The Best 12-Foot Fishing Kayaks Reviewed 2022 – Practical Performance Guaranteed!


When shopping for a new fishing kayak, one question that always comes up – is what size does it have to be?

The good news is that there is no definitive rule for fishing kayak length. You can catch fish with a 9-foot kayak, you can catch fish with a 14 footer.

One thing to remember is that the longer the kayak, the better it will track and the faster it will go.

The shorter the kayak, the more maneuverable it will be.

Which is why, when it comes to angling, a 12-foot kayak is the perfect happy medium, offering a wonderful marriage of performance and practicality.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best 12-foot fishing kayaks on the market right now, and see if we can find the right kayak for you.

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TOP 10 Best 12-Foot Fishing Kayaks 2022

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Fishing Kayak

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Kayak

The Old Town Sportsman is one of the finest fishing kayaks ever made. What sets this particular model apart, though, is the inclusion of a Minn Kota trolling motor.

It features autopilot navigation, and a clever locking mode that lets you program your favorite fishing spots, so you can return to them with ease.

The kayak itself is a beauty, and every inch of those 12 feet has been designed to be a fishing machine. With four accessory tracks, four flush mounted rod holders, large stern tank well with shock cord rigging, and fully adjustable, lawn-chair seat.

This is the fishing kayak I would choose, in this class – ten times out of ten.

Pros

  • World-class construction.
  • EVA non-slip deck pads.
  • XL rudder system.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Remote-control motor.
  • Console floor plug for a fish finder.
  • Under seat storage and tackle box included.

Cons

  • Very expensive.
  • If you’re looking for a lightweight kayak – this ain’t it!

Takeaway

Sure, it might not be a cheap fishing kayak, but consider it a lifetime investment – especially when you think of all the fish you’re going to catch! The Old Town Sportsman 120 could well be the best fishing yak you’ll ever own.

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Fishing Kayak

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Foot Kayak

Hobie manufactures iconic fishing kayaks that feature their innovative, market-leading Mirage Pedal Drive systems, and the Pro Angler 12.0 is a shoo-in for inclusion here.

The ingenious kick-up fins are near silent and powerful, retracting the instant they come into contact with any underwater hazards.

Aside from this cutting-edge technology that Hobie are famous for, the Pro Angler is also a super stable fishing kayak, perfect for standing casts and reels, and awesome for fly fishing. And you can check out this review for more of the best fishing kayaks to stand up in.

Pros

  • Flagship model.
  • Molded rod holders.
  • Rudder access hatch.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Front hatch with removable liner.
  • 12 sided accessory rail system.
  • Paddle holders.
  • Superior comfort seating.
  • Fingertip rudder control.
  • Deck grip pads.

Cons

  • On the more expensive side.
  • Heavy.

Takeaway

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler might be the most perfect fishing kayak ever made – certainly when it comes to pedal drive technology, comfort, and stability.

But if you’re thinking of purchasing any motorized or pedal kayaks, I highly recommend checking out this review of kayak carts, too.

Wilderness Systems Single Recon 120 HD Kayak

Wilderness Systems Single Recon 120 HD Kayak

The Recon 120 is a new sit-on-top fishing machine from recreational kayak experts Wilderness Systems.

This is a beautiful looking pedal kayak that can be converted into a motorized kayak if you so choose.

The non-slip deck has been designed specifically for standing, but the comfort of the chair means you might not want to!

The Recon also boasts a unique feature you don’t often see enough in fishing kayaks – an extra-large storage space with gasketed hatch that is as stylish as it is functional.

And the drive system offers near-effortless performance, so you can reach those far away fishing spots with minimal fatigue.

  • Attractive, sleek design.
  • Noise-dampening deck pads.
  • Side pockets and tackle box recesses.
  • Bungee cord storage.
  • Rear mounted transducer area.
  • Rod storage.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • It’s a new kayak – so it might be difficult to get hold of.

