Just in case you hadn’t noticed, kayaks are everywhere. Since the rise in popularity of inexpensive recreational kayaks several years ago, it seem everyone owns one. That’s not a bad thing. Kayaks are a great way to get out on the water and get a little exercise while you’re at it. Whether it’s catching a wave with a sit-on-top ocean model or paddling down your favorite river in a fishing kayak, kayaking is fun.
Of course, it didn’t take fishing enthusiasts long to discover kayaks and some advantages they offered their sport. Freshwater or salt, big game fish or bluegills, fishing kayaks are now available in a slew of different sizes and configurations, and there’s sure to be one designed for the fishing you do. And, like their recreational cousins, there’s one to fit any budget. So keep reading to learn more about fishing kayaks and which ones we think are best.
What Is A Fishing Kayak?
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The definition of a kayak is a small, narrow watercraft which is propelled by a double-bladed paddle. A fishing kayak is simply one of those that’s been outfitted for fishing. OK, maybe there’s a little more to it, but not much. There are two basic types of kayaks: the traditional sit-in kayak and newer sit-on-top varieties.
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These traditional kayaks consist of a hollow hull with a large hole in the deck where the paddler sits. They’re great for paddling whitewater or touring. The fact that you sit in a “cockpit” means you’ll have a little protection from wind and that you’re less likely to get wet while paddling.
These are more user-friendly, especially for fishermen. They’re stable and offer easy access. They also have scupper holes that allow the water to drain right through them rather than collecting inside. Other advantages of sit-on-tops is that you can get on and off them easily, and they can be rigged so that things like fishing poles are within easy reach.
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Features To Consider Before Buying A Fishing Kayak
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The most important consideration should be where and how you fish. Will you be fishing in freshwater or saltwater? Navigating streams and rivers or paddling around saltwater inlets and estuaries? Will you hit the open ocean by launching from the beach or dropping in from a larger vessel? There is no one-size-fits-all fishing kayak. Here are a few things to think about.
Traditionally, kayaks are paddled, and this is still the most popular way to get around in one. But pedals are becoming more popular. This is a feature popular with some anglers because it frees the hands for fishing and saves energy by using your stronger leg muscles to get around. Kayaks with a pedal/propellor combination and those with electric motors are also hitting the market.
The longer the kayak, the faster it will travel through the water, which will increase your range. But there is a loss of maneuverability with extra length, affecting fishing in tighter spots and small bodies of water. A longer kayak is also more difficult to transport and heavier to carry.
The wider the kayak the more stable it will be, and it will have a greater capacity. The downside to width is that the kayak will be harder to paddle in a straight line.
In most cases, the lighter the better as long as you don’t sacrifice sturdiness and stability. If your kayak is too heavy, you will need a carrier (a potential extra expense) to get it to the launch site.
This is a biggie for fishermen. Is live-bait storage important to you? Will you be doing any kayak-camping? How about rod holders, tackle storage and room for food and drink?
These range from molded-in seats and thin, adjustable seating pads in basic kayaks to adjustable chair style seats with good back support in more expensive models.
7. THE ABILITY TO STAND UP
Some kayaks are wide enough to provide stability for fishermen to stand and cast if that’s something on your need list.
Our 10 Best Fishing Kayaks
Now that you’ve done your research, figured out your budget and kicked the tires on a few models in the sporting goods store, it’s time to choose your fishing kayak.
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
Using Hobie’s MirageDrive 180, this pedal-powered kayak is suitable for fishing freshwater or salt. It’s four horizontal and two molded-in rod holders allow you to have six rods rigged and ready to go. There’s plenty of stability to stand and cast and the elevated Vantage ST seat makes it easy to move around. New features include a retractable skeg for improved navigation and the innovative H-Rail for improved accessory rigging.
- All day comfort for serious anglers
- Versatile enough for all kinds of fishing
- Large capacity for fisherman and gear
- Too heavy to carry or for rooftop transport
Native Watercraft Titan Propel 10.5
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The Titan 10.5 model is a new smaller offering that allows for easier transport while keeping most of the features from Native’s larger model. It has gives the angler a solid platform for fishing, horizontal rod storage, and elevated seating for comfort and ease in transitioning from sitting to standing. The Propel Pedal Drive System provides hands-free forward and reverse and there is a transom-style motor mount.
- Quiet pedal propulsion
- Available motor mount
- Choice of four colors
- The rudder system has had durability questions
- Not the most expensive, but still pricey
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A great choice for beginners, the Yellowfin gives you a good combination of craftsmanship and price. It’s one of the lighter options on the market, making it easy to load and carry. It includes four mounted rod holders, paddle holders, and four carry handles. There are two sealed storage compartments with bag inserts, a rear well with bungees for larger items, and a comfortable seat.
