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
Lifetime Tamarack 100 Fishing Kayak
Is it the best fishing kayak ever made? No. Is it going to win awards for its beautiful design? Certainly not.
But I think the Tamarack 100 from Lifetime is the best entry level fishing kayak out there.
For a start – it’s not going to break the bank, which is ideal if it turns out you don’t like the sport. Aside from that, it has been designed to be extremely safe and stable, with a wide, multi-chine flat-bottomed hull with deep tracking channels.
The spacious cockpit has a padded seat and backrest, and multiple footrest positions ensure it’s suitable for paddlers of all sizes.
For a no-frills, small fishing kayak – this ticks all the boxes.
- Rugged – no-nonsense design.
- T-bar carry handles.
- Self bailing drain holes.
- Bow and stern bungee tank wells.
- Swivel rod holder.
- Two storage hatches.
- Flush mounted rod holders.
- As basic as it gets.
Okay, so it’s not going to turn any heads, but for getting started in kayak fishing, the Tamarack is my go-to choice for the absolute beginner.
It offers all the features you need for kayak angling, and thanks to its durable construction, you might well find you’re still using it years later.
Old Town Canoe Sportsman 106 Kayak
The Old Town Sportsman is one of my favorite fishing kayaks ever, and I think it will be yours, too.
For under $1000 (at the time of writing), it’s one of the most complete vessels ever to grace our waterways; a kayak fishing machine that will take your game to the next level.
Perfect for pros and amateurs alike, its single layer polyethylene construction is super stable and durable, with a generously sized cockpit for all your fishing gear.
The non-slip deck pads allow you to stand up, and even if you’re not ready to try that just yet, the fact that you can will give you additional confidence on the water. A top fishing kayak all round.
- Market-leading kayak brand.
- Accessory tracks.
- Adjustable leg braces.
- Dry storage.
- Three flush-mounted rod holders.
- Custom tackle box included.
- Paddle holder.
- Fish finder installation system.
- I can’t find one!
A super stable kayak from Old Town, the Sportsman is a stunning craft that has received rave reviews from the community, and is easily one of the best fishing kayaks under $1000 on the market. So too is the Old Town Topwater – which you can find at that link.
Hobie Mirage Passport 10.5 Fishing Kayak
You might not ordinarily associate Hobie kayaks with beginners, especially considering the nearly always exorbitant price points.
But the Hobie Mirage is surprisingly affordable, not least because you’re getting the company’s market-leading, cutting-edge kick-up fin drive technology.
It’s also a stripped-down, streamlined fishing kayak that doesn’t clutter the deck with distractions, and yet still packs in enough features to keep experienced kayak anglers and casual paddlers happy.
Perfect for lazy fishing adventures, you might not ever need to upgrade.
- Market Leading Kayak brand.
- The best pedal drive system.
- Flush mounted rod holders.
- Gear tracks.
- Tank well with bungee.
- Paddle keepers.
- Aluminum frame mesh seat.
- Steering system with stowable rudder.
- Still on the pricey side for a beginner.
While I would always maintain you should run before you can walk, Hobie has made it possible for you to pedal before you paddle.
Still, I don’t advise a pedal drive if you’ve never paddled before, and you’ll need a good kayak fishing paddle regardless. If you’re looking for a top fishing kayak, though, this could well be it.
Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Regular readers will know I love the Intex Excursion Pro inflatable kayak series – and for good reason.
These boats are up there with the most affordable fishing kayaks money can buy, and they’re an awesome option for anyone just starting out.
Made from a super-durable PVC, they’re abrasion and impact resistant, and coated to keep UV rays at bay.
The high pressure inflation offers that all-important primary stability, and it comes with everything you need to get right out onto the water.
Arguably the best inflatable fishing kayak for beginners on the market.
- Great price point.
- Highly portable.
- Multiple air chambers.
- Removable accessory bar.
- Detachable device mount.
- Adjustable foot braces.
- Two detachable rod holders.
- D-rings for attaching gear.
- Also available as a tandem kayak.
- Not the most comfortable seating.
Altogether, this is a great beginner kayak for the money, especially as it comes with everything you need, and plenty of fishing-friendly features as standard. It’s also super lightweight, and you can check out more of the lightest fishing kayaks at that link.
Pelican Basscreek Fishing Kayak
Pelican are known for their entry-level recreational kayaks, and there’s a good chance you’ve either owned one, or you know someone who has.
I see them all the time at my local paddle spot, and they’re extremely popular with younger kayakers. But the Basscreek 100 Angler can easily be used by beginners and pros alike, as it’s an awesome fishing kayak for the money.
The flat-bottomed hull is super stable, offering peace of mind for balance when casting and reeling, and has been designed to help you enter and exit the craft with confidence.
Easily one of the best fishing kayaks under $800, and that color scheme will make you at least look like you know what you’re doing – even if you don’t!
- Great price point.
- Large rear storage with bungee cord.
