Are you one of those anglers who are keen to try kayak fishing but are a little apprehensive about stability?
You’re not alone.
Tipping over, falling out, or capsizing are some of the most common fears for anyone new to the sport.
And while it’s understandable – it certainly shouldn’t stop you from getting out there – especially with the right craft and conditions.
So, for anyone looking for additional peace-of-mind on the water, or if you simply want to enjoy standing casts and reels, I’ve put together a list of the best stand-up fishing kayaks on the market.
The Most Stable Fishing Kayaks – TOP 3 Picks for 2023
Before we get into the reviews, here’s our shortlist. See if you agree with our choices.
|Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak||The Best Pedal Stand-Up Fishing Kayak|
|Old Town Sportsman Big Water||Pro-Level Stand-Up Fishing Kayak|
|Elkton Outdoors Steelhead||The Best Inflatable Stand-Up Fishing Kayak|
It’s hard to see past the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 as possibly the best stand-up fishing kayak ever made, and a by-word for excellence among kayak anglers – pros and amateurs alike.
The Old Town Sportsman Big Water is a beast of a kayak, with loads of storage space for all your fishing gear, and is a rock-solid, stable platform designed for stand-up fishing.
When it comes to inflatable kayaks, the rigid drop-stitch floor of the Elkton Outdoors Steelhead is ideal for standing.
Having said that, there’s really not much in it, as every one of these rock-solid craft has been designed to be a dedicated stand-up kayak.
Check out our buyer’s guide after the review for more help choosing the right kayak for you.
Table of Contents
- The Most Stable Fishing Kayaks – TOP 3 Picks for 2023
- The 9 Best Stand-Up Fishing Kayaks in 2023
- Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak
- Old Town Sportsman Big Water Pedal Kayak
- Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak
- Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125 Fishing Kayak
- Bonafide Kayaks SS127 Fishing Kayak
- Nucanoe Unlimited 12.5 Fishing Kayak
- Jackson Kayaks YuPik Fishing Kayak
- Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 Fishing Kayak
- Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Fishing Kayak
- How to Choose the Best Stand-Up Fishing Kayak
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 9 Best Stand-Up Fishing Kayaks in 2023
How to Choose the Best Stand-Up Fishing Kayak
There are plenty of factors and features to consider when you’re in the market for a good stand-up fishing kayak.
Read on to explore what you need to be looking out for in our buyer’s guide, below.
Why Choose a Stand-Up Fishing Kayak?
There are several reasons why you might intentionally seek out a craft that has been specially designed as a stand-up kayak.
And they don’t always have to do with fishing.
Kayaks that you can stand in will offer the best possible stability – which is particularly important for anyone new to kayaking, or a little apprehensive about trying the sport.
Due to the spacious deck design, a stand-up fishing kayak is roomier than most fishing kayaks, and you won’t feel as restricted as you would in a more compact kayak.
You can carry more gear – and even more people/pets in some cases. A stand-up fishing kayak can be a versatile craft for family camping trips, for example.
But for most anglers, the primary reason for choosing a stand-up yak is that standing gives you more power and control over your casts and reels, with the ability to better manipulate lures, cast greater distances, 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 a kayak’s stability plays a huge part in allowing you to do that or not.
And for fly fishing especially, you’re not going to achieve the same results if you’re stuck sitting down.
In a nutshell, a kayak with high stability scores is going to give you freedom to move around, the confidence to stand up, and a safety net for dealing with whatever the day throws at you.
Type of Kayak
There are many types and styles of kayak available – all designed for different recreational or professional purposes.
But to start with, you need to choose between a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-inside kayak.
And between an inflatable or a hardshell.
As well as between a tandem or solo kayak.
Sit-on-Top vs Sit-Inside
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. They are the only kayaks I’ve included in this review.
This article on sit-inside vs sit-on-top kayaks will tell you why in more detail.
But if you prefer the challenge of a sit-inside kayak, check out this review of the best sit-inside kayaks for fishing.
Inflatable vs Hardshell
For the most part, an inflatable kayak isn’t going to be as stable as a hardshell – all things being equal.
However, that’s not to say you can’t get to your feet in a suitable stand-up inflatable fishing kayak.
The likes of Sea Eagle, Aquaglide, and Elkton Outdoors make some awesome inflatable fishing kayaks for this purpose.
For more information, this article on inflatable vs hardshell kayaks for fishing settles the debate once and for all, and go here for the best inflatable fishing kayaks for more of this type of craft.
