Whether this is your very first fishing kayak or you are looking to change your current one, you will need to know what your options are. We spent more than 40 hours doing this research for you, evaluating the top choices and compiling a list of the top 8 fishing kayaks. This article will help you chose the best fishing kayak. We know the bitter feeling of finding out the kayak you selected is not good, the regret of not evaluating correctly the options. Fear not, as we did this research for you and we state very clearly the good, the not so good and when each kayak might be good for you. And some extra tips and advice to make any fishing kayak purchase successful.
Let’s dive into your ultimate research stop for getting your best fishing kayak. Great fishing trips await you!
- How do we choose the best fishing kayaks?
- The Best Fishing Kayaks
- # 1. Ocean Prowler 13 Angler: Best Overall
- # 2. Perception Pescador Pilot 12: Best Fishing Features
- # 3. Sundolphin Journey 10 SS: Best Price
- # 4. Sevylor Colorado 2 Person Fishing Kayak: Best Portable Kayak
- # 5. Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Angler: Great Price-Features Ratio
- # 6. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100: Great Customization
- # 7. Vibe Yellowfin 100: Great Features-Price Ratio Mention
- # 8. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100: Low Budget Mention
- The Verdict
- What other important features you should look?
- Important advice before purchasing a kayak
- Final Words
How do we choose the best fishing kayaks?
When researching for a fishing kayak, there are lots of features and criteria that you want to pay attention to and compare. We focus our attention on the following features, that we think are the most important ones.
- Stability. We are not just paddling in the kayak, but also moving a lot while handling gear and the fishing rod. Or we might be bringing in a big one that fights a bit more than usual. Stability is key for fishing in a kayak.
- Storage. Again, because we will be fishing, we need not only to carry a few things… but all our fishing gear and have enough space to handle and move with the rod, and place our capture.
- Portability. How easy it is for you to carry your boat to the water? Can you do it just by carrying it with your hands or do you need a cart? One adult can handle it or you need two pair of hands? All this “carries its weight” at the time of selecting your kayak.
- Comfort. Fishing trips on a kayak can be really long, more than the usual recreational paddling session. How comfortable you are on your kayak is key, so we pay a great deal of attention to this feature.
- Value for the money. How good a boat is in terms of features for the investment you will make? This is also an important factor from our point of view.
These are not the only criteria, but just the ones we are focusing in for our top selection. Later in this article we discuss some other features and aspects you might want to pay attention to, when conducting your own research.
The Best Fishing Kayaks
# 1. Ocean Prowler 13 Angler: Best Overall
The Ocean Prowler 13 Angler is our overall best fishing kayak. And we are not the only ones that think this yak is a great choice. There are lots of proud owners of the Prowler sharing their experiences and satisfaction with the kayak.
It has an outstanding performance on the water, is very stable, is fast and tracks exceptionally well. Out of the box, the kayak hull is designed to be very efficient, maneuverable and stable, with kegs built in the front and rear of the hull in a V shape, that cut through the water and keep the boat tracking well, paddle after paddle.
Although is not a small kayak, is very portable. With a length of 13.4 feet, a width of 28 inches and a total weight of 56 lbs, is big but easy to manage by only one adult. Most people will be able to move it from the truck or car to the water just by carrying it from its heavy duty carrying handles. If you are not strong, a simple cart can help you. And moving in and out of water is easy through the handles in the front and rear.
The seat is very good, with a solid backrest that we recommend to keep as straight as possible, to ensure the most comfortable paddling. The bottom of the seat is thin though, so you might need to add an extra layer of cushion. Let your body be your judge. The position of your legs and feet is comfortable too, and you have multiple foot rest positions carved into the kayak itself. In comparison to other kayaks that have adjustable feet pedals, several people found these carved and fixed ones even more comfortable, as the pedals tend to be wacky and unstable for them.
