Kayak fishing isn’t just all about calm lakes, slow rivers, and still, meandering waterways.
The real thrill and excitement is out there in the ocean.
But that doesn’t mean getting lost at sea.
Bays, coves, beaches, inlets, mangroves and any inland or protected water courses will still be tidal – and you’ll need the right kind of craft to tackle them.
That’s why we’ve put together this review of the best ocean fishing kayaks in 2021.
Let’s go on an adventure.
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Table of Contents
- The 11 Best Kayaks for Ocean Fishing
- Ocean Kayak Trident 15 Angler Kayak
- Old Town Predator Pedal Fishing Kayak
- Perception Pescador Pro 10 Fishing Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Fishing Kayak
- Third Coast Avalon 120 Angler Kayak
- Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak
- Wilderness Systems Radar 135 Fishing Kayak
- BKC TK181 Tandem Kayak
- Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak
- BKC PK11 Angler Solo Fishing Kayak
- Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
- How to Choose the Best Kayak for Ocean Fishing
The 11 Best Kayaks for Ocean Fishing
How to Choose the Best Kayak for Ocean Fishing
It’s not easy choosing the right fishing kayak, let alone one that’s right for fishing in the ocean.
Below, you’ll find a handy guide to help you navigate the jargon, and select the best craft for your needs.
Generally speaking, there are two main types of kayak – sit in, and sit-on-top.
After that, you can choose from several more variants, including touring kayaks, fishing kayaks, whitewater kayaks, recreational kayaks, and so on.
Obviously, for this article, we’re exploring the fishing variety, and as you can probably tell from the reviews above, you’re best suited to a sit-on-top version when you’re out in the ocean.
It’s up to you to decide if you want a single or tandem craft – depending on if you like piloting a craft solo, or feel you would enjoy having a buddy around/there’s safety in numbers.
Finally, you still need to make the choice between an inflatable or a hardshell – which would take up a whole article itself just to explore. Watch this space, we might do one in the future.
What makes a kayak good for fishing in the ocean?
Your first port of call needs to be the hull design.
You might think that the wider and flatter a kayak’s hull, the more stable it is? Well, that’s only true in calmer waters.
That’s known as primary stability – how stable the kayak is when you first step into it.
Secondary stability is how “tippy” the kayak is in rougher waters. This is where a more V-shaped hull is actually more stable.
However, V-shaped hulls aren’t usually the best for fishing – as it would be tricky to reel in a fish without capsizing. A sort of compromise has to be reached – a hybrid, if you will.
When it comes to fishing kayaks, most of them are designed with a flat hull, so finding a good hybrid for fishing in potentially choppier waters – aka the ocean – can be a bit more challenging.
Most of the kayaks in this review are versatile for multiple conditions, and I’ve tried to include kayaks that have been specifically designed for fishing coastal waters, that are perfectly capable of handling a bit of chop.
Remember though, unless you’re rocking a professional, ocean-going kayak, you shouldn’t be fishing in really rough conditions, or going further out to sea than is comfortable.
Either way, regardless what type of craft you’re using, you should always be wearing an approved fishing PFD. Follow that link for more information.
And if you’re interested, check out the video below for a visual guide to how kayak hulls perform in choppy conditions.
A very important part of your kayak is the seating. Again, this is where sit-on-top kayaks come into their own for fishing purposes.
Most fishing kayaks worth their (sea)salt will have fully adjustable comfort seating, but the quality can vary.
Some seats will be simple padding with backrest mesh, while others will have practically taken a lawn chair and put it on board.
The seating position of a sit-on-top kayak will also give you a better field of view of the surrounding water – especially if you’re in an elevated position.
You get what you pay for, and this is especially true with fishing kayak seating. A lot of money goes into this part of the craft, because it’s important you get the most comfortable and practical fishing experience possible.
On-board storage is another important consideration – especially when it comes to fishing kayaks. It’s likely that you’ll be carrying a lot of gear and equipment – so you’ll need somewhere to put it.
Look for kayaks with storage tank wells. They can be at the bow or stern, and often come with bungee cord webbing to hold their contents in place.
Water-tight hatches are very useful, particularly if you want somewhere to stash valuables, or anything you don’t want getting wet.
If you’re not practicing catch and release, you’ll also need somewhere to keep your catch. Generally speaking, the more on-board storage a kayak has – the better.
It’s not just all about rod holders – although they are key to having a functioning not to mention successful fishing kayak.
Good fishing kayaks have articulated rod holders that can be fully adjusted, as well as having rod holders mounted flush on the gunwale.
But equally important, is the option to upgrade and improve your craft for fishing with after market accessories.
So, look for fishing kayaks that have accessory rails already built in, so you can add extra rod and net holders, GPS systems, fish finders and transducers, flashlights, or anything else that takes your fancy.
You might even want to pimp your ride with some of these awesome bowfishing lights to keep you out after dark.
And you can’t be piloting the best saltwater fishing kayak without bringing along the best saltwater fishing rods, so follow that link to pick one up.
Propulsion and Rudder
How a kayak is powered is key – especially if you’re in the ocean.
