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Best Fishing Kayaks for 2024 – ULTIMATE Guide and Reviews

Mark Armstrong
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Calling all avid anglers! If you’re ready to take your fishing game to the next level, it’s time to dive into the world of fishing kayaks. 

These sleek and nimble watercrafts offer the perfect blend of excitement and functionality. 

Get ready to explore the crème de la crème of fishing kayaks and reel in those trophy catches like a pro!

If you just want to skip to the best fishing kayak – it’s the Wilderness Systems ATAK 120. This is the ultimate fishing platform with stability, versatility, and a feature-packed deck.

Top Picks:

Table of Contents

Top 21 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

1: Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 (best overall)

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120Pin
  • Length: 12 foot 3 inches
  • Width: 35 inches
  • Depth: 16 inches
  • Weight: 86 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 400 pounds

We think the Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 is the best fishing kayak on the market in terms of performance, stability, and versatility. It’s also one of our top picks for standing up to fish. It’s not the lightest kayak out there but it makes up for it in features. 

This durable fishing kayak can handle a wide range of fishing waters and has the same award-winning design as the longer 140 version. It has a wind-shedding deck and added rocker to handle moving water and coastal conditions.

It has plenty of storage and gear tracks to customize the boat with your own accessories (sold separately). A downside is that there are no built-in rod holders. But this gives you more freedom to add your own in the most convenient mounting spot. 

The AirPro Max seating system is engineered for long days on the water. And one of the best features of this craft is the Flex Pod OS that lets you add the Helix motor drive (not included) for efficient trolling and hands free propulsion.

It’s easy to stand up in, using the stand-assist strap. We also think this is a great option if you have side-scanning sonars on your electronics, as this fishing kayak has two transducer scuppers to accommodate that.

Pros

  • Stable for standing
  • Good for moving and open water
  • Compatible with a motor drive

Cons

  • Heavy
  • No molded-in rod holders

2: Sea Eagle FastTrack Angler 385 FTA (best inflatable)

  • Length: 12 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Depth: 9.5 inches (tube diameter)
  • Weight: 44 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 635 pounds

The Sea Eagle FastTrack Angler 385 is the fishing version of the standard FastTrack kayak. I think this is a fantastic boat and it won our best inflatable fishing kayak rundown.

If you want to try some ocean fishing, as it’s able to handle the waves and open water.

This has a high capacity, making it great as a solo fishing kayak for heavier anglers. But there’s also the option to add a second seat for a partner to join you.

However, if used as a tandem, there’s not much leg room.

This is one of the best portable fishing kayaks if you’re looking for decent storage space, as well as stability. This can handle flatwater, with a removable fin to help with tracking. And it’s rated for up to Class II rapids, so it can be a good choice if you like to mix it up and fish in different types of water.

The drop-stitch floor provides rigidity and durability. And it means you can stand up to fish. The non-slip crocodile hide EVA deck makes standing up a breeze, although we wouldn’t recommend standing on this in rough water.

This is packed with features for practical fishing trips. It has built-in rod and accessory holders in the front and rear spray skirts. There’s bungee rigging at the bow and stern, as well as 18 D-rings for securing gear. 

This can even handle an electric motor (sold separately).

Pros

  • Ideal for larger paddlers
  • Portable and compact
  • Standing deck

Cons

  • Not the best for tandem paddling
  • No dry storage

3: Perception Pescador Pro 12 (best sit-on-top)

Perception Pescador 12.0 Pro Fishing KayakPin
  • Length: 12 foot
  • Width: 32.5 inches
  • Depth: 14.5 inches
  • Weight: 64 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 375 pounds

The Pescador Pro 12 is frequently hitting the top spots on several best fishing kayak lists, including our own list of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks. This is an American-made fishing kayak in an affordable price bracket. 

This is a roomy kayak, giving you plenty of space to store your gear, without sacrificing leg room. The rear cargo deck can handle your fishing crate and there’s a second mesh-covered storage area at the bow for smaller items. 

A great feature of the Pescador is the fish finder console, so you can store your battery and mount your fish finder (not included) without having to drill into the hull.

As for rod storage, you’ll find two flush-mounted rod holders as well as two rod tip recesses that allow for horizontal rod storage. 

If you want to add extra accessories and gadgets, you can easily install them using the gear tracks. One thing it doesn’t have is dry storage. So there are no hatches and there’s no standing deck. 

