Tired of fishing from shore and wishing you were out on the water? A kayak may be the right choice. Kayaks are environmentally friendly, healthy, and generally less expensive than motorized boats. But there are so many options out there that it’s hard to know what the differences are, let alone which model to buy. Our fishing kayak buying guide below will help you learn what to look for in the best fishing kayak for you, and the following reviews outline the features of each model.
Click to View Post Navigation
- 1 Top 5 Best Fishing Kayaks (Summary)
- 2 What are Fishing Kayaks?
- 3 Benefits of Using a Fishing Kayak
- 4 Pros and Cons of Using a Fishing Kayak
- 5 Types of Fishing Kayaks
- 6 Materials of Fishing Kayaks
- 7 What Makes a Great Fishing Kayak?
- 7.1 Length
- 7.2 Width
- 7.3 Weight
- 7.4 Pedals
- 7.5 Rudders
- 7.6 Accessories
- 7.7 Speed vs Turning
- 7.8 Loading Capacity
- 7.9 Number of Seats
- 7.10 Water Safety
- 7.11 Rod Holders
- 7.12 Gear Holders/Organizers
- 7.13 Anchor Trolleys
- 7.14 Dry Storage
- 7.15 Paddle Holders
- 7.16 Transom Trolling Motors
- 7.17 GPS Units
- 7.18 Fish Finder
- 7.19 Budget
- 8 17 Best Fishing Kayaks 2020 – Reviews and Comparison
- 8.1 1. BIC Yakkair Fishing-2Hp – Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- 8.2 2. Bonafide SS107 – Best Small Kayak
- 8.3 3. Intex Excursion Pro
- 8.4 4. Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122
- 8.5 5. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
- 8.6 6. Brooklyn Kayak Company RA220
- 8.7 7. Hobie
- 8.8 8. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
- 8.9 9. Sevylor Coleman
- 8.10 10. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T
- 8.11 11. Perception Pescador Pilot 12
- 8.12 12. Third Coast Avalon
- 8.13 13. Lifetime Tamarack
- 8.14 14. Advanced Elements
- 8.15 15. Old Town Dirigo
- 8.16 16. Vanhunks Manatee
- 8.17 17. Pelican
- 9 Fishing Kayak Terminology
- 10 Best Fishing Kayak Brands
- 11 Quick Kayak Fishing Tips For Beginners
- 12 How to Store and Transport Fishing Kayak (Step-By-Step Guide)
- 13 Does More Spending Mean More Quality?
- 14 Do’s and Don’ts to Do with A Fishing Kayak
- 15 Fishing Kayak Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)
- 15.1 What is the difference between a kayak and fishing kayak?
- 15.2 How wide should a fishing kayak be?
- 15.3 What should I do with live bait?
- 15.4 Do I need to wear a PFD?
- 15.5 Will I get wet when I’m fishing with a kayak?
- 15.6 Is it worth spending more on a light carbon fiber paddle?
- 15.7 Is longer or shorter kayak better?
Top 5 Best Fishing Kayaks (Summary)
||Check on Amazon|
||Check on Amazon|
|Lifetime Tamarack Angle 100||
||Check on Amazon|
|Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T||
||Check on Amazon|
||Check on Amazon|
For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
If you are an angler, then you must have gone on so many fishing trips. However, the biggest challenge for most anglers has always been coming up with the most effective way of catching bigger fish.
Some would rather stick to seclude spots but whatever the case boat fishing remains that best fishing method for most people. But what in of watercraft is ideal? With so many choices to choose from like sailboats, canoes, motorboats and the likes, you might feel overwhelmed.
According to a majority of anglers however, a fishing kayak is the best angling watercraft since they happen to be stable, have zero maintenance costs and have enough room to accommodate your fishing gear.
Despite all these, at the end of the day, selecting the best fishing kayak is not easy since there are a bunch of factors that you need to consider which is why prior research is necessary.
What are Fishing Kayaks?
A fishing kayak is a type of watercraft that is specifically designed for open water fishing. For years, kayaks have been used for transportation and a way of accessing fishing grounds but kayak fishing has gained popularity and is a favorite for most anglers.
Originally made from animal skins, kayaks were used in the Arctic Ocean by the indigenous people who used them to hunt on inland lakes as well as rivers.
While the natives never relied on the kayak for fishing, today kayak fishing has gained momentum in salt as well as freshwaters.
Compared to other fishing watercraft, kayaks are affordable and have no maintenance costs that you should worry about.
They also don’t take up much space hence would work perfectly if you have limited storage space.
Benefits of Using a Fishing Kayak
If you are thinking about getting a fishing kayak but can’t make up your mind due to the many boats in the market, here are a few benefits that should make you consider going for a fishing kayak.
Compared to other watercraft, a fishing kayak is quiet and there is no rumbling noise that is produced by other fishing boats except for the sound of the paddles as you paddle away.
This means that there will not be any noise that can scare the fish away hence you can be assured that each fishing trip will be a success.
Allows More Access
With a fishing kayak, you can easily get in and out of very small spaces that other watercraft cannot access. As such, you can find your way into remote areas regardless of the waterbody.