Storage wise is awesome. On the front side it comes with a wide hatch that gives access to the internal hull, with a convenient system for opening and closing. It’s not waterproof, but this is not a disadvantage at all. Just remember to protect any fragile electronics with a waterproof bag, and also to keep it strapped with cord for easy access. Between your legs there are molded cup holders and another small hatch for smaller gear. On the rear you have a big open storage tank well, protected with bungee cord. This is one of the biggest storage spaces on all the kayaks reviewed, and it even accommodates optional accessories from Ocean, like the Ice Box Storage Pod. And it comes with two flushed rod holders at the sides of the seat and paddle holders with bungee cords on the sides, so you can be confident that you won’t lose them while focused on fishing.
As most sit-on-top kayaks, it comes with scupper holes. These can be sealed with additional scupper plugs. Some anglers find it useful to seal the scupper holes that are place at the back of the seat, to avoid getting their butt wet. This model comes with an optional rudder system that can be attached, but you won’t really need it to have good tracking, it’s a great yak that will give you an excellent trip just out of the box.
- Awesome Storage Space: the best yak in the list storage wise.
- Stability: exceptional stability, makes this kayak great for fishing with ease.
- Tracking: perfect tracking for moving easily to the best fishing spots
- Awesome Price/Features ratio: You are getting the best features out there for a fishing kayak.
- Five Year Limited Warranty: paddle and fish at ease, as Ocean Kayak has you covered for a long time.
The Not So Good
- The seat bottom can become too rigid after a while, and you might need to add an extra cushion.
Is this for you?
If your budget is in this kayak price range, this is definitely one of the best options. It has everything you need to get a very good paddling experience and fishing trips out of the box. You won’t need to spend additional money to make this one fit for paddling or fishing, and its among the top fishing kayaks for stability, tracking and maneuverability out there.
Want to know more? Read our detailed review of the Ocean Prowler 13 Angler kayak here.
# 2. Perception Pescador Pilot 12: Best Fishing Features
The Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is a superior fishing kayak, well suited for beginners and experts alike. What distinguishes this yak from the others in this list is that it comes with a pedal propulsion system: The Pilot Drive Propeller System. Using your feet only and in conjunction with a 360° rudder guidance system, you can maneuver and move through water easily without the use of a paddle. The propeller system is easy to install, and also has a useful feature to deploy and un-deploy it from water, great to avoid shallow waters or when launching and docking on the shore.
Is incredibly stable, and with a width of 3 inches, you can easily stand on it. Also tracks very well, when using a simple paddle or the propeller system. You can even go on reverse with the pedals!
This is a big kayak compared to some of the other ones in the list, and portability can be an issue. A 12 feet long and 33 inches wide hull, with a weight of 85 lbs, if you are alone, you might find yourself greatly relieved by using a transport cart to take it from the truck to the water. It comes with easy handles to carry it as well.
The Pescador Pilot is very comfortable, and the seat is great for full day fishing trips. It is adjustable on the fly on the front and back, to adjust exactly to your height and provide you with the most comfortable seat well for several hours. And the seat itself is made from a mesh like fabric, that allows the air to flow.
Also it has lots of room for storage. It has 4 flushed rod holders and a cup holder. Space for your tackle boxes, and ample room for storage on the front and the rear part and secured with bungee cord and an elastic mesh. Has an accessory rail system to mount your favorite fishing helpers on the sides, and also 2 accessory containers to store and place transducers, with the proper scupper for it and precise inlets and outlets for the electronic cords to move through and reach the transducer display. This yak has been made with electronic accessory installment and placement in mind.
Last but not least, this is a very secure yak as well. Made in the USA, leak-proof, with built-in buoyancy and a permanent U.S. Coast Guard compliant hull identification number.
- Awesome Storage: lots of space to keep all your gear and more!
- Superior Seat: great comfort for full day fishing trips.
- Accessory mounts: Rail system that supports the addition of multiple accessories as GPS, Fish Finder, etc.
- 5 Year Limited Warranty.
- Security: US Guard Cost Compliant Hull ID. Its the only kayak in this review who has a US Guard Coast compliant Hull ID, which makes it officially approved.
