A fishing kayak is a pretty popular category in the paddling community. The kayaks are usually regular kayaks, stable, fast, and easy to maneuver, but they have a few small things that make a lot of difference to someone who wants to use them for fishing. Things such as additional storage, fishing rod holders, as well as cup holders, are something you might not find on any regular kayak, but they’re essential for a fisherman.
We have come together to compile hours of research and a detailed guide summarizing some of our favorite best fishing kayak picks and a list of tips and tricks to get you on the water as fast as possible!
Best Fishing Kayak - Our Kayaks Reviews and Ratings
Here we provide a little list of the kayaks we chose to make this years best fishing kayak list. These are the kayaks we see as being the best in the market. Its important to take these ratings with a grain of salt since your size, body-weight and personal preferences may effect your choice. We have focused on the more budget ready options by request.
(Super Budget and Portable Option - Not for pros)
So your a beginner looking to just have a taste of what its like to kayak fish and you don't have any carrying space for a kayak. Well the sea eagle 370 is unbeatable as the most portable option around for a beginner. While this kayak is not expressly for fishing and an inflatable is not usually what you look for in a fishing kayak it does make up for it in its rugged build with very heavy duty materials
Its portability allowing you to simply pack up your kayak and put it in any sedan and carry it off to your favorite fishing spot. This kayak is highly recommended for the beginner trying to get started with fishing. Keep in mind if once you get much better at fishing and kayaking you may outgrow this one at least for fishing. So if your expecting to make kayak fishing a regular part of your life you may want to get something more rugged on the list.
Great for beginners and intermediates
The Lifetime 10 foot sport fisher is somewhat of a underdog success story in kayak manufacturing, appearing with little advertising and little known by experts this kayak slowly moved to the top and became known as one of the best budget kayak fishing options around. It provides everything you need in a fishing kayak giving you just the right amount of features for the price tag to make it completely proficient in giving you that great feature set without compromising any of its quality that you may expect because of its low price tag.
This kayak is perfect for someone starting out in kayak fishing and looking for something that will be a great kayak for years to come. While you may want to move off to a advanced model as you get better this kayak may still keep you happy even as you become a better fisher and kayaker. The Lifetime 10 is truly a great kayak and comes highly recommended by us.
Best sit in model for its price
What budget fishing kayak list can be complete without the Oldtown 10, no list! The Oldtown Vapor is one of those older models that have aged well and kept itself in the front running for years. This kayak was developed by one of the oldest and most reputable companies in kayaking and it shows in its design. Though the model is a sit in model and might not be preffered by some fishers that are used to sit on top models it is still a great model that comes with extra space, bungees and all the fitting you look for in a robust and great fishing kayak.
This model is great for beginners and intermediates its extra feature set will keep even the more advanced kayakers happy.
Budget friendly, feature rich
The Sun Dolphin brand is a newer brand to kayaking but it has shown that it is just as good as some of the veterans. Its biggest attraction is the extremely low price points these kayaks come with. Usually at that price point you may be expecting an inflatable kayak but these definitely punch above their weight for what you get at that price tag.
The 10 foot model here comes with the basics for fishing including some bungees and extra space so if your just getting started in the sport your going to get the basics but still be able to have a great time fishing without sacrificing too much of the additional features a pro or larger model may come with for 3 times the price.
Future proofing for beginners and intermediates
We usually would not include a more advanced model like the perception pro 10 in a budget list, but we couldn't resist! The Perception Pro 10 is one of our favorite models at its price tag. It makes kayak fishing a breeze and gives you the feeling your really ready for the sport.
It comes with features you usually only see in pro models like a very durable advanced seat, a lot of extra bungees and storage space for baits and tackles and rod holder spacing. If your thinking of making kayak fishing a regular hobby we definitely recommend you future proof and get a model like the perception pro 10.
Kayaking is an activity that lets you test your abilities in many ways. Mostly it is a one-man sport requiring good skills in paddling, balancing and being able to endure the challenges one encounters over the water.
Things such as horizontal rod lockers and tackle compartments are great, and you’ll also undoubtedly appreciate the non-skid deck. You can stand on it comfortably, and it will help you a lot for sight kayak fishing. All in all, an amazing option, both the 14’ and it’s 12’ smaller brother.
Hobie are among the top manufacturers of kayaks, and their Pro Angler series are great. Both the 12’ and 14’ model are amazing, and you can get whichever you want according to your requirements. They both have the MirageDrive 180 pedal powered system, and they both come with plenty of fishing perks.
Another pedal powered kayak, Native Watercraft have made one of the lightest 13’ pedal drive kayaks on the market. And it’s not only the lightest, but it’s also seriously loaded for any kind of serious fishing. There’s an open deck that lets you easily load, or unload, gear at the ramp. If you have electronics with you, there’s a built-in battery box, which is something that not many manufacturers include. You will find a hatch cover on the bow to keep any valuables in place, an under-seat storage area, transducer mounting plate, and a thwart box with two rod holders. Overall, the kayak is jam-packed with anything you may need on your fishing trip.