This makes it possible to even transport your kayak in a larger boat and then paddle away when you reach narrow passages putting you at an advantage of accessing waters that other anglers can’t reach.
Naturally, kayaks are designed to be faster than other trolling motor boats hence you have the advantage of reaching the rich fishing waters before other boaters.
One of the main benefits and probably why most people prefer fishing kayaks is that they are very economical.
For one, you never have to worry about added gas costs and there are zero maintenance costs, no storage fees, unnecessary repairs now and then, oil costs, insurance, and boat registration fees.
The only time you will spend money is when you are buying a kayak and after that, you will spend less to nothing in maintenance.
Can Cover Larger Distances
Contrary to popular belief, a kayak can cover very long distances with very little effort on your side.
This is because a kayak paddles way more efficiently than canoes and with proper fit, it can handle all manner of situations that may arise when you are in the water like waves, strong winds, and changes in weather.
It is easier to store and transport a kayak than a larger boat hence very convenient. If for instance, you happen to have a hard-shell kayak, you can tie it on top of your car for transport to the water.
Inflatable kayaks can easily be stored in the trunk or inside the vehicle. In terms of storage, kayaks, especially the inflatable ones occupy very little space hence very ideal for those who have limited storage space.
Pros and Cons of Using a Fishing Kayak
If you have been using a kayak for a while or are just thinking about purchasing ones, here are the pros and cons that you should be aware of.
If you love the rustic feel of a canoe, then you will love the elegance of a fishing kayak even more. Kayaks are light in weight and easy to maneuver with which is something you don’t get with other watercraft.
Fishing kayaks happen to the quietest of all watercraft like motorboats and canoes which means that you don’t run the risk of scaring away the fish with all the noise.
Compared to other fishing boats, kayaks are cheap to buy and they have no maintenance costs afterward.
A kayak makes it easy to enjoy sports fishing since it can be used to maneuver even the narrowest of spaces when in the water.
If you always struggle with seasickness, then a kayak is not the right boat for you due to their lightweight and compact designs that make for a bumpy ride when the waves hit.
Due to its design, a kayak is ideal for solo fishing hence may not be very convenient if you want to go on communal fishing trips. While you may get a two-person kayak, such are harder to maneuver with.
With a kayak, you can be assured of getting wet when you hit waves or happen to tip the boat.
Types of Fishing Kayaks
There are different kinds of fishing kayaks in the market that you should be aware of.
Sit on top kayaks are very different from the traditional kayaks that have a cockpit. These kayaks feature a piece of molded plastic and the paddler and gear sit in the deck.
Such kayaks offer a lot of flexibility for removing and adding accessories. Tackle boxes, rod holders as well as anchors are much easier to mount and carry on such a kayak.
Sit on top kayaks also offer more legroom and the open design makes it easy to turn freely to where you want the bait to be. Netting and landing fish is also quite easy on a sit on top kayak.
Sit on top kayaks are ideal for beginners since they are much easier to get into and out of and are ideal if you are looking for a boat specifically for fishing.
These kinds of kayaks are self-bailing since they have scupper holes that allow water to drain out.
They only work for warm weather or water conditions.
With such a kayak, you can be assured that you will get wet at some point.
Sit inside kayaks are the complete opposite since they have an enclosed cockpit. Just like with a sit on top kayak, a sit-inside kayak has a seat with footrests so that you can assume a proper paddling position.
Due to its design, a sit-inside kayak offers protection from the elements and also works best if you want to fish in rougher conditions or cold weather.
This kind of kayak shelters your lower body from wind and other elements, giving you a warmer fishing experience.
With a sit-inside kayak, there is less wind resistance and since it gives you a lower center of gravity, it is more stable.
It is much more difficult to get into and out of hence works best for experienced boaters than beginners.
Unlike sit on top kayaks, sit inside kayaks are not self-bailing hence you will have to flip the boat over to drain it if water splashes inside.
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Just as the name suggests, inflatable kayaks are pumped up with high pressure air and due to that, they are easy to store and transport.
Since they are easily deflated hence are much easier to transport as well as store especially if storage space is an issue.
They are very durable.
They can be ruined if you happen to ram into sharp objects when you are in the water or during storage.
You will also have a hard time mounting accessories into an inflatable kayak but some are effective.
Tandem Fishing Kayaks
If you are not a big fan of solo fishing, then you might consider buying a tandem or a two-person kayak as they are popularly known.
Tandems are ideal if you want to enjoy some company when fishing and don’t have two kayaks you can use.
Tandem kayaks have two seats and their stability will depend on the experience of both riders.
They are a great way of introducing your family to fishing.
They are ideal for those who like communal fishing trips.
It can be difficult to paddle especially if the other person is not very experienced.
Motorized and Pedal Kayaks
Pedal or motorized kayaks are the most ideal for fishing since your hands are free so that you can focus more on fishing than worrying about juggling a rod and a paddle at the same time.
You don’t need to have any especially skills to operate a pedal kayak and as such are ideal for even beginners.
Since you are using your feet, you are likely to paddle faster and with less effort than when using your arms.
It is easier to fish regardless of the current or weather conditions.
