10 Best Fishing kayaks (Review, Comparison & Buying Guide 2020)
Being on the water is a relaxing activity. Fishing is a relaxing activity. So if you’re thinking of meshing the two together for the ultimate form of leisure and relaxation a fishing kayak is probably on your list of things to buy. With so many different kayaks and manufacturers in the market, it’s tough to decide the one that is best for you.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best fishing kayaks below to help you come to a decision about which one you’ll commit to buying. Top fishing kayaks vary in price and features, but they all are suited to certain environments and styles of fishing. Depending on where you’re fishing, it’s likely there are a few things worth looking into.
This list features the top-rate fishing kayaks. These kayaks have all or some of the best features that kayak fishers look for. If you’re just starting out your shopping, this article will point in the right direction based on features, use, and price.
Different Types of Kayaks for Fishing
Sit-In Kayaks are closed body vessels with a cavity you sit in. The closed body style offers advantages with speed and security of your belongings on the inside. These types of kayaks are best for leisure kayaking where paddling will be your main priority. Sit-in kayaks are great for speed since their hulls are constructed to provide better tracking.
With the sit-in style kayak, you risk getting water into your kayak, in which case you will want a pump to quickly remove any excessive water. If you buy a cover for the cavity, you can use sit-in kayaks when you go white water rafting or in the surf so that water doesn’t enter the cavity.
This style of kayak is best for fishing or rough-water kayaking or fishing. These models are wide open and offer a lot of range of motion. These solid body kayaks are resilient to taking on water and can hold the most weight capacity.
They often have a lot of features and storage tanks to store your tackle or belongings.
Recreational kayaks are meant for the leisure kayaker who likes to wake up early and go out on the lake to relax. These kayaks are great for paddling and taking in the environment. They vary in size and features but often have very extras. They’re basic models that are meant for the relaxed paddler who just likes to kayak. They’re not ideal for fishing, but anyone who is looking to use it for that purpose could easily modify them to offer a rod holder or storage within the deck.
Tandem Kayaks are two-seater kayaks for the couple, or the friends who want to venture together, but not be in separate kayaks. These kayaks are long and stable and are often packed with features. They’re great for people who don’t want to kayak alone, but offer little space for activities like fishing.
These kayaks are more expensive than one seat kayaks and have a much larger weight capacity to hold two people.
Overview of the Top 5 Fishing Kayaks
The Hobie has been around for a while, and it still continues to have a place in top reviews and rankings. This sit on top kayak boasts a strong turbo pedal. If your arms ever get tired of paddling through the water, you can just stretch your legs and pedal the rest of the way. This kayak has two turbo fins underneath it that acts as a propeller when you kick its pedals fast enough.
This kayak’s design smartly utilizes every inch of space on top of it. The sitting area and those around it are spacious. There’s a vertical hatch under the standing area that’s perfect for storing food and cold beverages. You can store your fishing equipments in either the covered hatch on the kayak’s bow or the integrated tracks on either side of the standing area. With a maximum capacity of 425 pounds, you don’t have to worry about filling all those storages. This kayak can comfortably carry all that weight.
The CTW seating provides more comfort than previous models. You can now enjoy a much wider base with the same comfortable padded seat. This guarantees comfort even as you float on the water waiting for a catch. Don’t worry about paddles interfering while you fish. You can clip them in the hull when you’re not using them.
Stability is what the Hobie is best known for. Though, it had undergone many changes and upgrades through the years, this kayak never lost its touch. Past customers and online reviews can attest to this kayak’s calmness on the water. This model will compel you to use that standing area a lot. It gives its riders confidence even on wavy waters.
A good place to start with your fishing excursion is a sit-on-top kayak. These open vessels allow for maximum mobility and range because you aren’t enclosed in a hull. This open style gives you plenty of range for casting, reeling, baiting the hook, or removing the fish.
This kayak is made of UV-protected high-density polyethylene so it won’t fade from direct sunlight. It also has a stable flat bottom and stability rails so you don’t tip back and forth and end up flipping easily. It comes equipped with multiple footrest positions for kayakers of different sizes or ones who prefer to rest their feet in multiple positions. The adjustable padded seat maximizes comfort and it comes with two flush mounted fishing rod holders.
Rear and center storage compartments give you easy access to your tackle and paddle cradles secure your paddles while you’re fishing.
