There are a lot of fishing kayaks on the market. We are going to be honest here. The vast majority of them are terrible. Designed to do nothing but pry cash from your hands, while keeping you afloat on the water for a short while. This can make finding the best fishing kayak dreadfully difficult. This is where we come in.
Our editorial team has gone through some of the most popular (and a few of the less popular) fishing kayaks on the market. Our mission? To work out what the best fishing kayak is. The problem is that we couldn’t quite narrow it down to one. After all, everybody has their own ideas about what they want to see in a kayak. So, we have tried to include something for everybody.
Before we start diving into the fishing kayak reviews, though, we are going to go through a quick buyer’s guide. Yes. We know that you understand fishing kayaks. You may have bought one or two of them in the past. However, we are going to do it, just to give you a little bit of a prod. It may trigger a few ideas that you may not have thought of before!
We will try to keep this list up to date. Our editors are always searching through the wealth of fishing kayaks on the market, so if we find something that is better than any of the ten on this list, then you can bet your bottom dollar that we are going to be including it here!
Types of Fishing Kayak
There are a lot of different types of kayak that you can purchase. Not all of them are going to be covered here, mostly because we do not think that all of them are going to be that great for fishing, despite what some of the manufacturers may try to tell us. There is also a lot of overlap between some of the types, so it would be rather pointless churning out a massive list of them.
Your main types
All kayaks on the market are going to boil down to being one of these two:
– Sit-in kayaks
– Sit-on kayaks
For the most part, choosing one of these is going to be pretty much down to personal preference. However, if you are on colder waters, then sit-in is often the best option. It is a bit warmer on your legs since you are completely enclosed. Although, do bear in mind that if the water is a little bit choppier, it is a lot more difficult to get out of a sit-in kayak.
With a sit-in kayak, this is the option to go for if you are a beginner. They are easy to move about in, since you are not enclosed. Although, of course, you are going to get wet and a bit cold due to the lack of enclosure.
In addition to this, the kayaks will either be inflatable or a hardshell. We won’t go into all of the benefits on those here, because we are going to cover both types throughout this fishing kayak guide.
The most important fishing kayak types
As we said before; there are a lot of different types of kayak. Not all of them are going to be suitable for fishing. For example; a white water kayak tends to be built for faster waters, and it can be incredibly tough to fish if you are on white water. This means that we are not going to talk about those ones here. Instead, we want to mention the ones that are likely to be best for you as a fisherman.
Let’s start with recreational kayaks. These ones are made for lakes and slow moving rivers. They are not built for going onto the sea or anything that has too many intense currents. They are for those who just want a nice, casual fishing session.
If you are planning to fish on the sea, then you need a dedicated sea kayak. These have been designed specifically to deal with incredibly choppy waters. We wouldn’t recommend that you take one of these onto a lake or river, because they are unstable. In fact, the only time you should really be using a sea kayak is if you have experience.
If you are going out on longer trips, then you would likely want a touring kayak. These are designed to hold a lot of gear. They are also nice and long, which helps when it comes to the stability of the kayak. Of course, this is not a kayak that you will want to take on the sea. They are more for navigating longer, calmer stretches of water.
Of course, you also have dedicated fishing kayaks. As you can probably guess from the name, these are kayaks that have been designed explicitly for those who are planning on fishing. This means that you will have space to hold your fishing gear and the like. This means that there may be places where you can put your poles, or maybe attach a fish finder to your kayak. Obviously, if you are planning on doing more than fishing, this may not be the right type of kayak for you. However, if you are purely fishing, then we do have a couple of options for you later on. We will come to those, however!
On top of all of this, you may be able to get a pedal kayak. These have a bit of crossover with the other types on this list. Of course, the main difference with these is that you pedal the kayak as opposed to using the paddles. It takes a lot less effort like this, and you can go a bit faster. However, some people really are not going to be fans of the whole peddling side of things, and you may fall into that group too!
And, finally, all of these kayaks may also be tandem kayaks. This means that you will be able to fit multiple people in the boat. We wouldn’t recommend that you get a tandem kayak unless you genuinely do have multiple people heading into the boat. If it is too lightweight, then it is going to lose a lot of its stability. This means you will spend more time controlling the kayak, and a lot less time having fun with your fishing.
