There’s never been a better time to get into kayak fishing.
Here at Bonfire Bob, we spend a lot of time looking at and evaluating gear, equipment, and tools for use in the great outdoors.
And in the past years, we’ve researched and written dozens of articles on kayaks – particularly of the angling variety.
Coupled with our own paddling experience and expertise, I think we’re in a position to bring you the definitive review of the best fishing kayaks currently on the market in 2023.
A full buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow, so let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- The Best Fishing Kayaks 2023 – At a Glance
- TOP 12 Best Kayaks for Fishing in 2023
- Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak
- Old Town Sportsman 120 Fishing Kayak
- Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack Inflatable Kayak
- Perception Outlaw 11.5 Fishing Kayak
- Vibe Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak
- Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
- Bonafide EX123 Expedition Kayak
- Old Town Sportsman 106 Minn Kota Motorized Kayak
- Perception Pescador Pro 12 Fishing Kayak
- Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak
- The Brooklyn Kayak Company Tandem Kayak
- Vibe Skipjack 90 Fishing Kayak
- How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayak Overall
- What Type of Fishing Kayak are You Interested in?
- Where are You Going to Be Fishing?
- How Large and Lightweight Should the Kayak Be?
- What Kind of Cockpit and Seating are You Looking For?
- How Much Gear do You Want to Bring?
- What Fishing Features are Important to You?
- How do You Intend to Transport and Store the Kayak?
- What’s Your Budget?
- What’s the difference between a fishing kayak and a regular kayak?
- What type of kayak is best for fishing?
- What are the best kayaks for fishing?
- Is a sit-on-top kayak better for fishing?
- How stable are fishing kayaks?
- Which kayak is the most stable for fishing?
- Are inflatable or hardshell kayaks better for fishing?
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The Best Fishing Kayaks 2023 – At a Glance
Before we unveil our top picks for the best fishing kayaks in 2023, here’s a bite-sized guide to the features and factors you need to look out for when choosing a new craft.
- The type of kayak – hardshell or inflatable? Sit-inside or sit-on-top?
- Performance – how does it measure up on the water?
- Materials and construction – we like kayaks that are built to last.
- Comfort – what are you sitting on? Can you spend all day in this kayak?
- Size and weight – see this article for help choosing the right kayak size.
- Weight capacity – how much can the kayak safely hold?
- Fishing-friendly features – rod holders, accessory tracks, tackle trays…what’s on offer?
- Storage options – how much do you need? Will it accommodate your loadout?
- Aesthetic – looks aren’t everything, but sometimes – they are!
- Ease of use – what’s your skill level and experience? Amateur, intermediate, or pro?
- Safety – always an important concern.
- Cost – the very best kayaks offer a nice balance of features and performance at the right price.
With these points in mind, here’s a selection of our top five favorite fishing kayaks, just to get you started.
|Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak||The Best Pedal Fishing Kayak|
|Old Town Sportsman 120||The Best Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak|
|Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack||The Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak|
|Perception Outlaw 11.5||The Best All-Round Fishing Kayak|
|Vibe Shearwater 125||The Best Feature-Rich Fishing Kayak|
For me, it’s a close call between the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler and the Old Town Sportsman 120 as the top pick.
The Hobie is definitely the best pedal fishing kayak on the market, while the Sportsman takes the award for the best sit-on-top fishing kayak overall.
For inflatables, it’s hard to beat the Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack. It’s super durable, with a 360-degree swivel chair, and is easily the best inflatable fishing kayak on the market.
I absolutely love the Perception Outlaw 11.5. It’s offered at a great price point, packed with features, and is one of the best all-round fishing kayaks out there when it comes to versatility.
Finally, the Vibe Shearwater 125 is arguably the most feature-rich and complete fishing machine ever made – right out of the box. It’s also one of the sexiest fishing kayaks I’ve ever seen, and it should win an award for aesthetics alone.
But there are so many more that didn’t quite make the cut!
The Intex Excursion Pro is an awesome budget-friendly, highly portable fishing kayak.
The new Vanhunks Elite Pro Angler offers a lot of bang for your buck and a fresh take on versatility.