Takeaway

If the Recon 120 performs as well as it looks, then it could be considered as the one of the best fishing kayaks of 2022, especially in the 12-foot kayak class. The jury is out, though – so if you decide to purchase one, let me know how it performs!

Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 120 Fishing Kayak

Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 120 Fishing Kayak

I’ve got a serious crush on Vibe Kayaks. The Shearwater 125 is probably my favorite fishing kayak out there, and the company continues to impress with affordable, attractive, and practical mid-range craft that ensures the sport is accessible for everyone.

The Yellowfin 120 is a great example of that ethos, a well-designed sit-on-top fishing kayak that is packed with useful features.

Sleek and yet spacious, it offers excellent tracking and performance, while having plenty of room for all your fishing gear.

As far as fishing and recreational paddling goes, this is a really fun 12-foot kayak that’s well worth your consideration.

  • Great all-rounder.
  • Affordable price for what you get.
  • Large rear tank well.
  • Bungee cord storage.
  • Tackle trays and tackle box holders.
  • Vibe Hero seat.
  • 10 integrated top-loading gear tracks.
  • Fishing rod holders.
  • Choice of funky colors.
  • Two paddle parks.

Cons

  • If you find one – let me know!

Takeaway

Easily one of the best fishing kayaks under $1000 (and you can follow that link for more), I find it difficult to fault the Yellowfin 120.

There are more quality features than I have room to include here, all at a price that won’t break the bank. Yet another great fishing kayak from Vibe’s portfolio.

Jackson Kayaks YuPIK Fishing Kayak

Jackson Kayaks YuPIK Fishing Kayak

The YuPIK is one of the best fishing kayaks at just over 12-feet, a beautifully designed craft that’s ripe for customization.

The ergonomic seat offers the best in day-long comfort, and a handy, seatside tackle stager helps you rig your rods and keep hooks organized.

Another unique feature in this particular kayak is the awesome bow-to-stern accessory tracks, running the full length of the gunwales for convenience.

A YakAttack Omega rod holder is included, and the generous standing pad on the deck offers plenty of room for casts and reels.

Probably one of the most versatile, stable fishing kayaks on the market, the YuPIK is a great choice for beginners and experienced anglers alike.

  • Screw points for an anchor.
  • Trolling motor compatible.
  • Silent standing deck pad.
  • Strap down gear system.
  • Advanced paddle keeper.
  • Large stern tank well.

Cons

  • No flush mounted rod holders.

Takeaway

Named after native Alaskan people who gave us the basis for the word “kayak” this is an outstanding sit-on-top kayak that has so many useful features and well-thought-out touches it’s hard to keep track.

Jackson Kayaks are knocking it out of the park with this one, but I would have liked at least one or two mounted rod holders, at least.

Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K 120 Fishing Kayak

In case you were wondering, A.T.A.K stands for Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak, an award-winning series of fishing kayaks from Wilderness Systems.

This is the 12-foot version, a paddle craft that is fully compatible with their Helix Motor Drive, should you wish to add power at a later date.

The ATAK 120 boasts all the features of the 140 model in a more compact package, including the FlexPod removable console, the stand-up assist strap, SlideTrax accessory rails, and the AirPro Max seating system.

Available in a choice of colors, the ATAK 120 is an attractive and practical fishing machine that can’t wait to get out on the water.

Pros

  • Large stern tank well with bungee.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Wind-shedding deck.
  • Silent traction pads.
  • Replaceable skid plate.
  • Trolling motor compatible.

Cons

  • No rod holder(s) or rod storage built in.

Takeaway

At least one entry from the ATAK series nearly always makes it into the best fishing kayak reviews, and the compact size but admirable performance of the 120 makes it perfect for inclusion here.

But no fishing pole holders? Seriously?! I guess when it comes to fishing kayaks – you can’t win ‘em all!

Perception Pescador Pro 12 Fishing Kayak

Perception’s Pescador Pro 12 is another affordable fishing kayak that comes with everything you need – and nothing that you don’t.