- Inexpensive for a fishing kayak
- Surprisingly stable
- Not built for speed
- Quality of materials vs more expensive brands
Feelfree Lure 11.5
The Lure 11.5r is a great kayak for kids and smaller anglers. It comes equipped with molded handles, recessed fittings, and the patented Wheel in the Keel for portability. It offers great stability and efficient tracking with its tri-hull design. It weighs just 42 pounds, easily the lightest on our list, making it easy to transport and launch.
- Very lightweight
- Lacks the features of more expensive models
- Short length affects tracking
Perception Pescador Pilot
- Pedal-driven performance at an unbelievable price - Made in USA
- Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for ultimate...
- Pilot drive pedal system can be fully recessed into hull for zero draft
With its new Flex Drive system, the Perception Pescador Pilot now gives the angler hands-free propulsion along with forward and reverse operation. It also has an articulating system for deep and shallow water navigation. A protected tri-blade propeller helps keep the system clear of obstacles and easy to clean. Its wider-than-average platform provides good stability.
- Pedal/propellor propulsion system
- Excellent fishability
- Tight turning radius
- Rudder takes getting used to
Old Town Topwater 120
- Old Town's Topwater 120 Angler Fishing Kayak provides a stable, comfortable stand-up...
- The Topwater 120's comfortable and breathable ElementAir Seat keeps paddlers comfortable...
- Packed with features, the Topwater 120 includes an oversized stern tank well for storing...
The Topwater 120 is extremely stable and allows for standing, sight-casting, and fly-fishing on a 20-inch wide deck. Is customizable to go from solo to tandem, allowing you to position the seats any way you like. The deck layout is also flexible.
- Very high capacity-to-weight ratio
- If going solo, can handle a lot of gear
- Moderately priced
- Not fast
- Not a lot of covered storage
Hobie Mirage Outback
This fishing kayak provides a stable platform using a beamy design. It also has Hobie’s comfortable Vantage CT seat and MirageDrive 180 that allows reverse propulsion by pulling the shift cable to pivot the fins 180 degrees. Has six rod holders, four horizontal and two vertical.
- Powerful forward and reverse propulsion
- Good amount of storage
- Not quite the capacity of some others on our list
Old Town Predator 13
- Experience the perfect platform for Big g for fishing and on-water sporting with the old...
- The Predator XL's element Seating System with high/low positioning keeps paddlers...
- Packed with features, the Predator XL's revolutionary design includes a slip-resistant...
Engineered to be a fishing machine, the Predator series can tackle everything from small lakes to open ocean. It features a slip-resistant deck and comfortable Element Seating System. It’s a nice mix of features at a reasonable price.
- Moderately priced for what you get
- Comfortable enough for long days
- Well built
- Not the fastest boat
- Some on our list have a few more features
Pelican Saber 100X Angler
- Lightweight and easy to carry with two retractable carrying handles this Sit-On-Top kayak...
- The Multi-Chine flat bottom hull Design provides Ultra Stability and Great Tracking with a...
- Storage all your gear for your trip with a Quick Lock Hatch in the front plus a 4" day...
The Saber is built on an efficient twin-arched, multi-chine hull. It features adjustable footrests, knee pads, and an Ergoform backrest. Swivel and flush-mount rod holders and a tank well with bungees keep fishing gear in place while moving. Its impact-resistant material is built to take a beating and will last.
- Great price
- Lots of features for the money
- Very lightweight
- Smallest capacity of any on our list
- Not suitable for ocean fishing
Wilderness Systems Radar 135
- A bestselling tri-powered kayak with paddle, power and pedal capabilities
- Compatible with the Helix md motor drive and helix pad pedal drive (both sold separately)
- Offers a flat platform for standing and freedom of movement combined with state-of-the-art...
This fishing kayak is tri-powered. It can be paddled, powered by the Helix MDTM Motor Drive, or pedaled with the Helix PDTM Pedal Drive. The Radar’s proprietary S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology gives maneuverability, acceleration and stability for solid performance in any conditions. It provides good stand-up stability without increased width.
- Works well under all power options
- Good acceleration
- Moderately priced
- Construction quality issues reported
- Not the best for open ocean fishing
Kayak fishing is exploding in popularity for a reason. It’s fun, and maybe more importantly, it’s an effective way to get to the fish. All of these fishing kayaks we’ve listed are capable of putting dinner on the table. Put in some time learning about these boats, go kick the tires on a few and then go get yourself one of these fishing machines. Imagine the tales you’ll be able to tell.
Last update on 2022-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API