This is a great kayak for the beginners who are just starting out with kayak fishing and will serve you well for the years to come. It’s an affordable kayak at and can easily be handled by one person. It has a 275 lb. weight capacity and is 10-feet long. This sit-on-top kayak weighs 52lbs. and has plenty of extras to suit your needs.
This is the best sit-in fishing kayak because it has a tracking and turning hull design that allows for easy mobility and quick movements to get to where the fishing is good. With two flush mount rod holders and a swivel holder, you’ll be able to cast in different directions without having to move. The cockpit has a wide open design despite it being a sit-in kayak, which gives you a lot of space to maneuver.
What’s great about sit-in kayaks is that you can store a lot in them because the enclosure around you feet is accessible and closed off to the water, unlike the sit-on-top kayaks which are wide open.
This kayak has a weight capacity of 250 lbs. and is 10-feet long. It’s lightweight which makes for easy transportation and ease-of-use. A storage hatch behind the seat of the kayak can hold your tackle and makes deck rigging easier in the event you have to swap gear or you cut a line.
Foot braces on the interior are easily adjustable from the large cockpit. A high back-padded seat adds comfort so you can be on the water all day without any aches or pains. This kayak is ideal for exploring a river or relaxing on the lake. The hull’s stable design makes it a versatile kayak for fast moving water or for the wakes of the bigger boats that pass you by.
This kayak comes in olive green or sand colors and the material runs straight through so scratches won’t show. It compares well to other advanced top-rated fishing kayaks.
This is one of the most popular fishing kayaks on the market. The hull design is one of kind as it is fast, stable, and quiet. You won’t be scaring the fish away as you sneak up on them in this versatile kayak. You can handle tough or calm waters with this kayak and fish in a river, on a calm lake, or in the surf with ease.
A hatch in front of the kayak offers easy storage and you can store multiple rods below the deck. Two rod holders beside the comfort seat make fishing with multiple rods easy and if you’re paddling, will secure your rod in place while you venture through the wakes and the tides or along the banks. An oversized tank in the stern of the kayak will easily hold a cooler, tackle box or a milk crate. Take your catches home with you or storage all of your tackle with this top fishing kayak.
This model is made for more advanced kayak fishers. Ocean Kayak is a well known manufacturer of kayaks and has a reputation that sells itself. At a premium price tag, this kayak won’t disappoint anyone who buys it.
This kayak is great for the surf because it has advanced stability for ocean ventures. The sealed hatches protect your belongings if you come across rough waters and this performance kayak is well-equipped with plenty of features.
This is a great pick, especially for those who are budget conscious. It’s a mid-range priced kayak that can still give you a great experience on the water. This kayak can brave restless waters with extreme stability. It also has an efficient rudder that’s easy to control. You can easily maneuver through strong waves and quickly make turns with it.
One of the best features of this kayak is its numerous storages. It has a large covered oblong-shaped hatch located at the bow. It’s perfect for storing food for the trip. There’s also a covered 6 inch circular hatch located at the back of the kayaker’s seat that’s meant for storing equipment that you’ll constantly use during the trip.
You can find tray holders on either side of the seat. It’s the best place to store bait or other small equipments in. The kayak also has 2 cup holders, a sizable cargo holder, and various little hatches located all over the console. You can really see that the manufacturer maximized every inch of the kayak’s console when they made its design.
The kayak has two rod mounts. You can stick a fishing pole on both to catch twice as many fishes on a single trip. The mounts are deep. They’re deeper than those found in most kayaks, which means that your rods have slimmer chances of slipping off of them when a fish takes the bait. There are also clips on kayak’s sides where you can attach your paddles to keep them out of the way while you fish.
This kayak is chiseled from a single chunk of polyethylene. It’s durable and UV resistant, which means that it’ll stay in pristine conditions for a long time. You don’t have to worry about replacing it for years.
This 10-foot kayak is ideal for the intermediate kayak fisher who’s looking for a light and mobile kayak to transport easily. It’s equipped with a three-rod configuration, two flush mounts and one swivel mount. This offers ample security for multiple rod fishermen or ones who find they’re casting in all different directions.
A comfort rest system that’s planted in the molded seat folds down and there’s a large storage area behind it for tackle storage. Straps secure your belongings in place and paddle keepers hold your paddles while you’re casting and reeling with ease. Paddle keepers are a must-have for any fishing kayak because it’s unlikely you’ll be handling your paddles while holding your rod.