Old Town created the Predator 13 with one thing in mind – create the perfect platform for fishing. And boy, did they succeed. Both below, and above the waterline, the design is amazing and it is both stunning to look at, as well as being great at what it was built for. The Element seating system is comfortable and positioned well for fishing, and the tri-hull will ensure that you’re stable, regardless of whether you’re paddling or casting. You get a slip resistant deck and tank well, as well as scupper holes and six removable mounting plates. There’s also a Humminbird transducer scupper, and dual tackle holders, wrapping up this amazing package.
We’re wrapping up our list with one of Ocean Kayak’s best selling fishing kayaks. If you’re in need of a high-capacity fishing kayak, you’re at the right place. You will not only get plenty of room, but outstanding stability too. The six mounting brackets are placed so you can configure the boat based on your specific requirements, and not need to drill into the hull.
Similarly to its predecessor, the stern stringers will carry volume in the boat’s rear half. Combine this with the Element seating system, and you get a stable platform which is seamlessly connected to you as a paddler. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned angler, or a novice in search of some extra security, you can’t go wrong.
Getting Started - Kayak Fishing as a Sport
There are different types of recreational kayaking like kayak touring which is mostly done on calm, protected lakes. Others include sea-kayaking which is practiced on the sea as the name suggests and white-water kayaking done on fast-moving streams and rivers.
Then there is the surf kayaking which is only for experts because of its risks. Kayak fishing is a sport that has added a new activity to add more fun and challenge to your kayaking trip. It tests your fishing and kayaking abilities. We will talk about fishing, kayaks and more in this article. We will try to discuss how you can find the best fishing kayak throughout this guide.
Let us first see what the different types of kayaks available are and what unique features they contain.
First, let's divide them by what materials they are made of.
1. Single-layer linear polyethylene – This is the most common material used for kayaks. The kayaks are made from a single piece and are very durable. They are hard and are unaffected by abrasions or weather conditions.
2. Three-layered polyethylene – Three layers make the material thicker. This provides a better buoyancy. It also offers more warmth inside, in the case of sit-in kayaks.
3. Fibre Glass – Kayaks made of fiberglass are lighter than those made with Polyethylene and hence glide better over water. However, they succumb to micro breaks in case of impacts.
4. Kevlar carbon – they are lighter than the fiberglass kayaks. They are also more expensive than the other models. They break easily, but repair is also equally easy. They are mostly used for competition.
Most kayaks are made from Polyethylene.
If you thought kayaks only differ by the material they are made of, your wrong. They are also divided into different types based on their use and based on how you sit within them. Let’s see the more popular varieties of Kayaks and which one will be best suited for you.
TYPES OF KAYAKS
The best fishing Kayak options can be divided based on use, comfort, space, and speed.
1. The sit on top kayaks - This is the most popular type of kayak. It has a seat on top, without you being lowered into a confining cockpit. You feel freer, and it's easy to manage in case of a capsize.
They are usually slower than the sit-in kayaks but can be managed by someone who is not highly trained in kayaking. They are also the most affordable.
2. Sit-In Kayaks – As the name itself makes it clear, these are kayaks where you sit in a cockpit. This provides lesser space for carrying supplies. This type of kayaks is faster on water. They also protect from the cold and water. For those that are specially trained for the sport, these can be quite comfortable and add to the fun of kayaking. These are heavier and more expensive than the sit-on kayaks
3. Pedal and Sailing kayaks – These kayaks are more expensive than the other two. They have large spaces for gear. The main difference is that these are driven by pedaling. This leaves your hands free for other activities. There is lesser stress on your arms. The speed is lower than the other two models.
4. Inflatable Kayaks – The name says it all. Usually costs less than all the other kayaks. They move slower and weigh less than the other models. These are not suitable for fishing in the sea, though there are some brands which are tested and proven useful for that activity.
Before deciding on which kayak you want to purchase, it is necessary for us to consider a lot of things. You should know where you will be using your kayak. You should know what purpose you will be using the kayak for. The price that you can afford to spend is another major factor. As we are only discussing fishing kayaks here, let's see what the ways to select the best model are.
Considerations Before Buying a Fishing Kayak
1. Length of the fishing Kayak
As a rule, let us understand that shorter, wider kayaks (less than 11 feet) are more stable and more maneuverable. Longer narrower ones are best for speeds but less manageable for the untrained. If you are thinking of fishing in waters that are smaller in size – say a pond, creek or backwaters – you should get the shorter one. If the fishing is done in the sea or larger lakes the long ones are what you need. In case you are a tall heavy person, it is best to go for the longer one. Here comfort and ease matter more.
2. Fishing Kayak Stability
is an essential factor in fishing. You need to move and turn a lot. There may even be the need to stand up. Wider kayaks provide these benefits. If you are going to cover a long distance, then opt for the longer kayaks. While discussing stability we need to know two terms that are associated with kayak fishing – Primary Stability and Secondary Stability. The former refers to the boat stability in flat calm waters, and the latter refers to its stability in rough waters or when tipping to one side. Kayaks that feel safe in rough waters may not handle so stable in calm waters.