The Pro seat gives you good support and you can remove it to use at your campsite. We think it’s comfortable for paddling and relaxing. 

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Horizontal rod storage
  • Fish finder console

Cons

  • No storage hatches
  • Not great for standing

> Pescador Pro 12 in review

4: Old Town Loon 120 (best sit-in)

  • Length: 12 foot
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Depth: 15.25 inches
  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 375 pounds

The Old Town Loon 120 is a sit-inside fishing kayak. This is a popular fishing kayak that has stood the test of time – the Loon series was first introduced over 20 years ago.

We think this 12-foot fishing kayak is great for river fishing. It’s also a versatile length that can handle other types of water just as well.

One of the main features of this boat is the large cockpit. This makes it more comfortable for fishing compared to other sit-inside kayaks. You’ll also find a removable work deck that makes the cockpit even roomier when removed.

The work deck is one of the best features of the Loon, in our opinion. It has covered storage and mounting space, plus an accessory track to install gadgets or accessories (sold separately). 

It also has a useful USB port so you can keep those essential electronics charged while you’re on the water. Just remember to bring your own battery. 

One of the selling points of the Loon is the seating system. This is designed for comfort and we think it’s comfy enough for all day fishing and paddling. It can be fully adjusted and has thick padding.

While we think this is an excellent choice for fishing, it’s billed as a recreational kayak and doesn’t have any rod holders. But you could customize it by adding your own with aftermarket accessories.

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • USB port 
  • Large, spacious cockpit

Cons

  • No rod holders
  • Battery for USB port not included

> The full Loon 120 review

5: BKC TK181 (best for 2-person fishing)

Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-TK181Pin
  • Length: 12 foot 8 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Depth: 14.25 inches
  • Weight: 68 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 595 pounds

The BKC TK181 is a tandem fishing kayak that packs a lot into its relatively compact size. For starters, it has a whopping seven fishing rod holders, so you and your paddling buddy can have multiple lines on the go at the same time. 

This craft made it to the top spot on our guide to the best tandem fishing kayaks.

This can be ideal for two adults on a casual kayak fishing trip. But it can be paddled solo if you want to load it up with gear for a longer excursion. 

The TK181 is designed to handle wind and waves, and can be a good choice for a range of different waters. It’s also designed for standing up. However, we’d only recommend standing if you have decent balance, as it’s not particularly wide compared to its length.

If you’re paddling with a buddy, you’ll each have access to a sealed storage hatch – perfect for keeping your valuables safe and dry (and within easy reach). 

There are molded foot wells for each paddler as well as a padded seat (the seats aren’t the most comfortable). Two paddles are also included.

The eight scupper holes help to drain water from the deck. And there are paddle rests to keep your paddle safe while you’re dealing with your rod and reel.

Pros

  • Excellent rod storage
  • Storage hatches
  • Two paddles included

Cons

  • Not the best for standing
  • Seats are not great for long trips

6: Old Town Salty PDL 120 (best for sea and ocean)

Old Town Sportsman Salty PDLPin
  • Length: 12 foot
  • Width: 34.5 inches
  • Weight: 104 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 450 pounds

The Old Town Salty PDL was the winner of our best ocean fishing kayaks (you can check out our full guide to the best ocean fishing kayaks). This is the ultimate saltwater fishing kayak for the seasoned kayak angler but this pedal kayak is not cheap. 

This is a pedal fishing kayak that is part of the Old Town series that replaced the Predator family of fishing kayaks. 

The rotational pedal drive is an award-winning design with an easy-docking system that allows you to lift it for launching and landing.

The Salty PDL is built for coastal waters. It can handle surf, waves, wind, and everything in between. It’s got plenty of space for fishing gear, with a large rear tank well with bungees, plus a second cargo deck at the bow. 

There’s a forward-facing rod holder and two rear-facing rod holders so you can easily organize your fishing rods.

You can customize it with accessories (sold separately) using the two 18-inch gear tracks. 

Another excellent feature is the seat. It’s elevated, plus can slide along a track for better positioning and extra leg room. And it has lumbar support for comfort, with mesh fabric for breathability.

All these extra features come at a cost – this is a heavy fishing kayak. And if you’re anything like us, you might want to invest in a kayak cart to haul it to and from the beach.

