Best Fly Fishing Kayak – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews
When you think of kayak fishing you might not always consider fly fishing as an option. But kayaks can be excellent tools for fly fishing, helping you get closer to the fish and access other areas of the river.
Not all kayaks are created equal when it comes to fishing, so you'll need to do your research before making a purchase. We'll help you find the best fly fishing kayak by showing you some of the best options on the market today.
At A Glance:
Top 15 Best Fly Fishing Kayaks Reviewed
1: Jackson Kayak Mayfly (best overall)
The Jackson Mayfly was built specifically for fly fishing. This means it has all the fishing features you’d expect from an angler kayak with extra features designed specifically for fly fishing, including fly and rod storage, plus a fly line management system.
It has excellent storage space, with bow and stern hinged hatches that are made to be fly line friendly. The footrest is also crafted to prevent line snags.
The Elite Seat 3.0 is built for comfort, with added lumbar support. The seat can also slide back and forth and can be positioned either higher or lower depending on your personal preference.
Another great feature of this fly fishing kayak is the spacious, wide deck with non-slip deck padding for safer standing. It also has a very stable hull that is crafted to handle flatwater and calm moving water, with great tracking and speed for efficient paddling.
2: Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 (runner-up)
The Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 is a more compact version of the award-winning ATAK 140. This 12-foot kayak is an ultimate fishing kayak with incredible stability in both flat and moving water.
The 35-inch wide hull means there’s plenty of space for your gear and to stand for better casting. There’s also a stand-assist strap that can help you to your feet.
It has a large hinged bow hatch with a paddle park on the top. You’ll also find a removable utility pod to keep your fly tackle and removable console system where you can mount your fish finder and transducer, and store your battery. The SlideTrax Accessory System lets you mount rod holders and additional accessories to customize the deck.
Another fantastic feature of the ATAK is the AirPro Max seating system. This is fully adjustable and made for all-day comfort and increased visibility for sight fishing.
3: Perception Pescador Pro 10 (best value)
The Perception Pescador Pro 10 packs a lot of features into its compact hull and offers excellent value considering its sub $1000 price tag. This fly fishing kayak can be an excellent choice for smaller rivers because of its shorter length, so it can be easier to maneuver and control in tight spaces.
Its shorter length can also mean it’s easier to handle on land, for example, car-topping it or carrying it to the water. Additionally, it’s very lightweight for a fishing kayak.
The Pescador Pro has an elevated dual-position seat for better sight fishing. There is a tackle storage console on the deck, along with a cup holder. There are gear tracks on the sides to let you install various accessories. And there are storage areas at both the bow and stern for larger gear.
A nice feature of this fishing kayak is the horizontal rod storage.
4: Old Town Topwater 120 (good for stability)
The Old Town Topwater 120 can offer incredible stability thanks to its DoubleU hull which is similar in style to a pontoon hull. This means it can be an excellent fishing kayak for casting while standing up. The EVA foam deck adds extra protection while standing and helps to minimize noise.
This boat has ample storage for fly tackle, with space for a large fishing crate in the rear tankwell. There’s also an oval bow hatch for extra gear. The generous capacity makes this an ideal kayak for larger paddlers.
For comfort on the water, there’s an ElementAir seat that features high/low positioning and breathable mesh fabric. If you want to install a fish finder (not included), the universal transducer mount should come in handy.
5: Vibe Sea Ghost 130 (best for rivers)
The Vibe Sea Ghost 130 can be an excellent kayak for fly fishing on rivers thanks to its built-in rudder system to let you handle currents more easily. This can be ideal for paddling both upstream and downstream, as well as trying to hold your position in the river or cross it.
This 13-foot fly fishing kayak offers ample storage for all your gear, with a huge capacity allowing you to bring everything you need for your trip. The center console can be useful for fly organization and there’s also a cup holder for your favorite beverage. The console also benefits from having gear tracks so you can attach a fish finder more easily.
The Vibe Hero seat is built for comfort and elevation. It features breathable mesh for ventilation and can be adjusted for support. At the side of the seat you’ll find two tackle tray holders, so you can organize your flies and keep them within easy reach.