Tandem vs Solo
Finally, 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.
Check out this article for more of the best tandem fishing kayaks on the market.
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.
When it comes to the best kayaks for standing, you need to first look at the hull design.
And this is where primary and secondary stability comes in.
Flat, wide hulls offer the best “primary stability,” which is how stable you feel when you first get into the kayak, and how much it tips (or doesn’t tip) when you’re moving around on calm, flat water.
But secondary stability is important, too – which is how stable the kayak feels when it’s tipped to one side. This is vital if you’re ever off-balance, or you shift your weight too much to one side.
However, a typical stand-up fishing kayak will have a flat hull, which offers more primary stability than secondary – and will still tip eventually – particularly if it encounters choppy or rough water, perhaps offshore.
And there are other factors that affect stability and how comfortable you feel on your kayak – so keep reading to find out more.
It’s not just about how wide and flat the hull is for standing casts.
Aside from contacting a number of kayak companies to name their most stable product, I’ll 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 a clear indication of whether the craft is suitable for standing 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.
It’ll also be wide enough to allow your feet to be at least shoulder-width apart. The closer your ankles are together, the more off-balance you’re going to be – just like on land.
A non-slip covering or finish may also be included, which is another clue that the kayak has been designed as a stand-up fishing boat.
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.
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. This will also affect your center of gravity, which, in-turn, will have an effect on the kayak’s stability.
A higher position is best for fishing, while a lower position is best for paddling.
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.
A stand-up assist strap is also a very useful inclusion. If your preferred kayak doesn’t come with one as standard, I highly recommend adding one aftermarket.
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.
Storage Space and Weight Capacity
Stand up fishing kayaks tend to offer more storage room than other kayaks – considering the wider shape of the hull.
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.
Bungee rigging helps keep your fishing gear/clothing safe and secure – as you don’t want it shifting around and putting you and the kayak off-balance.
And underseat storage can be a great place to stash extra rain gear for fishing – just in case the clouds start to form.
Remember, though, just because these kayaks have more storage space, doesn’t mean you should necessarily fill it.
Pay attention to the maximum weight capacity of a kayak – and never try to come close to it. It’s there for a reason.
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.
Fishing 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
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 the help of another paddler, or one of these useful kayak carts.
Performance wise, you’re not winning any races.
Heavy, bulky kayaks will be slow and cumbersome in the water – and can be difficult to maneuver if you’re not used to it.
Paddles, Pedals, and Power
Which brings me nicely to how you’re going to power your stand-up fishing kayak.
Kayaks offer three types of propulsion – paddles, pedals, and trolling motor power.
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.
And take a look at this review of the best kayak fishing paddles out there. There’s a good chance you’ll need to upgrade your paddle, anyway!
But if you want extra control, power, and speed in the water, then buying a pedal powered kayak is the way to go. Or, at least, choose an option where you can add pedals at a later date.
Finally, most of the best stand-up fishing craft will be compatible with a trolling motor – so look out for those models for all but effortless kayaking.
You can also go here for a review and guide to the best kayak trolling motors currently available.
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.
Thanks to more advanced technology and pro-level features, stand-up fishing kayaks tend to be at the pricier end of the budget-spectrum.
Pedal drives and premium seating can 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.
And if you do need to tighten the belt, check out this review of the best fishing kayaks under $500.
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.
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:
- It offers a more commanding field-of-view for sight fishing and identifying hazards.
- Enjoy unrestricted casting, and you can achieve greater accuracy and distance.
- More power and control for reeling in.
- Manipulating lures is easier when standing, which will help you catch more fish.
- Accessing your gear is easier if you can move around on your kayak.
- 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 a sit-on-top kayak with a wide hull 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.
That said, it can and does happen – particularly if the kayak has been poorly loaded, you’re inexperienced, and/or the weather and waves are problematic.
I would advise you to practice in shallow, calm waters, and take care not to overload your craft so you can comfortably enjoy stand-up kayak fishing.
How do you stand up in a fishing kayak?
Great question. There are several ways you can accomplish this, but the video below outlines the best way, so you don’t end up in the drink.
Most kayak anglers will add a standing strap to make it even easier – if your kayak doesn’t come with one to begin with.
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the same power and control fishing on the water as you can when you’re fishing from the bank or shore.
Especially if you choose one of the best stand-up fishing kayaks in 2023.
Let me know which kayak you’ve gone for and why, or if we’ve missed out a solid stand-up kayak that should have been included.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayaking!