How to Choose a Kayak vs. SUP for Fishing


Written by: Isabelle Marinier 

If you are investing in a new watercraft for fishing, you've probably seen a lot of information about fishing kayaks or SUPs for fishing. Which one you choose is based in large part on personal preference. There is no best answer. Thankfully, you can look at the different advantages of each and how you can modify them to fit your needs.

When it comes to fishing, how you have to transport your kayak or sup is a huge factor. Reaching those hard-to-get-to locations can be important to fishers, especially those going for that trophy fish.

Having a kayak or sup that is hard to transport and that needs to be loaded and unloaded via a boat ramp can severely limit which bodies of water you can fish. It may be a good idea to invest in a portable fishing kayak or sup if you are one of those anglers looking to fish those bodies of water deep in the woods that are inaccessible to cars or trucks."

What is a Fishing SUP Board?

A fishing SUP is a stand-up paddle board. A stand-up paddle board has shared features with a surfboard and a kayak. However, instead of sitting inside the watercraft, you have the option of:


  • Sitting on top
  • Standing on top
  • Kneeling on top


Advantages of Fishing on SUP Board

There are advantages to using a fishing SUP board. With a stand-up paddle board, you have more versatility and maneuverability.



Stand-up paddle boards are easier to launch. You can drop them in the water and step on top. You don't have to struggle with maneuverability.



Stand-up paddle boards rely on a whole-body workout rather than isolated shoulder muscles. The ability to choose how you position yourself, be it sitting or standing, gives you greater flexibility in terms of which muscles you use throughout your fishing trip.



Stand-up paddle boards come in many different sizes. They are usually lighter and smaller, which makes it easier for people who like to fish in isolation. By design, you are higher up on the water, so you have an improved line of sight, increasing your chance of getting a fish. The flexibility to sit back on your heels, sit down, or stand can help you target a wider area of water than you would see if you were confined to a kayak.


Whether you are standing or sitting, the glare off the water can make it difficult to see fish clearly, though, and it can harm your eyesight long-term. That's why having polarized sunglasses with you and a hat is important to protect yourself against UV rays and glare. The increased line of sight and polarized sunglasses are a potent combination for effective fishing.



How to Customize Your SUP for Fishing

If you invest in a stand-up paddle board for fishing, there are some things you can do to customize your watercraft.


  • Add an outrigger to stabilize the board. If there are other boats in the water, especially powerboats, or you are traveling down a fast-moving river, these stabilizers will help you reel in bigger fish without falling off.
  • Invest in a detachable seat or secure straps. You can find netting kits easily installed on either end, perfect for securing your polarized sunglasses, fishing gear, detachable seat, and portable cooler when not in use.
  • If you want to bring a fishing rod, invest in a spare rod holder, so nothing falls off the SUP. 


What is a Fishing Kayak?


A fishing kayak is a kayak designed for fishing. You can find iterations intended for fishing on a river, on a lake, or in larger bodies of water. Fishing kayaks function very similarly to traditional kayaks in that you can sit inside with a place to store your fishing tools and prop up the fishing rod.


Advantages of Fishing on Kayak


There are many advantages to fishing on kayaks, especially for people who like to fish in choppy waters over longer periods. 


Cost and Comfort

Fishing kayaks are usually less expensive and easier to use. If you have had any knee problems, back problems, chronic pain, or surgery, you might not find standing on a paddle board very comfortable, but a kayak can be just right. 



Kayaks are much more stable in choppy water. You are more likely to fall off a SUP for fishing if there is turbulence, anyone with a motorized boat nearby, or rapids. If you like to fish in lakes shared by other water activities, a kayak won't tip over as often.



One of the biggest benefits is storage. Fishing on a kayak means you can carry more gear. It also means you can invest in longer trips. You don't have to limit yourself to a few hours in the afternoon. Instead, you can pack enough gear onto a single kayak for a small camping trip over the weekend. You can also bring extra gear, spare rods, and a cooler to make things more comfortable without having to invest in additional accessories.


How to Customize Your Kayak for Fishing


If you want to customize your kayak, there are some fun things you can add:


  • Consider installing a live bait tank. These are easy to purchase and install on a fishing kayak, and they provide more options, especially for people who are fishing for an entire day or a weekend.
  • Invest in a secure integrated tackle box with a rod holder. This helps you keep all of your fishing supplies in one place.
  • A kayak landing net makes it easier for you to bring your fish in. It can be difficult to stay seated and use all of your upper body strength to reel in large fish, but these tools can help.



Overall, fishing kayaks are still a reliable go-to for anyone who doesn't want their fishing trip to also turn into strength training. A relaxing day on a busy lake or a quick weekend camping trip is best served by kayaks. However, if you want an extra exercise in your fishing trip and the ability to assume more than one position, a SUP for fishing is a great investment. No matter what you choose, there are ways you can modify and customize your watercraft to make it as comfortable as possible.


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