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Fishing Kayaks for Big and Tall Guys – Points to Note
Before we fire right into the reviews, let’s take a brief look at some of the key features you need to look out for if you’re a large human shopping for a kayak.
It’s a good idea to make yourself aware of your exact height and weight beforehand, if you haven’t already done so.
Overall kayak size – length and width.
Inflatable or hardshell?
Maximum weight capacity.
Stability in the water.
Cockpit and seating.
Number of occupants.
Pedals or paddles?
There might be other factors to consider – such as fishing friendly features, but for the most part, this list contains the stuff you need to know in relation to your size, shape, and weight.
Bigwater by name, big paddler by nature. This fishing kayak from Old Town’s famous Sportsman range is ideal for anglers who are on the larger side.
13-feet in length and 36-inches wide, it offers plenty of on-board room for tall individuals, with a sit-on-top design and a generous maximum weight capacity of 500 lbs.
Designed for fishing and hunting, it’s capable of providing standing casts and reels with a stable deck, and a super-comfortable seat design with lumbar support that can be fully adjustable on a track to accommodate leg length.
Oh, and it’s also got a top-quality pedal drive built in, with an easy docking system for entering and exiting the water with minimum fuss.
I do so enjoy the articles in which I can include some of my personal favorite fishing kayaks, and the Vibe Sea Ghost is certainly one of them.
This is their 130 model, 13 feet long, with an extra-wide 33.5-inch hull for improved stability. Ideal for fishing in all kinds of waters and conditions, it has a maximum weight capacity of 550 lbs, which is one of the highest a hardshell kayak can offer.
With comfortable, fully adjustable foot braces, you can be sure it will accommodate paddlers of all heights, while the Vibe Hero seat is one of the most comfortable in the business.
Highly versatile, fully customizable and already packed with fishing-friendly-features, this is a truly outstanding fishing kayak – no matter your size, or where you want to take it.
Beautiful design and build quality.
Four top-loading gear tracks.
Extensive storage options, bow and stern.
Two tackle tray holders.
Flush-mounted rod holders.
Choice of attractive colors available.
None to speak of.
At this price point, I can’t fault the Sea Ghost 130, as there are just so many features that Vibe have managed to include in this package.
While this Lifetime kayak might not have the sheer pizzazz of other craft in this review, what it lacks in features it more than makes up for in affordable stability. Designed as a tandem kayak, I’ve included it here as it’s perfect to be piloted solo by a larger paddler.
Offering a weight capacity of 500 lbs, it’s also a more compact kayak at just 10-feet long, which ensures it’s easy to transport and store. Super stable on the water, it comes with three fishing rod holders – flush mounted – and a stern storage hatch for extra gear.
And with multiple molded foot braces, it can accommodate anglers of any height, with or without a partner on board, making it one of the best fishing kayaks for a tall person out there.
Affordable price point.
Rugged, durable construction.
Two kayak paddles included.
Generous 36-inch width.
Adjustable lumbar backrest.
Molded carry handles.
Bow bungee tie-down.
As basic as they come.
Not that suitable for tandem fishing.
While it makes for a better solo kayak than it does for a tandem model, this Lifetime craft is perfect for larger paddlers. Solid and stable on the water, it offers plenty of room on board, with an affordable, no-nonsense design that will get you out there in no time.
And you can check out this review if you’re looking for the best tandem kayaks on the market.
Billed as their most stable kayak, the Jackson Big Rig FD is certainly one of the most impressive fishing rigs out there. Just over 13 feet in length and a generous 40-inches wide, it offers a lot of space to pack the features in.
And boy, has there been a lot of thought put into this beast.
Arguably with the best rod-management I’ve ever seen on a kayak, it has dual rod tubes and oversized rod troughs to keep things organized and out of the way – which is perfect if you’re on the larger side, and you need as much room as possible.
Scupper holes universally accept most fish finders, and the pedal drive can be switched out to make way for a motor if preferred.
Capable of an impressive 550 lbs weight capacity, this is one of the big boys on the block, for big boys on the water.
Professional build quality and design.
Gunwale gear tracks.
Integrated rudder system.
Outstanding rod management.
MOLLE compatible, adjustable comfort seating.
Large stern and bow storage hatches.
Designed for easy-electrics installation.
Highly versatile and customizable.
Choice of colors.
One of the widest kayaks for fishing, it also might be one of the most expensive, but this kind of quality and design doesn’t come cheap.
The Big Rig FD makes a play to be considered as the finest fishing kayak of all time, and you can just tell that the team at Jackson have put their hearts and souls into this craft.
They’ve literally gone big with this one – so you’ll have no problem fitting right in.
This particular offering is somewhat more expensive, however, given the fact that it comes with a pedal drive system. The Pescador Pilot is a hugely popular, 12-foot fishing kayak, with a super-comfortable, lawn-chair style seat.
It’s fully adjustable, including two levels for fishing or paddling, and comes with a breathable mesh back to keep you cool. There’s an abundance of storage, including a large stern and bow tank wells with bungee, as well as rod holders and gear tracks for adding accessories.