The sit-in design makes this one of the best rated fishing kayaks because the cavity is wide open and offers ample foot room and maneuvering space. Handles on the front, back, and side make for easy transportation and carrying with a lightweight design that weighs this kayak in at 47 lbs. The hull is designed for maximum stability and smooth tracking with durable UV-protected polyethylene and has a max capacity of 280 lbs.
This kayak comes in olive or sand colors and it’s a sit-in model made for nearly every water condition from lakes and slow-moving rivers to the surf. This kayak is packed with many features despite it being a smaller model.
This sit-on-top kayak features unparalleled stability, which is something you definitely want if you’re fishing. Casting, baiting and cleaning your hook can be accompanied by plenty of jerks and sudden movements that would throw your average kayak off balance.
With four rod holders, this sit-on-top kayak offers plenty of versatility and features a patented center bait tank system which gives you ease of access to your hook and bait. It also has a patented casting platform which offers you that unparalleled stability. The adjustable foot rack adds to your comfort with a padded seat. Plenty of tank wells offer you a lot of storage options for tackle, a cooler, or whatever else you bring on your adventure.
This kayak measures 14-feet long and has a weight capacity of a staggering 550 lbs. With a lifetime warranty, Malibu ensures you’ll never be short of a kayak necessary for your needs. This kayak is a larger kayak you will need a roof rack for this. As a solo kayaker it’s often difficult to carry a kayak this large by yourself. If you’re moving all over the place often, this kayak may be difficult to carry. But if you live on a lake and have a dock, this fishing kayak is perfect for you because it’s packed with all of the features the best fishing kayaks have to offer.
This kayak sells for a premium price tag and is meant for more advanced kayakers who have a grasp on what they’re looking for. This model has unique patented technology that will make your kayak fishing experience easier and more comfortable.
Its smoothness and its impressive stability, make the topwater 106 a great fishing companion. It can boast about being one of the quietest kayaks on the market. With it, you can gently slide into the best fishing spots without alerting all the fishes below.
It’s DoubleU shaped hull enhances its stability and precision on the water. This kayak brave restless waters without swaying too much or tipping over. You can confidently stand on top of it while you fish. It will keep you stable and on your feet regardless of the condition of the water.
This sit on top kayak provides superior comfort with its adjustable seat. You can keep it low if you like or pull it up and set it higher to keep your back from getting sore. There are three fishing rod mounts built into the kayak to help you maximize the amount of catches you can take home from a single trip. The kayak also has tackle and spare rod holders located on both sides of the seat.
A covered oblong shaped hatch can be found on the bow. It’s a great place to store food, equipment, and items that you want to keep dry. The model has smartly made the most of all of the spaces on its console. It’s roomy onboard and it really gives off the impression that it’s larger than it actually is.
It has a transducer mount that’s designed to accommodate all kinds of fish finders. If you already have a trusty transducer, you can just attach it on the mount. The standing area has comfortable foam pads that will keep your feet from being sore after standing for a long time.
This is a great model. Old town really outdid themselves with this one. It has almost everything a fisher would ever need on a fishing trip.
This is one of the best-selling models made by this manufacturer. The tarpon 120 still continues to impress its fans and it’s really easy to see why. It has a one-of-a-kind hull design that keeps it stable and steady even on turbulent waters. It’s long pointed design gives it the speed and responsiveness that you’ll enjoy maneuvering when you’re already on the water.
This kayak has lots of places where you can store your equipment. It really gives you the opportunity to make the most of its 350 pound maximum capacity. There’s a big oblong shaped storage space found in the bow that you can use to store fishing equipment, drinks, and food. It also has a slightly smaller round storage right underneath the standing area. You can use it to store the equipment you’ll constantly on your trip. The kayak has a generously shaped cargo that can hold all your equipment with ease.
In terms of comfort, the padded seat is arguably the best one you can find on any kayak in the market. It’s adjustable and has a 3d foam inside of it that allows it to keep its original shape no matter how long you use it. There are also padded foot braces where you can rest your feet when you’re sitting. They can be adjusted to accommodate riders of any shapes and sizes.
There are paddle clips located on either side of the kayak. Attach your paddles to them when they’re not in use to keep them out of the way. 2 narrow holders can also be found on the same place. You can use them place small fishing accessories like bait and spare rods. If they’re not enough and you need more easily accessible holders, there are two small storages in either side of the hatch underneath the standing area.