What you should be looking for in a Fishing Kayak
Now we have gone through the types of kayak on the market, we can now give you a few pointers on finding the perfect kayak for you. Basically, you can think of this section as “things you need to think about when buying a kayak”.
Inflatable or not?
The first decision that you need to make is whether you want to go down the route of inflatable or not. Don’t worry. When you pick yourself up an inflatable fishing kayak, you aren’t going to get something that is going to burst at the slightest nudge. Nearly every inflatable fishing kayak on the market is going to be pretty tough, and they can put up with quite a hammering. Of course, the main benefit is that they are going to be a lot more portable, and they will barely take up any space in your home.
On the other hand, a hard shell kayak is going to be a lot more durable. They also tend to be a lot easier to control. So, if you can put up with a hard shell kayak like this (i.e. you can move it about, and you do have the space to store it), then you will likely want to go down that route. It is going to make your fishing expeditions so much easier.
Sit-on or Sit-In?
Your first decision will be whether you want to opt for a sit-on or sit-in kayak. In our opinion, if you are going to go fishing, you will always want to opt for a sit-on kayak. It provides you with a bit more space to move about should you score yourself a catch. They can be a little bit less stable on occasion, but not drastically so.
The only time you will really want to be opting for a sit-in kayak is if you are fishing out at sea, or the waters are going to be a bit choppier. The sit-in kayak is going to keep you drier, and it tends to be a bit easier to control. However, do bear in mind that it is a bit tougher to get out of a sit-in kayak should you capsize, so make sure you have a bit of training carried out before you hit the waters. You really do not want to be panicking on the water, right?
Width of the kayak
If you have a wider kayak, then you will find that it is going to be a lot more stable. This means that it is going to be a whole lot easier for you to fish from. After all, you want to be fishing, rather than ensuring that your kayak is not rocking from side to side. This means that wider kayaks are also going to be great for beginners.
The downside is that these wider kayaks will be tough to move about if you are doing sharp turns and the like. If you are out on a lake or a wide river, then they will be fine. However, if you are traversing waters that are a little bit narrower, then a narrow kayak is better. It will stop you hitting the sides of the river.
Length of the kayak
Again, stability is a big factor here. The longer the kayak, the more stable it is going to be (in most cases), however, you will once again need to remember that it is tough to move about a longer kayak.
That being said, a lot of people report that longer kayaks can move a little bit faster, and they do glide through the water a little bit better. This means that they are going to be great for beginners.
Weight of the kayak
A lot of things to consider here. Obviously, weight is going to have a major impact on stability and how easy it is to move about. However, it is also going to have a major impact on how easy it is to move about. Obviously, heavier kayaks will need a bit more gear to get them into position.
This is going to be a personal preference. How much storage space do you want inside of your kayak? Are you going out for a few hours? Are you going out for days on end? Obviously, the more storage space you have, the longer and wider the kayak is likely to be. So, if you are traversing narrow bodies of water, then it may not be ideal to have a ton of storage. You will need so sacrifice something.
As we said before; there are some kayaks on the market that are going to be build specifically for those who are fishing. So, you will need to think about whether you want one of these. If you are only using your kayak for fishing, then by all means purchase a dedicated fishing kayak. However, if you plan to do much more than that, then it may not be worth it. You could easily fish from any kayak. You just will not have places installed for you to hold your rods and things like that.
You will likely want to pay attention to the way in which the seats work in the kayak. This means thinking about how much support they provide, whether they can be moved around the kayak. You may even want to think about the number of seats that are available on the kayak. The latter is incredibly important. After all, if you have more than one person heading out on the fishing trip, then you will probably want to ensure that they have enough seats for them!
Finally; think about the manufacturer of the kayak. Opt for a top manufacturer. That way you can be sure that you are ending up with something that is made to a high standard, while at the same time providing you with a fantastic customer support system if you do run into any issues with your fishing kayak. All of the manufacturers we mention on this list are going to be the top of their class.
Best Fishing Kayak Reviews
Old Town TopWater 106
We are going to get off to an absolutely flying start with our fishing kayak reviews. The Old Town TopWater 106 has been built from the ground-up to provide one of the best experiences for fishermen on the water. As you can probably tell from the look of this kayak, it is a fishing one through and through.
