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What's Better For Fishing; Kayaks Or SUPs? 2023

Fishing Kayak vs SUP

Fishing Kayak vs SUP

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 1/28/2023

Kayak fishing is slowly but surely taking over the world of angling. People were tired of buying large, heavy, and expensive boats that were cumbersome to stow and transport. As a result, consumers moved away from those heavy aluminum boats and invested in lighter and cheaper kayaks, which have only grown in popularity. However, a new challenger has entered the stand-up paddleboard (SUP) market.

As saltwater fishers and anglers out west began to transform them into their fishing vessels, they grew in popularity. They have spread across the country in recent years, and you can now find them primarily used by anglers on the east coast. SUPs are now manufactured specifically for fishing, and they are posing a severe threat to kayaks, the king of small vessel fishing.

Fishing With A Kayak Or SUP Has Many Benefits

Let's break down what they have in common before going too far.


Due to their plastic construction, both can have a wide range of weights depending on their size. Nonetheless, these are generally easy to transport for a single person. As a result of their lightweight capabilities, they are also straightforward to store.

Fishing In Skinny Water

Your bass boat won't be able to cover a small river or creek well. Using a kayak or SUP, you can easily float through a foot or two of water. As a result, you will not be constrained by your location and will be able to reach fish that previous anglers could not.


There's an old joke that you've probably heard before. It tells how the two happiest days in a boater's life are the day he buys his boat and the day he sells it, which means if you've never owned one before, it can be a pain to maintain. Kayaks or SUPs shine in this scenario, and you don't have to do much maintenance apart from occasional rinsing and keeping it out of the elements. Let's now dig a little deeper to determine which one will work best for you based on what they both have in common.

Are You A Fly Fisher Or A Spincaster?

Whether you're casting a Texas rigged worm to a largemouth or chunking a streamer to a brown trout, you have to know what vessel is best for your fishing type.

Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing

Kayak Fly Fishing

It can be challenging to get a good back cast from a kayak, and you are so close to the water forces you to focus and make sure your fly doesn't slap behind you. Standing up might solve this problem, but keep in mind that you have to move from your seated position and maintain your balance while standing, resulting in you or a piece of gear falling into the water.

Kayaking While Spincasting

Casting your spincaster or baitcaster is the best method if you want to sit down this close to the water. Due to your low position, you can easily cast underneath docks and overhanging tree limbs since your back cast won't go anywhere.

SUP Fly Fishing

Fly fishing and SUPs go together like peanut butter and jelly. Since you're standing, you have ample room to backcast because of the extra stability. You don't have to waste effort standing up to throw to rising fish if you use an elevated seat or a cooler that straps down. 

Using A SUP For Spincasting



There is no reason you should not be able to cast your spinning set up like you can with a kayak. You can sit, kneel, or stand. Heck, if you want, you can even lie down!


You can easily cast your fly rod and spinning rod with the SUP. Thus, if you want something that will allow you to release quickly, a SUP is your best bet. Still, don't ignore kayaks entirely. It can be challenging to cast a fly rod, but it is possible.

The Storage Of Gear Is An Important Consideration

A subculture of the fishing world that has to be one of the largest has to be gear heads. Gear heads are people who want the newest and best of everything. To catch fish, you need the latest lures, tackle boxes, scents, rods, reels, lines, and everything else under the sun, so how much gear you can carry should be essential.

Storage Options For Kayaks

If you don't purchase a kayak explicitly designed for whitewater rafting, you'll have many storage options. You can usually store a tackle box or a small cooler in two areas with elastic straps at sit-ins. The paddler also has a flat spot in front of them to store other items and the areas in front and behind. With the kayak's lip, you won't worry about your things falling off.

Storage Options For SUP

There are straps in the front and back of most SUPs that can hold a cooler or gearbox that you can use for a seat.

You can put a few different things there, from a tackle box to food and other smaller items. With rod holders attached to your cooler, you can bring a few different setups and various lures and flies. Now, aside, this is the perfect vessel for the minimalist fisherman. The ship can hold everything you need, but not much more.


