The Top 10 Best Fishing Kayaks Review & Buying Guide

Fishing is as competitive now as it ever was in the past, perhaps even more so. With the advent of sports fishing, people have flocked to the hobby, seeking to bag the biggest catch. However, the most important part of any aspiring angler’s tier would be a decent fishing boat or, in this case, a kayak. Paddled kayaks are ideal for silently entering a water body and not scaring away the fish.

Whether you are an amateur or a pro, we have prepared a list of the best fishing kayaks there are to suit your needs. There is no single answer for selecting the ideal model, but you will be able to pick one that fits you the best from the ten mentioned below. We have also included a buyer’s guide to help you make an informed choice, so let’s get started with buying guide first.

Our Top Pick

The Best Fishing Kayaks List 2020

10 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviews

The best fishing kayak is the only solution for enjoying the calming wonders of the water so you don’t feel on the brink of toppling over and ruining your favorite fishing shirt. These kayaks provide the most secure balance whether you want to sit, stand, or crouch, and make it easier than ever to get the catch you’ve been dreaming off since you were a nipper.

It’s not just about stability and balance, though. You’ll also get easy carrying, padded seats for extra comfort, and a myriad of storage options to ensure you leave nothing essential behind on dry land. If you want to take the kids out and show them why you like sitting on the water all day, we’ve got the kayak for you. If you enjoy the solitude of private kayak fishing trips, then we’ve also got the kayak for you.

In fact, we’ve got kayaks for all fisherman, whether it’s something you’ve loved all your life or something you’re just getting started on. So come check out our catch of the day.

Bestseller No. 1
Kayak Fishing: A Practical Sea Angler’s Guide for Catching Your Favorite Big Fish from a Kayak (Kayaking)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Parsons, Scott (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 103 Pages - 01/30/2013 (Publication Date) - Kayak Fishing (Publisher)
SaleBestseller No. 2
RAD Sportz Garage Canoe 100 lb Capacity Double Kayak Storage Strap
  • Simple and easy way to store your kayak up off the ground and out of the way
  • Use indoors or outdoors
  • Quick-release buckles as well for easy loading and unloading
  • 100lb capacity
  • Stainless steel heavy-duty eye bolts
Bestseller No. 3
Kayak Fishing: The Ultimate Guide 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide 2nd Edition
  • KAYAK FISHING: THE ULT GD 2
  • Null, Scott (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 09/01/2011 (Publication Date) - Heliconia Press (Publisher)
Bestseller No. 4
Hat Clip, Fishing Apparel Cord, Great for Kayak Fishing
  • Two clips one side of a wire clip hats one side of a wire clip collar to prevent the hat from falling.
  • Great for Fishing / Kayak / Boating / Camping / Hiking / Sailing / Jogging / Rock Climbing /Abseiling/ Camping.
  • Very thin retractable coiled cord, maximum tensile length: approx. 38cm(15
  • Easy clip to cap and shirt collar backpack or vest, stop your cap from blowing away on windy day.
  • The set include 3pcs cap retainers, 2 crocodile clips and 1 coiled cord.
SaleBestseller No. 5
Cyruss 6 Pieces Cap and Gasket for Flush Mount Rod Holder Fishing Kayak Canoe Boat
  • Made of soft PVC, suitable for flush-mount fishing rod holders
  • Gasket Outside Dimensions: Approx. 97 x 76 mm / 3.82 x 2.99 inch
  • Gasket Inner Hole Dimensions: Approx. 49 x 46 mm / 1.93 x 1.81 inch
  • Cap Inner Diameter: Approx. 41 mm / 1.61 inch
  • Screw Hole Diameter: Approx. 8 mm / 0.31 inch
SaleBestseller No. 6
Cyruss 4 Pieces White Color Slotted Rod Holder Fishing Pole Rack Socket for Marine Fishing Box Kayak Boat Yacht
  • Slotted rod holders are designed to lock-in most fishing reels
  • High quality propene polymer material, highly durable and eco-friendly
  • 12" length; 1-3/4" tube inner diameter
  • Mounting hole centers 6.3"; stainless screws & nuts included
  • Excellent for where flush mount or rail mount rod holder can not be installed, Mounts directly on your boat, truck or wall
SaleBestseller No. 7
Cyruss 2 Pieces Durable Black Plastic Kayak Boat Fishing Rod Holder Semicircular Mount Base Tackle Kit Accessory
  • Material: PP
  • Color: Black
  • Size: approx. 6.2 x 4.4 x 4.2 cm / 2.44 x 1.73 x 1.65 inch
  • Semicircular shape, great accessory for kayak boat fishing rod holder
  • Convenient accessory for outdoor fishing
SaleBestseller No. 8
NT Explorer K2 Kayak Inflatable Boat Sports/Outdoor Picnic Vacation - 68307
  • It is Inflatable
  • Easily portable
  • Perfect for Sports/Outdoor Picnic Vacation
SaleBestseller No. 9
Adjustable Side Rail Installation or Directly Installed on Kayak & Boat Fishing Pole Rod Holder
  • ❤[High quality pene polymer material, durable and environmentally friendly.
  • ❤[Easy to install on the kayak or on the boat firmly and securely.
  • ❤[The fishing holder is free to change direction. Two kinds of installation. You can installed directly on the kayak and you can also install on the rail of the kayak.
  • ❤[The rotary design helps to f rod position.
  • ❤[The fishing rod holder relieves the tedious task of holding the rod when fish are slow to bite.
SaleBestseller No. 10
Boat Kayak a Fishing Rod Holder Mount Base Nylon Mount Base Tackle Kit Accessory
  • ❤[This is a mount base for kayak or boat fishing rod holder.
  • ❤[Semicircular shape. Lightweight and easy to carry.
  • ❤[Made of nylon material, durable for long time use.
  • ❤[It can be installed securely and easily on the kayak to f fishing rod holder.
  • ❤[A good accessory for the kayaks, boats and canoes.