The Not So Good
- Heavy, it could be a challenge for single anglers to move around without the help of a cart.
- High Price: Its price is high in comparison to the other kayaks, but rest assured you get your investment back in features and quality.
Is this for you?
If you have enough budget for it and you are in for a superior and professional fishing kayak, this is for you. This yak comes packed with everything you need for a great full fishing day. You won’t find a better yak in its price range.
Want to know more? Read our detailed review of the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 kayak here.
# 3. Sundolphin Journey 10 SS: Best Price
The Sundolphin Journey 10 SS is a beginner level, sit-on-top fishing kayak. It’s one of the best kayak for tight budgets. As most of the sit on tops in this list, is made of rigid and durable material, with a lifetime limited warranty to be sure that you are protected in case of any defects.
It comes packaged with everything you need as an angler to make your fishing trips worthwhile. Two flushed rod holders to the side of the seat, and an additional swivel rod holder in the middle and in front of the seat. It has a de-mountable container in the rear (called P.AC. for Portable Accessory Carrier), and a flushed open storage secured with bungee cord in the front for additional cargo. Also has a sealed storage hatch, for smaller belongings. Beware that although this compartments are sealed and water resistant, they are NOT totally waterproof. If you need to store your cellphone or other things that could be damaged by water, protect them first inside a sealed bag.
The Kayak is comfortable enough for a couple of hours, but not for really long fishing trips out of the box. The seat has an adjustable backrest and you will be seating in the hull of the yak. But you can customize and improve a lot your seating experience by using a portable / inflatable seat.
The yak is stable enough for its weight limit. You need to keep in mind the correct position to seat, and properly position your legs slightly bent to the sides to help you out with your balance. Also keep in mind that this boat is self-bailing, which means that comes with scupper holes that will let water in and out through them. You will have the option of adding scupper plugs into these if they are not of your liking.
The tracking and maneuverability is not great, but with the proper placing of your legs to be stable, and the addition of a keg, you can make this one a nice tracking kayak
- Budget: This is a very nice kayak one and its price is the lowest of all the kayaks in this list.
- Great for beginners.
- Lifetime Limited Warranty: the manufacturer has you covered forever against defects.
The Not So Good
- Does not track well by default. We recommend to add a keg, and you will be good to go.
Is this for you?
If you are a beginner kayak angler with a tight budget, you might want to consider the Sundolphin Journey 10 SS. It comes with all that you need for fishing on a boat. With very minor and on-budget accessories and improvements, you can have a great kayak to last a lifetime.
Want to know more? Read our detailed review of the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS.
# 4. Sevylor Colorado 2 Person Fishing Kayak: Best Portable Kayak
In a different category from the rest of the kayaks in this list, the Sevylor Colorado is an inflatable kayak. With 18 gauge PVC, a very thick tarpaulin bottom and a tough and durable nylon cover, this boat is strong enough to carry 2 big adults and full gear everywhere. You can take this one into Class IV rapids with true confidence. And if you like to fish with your dog by your side, let me tell you, dogs love this boat. Don’t worry about paws and nails, as the whole boat is double layered with a resistant nylon cover that not even your fishing tackles could puncture.
Due to its wide design, and being an inflatable boat, is highly stable. One of the most stable kayak/boat out there, definitely a good option for bigger and not so agile people concerned with stability. That being said, you won’t be able to stand up on it, as it’s not a hard surface. It’s not impossible, but will require a lot of balance and agility. Seating on this boat is very comfortable, as it comes with inflatable seats with adjustable back rests. It tracks very well for an inflatable boat, thanks to the included fin.
The Sevylor Colorado Fishing Kayak is a marvel of portability. It fits in a bag, and it’s lightweight enough to be carried by a single adult. It fits in any car trunk and even in your side seat.
Setting it up and inflating is also a breeze. With the proper pump you will be ready in minutes. It’s designed with multiple air chambers in case of an accident, so the other chambers will stay inflated if one is punctured. Is inflated and deflated through standard Boston Valves and uses an airtight system guaranteed not to leak.
