Best Fishing Kayaks 2018 – Buying Guide and Reviews

There are many reasons why you would find the idea of investing in a kayak a good one. First, these are relatively quiet boats since they are not powered by a noisy motor, unlike their motorized counterparts. And can you guess what that means? Well, the quieter the ride, the higher your chances of catching your target fish unawares.

Besides quietness, kayaks are reputed for being easy to maintain. In fact, most of them are simple, buy-and-paddle models. There is no complicated setup guide required and most importantly, no engine maintenance. Indeed, finding the best fishing kayak can relieve you of a number of worries.

You can now begin wading deeper into uncharted territories where the best fish reside. You no longer have to sit by the banks and contend with meager catches despite spending long hours out there. A well-made kayak will make it easier for you to go fight it out with the pros, right at the heart of the action.

In fact, kayaks harbor a special advantage as compared to ordinary boats. Most modern-day units are slender yet stable which means you can paddle them through areas ordinary boats wouldn’t ordinarily navigate past. Of course, that’s the kind of competitiveness you need to keep winning. But in order for that to happen, you need to invest in the right kind of a kayak. In the next few lines, we’ll talk about:

  • The best fishing kayaks on the market
  • Pros and cons of different units
  • What to look for in your ideal kayak
  • What to a​​​​void
  • Verdict on what sounds like the best value pack for us

Top 15 Best Fishing Kayaks on the Market in 2018 - Comparison Chart

Looking to take your angling experience to newer depths? Worry no more for today you will learn a lot more about different kayak options available at your disposal irrespective of your budget constraints. 

Rankings

Product Name

Dimensions

Weight

Price

#01

10 x 10 x 10 inches 

100 pounds

#02

34 x 19 x 11 inches

32

pounds

#03

155 x 11 x 30 inches

85

 pounds

#04

144 x 432 x 120 inches

120 pounds

#05

108 x 26 x 56 inches

71.5 pounds

#06

116.9 x 50 x 18.1 inches

77.6 pounds

#07

34 x 19 x 10 inches

44 pounds

#08

120 x 36 x 19 inches

65 pounds

#09

120 x 30 x 13 inches

40.8 pounds

#10

122 x 28.5 x 16.8 inches

 47 pounds

#11

198 x 30.5 x 18 inches

75 pounds

#12

29.9 x 10 x 16.9 inches

39.7 pounds

#13

123 x 36 x 20 inch

30.4 pounds

#14

12.5 x 23.1 x 16.2 inches

37.7 pounds

#15

138.2 x 57.1 x 18.9 inches

46 pounds

2018 Best Fishing Kayak - Top 15 Models

1. Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak

Sun Dolphin is a trusted brand when it comes to fishing kayaks and this model is one of their most affordable and robust kayaks in town. The kayak is fitted with a padded seat housed in a spacious cockpit for ease of entry and exit. Further, the seat features a high back support to ensure you don’t end with back pain problems at the end of the day. Also, it is equipped with adjustable foot-braces to allow people of different heights to use it comfortably.

The kayak does not disappoint when it comes to durability either. It is made from rugged high-density polyethylene to ensure it stays strong and sturdy even with years of use. On top of that, it is UV-stabilized to make sure it does not fade or even crack due to prolonged exposure to the sun.

Another feature that makes this kayak a great buy is its storage hatch at the rear that is fitted with shock-cord deck rigging to help you secure all your gear conveniently. Also, it comes with a bottle holder that is within easy reach so you can enjoy your favorite drink as you paddle. 

Besides, carrying handles come standard with the kayak which makes transporting it from your truck to the waters edge easy and effective. 

Pros

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    Seat can be adjusted for extra comfort
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    Available in various bright and contrasting colors for high visibility
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    Easy to exit on the rare event it capsizes
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    Convenient storage

Cons

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    Seat lacks enough padding 

2. Sea Eagle SE370K_P Kayak

This is probably the cheapest fishing kayak you can find on the market. But just because it is extremely inexpensive does not mean it is of low quality. On the contrary, it is very robust and comes with some really nice features. To start with, it is made of 38 Mil K-80 polyKrylar materials that make it extremely sturdy and hard to puncture. The material is also saltwater resistant to protect your hull from rust.