The Vibe Sea Ghost is tried, tested, and trusted by plenty of keen kayak anglers.
And that’s barely scratching the surface when it comes to kayaks from the likes of Jackson, Wilderness Systems, Native Watercraft and more.
Do you agree with my choices? Read on for the complete review, and let me know in the comments if you’d switch things around.
TOP 12 Best Kayaks for Fishing in 2023
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak
Award: The Best Pedal Fishing Kayak
For the best pedal fishing kayaks, we have to turn to the pioneering pedal fishing kayak company.
And the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is the latest in their extensive range of premium kayaks.
Featuring their revolutionary Mirage Drive 360 pedal system, you can go pretty much anywhere, in any direction, and the kick-up fins will raise when they meet obstacles or hazards underwater.
Probably the finest pedal kayak ever made, I still wouldn’t bet against Hobie improving upon it in the years to come.
- Market leading pedal technology.
- Super-comfortable seating.
- Accessory track rail system.
- Storage hatches with removable liner.
- Intuitive rudder controls.
- Large stern cargo area.
- A very expensive pedal kayak.
It might not be the best option for budget minded anglers, but this kayak offers a world-class pedaling experience to anyone willing to invest. It’s also one of the best fly fishing kayaks on the market. If you’re looking for a pedal kayak – it doesn’t get much better than this.
Old Town Sportsman 120 Fishing Kayak
Award: The Best Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
The best sit-in-top kayak for fishing is a broad term, and any number of kayaks could have taken the title.
But I’ve gone for the Old Town Sportsman 120, as it’s one of the best, all-round fishing kayaks that money can buy – when it comes to a marriage of features and performance.
Old Town is the oldest kayak and canoe manufacturer in the world, and if they don’t know how to build a world-class paddle kayak, then nobody can.
The Old Town Sportsman is a highly versatile fishing vessel and one of the most popular fishing kayaks on the market – and for good reason.
- Name to trust in kayaks.
- Removable comfort seat.
- Horizontal rod storage.
- Accessory tracks.
- Spacious, open cockpit.
- Foam deck pads.
- Large tank wells.
- Universal transducer mount.
- I can’t fault it.
Fishing kayaks often sacrifice one thing for another, but not so with the Old Town Sportsman. This is in a league of its own, and for a quality paddle kayak, it ticks all the boxes.
Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack Inflatable Kayak
Award: The Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Sea Eagle are to inflatables what Hobie are to pedals, so there’s no way the best fishing inflatable was going to anything other than the 385fta Fast-track.
Tough, durable, and suitable for up to class II whitewater, this particular version comes with a super-comfortable swivel seat for an unparalleled field of view.
With a maximum weight capacity of 635 lbs, this is going to take all your fishing accessories and then some, and has a non-slip deck pad for standing casts and reels.
Ready-to-go in seven minutes, the Fast-track is motor compatible, and offers the ultimate in versatile, portable kayak fishing.
- Drop stitch floor construction.
- Spray skirts with cut-outs for rods.
- Fishing ruler.
- Reinforced walls.
- Drain valves.
- Paddle, pump, and bag included.
- Expensive for an inflatable.
Sea Eagle’s Fast-track range is head-and-shoulders above the competition for complete inflatable fishing kayak options. Designed to take a beating, look no further if you want an inflatable boat that lasts.
Perception Outlaw 11.5 Fishing Kayak
Award: The Best All-Round Fishing Kayak
I must admit, I’ve been absolutely sleeping on the Perception Outlaw 11.5. I did an in-depth review of this kayak recently – which you can check out here – and I was blown away by what it offers – especially when it comes to the price point.
There’s a wealth of clever design features and storage options, including large bow and stern tank wells with bungee tie-downs, double barrel rod holders, accessory tracks, and endless customization possibilities.
And it performs like a dream in the water, with excellent tracking, stability, and maneuverability. When it comes to an affordable, all-round fishing machine for pros and rookies alike, the Outlaw is hard to beat.
- Outstanding price point for what you get.
- Comfort seating.
- Excellent storage options.
- Trolling motor compatible.