Which Fishing Kayak is Right for You?

The bottom line in choosing the best fishing kayak for your needs is that there is no one-size-fits all. Before you make a decision on purchasing a kayak for fishing, the most important thing you can do is to take stock of where and how you plan to do most of your paddling and fishing. Identify your needs: Will you be fishing in freshwater ponds for largemouth bass? Navigating streams and rivers to catch smallmouth bass and trout? Poking around saltwater harbors, estuaries and flats for striped bass and bluefish? Or do you plan to venture out into the open ocean and launch through surf? Also, will this kayak be strictly a fishing vessel, or do you plan to use it for relaxation and recreation with your family?
 
Once you’ve thought about what you want from a fishing kayak, it’s time to select a handful that appear to match your desired criteria. At that point, try them all! Always demo a kayak before you buy it!

Before you can evaluate the fishing kayaks at your local paddlesport shop or marina, it’s helpful to understand some of the important characteristics of kayaks. Most fishing kayaks can be used for a variety of activities, but understand that no one kayak excels at every activity. Choosing a kayak, like choosing a boat or a car, means mulling over a long list of specifications and deciding what features are “must-haves” and which ones are compromises. Once you understand your options, you can start down the path of choosing the right kayak for your intended purposes. These are some of the basics to consider before you buy your first, or next, fishing kayak.

  • SIK or SOT: Most fishermen prefer self-bailing sit-on-top kayaks (SOT), especially for saltwater fishing. They are inherently safer, since they can roll over without filling with water, and they give the angler more room to move around or even throw a leg over the side for stability when dealing with a fish. Sit-inside kayaks (SIK) are preferable for moving waters and in situations where a lighter-weight craft is desirable. They also provide a drier ride than a sit-on-top kayak.
  • Propulsion: Most basic kayaks are propelled with paddle power, but pedals are an option in several kayak lines now. The Hobie Kayak Mirage Drive line has been the standard in leg-powered kayak, which are popular with anglers because they free up the hands for fishing. Old Town  entered the market this year with the Predator PDL, which is a pedal/propellor drive. They also offer an electric-motor-powered kayak, which is an increasingly popular option.
  • Length: In general, the longer the kayak, the faster it will be and the more easily it will cover distances. The trade-off is a loss of maneuverability in tight spaces and difficulty in transporting the kayak to launch sites.
  • Width: In general, wider kayaks are more stable and can support more capacity. However, width is far from the only factor that affects stability.
  • Weight: Consider your cartop capacity and what you can carry when choosing a kayak. A heavy kayak might require a wheeled cart to move it down to the launch site.
  • Storage and Extras: Consider how much storage you’ll need on board your kayak. Will you be keeping fish or a change of clothing? Is live-bait storage important to you? Will you be doing any kayak-camping?
  • Seat: Less expensive kayaks have molded-in seats or basic removable seating pads. More fishing kayaks are now offering adjustable “lawn chair” style seats with excellent back support.
  • Stand-and-Fish Capability: Extra-wide and stable kayaks allow an angler to stand and sight-cast to fish in the shallows.