3. Sit in vs Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
A significant factor to consider is, whether you are going to get a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-in kayak. The first one is better for fishing as it allows for free movement and has proper storage. But the downside is that you could get extremely wet and cold. The sit-in models provide more protection from cold and water. The sit-in models often compromise on the maneuverability factor. They are also less stable than the other model.
4. Storage space
is an important matter to consider for a fisher. They should be able to store a variety of gear along with items for his survival. Many of the kayaks provide storage space for milk crates and coolers. The sit-on-top kayaks have sealed hatches providing a lot of water-proof storage space. The sit-in models have open storage space in the hull. Depending on how much you will need to pack on a trip, you should go for the most suitable model.
5. Fishing Kayak Keel
You can opt for kayaks with the keel or without them. A keel provides extra speed and tracking. It is helpful when you are fishing in deep waters. A kayak without a keel is more suitable in shallow waters or rocky ponds.
RIGGING YOUR KAYAK
We have seen the different types of kayaks and which is best for you. A simple unrigged kayak is not always enough to catch fish.
Most kayaks come with nets referred to as bungees that will carry your items and fish. Many have space for your rod holders and tackle boxes.
You will need fishing gear, and you will need your kayak to be ready to hold these securely and give you a stress-free fishing experience. Let’s see the accessories you will need.
1. A rod holder. You probably won't want to lose your rod and reel while fishing in the case that your kayak flips, a rod holder is essential in this case. Let’s check out the different types of rod holders.
a. A Flush Mounted Rod holder is a simple tube that is inserted into your kayak or sometimes molded to it. You can push the rod into this tube and secure it with a leash.
b. The Secure Mounted Rod Holder is generally mounted between your lower legs or behind the seat. They grasp your rod and reel. They give you better movement for the rod.
c. Kayak Crate / Tackle Box comes with tube holder for the rod and a lidded box or crate that can hold all your gear safely.
2. When you have found that perfect spot where you will discover all the fish you need, you don’t want your kayak to be moving. Nothing keeps a kayak stable on water like an anchor and line. There are two main types.
a. Folding Anchors offer good anchorage in most circumstances and are easy to carry.
b. Claw Anchors get you a stable hold even on the softest grounds. These are not as portable as the Folding Anchors.
3. It is probably the worst dilemma deciding between your catch of the day and your paddle. You need to secure your paddle when you are fishing so that you can carry on without fear of losing it. A paddle leash is a simple coiled wire with one end tied to any fixture on the kayak and the other end to the paddle. This makes the paddle secure and easy to use.
It is not enough to buy a kayak and fishing gear. You need the right vehicle to transport the kayak to the waters and back. You also need to have space to store the kayaks.
Specialized Kayak trailers are available to move your kayak. These are specially designed to carry them and to be towed by your vehicle. You could also bring your boat on your car rack. There is also the possibility of making them at home, which will work out cheaper.
You could store the kayak in your garage or a shed behind your house.
Let’s look at several other things that we need to know before we start kayak fishing.
With all that gear you are going to be carrying, a kayak will behave differently. You need to distribute the weight in a way that your kayak is not destabilized. Put the heavier stuff in the center. How much of the boat stays above the water will depend on how much you have weighed the kayak down with. You need to be remarkably silent when you approach the place where your fishing. A slight bang when you place your paddles in the water will scare the fish away.
Just rehearse your casting and other activities before you hit the water. You need to use more of your arm than your body – meaning the least amount of body movement. It is even more critical if you're going to cast the line while standing up.
Some find it comfortable to sit to one side, dangling their feet in the water. But you need to take care to keep stable or else you could find yourself in the water along with the fish you wanted to catch.
- Carry only what gear you will need.
- if your stand up kayak fishing be sure to read our stand up kayak fishing tips
- Secure your equipment so that you only need to worry about yourself in case of emergency.
- When you go the first time, go with someone who is experienced. Go online and check the forums for more information. Most people have the same doubts and questions.
- It doesn’t hurt to attend a few classes on paddling techniques and safety.
- Wear the right clothes suited for the season of the year. You don’t want to find yourself feeling too cold in the middle of the water.
Kayaking is an adventure sport and safety is of prime importance. There are many clubs and places you can become a part of the kayaking community but be aware of your surroundings when you are concentrating on fishing. Always carry a first-aid kit. In case of your kayak flipping over, focusing on rescuing yourself first and then worry about your equipment.
When you consider the sheer number of options for the best fishing kayak available on the market nowadays, picking only four as the best of the best isn’t easy. However, the kayaks we discussed above are great vessels, they have a stable platform for any kind of fishing, and they’ll give you more than enough adjustability and carrying capacity, both for you, and all your gear. Regardless of which one you opt for, you pretty much can’t go wrong.
Kayak fishing is a sport that you can enjoy on your own. It is both an adventure and a great relaxing past time. For some tips on how to get started an get into kayak fishing after you chose your kayak we have created an article here. It is also a time to get away from everything and the busy city.
Happy Kayaking, Happy Fishing!!