A company that has been founded by a former freestyle champion kayaker and a professional bass tournament angler (Eric “EJ” Jackson), is surely going to offer some world-class fishing kayaks, right?!
Based out of Tennessee, Jackson Kayak was created in 2003, initially making whitewater craft, but branching into the fishing market in 2010.
With a pro-team of highly experienced paddlers, anglers, and designers behind them, they’ve created some of the finest fishing kayaks available today.
Of those, the Jackson Kayak Bite is one of their most popular models.
But is it worth our 4.5 review score?
Let’s find out.
Our Verdict on the Jackson Bite Angler Kayak
The Jackson Kayak Bite Angler is an awesome fishing kayak that offers plenty of space, stability, and performance at a price that won’t break the bank. The only negative in my humble opinion is in those outrageous color schemes!
- Jackson Bite Angler Fishing Sit-On-Top Kayak Review
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The Jackson Kayak Bite Fishing Kayak – What is It?
At 11.6 feet in length and 36 inches wide, the Jackson Kayak Bite Fishing Kayak is a sit-on-top, hardshell craft that is available in three versions.
The “Angler” which is the paddle only model, the “FD” which incorporates Jackson’s “Flex Drive” pedal system, and the “Rec,” which is the same as the Angler but without the flush mounted rod holders.
Given the fact that the Angler is one of the best fishing kayaks under $1000, we’ll be focusing on that particular model for this review.
(*Note – at the time of writing, it appears to have crept over the $1000 mark, but you might be able to find it on sale.)
Either way, the Bite range of kayaks from Jackson offer a marriage of premium space and storage features, excellent performance, and at a very attractive price point.
What’s it For?
Jackson suggests that the Bite Angler is suitable for a variety of different waterways, including “small lakes and rivers, ponds, streams, and inshore saltwater.”
Given its outstanding primary stability, I would say it’s home in calm conditions, and larger swells and chop should be avoided.
Aside from this, the Bite has been designed with an abundance of storage space and a clutter-free deck, which affords you the opportunity for extended fishing and kayak camping adventures.
The huge open deck area is one of the first things you’ll notice when looking at the kayak, and is a real selling point for the Bite.
If you’re an angler who likes to stay out for a long as possible (maybe even for days at a time), then the Jackson Bite might just be the fishing machine for you.
Jackson Bite Angler Fishing Sit-On-Top Kayak Review
This is an absolute tank of a fishing kayak, rugged, tough, durable, and built from a single piece of molded high density polyethylene.
The hardware and handles feel rock solid, and the boat has been finished with a UV protective coating to prevent sun damage.
But as well-built as the Bite Angler is, you still need to make sure it’s taken care of properly.
Jackson Kayaks are designed by world-champion kayakers, and if something’s amiss in the performance department, then heads are surely going to roll!
The Bite has been designed with “true-line tracking,” which helps to prevent the boat from veering side to side, and ensures a more efficient paddling experience.
As such, you can be confident in traveling greater distances, without the fear of fatigue setting in too early.
There’s a pronounced keel/skeg from bow to stern that also helps to keep the kayak pointed in the right direction.
And the ability to slide the seat forward when paddling will give you less wind resistance and improve tracking.
As the Jackson Bite is slightly wider than most fishing kayaks, and is relatively compact at just 11.6 feet; it hasn’t been designed as a pacey watercraft.
I certainly don’t think it’s capable of matching something like the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 when it comes to speed.
But that’s not what the Bite is all about anyway, as its main attractions include its generous storage space, wide deck, and excellent primary stability, three factors that are often traded-off in the racing stakes.
I would go so far as to say the Jackson Kayak Bite Angler is one of the most stable fishing kayaks on the market. This beast is rock solid on the water.
The huge deck area and stand-up strap give you clear indication that you can get to your feet with confidence in this kayak, and enjoy those super-stable standing casts and reels.
As a “shorter and fatter” fishing kayak, the Bite Angler offers a pleasing level of maneuverability, and it can negotiate most hazards and obstacles with ease.
In fact, when it comes to exploring the balance of tracking, stability, and maneuverability, I would say it could be one of the most nimble fishing kayaks in its class.
But then, I would expect nothing less from a kayak that has been designed with the help of a former world-champion freestyler!