Best Fishing Kayaks Buying Guide:

We have prepared this buying guide to help you pick the most optimal kayak model for your fishing adventure. Remember that with kayaks, there is no single solution to all needs. The first thing you ought to do is to identify your needs. Do you plan on going solo, with a partner, or on an adventure with your kids? Where do you plan on taking the vessel? To a lake, river, estuary, or the ocean?

These specific requirements will help you narrow down your choices. However, certain features must be held into account before finalizing your decision and we have discussed them below:

Sit-on-Top or Sit-Inside-Kayak:

Depending on the seating arrangement, a kayak may be a sit-on-top (SOT) or a sit-inside-kayak (SIK). Both are preferable in different situations. SOT kayaks are considered much safer; in case they roll over, they do not fill with water and they provide the user with ample moving space. Most people prefer SOT kayaks, especially if they are out in saltwater. You may even balance the kayak by putting your leg over the opposite side when fighting against a tough fish.

However, if you are looking for a craft that will get you through moving waters or turbulent currents, a SIK vessel would be better suited. These crafts are lightweight, making them better portable and easier to control on the water. The deck also remains substantially drier in comparison to SOT kayaks.

Source of Propulsion:

All the options mentioned above are paddle powered, meaning that the faster you row, the faster the vessel goes. There are leg-powered kayaks too that are operated as if you were cycling in the water, allowing you to keep your arms free for casting the line. Motor powered vessels have also gained popularity over the years owing to the convenience.

How to choose? Simply ask yourself what you’re looking for. Is it something easy to transport, something compact? Do you want your vessel to be quiet and not scare away the fish when you enter their territory? Can you row effectively or would you rather use your legs or just let the vessel move on its own? If you answer these questions, you’ll be able to make the right choice. For instance, a paddled kayak is compact and stealthy but requires upper arm effort.

Water Body:

Water bodies differ from each other not only in salinity levels but also in the types of currents they can through at you. Generally, the larger the water body, the greater the risk of bigger currents and toppling over of the vessel. Some vessels are designed to withstand the perils of the open ocean while others are only suited for a fishing run in a serene lake. Rivers can be dangerous too, however, you can avoid problems by staying away from rapids and other choppy areas. If you are going to face turbulence, then opt for an option that can take it. For instance, the BKC FK184 is designed specifically to face all sorts of water bodies and is hence suitable for all of them.

Length:

Generally, longer kayaks are faster and cover more distance in the same time as a smaller one would. However, this superior speed comes at the cost of maneuverability, which becomes all the more important when traversing through tight spaces. The length of the kayak should henceforth be determined when deciding on which water body you will be using it in.

If you wish to paddle through small ponds, lakes, creeks, and backwaters, then a smaller vessel would be a better choice. A shorter kayak, less than 11 feet, will allow you to make swift turns and maneuver with ease through tight spaces. Conversely, if your fishing adventures are associated with vast open lakes, huge rivers, and the ocean, a longer vessel, bigger than 12 feet is recommended. The idea is to cover more ground in relatively less time.

Width:

Although the width is not the only factor that determines the stability of a kayak, it is one of the most important ones. The biggest fear that a fisherman or any sailor has to face is falling overboard. Stability henceforth is of paramount importance and hereby the width of a kayak is worth considering. However, wider is not better in all the cases, although width accounts for enhanced stability, it significantly cuts the maneuverability past a certain threshold point.

This will be bothersome to newbies who are just learning to paddle and maneuver a vessel. To make the best decision, it is important to consider how you are going to use your kayak. Will you be fishing while standing up or do you plan to use a vessel to cover the maximum distance? Depending on the answer, you may opt for a narrow or broader model.

Degree of Portability:

While a heavier model will be sturdier and be able to absorb maximum impact, a lightweight frame is easier to carry around. The whole concept of buying a kayak instead of a regular boat or a canoe is its portability. It is easier to move around and ideal to take along on a fishing trip out of the blue, no hectic preparations needed. It is important to consider the weight of the kayak before you go ahead and buy it. You must be able to lift and move the vessel by yourself if it is a solo model.

Inflatable kayaks and canoes offer superior portability but some people prefer to have something solid to use. Another factor to consider would be your means of transport, how do you get around? Do you have a car or do you use the public transport? Depending on the answer, you may either choose a solid model that goes perfectly on the roof of your car or an inflatable vessel that you can fold and carry with you.