- Tackle trays.
- Clever paddle park options.
- Stowable seat.
- Great performance.
- It’s a little on the slow side.
The Perception Outlaw 11.5 has been quietly going about its business since its release, garnering rave reviews from anyone who decides to give it a try. I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t continue to impress as its fame spreads.
Vibe Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak
Award: The Best Feature-Rich Fishing Kayak
To my mind, I genuinely can’t find a kayak that offers more fishing friendly features than the Vibe Shearwater 125.
It’s simply overflowing with awesome stuff that is designed to enhance your fishing trip, and every inch of it has been crafted to be a fishing machine.
The four-position Vibe Summit seat is as comfortable as they come, and it’s compatible with pedals or a trolling motor for hands-free fishing.
And not only is it one of the most complete fishing kayaks ever made, but it’s stunningly sexy to boot!
- Four flush mount rod holders.
- Four horizontal rod holders.
- Four top-loading gear tracks.
- Freeflow rudder control.
- Storage galore.
- Padded foot braces.
- Gunwale perch for standup fishing.
- Standing strap.
- Choice of colors.
- Regularly sold out.
Any kayak angler searching for the most fishing-friendly features in a fishing kayak at the point of sale had better consider the Vibe Shearwater – or they’re not looking hard enough. To be honest, I gave up listing the PROS because there’s far too many of them.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
Award: The Best Fishing Kayak for Beginners
Yes, there are better kayaks. Yes, there are more attractive kayaks. But for the price, and the fact that a beginner paddle kayak should be budget-friendly, safe, sturdy, and straightforward to use, it’s hard to see past the Lifetime Tamarack Angler.
Made from a single piece of UV protected, rotomolded polyethylene, this is a tough and durable fishing kayak that should last a lifetime – pun intended – and yet it still manages to pack in enough features to keep many anglers happy.
Possibly the best beginner sit-on-top kayak for fishing ever made.
- Great price point.
- Flush mount rod holders.
- Articulated rod holder.
- Molded foot rests.
- Two water bottle holders.
- Paddle park.
- Scupper holes.
- Paddle included.
- It’s very basic – but that’s perfect for a beginner.
- Not the best paddling experience.
It’s not going to win any awards for style and performance, but the Lifetime Tamarack doesn’t set its stall out as being anything other than the perfect first fishing kayak. And even then, you might find you’re still using it years later.
Bonafide EX123 Expedition Kayak
Award: The Best Sit-Inside Fishing Kayak
I can pretty much guarantee you won’t find anything else quite like Bonafide’s EX123 kayak.
Designed to be a highly versatile craft that’s capable of fishing, recreational paddling, and touring; they claim it’s the “SUV of kayaks,” and they’re not wrong.
With a sleek, streamlined profile, it offers excellent performance and speed on the water, and packs in loads of storage for long fishing trips or kayak camping expeditions.
And unlike most sit-inside kayaks, it features a stadium-style seat, so you can be super comfortable for as long as you’re out there.
One of the most thrilling paddle kayaks available.
- Highly unique design.
- Deck traction pads.
- Attractive aesthetic.
- Choice of colors.
- Flush mounted rod holders.
- Lightweight and portable.
You don’t often get sit-inside fishing kayaks that are of this caliber, and I don’t think Bonafide’s EX123 has an equal currently on the market. Take it anywhere for camping, kayaking, and fishing adventures. And it’s even capable of standup fishing!
Old Town Sportsman 106 Minn Kota Motorized Kayak
Award: The Best Motorized Fishing Kayak
While there are many fishing kayaks out there that offer electric motor compatibility, with the hardware sold separately, finding one that comes with everything already setup isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
Consequently, the best motor/kayak combo that I can source happens to be the Old Town Sportsman 106 with Minn Kota electric motor.
Offering 45 lbs of thrust, it’s saltwater ready, and all you need to do is add the battery and get out onto the water.
Hands down the best motorized kayak combo available.
- Premium seating.
- Four accessory gear tracks.
- Highly maneuverable.
- Boat-style controls.
- Custom tackle box.
- Console floor plug.
