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Ordinarily, you might find the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost one of the best fishing kayaks available, but their Shearwater model is simply on another level.
It has built up something of a cult following since its release, and is often difficult to get hold of. That’s because of the outstanding design and build quality, not to mention the mind-boggling array of features it packs in specifically catering for kayak fishing.
And on top of all that, from an aesthetic point of view, it truly is a thing of beauty. I want one, and you should too!
Molded rod holders.
Three central pod options.
Gear tracks galore.
Padded standing area.
Front storage hatch.
Plenty of tackle storage space.
Can be difficult to get hold of.
Are there better fishing kayaks? Maybe. Are there more expensive fishing kayaks? For sure. But Vibe claims that this is the most “complete” fishing kayak ever created, and I’m inclined to agree with them.
Simply outstanding, and when it comes to features, this could be the best fishing kayak there is.
Hobie has been making water craft since the 1950s, so they know a thing or two about this business. And in that time, they’ve perfected the fishing kayak.
The Mirage Pro series is the pinnacle of that expertise, of which the Angler 14 with 360 drive technology is arguably the flagship.
Built for superior comfort, this is the Rolls-Royce of fishing kayaks, powered by their famed Mirage 360 Drive for multi-directional control, speed, and stealth.
Easily the most efficient ride a kayak offers, and there’s even a mount for sail.
World-class design and craftsmanship.
Lumbar support seating technology.
Front and center storage hatches.
Market-leading pedal system.
Kick up fins.
Retractable transducer shield.
Although you could buy a decent second-hand car for this price, the Mirage Pro Angler 14 is probably the best fishing kayak ever made. And if it’s not in most top fishing kayak reviews, then someone’s not doing their job right.
Regular readers will know I’m an Old Town fanboy, and the Sportsman Autopilot 120 is yet another addition to their premium-quality catalog.
It features a Minn Kota trolling motor as standard, so you can reach the best fishing spots effortlessly, complete with autopilot navigation.
The adjustable seat is fully removable, complete with comfortable lumbar support; while EVA foam deck pads provide a non-slip grip for when you want to get to your feet.
Multiple rod holders give you plenty of options for pole organization, and a shallow water anchor mount is compatible with your choice of anchor.
World-class build quality.
Very highly rated.
Spacious, open deck.
Adjustable foot braces.
Four accessory tracks.
Plenty of storage capacity.
One of the best fishing kayaks there is, the Old Town Sportsman has been improved with the addition of a trolling motor, as well as the eclectic selection of fishing features it already boasts. Only serious anglers need apply.
At 10.5 feet in length, the Titan is one of the more compact sit on top kayaks with a pedal drive, offering instant forward and reverse to give you more control no matter the conditions.
Surprisingly roomy, you have a super-stable deck for standing casts and reels, integrated horizontal rod holders, large bow and stern storage options, and a frame comfort seat with commanding field-of-view.
Considering NW are one of the best fishing kayak brands, this kind of product certainly doesn’t hurt their reputation in the community.
Ideal for bass fishing.
Anchor and trolling motor compatible.
Choice of colors.
High weight capacity.
The drive system isn’t retractable.
A beautiful fishing kayak with all the trimmings, the compact size and lightweight design makes this a real winner – especially considering it has a pedal drive. However, that’s also a bit of a downside for faster rivers, and you might want to consider the NW Slayer line instead.
Since its release in 2021, Bonafide’s SS127 has attracted a lot of attention in the kayak fishing world. And for good reason, as it’s a beautifully designed and functional fishing kayak that ticks a lot of boxes.
For a start, it’s one of the most solid craft you’re ever likely to pilot, with a hybrid catamaran-style hull that doesn’t sacrifice performance for stability.
Then there’s the crazy list of features that it manages to pack into its relatively compact size, including an adjustable seat, transducer hole, built in rod holders, and plenty of storage capacity.
But that’s barely scratching the surface on what this outstanding fishing kayak offers, so I highly recommend checking it out in more detail.
Perfect for fly-fishing.
Deck traction pads.
Stern skid plates.
Gunwale perch pads.
YakAttack gear tracks.
Choice of colors.
If you find one, let me know!
Probably the most stable fishing kayak on the market, the SS127 is built for the apprehensive kayak angler looking for extra peace-of-mind on the water. And anyone who’s looking for the best fishing kayak when it comes to features.
While we’re on the subject of fishing kayaks that come with everything, take a look at this offering from Ascend.
If you want a one-stop-shop for kayak fishing that has everything you’ll ever need, then this is the package for you.
As if the excellent 133X Tournament kayak wasn’t impressive enough, they’ve kitted it out with a trolling motor, a dual beam transducer fish finder, tournament paddle, and a top-quality rod holder.
Quick release brackets allow for easy motor installation, while the rod holder is suitable for spinning, casting, and larger reels, as well as fly rods.
Excellent tracking and stability.
Pre-wired for motor battery.
YakAttack rod holder.
Garmin Striker transducer.
MotorGuide Xi3 motor.
Paddle lure recovery hook.
Still on the expensive side.
Some reports of issues with the power plug.
If you’re an avid angler looking to make the transition to kayak fishing, then you’ve come to the right place. Not only is it one of the best fishing kayaks out there, but it comes with the kitchen sink to get you started.
Perception makes some fantastic craft for recreational paddlers, and they’ve produced one of the best fishing kayaks on the market with the Outlaw 11.5.
Never too far away from fishing kayak reviews, the Outlaw is the perfect intermediate fishing machine, with premium features for a more budget-friendly price.
The two rod holders are double-barreled and can hold up to four fishing rods, and there are three solo mount recesses for adding accessories like fish finders.