In addition to this, the kayak comes fitted with two deluxe inflatable seats that are fairly comfortable for long days fishing sprees. Also, it features self-bailing valve that drains the kayak off excess water. As if that’s not enough, it includes 5 one-way valves to keep the kayak properly inflated for best performance. 

On top of that, it boasts two skegs to provide you with great tracking and speed. And for ease of carrying, two carrying handles are included along with a carry bag. Also, it comes with two paddles of different sizes thereby saving you a few bucks you would need to spend to buy paddles.

Other accessories included with kayak are inflatable spray skirts to keep water out of the kayak, a foot pump and a repair kit. 

Pros

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    Hull material is UV protected and corrosion resistant
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    Boasts up to 650 loading capacity hence can fit even three people
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    Takes less than 8 minutes to inflate it completely
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    Excellent maneuverability and stability

Cons

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    A little bit on the heavy side

3. BKC UH-TK 181 Tandem Kayak

Featuring a large open cockpit, this kayak is designed to fit just two people with enough leg room for a comfortable fishing expedition. However, you can also choose to paddle it solo across the river, lake or the bay. The kayak can take up a maximum load capacity of 450 pounds which is enough to let you carry as much gear as you want. 

So what makes it one of the best kayaks for fishing? Well, there are many reasons but the major one is the multiple fishing rod holders it comes with. It is equipped with 3 adjustable and 4 flush-mounted rod holders for added convenience and stability. Also, it comes with two paddle parks for holding your paddles securely when not in use so you don’t end up paddle-less. 

Aside from that, the kayak boats plenty of storage space a waterproof compartment to keep your gear dry. Besides, it is outfitted with 4 carrying handles that offer a comfortable grip for ease of portability. An intuitive feature that makes the kayak a great buy is its 34-inch beam which gives it great stability and tracking ability.

But best of all, it comes with two paddles made of highest quality aluminum construction for maximum durability. The paddles are very lightweight yet sturdy enough to withstand the test of time. 

Pros

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    Supported by five-year warranty
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    Includes two comfortable deluxe seats
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    High-quality construction
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    Capable of supporting lots of weight and gear

Cons

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    Might arrive with some small flaws like loose screws

4. Hobie Pro Angler 12

If you are looking for a versatile best fishing kayak with an innovative design, you should definitely check out this model by Hobie. It is a bit pricey so you should be willing to part with a couple of thousand dollars but it will surely pay off in the end. Powered by Hobie’s MirageDrive Glide pedal-drive system technology, the kayak is designed to free up your hands so you can completely focus on fishing. The technology also makes the kayak more efficient and easier to use. 

On top of that, it features a cargo area on the stern with bungee straps so you don’t lose your gear as you cruise on high speed. There is also an additional storage in the bow to ensure you don’t leave any essential gear behind. For the fishing rods, the kayak comes with horizontal and vertical storage. The horizontal storage holds up to 4 rods while the vertical hold only two rods. 

Another great feature of this kayak is the H-Rail mounted system included with the package for enhanced versatility. It also comes with a Lowrance-ready installation system in case you would like to add a fish finder and GPS Systems. A Tracing Keel is also included to improve the kayak’s overall tracking ability.

Moreover, it boasts a Vantage seating system that is reported to offer superior comfort and support during long hours on the water. The seat can be adjusted to ensure you get the perfect comfortable position. 

Pros

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    Allows you to cast while standing
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    Generous 500-pound weight capacity
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    Unique hull design for optimal stability
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    Includes carrying handles

Cons

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    Quite heavy when fully rigged

5. Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon Boat

Packed with lots of nifty features, this top of the line boat promises to make your fishing expedition as enjoyable and successful as possible. Its bottoms are made of heavy-duty PVC which makes it abrasion resistant while the tops boast rugged nylon for optimal durability and a quality experience. As a result, you can explore even the shallowest of waters without worrying about possible dents or damage.

