The 11 Best Stand Up Fishing Kayaks in 2021 (Don’t Rock the Boat, Baby!)


Are you one of those anglers who are keen to try kayak fishing but is a little apprehensive about stability?

You’re not alone. Tipping over, falling out, or capsizing are some of the biggest fears for anyone new to kayaking.

And while it’s understandable – it certainly shouldn’t stop you from getting out there – especially with the right craft and comfortable conditions.

So, I’ve put together a list of the best stand-up fishing kayaks in 2021 – the most stable kayaks out there for anyone looking for that extra peace-of-mind.

Or, if you just simply want to enjoy the benefits of standing casts and reels – you’ve come to the right place. Read on!

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.

TOP 11 Best Stand Up Fishing Kayaks in 2021

Hobie 2020 Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak

Let’s be honest here, Hobie are easily the market leaders when it comes to the most stable fishing kayaks.

They’re not going to win any races – but that’s not what you’re looking for.

Of all the models available (and there are many) I’ve gone for the more compact Pro Angler 12 – so it’s a little less intimidating than some of the behemoths they usually offer.

It features four standard and two molded-in rod holders, the super-comfortable Vantage ST seat in an elevated position, and the all-important anti-slip deck for those solid standing casts.

And don’t forget the premium pedal drive – which is why it’s at this price point.

Pros

  • World-class construction.
  • Retractable skeg.
  • Hobie H-Rails for accessories.
  • Rear tank well storage and hatches.
  • Standing platform deck pads.

Cons

  • Very expensive.
  • Regularly sold out.

Takeaway

If you want the best of the best when it comes to stand up fishing kayaks, look no further than Hobie. And aside from that solid standing platform, you’re getting the very best pedal drive technology available on the market.

Old Town Predator MX Angler Fishing Kayak

The oldest canoe and kayak manufacturer in the world produces some truly outstanding fishing kayaks, and any one of them could easily grace this review.

The highly versatile Old Town Predator just happens to be one of my personal favorites, and this is the MX version, which has been designed as the “perfect platform” for fishing in a variety of conditions.

The Exo-Ridge deck is fully slip resistant, spacious, and includes a storage tank well to the rear.

Packed with fishing features, including rod holders, bungee cords, watertight bow hatch, and a super-stable support track foot brace system, there’s a lot to like in the Old Town.

Pros

  • Market leading brand.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Scupper holes.
  • Elevated comfort seating.
  • Accessory mounting plates.
  • High load capacity.

Cons

  • More rod holders would be nice.

Takeaway

Another perfectly formed fishing kayak from Old Town, super stable in the water, packed with features and providing ample space for one of these excellent tackle bags for saltwater. And that’s the beauty of the Predator – it can hunt just about anywhere.

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 Fishing Kayak

You won’t find Wilderness Systems too far behind when it comes to the best kayaks in general, and their ATAK 120 model is consistently mentioned in fishing kayak reviews.

Slightly more compact than the 140, it’s easier to manage and not as intimidating for first-timers. And newcomers to kayak fishing will love the stability of this craft, with a wind-shedding deck for extra protection, and fully customizable platform to cater to your personal fishing preferences.

Storage is in abundance, with a large rear tank well ideal for a good fishing cooler, bungee straps, and circular hatch to the stern. Probably one of the most stable kayaks for standing available.

Pros

  • Bow paddle park.
  • Accessory railings galore.
  • Patented suspension seating.
  • Motor drive compatible.
  • Practical center console.
  • Choice of cool colors available.

Cons

  • None to speak of – let me know if you find any.

Takeaway

I was scratching my head to find fault with this awesome fishing kayak from Wilderness Systems – and in the end, I came up short.

Rock solid and suitable for use in multiple conditions – this kayak has everything you need and then some. And it offers some great places to store good fishing multi-tools so you can keep everything close to hand.

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak

When you think of the most stable kayaks for standing, you might not automatically go with an inflatable. That’s not the case here, with the sturdy Steelhead fishing kayak from Elkton Outdoors.

This tandem craft is also available in a solo version, but both feature that all-important drop-stitch floor that is capable of comfortable standing casts and reels.

Self-bailing drains are on hand should you take on any water, and the kayak features an abundance of mounting points, so you can customize it to your needs, including Scotty-style hardware points.

