The 11 Best Sit on Top Fishing Kayaks in 2022 – Latest & Greatest Tools for Kayak Anglers

Of all the different types of fishing kayaks available, sit-on-top versions are arguably the best.

Their wide hulls provide excellent stability on still waters, as well as offering plenty of on-board storage space for your tackle and gear.

Not to mention the versatility to customize until your heart’s content.

In this article, we take a look at the eleven best sit-on-top fishing kayaks, to bring you the latest and greatest tools for keen kayak anglers.

The Best Sit On Top Kayaks for Fishing 2022

Vibe Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak

Vibe Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak

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!

Pros

  • Molded rod holders.
  • Three central pod options.
  • Gear tracks galore.
  • Padded standing area.
  • Front storage hatch.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Plenty of tackle storage space.

Cons

  • Can be difficult to get hold of.

Takeaway

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 Mirage Pro Angler 14 Fishing Kayak

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 Fishing Kayak

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.

Pros

  • World-class design and craftsmanship.
  • Lumbar support seating technology.
  • Front and center storage hatches.
  • Market-leading pedal system.
  • Kick up fins.
  • Retractable transducer shield.
  • Gear H-tracks.
  • Bimini compatible.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive.

Takeaway

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.

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Kayak

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Kayak

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.

Pros

  • World-class build quality.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Spacious, open deck.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Four accessory tracks.
  • XL rudder.
  • Plenty of storage capacity.

Cons

  • Pricey.

Takeaway

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.

Native Watercraft Titan Propel Fishing Kayak

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.

Pros

  • Accessory tracks.
  • Ideal for bass fishing.
  • Highly portable.
  • Anchor and trolling motor compatible.
  • Choice of colors.
  • High weight capacity.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • The drive system isn’t retractable.

Takeaway

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.

Bonafide SS127 Fishing Sit-On-Top Kayak

Bonafide SS127 Fishing Sit-On-Top Kayak

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.

Pros

  • Perfect for fly-fishing.
  • Deck traction pads.
  • Paddle holders.
  • Stern skid plates.
  • Gunwale perch pads.
  • Anchor compatible.
  • YakAttack gear tracks.
  • Choice of colors.

Cons

  • If you find one, let me know!

Takeaway

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.

Intex Excursion Pro Series Inflatable Kayak

If you’re looking for the best sit on top fishing kayak under $500, then you can do a lot worse than the Excursion Pro from Intex.

The popular inflatables brand might be more commonly associated with mattresses and beach play boats, but their Pro series is well worth considering.

Made with a super tough laminate PVC with polyester core, it’s lightweight, portable, and yet highly durable.

Spring-loaded valves provide fast inflation and deflation, and it comes with everything you need to get onto the water fast.

Pros

  • Outstanding price point.
  • Detachable fishing rod holders.
  • Multiple D-rings for securing gear.
  • Removable mounting bracket.
  • Floor mounted foot rest.
  • Bow and stern storage.
  • Pump, paddles, and carry bag included.

Cons

  • No storage hatch to speak of.
  • The seat isn’t the most comfortable.

Takeaway

Sure, it might not be the best fishing kayak of all time, but as a budget-friendly option that’s packed with features, this is a great choice, and great for solo anglers on the go.

Ascend 133X Tournament Fishing Kayak Package

Ascend 133X Tournament Fishing Kayak Package

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.

Pros

  • Excellent tracking and stability.
  • Pre-wired for motor battery.
  • GPS remote.
  • YakAttack rod holder.
  • Garmin Striker transducer.
  • MotorGuide Xi3 motor.
  • Paddle lure recovery hook.

Cons

  • Still on the expensive side.
  • Some reports of issues with the power plug.

Takeaway

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 Outlaw 11.5 Fishing Kayak

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.

Pros

  • Large stern tank well.
  • Bow storage with mesh.
  • Paddle park.
  • Elevated, removable seating.
  • Cup holders.
  • Replaceable skid plate.
  • Gear storage trays.
  • Choice of colors.

Cons

  • Not the best fishing kayak for speed.

Takeaway

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.”

Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak

Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak

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.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Solid, durable construction.
  • Attractive coloring.
  • Self bailing scupper holes.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Plenty of tackle storage room.
  • Luggage-style handles.

Cons

  • Not the best for tracking.

Takeaway

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.

Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Inflatable Kayak

Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Sit-on-Top Inflatable Kayak

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.

Pros

  • Designed for a fishing trip.
  • Universal accessory mounts.
  • EVA traction pads.
  • Five scupper drains.
  • Spray skirt.
  • Webbing tie-downs and storage space.
  • MOLLE compatible plates with mesh bags.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

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!

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 Fishing Kayak

It was a close call between the Wilderness Systems Radar and the ATAK, but I’ve got a soft spot for the latter, and it nearly always makes reviews such as this.

Wilderness Systems manufactures some of the best fishing kayaks out there, and the award-winning ATAK series is their flagship.

It features the FlexPod removable center console, SlideTrax accessory rails, suspension-style seat, and transducer scupper with cover.

Best of all, it’s fully compatible with a pedal system, so you can add pedal power at a later date if you wish.

Pros

  • Award-winning design.
  • Silent traction pads.
  • Bow paddle park.
  • Large stern tank well with bungee.
  • Bow and stern storage hatches.
  • Stand up assist strap.
  • Pedal kayak convertible.

Cons

  • No molded in rod holders.

Takeaway

Easily one of the best fishing kayaks ever to grace the water, every inch of the ATAK 120 has been designed for catching fish in comfort.