- Universal transducer mount.
Leave a pedal kayak in your wake with this fishing beast, which has all the benefits of the Old Town Sportsman with the addition of a Minn Kota electric motor. What’s not to love?!
Perception Pescador Pro 12 Fishing Kayak
Award: The Best Fishing Kayak Under $1000
Now, I might be cheating slightly on this one, as when the original article was written, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 was under $1000.
And indeed, versions of it can still be found under this price tag, but the market has a tendency to fluctuate. As such, I’m keeping it in, as even if you pay a little more, it’s still worth it.
With a removable, stadium-style seat, dual molded-in rod holders, fully adjustable foot brace system, and YakAttack gear tracks; there’s a lot to like here, and many anglers would benefit from the Pescador’s all-round features and paddling performance.
- Built-in additional buoyancy.
- Easy-access front hatch.
- Drinks holder.
- Very stable in the water.
- Bow and stern tank wells with mesh/bungee tie-downs.
- Ideal for beginners and intermediate paddlers.
- Prices can creep over $1000.
- On the heavy side.
It’s a challenge finding a really good fishing kayak for just under $1000, which is why I’m shoehorning the Perception Pescador Pro 12 in here. A terrific, versatile, mid-range fishing yak that will still be suitable for the more experienced kayak angler.
Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak
Award: The Best Fishing Kayak Under $500
I genuinely can’t get my head around just how good the Lifetime Teton 100 kayak is, especially when it’s available at this price point.
It offers many fishing and comfort features you would expect from kayaks that are double the price, and it certainly doesn’t scrimp on quality.
With adjustable frame seating for day-long comfort, accessory gear tracks, large bow and stern tank wells with bungee to help store gear, and flush mounted rod holders; even experienced kayak anglers should give the Teton a second look.
- Outstanding price point for what you get.
- Attractive design.
- Available in a choice of colors.
- Self-bailing scupper holes.
- 12-inch gear tracks.
- Not the best tracking.
I love the color options with this kayak, and it’s rare you get lawn-chair seating and this many fishing features at this price.
The Brooklyn Kayak Company Tandem Kayak
Award: The Best Tandem Fishing Kayak
There are several quality tandem kayak options available, but I’ve gone for this one by the Brooklyn Kayak Company.
Known for their budget-friendly, popular fishing kayaks, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here, especially considering it also has pedal power for both occupants.
Aside from that, it boasts an enviable selection of features, including two aluminum frame seats, three built-in rod holders, two paddle parks, four accessory plates, and three water-resistant hatches.
And it’s designed to be safe as houses when it comes to kayak stability, with a wide, flat-bottomed hull that won’t flip.
- Great price for what you get.
- Rear cargo hold.
- Solid, durable construction.
- Hand operated rudder.
- Two paddles included.
- Super stable kayak.
- Not suitable for very shallow water.
One of the best tandem pedal kayaks on the market – especially when you consider what you get at this price point.
Vibe Skipjack 90 Fishing Kayak
Award: The Best Lightweight Fishing Kayak
I very nearly gave this award to the Pelican Basscreek, which is an awesome little paddle kayak for hunting smallmouth bass.
But at the end of the day, the Vibe Skipjack is lighter and more portable, and while there are inflatable kayaks that weigh less, you’ll go far to find something comparable in a hardshell.
9-feet long and weighing in at just 42 lbs, this is the ultimate in get-up-and-go kayak fishing, designed to be a breeze to get to and from the water.
And it’s packed with enough features to turn the heads of more seasoned kayak anglers.
- Four fishing rod holders.
- Mount for fish finders.
- Bow and stern storage.
- Super compact and lightweight.
- Paddle holder.
- Center console dry hatch.
- The seating isn’t the most comfortable.
An outstanding little fishing kayak from Vibe that ticks all the boxes for portability and storage. As close to all the benefits of an inflatable as you’re going to get from a hardshell.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayak Overall
As kayak fishing has exploded in popularity, manufacturers respond by flooding the market with products.
Which has its pros and cons.
One of the downsides is that it becomes harder to choose the right fishing kayak for your needs.
We’re spoiled for choice!