Pros

  • Pedal drive system
  • Excellent rod and gear storage
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Pricey

7: Old Town Topwater 106 (best for river fishing)

  • Length: 10 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 34.5 inches
  • Weight: 75 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 440 pounds

If you’re after a more compact fishing kayak without sacrificing quality, the Old Town Topwater 106 could be your best bet. This was the winner of our best river fishing kayak award because of its excellent fishing features and storage space. Check out the full list of the best river fishing kayaks if you want to see the rest of our top picks.

This is a nimble little kayak that is easy to maneuver in small spaces, making it ideal for narrow rivers and creeks. It turns easily and quickly and is also easy to paddle, which makes it a good choice for new kayakers, in our opinion.

A downside of its length and width is that it’s not the best fishing kayak if you want to paddle long distances to get to your fishing spot, as it’s not the fastest. It also does not have a rudder to counter currents. 

Despite its short length, this is a pretty spacious fishing kayak, with a roomy deck. It even has a standing platform with EVA deck padding for traction and to reduce noise when you drop a lure.

It has a generous capacity, with plenty of space for fishing gear. It also has an onboard rod and tackle management system to keep you organized.  

A great feature of the Topwater is its stability, thanks to its Double-U pontoon hull. This helps it handle just about any type of water and provides enough stability for safe standing.   

Pros

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Extremely stable
  • Packed with fishing features

Cons

  • No rudder
  • Not the most efficient kayak over long distances

8: Perception Pescador Pilot 12 (best pedal)

Perception Pescador 12.0 Pilot KayakPin
  • Length: 12 foot 5 inches
  • Width: 33.75 inches
  • Depth: 16 inches
  • Weight: 85 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 475 pounds

The Pescador Pilot was the top rated kayak in our rundown of the best pedal fishing kayaks.

This pedal kayak is built for a full day on the water. It has ample space to bring along all the fishing gear you might need. And it has a comfortable captain’s chair with mesh fabric for airflow.

The main feature of this fishing kayak is the Pilot Drive propeller system to help power you to your next fishing hole. The pedal drive can be lifted up and stowed on the deck when you’re in the shallows, unlike some other pedal kayaks. And you can pedal in reverse, so you can back up out of tight spaces without turning around.

Turning quickly is not its strong suit, so remember your kayak paddle.

The Pescador Pilot is designed to handle just about any type of water and is ideal for ocean fishing, as well as kayak fishing in lakes and rivers.

It has great stability and, combined with the hands free propulsion, it can be a good fishing kayak for new kayak anglers. It’s stable enough to stand up in but it doesn’t have a dedicated standing platform or padded deck.

You can check out our full review of the Pescador Pilot 12 here

Pros

  • Pedal drive can be stowed when fishing in shallows
  • Forward and reverse modes
  • Built for all-day fishing

Cons

  • Not easy to maneuver without a paddle
  • Deck not padded

9: Perception Outlaw 11.5 (best stand up)

  • Length: 11 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 35 inches
  • Depth: 16 inches
  • Weight: 77 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 425 pounds 

The Perception Outlaw offers exceptional stability and was engineered for standing up, making our list of the best stand up fishing kayaks. This is one of the best fishing kayaks out there in terms of stability and deck walkability. But it’s not the quickest boat on the water.

The padded deck provides traction and comfort for standing up while also minimizing noise from your kayak for a stealthy approach to your honey hole. You can also stow the seat to give yourself even more space for standing and there’s space for a 35L cooler.

The comfortable framed seat offers elevated seating, which claims to be the “highest fishing vantage ever in a kayak”. 

This can be a great fishing kayak if you’re looking to customize a kayak with your own accessories and additional fishing equipment. There are three Solo Mount recesses and two gear tracks that double as side carry handles.

The Outlaw has some of the best tackle storage we’ve seen on a fishing kayak. There are several storage trays for keeping smaller items organized and accessible. You’ll also find a large rear tankwell and a mesh-covered bow storage deck.

There are two double barrel rod holders, so you can carry up to four fishing rods. What it doesn’t have, however, is dry storage.

Check out our full Perception Outlaw review.

Pros

  • Excellent stability
  • Walkable deck
  • Great tackle storage space

Cons

  • No dry storage
  • Not efficient to paddle
Video: Perception Outlaw 11.5 Overview

10: Jackson Yupik (best for fly fishing)

  • Length: 12 foot 2 inches
  • Width: 35 inches
  • Weight: 90 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 425 pounds

The Jackson Yupik won a top spot on our list of best fly fishing kayaks. With its open deck, you’ll find there are less chances of snagging your line during a cast. 