The fact that it’s capable of adding pedals is a great feature, but you can always check out this review of the best pedal fishing kayaks if that’s what you want as standard.

How to Choose a Fishing Kayak – A Buyer’s Guide

Below, you’ll find plenty of tips, tricks, and advice to help you in the search for your next favorite toy – a really good fishing kayak.

Here’s what you should be looking out for if you want to become a successful kayak angler. You can also read this article for the basics on how to choose a fishing kayak.

angler in a sit-on-top kayak fishing on the river

Type of Kayak

Fishing kayaks (and kayaks in general) come in all shapes, sizes, and types. When you’re in the market for a new kayak, your first hurdle is deciding between the following options:

Sit On vs Sit Inside

There’s a good chance that if you clicked this link you’re already looking for the best sit on top fishing kayaks, and you can forget about the sit-inside versions.

However, it’s still worth mentioning the difference – especially for anyone who is new to kayak fishing.

This article on sit on top vs sit inside fishing kayaks will tell you everything you need to know, and you can go here if you want to try your hand at the best sit-inside fishing kayaks instead.

Hardshell vs Inflatable

Ahhh, the eternal debate. Hardshells vs inflatables. Which is better for fishing?

While whole articles have been written on the subject, I can actually break it down into a single line.

Hardshells offer better stability and performance, inflatables are easier to transport and store.

There is more to it, but that’s it in a nutshell!

For a more dedicated article on the best inflatable fishing kayaks, follow that link. And if you want to upgrade, you can try this review of the best inflatable fishing boats, instead.

fisherman kayaking and fishing on lake

Pedals vs Paddles vs Power

How you get from A to B is an important consideration when it comes to choosing the best fishing kayak, and you have three options:

  • Paddles.
  • Peddles.
  • Trolling motors.

While the quality of peddles and trolling motors improves every year, paddles are still not obsolete just yet. You’ll still need them as a backup in case something goes wrong with the technology.

And since most fishing kayaks don’t come with a paddle, check out this article on the best paddles for kayak fishing.

Essential for improving paddle strokes and paddle acceleration, they can also offer some extra features that are useful for kayak anglers.

Likewise, you can go here for the best kayak trolling motors – if your choice of kayak doesn’t already come with one, like the options found in this review of the best motorized fishing kayaks.

man kayak fishing in river

Size and Weight

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.

Finally, if you are at all worried about finding the most stable fishing kayak, you might like to check out this article on the best fishing kayaks for big guys and gals.

fisherman in sit-on-top kayak with multiple fishing rods

Seating

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.

Performance

Even the best fishing kayaks are not designed to win races.

However, you still need a modicum of performance when you’re chasing down those fish, and trying to access the best spots for kayak fishing.

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.

fisherman on inflatable fishing kayak with fishing tackle

Storage Options

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.

angler fishing from the kayak in the river

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.
  • Tackle boxes included.
  • Anchor compatibility. Check out this article on the best kayak anchors for more info, but remember you must never anchor a kayak in rough seas.
  • Customization – the ability to add your own accessories, and pimp your fishing kayak until your heart’s content.

This list is not exhaustive, and the best fishing kayak for you will have all the features you need, and nothing that you don’t.

To get some inspiration, take a look at the video below, which offers a detailed walkthrough of a fully customized fishing kayak.

Cost

The price of good fishing kayaks can vary wildly, and some of the very best are eye-wateringly expensive.

I always recommend buying the best you can afford, while considering how much it’s actually going to be used. If you’re a casual kayak angler, there’s no need to drop five grand on a fishing machine.

And if you are tightening the belt, check out this article on the best budget-friendly fishing kayaks on the market.

FAQs

What fishing kayak has the most comfortable seat?

Tough question. I would say they all have a good shout at boasting the most comfortable seat, and short of sitting in them all, there’s no real way to find out the answer.

If I was pushed, however, my gut instinct is to say it’s a toss up between the Hobie Mirage and the Old Town Sportsman.

What is the lightest fishing kayak?

The lightest fishing kayak is likely to be an inflatable model, as kayaks with a pedal system are going to be very heavy.

At just over 36 lbs, I would say the Intex Excursion Pro is the winner in this department. Certainly for this review, anyway.

What is the most stable fishing kayak?

Another good question, and again, impossible to answer without rigorously testing all the kayaks here, with different occupants, and in different conditions.

However, since you’ve asked nicely, I’m going to say that the Bonafide SS127 could well be up there as the most stable fishing kayak on the market.

That said, kayaks from Hobie, Old Town, and Native Watercraft are also very much in the running for the title.

Does color matter in fishing kayaks?

No. Since the jury is out on whether fish see color at all, the color of your kayak isn’t going to make much of a difference when you’re hunting your prey.

However, it’s a different matter when it comes to safety. Brighter colored kayaks are going to be much easier to see than muted, dark colors – should you ever get into difficulty.

Perhaps not so much on lazy rivers and glassy lakes, but if fishing offshore, for example, a highly visible kayak is pretty much essential.

Regardless, you should always be wearing a certified PFD, and these fishing PFDs are a great choice for practicality and safety.

Summary

Fishing kayak technology is rapidly developing all the time, and it can be hard to keep up!

This selection of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks proves it – as there are some truly outstanding craft here, to help satisfy even the most serious angler.

Let me know which one you’re taking on your next fishing trip, and why!

Stay safe out there, and happy kayak fishing!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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