Check out this review for more of the best inflatable fishing kayaks out there.

Pros

  • Highly portable.
  • Paddles included.
  • Travel bag and pump.
  • Suitable for choppier waters.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Bungee storage.

Cons

  • Not the most comfortable seats.
  • Still not as stable as a hardshell.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for a good stand-up fishing kayak but don’t have the room to store or means to transport a hardshell – then the Steelhead from Elkton Outdoors is the way forward.

And speaking of portability, you could pair it with one of these excellent travel fishing rods and be on the water at a moment’s notice.

Lifetime Triton Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime is renowned for their entry-level, no-frills products that will get the job done without breaking the bank.

While it’s not the best stand-up fly-fishing kayak, at this price point it justifies its inclusion as a budget-friendly option.

Roto-molded from durable polyethylene, it has a super-stable hull suitable for standing casts, with self-bailing scupper holes to drain water from the cockpit and tank well.

Three rod holders are available, and there’s a fully adjustable, quick-release seat back and pad for comfort.

An integrated skeg assists with tracking and performance, while bow and stern T-handles help get you to and from the water with ease.

Pros

  • Amazing price point.
  • Solid, durable construction.
  • Bungee cord tank well.
  • Multiple foot braces.
  • Drinks holder.

Cons

  • No paddle parks.
  • As basic as they come.

Takeaway

Easily the most affordable stand-up fishing kayak on the market, if you’re on a strict budget then this is a great option that can be just as successful for catching fish as a kayak three times the price.

Just remember to wear some quality fishing shoes for extra grip on deck, and it might be worth adding a few modifications of your own.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Fishing Kayak

The Pescador Pilot from kayak stalwarts Perception is one of the more affordable pedal-drive options out there (but it’ll still set you back a pretty penny).

A lawn-chair style seat offers unbeatable comfort and wide field-of-view, made with breathable mesh for all-day use. The leak-proof one-piece construction has built-in buoyancy for added safety, and a super-stable deck allows for standing casts and reels.

Customize the kayak until your heart’s content, with accessory rails, fish finder consoles, and four rod holders; while the large bow and stern tank wells with bungee storage offer plenty of space to stash your gear.

And the pedal drive system can be recessed to minimize drag for lazy paddles down the river.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Paddle parks.
  • One-handed rudder control.
  • Under-seat storage.
  • Relatively lightweight.
  • Nice choice of colors.

Cons

  • Reports that the rod holders aren’t the best.

Takeaway

This kayak is overflowing with outstanding fishing features, with plenty of options to customize aftermarket. Suitable for use in a variety of waters, you should bring along one of these durable saltwater fishing rods if you like going out in more challenging conditions.

Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 Fishing Kayak

The Sea Ghost is one of the best ocean fishing kayaks out there, many of which are excellent stand-up fishing kayaks as a result – so follow that link for even more options.

One of the lighter and more compact kayaks in our review, this is a great option for fishing and recreation, with two flush mounted rod holders, and four integrated accessory rails for customization.

A toe-controlled rudder system helps tackle choppy conditions, while plenty of storage space can accommodate all your tackle and gear – or anything else you fancy bringing along.

And the dual position Hero comfort seats allows you to do it all day long.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Great center console.
  • Oval hatch storage.
  • Bungee webbing.
  • Excellent tracking and performance.
  • Magnetic tackle tray.
  • Compact and relatively lightweight.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

I have to say I love this kayak – and I’m not alone. Much like its slightly larger brother – the 130 – they’re easily the best stand-up fishing kayaks under $1000.

And that magnetic tackle tray is ideal for keeping tools like these awesome fishing pliers close to hand where you need them the most.

BKC TK122U Tandem Fishing Kayak

The Brooklyn Kayak Company is a popular choice for affordable fishing kayaks, and they do some nice tandem options, which is why I’ve included this two or three person sit-on-top craft for sharing the water with a buddy or loved one.

The high weight capacity and hull design ensures it’s very stable for stand-up casts, and it’s overflowing with those fishing-friendly-features we know and love; such as articulated rod holders, accessory mounting rails, watertight storage and tank wells.

The 34-inch beam helps keep things stable, even in choppy conditions, and the ergonomic, comfort seating offers a nice field-of-view across the water.