They are much heavier than other kayaks hence may be difficult to load into a car, especially when you are alone.
You will end up spending more on maintenance than with other kayaks.
They are also more expensive when you are buying a new one.
The drive ends up taking a lot of space on the deck that you could use for your fishing gear.
Materials of Fishing Kayaks
Different materials are used in the construction of modern-day fishing kayaks but four main ones are worth noting.
Single Layer Linear Polyethylene
Kayaks made of this material are not only durable but resistant to weather and abrasion. It is a common material used in kayak construction and is the best since it happens to be way more durable than the rest.
This material has three layers. The tough and glossy exterior offers a good glide when you are in the water.
Three-layer Polyethylene means that the material is much thicker providing good buoyancy, better thermal insulation in case of a closed kayak and the inside layer is also non slip.
Fiberglass is usually a light material that weighs less compared to kayaks made of polyethylene and such kayaks also happen to slide better in the water.
The only downside with fiberglass is that it is fragile against rods and impacts and is also more expensive than polyethylene. The material is used most of the time in the making on sit in and cruise model kayaks.
This material is light in weight than fiberglass and is also more resistant. It is, however, higher on the price scale and breaks more easily but the repair is easy.
What Makes a Great Fishing Kayak?
There are so many models of fishing kayaks in the market each with its pros and cons. Here’s what to look for when buying a fishing kayak:
With length, the rule is longer and thinner kayaks are faster in water due to their ability to cut through the water than wider and shorter ones.
While wider kayaks are slower, at the end of the day, they are way more stable, which is something you need to consider especially if you are a beginner.
While weight doesn’t make much of a difference when paddling, it does come into consideration when you are loading the kayak or taking it out of the water.
If you will be transporting the kayak on top of a vehicle, then you need to get one that is light in weight and more so if you will be doing solo hunting where you have no one to help you lift it on top of the vehicle.
You might also want to consider the weight of the other accessories you will bring like anchors, rudders, motors and trolling motor mounts since they add to the weight as well.
If you are to buy a pedal kayak, consider the speed and efficiency of the kayak you are getting and that is determined by the type of pedals.
Normally rudders are foot-operated and are what control the kayak direction. They come in handy when you want to correct paddle strokes or the direction of the wind when you are paddling.
Since most fishing is done when the kayak is stationary, rudders don’t add a lot to your fishing experience but will matter when you are paddling to your fishing spot.
When it comes to accessories, you need to consider things that you might bring with you on your fishing trip like anchors, rudders, motors and trolling motor mounts since they will affect the efficiency of the kayak in terms of weight.
Speed vs Turning
When it comes to speed and turning, there are a few things to consider. First, longer kayaks cut easily through the water hence are faster.
Second, shorter kayaks maneuver and turn way better than longer ones. You also need to consider the keel of the kayak in that it should be more rounded so that the kayak can turn better.
With a kayak, you will need space for your fishing gear as well as food and water. It is therefore important to ensure that the kayak you get has enough loading capacity to fit all that plus yourself.
Kayaks differ in loading capacities from 200lbs to as much as 1000lbs. The one you get will depend on what you will be bringing with you on those fishing trips.
At the end of the day, however, it is worth noting that kayaks that have greater loading capacities, tend to be heavier and are a bit harder to maneuver with so it is important to go for one that has moderate loading capacity.
Number of Seats
The number of seats is very important especially if you don’t do solo fishing and determines how many people you bring with you.
Fishing kayaks can hold from one person to three hence why seats number matter.
If you have ever been on a kayak before, then you know just how important water safety is which is why stability is one of the factors you need to consider when buying a kayak.
Wider kayaks tend to be more stable, although they are much slower and heavier than the long and narrow ones.
Some people are obsessed with having so many rod holders on a kayak but this is not necessary.
Too many rod holders will only make your kayak look like a hoarder’s attic. In such a case, two or three are just enough and they include a deck mount rod holders, flush mount rod holders, and homemade contraptions.
With a kayak, there is always a limit as to how much you can take with you to the water which is why you should ensure that you optimize the essentials like gear holders and organizers and decide on what to bring with you.
Anchor trolleys are rigged to the kayak directly. While you can install them, a majority of fishing kayaks, come with anchor trolleys built-in already.
It is recommended that you go with such a kayak since you don’t run the risk of messing up your kayak by attempting to install them on your own.
Dry storage matters if you are looking for a place where you can put your phone and keys when in the water.
Most of them are usually 6-inch storage containers and they are often just enough for your keys and phone but you can opt for a kayak with a bigger dry storage if you prefer that.
These are bungee cords located on either side of the kayak and it is where you put your paddle under to secure it.
The reason why this should be a consideration is that paddle holders allow you to keep the paddle out of the way such that it doesn’t fall overboard when you are fishing.
Transom Trolling Motors
They are fitted in catarafts and inflatable kayaks sometimes. While most traditional kayaks don’t support trolling motors, but you can always fit your own as long as the manufacturer allows it.
While you may not paddle too far that you get lost, a kayak with a GPS unit is much better since you can mark your location easily and find your way home when you wander into unfamiliar waters.