The Yupik is a big kayak with plenty of space for fly fishing equipment or camping gear. However, its large size means it’s also very heavy and could be difficult to carry if you’re on your own without a kayak cart. But there are four carry handles to help you.

A top feature of this fishing kayak is the bow to stern track system, which gives you the freedom of mounting accessories in the most suitable position for your fishing style. 

The wide, spacious deck is fully walkable, with padding for traction and noise reduction. The seat is built for comfort and support on long fishing trips. It can also be positioned lower with one hand. 

You’ll find tackle storage at the sides of the seat, along with a dedicated spot for your phone. But there are no storage hatches. There’s a scooped bow storage area that’s ideal for tents and dry bags. Plus, the roomy stern tank well is perfect for holding your fishing crate or cooler. 

Pros

  • Walkable deck
  • Open deck for less snagging
  • Tackle tray storage

Cons

  • No storage hatches
  • Heavy

11: Wilderness Systems Radar 135 (best for bass)

Wilderness Systems Radar 135Pin
  • Length: 13 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Depth: 15.5 inches
  • Weight: 90 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 475 pounds

The Wilderness Systems Radar 135 is, in our opinion, the best fishing kayaks on the market for bass fishing. Its versatility also makes it an ideal choice for just about any type of kayak fishing. 

Although, you might find it’s not as easy to maneuver in tight spaces, so it might not be the best fishing kayak for small rivers or creeks. The Radar 135 can perform better on big water, such as lakes, large rivers, and coastal waters.

This large kayak actually made it to the shortlists in two other categories. It features as one of the better kayaks in both the fly fishing kayak and the best sit-on-top kayak lists.

One of the best things about this fishing kayak is that it has optional tri-powered capabilities, so it’s more than just a paddle kayak. 

This means you can add the optional Helix Motor Drive or the Helix Pedal Drive (both sold separately) for hands-free propulsion to increase your power and speed over the water.

It features SMART hull technology for added performance. It’s quick over the water, with good tracking and stability. 

This is a very spacious fishing kayak, with room to bring everything you need for a full day of kayak fishing. There’s a large bow hatch, a flush center hatch, molded tackle storage pockets, plus a huge stern tankwell.

It’s easy to customize the deck with multiple accessory tracks for installing gadgets and gizmos, such as fish finders and extra rod holders. Note, there are no flush mount rod holders on this fishing kayak. 

Pros

  • Very spacious
  • Customizable deck
  • Tri-powered capabilities

Cons

  • Not the best for narrow rivers
  • No rod holders

12: Pelican Catch Mode 110 (most stable)

  • Length: 10 foot 8 inches
  • Width: 34.5 inches
  • Depth: 16.5 inches
  • Weight: 63 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 375 pounds

The Pelican Catch Mode is a very stable kayak. It is the new model of The Catch family of fishing kayaks.

This updated version has a redesigned hull to maximize space on deck, providing an improved standing platform. But if you’re looking for high-end fishing features, this probably isn’t the right kayak.

The wide tunnel hull provides exceptional stability in a range of waters, with the extra width offering more space on the deck for your legs and feet.

We think this can make an excellent fishing kayak for beginners because of its high level of stability. Its compact length also means it’s easy to maneuver and could be a great choice for kayak fishing in creeks, rivers, and smaller lakes.

There is also a rudder system to help with tracking and navigation in currents and wind. It’s not the most efficient kayak on open water, so it might not be the best if you’re looking to paddle long distances

You’ll find a good level of storage, with bow and stern tank wells, gear tracks for mounting accessories (sold separately), bottle holders, and three flush mount rod holders. Additionally, there are paddle and rod tie downs for hands free fishing. 

Pros

  • Good value
  • Stable tunnel hull
  • Spacious fishing platform

Cons

  • Slow
  • Basic fishing features

13: FeelFree Lure 10 (great for maneuvering)

  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Weight: 69 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 375 pounds

The FeelFree Lure 10 is a compact fishing kayak that is easy to maneuver both on and off the water. We think it’s also one of the best fishing kayaks for stand up fishing.