It can also be piloted solo, which is great if you need to push someone out…

Pros

  • Great price for what you get.
  • Two paddles included.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Versatile use.
  • Plenty of storage options.

Cons

  • The hatches could be a bit more heavy-duty.
  • Seats can’t be moved.

Takeaway

For those who like fishing with a partner (perhaps with a furry friend or child also tagging along), then this is a great option from the BKC.

And check out this review for more of the best tandem fishing kayaks, many of which can be piloted solo to take advantage of the stability and extra space.

Emotion Stealth Pro Angler 118 Fishing Kayak

Now, here’s a nifty little kayak that is so stealthy it nearly slipped under the radar of the best kayaks for standing up.

The hull has been specially designed for tracking performance as well as being a hybrid for improved stability, while the comfort seating allows for three positions depending on if you’re fishing, paddling, or relaxing.

With high primary stability you can easily accomplish stand-up casts, while the deck channel bailing system has several scupper holes if you do take on a bit of water.

Two flush mounted rod holders are included, and plenty of accessory rails on the gunwale are nicely positioned for you to add extras that will help you land your next catch.

Pros

  • Rugged, compact construction.
  • YakAttack mounts.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Two Flambeau tackle boxes included.
  • Trolling motor compatible.
  • Spacious storage options.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

This is a rock solid fishing kayak with a very clever hull design and loads of great features to keep most anglers happy.

Versatile for use anywhere, it’s up there with the best river fishing kayaks – and you can follow that link for more. Get it while you still can.

Sea Eagle FishSUP 126 Fishing Stand-up Paddleboard

While not strictly a kayak, I thought I’d throw an SUP into the mix – purely because they’re specifically designed for standing up by their very nature.

The Sea Eagle FishSUP is one of the best, super lightweight and capable of handling a small trolling motor.

Highly portable, you can pack it up and take it anywhere at the drop of one of these protective fishing hats (which you should wear if you’re out exposed on this – or any – craft).

With a weight capacity of 500 lbs, you can take two people comfortably, and the 1000 Denier reinforced drop stitch construction ensures excellent durability and solid base for standing casts.

Heck, it wouldn’t be a very good SUP if you couldn’t stand up on it now, would it?

Pros

  • Highly portable.
  • Seat, paddles, pump, and carry bag included.
  • Accessory D-rings.
  • Only seven minutes inflation time.
  • Rod holders.
  • Bungee storage.

Cons

  • Not actually a kayak.
  • Quite expensive for an SUP.

Takeaway

I’ll admit to thinking a little outside the box here, but if you want a craft you can stand up in/on – you could do a lot worse than a good SUP. And for more of the best stand-up paddle boards for fishing – follow that link.

Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 Kayak

I couldn’t get away without including another Old Town kayak, the aptly-named Sportsman model.

This is a pro-level craft, designed with serious anglers in mind, and absolutely rammed with excellent fishing features.

The universal transducer mounting system makes it easy to mount your favorite fish finder in a convenient location, customizable accessory tracks allow you to pimp your ride just right, and the abundance of storage options – including a tackle box – ensures you’ll never run out of space for your gear.

It also has cushioned floor pads on deck, so you can have a premium stand-up cast experience, while the seat design with lumbar support is super-comfortable for when you’re sitting down.

Pros

  • Premium-quality construction.
  • Very highly rated in the community.
  • Removable pedal drive system.
  • Multiple rod holders.
  • Paddle clips.
  • High weight capacity.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • On the heavy side.

Takeaway

This is some next-level kayak fishing from Old Town, clearly designed for professionals and anyone who lives for the sport.

And if you’re one of those people, you’ll no doubt be familiar with some more of the best fishing brands in the world – so check them out to see if your favorite is there.

How to Choose the Best Stand-Up Fishing Kayak

There’s plenty of features to consider when you’re in the market for a fishing kayak you can stand up in.

Let’s take a look in our handy buyer’s guide below.

fisherman floats on a white fishing kayak in ocean along the coast

Why Choose a Stand-Up Fishing Kayak?

There are several reasons why you might intentionally seek out a kayak that has been specially designed to accommodate a standing pilot.

And they don’t always have to do with fishing.

Kayaks that you can stand in will offer the best possible stability – which is often an essential requirement – particularly for anyone new to kayaking, or a little apprehensive about trying the sport.

