Lifting a fishing kayak to and from the water can be a hassle – especially if you’re of advancing years, or a younger paddler.
Many of these new pedal kayaks with lawn-chair seating weigh a considerable amount, requiring either two people, or a kayak cart to transport.
And even then, it can still be a struggle to get them unloaded and loaded from your vehicle, and down to the water’s edge.
With that in mind, I’ve put together this article on the best lightweight kayaks for fishing in 2023 – so you can find the easiest craft to carry on the market.
Table of Contents
- The Lightest Fishing Kayaks in 2023 – The Top Choice
- TOP 11 Best Lightweight Fishing Kayaks in 2023
- Vibe Skipjack 90 Fishing Kayak
- Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Kayak
- Intex Excursion Pro Tandem Fishing Kayak
- STAR Challenger Fishing Kayak
- Pelican Mustang 100X Sit In Kayak
- Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Perception Flash 9.5 Fishing Kayak
- Sun Dolphin Journey 10 Fishing Kayak
- Pelican Sentinel 100X Fishing Kayak
- Brooklyn Kayak Company PK11 Fishing Kayak
- How to Choose a Lightweight Kayak for Fishing
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
The Lightest Fishing Kayaks in 2023 – The Top Choice
Before we get stuck into the reviews, here’s a brief summary of the criteria for inclusion in this article, what you should be looking out for, and just some of the things to bear in mind.
- The best fishing kayak should actually come with fishing features.
- You’ll be choosing between inflatables and hardshells, sit-inside, and sit-on-top kayaks.
- The kayaks in this article fall between 27-75 lbs in weight.
- Weight specifications have been included.*
*A word of caution here, as the advertised/package/carrying weight might not be that accurate, and can fail to include seating, pedals, or any other features that might increase this figure.
As a runner-up, the Intex Excursion Pro is the best budget fishing kayak out there.
TOP 11 Best Lightweight Fishing Kayaks in 2023
How to Choose a Lightweight Kayak for Fishing
We’ve written plenty of kayak buying guides at BonfireBob, and if you want to start at the beginning, then check out this general article on how to choose a fishing kayak.
But keep reading if you’d like tips and tricks on what to look for – specifically related to lightweight kayak fishing.
Fishing Kayak Performance – Does Weight Matter?
Why would you buy a lightweight kayak in the first place?
None of us are getting any younger, and we all like things that help make life a little easier.
Many kayak anglers like to concentrate on spending as much time as possible on fishing, rather than struggling to get to the water.
And there’s no doubt that lightweight kayaks can help us do that – especially if you prefer to fish alone.
But what about performance? How much does a kayak’s weight contribute to how it handles on the water?
The answer is – it varies.
Lighter kayaks will typically be faster than heavier models – but once you’ve loaded all your fishing gear (and yourself) onto the boat, I very much doubt you’ll notice much of a difference.
And it can be pretty subjective. One kayak angler might struggle with piloting a lightweight craft over a heavier model, and vice versa.
I’m sure there are complicated math equations that can provide accurate data on the correlations between kayak weight, paddler weight, load capacity, conditions, and performance.
But for the average kayak angler – it’s not going to matter.
In short, the massive advantage lightweight craft hold over heavier pedal or motorized kayaks is how much easier they are to carry and actually paddle.
And if this is a concern for you – then you’re in the right place to find the best fishing kayaks that won’t break your back!
Inflatable vs Hardshell
One of the main advantages that inflatables have over hardshells is that they’re typically lighter than rotomolded polyethylene.
Although with some advanced framed inflatables – there’s not much in it.
Some inflatable kayaks can be as light as 20-25 lbs – but they tend to be recreational play boats rather than the best fishing kayaks.
Regardless, a dedicated inflatable fishing kayak isn’t going to be much more than 40-45lbs.
Inflatables also have the advantage of portability, as it’s a one-person job to throw it in the trunk of your vehicle and set off for the water’s edge.
But hardshells take the crown when it comes to performance, comfort, and on-board storage – and for fishing kayaks, and kayak anglers, this is usually non-negotiable.
Sit Inside vs Sit-on-Top
Another decision you’ll have to make in the fishing kayak selection process is between sit-inside or sit-on-top models.
When it comes to weight, I would say that sit-on-top kayaks are generally the heavier of the two.
But sit-on-top kayaks are more popular and practical for fishing than sit-in kayaks. To see the top options currently on the market, take a look at this review of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks in 2023.
Sit-inside kayaks tend to be more of a challenge for fishing, given the nature of their hull design.
But they do offer excellent secondary stability, which means they can handle rough water and chop better than a sit-on-top fishing kayak.
Regardless, most sit-inside kayaks suitable for fishing have a more hybrid design, anyway – offering a nice balance of stability and performance.
You’re not going to be able to stand up in them, though – that’s for sure! If you’re looking to try fly-fishing from your kayak, this review of the best kayaks to stand in will be more up your street.
And this article further discusses the merits of sit-inside fishing kayaks, and why you should still consider giving them a go.
Size and Weight
It’s an interesting experience to research, review, and write about fishing kayak weights.
The problem is, like most products when it comes to comparing figures, companies tend to fudge the numbers.