While owning a good quality paddle is essential, for ocean-going kayaks, you could do with a bit more ‘oomph’ under the hood.
Having a kayak that offers pedal power is highly recommended when you’re in open bodies of water, or anywhere you’re likely to experience stronger currents than you would on a lake or lazy river.
Aside from giving your arms a rest and allowing hands-free fishing, a pedal drive and rudder system can be a life-saver if your paddle somehow happens to float off.
Rudders are not common in kayaks, but they can be extremely useful for anyone venturing out in tidal or choppy waters with stronger currents.
The best pedal kayaks for ocean fishing will also help you track fish, cover distances faster, and get you out of tight spots if required.
We’ve all seen those kayak versus shark encounter videos on YouTube…
While you can still drown in a puddle of water, fishing in the ocean presents some additional challenges to that of still lakes and rivers. It’s a good idea for your craft to have some extra safety features as standard.
Look for kayaks with good carrying handle options – or with grab points along the edges of the kayak. Apart from helping you with transportation, they can be life-saving to cling on to should you tip over.
Don’t completely dismiss the color of a kayak either. Apart from looking cool, bright colors can aid location in low-light or poor visibility conditions.
If a kayak doesn’t have a particular safety feature, you could always add it yourself at a later date.
Either way, regardless what type of craft you’re using or where, you should always be wearing an approved fishing PFD. Follow that link for more information.
Also, if you are choosing a kayak with pedal drive (or even if you’re not) be fully aware of your own physical limitations. You need to be in pretty decent shape to use these craft in anything more than calm waters.
And don’t forget about sun damage when you’re out exposed under those harmful UV rays. You could always try installing a kayak canopy, but a good-quality fishing hat will do just as well – and for a fraction of the cost.
Unfortunately, fishing kayaks aren’t cheap – and ocean-going fishing kayaks will push the price point up that little bit higher.
Especially when you start to factor in hybrid hull designs, advanced seating, and pedal power drives.
You’re not going to be getting much change out of 1-3K.
There are two things you should consider here.
Personal budget is the first – you should always buy the best you can afford without breaking the bank or getting into a row with your other half.
But perhaps more important, is suiting the craft to your own skill level. It’s unwise to throw thousands of dollars at something you’ve never tried, or you’re not ready for.
And you should have at least a modicum of experience before purchasing the best offshore fishing kayaks in the first place.
There’s nothing worse than negative reviews from people who can’t handle the craft.
What is the best kayak for ocean fishing?
It might be a subjective question, but if I were backed into a corner and had to give my honest answer, I would go for the Ocean Kayak Trident, the Old Town Predator, and the Perception Pescador as my top three.
Which, coincidentally, happens to be the first three kayaks in this review. Honorary mention to all the others listed here, too.
Joking aside, the best kayaks for ocean fishing are going to be stable, sit-on-top kayaks with comfortable seating and a hybrid hull shape.
Are sit on top kayaks good for the ocean?
For fishing kayaks, yes. However, if you’re looking to travel and explore, then sit-in kayaks are much better for venturing out onto the ocean.
For staying closer to shore, in calmer waters, then sit-on-top fishing kayaks are the best option. Check out the video below for a comparison between sit-on and sit-on-top kayaks.
Can you stand up in an ocean fishing kayak?
Most ocean fishing kayaks are designed to allow for standing casts and reels, but check with the individual product to make sure.
Look for kayaks that have a special deck/foot sections for standing. When in doubt, ask the manufacturer directly, or read reviews where successful standing casts have been made. I certainly don’t want to be responsible for you falling in.
Aside from that, you can always try a good stand up paddle board for fishing – which by their nature are designed for just that purpose.
Just don’t go out in rough swells and strong currents. If you are fishing in wet weather, with a kayak or otherwise, you should try one of these awesome fishing jackets to keep you protected.
What size kayak for ocean fishing?
A good size for an ocean fishing kayak is 12-15 feet. Anything shorter than that, and you might get into difficulty with tracking and attempting to get anywhere.
Longer kayaks are designed for touring, not turning. As with most fishing kayaks, having a happy medium is the way to go when it comes to their overall length.
Do you need a special kayak for the ocean?
It’s highly advisable, yes. You need a kayak that is going to handle the waves – which means something that has a more V-shaped hull.
As mentioned, when it comes to fishing kayaks, V-shaped hulls aren’t that common. A hybrid design is preferable.
Of course, if you’re not fishing, and you just want to get out there and explore, then a sit-in touring sea kayak would be more suitable.
Are pedal kayaks worth it?
Yes. Pedal kayaks give you a huge advantage when it comes to power and control, but aside from that, you don’t have to constantly be picking up and putting your paddle down, and you can enjoy hands-free fishing.
Sure, they might cost a bit more, but trust me – it’s so worth it. Give it a go – and you won’t go back.
There you have it fellow fishers – the best ocean fishing kayaks in 2021. I hope this article has helped point you in the right direction for choosing a craft suitable for your needs.
Let me know in the comments which model you’ve gone for and why, or if I missed your favorite.