This kayak also comes equipped with internal mesh storage pockets to store your gear and snacks. It comes with paddle holders to keep them out of the way when fishing. Also has multiple flushed rod holders, where the rod holder itself fits in. These can get in the way when padding, but you can remove the holders and then put them on again when you start fishing. Also there would be space left in the front and read of the yak for more equipment.
- Portability: This kayak outshines any other, you carry a bag on your shoulder and it fits any car trunk or side seat.
- Lightweight: It’s also very lightweight, making it a great choice for its easy of handling and portability.
- Stability. The most stable kayak you will find for seating and fishing.
- 1 Year Limited Warranty: Although less time than the others, keep in mind this is an inflatable kayak, and tends to sustain more abuse than the rigid ones. 1 year for an inflatable boat is good coverage.
The Not So Good
- The rod holders can get in the way while padding
- Windy days could be tough as its profile is bigger than others, tends to catch more wind.
Is this for you?
If portability is your concern, you can’t beat the Sevylor Colorado inflatable kayak. This is as portable and manageable as you can get, and a sturdy and awesome quality boat. Also the stability provided by this boat is great and beats the other ones, if you are not so much concerned about speed.
Want to know more? Read our detailed review of the Secylor Colorado Fishing Kayak here.
# 5. Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Angler: Great Price-Features Ratio
The Vibe Sea Ghost 110 combines the best of speed, maneuverability and features of any of sit-on-top kayaks in the market. With great quality and awesome features, it also rivals with high end kayak models way above its price range. It’s a long and wide kayak that will give you the speed and stability a big angler needs. With its 33 inches wide and 11 feet long, it makes big and heavy anglers feel right at home.
Being this big, and a bit heavier than other models (62 lbs.) is not so easy for a single person to take this baby to the lake. Although it comes with 4 carrying handles, you might need a buddy or some carrying aid to make your trips back and forth the water easy. But that’s a fair price to pay for the excellent quality and feature that you get from this yak. The Vibe Hero Seat is amazingly comfortable, with 2 height options to set it. You you will be out in the water for hours on end, without ever feeling uncomfortable.
This kayak packs tons of features. Storage wise, you get a 20 inches and a 6 inches sealed hatches with bag inserts. A rear cargo storage with bungee cord to secure your gear. A large sealed center console with accessory mounting points. Four integrated gear tracks. Two tackle tray holders that fit standard boxes. Two fishing rod flush holders to the sides of the seat. Paddler holders to each side and one additional convenient holder on the front, for quickly leaving your pad when you are in a hurry.
And if that’s is not enough, you have an integrated rudder system, toe controlled. A fish-finder transducer port with mounting points and protective lid to keep the device secure. And last but not least, a cup holder! Any experienced angler will feel at home and with all needs taking care of in this kayak.
- Awesome Seat: It has a very comfortable seat, for a full day of fishing without any problem.
- Stable: Very stable for paddling and fishing alike.
- Tracking Performance: The hull design itself makes it a good tracking yak, and with the addition of the rudder system, you will have even more control and maneuverability.
- Lifetime Limited Warranty: Vibe shines with its lifetime warranty, what else can you ask?
- Storage: High capacity and plenty of storage for more than you’ll ever need.
- Professional accessory mounts. Great system to add as many accessories as you like.
- Rudder System: Allows the optional addition of a rudder system, to make it even more maneuverable.
The Not So Good
- Portability: This is a big yak, and it tends to be a bit bulky and heavy for just one adult. You might need the aid of a carrying cart to make your trips easier from and to your car/truck.
Is this for you?
If you are a big and or heavy angler (more than 6” or 200 lbs.) this is an excellent choice. The bigger frame of the Sea Ghost will give you the stability you need, but feeling really comfortable.
Even for smaller people this is a good choice if you like to get the additional professional features this model packs. We think that even the slight inconvenience of begin a bit heavier and not as portable as others, is totally worth it in exchange for this great yak and all its features.
Want to know more? Read our detailed review about the Vibe Sea Ghost 110 here.