It has a maximum weight capacity of 475 lbs – the highest of the Pescador series – and comes in at just under 34 inches wide.
Durable build quality.
Under seat storage.
One-handed rudder control.
Extra buoyancy built-in.
Removable drive system can be recessed.
Pre-installed inserts for transducer and display.
Reports that the rod holders aren’t the best.
Pescador offers some outstanding beginner/mid-range fishing kayaks, and the Pilot is a great example. Packed with features and yet fully customizable, the sky’s the limit for turning this kayak into a fish stalking beast.
Standing for Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak, this award-winning craft from Wilderness Systems has to be one of the most well-designed products in its class.
This is a monster of a vessel, 14 feet long, and compatible with the Helix motor drive for effortless, hand (and foot) free propulsion. Offering one of the most spacious deck and cockpit setups on the market, every inch of this kayak has been designed to catch fish, while providing the angler with as much comfort and practicality as possible.
Capable of 550 lbs of weight capacity and 34-inches wide, the deck is walkable and super-stable, perfect for standing casts and reels.
The suspension seat is fully adjustable, as are the extra-large foot braces with padded footrests. And a stern accessory mount allows you to easily add a transom motor if you so choose.
Outstanding build quality.
Bow, stern, and midsection gear tracks.
Easy-to-adjust foot braces.
Very highly rated.
Great storage and accessory options.
Excellent all-round performance on the water.
It’s on the heavy side – you’re going to want to use one of these kayak carts for transportation.
It’s a good sign when you have big guys endorsing kayaks to be suitable for other big guys, and that’s exactly what’s happened with the ATAK 140.
This is up there with the most comfortable fishing kayaks on the market, and you’ve got plenty of scope to add kayak fishing accessories until your heart’s content. If you don’t catch any fish in this, maybe it’s time to get a new hobby.
The Brooklyn Kayak Company is another budget-friendly brand offering some excellent boating options from their base in New Jersey.
This is a durable, super-stable, and dependable fishing kayak, built for two people, with a simple, no-nonsense design. Featuring no less than seven rod holders – including three articulated mounts on the gunwale and center console, it comes with everything you need for you and a partner to get out on the water in no time.
Alternatively, it can be piloted by one (hence its inclusion here) and has a maximum weight capacity of an impressive 595 lbs. 12.5 feet long and 34-inches wide, there’s plenty of space on board, with roomy seating areas, multiple molded footrests for paddlers of all sizes, and waterproof storage hatches for your valuables.
Great price point for what you get.
Durable, rugged one-piece construction.
Bungee tank well in the stern.
Multiple carrying handles.
Super-stable in the water.
No accessory tracks, although you can always add them yourself.
A well-built, affordable, and sturdy fishing kayak that is perfectly suited to larger paddlers, even if you’re fishing with a partner. It also probably has the one of the best selections of rod holders as standard, and at this price point, you can’t go wrong.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayaks for Big Guys and Gals
Below, you’ll find a handy buyer’s guide to choosing the right fishing kayak for you – with particular emphasis on the points that matter to sizable humans.
In an article about catering for large people, it’s natural to start with the overall size of the kayak.
Most fishing kayaks come in around the 10-12 foot range, but for the purposes of this article, I’ve tried to include craft that come in around 13-14 feet – to give you more options.
As a rule of thumb, longer kayaks will offer improved tracking and speed, whereas shorter models are more maneuverable.
And the larger the kayak, the more space you’ll have on board, both for yourself, and your gear and equipment. Longer kayaks are particularly comfortable for tall people who require a lot of legroom.
As well as providing more space, the wider the kayak, the more stable it’s going to be – but we’ll talk more about that factor, below.
Of course, there’s no reason a larger person cannot pilot a good 10-foot kayak, providing you feel comfortable. You can check out that link to find some excellent options in this size.
As well as being concerned about height, larger paddlers can be concerned about their weight when on the water, and this is an important consideration when choosing the right kayak for your needs.
As such, it’s vital you adhere to a kayak’s maximum weight capacity – and don’t even try to get close to it to be on the safe side.
Kayaks are designed to sit lower in the waterline anyway, and you don’t want to be tempting fate by overloading your kayak with whatever you have on board.
Remember to take your combined weight, the weight of all your gear, tackle, and equipment, and the ball-park weight of any fish you might catch into consideration.
Sometimes, when assessing a kayak’s maximum weight capacity, some of these factors can be overlooked, and you might find yourself taking on more water than is comfortable as a result.
For the most part, I’ve done my best to only include kayaks in the review that offer a maximum weight capacity of 500 lbs or above, and certainly nothing below 450 lbs – which should be suitable for the vast majority of kayak anglers.
Inflatable or Hardshell?
Ahhh, the never-ending kayak debate – do you choose an inflatable or a hardshell?
Without getting into detailed fisticuffs here, quality inflatables are better for portability and storage, while they’re less likely to suffer cosmetic damage.