6: Old Town Sportsman Salty PDL (best for saltwater)
The Old Town Sportsman Salty PDL is built for fishing in saltwater and is designed to handle waves and current. This is a pedal kayak so it has a rotational pedal drive system, letting you cross the water quickly and efficiently, giving you more time to fish and less time to get to the best spot.
This fishing kayak also benefits from having a rudder which can help you navigate through moving water while staying on course. It features EVA deck pads to reduce noise from your deck so you don’t scare away the fish. The deck pads can also provide you with traction if you want to stand up to cast.
There are two storage decks with bungees for securing larger gear. And there are gear tracks on the sides of the deck so you can easily install your favorite accessories or gadgets. It also comes with three flush-mounted rod holders and a custom tackle box.
7: FeelFree Lure 13.5 (best for standing up)
The FeelFree Lure 13.5 is an extremely stable fishing kayak that has the added benefit of a padded standing platform. This means it can be more comfortable to stand up in, with enough space to cast and adjust your position safely.
This is a pretty large kayak (and heavy) but it can be great for longer days on the water thanks to its large capacity for gear and its very comfortable seat. The Gravity Seat is multi-height adjustable so you can tailor it for sight fishing and paddling.
It has a stable hull that can perform well in rivers and oceans. It has a multi-use front console for tackle organization, as well as a large rear storage deck and oval bow hatch. The UNI-Tracks can let you install additional accessories and mount them in the most convenient location.
A great feature of this boat is the Wheel in the Keel, which can make it easier to get your kayak from A to B without having to lift it.
8: Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 (best pedal drive)
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is packed with features and has one of the best pedal drive systems (MirageDrive 180) for navigating both deep and shallow water, with Kick-Up Turbo fins. It can be a fantastic kayak for bigger or heavier anglers as the seat itself has a capacity of 350 pounds.
The Vantage ST seating system allows you to adjust your position for improved comfort and it also benefits from having Boa lumbar support for long days on the water.
There is plenty of storage space, with a pivoting tackle management system that holds the two medium Plano tackle boxes that come with it. It’s also ready for your fish finder, with pre-installed thru-hull cable plugs. Additionally, there are H-rails for attaching other accessories.
9: Pelican BassCreek 100XP Angler Kayak (best budget)
This Pelican BassCreek 100XP Angler can be a great budget fly fishing kayak, especially if you’re looking to fly fish in small rivers. It’s very lightweight, weighing only 50 pounds, which can make it much easier to carry and car-top.
Being just 10 feet long, you might find it could fit in the back of some pickup trucks, eliminating the need for a roof rack. With a compact hull, it can be great for navigating smaller rivers as it’s made to be easy to maneuver.
There is a storage hatch at the bow and a rear tank well for holding fishing gear. You’ll also find a 4-inch hatch with an inner liner behind the seat which can be useful for smaller items.
The seat is padded and has a padded backrest but it may not be the most comfortable option for all-day trips.
10: Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Pro Inflatable Kayak
This Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Pro kayak can be a good option if storage at home is limited. This is an inflatable kayak that can be easier to get to and from the water than a standard fishing kayak, so it might be beneficial if you want a lightweight, portable kayak for occasional fly fishing.
It can be ideal for a range of water conditions, with excellent stability even in rough waters. It features a drop-stitch floor which can add rigidity and durability to the deck, making standing up easier. However, you’ll still need pretty good balance to stand up in this kayak.
It can be easily customized with aftermarket accessories that are designed for this particular kayak, such as rail mounts.
11: Jackson Kayak Yupik
The Jackson Yupik kayak is designed to maximize space on the deck, so that there’s more room to stand and move around. This can make it more convenient for casting.
While one of the main features of the Yupik is the low-profile walkable deck, with a standing pad for better noise reduction, it is also designed for easy customization. This means you can accessorize the kayak to suit your fishing style, without having to drill into the hull.
The Stern to Bow track system features three tracks that run along each side and through the center, from the front to the back, giving you freedom of choice for mounting rod holders and other accessories.