# 6. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100: Great Customization
The Tarpon 100 is not technically a fishing kayak, but a recreational sit-on-top. That being said, Wilderness Systems have great kayaks and most, including this model, come with 4 accessory rail system on both sides (front and rear) that allow you to attach multiple additions, like rod holder, fish finders, GPS, etc.
It’s a pretty portable kayak, that one average adult can handle it even without a cart. With a length of 10 feet, width of 30.5 inches and weighing 55 lbs, is manageable enough to carry it by hand, using its heavy duty carrying handles at the rear, front and sides without any problems.
One of the best features of this kayak is its comfortable and versatile seat. The Phase 3 AirPro Seat is fully adjustable, with mesh fabric and honeycombed design and an ergonomic 3D foam, that allows for greater airflow while supporting your lower back when rowing or fishing.
As we mentioned already, an awesome feature of this model is its 4 rail system for attaching accessories. Also the storage space is good, and will allow to carry any of your fishing gear with you. Comes with plenty of open space and secured with bungee cords, to hold your cargo. Also has 2 hatches that gives you access to the inside of the hull. You can store lots of gear here, but remember to tie it up and put it inside waterproof bags if you intend to keep sensible electronics there. Last but not least, you have cup holders and two small gear storage spaces protected by mesh.
- Great Seat: with the Phase 3 AirPro Seat, you will be the full day comfortably fishing without complains.
- Stable and Fast: Stability does not compromise speed in this yak. Stable and fast, great combo!
- Portable: Even being 10 feet long, this one can be handled by one adult with ease.
- Accessory Rail System: It can attach any accessory you’ll like, for further customization down the road.
The Not So Good
- We really don’t think there’s anything bad with this kayak. We could mention that is not specific for fishing, but the customization options you get with the rail system are more than balancing out that issue.
Is this for you?
If you have a budget that is not so tight, and you would like to customize your kayak, this is an awesome choice. With a good fishing rod attached to the accessory rail system, you are good to go. Many anglers use this same boat and go the route of customization, adding new accessories from time to time as their angling experience and needs grow.
Want to know more? Read our detailed review of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 here.
# 7. Vibe Yellowfin 100: Great Features-Price Ratio Mention
The Vibe Yellowfin 100 is an all-star sit-on-top yak. With an outstanding seat, will make your fishing trips incredible comfortable, allowing you to fish for multiple hours without even noticing it. It is very stable and tracks well, thanks to a 32 inches wide hull, with integrated “low profile” rudders in the front and the rear. Your feet will rest on adjustable foot braces, that you can set up to the exact position you need. With only 57 lbs., is very lightweight and can be carried by an adult without problems. It comes packed with four carrying handles to make this task even easier.
The kayak comes with 2 sealed 9 inches hatches with bag inserts, enough to safely store lots of belongings and gear. It comes with 4 flushed rod holders, and 2 side paddle holders so you can fish without any worry of losing your paddle. Also, it packs 2 flushed tackle tray holders that allow to keep your tackle box in a reachable and safe location. Also in the rear part, behind the seat, there is “tankwell” space with adjustable cord to secure any additional box or cargo you might need to take with you.
If this is not enough, Vibe offers Lifetime Limited Warranty on all their kayaks and their Customer Support has been praised for its great care and fast response times.
- Awesome Seat: You can be on it all day long fishing and you be very comfortable.
- Stable: It is one of the most stable kayaks, as reported by its owners.
- Tracking Performance: tracks exceptionally well thanks to its hull design.
- Lightweight: Can be carried by one adult easily.
- Lifetime Limited Warranty: What more can you ask? Forever covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Storage: Great storage capacity for all your accessories
The Not So Good
- It only comes with one mount point for accessories, so you need to choose what will be. Your custom rod holder, a GPS or a fish finder? This is not a bad thing, but you might end up needing some more down the line.
Is this for you?