Features and Accessories
Like all dedicated fishing kayaks, the Jackson Bite Angler doesn’t hold back when it comes to fishing-friendly features at the point of sale.
We’ll explore the storage options in a moment, but let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
- Molded-in rod stagers.
- Aluminum gear accessory tracks.
- Two flush-mounted rod holders.
- Stand assist strap.
- Adjustable foot braces.
- Tank well drainage.
- Molded fly patch panels.
- Molded bow and stern handles.
- Replaceable skid plate.
- Paddle parks.
- Molded inserts for accessory brackets.
- Trolling motor compatible.
- Plenty of scupper holes – ideal for clearing water off the deck.
- Two transducer scupper holes for a fish finder transducer.
- Two molded cup holders.
- Drain plug.
Some points to note:
A deck kit is available as an extra purchase to add EVA padding to the standing area to make it more comfortable and quieter. It also comes with the fly patches for the compatible panels.
The gear tracks used to be plastic and were more than a little flimsy, but Jackson listened, and upgraded them to aluminum in 2021.
Considering the large deck space is the Bite’s primary selling point – as well as its extensive storage options we explore below, I think there’s more than enough fishing features to keep most anglers happy.
Although a little light on rod holders, most Bite paddlers like to add them aftermarket. Check out this review of the best kayak rod holders available.
And go here for a complete run-down of the best kayak fishing accessories to help pimp your ride even more.
From 2021, Jackson has added premium seating to the Bite Angler, and their aptly named “Comfort Seat” is a welcome addition for your derrière.
It features plenty of padding and support, with an improved lumbar bend to ensure you can stay out there all day long – even for those anglers with bad backs.
It’s also highly breathable and quick-drying, to combat those sweaty days when you’re out in fine weather. Make sure you’re wearing a good fishing hat if you are!
The frame is robust and adjustable, and slides on tracks, so you can find the best possible seating position compared to the rest of your setup.
Furthermore, if you need less wind resistance and improved tracking you can slide it forward, but if you’re paddling in some chop you can slide it back to help raise the bow and cut through waves.
As for height, you’re in a fixed position with this seat, but you do still have a commanding view over the water, and the ability to stand at will is a big plus anyway.
The seat can also be completely removed for use on the beach or when you’re kayak camping.
And speaking of camping, the Jackson Bite has been designed with enough space for adding more gear for longer excursions, while still having all that room for fishing in comfort.
In fact, it’s one of the most spacious fishing kayaks out there, with an open-concept deck that feels like a breath of fresh air.
The adjustable foot braces ensure it can accommodate paddlers of all shapes and sizes, and users have reported they’ve spent hours on the water in this kayak, and it’s barely registered.
Across its 11.6 length and 35-inch width, the Bite Angler manages to offer a lot of premium storage space.
The amount of room on this thing is seriously impressive.
At the bow of the craft, you’ll find a large tank well with bungee tie-down – which is larger than some fishing kayak’s rear tank wells. Especially when you compare it to this BKC tandem kayak, as just one example.
At midships, Jackson has been uncluttered with their design, and the Bite offers a generous deck area with plenty of room for additional storage.
Close to the cockpit, there are four recessed storage positions for tackle boxes, designed to fit the Plano 3640 products. These come with bungee tie-downs to keep things in place.
There’s plenty of additional storage under the seat, with a generous space in which to keep extra tackle. Jackson has improved this in later models of the Bite, and the seat now sits higher to accommodate more gear.
Both bow and stern bungee systems have been improved in newer versions of the Bite, recessed for a cleaner, more functional look and feel.
And while you won’t find any watertight hatches or hull storage in this kayak, you’re not tied to the constraints of such design, and can customize the extra space it affords as you see fit.
There’s certainly plenty of space for adding dry bags if you need to protect some of your gear, equipment, and valuables from the elements.
However, some anglers will think that not having at least one waterproof storage hatch or hull access is a downside, and that’s perhaps why the Bite hasn’t quite scored full marks here.
The Bite Angler offers a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs, which is more than enough for most anglers to bring everything they need along for the ride.
As it’s been designed to carry more for longer fishing adventures, the Bite boasts a higher weight capacity than most other hardshells in this class, especially when it comes to its relatively compact size.