Maximum Weight Capacity:

Rookies often fall into the cheap price tag trap and end up buying a model that can barely carry their weight, let alone accessories and catch. A cheap kayak without sufficient weight carrying capacity is as good as not having one since you will not be able to use it anyways. Make sure that you check the maximum weight-bearing capacity of the vessel before you buy it.

Most of the solo models mentioned in this list can carry around 350 pounds, which is enough to seat you, your equipment, and a hearty catch in one of them. For bigger vessels, those that support multiple people, the capacity should be considerably higher since all people involved maybe fishing. Make it a rule to check weight capacity first (and make the necessary calculations) and price tag later.

Storage Capacity:

There is no definitive answer to the perfect storage capacity for a kayak – it depends on your fishing style. How much stuff do you intend to carry with you? How long will the fishing trip be? Do you plan on camping in the kayak? Some people tend to go minimalistic and just take a rod, some bait and that’s about it. But for others, fishing is more systematic than that. They use coolers, a wide array of accessories, multiple rods, and live bait.

If you are like the latter, you will need something with a rear compartment to strap the cooler safely and keep all the accessories in dedicated hatches. Ideally, these hatches should seal properly and be completely waterproof so that your stuff doesn’t get ruined. It suffices to say that for storage, the more the merrier is a perfectly valid answer given that the compactness of the frame is not sacrificed.

Seat and Lumbar Support:

Once again this is an area where rookies and newbies are likely to fall into the cheap price tag trap. Though the seat may not seem like something to bother yourself with, you will appreciate a decent lumbar support in long fishing trips. A molded-in seat or one with basic seating pads will ruin the experience as you’ll spend more time combatting back pain than fish.

Many models are incorporating lawn chair type designs with a breathable mesh making up most of the body. This offers decent support to the backbone and keeps you pain-free. These chairs can be adjusted into lowered and raised positions when paddling and casting, respectively. Some high-end kayaks offer chairs with a memory foam embedded in the padding, allowing for a more personalized lumbar support.

Stand-and-Fish:

Some anglers prefer to stand and cast their line in shallow waters. This cannot be done on narrow kayaks as they will tip over if you lose balance. Wider kayaks let you do so, however, at the cost of lost maneuverability. If stand-and-fish is important to you then you’d be better off with a wider kayak, but this is not recommended for rookies who are just learning to paddle and maneuver.

Level of Comfort:

This is a more personalized problem as compared to the rest. Comfortable usage of a kayak is dependent on several factors, some innate, and others personal. If you are facing discomfort while maneuvering or paddling a kayak then there is no point in buying it, and it is for this reason that you should try out kayaking before buying one.

If you have a stockier build then buying a smaller model will coop you up, causing discomfort. Conversely, using a larger kayak if you have a short height will prove to be very difficult. Don’t fixate yourself on something base on what most people buy, consider your personal needs first.

Safety:

Safety is of paramount importance for any vessel. You need to make sure that the kayak can handle your weight, will not collapse mid-water, and have enough stability to keep it from toppling over. Safety is also dependent on the construct of the product, if it is made up of high quality and durable material then there is nothing to worry about, however, this cannot be said for cheaper products. There are no universal safety features except those that avert the risks you may face, i.e. a kayak designed to face the ocean should not be bothered by the currents.

Warranty:

Most people overlook the importance of the warranty period but this is one of the most defining factors of a model’s excellence. If a manufacturer has offered a five years warranty, as is the case with Lifetime, then this number reflects the confidence of the makers in their product. Warranty translates as the commitment of a seller about the excellence and durability of their product.

This is not to say that if the warranty policy is not clearly stated then there is a problem. You can always contact the manufacturer and ask for the warranty details. If a seller refuses to offer a warranty (written) then you should generally avoid buying their product as it shows that they will take no responsibility if it fails you.

Price:

This is another personal parameter, one that limits your options drastically. However, there is no need to frown, you can always make the best of what you have. Instead of compromising on quality, consider the best options available under your price tag. You should list down the features you need (not want, need) in a kayak. Will you be taking it out to the ocean? How many people would be on board? Can you manage with a lawn chair type seat?

These questions will help you narrow down your choices and help you pick something that falls under your price range. A general rule of the thumb is to save up as much as you can from the money you set aside to buy something in case you might need it for something else.

Final Words:

Kayaks are among the most primeval vessels still in use, they are stealthy and easy to operate. The plethora of models listed above were selected based on their merits and by considering how they may add value to your fishing experience. It is important to use a model that helps you minimize the hassle and preserve your strength for the actual challenge, catching a fair-sized fish.

Leave a Comment