There are also tackle tray storage areas along the sides and a snag-free front paddle holder.
12: Riot Escape 12 Angler
This Riot Escape 12 Angler kayak is a relatively lightweight fishing kayak that can be ideal for fly fishing in rivers. The pre-installed rudder system can mean it’s easier to navigate in currents and wind, helping you to stay on course.
A great feature of this boat is the built-in anchor trolley system, so you can make use of this when you find your perfect casting spot.
There are four flush-mounted rod holders and one swivel mount rod holder, although these are generally not designed to hold fly rod, so you may need to do some customizing to get them to work for you.
An oval hatch at the bow can be useful for keeping gear within the hull, and the rear tankwell can be ideal for keeping a fishing crate secure.
13: Hobie Mirage Passport 10.5
The Hobie Mirage Passport 10.5 is a pedal kayak that’s designed to be easy to use and fast on the water. It can be a good choice for new kayakers, as it can be easier to propel. It also comes with a paddle to get you started.
The MirageDrive pedal system features Glide Technology and dual Kick-Up fins. The fins are designed to safely retract if you hit any logs and rocks or underwater hazards, making this a durable option for fly fishing in shallow water.
The attached rudder can help you to control the kayak in moving water.
There are two cargo areas with bungees for tying gear down. You’ll also find an 8-inch hatch conveniently positioned in front of the seat for easy access to smaller items, such as flies and lines. The Passport also has accessory tracks for installing your own accessories.
14: Perception Outlaw 11.5
The Perception Outlaw 11.5 is an affordable kayak that’s designed for versatility. This can make it great for all types of fishing, as well as various sizes of paddlers.
One of the best features of this angler kayak is its stability. Its short, wide hull can make it very stable in a range of different waters but particularly in slow-moving rivers and flatwater lakes.
The standing platform is padded for traction and noise reduction, and the deck is spacious for comfortable casting and to minimize your line getting snagged.
It has an elevated mesh seat that can be useful for both sight fishing and casting. The seat can also be fully stowed to give you a walkable deck. It has both bow and stern tankwells for larger gear, as well as molded-in tackle trays for fishing tackle management.
You’ll also find gear tracks built into the side handles, cup holders, rod holders and Solo Mount recesses.
15: Wilderness Systems Radar 135
The Wilderness Systems Radar 135 is built as an ultimate fishing kayak with excellent stability, without sacrificing speed and efficiency on the water. This is a large kayak offering a lot of space for all your fishing equipment.
A useful feature of this kayak is that it’s compatible with the Helix Motor Drive and the Helix Pedal drive (both sold separately), so it gives you the option of upgrading the means of propulsion.
It has a stable hull with Smart technology, so it can handle a range of fishing conditions. You can stand on the roomy deck and the center hatch is flush with the deck so you have more room to position yourself for better casting.
There are gear tracks for accessories and plenty of storage options for fly tackle. The seat is also built for maximum comfort, with added lumbar support.
Essential Features That Make A Good Fly Fishing Kayak
Because you usually need more of an active cast for fly fishing compared to other types of fishing, it can sometimes be easier and more comfortable to stand up.
A good thing to look for in a standing deck is padding. Deck pads can provide traction for your feet, making it safer to stand. Deck padding can also minimize noise from your kayak if you drop anything, so you can fish more quietly with less disturbance for the fish you’re trying to catch.
A stand-assist strap can be a useful feature to help you safely transition from sitting to standing.
One of the main things that you don’t want while fly fishing from a kayak is your line getting snagged on your boat. With less room to cast from a kayak compared to on a riverbank, you may want to maximize the little space you do have.
This can mean keeping your deck free of anything that could catch your line when you cast, such as fish finders or other accessories. Low profile accessories can be a good idea if you plan to mount additional items.
Kayaks that have multiple accessory tracks or mounts can give you more freedom of choice when it comes to mounting gadgets, so you can install your gear in the most strategic spot and out of the way of your casting line.
Most fishing kayaks are built for optimum stability. For fly fishing, having a stable kayak can be even more important, particularly when casting.