Another area this boat does not disappoint in is storage options. It features 12 zippered pockets as well as 10 mesh pockets for keeping small accessories like: fishing knives, sunglasses, fishing headlamp that you might need easy access to. Also, it comes with wire storage compartment in the rear and two insulated bottle holders. In addition, you get rod holders that you can mount in six different positions for more convenience. 

Further, the pontoon comes with a padded plastic seat along with footrests that adjusts to suit people of different heights. The footrests are non-slip for enhanced fishing experience no matter how tall or short you are. But the best part is the fact the seat folds down for ease of transportation.

Other features worth noting include two sturdy position motor mount, three oar-lock positions, two-piece oars made of lightweight aluminum, cleat and pulley controls as well as a battery platform. All these features are designed to improve your fishing experience. 

Pros

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    Includes a weatherproof motor mount
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    Backed by two-year limited warranty
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    Plenty of customization options
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    Easy to assemble and you don’t need any tools for assembly

Cons

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    Does not come with a motor

6. Intex Mariner 4 Boat (Latest Model)

The Intex Mariner 4 is an inexpensive inflatable boat well-known for its durability and great performance. It is constructed from tough laminated vinyl that is resistant to UV-rays, abrasion, and impact for long-lasting performance. Further, the floor features heavy-duty extruded plastic construction for added rigidity and stability.

Additionally, the boat is quite spacious with enough room for four people with a maximum weight capacity of 880 pounds. It also comes with two fishing rod-holders in case you would like to carry your tackle box and a motor mount fitting so you can a trolling motor. On top of that, there is a gear pouch for storing small items and a battery pouch. Besides, it boasts three inflatable seats with cushions for a comfortable fishing experience. 

Moving on, it features rotating oarlocks on the sides and also comes with two deluxe aluminum oars to help you row wherever you would like to go by providing you with better maneuverability. In addition to this, it is fitted with an inflatable keel for enhanced control and tracking.

And to ensure your safety, it boasts grab line all-around as well as a rock guard for added protection. It is also certified by the U.S. Coast Guard I.D. and National Marine Manufacturer’s Association. 

Pros

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    Grab handles for easy carrying
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    Inflates, deflates and packs down to a manageable size easily
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    Backed by 30-day warranty
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    Included with a manual hand pump

Cons

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    Warranty period is too short

7. Sea Eagle 330 Kayak

This is yet another inflatable kayak with a load capacity of 500lbs. Therefore, it can accommodate up to two people and plenty of gear; easily. At 26 pounds, the kayak is very lightweight enough to be carried by only one person to the water. In addition to this, it packs down easily to fit in a storage bag for ease of transportation.

As if that’s not enough, the Sea Eagle 330 features two skegs for improved tracking and speed. This allows you to cruise faster and further across the water without using too much paddling effort.

Moreover, it is equipped with inflatable spray skirts and a self-bailing drain valve to ensure you stay dry as best as possible.

In terms of durability, the kayak is made of an extra-thick K-80 polykrylar material that is puncture resistant. Its floor, on the other hand, boast I-beam construction for enhanced rigidity. Further, it features high-frequency welded seams and 9-inch tubes for extra durability and better performance.

Last but not least, the kayak is fitted with two inflatable seats that provide a decent comfort level for all-day fishing excursions. It also comes with a reliable foot pump for ease of inflating the kayak. In fact, it will take you less than six minutes to assemble and inflate it. 

Pros

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    Comes with a rugged and sturdy carrying bag
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    Certified by the NMMA for safety
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    Supported by a three-year warranty against defects
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    Designed to handle up to class III whitewater

Cons

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    Seats keep on sliding back

8. Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak

Featuring polyethylene construction, this kayak is not only durable but also light in weight for ease of transportation in a minivan, SUV or truck. Indeed, it can take up almost anything thrown at it. So with proper care, it can provide you with optimal performance for several years.

It features the famous sit-on-top design to allow getting in and out of the kayak easy. Inside, the cockpit, it is fitted with three contoured seats and several foot wells to help you secure your feet. Although the kayak can accommodate up to three people, the third person needs to be either a child or an adult with a petite body. 