Control of this fishing kayak is done through pedalling. Absolutely no oars are required with this. Just use the pedal system. Of course, you can remove it if you want, but most people want to keep their hands free when they are fishing. You have better things to hold, right?
The seat on the TopWater 106 is dreadfully comfortable. This makes it perfect for hours and hours on the water. However, don’t worry. If you need a little bit more grip when you get that big bite, you have plenty of space to stand up and reel your catch in.
Despite the rather compact size of this fishing kayak, you have a surprising amount of space within the kayak. You have tons of space to put all your equipment. You also have three rod holders, which means you have more of an opportunity to nab a catch. As with most fishing kayaks, there is also a little holder so you can add a fish finder into the mix if you want.
If you pick up this kayak, you are not going to be able to navigate harsh waters with it. You will not be able to navigate narrow waters with it either. However, with this kayak, you are going to be getting something that will provide you with a comfortable trip on a lazy river or large lake. Remember; the OldTown TopWater 106 has been designed purely for fishing. You aren’t going to be doing anything too adventurous with it. Not with a seat as high as it is on this kayak, at least.
Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
This is the first inflatable fishing kayak on this list. Don’t worry. It is a good one. In fact, we recommend this kayak in our best fishing kayaks under $300 list.
Intex are well-known for creating some of the best inflatable kayaks on the market. The material they construct their gear from (laminate PVC) is a whole other class in comparison to other units out there. This stuff is nigh on unbreakable, and as long as you do not make it a habit to constantly bash into rocks, the Intex Excursion Pro is going to be able to provide you with years and years of happy use.
One our favorite things about this kayak is the included removable skews. We don’t know if you have ever been on an inflatable kayak before, but they tend not to be brilliant at remaining nice and straight when you are using them. The included skews help with this. You actually get two. One for deep water and the other for shallow water. This means that this kayak is going to be great for just about every situation (assuming the water is calm)
You have two seats inside the kayak, and it is able to hold up to 400lbs. You, of course, have the opportunity to move the seats around so you have the most comfortable set-up possible within the kayak.
This is another kayak that has been built from the ground-up for fishing. Included are two fishing rod holders. So, one for each of the riders. You have a ton of storage space. You also have some mounting brackets so you can add more fishing rod holders, or even a fish finder if you please.
This is a ‘sit-on’ kayak, but the storage space on here has been designed to keep everything inside dry. So, as long as you are not capsizing when you are in your kayak, then all of your gear should stay nice and dry.. It isn’t going to be impacted by water splashes like it would do on most other sit-on kayaks available on the market. This makes it perfect for longer fishing expeditions.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
The next fishing kayak up on our list is a polyethene kayak designed for beginners. It isn’t exactly brimming with features, but the sit-on Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is going to be providing you with fantastic fishing experience.
For the low price the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 comes in at, you will be surprised at how easy it is to use. For the most part, a beginner kayak user should have absolutely no issues keeping this nice and straight when paddling. This is assuming that you are not using it to traverse pretty intense waters.
Fishermen are going to love the inclusion of three rod holders. Two of them are going to be located just to the left and right of your seat, which makes it easy for you to be able to grab then should you get yourself a bite. The other one is going to be located on the top of the kayak. This means that you are going to have multiple fishing options at your disposal.
The kayak is going to be hurting for storage space either. Assuming you are a smallish rider, then you should be able to make use of oodles of space surrounding you. However, you also have two 6” compartments that you can store your gear in. Sadly, there isn’t much beyond this. This means no space to put your tackle box unless you are willing to work your body around it. However, this is a lower priced kayak, so we can’t complain all that much about this.
The seat in this kayak is quite comfortable for the price. We love the inclusion of a ‘notched’ footrest. This actually makes it easier to find a seating position that is comfortable for you while riding the kayak.
This kayak is going to be wonderfully simple to move from point A to point B. It is lightweight and has a ton of carrying options built into it.
Perception Pescador Pilot 12
For those who want a pedal kayak with the ultimate amount of control, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is just the ticket.
The pedal system in this fishing kayak is completely removable. However, to be honest, it is hidden so well it doesn’t cause a huge amount of drag when you are in the kayak. A lot of fishermen will, as a result, keep it in even if they are using paddles. It is just a back-up option for them.
The pedal system has perhaps the smoothest motion we have seen in a fishing kayak. You will just be gliding across the water. This means both forwards and backwards. Of course, you probably do not want to just head straight, right? Well, luckily for you, there is also a rudder control built into the kayak. Once again, this is an incredibly smooth motion and you will be surprised at how quickly you can turn with it. Of course, it is one-handed, which means you can keep doing your fishing.
In terms of storage space, you have a lot of it. We are talking:
- Four rod holders
- Front and rear storage. Both are completely open, so this is for your gear you do not mind getting wet.
- Storage under the seat
- Drinks holder. After all, what is fishing without a good beer by your side?
- Various holes to clip fishing accessories
Of course, the seat on this kayak is incredibly comfortable. It is a mesh chair, which means it is perfect for sitting on for hours and hours on end. Although, if you want to just sit another way in the kayak, or maybe even do a bit of standing up fishing, then you will be pleased to know that you can completely remove the seat.
All in all, this is a tremendous fishing kayak for both new and experienced riders alike.
Perception Tribe 9.5
If you want a Perception kayak, but you do not want all of the bells and whistles that some of their top-end fishing kayaks provide, then the Perception Tribe 9.5 may be a good compromise. In fact, this is actually the most popular product in its range.
Sadly, you do not have any rod holders built into this kayak. This is because it is a beginner kayak, and it isn’t explicitly designed for fishing. Although, we see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to install your own rod and accessory holders if you wanted.
There is little to no drift on the Perception Tribe 9.5. Yes. You may have a little bit of an issue if the water has a bit of a strong current. But, for the most part, this is a kayak that is going to go wherever you want it to go. It is surprisingly stable, and it would take a lot to knock it off course…or even toe capsize.
In terms of storage in the Perception Tribe 9.5, you do not have a whopping amount. You do have front and rear holders where you can tie down some pieces of equipment with bungees. You also have a small dry storage, although you cannot store a huge amount there. However, we do not see the lower amount of storage as too much of a problem. This is really a kayak that has been built for short stints out there on the water. So, you do not need a ton of storage.
The seat is fully adjustable, and it is nice and padded. This means that your fishing trip is going to be comfortable. In fact, we were surprised at how high quality the seat on this kayak is, despite the lower price.
BKC PK14 14′ Tandem Sit On Top Pedal Drive Kayak
At 14 feet long, it’s one of the biggest and heaviest kayaks on our list. With it being so heavy, it can be quite difficult to manoeuvre in the water but you’ll gain stability as a result.
This is another kayak that isn’t exactly brimming with features, but it has just enough to ensure that you have a fantastic kayak experience.
This is one of a few kayaks on the market that actually has paddle parks built into it. Well, at least on the fishing kayak side of things. Granted, this is probably not something that you are going to be using all that much. It is good to have your paddles to hand. However, if you are staying in one area for a long period of time, then you can connect your paddles up to the parks and give yourself a bit of extra space. Don’t worry about them falling into the water either, because it is surprisingly secure.
Fishermen are going to love the whopping five rod holders built into the kayak. Obviously, it is unlikely that you will be using all of them at once, but the fact that there are so many ensures that you are going to be able to get the absolute perfect set-up for your fishing expedition.
There is a lot of storage space packed into this rather small kayak. This includes multiple waterproof locations for storing smaller items. You also have a cargo area for your tackle box and the like. There is more than enough space here for a day out on the water.
Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler One-Person Kayak
This is the longest kayak on this list so far. It measures a whopping 13 feet. It is quite narrow too, which means it may not necessarily be ideal for those who are new to the world of kayaks. However, if you are looking for a kayak that will have you breezing through the water with ease, then this is absolutely perfect.
One of the major benefits of the Ocean Kayak Prowler over most of the other fishing kayaks listed on this page so far is the fact that it can deal with rougher waters a bit better. This means that it may be ideal for those who are doing a spot of sea fishing. However, it is really designed for those who want to do a bit of fishing on faster flowing rivers.