Due to the deck design, they can be roomier than other kayaks, and you might not feel as restricted as a result – especially around your feet and the foot braces.

But for most anglers, the primary reason for choosing a stand-up kayak is that standing gives you more control over your casts, and the ability to manipulate lures, as well as setting the hook when you snag a bite.

Any angler will tell you – fighting a monster fish is much easier from a standing position.

And for fly-fishing especially, you’re not going to achieve the same results if you’re stuck sitting down. Alternatively, you could always go back to using some quality waders – but kayaking is more fun.

Read on to discover what makes the best stand-up kayaks – and what you should look out for.

man fishing on a stand up kayak in the sea

Type of Kayak

There are many styles of kayak available – all designed for different recreational or professional purposes.

But they can be boiled down to two distinct types – sit-in and sit-on-top.

When it comes to choosing the best kayak for standing casts, then there’s no question you need to go for the sit-on-top version. That is the only type I’ve included in this review.

But for a more detailed explanation, check out this article on sit-in vs sit-on-top kayaks and find out which one is better for fishing overall.

Additionally, you need to consider if you’d prefer a solo or a tandem craft.

Remember that most tandem craft can be piloted alone, so they’re still well worth considering for extra stability and more space even if you’re kayaking by yourself.

Stability

A tippy kayak might be outstanding in whitewater, or cutting through the waves on an ocean-going adventure.

But it’s going to be no good if you want to stand up in the thing.

So, when it comes to the best kayaks for standing, you need to first look at the hull design.

Flat, wide hulls offer the best “primary stability,” which is how stable you feel when you first get into the craft.

They’re more suitable for use on calmer waters, quiet lakes and slow rivers, and they make ideal kayaks for standing up in.

V-shaped hulls are totally unsuitable and should be avoided at all costs for this practice. You’ll need the balance of a tightrope artist for successful standing casts in this type of craft, so choose flat hulls all the way.

Footwells

It’s not just about how wide and flat the hull is for standing casts.

Allow me to let you into a little secret for how I narrowed down and chose the kayaks in this review.

Examine the footwells.

More often than not, the space and design of a kayak’s footwell will give you clear indication of whether the craft is suitable for standing up or not.

Look for kayaks with plenty of room around where you place your feet. A good standing kayak will have a dedicated deck that is spacious and molded to allow freedom of movement.

A non-slip covering or finish may also be included, which is another clue that the kayak is designed for standing casts.

And some kayaks might even have a foot-shaped standing zone – just to make it even more obvious that it’s suitable for getting up off your butt.

Seating

Although our primary concern is finding a kayak that is suitable for standing, let’s not overlook how important the seating is.

It can often be the difference between a good kayak and a great one.

High-end kayak manufacturers put a lot of money into high-end seating – in order to make your experience as comfortable as possible.

Look for kayaks that offer seats with metal frames – raised to offer the best field-of-view over the water.

Don’t forget, the better the seating, the easier it will be to stand in the first place – and the more comfortable it will be to sit back down.

Also, check for seating that is fully adjustable, as well as offering the ability to be removed and placed elsewhere on the kayak if required. Some anglers require more space when it comes to standing up.

fisherwoman standing on inflatable kayak with fishing tackle

Storage

Stand up fishing kayaks tend to offer more storage room as standard – considering the wider shape of the hull.

It’s simply up to you to decide what kind of storage you would most benefit from.

Look for kayaks that have large tank wells at the bow and stern – they’re great for tackle boxes and bags, coolers, or even customized milk crates decked out to your liking.

Waterproof hatches are ideal for keeping valuables protected. They can be found in a variety of locations around the craft, depending on which kayak you choose.

And underseat storage can be a great place to stash extra rain gear for fishing – just in case the clouds start to form.

Fishing Features

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – a fishing kayak isn’t a fishing kayak unless it’s got fishing-friendly-features.

Rod holders are perhaps the most important and practical, but you should also look out for accessory mounting rails, so you can add more equipment and gear at a later date.

Installing fish finders, transducers, GPS, flashlights, and other gadgets and gizmos is a lot easier if the kayak already has the hardware to mount them.

Then you don’t have to go drilling any new holes.

And instead of mounting lights, you could always try the old school route of using a decent fishing headlamp if you’re out after dark.

Size and Weight Capacity

The more you want to put on board your kayak, the higher the weight capacity will need to be.