If you have a few more bucks to spend, this is an awesome choice. The overall quality and performance of this yak makes it the best on its price range. Whether you are a beginner or experienced yak fisher, this is a great choice if you have the budget.
Want to know more? Read our detailed review of the Vibe Yellowfin 100 here.
# 8. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100: Low Budget Mention
The Lifetime Tamarack 10 foot Angler is a very stable sit-on-top kayak, with good tracking. Is excellent for beginners and experienced kayakers alike. With some practice and in calm waters, is stable enough to allow you to stand on it and fish. With a weight of 52 lbs, it can be carried without much effort by an adult, and comes with handles in the front and back to carry it by two persons or dragging it with the help of a cart.
It gives access to the full deck cavity through 2 hatches. These are water resistant and do a very good job on keeping water out, but are not designed to be waterproof. You will need to keep your stuff in sealed bags or containers, and also strap them with cords as they can move out of reach easily. The seat is comfortable enough for short to mid length trips (2 hours), and you have multiple footrest positions to adjust for your height.
It has 3 fishing rods holders. Two of them are located to the sides of the seat back rest, flushed into the deck. The other one is placed in front of the seat, on the right side, as a dismountable top holder. Also comes with a paddle keeper to hold it secure to the yak while fishing. It has front and rear shock cords that allow to carry almost anything with you and have it secured to the deck of the kayak.
- Stable: The multi-chine and flip resistant hull design makes for great stability.
- Tracking Performance: The integrated skeg on the rear part of the hull aids in a great tracking experience.
- Lightweight: With only 52 lbs, it can easily be carried by one adult.
- 5 years limited warranty: Awesome customer service and warranty for a long time.
- Storage: Has plenty of storage to keep gear, for beginners and experienced paddlers and fishers alike.
- Price: It packs useful fishing features at a great price for a fishing kayak (if you can find it on the $300 deal).
The Not So Good
- Seat: Although this kayak’s seat is comfortable, it can slowly become less and less comfortable for long trips. After 2, 3 hours you might start to feel it.
Is this for you?
If you are looking for a very affordable kayak (you can get a great discount on Amazon) with great features, this is you kayak. It’s an awesome choice if you are a beginner: stable, awesome tracking and more than enough space for storage and accessories. It’s even a great choice for advanced kayak fishers too!
Our very best fishing kayak overall is the Ocean Prowler 13 Angler. Considering all our main evaluation criteria, this is the kayak that takes the prize. Everything you need for an exceptional fishing session for an acceptable investment. If you have the budget, this is a great choice.
But if you are not short on money, and you want the very best fishing features and quality, you should go for the Perception Pescador Pilot 12. The very best features for fishing, including a pedaling propulsion and ruder system.
Although for any of you that are just starting out, and the budget is really a concern, your best option is the Sundolphin Journey 10 SS. It’s sold at one of the lowest prices on the market, paddling and fishing ready for a lifetime. Another good option for lower budgets is the Lifetime Tamarack 100, that usually sells out on a big discount that matches the Sundolphin. Another great choice if you can find it in that price range.
And for those of you that portability is their main concern, you can’t go wrong with one of the best inflatable fishing kayaks today, the Sevylor Colorado. A two person fishing ready inflatable boat, that rivals any other rigid hull out there.
We have several other mentions in this review, and among the top 8 best fishing kayaks, the Vibe manufacturer has 2 models that really shine: the Sea Ghost 110 Angler, and the Yellowfin 100. What characterizes Vibe kayaks are their quality. They are really good with great features, that make them among the top choices in their price range.
And although not truly a fishing kayak the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is great kayak that performs very well, and is greatly customizable. Will allow you to add any fishing rod holder you want, alongside with many more customization options.
What other important features you should look?
When you are researching for your next kayak, there are lots of consideration to take into account. Our top choice for the best fishing kayak review was, as you already know it, stability, storage space, comfort and the value obtained for your money.
But these are not the only features and criteria, and you can certainly keep so other things in mind at the time of evaluating yaks. The following is a short list with some other common criteria to be aware of, specially for anglers.