Molded trays keep tools and equipment safe and close to hand, so you can stash one of these awesome fishing knives right where you need it.
Large stern tank well.
Bow storage with mesh.
Elevated, removable seating.
Replaceable skid plate.
Gear storage trays.
Choice of colors.
Not the best fishing kayak for speed.
Possibly the best sit on top fishing kayak under $1000, Perception has struck gold with the Outlaw, a feature-rich, super-stable kayak that’s much more affordable than many fishing kayaks in this class.
However, it’s not built for speed, and some folks might find it a bit “clunky.”
Famous for manufacturing affordable, durable, polyethylene -based products, Lifetime have a number of budget-friendly kayaks on the market.
For the money, the best of these is their Teton 100 fishing kayak, which features a lawn-chair style padded seat at an affordable price.
It also offers plenty of storage space, with large front and rear tank wells, and bungee cords to secure your fishing gear.
Two, 12-inch gear tracks allow customization, and there’s two flush mount rod holders conveniently located for easy use. And the lightweight design and compact size ensures it’s much easier to transport than a pedal kayak.
Great price point.
Solid, durable construction.
Self bailing scupper holes.
Plenty of tackle storage room.
Not the best for tracking.
For the price, this is surely one of the best fishing kayaks out there – as you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with the Teton 100 from Lifetime. Performance wise, however, don’t expect a world beater.
Here we have a smart-looking inflatable from Aquaglide – the Blackfoot Angler 130 fishing kayak. Offering a high weight capacity of 650 lbs, this is a great craft for packing all your fishing gear, and throwing it in the back of your pickup truck.
It comes with a fishing cooler located behind the seat, which also incorporates rod holders, and a map case. The seat itself is of the framed, lawn-chair variety, fully adjustable, with under-seat storage.
Offering plenty of space for all your fishing gear, a drop-stitch floor increases rigidity, and the Duratex, reinforced PVC construction is built to take a beating.
Designed for a fishing trip.
Universal accessory mounts.
EVA traction pads.
Five scupper drains.
Webbing tie-downs and storage space.
MOLLE compatible plates with mesh bags.
None to speak of.
For an inflatable, this just might be the best fishing kayak out there, and the perfect solution for avid fishermen who like to be on-the-go.
When it comes to sit on top kayaks, the Blackfoot Angler is well worth your consideration – and it’s suitable for whitewater, too!
I would say that the best fishing kayaks are generally found to be between 10 and 14 feet in length.
Anything longer and you’re looking at a touring kayak, anything much smaller, and it’s a more recreational play boat – although there are exceptions.
With a good fishing kayak, you want a balanced marriage of speed and maneuverability, but as stability is also important, you’re looking for kayaks with wider hulls.
Unfortunately, the trade-off is going to be in weight. Sit on top fishing kayaks tend to be heavier than any other kind – especially with the addition of pedal drives and other power systems.
You need to make sure you’re prepared for that, or choose an inflatable model as an alternative. And even with lighter kayaks, it’s a good idea to use one of these awesome kayak carts to help take a load off!
And don’t forget about the fishing kayak weight capacity. Make sure you know how much it can take – including yourself – so you don’t overload with fishing tackle and gear.
Fishing kayak companies put a lot of time, effort, and money into designing the most comfortable seating options possible.
Outside of performance on the water, for many fishing kayaks, it’s this feature that truly sets apart the best of the best. And we’ve come a long way from simply having a padded seat on board.
Look for fully adjustable, lawn-chair style seating for day-long comfort during your fishing adventure. Not only will they provide adequate support, but they’ll offer a great field-of-view for sight fishing.
Likewise, having adjustable foot braces or multiple footrest positions will improve your fishing experience, and can cater for anglers of all sizes.
Finding the right fishing kayak means finding the right fishing kayak seating.
Even the best fishing kayaks are not designed to win races.
When it comes to kayak performance, remember to keep these simple pointers in mind:
The wider a fishing kayak is, the more stable it will be.
The shorter a fishing kayak is, the more effective it will be in negotiating obstacles and hazards.
The longer and thinner a fishing kayak is, the faster it will go, and the better it will track (keep straight when moving through the water).
Hardshells will outperform inflatables 99.9% of the time.
If you’re fishing in breaking surf, look for a kayak with a multi chine hull, which will help dissipate the waves – but at the cost of speed.
Again, most kayak anglers don’t need to set any speed records, and are looking for a happy medium between speed, maneuverability, and tracking.
But a kayak that offers a balanced performance is going to be more comfortable and efficient to pilot, and help to prevent fatigue during long days on the water.
On board dry storage options are essential for keeping valuables out of the wet. Both paddling and fighting fish can get you and the kayak deck soaked, so dry storage hatches are a great addition.
Look for fishing kayaks with cup holders – having a place to keep a water bottle (or cold beer) is very useful. And speaking of cold beers, why not take along a fishing cooler to keep them super chilled?
The best fishing kayak for storage will have stern and bow tank wells, capable of holding a fair amount of extra fishing gear – or even to have a four-legged friend along for the ride.
And fishing kayaks that maximize and use the space well are going to stand out, so look for clever storage solutions that keep things close to hand – but out of the way and organized. Under seat storage is a good example.
Fishing Friendly Features
As I always say, a fishing kayak without dedicated fishing features is just a kayak. And the very best fishing kayaks offer as many of the following details as possible:
Flush mounted rod holders, and/or articulating rod holders, to keep your poles organized.
Gear tracks to attach accessories – such as extra rod holders, a fish finder, and sports cameras.
Paddle holders will help with hands-free fishing.
Trolling motor compatibility, to give you the extra zip to get to where the fish are biting.
Fly fishermen will enjoy a standing strap and ample deck space for standing casts and reels.
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.