If you are skilled enough, you can even take it to rougher locations to catch that prized fish that your friends have been bragging about!

If, on the other hand, you are looking to have a good time, possibly with your friends or family, the canoe will be the better option. With its extra space and comfortable seats, you can glide smoothly on the calm waters, stretching your legs, a beer can in one hand, and a fishing rod in another!

Q) What are the long-term returns that you are expecting out of your boating investment?
A canoe is suited for both solo as well as family use. So if you are solo now, but plan on using your craft with your family in the future, then opt for the canoe. A kayak is mainly for solo use, and even with tandem kayaks, you’ll be able to include just one extra friend or family member. If you don’t mind this fact, and are planning on using your time on the craft as a means of self-exploration and for independent and challenging fishing exploits now and in the future, then the kayak should be your pick.
Both kayaks and canoes offer fun and eco-friendly ways of fishing. Whichever one of these amazing boats you choose, you are guaranteed to have a good time. So just listen to your heart and go hit the waters. Happy angling!

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