For beginners, getting started in kayak fishing can be daunting.
There’s a wealth of products on the market, and choosing the right gear for your skillset can be overwhelming.
Especially if you’ve never even paddled before!
To help you out, I’ve extensively researched the kayak fishing world in order to find the best beginner fishing kayak for anyone who is looking to take up this rewarding and exciting pastime.
A full buyer’s guide and extensive FAQ section will follow, so if you’re a budding kayak angler, you don’t want to miss it.
We’ve all got to start somewhere, and it might as well be here!
Table of Contents
- The Best Fishing Kayaks for Beginners – Top Choice
- TOP 9 Best Beginner Fishing Kayaks for 2023
- Lifetime Tamarack 100 Fishing Kayak
- Old Town Canoe Sportsman 106 Kayak
- Hobie Mirage Passport 10.5 Fishing Kayak
- Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Pelican Basscreek Fishing Kayak
- Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak
- Perception Pescador Pro 10 Fishing Kayak
- The BKC TK181 Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Perception Hook Angler 10.5 Kayak
- How to Choose a Good Beginner Fishing Kayak
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The Best Fishing Kayaks for Beginners – Top Choice
There are a lot of quality fishing kayaks in this review, and any one of them would be perfectly suitable for a beginner.
And there are a lot of variables involved – including how much gear you’d like to take with you, where you’re fishing, and how much experience you already have.
With that in mind, here are my top choices:
If you’ve never paddled before – the Lifetime Tamarack 100 is an ideal first fishing kayak.
For more features, comfort, and storage – the Old Town Sportsman is unbeatable.
For your first pedal fishing kayak, the Hobie Mirage Passport 10 is the way to go.
Of course, those are just my suggestions, and you can find them and much more to suit your particular fishing style and skill in the reviews, below.
TOP 9 Best Beginner Fishing Kayaks for 2023
How to Choose a Good Beginner Fishing Kayak
There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying your first fishing kayak, and we’re here to help make that process a little easier.
Check out our complete buyer’s guide to starter fishing kayaks, below. And for a general guide, follow this link for catch-all advice on how to choose a fishing kayak.
Kayaks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types; and it’s important to understand each one in order to make an informed choice – particularly if you’re a beginner.
For beginners, sit-on-top kayaks are by far the better choice.
Their wider hulls offer excellent primary stability – which is how stable the kayak feels when you first get into it, and when you’re out on the water paddling and fishing.
The more stable a kayak is, the more confident you’ll be casting and reeling. Check out this link for more of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks on the market.
That said, sit-inside kayaks are not without their merits – especially if you ever want to paddle in faster moving water, or choppy conditions.
Sit-inside kayaks have better secondary stability – which is why they feel “tippy” when you’re in them.
This is so they can handle waves and rough water, and they’re typically faster and more maneuverable than sit-on-top fishing platforms.
While I recognize that’s not ideal for a beginner, and the vast majority of kayaks in the review are sit-on-top versions – sit-inside kayaks still have their place.
Check out this article for more information on why sit-inside kayaks are good for fishing.
I’ve still included one sit-inside kayak in the review above, as you’ve got to start somewhere if you want to enjoy what is regarded as a more challenging way to fish.
When it comes to fishing kayaks, hardshells are overwhelmingly the most popular option. That’s because they offer the best performance, the highest level of comfort, and the most amount of storage space.
Considering most anglers need to carry a lot of fishing gear, and spend all day out on the water traveling from spot to spot, these factors are often non-negotiable.
And for beginners, a hardshell kayak with a wide, stable hull is going to be an excellent choice for learning the ropes.
Put cheap swimming pool play boats and blow-up beach toys out of your mind – inflatable kayaks have come a long way.
They make excellent beginner craft, thanks to their ease of use, portability, durable construction, and buoyancy. Many inflatable kayaks have higher weight capacities than hardshells.
Hit a rock with a hardshell kayak, and you’ll damage the hull, hit it with an inflatable, and you’ll bounce off. Think of them like inflatable gutter guards at a bowling alley!
With some exceptions, like the more advanced Sea Eagle products, inflatables are typically more affordable than hardshells – which is another reason they’re a great choice for a first fishing kayak.
The beauty of tandem kayaks is that they can be awesome for beginners and younger paddlers to learn how to paddle with a more experienced kayaker sitting just behind them.
And the best tandem fishing kayak offers the additional advantage of having loads of extra storage space if you do want to fish solo.
Bear in mind that tandem kayaks aren’t built for performance, but as a beginner kayak, they’re a great way to find out if this sport is right for you – or a young one.
For more information on primary and secondary stability – which you should learn about as a beginner – watch the video below.
Kayak size is important for paddlers of any experience level, but it’s particularly crucial for beginners.
Here’s a general rule of thumb:
The longer and slimmer the kayak, the faster it will go, and the straighter it will track (move through) the water.
The shorter and wider a kayak is, the more stable it’s going to be, and the easier it will be to maneuver around obstacles and hazards.
To that end, the best beginner fishing kayaks are typically around 10 feet in length, with a wide, flat hull.
Personal Skill Level
Consider how much genuine experience you’ve had when it comes to choosing the best beginner kayak for your needs.