Again at some point, you may find yourself fishing in unfamiliar waters where you may have a hard time finding the fish. In such a case, a fish finder will come in handy.
At the end of the day, your budget will determine the kind of kayak that you get. Fishing kayaks fall under different price ranges.
Mores specialized kayaks tend to be more expensive and offer more value for your money. Such a kayak will also be of higher quality and have more features.
If your budget allows it, there is no harm stretching yourself so that you can get a good kayak that will serve you for longer.
1. Design – All but one of the fishing kayaks we’re reviewing are sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, not sit-inside (SINK) boats. They shed water easily through holes called scuppers and allow for more flexibility with storage space and body position. In other words, they’re made for fishing. You might get wet from water coming up through the scuppers, especially if your weight is close to the boat’s maximum capacity. You can also buy or make scupper plugs.
2. Comfort – More comfortable kayaks will have adjustable footrests, but you should still wear your water shoes. The seat(s) won’t simply be a cushion or molded plastic, and it will be elevated off the hull to avoid sitting in the water that comes up through the scuppers. Many boats have removable seats, meaning you can exchange them for more comfortable ones. For the molded plastic seats, add a cushion or two. You’ll thank us later.
3. Stability – The more you’re going to stand in your kayak, the more stable boat you want. A good indicator of stability is the width, although the boat’s design also contributes to stability. For fishing offshore or in high winds, you may need a large boat or an outrigger.
4. Tracking – Longer, thinner boats move faster and track better, that is, they more easily stay in line rather than spinning in a circle. Some boats come with a rudder, while others have a keel or skeg, which are fins that extend into the water below the boat and help it track straight and maintain stability.
5. Fishing Accessories – Kayaks rigged for fishing come with rod holders (“cupholder” flush mounts and swiveling deck mounts), anchor systems for attaching coolers and live wells, and even mounts for GPS receivers and fish finders. Watch that the fishing gear doesn’t get in the way of paddling, and that it’s mounted in an accessible place.
6. Storage – Higher-end boats have quality above-deck shock cord rigging and plenty of anchor points for tackle systems and coolers, as well as large, sealed dry-storage compartments. Maximum weight capacities range from 250 to 500 lbs. If you weigh more than 200 lbs or plan to carry live bait or a lot of gear, perhaps on a multi-day trip, look for a larger boat with a high maximum capacity.
7. Propulsion – The age-old debate: paddle versus pedal. Pedal propulsion systems keep your hands free for fishing and steering, and they keep a shorter boat tracking better. They’re less fatiguing over long distances but also heavier and more expensive. It’s possible, with many kayaks, to add a light trolling motor for the long hauls. All but two of the kayaks we review below are paddle propelled, the only pedal systems being part of the nicest models.
8. Portability – Long, heavy boats will be more difficult to store and transport, especially if carrying them on a roof rack rather than on a trailer. The more carrying handles that come on a boat, the better. Two is typical for cheaper kayaks, while higher-end models have four or more.
17 Best Fishing Kayaks 2020 – Reviews and Comparison
1. BIC Yakkair Fishing-2Hp – Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
The main problem with an inflatable kayak is the lack of a defined hull shape makes them feel more like you are paddling a log than a proper boat. When you add weight, the bottom sags and it almost feels like you are just sitting still no matter how hard you paddle. For a fishing platform, inflatables have always been problematic. Who could have guessed that a company known for its lighters and pens could developed the most innovative inflatable kayak on the market?
The Yakkair is probably the best you could get in an inflatable and is one of a very few designed for fishing. It has rod holders, some small amount of storage, and when you are transporting it, folds into a backpack for easy carrying. For those without the means to get a full size kayak to the water, this is your answer!
No matter what they advertise, this is not as maneuverable as a standard kayak but it does maneuver and track quite well. Thanks to its semi-rigid bottom, it’s quite stable. Though meant for two people, leave out a seat and you have a decent boat for solo expeditions. All in all, this is a solid kayak that even outperforms some of the cheaper hard body kayaks.
- Easy to transport
- Quite stable for an inflatable
- Tracks decently
- Quite costly for an inflatable
- A little sluggish in the water
- Not the most well-rounded fishing kayak
2. Bonafide SS107 – Best Small Kayak
Bonafide hit the market with a very small selection of fishing kayaks. They didn’t bother designing kayaks for any other activity than fishing. That’s all they worked toward and all they needed. And they did a pretty damn good job at it!
The SS107 feels big and feels stable even at its small 10’ size. Its body is solid and robust but most everything else feels a little cheap. The front hatch and console are not what you would expect on a kayak costing better than a grand. It also handles a bit like a barge.
Still, if what you want is a solid, dependable boat for small water, Bonafide is a good choice. It’s comfortable and a very stable platform for fishing as long as you aren’t going far and you take your fishing plier. Its unique shape handles rougher water surprisingly well but I wouldn’t want to try to battle surf without better tracking. For a first timer or occasional user, this is an adequate choice.
- Stable, even on rough water
- Sold and robust body should last for years
- Not a fast kayak
- Accessories and hatches feel cheap
- Being short, tracking does suffer
3. Intex Excursion Pro
Intex Excursion Pro Fishing Kayak is a two-person kayak that is made of laminate material with polyester core. These materials are extremely strong and durable and help to prevent damage from high impact and abrasion.
