Canoe vs Kayak Fishing Comparison: What’s the Difference?

Updated on December 8, 2022 by
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Kayaks are more stable than canoes which is extremely advantageous when casting a fishing rod, but they are more expensive and have a lower carrying capacity.

Kayak and canoe fishing has recently grown in popularity as it allows anglers to fish on waters that are typically inaccessible to larger boats. Let’s have a look at a comparison between canoe vs kayaks for anglers.

Many decades ago, most anglers fished from the shoreline and it was considered to be a luxury to be able to fish from any type of watercraft. 

During the early part of the 1900’s, the popularity of larger, more comfortable and accommodating boats became commonplace and the use of smaller vessels faded. In the last few years, anglers have rediscovered the many advantages to using kayaks and canoes for fishing. 

If you’re interested in getting your own small watercraft for your fishing adventures, there are some important things you’ll want to consider when comparing canoes vs kayaks. We’ve compiled this article of the key advantages of both canoe and kayak fishing to help you understand the characteristics of each one and decide which type of vessel will be more favorable for your own personal needs. 

Fishing Canoes

Let’s begin with the basics of fishing from a canoe. For many years, even centuries, canoes have been used to navigate the world’s many lakes and rivers. Canoes are exceptionally useful when compared to almost any other type of watercraft because there’s virtually no stretch of water that they aren’t capable of traveling on. This ability to access new water and environments can prove to be incredibly advantageous to anglers who are looking to fish in areas where others usually don’t venture. 

Canoes are made of various types of materials that include fiberglass, carbon fiber and even molded plastic in some cases. They are made to withstand the rigors that come with being used on rough waters where you might encounter rocks or logs and run the risk of damaging the vessel. 

There are some notable brands in the outdoor industry that specialize in producing some very well-made canoes that not only are capable of being durable enough to go almost anywhere, but to also give you plenty of storage space for all your gear and tackle. Canoes are made in a few varieties of designs with some have the classic flat bottom and others sporting a more V-shaped bottom that’s better for traversing rivers and coastal waters where you’re likely to encounter unstable surfaces. 

Many anglers like to use canoes on rivers as you can easily maneuver along in mostly calm waters or even some rapids with relative ease. Once you find a good spot to fish, it’s no trouble to pull the canoe onto the shoreline and fish from the bank or even on some rocks in the middle of the river as long as your canoe is properly tied off and secured. 

Canoes are also exceptionally useful when fishing on large lakes and reservoirs. They are the clear-cut choice for adventurers who want a watercraft that they can pack a large amount of gear onto such as a tent, cooking utensils, and any other items they need for their expedition. Some of the few, brave hardcore adventurers have explored the far reaches of the world’s rivers and lakes in a canoe and they are very reliable when it comes to getting you where you want to go. 


  • Can pack large amounts of gear
  • Extremely durable


  • Not as stable when casting
  • Cannot stand up in a canoe
Canoe vs Kayak Comparison for Fishing

Fishing Kayaks

Kayak fishing was once something that was virtually unheard of since, up until the last few decades, kayaks have mostly been designed so that users have to sit inside a small hole. Newer kayaks have recently become wildly popular among anglers and anyone who wants to get into the outdoors because companies are coming up with innovative designs that make kayaks easier to use and more comfortable on virtually any type of water. 

The invention of the sit-on-top kayak has truly revolutionized the fishing industry and created an entirely new culture within the fishing industry. There are now professional kayak fishing organizations and a plethora of kayak fishing products, as well as different models of fishing kayaks that are tailor-made to function on any kind of water. 

There are many different makes and models of kayaks that are used for fishing. One of the most clear advantages that newer kayaks have over your average canoe is that anglers have the ability to stand up while fishing. This is a major game-changer that not only makes fishing more comfortable, but also gives you a better advantage when it comes to getting a visual on your target, making casts farther and more accurately, as well as just standing up and enjoying your experience on the water. 