When it comes to stability, this is yet another area this kayak excels at. At 36 inches, the kayak is very wide which is part of the reason it has excellent stability. In addition, it features tunnel hull design for maximum control, balance, and handling. This makes it possible to paddle the kayak while standing or sitting side-saddle.

Additionally, the kayak provides plenty of storage space including a front cargo area with a shock-cord system so you can fasten the loose gear. It also comes with ditty trays for storing small gear and a bottle holder so can have something to drink as you await that fish to bite. Paddle cradles and clips also come in handy to help you keep the paddles in a secure position. 

Pros

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    Extremely stable
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    Lightweight and easy to store
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    Balanced, high and dry seating area
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    Includes accessory mount for an electric motor or rudder

Cons

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    Not a fast kayak

9. Sun Dolphin Journey Kayak

Sun Dolphin is a reputable brand known for its wide range of fishing kayaks that cater for different angling preferences. This model is one of their budget-friendly options that come with some really nice features to enhance your fishing venture. It features a lightweight design which makes it simple to carry around. 

Its open cockpit (which is quite large) makes it easy for you to enter and exit especially in the rare event the boat capsizes. On top of that, it is fitted with a padded seat that you can adjust until you find the perfect comfortable position. Included with the kayak also are adjustable foot braces and thigh pads for maximum comfort throughout your fishing trips. 

Moving on, it made of rugged high-density polyethylene to ensure it stays strong and provide you with the best performance even after years of use. Also, it comes two flush mount holders to stash your fishing rods and an extra swivel rod holder. There is also a bottle holder to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day.

You know what else? The kayak is equipped with a storage compartment at the rear that comes with shock-cord deck-rigging to ensure your gear stays safe.

Pros

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    Portable carrier included as extra storage
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    Paddles with ease
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    Makes it easy to access the most excluded fishing spots
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    Made of highest-quality materials

Cons

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    Could be a little more stable

10. Old Town Canoes Vapor Kayak

This kayak has received a lot of positive reviews all over the internet but most especially on Amazon. Not only because it is inexpensive and fun to paddle but also for the fact that it comes with impressive features. So if you are on a budget and searching for a single-user kayak, this model is a great option.

To begin with, it is constructed from a single layer of liner polyethylene which makes it highly durable and sturdy for use on lakes, calm rivers and ponds. Also, it is very stable with a wide and open cockpit so you can get in and out comfortably. 

On top of this, the kayak has plenty of storage room for all your gear. You will get more than enough room to store your essentials with no qualms. And for the gear that you don’t need fast access to, there are tons of storage compartments at the front and rear. In addition, it includes a cup holder at the front so you can carry your favorite drink and a paddle holder to allow for hands-free fishing. 

Featuring an adjustable flex padded seat, this kayak is definitely built with comfort in mind. The seat has been reported to be very comfortable for all day fishing. Further, it boasts a rim paddle-rest and knee/thigh pads for extra comfort. And to ensure people of different sizes can ride in this kayak, it is fitted with Glide-Track foot braces for better control. 

Pros

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    Lightweight to carry
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    Plenty of leg room
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    Good stability
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    Plenty of space to store your gear

Cons

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    Fishing rod holders not included

11. Ocean Kayak Zest Two Tandem Kayak

Ocean Kayak does have some really nice fishing kayaks and this model stands out as one of their best innovations. Though a little bit pricey, it is definitely worth every penny for the features it has to offer. At 16-feet long, no doubt it is quite a huge tandem kayak. Its large cockpit is designed to house two adults along with a small child or a pet. Besides, it features a generous loading capacity of between 500lbs to 600lbs thereby allowing you to bring along plenty of gear.

In addition to this, the kayak boasts a stern oversized tank well at the front with bungee straps to ensure you don’t lose any of your gear. Included with the package are also molded-in cup holders which are definitely a nice addition to help keep you hydrated. On the sides, you will find two mounted paddle keepers that hold your paddles securely when not in use. 