High-pressure spring-loaded valves allow for quick and easy inflation and deflation. Combined with the 3-ply PVC construction, this kayak has good stability and is impervious to oil, water or sunlight damage.
It features an adjustable and removable mounting bracket that can be used to hold extra accessories like fishing rods. There are also d-rings made of stainless steel on the bows and stern for additional storage.
This product comes with a carry bag for easy storage and transport. Weighing just around 44 pounds, it is lightweight and can be carried around without much effort.
- Made of strong materials
- Resistant to damage
- Has additional storage space
- Might be subject to leaks or tears
4. Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122
Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122 is suitable for both professionals and for recreation purposes. This kayak has a wide and flat bottom that helps with its stability while carrying out various activities. It also helps to keep the kayak steady in all kinds of water conditions.
This product contains two upright seats, made of aluminum frame and mesh deluxe. The kayak has a weight capacity of 770 pounds. This means it can sufficiently carry humans and gear without losing its stability.
There are waterproof storage pods on each seat for storing phones, cameras and other appliances. There is also a cargo area on the rear with bungee cords for tying down extra loads.
It is very easy to carry as there are handles affixed to the rear and front end for easy carrying. Two collapsible paddles made of aluminum are provided.
- Can carry a lot of weight
- A lot of storage space
- Very portable
- You might not be able to stand upright
5. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
Vibe Kayaks Fishing Kayak is a one-person kayak. It is designed for people who wish to get the most out of their fishing expedition. It is built in such a way that the user will be quite comfortable while sitting or standing.
This kayak is designed for optimal speed. It is good for fast-tracking and helps you to save your energy during windy days or long paddles. Whether you are sitting or standing, the deck platform has a non-slip surface that helps to keep you stable.
The seat can be adjusted into two positions with adjustable foot braces, making the seat convenient for users of any size. There are built-in cup holders on the seat and a toe-controlled rudder is situated in front of it.
It has a lot of storage options, which consist of a cargo storage tank located at the front, a watertight center console and a rear storage area with bungee cords for securing your gear. It also features fishing rod holders and a mount for other accessories.
- Designed for speed and efficiency
- Has a lot of storage space
- Provides comfort for the user while sitting or standing
Deck platform might not be able to support a lot of weight
Brooklyn Kayak Company RA220 contains everything that a person might need to have an enjoyable fishing adventure. It has an upright seat with paddle rests for supporting your paddles as you stand up to catch fish.
There is a foot-operated rudder in front of the seat for easy steering and control of the kayak. It also features a pair of mounts for holding your fishing rods securely while you are paddling.
This kayak has a 450-pound capacity, enough to support one person and a large amount of gear. It features three watertight storage compartments for holding appliances and a cargo area with a bungee tie-down system for large loads.
There are multiple ports that drain the water that gets into the kayak, thereby preventing waterlogging. It also features a number of handles for easy carrying on land.
- Features mounts for holding onto paddles and fishing rods
- Foot-operated rudder for easy steering
- Sufficient storage space
- Seat might become defective after some time
Hobie Fishing Kayak is designed for one person. It is made to help users scale through different water conditions effortlessly.
This kayak features a pedal system that helps you to move through shallow waters easily. It reduces the effort you have to expend on paddling and allows you to give your legs a rest as you fish.
It features a twist and stow rudder that makes it easy for you to steer the kayak in both calm and choppy water. Its steering system is very easy to use and takes the stress out of guiding your kayak through the water.
Rod holders keep your fishing rods safe while you paddle. There are also twin mounting tracks for storing other accessories.
- Steering system is easy to use
- Can be used in different water conditions
- Features mounts for securing fishing rods and other equipment
- Seat is not adjustable
Lifetime Tamarack Fishing Kayak is a one-person kayak with adjustable footrests, thereby making it possible for the seat to accommodate riders of different sizes. The bottom of the kayak is flat. This helps it to maintain its stability when the rider is sitting or standing.
It is made of high-density polyethylene that has protection from UV-rays. This material is both light and sturdy. The seat pad and back can be easily adjusted for height.
There are three-rod holders for keeping fishing rods safe and out of the way as you paddle. It has chine rails that are great for stability. There are front and rear-mounted handles for easy transport as well.
It features two large storage areas on the rear and at the front. There are cord straps for holding gear down. It also has one mount for holding paddles.
- Seat is adjustable
- Good stability
- Sufficient storage compartments
- Seat and hull are subject to damage during use
Sevylor Coleman is made of 18-grade PVC and its bottom is made of thick tarpaulin material. Coupled with the strong nylon cover, this kayak is very durable and can withstand high impact and constant usage.
The materials used in the construction and its airtight system ensure that it is protected from leaks due to punctures or tears. It has multiple air chambers so that it remains inflated if one chamber happens to be leaking.
There are quick set rod handles that can be adjusted to hold your fishing rods securely or for hands-free fishing. It also has secure paddle holders for keeping your paddles safe and prevent losing them overboard.
