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Bonafide RS117 Fishing Kayak Review

Mark Armstrong
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The Bonafide RS117 aims to be the epitome of fishing kayaks, equipped to tackle any aquatic environment.

Designed and made in the USA for American kayak anglers, the Bonafide RS117 is built for comfort and organization on the water. It has a generous capacity, with plenty of room for gear. It also has a dual-position Stadium Seat and YakAttack MightMount XL tracks.

This is a stable fishing kayak that can be a good size for most paddlers. It’s built for flatwater fishing, with enough stability to handle moderately choppy waters. But it’s not great in surf and it isn’t the fastest across the water either.

Bonafide RS117 Fishing Kayak in Venom colorPin
  • Length: 11 foot 7 inches
  • Width: 33.5 inches
  • Depth: 13 inches
  • Weight: 72 pounds without seat (77 pounds with seat)
  • Weight Capacity: 425 pounds

If you don’t intend to fish, this isn’t the kayak for you. It’s pretty heavy and difficult to move around on your own.

Who The Bonafide RS117 Is Aimed At

The Bonafide RS117 is aimed at kayak anglers looking for a feature-packed fishing kayak with a budget-friendly price tag. However, this is not a cheap kayak. But it does have design features that you’re more likely to see on a premium, high-end fishing kayak.

It has a spacious deck, with lots of room for fishing tackle. There are gear tracks and fishing rod holders, as well as a large crate-friendly tank well. It can also be a good kayak for standing up to fish, with a padded deck and a cat-style hull.

The stability makes it good for new and experienced paddlers alike. It’s also not as wide as some other stand-up fishing kayaks out there, which should make it easier to paddle.

This is not built for speed and it doesn’t offer the best tracking performance, but it can be an excellent kayak for fishing in lakes, bays, rivers, and backwaters. It’s not the best kayak for fast-moving rivers or surf because it’s primarily designed for flatwater, which is where this kayak performs best.

The Big Features Of The Bonafide RS117


One of the main features of the Bonafide RS117 fishing kayak is the Hybrid Cat Hull. This is engineered to provide exceptional stability in a range of waters. But it can be put to best use for flatwater fishing.

This type of pontoon hull is what makes this kayak a good one for standing up. This can allow you to stand more easily for more comfortable casting.

This stable craft can be ideal for beginners looking for a high level of initial stability for more reassurance on the water.

Gear Storage

The Bonafide RS117 has no shortage of space when it comes to storage. This is a very spacious kayak despite being under 12-feet long.

You’ll find dedicated storage for fishing rods with the two flush-mounted rod holders at the back. There are also bungees in the side carrying handles that can hold fishing rods or you can use these to hold your paddle while you’re reeling in your prize catch.

The rear tank well is designed to accommodate a fishing crate or a cooler. There’s also a “Front StorageWell” (Bonafide’s well-designed bow storage well) with a “Shield StorageWell” cover to keep contents dry. You’ll also find a Paddle Pouch at the top of the StorageWell to stow your paddle. And it has a transducer scupper for installing your fish finder (sold separately).

There are tackle storage compartments around the seat and under it. Plus, there are integrated tackle trays on the gunwales and a cup holder next to the seat.

In the center of the deck, there’s a handy built-in DryPod for keeping smaller items safe and dry.

Video: Bonafide RS117 Walk Through


A good thing about the Bonafide RS117 is that it’s built for comfort and all-day fishing. It has a dual-position stadium seat that can be positioned higher or lower depending on whether you want better visibility or more comfortable paddling.

The “Stadium Seat” features a double layer of breathable mesh fabric for ventilation and drainage. The seat is also designed with extra width for added comfort.

There are sliding adjustable foot braces to help you stabilize yourself. This can also give you more room on the deck when you’re standing, as they tend to take up less room than molded foot rests.


The Bonafide RS117 is built for ultimate fishability. This means it can be the ideal vessel for fishing in just about any type of water. However, you might not want to take it into rapids or rough seas – remember, it’s primarily made for flatwater.

