Best Fishing Kayak
So, what is the best fishing kayak?
We’re going to try to help you make a decision! But we need to be clear on this....there is not one kayak that can be recommended for everyone.
Fishing kayaks come in all different shapes and sizes and each type is designed to work better in certain conditions.
Fished Out: Top Kayaks For Fishing
(List is in no particular order - the links take you over to Amazon)
For example, you might not have much transport space inside (or on top of) your car, so is it maybe worth looking at an inflatable kayak that deflates and packs away into a convenient small space.
Or do you intend mostly heading out fishing alone or with a friend or partner? Then you might want to think about opting for a tandem kayak (or maybe stick with two solo ‘yaks!).
Choosing A Fishing Kayak: Features To Consider
How stable is your kayak?
The last thing you want to be worried about is tipping over when your mind is on grabbing the line or net as you’re reeling in bass. This is particularly the case if you prefer standing up. There are fishing kayaks that are made for prolonged periods of standing as well as sitting.
Try to choose a kayak that at least has the storage options that you require. A lot of kayaks have front and rear storage, as well as hatches that can be used to store equipment that needs to be protected from water.
You’ll also want to store bait, tackle and possibly your rods as you paddle (unless you just leave them in rod holders). Just have a good think about what you might need before you purchase.
All the kayaks listed here feature at least one rod holder, which are a must-have (the more expensive ones have more). Some holders are ‘flush’ mounted, meaning they are molded into the kayak, while others have adjustable rod holders, that often are detachable from the ‘yak.
Pimp My ‘Yak
Ok, this follows on from storage just nicely. Some kayaks can easily be upgraded or you can add on cool accessories.
Check out this video to see how imaginative you can get:
For example, some kayaks have options for rail storage. With these you can attach fish finders or extra rods, GPS, or anything else that you need to have fastened and that you can get your hands on fast. You might even want to film your day out, so why not add your GoPro?
Want a break from paddling? If your kayak supports a trolling motor, you could add one to the stern and get from A to B without breaking a sweat. Or you could add a sail instead.
You can even get inventive and add your own kit regardless of included fittings.
This is important. You need to consider how much weight capacity the manufacturer recommends. Then deduct your own weight (and partner’s if going tandem) as well as any fishing tackle you intend taking.
Also remember to add weight for any gizmos, food or extra clothing you want to take. Heck, some people kayak for days, so you might even want to bring tents and camping equipment. In any case, just make sure you have done your sums when it comes to weight.
Speed vs Turning
We’re not going to go into great detail here, but as a rule of thumb, you should consider the following:
1) Longer kayaks are more efficient through the water which makes them faster.
2) Shorter kayaks can manoeuvre and turn better.
Also consider the keel of the kayak. If looking from the side, the keel is more rounded, it should turn better. We don’t want to go too much into this now, as well pronounced rounded keels are moving into the territory of whitewater kayaks – which are certainly more in tune with pure kayak fun, rather than fishing!
Types Of Fishing Kayaks
Here on kayakguru.com, we are going to run through various different fishing kayak types and brands, and outline how each one can benefit you for your particular needs. We'll also recommend some of the top-rated kayaks available within each type.
Our job is to make your decision a whole lot easier, so hopefully we will give you all the information you are looking for!
Before you choose a fishing kayak, you need to decide which type is right for you.
There are two basic types:
Two Basic Types: SOT & SIK
The paddler(s) sits on top of the kayak. They are not enclosed and as such, access in and out of the kayak is made easier.
SIK (Sit-In Kayak)
The paddler(s) are enclosed within the kayak. Spray skirts can be used to keep the water away from the lower body.
Sit-On Top Fishing Kayaks
- Don’t feel confined when paddling
- Easy to get in and out of
- Great for very warm or hot conditions
- Generally more stable
- Can grab tools and move around much more easily
- You can get wet paddling
- May travel a little slower
Sit-on top kayaks are also known as SOT (Sit-On Top). They can also be referred to as SOKs (Sit-On-top Kayak).
SOT kayaks are designed for multi-purpose recreational pastimes, including general touring and diving (inc scuba) or swimming off-shore. But they can be great for fishing. They have a molded depression on top and a sealed hull.
Sit-on-tops are suitable for everyone. They are very easy to get into and out of…perfect if you want to get out and do some wade fishing in shallow waters. Having an open top also makes it easy to store and access your fishing tackle and any other equipment you might have.