There are storage pods along the insides of the kayak for holding phones, equipment or snacks. The valves have double threads for fast inflation and deflation. It has strong d-rings for securing other accessories.
- Made of strong and durable materials
- Has protection against leakage
- Can be easily inflated and deflated
- Seams might split open during use
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T Fishing Kayak has a weight capacity of 500 pounds. It can comfortably accommodate two adults and has a small molded seat in the middle for a child or pet.
It is made of single piece polyethylene, which is resistant to leaks and damage. The deck is slip-resistant, which allows for easy mounting and dismounting. There are four scupper holes strategically placed inside for efficient drainage with the scupper plugs attached.
Cushioned seats and molded footrests ensure maximum comfort while riding. It has storage areas on the front and rear with bungee cords for tying equipment down. It also has two plates located on the deck with waterproof cargo bags.
Four flush mount holders serve for fishing rods and two universal mounts for holding other accessories. It also has mounts for holding paddles. There are in-built waterproof storage hatches and cupholders, as well.
- Durable and slip-resistant
- Has a lot of waterproof storage spaces
- Various mounts for securing fishing accessories
- Seat buckles are not adjustable and might become defective after some time
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Kayak combines stability and strong performance to make it suitable for all kinds of anglers. This sit-on-top kayak is outfitted with the best features that ensure optimal operation at all times.
It can be operated by a pedal system that can be removed if you choose. This pedal system easily propels the boat in any direction, thereby leaving the hands free to fish or navigate properly.
Its seat is made of mesh to ensure comfort for as long as possible. The seatback can be easily adjusted back and forth. The seat itself can also be shifted forwards or backward for optimum comfort.
Large storage areas are located at the front and rear, with bungee cords present to ensure that your gear stays in place. It comes with dedicated consoles for fish finders, gear tracks and fishing rods.
- Can be operated by an easy-to-use pedal system
- Provides comfort and stability
- Has substantial storage space
- Might be too heavy to transport on land
Third Coast Avalon Kayak is an option that is suitable for use on any water. It is made to be buoyant on water and also maintain stability as anglers fish and navigate.
This boat has two storage compartments with removable bags for keeping things like phones, snacks and spare pieces. It also features storage well located on the rear with built-in bungee cords.
Holders placed around the sides present a safe holding space for tackle boxes, paddles and fishing rods, among others. Foot braces are placed in front of the seat and can be adjusted to fit anglers of different heights.
It is outfitted with a comfortable seat with plush cushioning placed on the upper back. It has carrying handles located on the side for easy lifting and transporting.
- Has dedicated storage space for keeping sensitive items
- Fitted with holders for necessary fishing accessories
- Optimized for comfort
- Bungee cords might be too flimsy to hold much gear down
Lifetime Tamarack Kayak is designed with a flat bottom and outfitted with chine rails to provide the best stability. It is made of high-density polyethylene, which is very durable and resistant to damage by UV-rays and constant impact.
This sit-on-top kayak has a weight capacity of 275 pounds. All parts of the padded seat can be easily adjusted for maximum comfort. The footrests are located in multiple places for different heights of anglers.
A paddle keeper firmly secures your paddle to the kayak. It also has two flush-mounted and one top mount holder for your fishing rods.
Two spacious storage hatches are located at the front and rear of the boat, beneath the deck. It has front and rear carrying handles for easy transport to and from the water.
- Made with a high-quality material that ensures durability
- Can comfortably accommodate anglers of different sizes
- Has three different rod holders, one of which is adjustable
- Screws on the hull might come off easily
Advanced Elements Kayak is an advanced frame boat that is specifically designed to perform on any stream, lake or river. It has in-built aluminum rims that serve to improve its tracking.
All features of this kayak have been assembled and all you need to do is unfold it and inflate to your desired pressure. The two seats can then be installed to suit your preference.
The availability of two seats makes it suitable for solo or tandem use. The seats are nicely padded to provide good support and they can be adjusted to fit each rider, thereby ensuring comfortability during long fishing hours.
It is made with three layers of material stacked on top of each other to give it a powerful puncture resistance and can withstand a lot of impact without sustaining extensive damage.
- Easy to inflate and set up
- Can be used by one or two anglers
- Made with highly durable material
Might not perform well on rough water
Old Town Dirigo Kayak is created for casual and recreational use on a lazy stream or river. It has excellent stability and is easy to operate, making it a suitable choice for users of any skill level.
Click seal hatch located on the stern serves for keeping food, clothing and electronic devices. This hatch ensures that its contents remain dry and safe. Bungee cords are present on the deck for securing larger gear to the kayak.
The seat is made of poly and a ventilated back to keep the rider cool and comfortable at all times. It features a glide track foot brace system that provides excellent support for your legs.
It is constructed with layers of polyethylene, giving it a strong but flexible shell that can withstand the test of time. It has a 300-pound weight capacity and a deep cupholder is located by the seat.
- Has substantial storage space
- Features padded seats and a foot brace system
- Not optimized to operate on rough or fast-moving water
Vanhunks Manatee Fishing Kayak is suitable for use on smooth rivers and lakes. It has many different features that are specially designed to ensure an enjoyable experience on the water, whether for fishing or recreation.
