Kayak Fishing Ultimate Resource

Monday, 08 April 2013 19:56

Kayaks and Weight Limits

Written by
Rate this item
(28 votes)

My first experience with a sit-on-top kayak was a terrifying one. With no help or information, I bought one on sale at a big box store and headed to the water. It was a 12’model with four scuppers near the bow and two beneath the seat. I was excited as I drove to a neighborhood lake for the maiden voyage.

The water was cold and muddy as I readied the kayak for launch. I waded out a few feet and turned to sit down into the seat. This is where things turned from a fun experience to a learning experience. As soon as my posterior hit the seat, the bow scuppers looked like fountains in Las Vegas and the seat scuppers gave me my first case of swamp butt.

I jumped out of the kayak wet, cold, and confused. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but it sure made me want my canoe back. Since I was already soaked, I decided to see how far down it would go and climbed back in. The kayak floated me but the cockpit was filled with water. As I paddled, the water would siphon out, but as soon as I stopped it would rush back in. It wasn’t a bad kayak manufacturer or design that caused the problem; I had exceeded the kayak’s weight rating.

loaded down fising canoe

Manufacturers assign weight ratings for two primary reasons: safety, and performance. An overloaded kayak is an unsafe one. It will be more apt to have problems with wind-driven waves, boat wakes, or current. Also, a paddler in a too-heavy kayak will be more likely to flip just due to moving their weight around while landing a fish, or reaching for gear.

drew gregory catching fish in his jackson kayak

An overloaded kayak will suffer poor performance. The bow will push through the water instead of the whole vessel gliding through it. This will wear out a kayaker in a short time. The paddler will have to fight to get the kayak up to speed, and when they stop paddling there will be very little glide due to the bow digging in.

Weight distribution is as important as weight limits. Even if it is below the rated limit, a poorly-positioned load will create its own issues. Too much weight in the stern area will make the kayak zigzag back and forth, and too much in the bow area will make the kayak nearly impossible to control. If too much weight is toward one side or the other it could lead to a tip over, or at least a sore back from the paddler leaning toward the high side of the boat.

loaded kayak

Kayaks have two types of stability: primary, and secondary. Primary stability is how stable the kayak feels when you are sitting still and centered. This stability is the least affected by weight distribution. Secondary stability is how the kayak feels when you are leaning to the side. Poor weight distribution or overloading will greatly diminish secondary stability and can lead to dangerous or costly turnovers.

Overloaded fishing kayak

Some manufacturers add an ideal weight range to their specifications. For example, the Jackson Kayaks “Cuda 12” has a listed weight rating of 350 lbs, but an ideal weight range of 120-220 lbs. This should make it easier for paddlers to pick a vessel that will perform at the best of its ability.

I would recommend trying to stay below 70 percent of the rated weight of any kayak - and don’t forget to calculate your gear in the total. Some kayak anglers travel light, but there are days that fishing and camera gear adds another 50 lbs to my already stout total. If you are a live bait fisherman, a bait tank or bucket will really add the weight quickly.

Of course, one of the best ways to find out about any kayak is to join an informative group such as YakAngler.com and ask. Most of us have tried many different kayaks and we are a myriad of sizes. With a few short keystrokes, you can ask a question and receive an answer that will come from an experienced paddler. Just describe your height, weight, and the type of water you will be paddling, and help will be on the way.

Read 53499 times Last modified on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 05:51
Chris Funk

Chris Funk is an avid outdoorsman and rabid photographer. He tells folks his life revolves around 6 "F"s, his Faith,Family,Fur,Fins,Feathers and Fotography. He paddles all over the Southeast with his bride Angie and son Ethan. They fish for any critter that will tighten a line and it doesn't matter if it is with conventional gear, fly gear or bowfishing gear. He and his son are on the Jackson kayak fishing team and the whole family helps with an awesome group called Paddle4Tomorrow that gets people with special needs out for a day of paddling.


# yakfisher100 2013-04-09 16:25
Thanks Chris!!!
# BassBandit 2013-04-10 23:57
Great Info, Thanks
# Grandbuddy 2013-09-03 19:53
Great article Chris. I'm new to kayak fishing, have not even purchased a kayak yet. This info really helped. I am 238 pounds. Any advise on a kayak? I am looking at a NuCanoe Frontier or the new Jackson Big Rig. My number one concern is stability. Everything else is secondary. The majority of my fishing will be on small lakes, ponds and occasionally on the Oclumgee River here in central Georgia.
Thanks Chris and may God bless you.
Chaplain Paul Pannell
[email protected]
# fishingguru 2013-10-04 08:24
I weight around 330 about 5'10". what would be a good capacity weight limit. I have found some with 500 lb limits. but not any higher.
# Erwin Forbragd 2014-05-15 21:01
I am in the process of buying my first Kayak. Had you not posted this article or more properly had I not read it I know I would have made a mistake. Good On 'Ya!

Erwin Forbragd
# Daniel Beaulieu 2014-07-06 08:43
Hi their,

I weight 275 pounds and I'm looking for Pelican strike 120X that can handle 350 pounds is it enought to handle me.
# Dwight 2015-06-07 23:42
Why have a place for comments? If your NOT going to reply back to the person needing INFO. If you right an article and EXPECT us to read it ... At least you guys could answer the questions... Or do you NOT have time for US...
# Zeke 2016-02-09 00:07
Hello yakers I would like to know if anybody can tell me if there's a sit on top kayak that has a weight cap. of 350lb.and would be 8' to 9'long, why that size because I have an apartment and don't have much room for a longer kayak,I'd appreciate any info on this problem I'am trying to break into this awesome hobby!

Please login to post a comment.

Get the YakAngler Newsletter!

Keep tabs on all the latest from YakAngler.

Latest From The Forum

  • No posts to display.