SOTs are generally quite wide. This is good for stability, so they can be really good if you want a stand up fishing (stand up within the kayak), want to fly cast, are reeling in, or if you have a tendency to get nervous paddling around or when you need to grab anything from anywhere other than your seat.
The disadvantage to having width is that you will travel slightly slower, but this isn’t something that would bother most fishermen, as they aren't in a race!
Ok, let’s take a look at the best angler SOT kayaks…
Best Sit-On Top Fishing Kayaks
1: Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Kayak
- Length: 12 ft
- Width: 32.5 inches
- Depth: 14.5 inches
- Weight: 64 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 375 pounds
Ok, so we’re starting off with the most expensive sit-on top fishing kayak on your list. We thought it was best to get the shock factor out of the way, early on, hehe.
The Pescador is a 12 footer which features a multi-chine hull which has been designed to help keep you stable and assist with tracking.
To help you sit down for long periods of time, the seat is removable and adjustable into two positions (upright and recline). The seat also slides along rails if needs be, as and when you need to.
So what about storage? Well, there’s a tankwell at the bow end, which is covered by fine mesh. At the rear is a large storage area, covered over with bungee rope to keep your essentials tied down. Towards the front of this well is a hatched compartment which screws on/off. You could store rods in here or whatever else you intend carrying along that needs to stay dry. Just note that the hatch is only five inches wide, so you may be restricted with some items.
There’s also a console right in front of the cockpit for easy access. It might be ideal for a battery for any electronics you might want to bring (fishfinder or a GPS etc). You can store a drink in the slot directly in front of the console.
You’re going to want to add rods. The Pescador comes with two molded holders just behind the seat. If you want more, you can add rod holders to the GearTrac rails on the sides of the cockpit. You could also add other gadgets to these rails – totally up to you.
Rest your feet on the fully adjustable braces for maximum comfort.
2: Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak
- Length: 10 ft
- Width: 36 inches
- Weight: 60 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
This 10 foot PVC fishing kayak can be used for solo or tandem use (in fact 3 can fit on board).
It’s designed to be extremely stable, which makes it a good stand up fishing yak. There’s also scupper holes to drain any water from the cockpit area.
The seats are ergonomic with soft backrests, which makes it very comfortable to sit in.
It has ditty trays and shock cord straps to hold your loose items, a six inch storage hatch and 4 conveniently placed fishing pole holders.
3: Lifetime Manta Tandem Sit on Top Kayak (Recreational turned Fishing Kayak)
- Length: 10 ft
- Width: 36 inches
- Weight: 60 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
We’ve thrown the Lifetime Manta kayak into the mix, not as it’s a particularly good dedicated fishing kayak (there are better), but because it’s a great recreational kayak that can be used for fishing too.
This SOT is 10 feet in length, can hold up to 3 people or you have a forward cargo area that holds up to 500 pounds, making it great for some fishing on the side.
This popular hard kayak is only 60lbs in weight., and has a hull designed for superior mobility. It includes many footrest positions to suit all shapes and sizes, making sure you don’t suffer unwanted cramp or strain.
Customers have noted how comfortable the seats are and how difficult it is to flip the kayak. Even if it is flipped it can be easily righted. It’s also very easy to reboard should you venture off to fish in shallow waters.
Sit-In Fishing Kayaks
Sit-in, also known as SIK kayaks (or sometimes SINK) have a cockpit (with seat), which sits enclosed within the kayak. Think of your legs being covered over by the shell/deck. Often a spray skirt is also used to cover the cockpit and keep the water out.
Sit-in kayaks are less popular with fishermen in general. Those that do use them tend to use them for fishing at sea. The reason for this is because they are better for keeping dry. So, if you are at sea and the waves are big or it’s very cold, a SIK could be for you as you will be protected from the elements by the cockpit and spray skirt.
Be warned though, you need to be an experienced kayaker if you’re heading out on anything moderate or rougher. Even if the surf is calm, you’ll be surprised how fast things can change. The last thing you want is to be rolled over with wave after wave crashing on top of you and your gear!
Because you are sitting inside the cockpit, stability tends to improve. The lower center of gravity does make a difference. Turning and manoeuvring is also enhanced, as more of your body can pivot against the ‘yak in order to direct more pressure into your strokes. These benefits may not be so important for the fishermen out there, rather for kayak purists.
Anglers find SIKs are more difficult to get into and out of, especially if you're big into wade fishing. It’s not much fun continuously getting in and out of a sit-in kayak at the best of times. Think about what it must be like with having waders on at the same time!