Have you paddled before? Have you ever fished from a kayak? Perhaps you’ve never done either, and you’re starting from scratch?
Being honest with yourself will help you figure out what you need from a new fishing kayak, and stop you overspending on unnecessary gear and equipment.
Weather and Water Conditions
When you’re just starting out kayaking – whether you’re planning to fish or not – it’s essential you pay attention to the weather and water conditions.
Heck, even if you’re the most experienced kayak angler in the universe – you still need to be respectful of Mother Nature.
And the conditions you are commonly kayaking in will help determine the best kayak for your needs.
But a word of caution – kayaks with a flat hull are going to struggle in rough conditions, and are more susceptible to capsizing when faced with choppy water.
Fishing Friendly Features
For new kayak anglers, a good fishing kayak should have the bare minimum of fishing-friendly features.
This includes at least one rod holder, ample storage space for tackle and gear, and maybe an accessory track or mounting point to add extra equipment and tech at a later date.
Like one of these awesome fish finders, for example.
But you don’t need a crazy amount of features when you’re just starting out.
Just give me somewhere to store my fishing rod, and somewhere to rig my tackle, and I’ll be able to catch a fish from any kayak.
The best fishing kayak in the world is going to be very expensive.
Features, performance, power, and seating will all contribute to the price tag, which can justifiably put many beginners off from trying their hand at the sport.
That’s why I’ve tried to choose more affordable kayaks for this review. To start with, you don’t need all the bells and whistles.
If kayak fishing is for you, you can always upgrade as your skills improve. Which is why all the kayaks in this review have a good resale value.
A Word on Safety
One of the main concerns that potential new kayakers have is safety. With that in mind, it’s worth considering these extra pointers:
Self bailing scupper holes are ideal in beginner kayaks, as the sight of water on the deck can often frighten new paddlers.
These holes won’t make the kayak sink, but rather help drain water that naturally occurs as a result of paddling and fishing.
Kayaks should be visible – especially if you’re fishing in areas of high boat traffic (which I don’t recommend if you’re a beginner).
Still, look for brightly colored kayaks, or consider adding a marker flag to a muted or camouflaged kayak to improve the chance of you being seen.
Large, spacious cockpits are easier to climb back into than more cramped seating areas – should you ever find yourself in the water.
And always, ALWAYS wear a certified personal flotation device. Check out this review of the best fishing PFDs for practical, potentially life-saving gear.
What is the best type of fishing kayak for beginners?
I would say the best beginner fishing kayak is going to be a sit-on-top craft with a wide, flat, hull, and no more than 10-11 feet in length (unless you’re opting for a tandem version).
You might also like to consider an inflatable fishing kayak for additional buoyancy.
Sit-on-top or sit-in for beginners?
Sit-on-top, hands down. If you’ve never set foot in a kayak in your life, and you attempt to get into a sit-inside craft, then you might be in for a shock when it comes to balance!
As such, the stable sit-on-top kayak is a more suitable choice for new kayakers.
Which kayak is the most stable for fishing?
Good question – and if you find it, let me know!
Joking aside, you’d need to rigorously test every fishing kayak on the market in order to find the most stable – and that’s simply not possible.
But to come close, you simply have to look out for kayaks with wide, flat hulls.
The most stable fishing kayaks will also allow you to stand – so follow that link for kayaks that are specifically designed for that purpose.
And you can also look at this review of kayaks designed for larger girls and guys – as they’re also a great choice if you’re looking for maximum stability.
Is kayaking hard for beginners?
For someone who has never paddled before, it might take a little while for a new kayaker to get to grips with controlling the boat for the first time.
Learning the correct stroke technique, safety procedures, and how to get in and out of a kayak might be a little daunting at first – but the learning curve isn’t that steep for most beginners.
Check out the video below, which offers some basic pointers for getting started.
If in doubt, I highly recommend joining a local paddle club and taking a few lessons – especially before venturing out on your own.
Are kayaks safe for beginners?
Yes, of course! (But it does depend on the kayak!)
That’s why I write reviews like this one, to point you in the right direction to find a good beginner fishing kayak.
So long as you choose a manageable kayak with good primary stability, and good reviews from trusted sources – kayaks are perfectly safe for rookie paddlers.
What size kayak do I need for my height?
You can paddle any length of kayak – it just depends on how confident you will be while doing so.
But if you’re over six feet tall, you might want to consider a kayak that’s at least 12 feet long – purely from a comfort point of view. Larger paddlers need more legroom, after all!
That said, most kayaks come with either multiple molded footrests, or adjustable foot braces, so they can accommodate kayakers of all shapes and sizes.
There’s no hard and fast rule here – it’s just whatever you feel comfortable in. Perhaps the more important figure is the kayak’s weight capacity – so pay attention to that when choosing your new ‘yak.
Kayak fishing is an awesome sport/pastime/hobby, and one that doesn’t have to be scary to get into.
This review of the best beginner fishing kayaks will help, and I hope you’ve managed to find the right one for you – or a young one.
Let me know which option you’ve gone for and why – or if you have any beginner kayak fishing advice you’d like to share with the community.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayaking!