There is nothing better than sitting in a beautiful lake gently bobbing with the ebb and flow of the water while you keep a keen eye on your float, waiting for it to wiggle and dip under the water.
The best fishing kayak is going to help you enjoy a favorite beverage, let you fish at your leisure, but still keep you safe on the water. Plus, it’s a lot more affordable than fishing on a motorized vessel. Fishing kayaks range from basic designs to more complex (and pricier) options.
Before manufacturers started designing kayaks specifically for fishing, it required quite a bit of skill and practice to get the hang of snagging fish without tipping over. Modern fishing kayaks, however, are designed for stability. Many are so stable, in fact, they allow the user to fish while standing up!
As with any vessel, though, fishing kayaks aren’t a one-size-fits-all product. There are a range of hull shapes, lengths, and formats to choose from. In this article, we are going to list some of the best kayaks for fishing, so you can see the variety available, the different builds and sizes, and also the price ranges for them all.
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Fishing Kayaks For 2020
- Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 Angler Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
- BKC UH-TK181 Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 Fishing Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Prowler Angler Fishing Kayak
- Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
- Old Town Predator MX Angler Kayak
- Perception Pescador Pro Fishing Kayak
Best Fishing Kayaks
|VIBE KAYAKS SKIPJACK 90 ANGLER||BKC UH-TK181 12.5 FOOT TANDEM||VIBE KAYAKS YELLOWFIN 100|
|Type of Kayak:||Sit On Top / Single||Sit On Top / Tandem||Sit On Top / Single|
|Length/Weight:||9 feet / 46 pounds||12.5 feet / 68 pounds||10 feet / 57 pounds|
|Weight Capacity:||300 pounds||450 pounds||375 pounds|
Fishing Kayak Reviews
I’m going to help guide you through the decision of buying your next fishing kayak so you don’t end up with buyer’s remorse. Let’s get to it
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 Kayak at a Glance:
Type: Sit On Top
Length: 9 feet
Weight: 46 pounds
Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
Features: 4 rod holders and includes a paddle
Vibe Kayaks’ Skipjack 90 is the best compact fishing kayak on the market right now! It’s affordable, well-equipped, and easy for anyone to handle on their own. While there are certainly bigger, more elaborate options, the Skipjack can compete with models three times its price for quality and execution!
We love the Skipjack 90, which is a nine-foot sit-on-top style. It’s great to handle in the ocean, thanks to its responsiveness and, most importantly when fishing, stability. Six rod holders let you tote along a variety of poles, which is great for hardcore fishermen who are looking to catch a few different kinds on their sea outing — plus two spots to keep not-in-use paddles eliminate the risk of them going overboard.
At 46 pounds and decked out with six carry handles, it’s light enough and has smart features for comfortable portage, too. There are also two sealed hatches — each with bag inserts — and a bungee well on the back for storage, so you have plenty of room for your gear and provisions during a day out on the water.
BKC UH-TK181 Fishing Kayak at a Glance:
Type: Sit On Top
Length: 12.5 feet
Weight: 68 Pounds
Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
Features: 7 fishing rod holders, includes paddles
BKC UH-TK181 by Brooklyn Kayak Company is the idyllic kayak if you want solo adventures in ocean or water. This sturdy kayak can hold up to 450 pounds of weight so no worries for weight now! There are 2 seats in this kayak along with a length of 12.5 Inch. The carrying handles make it easy for transport and the storage located between the legs of the paddlers make bearing stuff trouble-free.
It is equipped with 7 rod holders that include 4 flush mounting holders and 3 articulated fishing rod. Flush-mounted rod holders are great for multiple lines at once in the water and the adjustable holder can ensure the perfect angle for your compatibility. The secure cargo area and the two paddle rests guarantee your safety.
The paddle rests are a nice feature keeping your paddles secure while your fishing and 4 carry handles make it easy to transport to and from the water.
The BKC has a wide 34 in beam for stability, especially nice if you like to stand up while fishing. With plenty of storage space, its ideal if you want to make your fishing trip more than one day.
Overall the BKC is my top pick for the best tandem fishing kayak.
Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 Kayak at a Glance:
Type: Sit On Top
Length: 10 feet
Weight: 57 pounds
Weight Capacity: 375 pounds
Features: Vibe Hero seat, 4 easy grip carrying handles
If you’re new to kayak fishing, the ten-foot Vibe Yellowfin is a great way to get started and is a top choice overall for craftsmanship and price. At 57 pounds, the sit-on-top kayak is one of the lighter options on the market, making it easy for one person to load and unload. It includes four mounted rod holders, paddle holders to prevent loss, plus four carry handles.
There are also two sealed storage compartments with bag inserts, a rear well with bungees for larger items, as well as a comfortable seat and a paddle. Amazon buyers note that the kayak is extremely durable and of an excellent quality considering the low price tag. It’s available in four different colors — blue lagoon, jam berry, moss camo, and wildfire.
Ocean Kayak Prowler Angler Fishing Kayak at a Glance:
Type: Sit On Top
Length: 13 feet
Weight: 56 pounds
Weight Capacity: 475 pounds
Features: 2 rod holders, 6″ hatch with storage bucket, transducer compatible
This long, slender angler kayak is stable and quiet and made for a variety of water conditions. I love the large front hatch on this boat and the rear gear storage is flexible with shock cord lashing to fit any gear or tackle boxes.
With two rod holders, two cup holders, and 2 paddle holders there’s enough of everything to go around.
Once advanced feature of this boat is the capability to mount a transducer, or fish finder. This is a capability we haven’t seen in the other boats we’ve reviewed and it may be a critical buying factor for some!
At 13 feet long and a relatively narrow 28 inches, this a fast kayak that tracks well. With the “Comfort Plus” seat, its suitable for an all day fishing expedition.
The only knock on the kayak is the lack of moveable rod holders, although you could add an aftermarket one if you really wanted one.
The Ocean Prowler was designed from the ground up to be the best sit on top fishing kayak.
Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak at a Glance:
Type: Sit On Top
Length: 10 feet
Weight: 46 pounds
Weight Capacity: 250-300 pounds
Features: 2 fixed rod holders, 1 adjustable and includes a paddle
This single person fishing kayak is a sit on top design with plenty of flexibility and options. I like that they didn’t go overkill with the rod holders – just two flush mounted and one adjustable.
There are two dry hatches both 6” for small gear or items that simply can’t get wet. Overall I think they could have done a better job with the seat.
The kayak has a flat bottom for stability and is ideal if you like to stand up while you are fishing.
However, the overall gear storage and versatility make it a viable option for some anglers. At a bargain price, its probably the best fishing kayak under $400!
Old Town Predator Angler Fishing Kayak at a Glance:
Type: Sit on Top
Length: 12 feet
Weight: 80 pounds
Weight Capacity: 375-400 pounds
Features: 6 rod holders and anchor trolley system
The most stable fishing kayak you’ll find almost anywhere, the Old Town Predator MX is an all-water beauty that offers comfort, a rock-solid platform and plenty of alluring fishing features at a competitive price.
As any experienced kayak fisherman will tell you, stability is among the most important features when choosing a fishing kayak — for obvious reasons. Sitting in the middle of a chilly lake for hours on end, the last thing you want to worry about when you hook that prized bass is your kayak tipping over.
The Predator MX is designed first and foremost to alleviate this worry. With its slightly rounded hull and wide, 34” beam, the MX (which stands for “mixed water”) stands up to the rigors of the toughest wrestling match and lends itself very well to fly fishing, standing while casting and reeling in the toughest of muskies.
Old Town is a quality brand and a top contender for the best fishing kayak under $1500.
Perception Pescador Pro Fishing Kayak at a Glance:
Type: Sit On Top
Length: 12 feet
Weight: 57 pounds
Weight Capacity: 375 pounds
Features: Comfortable seat, included 2 gear tracks, rod holders
As anybody who knows Spanish can guess from the name, the Perception Pescador is made for fishing! It’s a fantastic all-purpose vessel and our recommendation to those who want to fish on a budget. While this isn’t the cheapest fishing kayak available, it’s the cheapest great fishing kayak we’ve found.
These kayaks are designed to allow the water to run out of the kayak through scupper holes (through holes), so if a wave splashes some water in, you won’t have to bail it out. The Perception Pescador Pro is a solid choice for this and has a removable, stadium-style seat, tackle box storage. Plus, it’s specially designed to allow you to attach additional gear.
There’s also a molded cup holder and fishing rod holders, a skid plate on the hull for added durability, as well as a center console for storage.
Fishing Kayak Comparison Table
|FISHING KAYAK||TYPE||LENGTH||WEIGHT||WEIGHT CAPACITY||INCLUDED|
|Sit On Top||9 feet||46 lbs||300 lbs||Paddle and Seat|
|Sit On Top||12.5 feet||68 lbs||450 lbs||Paddle and Seat|
|Sit On Top||10 feet||57 lbs||375 lbs||Paddle and Seat|
|Sit On Top||13 feet||56 lbs||475 lbs||Seat|
|Sit On Top||10 feet||46 lbs||275 lbs||Paddle and Seat|
|Sit On Top||12 feet||82 lbs||400 lbs||Seat|
|Sit On Top||12 feet||57 lbs||325 lbs||Seat|
How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayak
- Total Volume
- Hull Type
- Footing Area Design
- Fishing Kayak Accessories
- Best Fishing Kayak Brands
Kayaks have several different design aspects that can play an important role in your decision on the best kayak to buy. These features differ depending on what type of waters you’ll be in, what type of movements you think you’ll be doing, how much equipment you’ll be carrying, and how comfortable you want to be. We’ll start by listing some of the more important design aspects of fishing kayaks, as well as how they affect the craft.
This is the measure of the inner area of the kayak which is largely related to the amount of water it displaces as well. High volume kayaks are notably more rounded in design and are fairly typical for fishing kayaks. These kayaks often feature large amounts of interior storage, larger degrees of stability, and generally wider beams.
Nearly all inflatable kayaks fall into the high volume category, with most of the low-volume kayaks either made for non-fishing use or just extra small. As for fishing kayaks, these designs usually fall into the lower-volume category—although still having ample storage.
Fishing kayaks often utilize access to interior recesses as a means of providing rod storage, live wells, or just general storage. The utilization of these spaces makes fishing kayaks with lower volumes end up providing more storage than non-fishing, high-volume kayaks.
The hull is regarded as the bottom of the boat, the part making most direct contact with the water, and can be separated as either being displacement types or planing types. Displacement hulls are best for speed, as the cut through the water like knives. These hulls are narrower and are typically designed with bottoms that come to a point. Planing hulls are flat-bottom designs, often wider overall, and are best suited for turning and stability. These types of hulls are a bit sluggish for acceleration, and sort of ‘skim’ across the water once they have picked up speed.
Overall, planing hulls are best suited for fishing kayaks as they offer an overall better platform for any fisherman to perform vital tasks without the worry of overturning.
The chine of a boat is the type of shape as seen from looking at them head-on, particularly at the point on the side where the design begins to curve upward. A ‘hard’ chine, is where the design takes a sharp angle upward, as seen on many flat-bottom, planing-type kayaks.
Hard chines are great for allowing a boat to continue planing while turning or spinning but are also more susceptible to catching and turning the boat over. A soft chine is considered to be a more forgiving design and is associated with many displacement hull type designs. Many kayakers seek to find a balance between the two—pairing speed with maneuverability—and avoid any extremes.
Overall, kayak designs with a harder chine are considered to be better options for fishing kayaks as they help provide better spinning and turning.
If you were to look at a kayak directly from the side, the curve of the bottom of the boat, as it stretches from bow to stern, would be the rocker. Kick rockers are designs that are relatively flat and are almost always seen on planning hull designs and larger volume kayaks.
A continuous rocker is a design that curves along the entire length of the kayak. These types of designs are most often seen in non-fishing kayaks and are better suited for avoiding becoming stuck on rocks or another large object.
Footing Area Design
Just about any decent kayak design is going to have some accommodation for your footing, many with highly specialized formed areas. Footpegs are features that some kayaks offer that allows a higher degree of adjustment for different body types. While these features are more sought after by non-fisherman, it’s something to pay attention to.