Its seat is made of breathable mesh and its fittings are adjustable to fit riders of all sizes. You can choose to recline the seat back for a lazy fishing day or gain more control by putting it in a forward position.
A hatched storage space located in the front serves for storing fish or bait. The rear is also outfitted with bungee cords for extra storage. A hatched center console with waterproof properties ensures that your phone and other devices are kept dry.
A swivel rod holder can move in all directions and two molded holders are meant to be used for easy fishing. It is very easy to paddle and has a weight capacity of 330 pounds.
- Has a lot of storage space
- Seat is cool and comfortable
- Easy to use
- Might not be able to operate well on rapids
Pelican Fishing Kayak is a sit-on-top option that is fully optimized for an excellent fishing experience. It has a multi-chine flat bottom that ensures good stability when casting lines or reeling in fish.
This kayak is made of three layers of enhanced polyethylene and plastic. It is a light product that is extremely buoyant and can be easily carried out of water. It has a maximum weight capacity of 325 pounds and an open cockpit for easy entry.
It has a quick lock hatch placed in the front as well as a 4-inch long console with a storage bag. You can also keep your gear on the storage platform with a deck cover. It comes with a cupholder, paddle holder and six other spaces for holding extra fishing accessories.
It has an ergo-fit seating system that consists of a fully cushioned seat and an adjustable backrest. There are built-in footrests for secure foot bracing.
- Provides a lot of storage space and holders
- Light in and out of water
- Might not be suitable for fishing while standing in the cockpit
Fishing Kayak Terminology
If this is your first time buying a kayak, it is important to familiarize yourself with a few terminologies.
The keel is usually the structure that runs the length of a kayak and helps in tracking and ensuring that the kayak moves in a straight in when in the water.
It is similar to a rudder since it helps keep the kayak in a straight line when you are paddling.
Scupper holes are found at the bottom of sit-on-top kayaks and allow water that may splash inside to drain out without you having to flip the kayak over.
Most kayaks will have 4 scupper holes placed in such a way that very little water gets in when you are paddling.
The beam is the widest section of a kayak and determines the stability of the kayak. Fishing kayaks with wider beams tend to be more stable at the end of the day.
Footrests are placed in such a way as to allow you to gain leverage when you are paddling and they may be built-in or adjustable. A majority of sit on top kayaks come with several adjustable footrests.
Best Fishing Kayak Brands
As mentioned there are different models and brands of fishing kayaks that you should be aware of if you are to get one that fits all your needs.
This is one of the highly rated and best-reviewed kayak brands. The Ocean Kayak brand boasts of about 10 fishing products with both one person and tandem kayaks.
The Ocean Kayak has a reputation of topnotch products that deliver when required.
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks has been in existence for over a century and has maintained the reputation of producing high-quality kayaks and canoes with their most famous Dirigo series offering advanced technology and innovation designs.
Brooklyn Kayak Company usually weighs about 68 pounds and has a 450 pounds load limit and is designed for two people.
The kayak comes with two standard paddles and already built-in paddle holders and three adjustable rod holders and four mounted ones.
The Vibe model is a small yet agile fishing kayak with a 9 feet length for maneuverability but proves harder to keep in a straight line than other brands.
The beam is 32 inches wide which makes it extremely stable such that you can even stand on it when you are fishing.
Quick Kayak Fishing Tips For Beginners
If you have never been on a fishing kayak before, here are a few tips to get you started.
Ensure You Are Prepared
Besides the fishing gear, ensure that you have enough food, water, and sunscreen before you head out to fish in case you get stranded from the mainland longer than expected.
When on the kayak, ensure that you have you have your head up always so that you can be aware of where you are and to look out for obstacles or waves especially when you are standing.
Ensure Everything is Floating
If you have any valuables with you like phone, ensure that you put them in a waterproof bag that can float and secure it within the kayak.
Look Out for Weather Changes
Before you go out fishing, ensure that you are familiar with the weather predictions of that day lest you are caught unawares in a storm when you are too far from the mainland.
At the end of the day, whether you have been on a kayak once or are just getting started, your success will be determined by how confident you are in your abilities when you are fishing.
How to Store and Transport Fishing Kayak (Step-By-Step Guide)
Step 1 – On a Rack
If you are using a rack, ensure that you protect the hull of the kayak by using a rack that supports the boat on its sides or one that allows you to place the boat bottom side up.
Step 2 – Suspended
You can also hang the boat from the ceiling. In such a case, get a suspension system specifically designed for a kayak or make one.
Step 3 – Carrying the kayak
If you are two, each person should hold a grab handle and lift. If you are alone, you can lift it onto the shoulder.
Step 4 – Putting the kayak on the vehicle
Lift the boat on each end and place it carefully on the rack and then use cam straps to tie it down to the vehicle for transportation.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality?
If you are buying a kayak, more spending does mean more quality. At the end of the day, the most important thing to factor in should be your safety and that’s what expensive models guarantee.
The last thing you want is to be stuck far from the mainland with a kayak that is bound to break down any minute.
