Kayaking Stability Tips and Guide

One of the biggest questions I get when it comes to kayaking is stability and testing out stability.


I have heard people talking about loose hips and being able to be in a boat. The best thing that you can actually do is find a warm day a little warmer than normal, get all of your gear off the boat, take the boat out to an area and lean side to side. See exactly where the tipping points are in your kayak.

Today’s kayaks are very stable but you want to also know where the tipping point is. To find that you can actually lean out and you’ll feel it and lean the other way to get confidence in what you’re doing and confidence in the boat and get away from the fear of falling off into the water. The warmer temperatures will allow you to be in the water and to get away from that fear of tipping into the cold. When you have that confidence you’re really going to minimize the fear that you have of dropping and increase the stability of the craft.

Today’s crafts are 21 to 32, even 39 inches wide. They are very stable but you can still flip them. To help us with understanding the tipping points and the point of no return when you get into the kayak you want to find out where your balance points are.

The following images will be a demonstration and some pointers on how to check the balance of the boat and see it and get a feel for where it is.

kayak stability indicator image


Move the Kayak Side to Side dont be afraid to tip it over!!!


A cold water temperature is about 40°. I am going to suggest testing stability in 70 or 75 or warmer water is a much better option.


In terms of boat stability and boat design. There are really two factors you’re looking at.

1. The primary thing that you are looking at is the width of the boat. A wider boat sometimes is designed for standing up and fishing out of the boat. The platform is super stable. However, a boat that is thinner with the width is also plenty stable just not stable enough to stand up with. The thing that you give up with a wider boat is speed. A faster boat is thinner and is plenty stable. However, a wide boat is slower but its super stable and perfect for fishing standing.

2. The second feature you’re going to look at is the hull Design. The tarp on a faster boat’s overall sort of a block shape and is not the shape of three rectangular lines that you have on a wider one. Most wide boats actually have two circular sort of shapes that dip down and come together in the middle so that when you dip down on one side, you’re actually using the center keel and the big bulbous shape on one side gives you tremendous stability.


When teaching kayak fishing classes on the river. One of the best things that we would do for the students is have them intentionally flip the boats.

1. First thing we want to do is get all of our gear out of the boats to make sure nothing gets damaged.

2. Make sure you’re in deep enough water that when you flip your boat you’re not going to bang your head on the floor of the water.

3. The Third thing you do is you get rid of the paddle.

4. Fourth thing you just lean and then pull back when you get scared. Lean, then pulled back. Figure out how far you can lean the boat and tip it over. Then you will know the point of no return. So you want to do this a couple of times on each side. The more you do it the better you will get better every time. Once you get a new boat and one that you are not used to. You want to learn your tipping points, so make sure you do it a couple of times on each side.


There is a trend that were seeing in fishing kayaks is that they are getting wider, bigger and more stable. But there is such a thing as stability overkill it’s what you get with a wider boat that’s more stable. Another pro of a wider boat is the ability to stand up. You’re not going to stand up a lot or if you value a boat that is fast, that is going to help you get to the fish faster, cover more water in a day, don’t need to go with a super wide and super slow boat.

It’s also a really good time to practice your wet reentry into the boat. Some kayak anglers do not feel enough security in their boats to stand up in their boats. For them, a wide boat is perfect since it is designed for that exact purpose. If you are not using your wider kayak for standing up you’re losing the advantages of standing in fishing and having a wider view around many angles, allowing you a better fishing experience.

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About Julian Thompson

cb787c59d2808e1f609076e790ca977e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Kayaking Instructor (AKA)
Education: American Kayak Association
Lives In: Denver Colorado

I am a kayaking expert/instructor who has been fishing for over 15 years. Fishing is my passion, but kayaking keeps me on the water. I love to share my knowledge of techniques and tips with others. I live in Colorado with my wife and two kids and own a small kayak rental business On Grand Lake where I rent and instruct.