This is why many people often choose a tandem kayak – even if they’re still flying solo.

Larger kayaks will offer more space, and will be able to carry more gear.

But the trade-off is going to be the overall weight of the kayak – and you might struggle to get it to the water’s edge without help.

And it’s certainly not going to win awards for performance, as heavy, bulky kayaks will be slow and cumbersome in the water – and can be difficult to maneuver if you’re not used to it.

angler fishing on the kayak in river

Pedals and Paddles

Which brings me nicely to how you’re going to power the thing.

Fishing kayaks tend to offer two types of propulsion – pedals and/or paddles.

For the most part, paddles are non-negotiable. Look for kayaks with paddle parks, so you have somewhere to store them when you’re using your rods.

But if you want extra control, power, and speed in the water, then buying a kayak with a pedal drive system is a must.

The toe or hand operated rudders will also make life much easier – particularly in choppier conditions.

They might be pricey, but experienced kayak anglers swear by them.

Some kayaks are also compatible with trolling motors – so look out for those models for all but effortless kayaking.

A Word on Safety

While all the kayaks featured in this review have been designed to accommodate standing, there’s no accounting for freak conditions, unforced errors, or humans simply larking about.

Accidents can happen, and falling in is still a possibility.

As such, you should always, ALWAYS wear a certified kayak fishing PFD when out on the water.

No excuses – especially if you want to stand and move around while on board, or you’re attempting to land a huge beast from the deep.

Cost

Super-stable kayaks for standing tend to have a bit more to them, and as such the price can increase as you’re purchasing more kayak for your money.

Pedal drives and superior seating will drive that price up significantly.

But there’s still no reason you can’t get a budget-friendly kayak, and there are plenty of affordable options out there – especially if you’re not interested in all the bells and whistles.

Buy the best you can afford – and one that suits your skill level, and how often you’re going to use it.

man fishing from inflatable kayak on the autumn river

FAQs

Can you stand on a fishing kayak?

Providing the kayak has been designed for standing – then yes, you can comfortably stand up in one.

You still need to have a modicum of balance, and don’t overextend yourself when you’re casting, or moving around on the kayak.

Watch the video below for tips and advice on how to fish from your kayak standing up.

What are the advantages of stand-up fishing from a kayak?

The advantages with stand up fishing in a kayak are numerous.

First, you have a more commanding view over the water, which will help you locate the best spots, and see where you need to cast. It’s also useful for identifying hazards.

Casting is much easier, and you have more control when standing. You’ll be able to cast further and with more precision – which is essential if you want to hit that trout on the nose.

Manipulating lures is easier when standing, which will help you catch more fish.

Accessing your gear is more straightforward if you can move around on your kayak.

Finally, standing is a lot better for your back, especially if you’re using a kayak that doesn’t have particularly good seating.

What is the best kayak to stand up in?

It depends on what you’re looking for and what’s important to you. There’s no one kayak out there that is the “best” kayak to stand up in.

All the kayaks in this review are good for standing casts, but if I were to choose one, I’d go for the Old Town Sportsman. That kayak is simply a fishing beast.

What is the most stable fishing kayak?

Again, there isn’t a clear winner, and you’d have to test them all to find out. That said, you should look for kayaks with the widest hulls for the best possible primary stability.

Do fishing kayaks capsize?

While it is possible, fishing kayaks tend to be so stable that capsizing is very rare.

It’s also a lot easier to climb back on board a stable fishing kayak, as you shouldn’t have to flip it back over unless it’s a freak accident, or you’re out in dangerous conditions.

That said, it can and does happen – particularly if the kayak has been poorly loaded, you’re inexperienced, or the weather and waves are kicking up.

I would advise you to practice in shallow, calm waters, and take care loading your kayak, so it’s nicely balanced.

How do you stand up in a fishing kayak?

Great question. There are several ways you can accomplish this, but I think the video below outlines the easiest way, so you don’t end up in the drink.

Of course, you can always add a standing strap to make it that much safer and more comfortable. And don’t forget to wear a pair of good fishing gloves which will make things easier all round.

Summary

There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the same control standing in a fishing kayak than you can when you’re standing on the bank or shore.

Especially if you choose one of the best stand-up fishing kayaks in 2021.

Let me know which kayak you’ve gone for 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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