This fishing kayak is at home on rivers and lakes and has all the features you could want for a kayak fishing trip. It has fishing rod holders, accessory tracks, and a removable sonar pod.

Being just 10-foot in length, this is a convenient size for transportation and storage. It’s even easier to transport than most fishing kayaks thanks to the patented Wheel in the Keel. This means you can pull it along to the water’s edge, even when it’s fully rigged.

The outstanding Gravity Seat padded for comfort and support. And it’s fully adjustable, with multiple height positions. 

Because of its short length, it’s not very quick.

Check out our full FeelFree Lure 10 review.

Pros

  • Wheel in the Keel
  • Super stable
  • Packed with fishing features

Cons

  • Slow
  • Not spacious for long fishing trips or large equipment.

14: Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 120 (good for trolling)

Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 120Pin
  • Length: 12 foot
  • Width: 37 inches
  • Weight: 152 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 558 pounds

In our opinion, the Sportsman Autopilot is one of the best fishing kayaks you can buy for trolling and ocean fishing. We have it ranked as the best motorized fishing kayak in our best ocean fishing kayaks awards. And it also won the ICAST Best of Show award back in 2020.

This motorized kayak can let you hit your honey hole faster and offers hands free fishing with two rear-facing and two-forward facing rod holders. There’s also plenty of tackle storage space and a customizable deck. 

The wide, stable deck also provides a comfortable platform for stand up fishing.

This comes with a 45-pound saltwater-ready Minn Kota trolling motor. It has Spot-Lock technology to help you maintain your position in currents and wind.

This is a feature-packed boat that has the same quality and comfort as other Old Town fishing kayaks. But it is extremely heavy and pricey.  

Pros

  • Trolling motor 
  • Comfortable
  • Hands free fishing

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy 

15: Lifetime Sport Fisher (best budget fishing kayak)

Lifetime Sport FisherPin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Weight: 73 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 500 pounds

The Lifetime Sport Fisher is an affordable fishing kayak that’s perfect if you want to stick to a smaller budget. We think this is the best budget fishing kayak and an ideal boat if you’re new to kayaking or kayak fishing. 

It’s actually a tandem kayak and comes with two paddles. It even made it into the top 10 in our guide to the best tandem fishing kayaks.

This is a basic sit-on-top fishing kayak so it doesn’t have much in the way of features. But it does have molded rod storage and a small rear hatch. Plus, there’s some bungee storage at the bow for additional gear.

The Sport Fisher is a compact kayak with a wide tunnel hull for extra stability. It can be a good option for kayak fishing on flatwater lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers.

It’s not going to win any races and it’s not the most comfortable in the seating area. So you might want to add extra cushioning if you want to fish for a few hours.

> Our full Lifetime Sports Angler review

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Stable fishing kayak
  • Great for beginners

Cons

  • Not very comfortable
  • Basic features

16: Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Pro

Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Pro AE1055 KayakPin
  • Length: 10 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 38.5 inches 
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 400 pounds

The Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Pro is an inflatable fishing kayak. It can be great for kayak anglers looking for a lightweight vessel that’s easy to store at home without sacrificing all the necessary features for a successful kayak fishing trip.

This is a very stable kayak that can be ideal for both beginners and experienced kayak fishers. . But it’s not the fastest pick of the bunch.

It has a drop-stitch floor for rigidity and performance, providing a spacious deck with plenty of room to land fish comfortably. You can also stand up to make it easier.

The accessory rail gives you mounting space for electronics and accessories (sold separately). A downside to this durable fishing kayak is the pump is sold separately.

Check out our full review of the standard Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler.

Pros

  • Stable
  • Lightweight
  • Mounting points

Cons

  • Pump not included
  • Slow to paddle

17: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Sit-On-Top Kayak in Breeze Blue colorPin
  • Length: 12 foot 3 inches
  • Width: 31 inches
  • Depth: 13.75 inches
  • Weight: 63 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is one of the best sit-on-top kayaks for fishing.

It’s a versatile kayak that can also be ideal for other activities, besides kayak fishing, such as scuba diving or camping. It’s also dog friendly.

It’s packed with features to make your day on the water more comfortable, such as conveniently located storage hatches, magnetic bottle holder, and adjustable foot braces. 

However, one feature it lacks is a rod holder. But there are accessory rails so you can install your own.