The success of its design is in its simplicity, as it does away with all the bells and whistles to make a streamlined fishing kayak for anglers and recreational paddlers alike.

Marketed as the perfect first fishing kayak, I think it’s a great choice to make the transition from a sit-in kayak to lawn-chair style seating, and for a beginner, this could be the best 12-foot sit-on-top fishing kayak available.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Two molded fishing rod holders.
  • Integrated accessory rails.
  • Bow and stern tank wells.
  • Fish finder console.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

A super stable kayak that is ideal for beginners, the Pescador Pro 120 from Perception is an affordable way to try the lawn-chair seating that most sit-on-top fishing kayaks are known for. Check out the smaller version at this article on the best 10-foot fishing kayaks.

Brooklyn Kayak Company PK12 Fishing Kayak

If you’re looking for a motorized fishing kayak that you don’t have to remortgage the home for, then the Brooklyn Kayak Company has got your back.

The PK12 comes with a trolling motor, and offers all the usual fishing-friendly features and refinements you will ever need.

Multiple, water-tight storage hatches help keep your gear dry, while the large tank well to the stern offers plenty of space for one of these awesome kayak tackle boxes.

Suitable for use in various water conditions, the PK12 is ideal for rivers, lakes, and offshore fishing alike, and the fully adjustable comfort seat ensures you’ll be out there for as long as you want.

Pros

  • Great price for what you get.
  • Anchor trolley.
  • Flush mounted rod holders for hands-free fishing.
  • Hand-operated rudder.
  • Accessory tracks.
  • Paddle included.

Cons

  • I’m clutching at straws, but you might want to get a better paddle.

Takeaway

Wow. This is a truly jaw-dropping fishing kayak package – especially considering the price, with everything you need to get started and then some.

And if you want to make use of the trolley system, take a look at this article on the best kayak anchors on the market.

Pelican Mustang 120X EXO Fishing Kayak

Pelican Mustang 120X EXO Fishing Kayak

Pelican’s Mustang 120 is a 12-foot kayak that builds upon their already popular Mustang 100X, with the additional length offering improved tracking and performance, as well as more cockpit room and storage space.

Designed as a hybrid fishing/recreational kayak, it’s a sit-inside model, which makes it ideal if you’re looking for a new fishing challenge, and/or you enjoy paddling on waterways with a bit more pep.

Tough and durable, the hull is impact-resistant, and yet at just 47 lbs, it’s the most lightweight kayak in this review.

And the removable EXOPOD 17 liter storage hatch is a nice touch – especially if you’re a keen kayak camper for multi-day trips.

  • Unbeatable price point.
  • Two rod holders.
  • A super lightweight kayak.
  • Molded footrests.
  • Smartphone holder.
  • Bow and stern storage hatches.
  • Shock cord deck rigging.

Cons

  • No room for a milk crate.
  • Not the most comfortable seating.

Takeaway

While sit-in kayaks aren’t always the first choice for fishing, they do have their place in the kayak angling world. And the Mustang 120 is a great option for casual use, easily one of the best fishing kayaks under $500, and a contender for the best cheap fishing kayak overall.

Stroke Vista Tandem Fishing Kayak

STROKE Vista Tandem Fishing Kayak

We finish now with the Stroke Vista, a great example of what tandem fishing kayaks can offer.

Made from a durable polyethylene hull, it features two lawn-chair style seats, with a generous weight capacity of 600 lbs.

One of the best things about a tandem kayak is that it can be paddled alone, with more space to put your gear.

Bow and stern T-handles help you get to and from the water, and two gear tracks for each paddler ensure you can customize this fishing kayak into a fish-finding beast!

Give solo fishing kayaks a run for their money with the Vista, and for what you get, this is an awesome fishing kayak all-round.