When it comes to comfort features, the kayak boasts a Comfort Plus seats which according to online reviews provide great comfort and support. Further, it comes with molded-in foot wells so you can get the leverage you need in order to reel on your catch with so much ease. 

Pros

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    Comes with carrying handles on the side
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    A lot of storage including bow-deck bungees
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    Includes a skid plate to ensure it’s not damaged in shallow waters
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    Boasts sturdy bow and stern carrying handles

Cons

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    Carrying handles are too far from each other for a one person to use

12. Advanced Elements Straitedge Kayak

Built with the needs of both the beginner and avid angler in mind, this unit definitely has what it takes to be called the best kayak on the market. One of its most impressive features is its high back seat with lumbar support to guarantee your comfort. This makes it a great kayak for anglers who often spend long hours fishing.

The kayak boasts patented aluminum rib frame along with multi-layer material to ensure it can withstand the test of time. Also, it is fitted with abrasion pads and multiple air-chambers for extra durability even when exposed to very aggressive conditions. The air chambers ensure that the kayak stays sturdy in case one or two chambers are punctured. 

Moving on, the kayak boasts a lot of storage options including two-rod holders and paddle holders. It also comes with stainless steel d-rings that are rustproof and bungee deck lacing that accommodates so many items. On top of that, it features a removable mounting rail to help you customize the kayak with a fish finder, rod holders, fly tying vise and other accessories.

Another feature worth noting is its wide beam that is designed to improve the kayak’s tracking ability and stability. Weighing only 41 pounds, the kayak is quite light in weight but capable of supporting up to 300 pounds of load capacity.

Pros

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    Accompanied by one-year warranty for your peace of mind
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    Easy to inflate and deflate
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    Superior tracking and stability
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    Can handle up to class III rapid

Cons

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    If stored when wet, it gets a moldy odor

13. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

If you are looking for an inexpensive kayak for two to go on a fishing trip with a colleague, this model is a great option. The kayak can comfortably support 400lbs of load without compromising on stability. Constructed from rugged and heavy-duty vinyl, the kayak easily resists scratches and punctures for long-lasting performance. Its floor, on the other hand, features I-beam construction for enhanced rigidity and comfort.

With this fishing kayak, you get a removable skeg designed to offer you directional stability. This makes it perfect for use in lakes and mild rivers. Also, it is fitted with Boston valves on each side which makes inflating and deflating the kayak a breeze. Additionally, it features a grab line on both ends for added convenience especially when transporting it. 

In addition to this, the kayak is available in bright yellow color with sporty graphics that makes it highly visible in the water which is essential to your safety in case of an emergency. As if that’s not enough, it comes with two removable inflatable seats with backrests to offer you superior comfort. The seats can be adjusted to best suit your comfort needs which is definitely a big plus given how inexpensive the kayak is. 

Other nice features worth noting include two aluminum oar, repair kit and a high-output pump that is easy to use to inflate and deflate the kayak. 

Pros

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    Fitted with two separate air-chambers for durability
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    Has excellent directional stability
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    Roomy cockpit that is very comfortable
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    Made of heavy duty material

Cons

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    A bit heavy when inflated

14. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

Intex is known primarily for their extensive line of inflatable kayaks. This model sells for a very low-range price and offers some great features to enhance your fishing experience. It features a streamlined design to allow for easy paddling. In addition to this, the kayak is fitted with a grab line on each end for easy transportation when fully inflated. 

Its cockpit, on the other hand, is spacious enough to accommodate at least two people and extra gear with ease. There are two inflatable seats along with backrests to maximize comfort on the water. Basically, you can fish for as long as you want without having to worry about back pain or fatigue or being confined in a small cockpit. 

When it comes to construction, the kayak boasts rugged and very tough vinyl that is resistant to both harsh UV-rays and punctures to ensure long-term durability. Further, the floor is enhanced with I-beam construction for both rigidity and better performance. For added peace of mind and safety, the kayak is available in a bright green color to allow for better visibility in the water.

At the front, the kayak spots a cargo net to keep your fishing gear within an easy reach. Besides that, it includes two lightweight and strong aluminum oars, a repair kit and high- capacity pump for easy inflation and deflation. 