The Tarpon is crafted for comfort with a fully-adjustable Phase 3 AirPro seating system. But it’s narrower than almost all the fishing kayaks on our list. So it might feel less stable for new paddlers but it’s designed to be faster and more efficient on the water.

You can check out our full Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 review here.

Pros

  • Fast and efficient
  • Versatile
  • Generous storage

Cons

  • No rod storage
  • Narrower

18: Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak - Best Tandem kayakPin
  • Length: 10 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 39 inches
  • Weight: 32 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 470 pounds

The Coleman Colorado frequently makes it onto lists of the best fishing kayaks, especially in the budget category. This is an inflatable kayak that’s designed to be easy to use and great for travel.

This is a tandem kayak. But we think space is limited for two adults. It’s better suited to one adult kayak fishing with a child or solo because of the restricted leg room.

This durable little kayak comes with rod storage and can be ideal for freshwater fishing on flatwater. But its tracking performance isn’t great.

Check out our full Coleman Colorado review.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Tandem kayak
  • Rod holders

Cons

  • Not very spacious
  • Tracking not good

19: Sun Dolphin Excursion 10

Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 KayakPin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 41 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds

The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 is one of the best sit-in kayaks for fishing if you’re on a tight budget. This is an affordable fishing boat offering you a drier ride compared to a sit-on-top kayak. 

It also made it into the top five of the best Sun Dolphin kayaks.

The kayak’s seat isn’t the most comfortable so you might not want to sit in it for long without extra cushioning. It’s also not the best for larger paddlers.  

It has three rod stagers and covered storage with bungee cords. It’s also lightweight and compact, making it easy to maneuver in small spaces on land and the water. 

Check out our full review of the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10.

Pros

  • Basic kayak
  • Sit-in 
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Not for large paddlers
  • Not the most comfortable 

20: Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130

  • Length: 13 foot
  • Width: 38 inches
  • Depth: 13.5 inches
  • Weight: 41 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 650 pounds

If you’re looking for one of the best fishing kayaks in terms of portability and capacity, we think the Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler fits the bill. While it’s not specifically a tandem fishing kayak, it has the capacity to carry a second person or a dog.

It frequently makes our shortlists in various categories for the best fishing kayaks.

This portable fishing kayak is made with durable material, features MOLLE plates, and has accessory mounts. The pump is not included.

Unlike most inflatable fishing kayaks, this one comes with a fishing cooler included and has a comfortable framed seat. But it’s not the easiest to paddle on open water.

Pros

  • Huge capacity
  • Framed seat
  • Fishing cooler

Cons

  • Pump not included
  • Not great on open water

21: Lifetime Tamarack Angler 120

Lifetime Tamarack 120 Angler KayakPin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 31 inches
  • Depth: 14.1 inches
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 275 pounds

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is a budget sit-on-top fishing kayak that can be a good choice for freshwater fishing. Interestingly, if you also like to go duck hunting, this boat made our list of the best duck hunting kayaks.

While the seat is not great, it can be adequate for short trips. It’s a small boat that’s a good size for ponds and small rivers. It has decent storage, with two hatches and rod storage. 

With a lower capacity than most fishing kayaks, this can be better suited to smaller anglers with less gear.

Check out our review of the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 120.

Pros

  • Good for beginners
  • Budget kayak
  • Storage hatches

Cons

  • Not for large paddlers
  • Seat not comfortable

Main Kayak Fishing Features To Look Out For

Sit-In Kayaks Or Sit-On-Top Kayaks?

One of the main considerations when choosing a fishing kayak will be whether you want a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-inside kayak. Most good fishing kayaks are sit-on-top kayaks because of the more freedom of movement they allow.

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks could be easier to land fish, as they have open decks with more space and you could potentially stand up to make reeling in your catch even easier. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stand up in a sit-in kayak.

Sit-inside kayaks do tend to offer a drier ride than sit-on-top kayaks, however. But the downside is that you can’t move around as much and you may not have as easy access to your storage areas while you’re seated compared to sit-on-top fishing kayaks. 

Man fishing on stand up kayak during daytimePin

Storage Options

Let’s face it, you’re going to need somewhere to put all of your fishing equipment. Storage is important on the best fishing kayaks. Your kayak should have enough space to safely store everything you need to take with you. 

Most sit-on-top fishing kayaks will have a rear cargo deck, usually designed to hold a fishing crate or a cooler. Some kayaks will have additional storage wells at the bow.