So, with that in mind, we’ve compiled the definitive fishing kayak buying guide, to help you with one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
What Type of Fishing Kayak are You Interested in?
As mentioned above, there are so many categories in which you can classify a kayak. To keep things as simple as possible, we’ve trimmed it down to the main types below.
Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks
Overwhelmingly the preferred choice for fishing, sit-on-top kayaks offer the most on-board storage, non-restrictive movement, and comfortable seating area.
They have wide hulls with good primary stability on calm waters (how stable the kayak feels when you first get into it).
Sit-on-top kayaks will also give you the most scope for customization, as well as the best field-of-view.
And they also have a flat deck, which is more suitable for standing, should you wish to practice fly-fishing, for example.
However, don’t expect any speed demons here, as sit-on-top kayaks are generally much slower than sit-inside craft.
They’re also not suitable for fishing in choppy or rough waters, so look elsewhere if you want to combine some adrenaline-fueled whitewater with angling on your next fishing adventure.
Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks
While not as popular for fishing as sit-on-top models, sit-inside fishing kayaks still have their place in the community – not least because of their more budget-friendly price points.
They’re also faster and more maneuverable, and can be a great option if you’re looking for more of a challenge when it comes to fishing rougher waters.
With a covered deck, (and the option of adding a spray skirt), you can stay warmer and dryer in the cockpit of a sit-inside kayak. This is essential if you want to fish in colder temperatures.
Typically slimmer and lighter than other kayak types, sit-inside craft are a great choice if you’re short on space, and/or you’re looking for something that’s easier to transport than a large, heavy, sit-on-top kayak.
The trade-off is they lack storage space, and short of a rod holder or two, customization and gear track options are limited/nonexistent.
And as a sit-inside kayak has better secondary stability (how tippy the craft feels in choppy water), it’s rare you’ll find one you can stand in.
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
While they might not be as feature-rich as some of the high-end, sit-on-top fishing kayaks currently on the market, inflatables excel when it comes to transportation and storage.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re anything like those beach inflatables of yesteryear.
Modern inflatable fishing kayaks have come a long way – and the technology is improving all the time.
A good inflatable fishing kayak will also have a higher weight capacity than most other kayaks.
Capable of packing down into a carry bag, they’re the ideal choice if you’re short on storage space in the home, or don’t want to purchase a kayak cart, roof rack, or trailer to get to and from the water.
Tandem Fishing Kayaks
They say that two’s company, and if that’s the case, then a tandem fishing kayak and a couple of keen anglers is a match made in heaven.
But it’s not just about enjoying this sport with a loved-one or a buddy.
Most tandem fishing kayaks can be piloted solo, which means you’ll have even more space for all your gear and equipment.
Alternatively, they can be a great choice for taking a furry friend along for the ride. Tandem kayaks are pet-friendly options for carrying an animal instead of an extra human!
Pedal Fishing Kayaks
Kayaks with pedals started to appear on the market back in 1997, and while they were initially exorbitantly expensive, as they’ve increased in popularity, they’ve become more affordable.
That said, they’re still among the most budget-blowing kayaks you can buy. But a pedal kayak purchase is a serious investment, and you’ll likely never look back.
Pedal technology is improving all the time, and these days, the very best pedal fishing kayaks have jaw-dropping capabilities, including kick-up fins, near silent operation, forward and reverse, and more.
Their main advantage, however, is that they afford the possibility of hands-free paddling, so you don’t have to keep switching between a rod and a paddle, and can concentrate solely on fishing.
But paddles are not obsolete just yet, and you’ll still need one for making tight turns, paddling in shallow water, and/or if something goes wrong with the pedal drive.
Check out this review of the best kayak fishing paddles to choose your next set of blades.
Motorized Fishing Kayaks
The next phase of fishing kayak evolution, motorized kayaks are becoming more popular and accessible.
Both pedals and paddles can be replaced with the inclusion of a trolling motor, located somewhere on the craft – bow or stern, port or starboard, or even set into the center console.
(Although I’d still recommend a backup paddle in case the motor ever fails/the battery dies.)
