Should you buy a boat or a kayak?

No doubt, having the ability to leave the shore behind opens a whole new world of angling opportunities. You are no longer constrained by how far you can cast, whether wading is possible or forced to target only those species calling the shallows their home. But what is the best means of getting off the beach? Should you invest in a traditional boat or opt for a fishing kayak? Let’s look at both and see which option is best for you and your fishing style.


The most significant advantage of having a boat or kayak, and the reason most anglers leave the shoreline for open water, is the ability to access new locations. Whether it is that area just beyond where you can cast, the other side of a pond with no trail, or miles offshore, getting to different locations allows you to target new species, bigger fish, or just someplace you have never been. However, each offers a different type or level of access.

Boats allow you to travel farther, faster, and without much physical exertion. You can travel miles offshore or get across to the other side of the lake in minutes. Kayaks may be slower, and your distance is limited to how much paddling you are willing to do, but there are other advantages to consider. They are much better at accessing shallow areas and can be used where motorboats are not allowed. Your kayak can be launched almost anywhere, while a boat requires a ramp or marina.

You need to ask yourself, “Where will I be fishing?”


It is no secret that a boat will provide more room and increased comfort. Even the best kayak is cramped compared to even a basic motorboat. The extra room allows you to be more comfortable and bring along more gear (or friends), and this equates to the possibility that you will be able to spend more time on the water. However, kayaks are advancing every season, and manufacturers recognize the need to cater to anglers rather than strictly paddlers. This means that advances such as pedal drive systems, optional trolling motors, improved seats, and an almost limitless number of accessories may not increase the room in your kayak. Still, they are advancing the level of comfort.

The solo angler can find or customize a kayak well-suited for longer and even overnight trips. A boat is still best if you fish with friends, family, or your favorite canine.


Like it or not, your choice will often be made by your wallet and how much you can afford to spend.

While it is possible to break the bank on a boat or kayak, especially when you add up the cost of customizing your new purchase, the overall cost of purchasing, maintaining, and using a boat is generally far more than that of a kayak. Aside from the initial purchase price, it would help if you considered the costs associated with maintenance, fuel, docking or launch fees, insurance, registration, the trailer, and even the possible need for an additional vehicle capable of towing a boat.

Kayaks require tiny day-to-day maintenance, and most of what is needed can be a DIY project. There are no fuel costs, and the most prominent examples can be transported on a roof rack or in the bed of your truck. On the other hand, you must spend the weekend on something other than a kayak, and taking the whole family requires purchasing multiple vessels, which will multiply your cost several times.


The ease with which you can go from deciding you want to fish to being on the water is something many buyers forget to consider. Will your boat be tied to a dock behind your house or a marina miles away? Are the waters you like to fish suitable for paddling, or are they too dangerous for a small, unpowered craft? Have you considered how willing you are to paddle, potentially wearing yourself out on a hot summer day before even getting a line wet? Regardless of your choice, if you are unable or unwilling to take advantage of it regularly, has it benefited you at the end of the day?


Before you hurry to the local marina, outdoor shop, or boat show and plop down your hard-earned money, take some time to consider what you want to get from your new purchase and whether a boat or kayak will best achieve those goals. Consider what others who fish in the same areas are using. Think about how much time and money you want to invest over the life of the purchase, not just the upfront cost. Whether your decision is a boat or a kayak, the key is to make the right choice for your situation and your style of fishing. Either way, getting away from the beach will open a new world of angling adventures from day one.


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