Some of the better fishing kayaks will also have storage hatches and tackle management systems. Some might also have battery storage so you can keep your electronics running during your trip. 

Rod storage is also important and can be found on lots of fishing kayaks, either as horizontal rod storage or vertical. But not all fishing kayaks come with rod storage and you may prefer to add your own using gear tracks or mounting points on the kayak. 

Pedal Kayaks Or Paddle Kayaks?

Pedal kayaks can let you get to your favorite fishing spot faster and with less effort than paddle kayaks. Using your feet to propel the kayak across the water, you can free up your hands for fishing. You can also take on bigger waters and travel longer distances, as pedaling tends to be easier and less tiring than paddling.

Pedal kayaks can also be ideal for beginners who have never kayaked. It requires less skill and technique to operate a pedal kayak compared to a paddle kayak.

However, even the best pedal fishing kayak will still require you to use a paddle at some point. It can be easier and quicker to turn using a paddle than a pedal drive and rudder.

A pedal kayak can often be used for kayak fishing in any type of water (except whitewater). It can be great for trolling and for holding your position in the water in currents without using your hands.

An alternative to a pedal drive is a motor drive. Some kayaks are compatible with motor drives that can fit into the same compartment as the pedal drive.

Failing that, you can also add an electric motor to most other fishing kayaks, as many of them have mounting points at the stern to let you install a motor or rudder kit. The motor can work in a similar way to pedals, for example, for trolling, except you don’t have to put in any physical effort to get going. 

Hull Design

With stability being a key feature of the best fishing kayaks, hull design is something to consider. 

The most stable fishing kayaks tend to have tunnel hulls. These are basically pontoon hulls and can be the most stable type of hull out there. Tunnel hulls can allow you to stand comfortably on the deck and move around to grab gear without tipping over.

Kayaks with tunnel hull designs can usually handle a variety of water conditions, including oceans. 

Kayaks with flat bottoms are designed for excellent stability on flatwater but these hulls are not built for rough water.

The wider the kayak, generally the more stable it will be. You might have noticed that fishing kayaks tend to be among the widest kayaks on the market. 

Check out our article on kayak hull designs if you want to know more.

Customizable Deck

Most kayaks allow for some degree of customization. Kayaks that are built specifically for fishing usually have gear tracks or accessory rails. These allow you to install your own accessories without having to drill into the hull.

Accessory rails and tracks mean it’s easier for you to remove and change your accessories whenever you want. You can also reposition them on the deck depending on your style of fishing.

Some fishing kayaks will have transducer scuppers conveniently placed for installing fish finders on the deck.

Mounting points or plates can be useful features on a fishing kayak, allowing you to mount accessories directly to the deck rather than the tracks. 

Standing Platform

Being able to stand up to cast your line or reel in a big fish can be a bonus in a kayak. But a standing platform is not a guaranteed feature. Not all fishing kayaks are designed to allow standing up. 

The wider the better. But you may want to look for a kayak that has a dedicated fishing platform if you want to stand up while fishing.

Deck padding can be a good feature to look out for. As well as providing traction for wet feet, it can also help to reduce noise from your kayak, so you can stay incognito and not scare the fish away when you drop something. 

Some fishing kayaks have large flat decks, often called walkable decks. This means the kayak has been crafted with standing up in mind and will generally be engineered for stability.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable fishing kayaks will generally have a higher capacity. They won’t always be as spacious on deck but they can be ideal for beginners and larger paddlers

You may also find that inflatables can handle rougher water than hardshell kayaks, which can make them perform better on waves and rapids. 

Size And Capacity

Fishing kayaks come in a wide range of sizes. Larger and wider kayaks will tend to have a higher capacity than smaller ones but this is not always the case.

Where you plan to fish will generally determine the size of kayak that you’ll need. Longer kayaks can be better for open water as they tend to be more efficient in terms of speed and tracking.

Shorter kayaks can be better for fishing in rivers and streams where maneuverability is important. 

If you want to go kayak fishing in rivers, you might want to stick to kayaks under 12 feet. Kayaks over 12 feet can be better for kayak fishing in lakes and bays.

Remember:

  • Longer kayaks are faster and more efficient over long distances
  • Shorter kayaks are easier to maneuver and turn easily 

However, you should also consider the capacity. If you plan to fish all day or over several days, a larger kayak can be better, as there will usually be more space for gear and a higher capacity to carry it all.

