Canoe vs Kayak Guide: What’s the Differences?

by | Last updated Apr 1, 2021

Do you love fishing? Have you thought about picking up this hobby but not sure where to begin? Fishing is definitely one of the most calming and satisfying hobbies you can pick up. It is known to relieve stress, especially when sitting on a boat in the middle of the lake in pure quietness. After a long stressful week at work, fishing seems like the best option to relax and get away from the craziness.

If you don’t like fishing on your own, you can bring your friends or family as it is a great way of bonding over a weekend away. Apart from this, fishing is a great way to spend more time outdoors and really appreciate your surroundings. Keep in mind that anything you catch you bring home to cook for dinner for your family.

Canoe vs Kayak for Fishing: What’s the Differences?

Before going fishing you need to decide what exactly you will be fishing in. When you hear Canoe or Kayak, you may be thinking of the sports kayaking and canoeing, but wouldn’t necessarily associate it using either of those for fishing. First, let me help you understand the difference between the two. In this guide, we will go into detail about the differences between canoe and kayak . Hopefully, this will help you decide before you go for your fishing trips.


A canoe is not only used for competition but can also be used for your own pleasure. It is a narrow type of “boat” that is pointed at both ends. It is open, lightweight, and when you are in it you are in a seated position. Canoes are quite spacious and are made up of a single-bladed paddle. The wider the boat, the safer you are when going against great speed.

It contains bench-like seats which means more space and the possibility of bringing your family out on a day out of fishing. There is so much space you can actually kneel on the floor of the canoe when the waters get rough, or you just prefer fishing in this position.


A kayak is used in competitions as well as for your own leisure. It is much smaller and narrower in which your legs will be stretched out in the front. The kayak is a closed vessel with a double-bladed paddle. The longer the kayak, the faster it is. It is specifically made for long distance travel or race.

The kayak is made for one person only, and unfortunately you will have to leave the kids at home for this one. The seat is moulded into the bottom of the boat, which makes it very uncomfortable to sit on for long trips.

As you can see there are significant differences between the two. One is open, the other closed. One has single-bladed paddle and the other double-bladed paddle. The seating is different in each boat. Each vessel is made specifically to gain a certain speed. So, which is better for fishing A kayak is used in competitions as well as for your own leisure. It is much smaller and narrower in which your legs will be stretched out in the front. The kayak is a closed vessel with a double-bladed paddle. The longer the kayak, the faster it is. It is specifically made for long-distance travel or race.

Which is Better for Fishing? Canoe or Kayak

To understand this question, we will have to look at some key features of the two boats to decide which is actually ideal for going out and fishing in. Some key considerations include:

  • Comfort
  • Storage
  • Portability
  • Stability
  • Accessibility

Each type of boat is brilliant in its own way, so it is entirely down to you in choosing what is most suited for your needs. So, let’s have a look at some of the differences between canoes and kayaks.


If you are looking to go fishing for a few days, the canoe would be the smarter choice. This is because it has more space, your legs are not constantly stretched out, and it has more storage for your equipment, food and much more. The canoe is also built in a way where you are sitting higher up on the water, which means you will get wet less in the open waters.

Canoes are brilliant for taking your family out on a fishing trip. You are not limited to just yourself or two people. There is more space available for extra people to sit, whereas a kayak does not have this option. You are very much limited to who can come with you on a fishing trip unless you have a few kayaks. In the canoe, you can really move around, as in you can turn around and switch seating positions.

The kayak is not suited for long trips as the seat is built into the actual vessel and your legs are continuously stretched out. Your legs and bum will get stiff if you take this option for a long fishing trip. Apart from this, the boat is also much lower on the water, which means you will be at constant risk of getting wet. There is also not enough room in the kayak for all your necessary gear. Kayaks are suited for the ocean and sea, as they are safer.

A kayak is not suited for you if you want to move your body in the vessel. You are limited to sitting in the same position the whole time you are in the boat. You will not be able to turn around or move your legs. There really is a limit to what you can do in a kayak.


The weight of the vessel is important as you will have to move it around. You need to make sure you can pick it up and move it with ease, otherwise, you will be stuck. Canoes can weigh anywhere between 50 pounds to 75 pounds. Kayaks can be anywhere between 35 pounds to 120 pounds. Even though they both vary in weight, kayaks are actually easier to transport than a canoe.