Pros

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    Approved by U.S. Coast Guard
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    Includes a removable skeg for better tracking
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    Inflatable floor offers great comfort
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    Offers a smooth and stable ride

Cons

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    Relatively heavy for one person to carry

15. Intex Seahawk 4 Inflatable boat

Made of high quality and tough 30-gauge PVC vinyl material, this kayak will take almost anything thrown at it. It is designed to resist both impacts and abrasion to ensure it can provide you with the best performance even with a couple of years to come. But it doesn’t just stop there as it features two air chambers to guarantee your safety in case one chamber gets a puncture.

Additionally, the boat comes with two-rod holders located at the rear on each side and within an easy reach as well as oar holders for convenience. It also boasts welded oarlocks to ensure the oars are secure and an inflation pump that lets you inflate the kayak as fast as possible. For easy transportation, it is fitted with a grab line all around and grab handles on the bow.

Capable of holding up to 814lbs, the kayak can comfortably accommodate up to four people although it is only fitted with two inflatable cushions at the front and rear. Therefore, you might consider buying extra seats if you plan to go fishing with more than one friend. Another feature worth noting is its gear pouch that can take up a lot of gear you wish to carry. 

Pros

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    Made of super-tough materials that resist damage from sunlight
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    Not affected by saltwater, gasoline or even oil
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    Includes a motor mount fitting
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    Easy to assemble and transport

Cons

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    Seats lack back support

Buying Guide- Which is The Best One For You?

Whether you are on a budget or not, nothing beats the feeling of finding the best fishing kayak. However, with the many kayak designs and brands available nowadays, it's important to take a bit of time researching so you can find the best value for your money. So here are factors to consider to help you find a unit that satisfies your needs.

Type of Kayak

The most common types of fishing kayaks you will come across as you shop are sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks. Both types of kayaks come with distinct advantages hence deciding which one is the best can be difficult. For instance, sit-on-top kayaks feature large and open cockpits for ease of entry and exit in case the boat capsizes. They also boast a high degree of initial stability. Sit-in kayaks, on the other hand, offer better protection for the elements including wind by sheltering your lower body. In addition, they have better secondary stability. 

Stability

When it comes to stability, a kayak can either have better initial stability or secondary stability but no way can it have both. Basically, initial stability is how stable the kayak feels when sitting flat while secondary stability is how it feels when tipped to one side. Generally, wider kayaks have high-degree of initial stability but are slower which makes them ideal for calm and protected inshore waters. In addition, narrow kayaks have high-degree of secondary stability hence faster and are best suited for offshore use.

Length

The length of a fishing kayak affects how it performs on the water. To determine the best length, you need to consider the type of water you will use the kayak on. Generally, shorter kayaks measuring less than 10-feet are very easy to maneuver while those measuring more than 12-feet are much faster. Therefore, if you plan to use your kayak on backwaters, small ponds, and creeks, then you opt for shorter kayaks. But if you’ll be fishing in rivers, ocean or bigger lakes, opt for speed instead of maneuverability. 

Type of Construction

This refers to the materials used to construct the kayak. In most cases, manufacturers prefer using high-density polyethylene because this material is not only tough and rigid but also lightweight. However, more expensive kayaks may feature materials that are resistant to damage from UV-rays and abrasion. 

Comfort Level

Fishing takes time so you will need a kayak that provides you with unmatchable comfort. First, you will need to consider the seating area and how spacious is the cockpit to ensure there is enough leg room. Basically, a good a seating area needs to have padded or cushioned seats, adjustable foot braces, backrests and thigh pads if possible. 

Conclusion

It’s clear that you don’t need to cough out so much money just to find the best kayak for fishing. But if your budget allows it, you can go ahead and try the Hobie Pro Angler 12 which is our favorite choice. We particularly love the fact that it frees up your hands so you can focus on just fishing and has a lot of customization features including an installation system for a fish finder. Alternatively, you can go for the Sun Dolphin Aruba particularly if you are on a very tight budget. 

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