Type of Kayak
As their name implies, these are kayaks that you can easily get in and out by directly sitting on top. Made from a solid material, their hull is sealed, and you usually seat on top of a molded seat.
This type of kayak is usually wide, which makes them very stable, an important feature for anglers. This also makes them slower than their touring and slim brothers, but really, if your aim going out fishing this is really not a disadvantage at all and rather desirable, as your aim is stability to be able to fish at ease.
They are open, meaning there is no cover and you are in for a wet ride most of the time, although you can get experienced enough to almost avoid any drip as you get used to them.
These are the kings of portability. Good inflatable kayaks are usually made of very durable and sturdy materials, and on most cases they are double layered with a very resistant protection fabric.
You can inflate and deflate them quickly, and folded into a bag, they can be taken anywhere inside a small car trunk or even on a seat.
Also they tend to have a higher profile in comparison to other types of yaks. This makes them more vulnerable to the wind, as they catch it easily. They are excellent choices for calm waters and days with just a slight wind.
Stability is another great feature, and although it would be hard to stand on these ones, while seating, you can’t beat the stability that most inflatable yaks will give you.
The Sit-In Kayaks are very much the same as the Sit-On-Top, with the difference that these ones provide an enclosed space to sit inside the hull of the yak. On most models they come with a spray skirt to cover you from the water dripping over you while padding, and the combo of wind and waves hitting the hull and spraying over you.
As you are inside and covered, they offer a better protection from the elements, specially important in you live in colder climates and would like to go for a ride in your yak anyways. But on the down side it’s harder recover if you flip, as you will be filled with water.
Size (Length, Width)
The length of the kayak impacts directly on how it performs on the water. Longer kayaks will be faster, while shorter kayaks will be more maneuverable. Your decision in this front should consider the types of water you will be using it in. If you mainly go on ponds, creeks and black waters, you should aim for more maneuverability than speed. On the contrary, for lakes, rivers and white water you might want to go for more speed.
And also the length is a good indicator of its weight capacity. If you are tall and heavy, you will be better off with longer models, from 11 feet and above. Be sure to check the kayaks specs, but you will find that the longer they are, the heavier weight they can carry.
When considering the width of your kayak, keep in mind that wider kayaks will be more stable. Some will be even suitable for standing up and fishing in this position. The drawback is that the wider they are, the less maneuverable they will be, thus harder to paddle
A kayak keel is a plastic “fin” that goes down into the water from the hull of your yak, and is used to improve maneuverability and tracking. Do not underestimate the power of a keel, as this can be the difference of not being able to control a kayak or having a decent paddling experience.
Some kayaks have the keel integrated to their hulls, others offer them as a separate accessory that you can attach, and some others don’t have any keel at all.
Not having any sort of keel might not be bad, if you plan only to go on rocky rivers or very closed and tight creeks. Although my recommendation is to always look for models that have some sort of keel.
The most usual method of propelling and moving you and your kayak through water is by using paddles. But there are kayak models that have pedaling systems, that will allow you to move at the same time that you use your hands for some other task. This is, for some anglers, extremely useful and not even a thing for others, but is worth keeping it in mind.
Last but not least, there are kayak models that have the possibility of attaching an outboard motor to the kayak.
Room for special fishing accessories
Although all of the kayak models will give your some sort of basic storage for your gear, there are others that will go a bit further an think specially on your needs as a fisherman. From rod holders and tackle box special inlets, to mounts for GPS and fish finders. Some models have their own accessory rail system that allows to add any accessories, and place them at different locations around the rim of your yak.
Important advice before purchasing a kayak
As part of our research time, and we did lots of it, we read all of the customer reviews for the kayak models on their manufacturer websites and also in Amazon. The models that we choose as our top 8 best fishing kayaks are all outstanding in this regard, with very high ratings from their verified owners, standing above the 3.5~4 stars out of 5.
But there were a few bad reviews too, and although these are just a few in the big picture, we pay attention to them anyways.