Shorter kayaks can be better for shorter trips where you may not need to carry as much gear and won’t need camping gear.

Tandem kayaks can also usually offer more space if you plan to paddle solo, particularly if you’re a larger angler. Most tandem fishing kayaks are short compared to tandem touring kayaks, for example. 

Tandem fishing kayaks are often a similar length as many solo fishing kayaks but with added capacity. So they can easily be paddled by one person.

Man on fishing kayak holding large fishPin

Weight

The size of a fishing kayak can affect its overall weight. Fishing kayaks are usually heavier than other types of kayaks because they’re packed with additional features and usually a sturdier seat. 

Some fishing kayaks can weigh over 100-pounds. This can make them difficult to carry if you’re on your own and almost impossible to car-top without load-assist tools. 

Lightweight fishing kayaks do exist, but they’re usually not as lightweight as you’d expect, even the inflatable ones. You may still want to consider a kayak cart or trolley to help you get your boat to and from the water. 

Load-assist tools can help with loading the heavy kayak on your car roof. Or you might prefer to haul it in a trailer to save your back. Check out some of our top-rated kayak loaders.

FAQs For Choosing A Fishing Kayak

How Do I Choose The Perfect Fishing Kayak To Suit My Needs?

Decide what type of water you want to fish in and how much gear you want to bring. Then you can find the right size of kayak for your needs and can narrow it down to the features you require.

What Are The Advantages Of Longer Versus Shorter Fishing Kayaks?

Longer fishing kayaks can offer more space for gear and potentially increased speeds. Shorter fishing kayaks can be easier to maneuver.

Are Fish Finders Essential For Successful Kayak Angling Trips?

While they are not essential, they can help you to pinpoint the exact location of the fish, which can help you catch more fish as you can see the depths.

This can help you choose the right type of lure.

How Does My Fishing Style Influence The Choice Between Paddle, Pedal And Motorized Kayaks?

If you fish in moving water or big water, pedal and motorized kayaks can help you both get to your fishing spot faster and maintain your position in wind and currents.

Paddle kayaks can be better in shallow waters and smaller bodies of water where speed and distance aren’t issues.

Is A Sit-On-Top Kayak Better For Fishing?

A sit-on-top kayak can give you more space to move around, access gear on the water, and land fish.

How Do Inflatable Fishing Kayaks Compare To Their Hardshell Counterparts?

Inflatable kayaks are very durable and great for river fishing. But they are often less customizable than hardshell equivalents (you can’t drill into an inflatable) and generally less efficient for paddling.

> Inflatable versus hard kayaks compared

Are Certain Colors More Advantageous For Fishing Kayaks?

Many fishing kayaks come in camouflage colors. But the good news is, kayak color doesn’t matter to fish

How Does Kayak Size Influence Speed And Stability?

The wider the kayak, the more stable it should be. Short, wide kayaks will be more stable than long, narrow kayaks but they will also be slower. 

Are There Specific Kayak Designs That Excel At Bass Fishing?

A customizable deck can be useful to let you personalize your boat to your fishing style.

A decent amount of storage can also be good but the design you want will probably depend on the type of rigging you want to have.

Any Fast Tips For Fishing Off A Kayak?

  1. Pack light, with no more tackle than you think you’ll need.
  2. Make sure your accessories float.
  3. Wear a life jacket.

Reel In The Adventure: Your Ultimate Fishing Kayak Awaits!

If you want the best of the best, our clear winner is the Wilderness Systems ATAK 120. It can handle almost any water and has plenty of space and features to suit even the keenest kayak angler. 

If you’d prefer your fishing kayak to be lighter and more portable, our runner-up pick (and best inflatable) is the Sea Eagle FastTrack Angler 385. This durable fishing kayak has a huge capacity for carrying gear, plus excellent stability. And it can fit neatly in the back of your car. 

Perhaps ocean fishing is your thing? We think the Old Town Salty PDL 120 is up to the task. And it has a pedal system delivering hands-free operation and extra power to get you to your honey hole faster, so you can spend more time fishing and less time getting there. 

Remember to think about the features you want in a fishing kayak and the type of water you plan to fish in. 

Not all of these fishing kayaks are suitable for all types of water or all types of kayak anglers. Check them out for yourself to make sure you find the right fishing kayak for your needs.

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