Kayak vs Canoe – Which is Best for Fishing?

Kayak vs Canoe

Both canoeing and kayaking are fun and useful activities in the outdoors.  But we often get asked, what is the difference between the two and which one is better for things like fishing, camping, hunting and other outdoor activities.  What is the difference between a kayak vs canoe? 

Kayaks and canoes differ in several key aspects, boat design and the way the user paddles are the key differences.  Kayaks sit lower in the boat with their legs in front of them, using one paddle with blades on both ends.  Canoes sit much higher and are entirely open, often being used by two paddlers using single blade paddles.

The two options have a lot more differences and benefits for different things.  This article will dive into a lot more so you can pick the best option for you.


What Are The Differences Between Kayak vs. Canoe?

There are five key differences between kayaks and canoes, design, seating, paddling, and maneuverability.


Both boats are small and typically designed for one or two paddlers, plus a small amount of gear depending on the weight limit.

Canoes have a standard design, where they are open crafts with a seat near the front and a second one near the back.  

Kayaks have two main designs, with several varieties within each one.  You can either have an open design, also known as a sit on top kayak, which has a similar easy of getting in and out like a canoe.

The other design for kayaks is the sit inside or closed top.  This design is more for experts since it takes a little more skill to get in and out.  But this design is more natural to maneuver and is used for whitewater and areas with a lot more waves.


As mentioned before, seating for a canoe is standard, with two seats on each canoe where the paddler sits up much higher in the boat.  This design limits how wet the user will get, but the higher seating makes it less stable.

Most kayaks only have one seat, but they also have options for two seats called a tandem kayak.  Tandem kayaks are longer than solo kayaks and not as easy to maneuver.

Kayaks also have much lower seating than canoes, which increases the stability of the boat, but also means the paddler will most likely come away from the trip wet from the splashes.


Paddling between kayaking and canoeing are different. A kayak uses one paddle with blades on each side of it.  This two-blade paddle allows you to paddle on both sides of the kayak easily.

Since canoes sit up higher, they have a single blade paddle, which only allows you to paddle on one side at a time.  This is why canoes have two passengers, so each one can paddle on either side to go straight.


The combination of design, seating location, and paddles have a big impact on the maneuverability of kayaks and canoes.

The lower center of gravity and paddle design makes the kayak much easier to maneuver and manage.  This is why the kayak is more popular for rivers and ocean use.

The canoes high center of gravity makes it better for use on a lake.

Canoe and Kayak

Which is Best for Fishing?

We often hear people asking, which is better for fishing, kayak, or canoe?  Canoes used to be the popular pick for fishing.  Now that kayaks have become more available, fishers now realize that a sit on top kayak is a better option.

Kayaks are more stable, which makes it easier for casting and pulling in larger fish.  With the open sit on top kayak, the fisherman still have the flexibility of accessing his or her gear.

The only challenge with kayaks when it comes to fishing is the weight of your gear.  You will have to keep an eye on the kayak weight limit to make sure it’s suitable for you and your equipment.  Here is a great article that helps you identify the required weight limit of a kayak.

Which is Best for Hunting?

Hunters tend to have heavier gear than fishers, which makes the weight limit on a kayak challenge.  The stability of a kayak is appealing for hunting.  But the increased weight limit and ease of movement within the canoe makes it a better option for hunting.


Canoe vs. Kayak Summary

The kayak and the canoe are great small watercraft, both are very different, but provide many pros and cons.

If you’re on a lake or out hunting, the canoe is a viable option.

But if we had to choose between the two, we would pick the kayak for its versatility, stability, and ease of movement.  Due to its design, it’s a much better craft overall.

We hope that you enjoyed this article, below are a few more that you may like!

Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

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