Considering ONLY these few reviews in the lower end (1~2 stars rating), it struck us as a surprise to realize that the vast majority of them were related to this two issues: a) problems and damaged caused by the delivery of the kayak; and b) damaged electronics inside the hatchets that are NOT waterproof. We want to take a few moments to address both of those problems, so you are aware of them and hopefully avoid them altogether. And let’s reiterate that this was a minor problem in comparison with the whole picture and the total of reviews, that was overwhelmingly positive.
How to avoid delivery and shipping issues with your kayak
Among the few bad reviews for kayaks, one of the predominant cause was that the kayaks arrived with either bumps, scratches, beats or broken in some location. The mishandling of the shipping and or the delivery company was the cause in all these cases, and NOT the kayak or features or performance. In a way, these reviews were unjust to the kayak manufacturer as it has nothing to do with the kayak itself.
Please, beware that this can be a problem in your case. But it’s one that can be easily avoided with proper attention from your part, the customer. Kayaks are big and required care during shipping, handling and delivery. This is your product and you have to check it up BEFORE you sign the delivery receipt. Check that everything is in its place and that there is no visual clues that suggest beats, bumps or scratches to the kayak or the box or bag in which it is contained.
Sometimes the boxes will appear bumped or scratched, but the contents are safe. Take a few minutes and inspect the contents before giving the delivery truck a signed consent. This should NOT be a problem for the delivery guys who should be ok with you inspecting the product. Please be kind with them too, and just spend a minute or so quickly opening and checking your kayak instead of performing a 2 hour long YouTube unpacking episode!
That being said, having your cell phone or camera in hand is useful, as you can take pictures directly there if something seems to be wrong.
We urge you to NOT accept the delivery of your kayak if anything looks broken. Make this noted in their receipt if they need a reason as negative reception proof. Take a picture right there, and contact your customer support. You ARE covered for this inconveniences with every manufacturer or shop, so don’t despair. The important point to make is to not accept the product as if it was delivered in good condition.
Obviously this is an annoyance and not a nice situation, but with a bit of patient it will be solved and properly and not damaged product will be delivered back to you again.
Know the water resistance capabilities of your kayak
Another big cause of complain among the few bad reviews on these top 8 best fishing kayaks was the issue the owners were having with their gear, specially electronics, place inside water resistant hatches. Beware that these are NOT waterproof, just water resistant. There is a big difference there, and if you take a moment to skim through the owner’s manual of your kayak, you will find that they warn about this very same thing. Not all water resistant hatches are made equal, but they all can let some amount of water in. Is important that you realize this so your experience doesn’t follow the same road of those unaware owners.
You can avoid this problem altogether by using waterproof bags and placing your belongings inside this bags. Then, place the bags inside the hatch or storage that your yak has.
Another note related to the hatches is that on some kayak models, these hatches will give you full access to the inside of the hull. Any gear you place there will be moving inside the full cavity of the boat. It might be better to strap your belongings, or better yet, strap the waterproof bags with cords that you can easily attach to the inside hatch lid. This way everything will be perfectly safe, waterproof and reachable!
Although not directly related to hatches, but indeed with the water,
keep in mind that you will get wet from time to time. Sometimes more
than others. Sit-on-tops come with “scupper holes”. These are holes in the hull that allow for the water to go in and out of the kayak.
Some models come equipped with scupper plugs to seal those off, but
keep in mind that putting the plugs will prevent the water that comes in
(from paddling, waves and wind) to go out again. Experiment what’s best
for you and your kayak, as experiences here vary a lot. Heavier anglers
tend to sink the kayaks more and with open scuppers more water get in
than out. Just test and adjust as best for you.
Although this is a long article about fishing kayaks, I hope you had the opportunity of knowing a bit more about the models we recommend from Gear Priest.
Also, if you are also wondering about canoes, we covered the key differences about canoes vs. kayaks in another article. It will help you decide whether a canoe or a kayak will fit you best.
If you are going to purchase one of these models or already have one and want to share your experience with us, please do it from our contact page. Thanks and happy paddling and fishing!