For most of the modern fishing kayaks, a bulkhead is used in place of foot pegs, which provides a stable resting point for your entire foot, as opposed to the peg type supports. Proper footing in your kayak and help keep you, and your kayak, in a more stable state throughout your entire adventure.
For most fisherman, stability over speed is a sacrifice they’re willing to make. Considering much of the time spent in a fishing kayak is spend fishing rather than racing around, stability is often one of the most important features to consider. Wider beams, planing hulls, larger volumes, hard chines, and kick rockers are all variations of a kayak design that help promote a greater overall stability. Stability, however, can be broken down into two variations—primary stability and secondary stability.
Primary stability is the degree to which a boat is stable when resting right-side up on the water. Secondary stability is directly related to the side of a kayaks sides and comes into play when you may be leaning, or getting ready to tip over. More rounded, higher-volume kayaks tend to have a greater secondary stability rating and are generally recommended as good choices for fishing kayaks.
Fishing Kayak Accessories
Let’s look at some accessories you may want to consider to make your day fishing easier.
Rod Holders: are universally critical components of any fishing kayak. Most fishing kayaks have at least two rod holders located behind the cockpit. Rod holder location is critical though because you don’t want to smack into your stored rods while trying to cast. One good location for your primary rod is in a rod holder between your legs, then the two behind you can be use for backup or secondary rods.
Anchor Trolleys: are rigged directly into the kayak. You can install these aftermarket kits, but many advanced fishing kayaks come with anchor trolleys already built in.
I prefer these because there’s less chance of messing up the boat by trying to install your own. Essentially the anchor trolley allows you to change the location of the anchor on the fly so you can float down stream, up stream, or sideways from your anchor’s location.
Dry Storage: if you want to keep your keys, phone, and GPS safe and sound you need dry storage. These are usually 6 inch bulkhead storage containers. They’re often just big enough for a phone and some keys, but they help keep your expensive things dry and safe. In the event that your boat happens to flip, having your items inside the storage means they can’t sink to the bottom!
Paddle Holders: These are usually a bungee cord on either side of the kayak that you put your paddle under and secure it. This allows you to keep the paddle out of the way and secure so it doesn’t fall overboard.
Rudders: are usually foot operated and control the direction of the kayak. These are awesome for helping to correct paddle strokes or wind direction when paddling.
Because most fishing is done when the kayak is not moving, they won’t add much to your fishing experience. However, if it takes a lot of paddling to get to your fishing spot, they might be helpful.
Transom Trolling Motors: can sometimes be fitted on to inflatable kayaks and catarafts. Most traditional kayaks cannot support a trolling motor but in case you want one, it is possible! If you want to try to fit an electric motor onto your kayak or raft be sure to check that it’s supported before you buy – modifying your boat doesn’t always go as planned.
GPS Units: are a great addition. Usually you won’t be paddling so far that you might get lost, but sometimes it’s helpful to mark a location or find your way home in unfamiliar waters.
They can easily be mounted to kayaks by drilling two or three small holes in the top of the decking and simply screwing a GPS holder to the boat. Alternatively, you can find GPS unit holders made to fit certain models of kayak.
Fish Finders: If your fishing in unfamiliar waters and don’t know where the fish like to hide, you may find a kayak fish finder a very helpful accessory. Knowing where the fish are, is half the battle!
Best Brands of Fishing Kayaks
With the increasing popularity of kayak fishing, there are more and more manufacturers of kayaks. Some specializing in certain types of kayaks. Since we are only looking at fishing kayaks, lets only consider them:
Ocean Kayak -We feature this brand of kayak for good reason! They have been around for decades and have a wide range of kayaks including several excellent fishing models.
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks -Now a subsidiary of Ocean, they have kept the name and their lineup of kayaks separate. Now a part of Ocean we can assume they will keep the same level of quality they always have.
BKC – The Brooklyn Kayak Company, founded by New York fishermen who wanted to create the best possible fishing kayak. I think they have it with the TK181.
Vibe – A real newcomer to kayaking, Vibe founded in 2013 by Josh Thomas and John Ewald. They are self described kayak junkies and have created a solid lineup of fishing kayaks.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best fishing kayak to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a kayak I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and good luck!
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