If it’s possible you would rather spend more and get a kayak that comes with different features and is also durable.
Do’s and Don’ts to Do with A Fishing Kayak
Don’t compromise on the quality of the kayak, especially if you are a beginner.
Don’t get too stuck on the and length of the kayak since these two affect maneuverability differently.
Do ensure that you carry only the necessary accessories with you.
Do lookout for waves and other obstacles especially if you are a beginner or are standing on the kayak.
Fishing Kayak Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)
I’ve never kayaked before. Can I fish from a kayak?
Anyone can fish from a kayak. Even the cheapest rod with the cheapest reel cast from the cheapest kayak will get you out on the water, and that’s what matters. Fishing kayaks are made in all sizes, so no matter your size, there’s sure to be one (or many) that fits you.[/toggle] It’s unlikely that you’ll capsize if you remember to keep your head down the midline of your boat, but if you’re going more than swimming distance from shore, it’s still smart to learn how to get back, just in case. Go for a swim with your boat in a lake, pond, pool, whatever you can, and get to know how to flip it back over and get back in. A SOK will drain automatically.
Tip: when you’re in the water, flip the boat back over from the end, not the side. See here for how to do it.
But I can’t swim!
Okay, you should learn how to swim before kayak fishing. In the meantime, try wading from shore.
Don’t big fish pull you?
Yes. Enjoy the ride! Even very large fish won’t capsize your kayak if you have a feel for your boat.
Are kayaks uncomfortable?
The cheaper models, yes, are definitely uncomfortable. But on the nicer models, the seats are basically recliners. If you can sit comfortably in a lawn chair, you won’t find these seats any different. They’re made for all-day outings.
Where do you put the fish you catch?
Catch and release is a common practice, so often fishermen put them straight back in the water, moving the fish back and forth to push water through the gills and revive the fish. You can also easily take a small cooler with ice for preserving your dinner, or you can put the fish you catch on a stringer and hang them in the water. Disclaimer: fish you put on a stringer might not be there the next time you look.
Should I buy a tandem?
There’s a saying when buying a boat that you should buy one for 95% of the conditions you’ll face, rather than the rare exceptions. Unless you have a devoted fishing partner who will always, always go with you and can’t or won’t pilot their own boat, we recommend a single, or two. If you want to teach a child how to fish, then a tandem might be the right choice.
How can I test a kayak I’m interested in?
Ask your local paddle shop about demo days. Comparing kayaks side-by-side will help you get a feel for what you want. Don’t forget your fishing rod! Apart from demo days, try a local paddle club (see link below); members may allow you to try out their boats.
How can I get started with kayak fishing?
There’s no better way to learn than by doing. If possible, ask a friend to take you out on the water. The internet is also a great resource; there’s so much to be learned from reading and asking questions on forums like this one.
Are there other options than the ones reviewed here?
Yes. If none of the above boats fit the bill, ask people who know kayak fishing, either on the internet or in person. On forums, provide your height, weight, fishing style (or desired fishing style), and other pertinent information like limited storage space. People will be more than happy to help you. Kayak fishermen are happy people because they go kayaking all the time!
Don’t overlook the value of going to your local boat shop. They’ll know what kind of fish are in your area, where to go for them, what you need to catch them, and special considerations for your area that will be tougher to find on the internet. If you don’t have a local shop, contact a paddle club in your area. Check out this website to find a paddle club in your area of the U.S.
What is the difference between a kayak and fishing kayak?
The two are different in that a fishing kayak is more convenient and comes with rod holders, storage compartments and places you can mount the hardware that you won’t find in a regular kayak.
How wide should a fishing kayak be?
This is a matter of personal preferences but one thing that is worth noting, especially if you are a beginner is that while a wider kayak may be slower, it is much more stable.
What should I do with live bait?
There a few options you have when it comes to live bait. You can either use a live bait tank or a bait sled all of which are great at catching fish.
Do I need to wear a PFD?
While you don’t have to wear a PFD or lifejacket when you are fishing, it is recommended that you have one on board all the time in case you tip over.
Will I get wet when I’m fishing with a kayak?
Yes. Regardless of the kayak, at some point you will get wet. How much depends on the kayak but it is less with a sit-inside kayak.
Is it worth spending more on a light carbon fiber paddle?
Yes. The paddle acts as the engine and the lighter it is the easier the whole experience will be and the less effort you will use hence less fatigue.
Is longer or shorter kayak better?
This depends on how long you have to paddle to get to the fishing sport. Generally, a longer kayak tends to be faster.
Unless you’re a professional fisherman or a very advanced amateur, one of the cheap or intermediate kayaks reviewed above will fit your needs. A test paddle (or pedal) should tell you a bit about what will work for you. A width of 33 versus 31 inches doesn’t matter if the narrower one feels more stable to you; the feel is what’s going to keep you happy time after time out there on the water. Now get out there and catch some fish!
Kayak fishing has been there for decades and continues to grow in popularity as more and more people embrace fishing as both a hobby and sport. With that popularity comes the need to improve the fishing watercraft and that is what kayak manufacturers have done. Fishing kayaks today, rank highly compared to canoes and motorboats if you need one for fishing.