Hardshells offer significantly better performance, including tracking and speed, as well offering pedal drive options.
However, when it comes to maximum weight capacity, you’ll find that inflatables have hardshells beat.
So, if you’re really concerned about how much you’re packing on board, perhaps an inflatable is the way to go.
When it comes to fishing, a kayak’s stability is vitally important. In fact, stability is a key factor in any kind of kayaking – depending on the type of kayaking you’re doing, of course.
Fishing kayaks are designed to offer excellent primary stability. This basically means that the craft feels solid and stable when you first climb into it, and when you’re out on calm waters.
As mentioned above, the wider the kayak, the more stable it’s going to feel. As such, wider kayaks with flat hulls are more preferable for fishing.
If your kayak was tippy – like touring or whitewater craft – then you wouldn’t be able to enjoy standing casts and reels, and the boat would rock all over the place.
For larger individuals, this is doubly as important, as entering and exiting the kayak can often be the most challenging and nerve wracking moment of the experience.
For more information, check out the video below, which properly explains what makes kayaks stable, and the different types of kayak stability.
Cockpit and Seating
The seating style and cockpit area of a kayak is one of the most important aspects of the entire craft.
You might have the most cutting edge kayak design and materials, but if you’re not comfortable – what’s the point?
This is especially true for larger paddlers, who are going to need more room for nonrestrictive movement, as well as space to stretch out in order to avoid tension, cramping, and general discomfort.
When choosing the best fishing kayak for larger people, pay attention to the cockpit set up and seating design.
Look for roomy layouts, with adjustable, padded, comfort seating with good lumbar support. Seats that can be moved forward or backwards away from the foot braces or pedal system are particularly useful.
And while inflatables in this class might offer the best fishing kayaks for a heavy person when it comes to weight capacity, they’re not so hot when it comes to seating comfort.
This is where hardshells with lawn-chair style seating wins hands down.
Number of Occupants
Tandem kayaks are perfect for taking a buddy or a loved one along for the ride, but they’re also ideal for larger paddlers to use them solo.
Even if you’re not particularly big, kayak anglers often prefer using tandem kayaks alone because of the extra space and weight capacity they afford.
With that in mind, you should consider if you want a solo or tandem kayak, but remember that tandem craft might not always be as easy to paddle, or offer comparable performance to that of a solo kayak.
Still, they have the versatility and space to be joined by another person, and/or comfortably bring along a four-legged-friend on the expedition.
Depending on the type of kayak, you might find there are two different types of foot brace designed.
Molded foot braces are usually found in the most basic kayaks, made from a single piece of rotomolded polyethylene.
The advantage here is that they’re simple to use, with a selection of foot brace positions that should cater to the height of most paddlers.
However, there’s no way of fine-tuning fixed foot braces, and some people might find it doesn’t quite work for them.
I have an inflatable recreational kayak that is a prime example, and none of the foot braces fit my height comfortably.
This is where adjustable foot braces provide a more effective solution. Depending on the type you choose, they’re usually located on a sliding track, and you can position them exactly where you find them the most practical and comfortable.
For pedal-powered kayaks, either the pedal system or the seat should be adjustable in order to cater for the height of the paddler.
Which leads us nicely onto the next feature for your consideration.
Pedals or Paddles?
Large kayakers might be wary of choosing pedal-powered kayaks due to the weight they already add to the kayak, as well as the space they take up on the deck.
This shouldn’t really be a problem, as a kayak maximum weight capacity takes this into account, and, as mentioned above, the seat and/or drive system should be fully adjustable to cater for all heights and sizes.
With that in mind, it’s up to you if you want to spend the (considerable) extra coin to pilot a pedal kayak compared to simply using a paddle.
Remember, you’ll still need a paddle either way, so you should take a look at this article on the best kayak fishing paddles and choose a good one for your adventure.
As for pedal drives, it comes down to a question of budget, how much effort you’re willing to put in when you’re out there, and how much the luxury of hands-free fishing appeals to you.
Bigger guy – more gear, right? It stands to reason that, as a sizable individual, you’ll bring along more stuff – larger clothing, more items to consume, more beer in the fishing cooler, etc.
Which means, you’re going to need more space to store it all.
This is another reason why tandem kayaks are useful, as if you’re not paddling with a partner, you’ve got a significant amount of extra storage room on board.
Either way, you should be looking for kayaks with large tank wells at the bow and stern, watertight storage hatches, and bungee webbing.
Heavy or light, large or small, none of us can escape the budgeting side of kayak fishing.
Unfortunately, as you might expect, larger fishing kayaks tend to come with higher price tags.
That said, there are bargains to be had, and you should always buy the best you can afford – and make sure there’s a correlation between the price you pay and how much use you’re going to get out of it.
Stuart is passionate about travel, kayaking, camping and the great outdoors in general. He's not quite as enthusiastic about angling as his father was, but out of the two of them, he's yet to hook his ear lobe while fly-fishing, which he sees as an absolute win.