For effortless journeying to and from those far-flung fishing spots, a motorized kayak takes all the physical work out of paddling or pedaling a kayak, and you can approach your target area in double-quick time, too.
If your kayak is compatible, you can add a motor aftermarket. Check out this review of the best kayak trolling motors for more information.
Where are You Going to Be Fishing?
Different fishing kayaks are designed for fishing in different waters, and it’s important you take this into consideration when choosing the right craft for you.
Where will you be doing the vast majority of your fishing?
Calm lakes and glassy ponds? Saltwater and offshore? Peppy rivers and/or tides?
- For calm waters – choose a fishing kayak with a wide, flat-bottomed hull.
- For choppy waters/offshore/tidal areas – choose a fishing kayak with a more rounded hull.
If you’re fishing in saltwater, look for kayaks that have anti-corrosive hardware and features.
And what about the water temperature? Remember – you must always be prepared and dress for immersion. Sit-inside kayaks are the better choice if you’re fishing in colder climes.
How Large and Lightweight Should the Kayak Be?
“What size fishing kayak do I need?” That’s one of the most common questions we get asked, and here’s the answer.
The sweet spot for fishing kayaks is anywhere between 10-12 feet. That’s going to offer you the best balance of speed, maneuverability, on-board space, and overall performance.
Remember – the longer and thinner a kayak, the faster and straighter it will track through the water. The shorter and wider a kayak, the more maneuverable and stable it will be.
Obviously, we all want a kayak that’s going to be easy to get to and from the water, but with some fishing kayaks – most notably pedal and motorized versions – they can be extremely heavy.
Which is why it’s a good idea to invest in a kayak cart for carrying assistance. Follow that link for some great options.
If weight is a concern for you, look for the best lightweight kayaks, or consider an inflatable, instead.
What Kind of Cockpit and Seating are You Looking For?
One of the most important aspects of a quality fishing kayak is in the seating area and cockpit. This is where you’ll be spending most of your time on the water, after all.
Comfort is king, and if you want the very best in lawn-chair style seating for those long days hunting fish, you’re going to have to pay for it.
Seating should be fully adjustable, and the best versions will offer multiple seating positions, so you can have a level for fishing and a level for paddling.
And look for removable seating that will help you transport the kayak and keep the weight down until you get to the water.
Adjustable foot braces are also very important, as they can play a big part when it comes to comfort, power, and control when you’re actually paddling.
A good fishing kayak is going to have a spacious cockpit area, so you can enjoy an unobstructed field-of view, and non-restrictive movement for casting, reeling, and paddling.
How Much Gear do You Want to Bring?
Storage space is another factor that sets genuine fishing kayaks apart from regular recreational craft. The more room you have for all your fishing gear – the better.
Of course, you don’t have to bring everything including the kitchen sink, and some anglers prefer to fish with a skeleton tackle selection.
It’s up to you how much storage you need, but look for fishing kayaks with bow and stern tank wells, bungee tie downs, and dry hatches for keeping valuables safely stowed.
You might want to take along one of these awesome kayak fishing coolers, or just a regular fishing cooler, so you’ll need the space for it.
And don’t forget about the kayak’s weight capacity. This number gives you the maximum weight a kayak can safely hold while on the water.
Remember – this includes yourself, your gear, and anything you might catch. Batteries, trolling motors, fishing coolers filled with beer…it can all add up.
Don’t push your luck and try to come close to a fishing kayak’s maximum weight capacity, as you run the risk of tipping, capsizing, being off-balance, hindering performance, and even sinking.
What Fishing Features are Important to You?
A kayak isn’t a fishing kayak unless it has at least one fishing rod holder.
But there’s a whole host of other features available that can make your fishing trip all the more successful and memorable.
The list below highlights some or all of the fishing friendly features you might like to have on your kayak.
- Articulated rod holders.
- Flush mounted rod holders.
- Horizontal rod holders.
- Molded in rod holders.
- Accessory gear tracks.
- Paddle parks.
- Built-in tackle boxes.
- Tackle trays.
- Staging areas.
- Anchor trolley (go here for some excellent kayak fishing anchors).
