Entry-Level Paddlecraft

Kayaks and SUPs are perfect for fishing skinny water.

Kayak and SUP for fishing
Paddlecraft are great for inshore fishing. Courtesy Old Town Sportsman, Bote

When I take inexperienced anglers for their first kayak-fishing trip, I grab a stable kayak with basic features. If I’m introducing a friend to stand-up paddleboard fishing, I offer the most stable and efficient SUP in my quiver. I repeat: stable.

Old Town Sportsman 120

$1,299.99; oldtowncanoe.com

The first time I invited my mother-in-law to go kayak-fishing, I offered my Old Town Sportsman 120. She now refers to the boat as her kayak.

The Sportsman uses a modified catamaran hull that promotes stability while maintaining straight line tracking and speed. On its topside, the boat features a flat, foam-padded deck for plenty of standing space.

On the water, the Sportsman 120 combines that solid platform with best-in-class maneuverability. For a wide boat, it paddles easily; its flared bow cuts through choppy waves, and its soft chines improve turning performance.

The Sportsman 120 really shines when it’s time to fish. Ample space astern and under the seat provide easy-to-reach storage for tackle and gear. I can lay three rods on the deck without tangling them and reach the gear crate while standing.

While the basic features and solid hull certainly attract new anglers, I grab the Sportsman for after-work trips to my favorite backwater honey holes. That is, if my mother-in-law will let me borrow her kayak.

Bote Rackham 12-foot Classic

$2,149; boteboard.com

The first time I saw a stand-up paddleboard, I imagined carrying it to secret, off-the-grid destinations. The first time I fished from a SUP dashed those hopes. That paddleboard was more tippy than I expected, and standing while stroking with a 6-foot paddle was more difficult than it looked.

Then I paddled Bote’s Rackham paddleboard. This premium SUP is more stable and easier to paddle, and it has a lot more space for gear.

Bote builds the Rackham like a surfboard, with a foam core and hard outer layer. This allows the board to easily glide through the water; a 10-inch skeg keeps it moving straight. Bote’s Gatorshell skin is reinforced with nearly indestructible ballistics-grade composites for a light and stiff SUP that’s almost indestructible.

To further improve performance, the Rackham’s wide tail and midsection combine with a high, flared nose to cut through the water. On the topside, the raised front of the board sheds water and keeps the flat deck dry.
The paddleboard deck comes with tie-downs and bungees for adding gear and rod holders. Bote offers a long list of compatible accessories to complement the Rackham. I added a Tackle Rac leaning post for a solid handhold and a convenient place to stick a couple of fishing rods.

After my first paddleboard-fishing experience, I was ready to give up on the idea. Once I fished from Bote’s Rackham, I found a reliable and functional paddleboard I can carry under one arm to my favorite backwater hotspots.

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