This kayak is really worth every penny. It’s a great fishing vessel that won’t give you anything but great performance and superior comfort.
You might be wondering why this kayak made the list. It might look bare compared to the other models here, but this kayak is one of the most steady and stable vessel you will ever find yourself jumping into. Its length and pointed ends make it faster and smoother on the water. This 50 pound kayak feels light on the water. You’d have a hard time believing that it’s that heavy when you feel how easy it is to maneuver it.
This kayak’s best feature is its price. It’s cheaper than almost every other item on this list. That’s really because it doesn’t have all the extra features that other kayaks have so much of. This one doesn’t have covered hatches. It doesn’t have rod mounts, no paddle holders, no cup holders, nothing. It just has a deep cargo hold at the back of the kayaker's seat and tiny storage spaces on either side of the kayak. It’s best used for small items in them like rods, baits, and other small fishing equipments.
The kayak also has a comfortable seat. It’s not good enough to make you feel like a king, but it’s comfortable enough that you won’t strain your back on your trip.
The Ultimate 12 is built to be a plain fishing kayak. You can stand on it comfortably and surely without fear of tipping over or too much rocking. It also has more than enough space on board to hold all your equipment. That’s really the most basic thing that you need for a fishing boat. This kayak can serve you just as well as every other kayak on this list can.
Best Fishing Kayak Brands on the Market
Ocean Kayak specializes in kayaks meant for the surf and rough waters. Their sit-on-top models are great for the frothy waves in the surf the rough banks of a river. These kayaks are often longer and sturdier than traditional kayaks and have a reputation for being very well built and stable. The longer the boat, the more stable it is. These kayaks meant for navigating the open waters or the sea are ideal for anyone who is planning to fish in open, rough water.
Old Town Kayaks are a traditional kayak brand is very well made. Dating back to 1898, Old Town kayaks have innovated with materials and features in their kayaks.
Old Town manufactures sit-on-top kayaks, sit-in kayaks, recreational and fishing kayaks. They offer various models in multiple sizes and have the innovative design that has lasted Old Town over 100 years.
Lifetime kayaks are meant for beginner, intermediate, or advanced paddlers. These kayaks feature a stable design and safe features that accompany kayakers of all ages and sizes.
This brand is more affordable than most kayaks and they offer a wide breadth of features so you won’t be trading off much by spending less money. These kayaks are a bit smaller than the bigger ocean kayaks and offer safety and security. They’re a great starting place for anyone who is looking to get into kayaking.
Sun Dolphin kayaks come in sit-in, sit-on-top, tandem, or recreational models. These affordable kayaks are made from thermoformed polyethylene and are typically up to 12-feet long. They average 10-feet long and are great for solo paddlers looking to start kayaking.
Like the Lifetime brand, these kayaks are affordable and easy to use for people of all ages and sizes. They can come with or without all of the features available in most of the bigger, more expensive kayaks.
Sit in vs Sit on top: Which is Best for Me?
Sit on top and sit in type of seats are wildly different. They both have great advantages and disadvantages.
Sit ins was the conventional way to build kayak seats. These seat types are enclosed. You get to slip yourself in a cockpit(like a hole) in the kayak and settle your feet on a pedal located deep inside. The pedal is adjustable to accommodate kayakers of all sizes. This seat type of safer and more secure than sit on tops. It keeps you inserted into the kayak and lessens the chance of you getting separated from your ride. Plus, it keeps you try the entire trip.
The only problem that people have with this seat type is the feeling of claustrophobia. When you’re deep inside the kayak, you can barely move half your body and stretch your legs.
Sit on tops are the opposite of that. Instead of slipping yourself into anything, the seat is just placed on top of the kayak without enclosures. Travelers love this design because it gives kayakers more freedom to move and stretch. It also allows them to get off the kayak easily and whenever they want.
If you’re wondering which is better for you, think of it like this. Freedom versus security? If you’re braving turbulent waters, it’s a no brainer that sit ins are the better option. They’ll keep you dry and secure inside of your kayak. If you’re traveling through calm waters, then sit on tops are fine.
Kayak Fishing Basics: How to Choose a Kayak?
What are You Going to Use It for?
There are so many types of kayaks in the market. All of them have a specific specialization that’s designed to get you through various situations in the water.
