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Do Fishing Kayaks Tip Easily?

If you’ve ever been in a boat or kayak, you know the danger of capsizing. Plenty of comedic moments have come at the expense of an unsteady landlubber. So, you might be imagining that the casting and retrieving of an angler will put the sportsman or woman at risk of taking a dunk.

However, fishing kayaks are surprisingly stable and not prone to tip very easily. They are designed for the dynamic movements of fishing - standing, casting, retrieving  - without flipping.

What Makes Fishing Kayaks Stable?

Primary stability

Primary stability refers to the ability of the kayak to remain steady on flat water. A broader/wider kayak will have more primary stability - it is less likely to wobble or flip - than a narrower kayak. Most fishing kayaks come in around 30-40 inches wide. In comparison, a racing kayak would be 28 inches. This gain in stability from a wider base is often sacrificed in speed. But when your purpose is fishing, you aren’t usually looking to break any speed records.

Secondary stability

Secondary stability refers to the ability of the kayak to resist tipping during side to side movements. How a kayak handles waves, currents, or leaning over to land a fish will tell you a lot about its secondary stability. Fishing kayaks will often have a pontoon shaped hull to improve stability during these unexpected events. The pontoon hull is particularly good at reducing side-to-side tipping and providing the stability you need to stand up on the deck. Round hulls are another popular option with fishing kayaks; they have good stability and still pick up some speed.


One tip to remember: trust your kayak. If you are feeling uneasy moving about or unbalanced on your yak, it might be more you than the vessel. Your kayak will rock - it was designed to. As you get more comfortable with the movement of the kayak, you will learn that you can trust this. Let the kayak have its sway; it was designed to move with the water. Experience will show you how to use that feature to work for you.

Brooklyn Kayak Company is producing excellent fishing kayaks with noteworthy stability.  BKC TK181 Tandem Fishing Kayak was awarded the most stable ocean fishing kayak of 2023 by It was also favorably reviewed by

What Makes Fishing Kayaks Unstable?

Every kayaker knows that they should always be prepared to get wet - that errant wake, the rough entry/exit, or even a particularly spirited battle with a bass, can leave you a bit damp. But that doesn’t mean you want to take a header off your yak everytime you go out. Well, don’t worry. You may be surprised to learn just how INFREQUENTLY kayak anglers actually capsize.

A recent survey of 1,163 kayak fishers from Kayak Fishing Guide revealed that nearly 75% of kayak anglers have never capsized or flipped their kayak. Of the 25% that have gotten in over their heads, nearly all revealed user error. Fishing kayaks are not prone to flip over of their own accord. (Note: don’t read that you shouldn’t be prepared to capsize. Practicing capsize drills and self-rescue is still important.)

Common ways you can capsize or flip your kayak:

  • Reaching for something over the side. If you tilt too far out of the kayak’s centerline, you are risking a dunking. Too easily we become complacent and don’t think when we reach. Sometimes, we are trying to quickly grab an expensive piece of equipment that jumped overboard. Or we lean too far when trying to net a fish. Avoid this by investing in a rod leash and staying aware of your centerline.
  • Having a fish pull you over. This is more likely to happen when fishing for bigger fish offshore but it can happen with gamefish like muskie, catfish, northern pike in freshwater, too. If a big fish swims to the side of your kayak, you might be in trouble. Your kayak is much less stable side-to-side. Avoid this catastrophe by keeping your rod tip pointed toward the bow of your kayak. If you can keep most of the pressure along the full length of the hull, you can maintain your stability.
  • Getting caught in a current or surf. Whether you get caught sideways while anchored or get hit with a surf as you are launching, there are just times when moving water gets you. This might be the most unavoidable scenario, but it is still important to be aware of the risk. Do your best to keep your bow pointed INTO the surf or current. When you get hit sideways the capsize risk increases.

Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC TK 219 Angler Tandem Kayak was voted best tandem fishing kayak for the money by

If you’ve been hesitant to take the plunge with fishing from your kayak, fear the plunge no more. Because, truly, you aren’t very likely to plunge anywhere. But you are likely to sneak up on some great fishing. Happy paddling!



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