  • Great price point.
  • Paddles included.
  • Center consoles in each position.
  • Side rod holders – with caps.
  • Hatch covers.
  • Scupper holes.
  • Molded foot rests.
  • Shock cord deck rigging.

Cons

  • Again, the paddles aren’t the best – but I’m splitting hairs.

Takeaway

A great tandem fishing kayak for bringing a buddy along, the Vista has so many great features, it can be hard to find fault. Not least because you’re getting double of everything for under $1000 (at the time of writing)! And for even more tandem fishing kayaks, follow that link.

How to Choose a Good 12-Foot Fishing Kayak

man fishing from kayak in river

Why Choose a 12-Foot Kayak for Fishing?

I imagine you’ve come to these pages because you’re interested in a kayak that’s this specific length.

Maybe you’re curious as to why a 12-foot fishing kayak works? Perhaps you’ve been recommended one by a friend?

Either way, let’s take a look at why craft this size are arguably the most desirable fishing kayaks on the market.

Why does size matter?

The longer and narrower a kayak, the faster it will go, and the straighter it will track through the water. This is why long-distance touring kayaks/Olympic race kayaks are designed the way they are.

“Performance” kayaks like these can be anywhere from 14 to 18 feet in length – and perhaps more.

But they’re not going to do you any good for tackling whitewater, or for negotiating hazards and obstacles on a river, for example.

If we go the other way, kayaks that handle rapids are maybe 5-6 feet in length. They’re designed to turn sharply, and provide excellent secondary stability – for better control in choppy waters.

Therefore, as you might have guessed by now, the near-perfect sweet-spot for a good, all-round fishing kayak – is 12-feet, or thereabouts.

To be honest, if a kayak is 11.7-feet, 12-feet, or 12.6-feet – you probably won’t notice a great deal of difference in the performance.

But it might matter more for how much room you have on board, as well as transporting and storage options.

fisherman in small sit-on-top fishing kayak on river

What Makes a Good 12-Foot Fishing Kayak?

You might be wondering about the criteria used to make this selection of the most awesome 12-foot fishing kayaks currently on the market.

And where some websites will just put any old kayak length in – I decided to take things literally.

In order to be included in this review, the kayaks had to bang on, (or as close to bang on) a 12-foot kayak as possible.

Otherwise, we might have included the Vibe Shearwater (12.6’), the Sea Eagle FastTrack (12.6’), the Bonafide 117 (11.7’), the Native Watercraft Slayer 12 (12.6’)…

As well as countless other fishing kayaks that come above or below our 12-foot benchmark – because there’s a lot!

As such, I made a decision to give a three-inch margin either way – hence the products above that have made the cut.

Aside from fitting the length criteria, read on to find out what you should be looking for in a 12-foot kayak.

fisherman fishing from kayak

Type of Fishing Kayak

Once you’ve decided that a 12-foot fishing kayak is the right size for you, you can move onto the kayak type.

Of these, you have the following main decisions to make:

Sit-Inside or Sit-On-Top?

12-foot fishing kayaks come in both sit-inside and sit-on-top varieties, but at this length, it’s the sit-on-top versions that are overwhelmingly the most common.

And for good reason, as they boast the storage space, comfort, and stability that most kayak anglers are looking for in their craft.

However, sit-inside fishing kayaks are not without their merits, and you can check out that link if you’d like to know more about them and why they’re worth a try.

For one thing, a sit-in kayak is going to be better for handling rougher conditions, and you’ll find that whitewater kayaks will nearly always be of this design.

But, unless you’re looking for a challenge, a sit-in fishing kayak isn’t the most practical, and you can go here for more of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks if you prefer.

Inflatables or Hardshells?

Try as I might, I could not find an inflatable fishing kayak at 12-feet.

The popular Intex Excursion Pro (consistently one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing on the market) comes in at 12.7 feet.

The Sea Eagle 350FX is 11.6 feet, while the Aquaglide Blackfoot (one of the lightest fishing kayaks out there) pushes things to 13 feet.