Kayaks are the best for storing gear. They can hold just about anything you want, and SUPs are great if you're paddle out with only the essentials.

Paddleboards And Kayaks With Motors

Many people are unaware that you can strap a motor to these boats designed to be paddled. 

A Kayak Trolling Motor Makes Kayak Fishing Easy

Using a trolling motor on a kayak is not uncommon, and Trolling along riverbanks or navigating large lakes has been done using them. Anglers can quickly get into position with these, and if you're worried about too much rattling and scaring fish, you can turn the motor off and paddle into your spot. As a trolling engine, it could only be used to get there.

Additionally, you can use this when fishing or holding your position during a windy day. You can stay in the same area with the trolling motor instead of casting and repositioning. It is possible to equip kayaks with outboard motors, but I do not recommend this option. An item like that is too heavy to be carried in a kayak made of plastic. Do so at your own risk.

Motorized Paddle Boards Are The New Frontier Of Paddle Boards

The company BOTE has recently released a SUP that uses an outboard motor as its primary mode of transport. At the ICAST trade show, the BOTE Rover was named Best of Show. A SUP with a 6hp motor can get you wherever you go. During the summertime, cruise from the boat ramp out to the shallows, shut off the motor, and stealthily paddle your way back to the bedding bass. Perhaps you can even slink your way into the flats and cast flies to reds - what could be better?

BOTE Rover - Go Farther

In this case, you do not have to get the Rover, but you must purchase a SUP compatible with an outboard motor. A paddleboard will go the same way as a kayak if you rig up a system to hold a gasoline-powered engine. A trolling motor can easily be mounted and strapped to the mount if you do not want to spend the money on an outboard. Take care where you place the battery, and put it in a stripped-down gearbox.


You can use either of these options if you're looking to troll around a lake. For those who want to cover a lot of ground quickly, the BOTE Rover is a good option. These are a bit pricey, but if you love fishing from a SUP and need to cover large bodies of water, then these will be perfect for you. 

Kayaks And SUPs For Fishing

Accessories For Kayaks

As kayak fishing has grown in popularity, many companies have come up with various add-ons that anglers can utilize. These include clip-on rod holders, sonar, power poles, and live wells. You can now find the most comforts on a bass boat in a kayak, albeit on a smaller scale.

Accessories For SUPs

SUP fishing is a relatively new phenomenon, so there are not many accessories available. If you want most items, you'll need to rig them yourself. SUP companies are now making boards that attach to casting bars, dramatically increasing the amount of gear you can bring with you. Additionally, these casting bars double as handles for extra stability. Straps, rod holders, and cup holders can also be attached to them.

Currently, it is hard to find these SUPs, and only Bote makes them compatible with these bars. Nevertheless, more and more companies are slowly but surely starting to get in on the SUP fishing action with their own specialized fishing paddle boards.

Don't worry about seating if you're concerned. Many boards now have straps that allow you to strap down your cooler as you sit on it. Alternatively, you can install stadium-style seats to make them more comfortable. Cabela's and Bass Pro Shop now sell seats you can attach to your cooler to go even further. By doing so, you can have a comfortable area to sit without sacrificing a more relaxed space.

Related Fishing Paddle Boards


In the present state, kayaks have more angling accessories than SUPs, and their design will probably always give them an edge. Although SUPs aren't far behind as companies like Bote continue to innovate.

SUPs VS Fishing Kayaks: The Bottom Line

SUPs and kayaks can both serve to fish effectively. As they are so effective in shallow water, you can get back into spots that other anglers have never been to, and you can target fish that have never seen a fly or lure before.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. With a kayak, you can store all of your gear and accessories. If you are a minimalist fisherman who prefers larger bodies of water and requires an outboard to cover them, then the BOTE Rover is the vessel for you. If you are unsure, write down what you are looking for and then re-read the article to determine if a kayak or a SUP is right for you.