There are fishing kayaks which are designed to be more durable and feature packed than the other types of kayaks. There are also recreational kayaks, which are made for gliding in calm waters and purely for sightseeing. They are designed to be lighter. And although they have huge maximum capacities, they don’t have that much storage space in them to keep that much stuff in. Each type of kayak serves a different purpose. You need to know exactly what you’re going to put it through before starting to shop around for a model.
This process is vital. You don’t want to use the wrong kind of kayak for the wrong body of water. It would be an extreme waste of resources to have to buy another one too soon. So spare some time to Google all the types of kayaks available on the market and determine which of them would suit your needs best.
Which Size Suits You Best?
The dimensions of the kayak will determine its performance on the water. We know that shorter kayaks can turn faster on the water. We also know that longer kayaks glide faster than shorter ones. And though wider kayaks can carry more weight, they contribute to make the kayak slower and more sluggish.
You have to consider all of these things when browsing for kayaks. If you’re kayaking for the adventure, and you want to cover more grounds with the shortest amount of time, it’s best to go with longer and slimmer kayaks. They can travel faster and much more smoother. They also don’t need too much effort to move.
If you really want to bring coolers, speakers, and many other heavy items on board, go for wider kayaks. They have larger capacities than slimmer ones, and they’re much more stable. Although, you shouldn’t expect to be able to travel that fast. You should also be ready to exert more effort in making sharp turns.
Think about the kind of journey that you want to have when thinking about which size to get. All kayaks have their own advantages and disadvantages. Weigh them all properly before putting your money down on anything.
How Much are You Willing to Spend for It?
Kayaks aren’t that cheap. Even the basic ones will cost you. Marry your ideal kayak to your intended budget. The top brands will give you quality but along with it tons of added features. That’s really part of what blows up their price.
When looking for budget kayaks, go for the plain looking ones. Focus on the material, dimension, the seat type, and the weight capacity. Those are all that really matters. Everything else is just added for your convenience.A plain decent shaped kayak made of quality polyester will get you to your intended destination the same time as an expensive kayak with 6 storage hatches, 2 rod mounts, padded seats, and 2 tray holders can. Focus only on what matters and you’ll be able to get yourself a decent model even with a small budget.
Fishing Kayak Buying Guide For You
When buying a fishing kayak here are a few things to consider. Keep in mind where you’ll be fishing. If you’re fishing on a lake and want something that’s comfortable and can secure a lot of your things without risking losing them, get a sit-in kayak. These models are made for quick, smooth maneuvering and safety as they have a closed design.
You can take these models onto a river or into the surf if you’re a more advanced kayaker too. If you’re looking for something that’s more suited to fishing and will allow you to handle more rods and offer advanced flexibility go with a sit-on-top model. These kayaks are ideal for kayak fisherman who but the fish before the kayak. They offer a wide range of motion, plenty of storage and adhere to stability.
All of the best rated fishing kayaks have ample rod storage and rod holders. If you fish with multiple rods get one with plenty of holders. The swivel rod holders are also good for the fishermen who find they’re always casting in different directions without rotating their kayak. Also, consider how you’ll be transporting the kayak.
If you don’t have a roof rack but have an SUV you can store the kayak in, get a smaller 10-foot one. The smaller kayaks are ideal for stability and quick maneuvering on the water. The bigger kayaks are harder to move if you’re alone.
A solo kayaker doesn’t need much storage space unless you plan on taking a long trip out on the lake or river, in which case you’ll need a bigger one for more storage.
Find a kayak that has paddle holders as you’ll likely need them. This is important because you won’t be holding your paddles if you’re fishing and if you lose them, well, you’re stranded on the water with no means to efficiently get back to shore. If you’re sharing the kayak with your family and someone who is using it is substantially shorter or taller than you, get the kayak with adjustable foot rests. These will offer everyone ample comfort when they’re fishing.
Fishermen who swap gear often will likely want a kayak that allows them to more readily access their hook and bait setup. These kayaks will likely have multiple rod holders located close to the seat where the line can extend down in front of you. Kayaks with storage tank for coolers are also nice for kayak fishers who keep what the catch. With this feature, you’ll be able to store your catches easily either behind you or in front of you for the duration of your fishing excursion.
After reviewing this guide you likely have an idea of which kayak is best for you. It all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend and what kind of water you’ll be fishing in. Sit-on kayaks are best in rough waters, while the sit-ins are best on calmer, more open waters where speed will serve you well to get out there and find the best spot for fishing.
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