Wider hulls can often be better for fly fishing, as they can provide additional deck space for standing, as well as providing good primary stability.
Flat hulls are great for stability.
Method Of Propulsion
How you power the kayak to get to your fishing hole will generally be a case of which method suits you best or which one you prefer. Paddle kayaks can be easier to maintain as they have less moving parts, which also means you can keep your deck a little clearer. Paddle kayaks are also usually much cheaper than pedal or motor-powered kayaks.
A pedal kayak, on the other hand, can let you handle currents and wind more easily, as it can let you move with more power and speed. It can also give you the opportunity to keep both hands free for fishing.
A pedal kayak with retractable fins can be more useful in shallow water than one with a non-retractable propeller.
If you plan to attach a trolling motor, this can boost your kayak’s speed and power over the water while keeping your hands free. A trolling motor can also be useful in currents and if you’re heading upstream.
However, a motor-powered kayak can be more expensive to maintain and will generally require a battery to be stored on your kayak which can take up precious space.
Parts Of A Kayak Trolling Motor
An important feature to look for on any fly fishing kayak is enough storage space to store all your equipment. This means you’re probably going to want somewhere that can keep your flies, lines and other smaller items safe and within easy reach.
Most fishing kayaks that have rod holders are generally designed to hold spinning or baitcasting rods, rather than fly rods. So you may need to invest in specific fly rod holders.
Having gear tracks and accessory mounts on your kayak can help with the installation of fly rod holders and any other kayak mods or accessories you want to add.
Having a comfortable seat can be essential on a fishing kayak, especially if you plan to fish for several hours at a time. A seat with a high level of adjustability can be useful, as this can let you tailor the support for paddling, casting, or simply relaxing.
A padded, elevated seat can be beneficial as it can give you a better vantage point for sight fishing. It can also let you sit at a more convenient level above the kayak for higher casting, giving you more room.
Since most fly fishing is often done in rivers, having an anchor system can help you to stay in place without the current taking you downstream. This can be useful if you’ve found the best place to cast your line, as it means you can continue casting without having to paddle back into place each time.
How Do You Rig A Kayak For Fly Fishing?
The number one trick to rigging a kayak for fly fishing is probably to keep it simple. You don’t want to have a lot of gear or accessories on your deck which could get in the way of your casting line.
Video: How To Rig A Kayak For Fly Fishing
Try to bring as little equipment as possible so that you have maximum room to stand up on your deck and cast comfortably. One fly box can usually be sufficient for kayak fly fishing.
Kayak Fly Fishing FAQs
Is It Possible To Stand Or Sit When Casting?
It’s your choice whether you stand or sit while casting. It can be easier to stand if your kayak is stable enough. If you’re sitting, you might want to alter your technique a little to prevent your line catching on your kayak, for example, a higher backcast and leaning forward.
Video: Fly Fishing From A Kayak
How To Get Close To Your Catch
Using a fish finder can let you see where the fish are hiding, letting you get closer to them before you cast. When it’s time to reel them in, reel them in as close to your kayak as you can before using your net to land them.
Should You Use A Paddle, Pedal Power Or A Trolling Motor?
It’s generally down to personal preference. Paddle power can be simpler, with less maintenance. But pedal power and motor power can let you get to your fishing spot faster while keeping your hands free for fishing.
Is An Anchor Required For Kayak Fly Fishing?
Not always, but an anchor trolley or stakeout pole can be a useful tool in helping you maintain your position while you fish in moving rivers.
Summing It All Up
If you’re looking for the best fly fishing kayak, we think the Jackson Mayfly checks all the boxes. It’s purposely designed for fly fishing, so it’s stable, with a standing platform, and has excellent fly tackle storage.
Another fantastic alternative and worthy runner-up is the Wilderness Systems ATAK 120. It’s built for stability in a range of waters and has a spacious deck for standing and casting, with the benefit of a stand-assist strap.
These are just our favorite options, which may not be the best fly fishing kayaks for you. Remember to think about what you want from your kayak and the amount of equipment you want it to hold. Consider a comfortable seat if you plan to fish all day.