This can be a great kayak for fishing in calm coastal waters, backcountry shallows, mild rivers, and, of course, lakes and ponds. It can also be a pretty good boat for fly fishing, with a comparatively low-profile deck to minimize snagging, and ample storage for flies and other fly fishing tackle.

You could also load it up with camping gear if you don’t plan to fish.

Being just 11 and a half feet long, this kayak is a convenient size for fishing in a range of conditions. It can be easier to maneuver in smaller spaces compared to longer kayaks. This shorter length also means it can be easier to car-top and carry.

However, this is a pretty heavy kayak for its size, so you may need a kayak cart or a second person to help you move it on land.

We’ve seen others out there enjoying the great outdoors with their Bonafide RS117 kayaks, like this guy who has his RS117 nicely rigged for a fishing trip with his buddies.

Bonafide RS117 Alternatives

Jackson Coosa HD

Jackson Coosa HD KayaksPin

The Jackson Coosa HD is another ultimate fishing kayak for all the serious kayak anglers out there. This one is packed with features, including multiple gear tracks for easy accessory installation, rod and tackle storage, a standing platform, and a hi-lo seating system.

This is a comfortable kayak that’s built for all-day fishing adventures on rivers, lakes, and bays. Like the RS117, the Coosa HD can also be a good choice for fly fishing.

It’s a foot longer than the Bonafide RS117. It’s also more expensive.


  • Excellent fishing features
  • Comfortable seat
  • Good storage


  • Expensive

Wilderness Systems Radar 115

Wilderness Systems Radar 115Pin

The Wilderness Systems Radar 115 is a similarly-sized fishing kayak but it’s a little wider for improved stability. It’s also heavier.

It has a slightly higher maximum capacity than the RS117, so it can be a good choice if you want to carry heavy fishing gear. It can also be equally ideal if you’re a larger or heavier paddler.

This compact fishing kayak benefits from having a Phase3 AirPro Max seating system for added comfort on long fishing trips. It also has SMART hull technology, delivering high performance for stability, maneuverability, acceleration, responsiveness, and tracking.


  • Extremely comfortable
  • High capacity
  • Good performance on the water


  • Heavy

Perception Outlaw 11.5

Perception Outlaw 11.5 in Fossil Tan variantPin

The Perception Outlaw 11.5 can be a great alternative if you’re looking for a little more standing space on deck. This is crafted to offer extra space for easy casting and reeling in your catch.

It has good tackle storage, including two double-barrel rod holders, but there’s no dry storage.

This is an extremely stable kayak that can be ideal for a range of waters, including rivers and lakes. It’s also compact enough for ease of turning in small bodies of water.

This can be great for beginners, especially if you’re looking for a quality fishing kayak with a budget-friendly price tag. It can also be a good option if you want to bring your dog along for the ride.

> Full Outlaw 11.5 review


  • Budget-friendly
  • Extremely stable
  • Great for beginners


  • No dry storage

Bonafide RS117 FAQs

How Stable Is The RS117?

The RS117 is stable enough to stand up. It has excellent stability on flatwater but it may not perform very well on rough water.

Can I Stand Up In This Kayak?

Yes, there is a standing deck with traction pads to prevent slipping and reduce noise.

Is The RS117 Good For Fishing In All Day?

Yes, the RS117 is a comfortable kayak with a decent seat for all-day paddling and enough space for gear for an all-day fishing trip.

Is The Bonafide RS117 Fishing Kayak Any Good?

Bonafide RS117 Fishing Kayak in Venom colorPin


  • Stable
  • Great for flatwater
  • Good value


  • Not the best in surf
  • Heavy

The Bonafide RS117 can be the ideal fishing kayak if you’re looking for an American-made kayak that can handle a wide range of environments.

Its stable hull gives you the versatility to fish in different locations. And you have the space and capacity to bring along all the gear you’ll need for a full day on the water.

If this sounds like it’s the boat for you and you’re ready to check it out for yourself, click here. And remember to tell us what you think of it.

Bonafide RS117 Fishing Kayak Review - Pinterest ImagePin

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