It’s also more difficult to access fishing equipment when on the move.
- Ok for surf, but you need to be very experienced
- Stable in rougher conditions
- Legs stay warmer on cold days
- Not as easy to get in & out of
- Access to gear is more difficult
- Not designed for fishing standing up
- Hot days can be very uncomfortable within the cockpit
Overall, we recommend sit-on-top kayaks for fishing. It’s just a whole lot more practical overall. Keep the SIKs for those who are into more hardcore recreation, like the whitewater. SIKs do have some advantages though, so only you can decide for yourself the best way to go.
Top Sit-In Fishing Kayak
4: Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-In Fishing Kayak
- Length: 10 ft
- Width: 30 inches
- Depth: 13 inches
- Weight: 41 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
The Sun Dolphin Excursion kayak has a UV-stabilized PVC (Polyethylene) body so it is durable and protected against peeling and paintwork fading.
10 feet long (there's also a 12 ft version) and 30 inches wide, and coming in at 41 pounds, customers have commented on how easy it is to paddle around. And the good news is that it’s another ‘yak that’s difficult to flip over.
It has two flush mount holders as well as a single swivel rod holder. There’s also a storage compartment and it has adjustable footrests, so anyone can fit inside comfortably.
Comes in 3 colors: 2 are different shades of green and a brown sand shade.
What About Inflatable Fishing Kayaks?
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks are a popular option, suited more towards the recreational user. Yes, you may be thinking “Won’t I puncture the kayak with the fish hook or on a rock?”. Well they wouldn’t sell very well if they weren’t!
Inflatable kayaks are actually very durable, and are mostly made from a combination of layers including PVC, nitrylon and haypalon. PVC is the most popular material. It’s quite durable, relatively light and cheaper than haypalon kayaks. Haypalon and nitrylon are tougher, but they are heavier and cost more.
Now we’re not going to lie to you. Top end inflatable kayaks are generally not going to track as well as top end hard-shelled kayaks, but for most people out there they are perfectly good enough for tracking and changing course. As such, they are an option worth considering if you occasionally fish or if you’re just getting into the hobby, but want to start buying your own stuff straight away (we always recommend renting kayaks before buying them).
One of the big advantages of an inflatable kayak is that they can be deflated, which makes them easier to transport around. The flip side of this is that you have to spend time and effort inflating and deflating the ‘yak every time you use it. The more you go out on it, the more that pump is going to get used – hence why for just occasional fishing folk, the inflatable fishing kayak is a good option.
Some users find inflatables a pain because ideally, they should be dried before packing away, to help stop corrosion. So depending on your situation, you may need to get where you’re fishing, inflate, use, deflate, then repeat the inflate/deflate process when you get home in order to dry the kayak out. This isn’t always the case, but it might be depending on your location and situation.
Here are some highly rated inflatable yaks...
5: Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- Length: 10 ft 9 inches
- Width: 39 inches
- Weight: 41 pound (in total)
- Weight Capacity: 470 pounds
Made with 18-gauge PVC, it’s designed to take a battering. The Colorado has a few features that other kayaks lack.
It contains multiple air chambers, which means if you do get a puncture only a section of the yak will deflate.
There are motor fittings, should you wish to add an engine. Yes, sometimes all that paddling can get tiresome!
Customers overall are very happy with this yak. This is mainly because it has plenty of room for equipment and also because of how easy it is to inflate and deflate.
6: Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Kayak
- Length: 9 ft 8 inches
- Width: 35 inches
- Weight: 41 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
The Straitedge from Advanced Elements is designed for the solo fisherman.
Although it is technically an inflatable kayak, it does have an aluminum ribbed frame that helps give good shape to the kayak when inflated.
This is quite a short ‘yak (measuring in at 9’ 8”) but can carry up to 300 pounds, so it’s perfectly capable of taking the average built person and all the cargo you need for your fishing trip.
Two storage areas are located at the front and rear. The available space isn’t going to be as good as a hard-shelled kayak, that’s the just the nature of the beast. But for an inflatable, it’s pretty good. The removable bar at the front can be used to place any gadgets you may have.
Two fishing rod holders are located right behind the seat.
A nice touch is the adjustable lumbar, which can be inflated to a level of your choosing.
Tandem Fishing Kayaks: Paddling Together
If you want to share the load, you could go for a tandem kayak (also known as a two person fishing kayak). Tandems are a great way to enjoy some company and you don’t have two kayaks at your disposal!