- Transducer/fish finder mount.
- EVA non-slip deck pads.
- Fish rulers.
- Stand-assist strap.
This is not exhaustive, and there might be other features a kayak includes to improve your fishing experience and success out on the water.
How do You Intend to Transport and Store the Kayak?
When shopping for a new fishing kayak, it’s easy to become distracted with all the exciting products on offer.
So much so, that how you’re going to transport and store the thing can sometimes be overlooked!
We’ve all been there!
Before you can genuinely get all giddy at the prospect of owning your new toy, some logistics should be considered.
Fishing kayaks can be large, cumbersome, heavy craft; and storage and portability might not be as straightforward as you first think.
Consider an inflatable kayak if space is at a premium, or make sure that you have enough room to safely and adequately stow a hardshell before you purchase one. Inside is always better than outside.
For transporting hardshells, you’ll either need a roof rack or trailer for your vehicle, unless you have a long, flatbed truck, and a relatively compact kayak.
As for storage, this comprehensive kayak maintenance guide has some expert tips on how, when, and where to stow your fishing kayak – as well as everything you need to know on how to take care of it.
What’s Your Budget?
Kayak fishing isn’t solely reserved for elites. These days, it’s more accessible than ever – no matter your budget.
You can get out onto the water and start kayak fishing for as little as $200-250.
And you can also spend upwards of $5000 for the latest and greatest in fishing kayak technology.
Paddle kayaks are cheaper than pedals and motorized craft, but a good kayak angler can learn to catch fish from just about any vessel.
And whatever you can find success in, that will truly be the most perfect boat for you – regardless of price.
What’s the difference between a fishing kayak and a regular kayak?
To my mind, the main difference between a regular kayak and a fishing kayak is that the latter should come with at least one or two “fishing features” as standard.
This might include fishing rod holders, accessory mounts, tackle storage options, and room to add as much gear as possible.
Fishing kayaks will typically have more deck space, with comfort seating in a raised position for a good field-of-view and sight fishing.
What type of kayak is best for fishing?
There are many opinions regarding the best kayak for fishing, and many of them come down to personal preference.
Personally, I would say that a 12-foot, sit-on-top, pedal fishing kayak wins overall.
It should have plenty of storage and space, be capable of accommodating standing casts and reels, and offer excellent, all-round performance on the water.
What are the best kayaks for fishing?
Again, it comes down to the individual, as well as budget, weather and water conditions, storage and transportation issues, and more.
The best kayaks for fishing in the ocean aren’t going to be the same as the best kayaks for fishing a river, for example. And they both might not be as good as the best inflatable fishing kayaks.
But for argument’s sake, as a catch-all answer; look for fishing kayaks that are feature-rich, with super-comfortable seating, and stable fishing platforms.
Is a sit-on-top kayak better for fishing?
Overall, I would argue that they are. Sit-on-top kayaks are generally the most popular and widely used kayak type when it comes to this particular pastime.
Of course, you won’t be able to say that about using them for whitewater!
How stable are fishing kayaks?
It depends on the type of kayak you’re using, but for the most part, kayaks that have been specifically designed for fishing are very stable.
So stable that you can comfortably stand up in them – on calm waters, at least.
Which kayak is the most stable for fishing?
Good question, and if I knew the answer, I’d probably be out in it right now!
Short of rigorously testing every single fishing kayak on the market in all kinds of conditions, it would be difficult to know which one was the most stable.
For calm waters, look for a kayak with a wide hull, and EVA non-slip deck pads which are a good indication that you can stand on them.
Are inflatable or hardshell kayaks better for fishing?
Ah, the eternal debate. The never ending conundrum. The $64,000 question.
This article on inflatable vs hardshell kayaks will tell you everything you need to know.
But specifically for fishing kayaks, hardshells are generally the more popular option.
If you’re a keen kayak angler, or if you’re simply looking to upgrade the craft you have, then I hope this article has helped point you in the right direction for the best fishing kayaks on the market.
Let me know in the comments which model you’ve gone for and why, or if you think we’ve missed an awesome fishing machine from our final shortlist.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!