Canoes are much bigger in width and therefore not as easy to pick up and put on top of your car. They take up much more space, are heavier, and not easy to transport. Kayaks come in many different shapes and sizes. They are much easier to transport and a lot lighter to handle.


As previously mentioned, the canoe would definitely have more storage space than a kayak. This is mainly due to the build of the canoe, it is wider, open, and has more free space to be filled. Kayaks are much narrower with limited space. If you need to bring more with you for a longer trip, then the canoe is more suited to you. If you are just going on a day trip and only need a few items, the kayak is perfect for this.


Canoes are more stable than a kayak as they are wider and harder to capsize. You can stand in a canoe, but not recommended when reeling a fish in, as you can topple out. This does not happen with a kayak as it is much more balanced on the water. A sit on top kayak vessel is more suited to fishing.

But, if you want to be able to look around your surroundings and take in the scenery while sitting down and fishing, the canoe is more suited for you and will provide a very stable environment to do this in. There is absolutely no option for this in a kayak.


Canoes are much easier to get into and out of. There is more space, and hence little effort is needed when getting into one. Kayaks are not so graceful and require more effort to get into and out of. The seating space is small enough which means more time is needed to make sure you get in comfortably. Make sure not to forget anything when getting into a kayak as it is an absolute hassle trying to get yourself back out and to shore.


Kayaks are your best friend on this one. They are much easier to move around on the water. They can pretty much access any tight area as they are quite narrow and small. A canoe cannot fit all spaces and is harder to turn. Check our guide about the best tips to pick an inflatable kayak to help you get a good brand that will last longer.

Kayaks are quieter on the water which means you will not scare the fish off easily. It is easier to paddle in it as it is much faster than a canoe. The canoe sometimes comes with a motor which is a guarantee to scare off the fish.


If you want to cover a larger area in a shorter time, the kayak is best for you. This is due to the way they are designed. They travel through water faster, and the double-bladed paddles help you glide through the open sea or lake.

Canoes are much slower as they are larger. They are amazing for storing all your gear and fish, but not so great when it comes to travelling faster through water and steering. Kayaks are much easier to move in a certain direction.

8.Rivers and Lakes

If you are going to be fishing on a river, the kayak is more suited for this as it is easier to manoeuvre around rocks. The canoe is more convenient for lakes as the water is calm and you do not have to suddenly try and go around something in the water.

9.Ocean and Sea

In these settings, it is best to fish in sheltered waters as it can be extremely dangerous if you find yourself in one of these boats in the middle of the ocean or sea. It is not recommended you use these vessels if your purpose is to go out into the middle of the ocean.

The kayak is the best choice for you when going fishing in these areas. This is because this vessel is a closed top and easier balanced on waves than a canoe would be. The canoe would fill up with water too quickly as it is completely open and would be harder to maintain balance on the water.


Both boat range is price significantly depending on the size and types you need. Kayaks cost on average between $400 and $1500. Canoes are between $500 and $1800. The cost of these is more expensive due to the cost of manufacturing on them.

With both options, you can choose which type of each is most suitable for you depending on price range, storage, accessories and much more. You could also choose a cheaper option from both if you are fishing at your local lake and you don’t require too much of either vessel.

So, which is better for fishing?

It is impossible to pinpoint which vessel is better for fishing. There is definitely a balanced battle between fishermen trying to decide which is more convenient as each has their own preference. It would be an endless fight that would come to no conclusion. It really is entirely up to you which you choose.

As you can see from the above list, there is a lot to go through between the two boats before deciding which is most suited for you. If you prefer your own space and going fishing is an escape for you from everything and everyone, then the kayak is your best option. You will enjoy paddling through the waters on your own, finding a peaceful spot to catch some great fish. You can travel through tighter spaces and explore more closed off areas, secluded from everyone else.

If you are the type that needs a lot of space, possibly wants to bring a dog or a family member with you, then the canoe is more suited for you. Bear in mind that this vessel is harder to steer, but as with everything, practice makes perfect.
Whichever boat you choose, you have to look at what suits you in regards to storage, price, mobility, and much more.

You also have to look at the type of car you have and whether it will be able to hold either a kayak or a canoe. Will you have the space to strap it on to the top of the roof? Will you be able to lift it easily and transport it? All of this is important to consider before buying one of these. Whatever you choose, it will be enjoyable for you either way.

Recommended for You!