Like canoes, kayaks also allow anglers to access those far reaches of lakes, rivers and coastal inlets that large boats simply can’t get to. However, there are some drastic differences between canoes vs kayaks that should be considered if you’re trying to determine which one is right for you. 


  • The ability to stand up while fishing
  • Makes fishing more comfortable


  • Can be more expensive
  • Not as much storage space

Fishing in a Canoe

The most obvious difference when it comes to comparing canoes vs kayaks for fishing is the fact that you usually can’t stand up in a canoe. They are notoriously unstable and some newer canoe models even make it possible for anglers to stand, but these models usually come with specialized outriggers that add to the vessel’s overall stability. If being able to comfortably stand up while fishing is a must-have commodity, then you might not want to consider using a canoe. 

One of the other key differences that canoes have over kayaks when it comes to fishing is a much greater overall capacity and storage space. If you’re the type of angler who goes on multi-day journeys deep into the wilderness where you’ll need to carry along a wide assortment of gear and equipment, you’re likely going to want a canoe instead of a kayak. It’s no secret that canoes offer much more space and you also have the freedom to situate your gear inside the canoe as you see fit, whereas you are very limited with a kayak on exactly where you can put certain items. 

This additional space is also better for larger anglers who might require a bit more legroom than others. For anyone who is well over 6 feet tall and particularly heavier than the average person, most kayaks are just not going to cut it when it comes to being able to comfortably sit for hours on end. Canoes generally have higher seating in most cases, which is better if you’re concerned with being comfortable on the water instead of feeling cramped and limited in your movements. 

Fishing in a Kayak 

There are so many different designs when it comes to fishing kayaks that it’s almost hard to compare them to the average canoe. Some brands even produce kayaks that are made with some of the characteristics of a canoe, and many anglers note that these kayaks function exceptionally well in the water. As brands in the outdoor industry continually compete with one another to make fishing kayaks that are more functional and comfortable, it’s easy to see why so many anglers prefer to choose kayaks over canoes in most cases. 

One major advantage you’ll have with a kayak is maneuverability and portability. Kayaks are mostly smaller and easier to handle in the water. Compared to canoes, it’s much easier to steer the kayak and keep it on a specific course. This is especially important for anyone who is fishing along rivers where it can be hazardous to navigate through rough and fast-moving water. It’s common to use a double-sided paddle with a kayak which gives the user much greater ability to steer and move through the water than a single-sided paddle. 

It’s important that you consider whether or not you’ll need to lift or even carry your kayak any distance to access the water you want to fish in. Canoes are notably heavier than kayaks and it’s much more difficult to move the canoe along with all your gear without a specialized cart or trailer. 

Being able to stand up and comfortably fish is one of the most prominent advantages you’ll get from a kayak compared to most canoes. There are many brands in the outdoor industry that are producing kayaks that offer impressive levels of stability that allow you to cast and even catch and land fish while standing up. These kayaks are typically much more expensive than your average fishing kayak or canoe, but if you want to have the ability to stand without fear of tipping over, it’s often worth the extra investment to purchase a sturdy fishing kayak. 

Many new kayaks that are specially designed for fishing feature a number of things that are ideal for serious anglers. The sides are usually fitted with mounting tracks that are able to fit rod holders, cameras, fish finders, and any number of other items you want to have on your kayak. Most of the high-end kayaks that are being made now also have pre-installed cables and space for a fish-finder and battery that can really transform your fishing experience. 


Whether you are going on a long, multi-day journey or just a simple day trip, there are plenty of good makes and models of kayaks and canoes that are ideal for fishing. Consider your own needs and use the tips and information we’ve given you to decide on whether you should go with a canoe or kayak for your adventure. Using these small, but capable vessels will open up a whole new type of fishing that many anglers find to be an exciting new challenge. 

Photo of author

Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler and writer whose work has been featured in magazines for nearly a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States, as well as trout fishing in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. He enjoys keeping up with the latest news and gear items in the fishing industry and is always looking forward to his next outdoor adventure. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, Paddling Space, Man Can Outdoors, Alabama Outdoor News, and Bassmaster.