Either that, or it can be challenging to find genuine weight specifications, short of weighing the kayak yourself!
Does it include the seat (if applicable)? Does it include the pedal drive (if applicable)?
As such, there is often a great difference between a hull weight, a fitted weight, and a fully rigged weight.
- Hull weight is how much the kayak weighs, stripped down to its bare bones – either a rotomolded polyethylene hardshell, or a fully inflated inflatable.
- Fitted weight includes the kayak’s lawn chair style seating – if it has one.
- Fully rigged weight is the hull, the seating, and the pedal drive combined – if it has one.
It’s the latter figure that can sometimes be difficult to locate, as what you initially thought was a light fishing kayak suddenly becomes a weighty beast!
Where possible, I’ve included as much weight information as I could find from hours of researching the manufacturers’ specification of dozens of fishing kayaks.
That, added to my own kayaking experience, has helped me choose this selection. Sure, you might find lighter kayaks, but I’m confident this review contains the best fishing kayaks in this class.
When it comes to size, you’ll naturally find that lightweight kayaks generally tend to fall into the more compact variety – with one or two exceptions. After all, more kayak means more weight.
While you’re not going to win any races or travel great distances with these fishing machines, they are suitable for quick fishing trips, and for negotiating hazards and obstacles on more peppy waterways.
Take a look at this article for more of the best compact fishing kayaks on or under 10 feet.
Pedals vs Paddles vs Power
As soon as you start adding all the bells and whistles, a kayak’s weight is going to shoot right up.
That’s why pedal or motorized kayak options are largely absent from this review.
At the end of the day, you’re still going to need a paddle, and this article has the best fishing paddles available today.
Of course, an equally important figure (if not more so) when it comes to fishing kayak specifications – is its weight capacity.
You need to understand how much the kayak can hold when out on the water, so you don’t experience difficulty, a drop in performance, or – in the worst case scenario – capsizing or even sinking.
On average, for lightweight, hardshell, sit on top/sit in kayaks, the weight capacity is around 300-350 lbs. A good inflatable is often double that.*
*Again, both figures depend on the type and quality of the particular kayak.
Never overload your fishing kayak, or allow the onboard weight to come close to this limit.
Fishing Friendly Features/Storage Space
Lightweight kayaks don’t necessarily need to be light on features and storage space – although smaller craft tend to have less room for extra gear.
Look out for some or all of the following additions when shopping for your new fishing kayak:
- Flush mount rod holders.
- Articulated/swivel rod holder.
- Mounting points/gear tracks.
- Scupper holes.
- Bow and stern tank wells.
- Dry hatches.
- Paddle holder.
- Shock cord deck rigging.
- Portable accessory carrier/removable storage boxes.
- A high weight capacity if you have a lot of gear.
- Anchor trolley (although not common on lighter kayaks).
- Trolling motor compatible.
This list is not exhaustive, but so long as you have plenty of storage space for your fishing rods, a fish finder, and any additional tackle and gear you might need – you should be good to go.
Fully adjustable, lawn-chair style seating offers the most comfortable experience on your fishing trip – but there’s a double whammy when it comes to the trade-off.
Yup, cost and weight.
The better the seating, the more expensive and the heavier the fishing kayak will be (when we’re talking about fitted weight).
However, most sit-on-top kayaks with this kind of seating allow for the chair to be removed, and then installed at the water’s edge before you put in.
This makes transporting the kayak a lot lighter and less cumbersome.
For the most part, though, fishing kayaks in this class tend to come with a simple padded seat instead.
Another advantage of lighter fishing kayaks is that they tend to be cheaper than other models, as they don’t have as many bells and whistles.
What is the lightest pedal drive fishing kayak?
Great question! Pedal drives add a significant amount of weight to compatible kayaks – many of which are already heavy enough.
In my extensive research for this article, I think that the lightest, fully rigged (seating and pedals) pedal kayak is the PK11 from the Brooklyn Kayak Company.
It has a dry weight of 60 lbs, the pedal drive adds 8-9 lbs, and the seat is around 6 lbs.
Even if you inflate those numbers a little, that’s still coming in under 80 lbs – which is not at all bad for a fully-loaded pedal fishing kayak, and lighter than the claims made by other kayak companies.
What is the lightest sit-on-top fishing kayak?
Now, this question can easily cause debate, as it depends on your definition of “fishing kayak!”
I class a kayak to be a fishing craft if it contains at least one or two features that allow it to be used for fishing.
For example, for recreational, inflatable kayaks, you might well be able to fish out of the Sevylor Quikpak K1 (link to Amazon.com) (18 lbs), but a fishing kayak it is not!
With that in mind, the lightest fishing kayak that I found is the Star Challenger, which is advertised as being 27 lbs, although whether that’s with or without the seating is unclear.
How much does a lightweight kayak weigh?
I would class a kayak to be lightweight if it’s anything under 60 lbs, but your ballpark figure for the best fishing kayaks in this category is typically going to be around 40-50 lbs.
I hope this article on the best lightweight fishing kayaks has helped point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a highly portable craft for your next fishing trip.
Let me know which option you’ve gone for and why – or if you’ve found an even lighter fishing kayak than the ones I’ve included here. Doubtful – but the gauntlet has been thrown down!
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!