There’s also the Elkton Outdoors Steelhead tandem kayak – which is great if you like fishing with a friend or loved one. That’s rated at being a 12.6-foot craft.

The advantages of an inflatable kayak is that they’re easier to transport and store, but when it comes to performance, stability, comfort, and storage space – hardshells are unbeatable.

And for genuinely serious anglers and avid fishermen – those are the key factors that make the difference when it comes to a top fishing kayak.

But why not have both?! I have a hardshell and an inflatable kayak, and the latter is great for those last-minute fishing trips where I can’t be bothered to haul the hardshell onto the roof of my car!

Check out this article on the best inflatable fishing kayaks for more info, or you can even go here to discover some awesome inflatable fishing boats instead.

man fishing from inflatable kayak on the autumn river

Pedals, Paddles, or Power?

When we look at kayaks approaching 12-feet in length, this is where we see pedal drives start to appear.

They’re certainly more common around 12-13 feet than they are in any other kayak length.

Motorized kayaks will also start to enter your search filter, as larger craft are more compatible/suitable with such technology.

The question is – which do you choose?

In my experience, it’s going to come down to two things – your budget, and your preference.

For more information on each type, you can go here for the best pedal fishing kayaks, and follow this link for the best motorized fishing kayaks.

Regardless of which your decision alights on, you’re never going to not need a paddle – just in case something goes wrong, and you need help getting to shore.

Go here for the best fishing kayak paddles on the market, many of which include practical features that are specifically designed to help kayak anglers.

Seating

To be considered the best fishing kayak, a craft must have comfortable seating. Thankfully, a 12-foot, sit-on-top kayak is nearly always going to have that coveted, lawn-chair style cockpit.

Look for adjustable seating that can be removed – not only will it improve your comfort out on the water, but being able to reduce the carry weight will help you get to the water in the first place.

And don’t forget – good kayak seating is going to offer a practical field-of-view for sight fishing, which you might not get with sit-in kayaks, or when you’re closer to the water line.

fisherman floats on a white fishing kayak in ocean along the coast

Fishing Friendly Features/Storage

As I might have mentioned, 12-foot fishing kayaks offer a great balance of on-the-water performance, stability, and storage options.

The latter is one of the most important considerations for even the most casual kayak angler.

And a good 12-foot fishing kayak is going to have at least some, or all, of the following features:

  • Flush mount rod holders.
  • Swivel rod holder.
  • Deck rod storage.
  • Accessory tracks/gear mounts for fish finders.
  • Anchor trolley.
  • Tank wells.
  • Bungee cord webbing.
  • Dry hatches.

Don’t forget, a sit-on-top kayak is going to have more room for all of this than a sit-inside version, and even if your chosen fishing kayak doesn’t have all the rod holders you’re looking for, you can always add them aftermarket.

This article on the best rod holders for kayak fishing should help point you in the right direction. And check out the video below for loads of tips on how to customize your kayak fishing vessel.

man fishing on a stand up kayak in the sea

Cost

12-foot kayaks can be budget-friendly or exorbitantly expensive. It’s more the quality of construction and features that matter rather than the length.

A motorized fishing kayak is going to set you back a fair bit of coin compared to basic, recreational kayaks for casual fishing.

Always buy the best you can afford, correlated with how much you’re actually going to use it. You can always check out this review of the best budget-friendly fishing kayaks if you’re watching the pennies.

Summary

I hope this article on the best 12-foot kayaks for fishing has helped point you in the right direction to finding the right craft for your needs.

Let me know which option you’ve gone for and why!

Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!

Brett Baker

Brett was practically born with a paddle in hand and has been navigating lakes, rivers, and even the sea ever since in his pursuit of all kinds of fish. If you want to know about the best gear for kayak fishing, Brett has probably given it a go. You’ll be able to spot Brett regularly across the country. He’ll be the guy with a tanned top half… and pale legs.

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