You have a good deal of adjustment on the seat, and it is ridiculously comfortable. You can easily sit on this for a full day of fishing without any issues.
You have a huge amount of space on here, including enough space under the deck to store some spare rods. Although, you will probably want to make use of the several rod holders when you are out there on the water.
It is worth noting that this kayak isn’t great for the larger riders out there. It can only deal with up to 300lbs of weight, including your equipment. Although, the larger rider may find it difficult to get into the kayak anyway. It is very, very narrow inside.
Wilderness Systems ATAK 120
It’s an advanced tactical angling kayak otherwise known as an ATAK for short. It works with a motor. In terms of performance from what you’d want in a fishing kayak, it’s unmatched. Without a doubt, one of the best fishing kayaks on the market but it comes at a steep price point. What we love about this kayak is that it’s comfortable in pretty much any body of water.
We have even heard stories about this kayak being used as a rescue and recovery boat. Don’t be put off by the moderate size, it’s absolutely superb to paddle and perfect for fishermen.
Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
This is, honestly, one of the best-constructed inflatable fishing kayaks we have ever seen. This is one that you are probably going to never be able to damage, as long as you are using it properly. It could easily hit some rather jagged rocks without being punctured although, obviously, you shouldn’t be going out of your way to do this.
This is a system that is guaranteed not to leak any air. This means that you do not have to worry about your kayak slowly deflating when you are out there on the waters.
If the worst does happen, then you will be pleased to know that the kayak has multiple air chambers. This means that your kayak is going to deflate and sink. You will have plenty of time to get back to dry land to carry out repairs.
You have a decent amount of space built into this kayak, with two rod holders available. Two people should be able to fit into the Coleman Colorado with ease, even if they have a decent amount of gear in tow.
We love the fact that while this is a kayak that has been designed for paddling, you can also purchase a motor that you can attach to the kayak. This is perfect for the lazier days on the water.
Perception Crank 10
We are going to wrap up this list of the best fishing kayaks with the Perception Crank 10.
This 10-feet long kayak is going to be exceedingly stable on calmer waters. In fact, there are a few people who have managed to take this out on calmer seas and been fine. Although, always check the tide beforehand if you are planning to do that.
The pedal system gives you full control over the boat. You can go forward and in reverse easily. No adjustments needed to the drive system. Of course, you also have a quality rudder control built in. This ensures that you can control your direction perfectly.
You have a decent chair built into it. It folds flat, and gives you a bit of adjustment. The chair material breathes well, so it means you can be sitting on it, even on the hottest of days, and feel nice and comfortable.
You have a ton of storage space built into the Perception 10. In fact, the back of the kayak is large enough to hold a big cooler without making the kayak unstable. You do not have any rod holders built into the kayak, but this is fine. There are two accessory slots. The idea is that you can buy various mounts from Perception and just add in whatever you need for your fishing expedition.
Do bear in mind that this is a larger kayak, so it can be tough to move in narrow bodies of water. However, for days out on the lake, there is little that is better than this.
Fishing Kayaks Frequently Asked Questions
I am a beginner, what type of kayak should I get?
We recommend that you opt for a wider and longer kayak. They are easier to deal with.
Will an inflatable fishing kayak burst if I catch it on a fishing hook?
It depends on the quality of inflatable you have. All of the ones that we have listed on this page are designed to be able to put up with quite hard knocks. While we wouldn’t recommend that you do catch a fishing hook on your inflatable, chances are that it won’t do any damage that cannot be repaired with a puncture repair kit.
Do I need a dedicated fishing kayak?
It depends. Some people love all the bells and whistles that a dedicated fishing kayak provides. However, if you do not need rod holders or dedicated tackle boxes, then any kayak should be perfect for you.
Is a sit-on or sit-in kayak best for fishing?
You should pretty much always opt for a sit-on kayak. They are easier to move about on, which makes them perfect when you have managed to score a catch.
Do I need to buy any extra accessories for my kayak?
It depends. Some kayaks will include paddles with them, whereas others won’t. If you are buying an inflatable kayak, it will almost certainly include the equipment you need to inflate your kayak. If this is your first time with a kayak, it is best to keep things simple at the start. You can always upgrade your gear later on.