What is a tandem kayak? With two seats, tandem kayaks can make it more fun to paddle along. They are a great way to introduce your kids, or spouse to outdoors fishing.
Beware though, quite often your partner may not be as experienced or willing to paddle along as you are, so bear this in mind. In fact, tandem kayaking can end up being more difficult than using solo kayaks. It really depends on your partner though!
6: Useful UH-TK181 12.5 foot Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Length: 12.5 ft
- Width: 30 inches
- Weight: 68 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
The Useful UH-TK181 is the perfect kayak for all the avid anglers out there wanting to go out fishing with some company. It is of course a 2 person kayak, capable of carrying up to 450 pounds in weight.
Word of warning – it’s not the lightest kayak in the world (68 lbs), so it will probably need 2 persons to lift up any great height or carry any great distance. It does have carry handles at the bow, stern and sides (the side handles double-up as paddle holders).
This twelve and a half foot kayak has open storage space at the rear with bungee cords as cover. Then there are two covered hatches, each in front of a seat. There are dedicated inserts that slot into each hatch to keep your water hating valuables free from getting wet.
Fishing-wise, the UH-TK181 comes with adjustable 3 rod holders which can be placed in front of the paddlers. Any of these holders can be removed, giving you the option to fit other gadgets instead. There are a further 4 flush rod holders on the deck – so plenty of options here.
This one does come with 2 aluminum paddles, and two seats.
There is the option to fit a trolling motor to the rear, if you wish.
Note that this isn’t the most stable kayak for standing within. So, if you enjoy fishing while standing up in your ‘yak, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Comes in 4 different colors: Blue, green, sand and gray.
7: Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package (Budget Option)
- Length: 10 ft 8 inches
- Width: 34 inches
- Weight: 32 pounds (for kayak)
- Weight Capacity: 650 pounds
This inflatable is an extremely lightweight and portable fishing kayak, weighing only 32 pounds. It can hold up to three people (650 pounds total) and has plenty of room for your fishing equipment and/or camping gear.
Customers report that it is a very solid and well-made yak that can be set up in around 30 minutes, and taking it down takes considerably less.
Can be used as a single or tandem boat.
What fishing kayak you go for is going to depend where you fish, your budget and how much experience you have as an angler.
It’s hard to recommend what the best fishing kayak is, for you the reader, as you all have different requirements. But we hope that we’ve covered off the basics to help you make a more informed decision.
Before you make a final decision however:
- Can you rent one from your local kayak club?
- Is there an outdoor pursuits store that has demo kayaks for you to try out?
If you aren't sure where the local kayak rental spots are, simply use your favorite internet search engine. For example, if you're looking for rentals at Rainbow river in Florida, just search for 'kayak rentals rainbow river'. When we tried it, the top site was 'Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak'
Overall, we recommend trying out as many kayaks you can based on your needs. Take advantage of these if they are an option in your area. They will help to reduce the likelihood of buyer’s remorse!
5 Very Basic Kayak Fishing Tips That Beginners Should Know
Here are five tips for kayak fishing…
1) Go Prepared!
Aside from having some good fishing gear, make sure you have plenty of water, some food and sunscreen for those exposed parts of your body (it’s very easy to underestimate how strong the sun can be, particularly when it’s breezy). If for any reason you get stuck out away from dry land, it’s good to have these essentials should your excursion last longer than anticipated.
2) Stay Balanced
Sounds so obvious, but always keep your head up and be wary of where you are situated within the kayak and look out for any waves or obstacles that you might inadvertently run into. This is especially the case when you are standing!
3) Everything Should Float
Another obvious one, but so easy to forget. Basically anything that doesn’t float and falls out of the yak….sinks! For valuables, like phones, GPS etc, get yourself a waterproof bag that floats and secure within the kayak.
4) Keep An Eye On The Weather
Make sure you know what the weather forecast predicts for the day. The last thing you want to happen is suddenly get caught in atrocious conditions when you are the one trying to do the catching!
5) Be Confident
This is especially true if you are a beginner. Make sure you are 100% confident in your kayak before you venture out catching fish. As you get comfortable with your new kayak, stay close to land initially and gradually build up the distances you paddle, away from land.
You're still with us, we'll take that as a compliment! Do you enjoy fishing? Perhaps you have one of these kayaks or are thinking of getting one?
Why not let us know about it below...