Even without the pedal drive, the Jackson Bite Angler isn’t a light kayak, coming in at 74 lbs with the seat, and 69 lbs without it.
Again, this is offset by its size, and it’s certainly nowhere near as cumbersome or unwieldy as something like the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler.
Either way, you will definitely need assistance in lifting and transporting it.
Thankfully, there are plenty of scupper holes in which to slip a compatible kayak cart. Follow that link, and look for the products that insert into the kayak’s hull.
One of the things I genuinely love about the Bite Angler is the molded bow and stern carry handles.
Not toggles, not T-handles, and not bolted in. MOLDED.
This makes the kayak feel extremely stable and secure when you’re transporting it, and they double as a security feature, offering a place to add a chain lock to keep light fingers away.
As I mentioned in the intro, one of the most striking things about the Jackson Bite is the uncluttered and roomy cockpit and deck area. If you like your kayak’s to be free from gimmicks and fluff, then this could be for you.
To my mind, it’s the polar opposite of the Vibe Shearwater 125, which can appear to be trying too hard when it comes to overloading the boat with features.
However, as clean and as streamlined as the Bite Angler looks from a build point of view, the same cannot be said about the paint job.
As far as coloring goes, the Jackson Bite Angler has been available in a veritable rainbow of designs since it was first introduced, and none of them are very subtle at all.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say the color schemes of these Jackson kayaks are the most outrageously unconventional I’ve ever witnessed.
New for 2023, there’s the Dusk, Forest, and Playa designs, but previous years included the Aurora, Tiger Shark, and the Prism for the Rec model – which looks like someone took acid and painted a fishing kayak.
If you’re into bold (and I mean BOLD), fishing kayak color schemes, you’ll love whatever’s going on in the minds of the Jackson Kayak design team.
For everyone else (including myself), you might find it a bit too flamboyant. But hey – there’s going to be no missing you when you’re out on the water!
Personally, I would have liked to have awarded the Jackson Bite Angler a low mark for its artistic crimes, but given that the design is functionally attractive, it’s been bumped up to a more reasonable score.
And one man’s daub is another man’s Rembrandt, right?
There’s a certain amount of confidence that is gained from knowing you’re piloting a rock-solid kayak – and that’s exactly what you get with the Bite Angler.
It’s going to be very hard, perhaps almost impossible to tip on calm waters, that’s for sure.
And you don’t need to be worried about being visible in poor conditions, and/or an emergency situation, thanks to the aforementioned color schemes and designs.
If you do manage to fall in, the large, molded handles are easy to grab onto.
But thanks to the weight of the kayak, you might find it a challenge to turn it right side up in the unlikely event that it flips.
All-in-all, I think the Jackson Bite Angler is one of the safest fishing kayaks out there, but you should still make sure to wear one of these practical and potentially life-saving fishing PFDs.
Although I included this kayak in the best fishing kayaks under $1000 review, it has crept over this threshold in the last year or so.
At the time of writing, it was the most expensive kayak in that article, anyway, and just managed to sneak its inclusion.
Still, for around $100 over the criteria, it’s still offered at a superb price considering what you get, especially when you take into account the design team behind it all.
But I still think the Bite Angler is great value, and if you ever see it on sale, snap that baby right up!
There’s a lot to love about Jackson Kayak. The fact that some of the world’s top kayakers, anglers, and designers are involved speaks volumes.
And that’s clearly evident in the products they produce – either for fishing, whitewater, or recreational paddling purposes.
The Bite Angler is one such model that has been beautifully designed by experts who knew exactly the kind of kayak they wanted to make – and the gap they wanted to fill.
For long days out on the water, to overnight kayak camping trips, at this price point, I don’t think there’s a better kayak out there.
Does it deserve its 4.5 rating?
100% yes, is the resounding answer.
The only negative in my humble opinion is in those outrageous color schemes!
The Jackson Kayak Bite Angler is an awesome fishing kayak that offers plenty of space, stability, and performance at a price that won’t break the bank.
Let me know in the comments if this is the right choice for you – and why. Alternatively, do you own one of these kayaks? Is it everything you hoped it would be? What would you improve?
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!