- Attractive aesthetic.
- Chine rails.
- Flush mount rod holders.
- One swivel rod holder.
- Bow storage hatch.
- Adjustable foot rests.
- I can’t fault it.
An outstanding fishing kayak for beginners and experts alike, the Basscreek 100 is compact, manageable, lightweight, and boasts excellent primary stability.
And the fact that it looks like a more advanced fishing kayak is a huge plus point. I know plenty of beginners who don’t enjoy looking like beginners!
Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak
Since we’re on the subject of attractive kayaks, how about this one from Lifetime?
The Teton 100 is our first foray into lawn-chair seating, at a very attractive price point considering what’s on offer here.
Made with UV-protected high-density polyethylene, the Teton is a rock-solid kayak that is super durable, with a hull design that offers excellent stability.
The comfort seating is fully removable and adjustable, and there’s plenty of storage space with bow and stern tank wells, and a generous open deck space and cockpit area.
At 10 feet in length, it’s easy to transport and store, and you can check out more of the best 10-foot kayaks at that link.
- Tough, durable construction.
- Excellent primary stability.
- Two flush mount rod holders.
- Accessory tracks.
- Two paddle holders.
- Choice of attractive colors.
- Self bailing scupper holes.
- Tracking isn’t the best.
A great looking fishing kayak that’s one of the best beginner craft out there, the Teton 100 from Lifetime offers lawn-chair seating that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
In fact, it’s one of the best fishing kayaks under $500 on the market. You’re not going to win any races in this, though – but for slow moving rivers and calm lakes – it’s a winner.
Perception Pescador Pro 10 Fishing Kayak
Perception is another company looking to make the perfect fishing kayak for beginners. The Pescador Pro 10 might just be it, marketed as a first fishing kayak, and packed with attractive features to entice more experienced anglers, too.
The leakproof, one-piece construction has a built-in buoyancy aid to give paddlers additional peace-of-mind, and the lawn-chair seat provides two levels of adjustment and support for those day-long fishing trips.
Integrated accessory mounts allow you to add a fish finder, GPS, sports camera, or extra rod holders; and the large bow and stern storage areas can accommodate all your gear.
- Great price point.
- Bungee webbing and mesh.
- Scupper holes.
- Choice of colors.
- Drinks holder.
- Stern dry hatch.
- Flush mounted rod holders.
- Reports that the footrests aren’t the best.
A great all around fishing kayak, the Pescador Pro packs in a lot of fishing specific features that would keep most anglers happy. Get one while you can!
The BKC TK181 Tandem Fishing Kayak
They say that two’s company, and there’s no better way to learn how to kayak fish than with a friend or loved one who knows what they’re doing.
As such, the TK181 tandem fishing kayak from Brooklyn Kayak Company is a solid option, a 12.5 single-piece rotomolded design that’s built like a tank.
Deep hull channels improve tracking, and the multiple carry handles help you get to and from the water.
On board, there’s at least two of everything – including storage hatches, padded seating, and paddles included.
And there’s no less than three articulated rod holders and four flush mounted fishing rod holders, so you can have more rods rigged and lines in the water than ever before.
- Great price for what you get.
- Tough, durable construction.
- Two paddle holders.
- Bungee storage well.
- Molded foot rests.
- It’s not going to offer the best performance.
- No additional accessory mounts/tracks.
A great starter fishing kayak for learning the ropes with a more experienced paddler, and probably the best tandem fishing kayak for beginners, to boot!
And you can even paddle solo with more storage space if you prefer. Just make sure to always keep an eye on your weight capacity.
Perception Hook Angler 10.5 Kayak
The final entry in our review of the best fishing kayaks for beginners, is this awesome little craft from Perception.
The reason it’s not higher up than it should be (although these reviews aren’t necessarily in order), is that you’ll notice it’s a sit-inside model.
Keep reading to find out why that’s not always the best type for a beginner fishing kayak. Still, this is a compact, lightweight craft, with a good-sized cockpit, complete with a workstation for rigging your rods.
The tri-keel hull improves stability when casting and reeling, and the Scotty baitcaster rod holder adds another awesome kayak fishing brand to the equation. And you can check out more excellent kayak fishing accessories at that link.
- Durable construction.
- Leg protection pads.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Adjustable seating.
- Molded rod holders.
- Foot brace system.
- Tackle box storage.
- Anchor kit.
- Large stern storage well.
- A sit-inside isn’t the best fishing kayak for beginners.
Okay, so it might be more of a hybrid sit-in/on-top kayak, given that spacious cockpit and rear tank well, but the Perception Hook could still put some beginners off.
Still, if you want to ease your toe into sit-inside kayak fishing – then I don’t think there’s a better craft out there in which to do it.
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.
In short, for beginners, I highly recommend only venturing out when the weather is calm, and the water is still. As such, the best fishing kayak in this instance is going to be a sit-on-top version.
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!