When it comes to fishing, kayak fishing is the most versatile form of all. You get to explore new waters every day, as a kayak can reach areas an ordinary boat wouldn’t. You also get to enjoy the relaxation and sense of adventure that comes with paddling a kayak around untapped waters.
Buying a fishing kayak can be pretty daunting because, let’s face it, there are so many brands in the market, each marketing their kayak as the best. To find the best one, you’ll have to go through dozens of kayaks, and that’s not even a guarantee that you’ll end up with the best one. So, we thought, why not make things a little easier for you?
Top Five Best Fishing Kayaks on the Market
|Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak||
Best Sit-In Kayak
|Perception Flash 9.5 Sit-In Fishing Kayak||
Best Inflatable Kayak
|Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak ||
Best Tandem Fishing Kayak
|BKC TK181 12.5' Tandem Sit On Top Fishing Kayak ||
Best Kayak with Pedal Drive
|Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Sit on Top Fishing Kayak||
Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak – Best for budget
If you are searching for a watercraft that will offer you all the benefits of a high-end kayak on a budget, then this might be the kayak for you. This Fishing Kayak comes loaded with lots of cool features, and although it cuts a few corners on comfort, you’re sure to get value for your money.
This fishing kayak comes equipped with a two-part padded seat with an adjustable back to keep you comfortable throughout the day. The cockpit is pretty roomy, and to top it all off, it has multiple molded footwells that provide optimum comfort for both tall and short users.
In terms of stability, the Angler Fishing Kayak doesn’t disappoint. It has a flip-resistant hull design, coupled with chine rails and a wide beam. This design enables it to remain stable, even on rough waters. And if you like fishing while standing, you’ll appreciate the fact that this kayak won’t topple you over.
The deep hull design also enhances its speed and maneuverability. Although you can’t use it on a race, it will get you where you need to be in record time, depending on your paddling skills, of course.
Measuring a mere ten feet, this kayak maneuvers pretty well in crowded waters and narrow rivers. And for such a lightweight kayak (weighs only 50 pounds), it tracks quite well. It also features four carrying handles that make transporting it a piece of cake.
Despite its small size, the Tamarack Angler has plenty of storage space. It has two sealed storage hatches perfect for storing all your electronic equipment and everything else you want to keep dry.
It also comes fitted with straps at the front and rear that can be used to chord your bags and other bulky gear. The deck also has a bit of extra space sufficient to carry a small-to-medium-sized tackle box, a small fishing cooler, a crate, and any other fishing accessories you might require.
What makes it suitable for fishing?
The Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak is a perfect fishing vessel. It features three fishing rod holders, one adjustable rod holder that swivels 360 degrees, and two flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat.
It also comes with a paddle cradle and can be customized by adding more fishing holders, a transducer mount, anchor, and any other extensions you might need.
• Very comfortable
• It has a roomy cockpit
• Multiple rod holders
• It is stable
• Excellent tracking and maneuverability
• Not very fast
• Not ideal for tall and heavy users
If you’ve never done kayak fishing before, or are looking for a fishing kayak that will offer you extreme stability and ease of use, then you should check out the Perception Flash 9.5. This fishing kayak is specially designed to remain stable in any condition and is pretty easy to paddle.
When you take a look at Flash 9.5, the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s relatively small. Despite that fact, it offers plenty of comforts. It comes equipped with a thick adjustable padded seat with a padded backrest to keep you comfortable on your fishing trips.
The cockpit is pretty roomy and has padding on all sides, so you can place your elbow on its sides as you relax, without worrying about hurting yourself or numbing your arms.
The cockpit floor is also lined with adjustable foot braces that accommodate users of different sizes.
Despite its mere 28-ich width, the Flash 9.5 is very stable. The sit-in design actively lowers your center of gravity, thus increasing its stability. It sports a tri-keeled hull that gives it improved handling and tracking. Unfortunately, this kayak is not stable enough to permit standing.
Its relatively small size, coupled with the tri-keeled hull design, gives it incredible maneuverability. It tracks quite well and cuts through water like a knife, not to mention the fact that it turns on a dime.
On the downside, its small width and lightweight (it weighs only 41 pounds) makes it wobble a bit on the water, especially on waves and strong winds. However, the lightweight construction does come in handy during transportation as even small users can carry it easily using the molded-in handles at the bow and stern.
Since Flash 9.5 is a relatively small watercraft, it does not have a lot of storage options. It does not come equipped with a waterproof storage compartment like our previous pick, but it does come equipped with a dashboard panel with bungees that allow you to store gear temporarily.
It also has a cargo area in the rear for storing backpacks, coolers, and similar gear. The cargo area also has bungee cords. There is a drink holder near the seat and two flush-mounted rod holders on either side of the cockpit for added convenience.
What makes it useful for fishing?
Although it doesn’t offer an abundance of storage room and is pretty unstable in rough waters, the Flash 9.5 is perfect for beginners and people fishing around a local lake or river. Apart from the fact that it comes equipped with pre-installed rod holders, it is straightforward to paddle, and the seat is very comfortable so that you can stroll around the water all day.
• Lightweight construction
• Very affordable
• Can be fitted with a spray skirt
• Features a padded, adjustable seat.
• Not stable enough to allow standing
• It doesn’t come equipped with paddle keepers.
Intex has been in the kayak manufacturing business for quite some time now. In their years of operation, they have gained a good reputation for their high-quality and affordable kayaks. The Excursion Pro is a two-person inflatable kayak loaded with lots of premium features, but its most impressive attributes are its buoyancy and portability.
In terms of comfort, you’ll love the Excursion Pro. Since it is an inflatable kayak, there is absolutely no hardness on the seats, so you can enjoy the cozy feeling all day long without stressing your back.
The cockpit has enough room for two people. Both seats have adjustable backrests, and there is plenty of space to rest your legs. The second seat is also removable, so you can ramp up your comfort level when riding alone. It also features adjustable footrests that can accommodate both tall and short users.
One of the most impressive things about inflatable kayaks is their stability. The Excursion Pro is extremely buoyant, and even when it wobbles a bit in rough waters, it is nearly impossible to sink it, unless of course, you deflate it. It has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds, which is pretty impressive for its size.
At only 151 inches, the Excursion Pro is pretty effortless to maneuver in crowded waters. It also comes equipped with two removable skegs that improve its maneuverability and tracking ability considerably. The large skeg performs exceptionally well in deep waters, while the smaller skeg is perfect for shallow waters.
This kayak is pretty spacious and comes loaded with lots of spaces to store everything you need for your fishing trip. There is ample space at the stern and bow to store large fishing accessories like a more relaxed crate and other baggage. The storage space also comes equipped with bungees for strapping down your gear.
It also comes with stainless steel D-rings that come in handy for hocking wet bags where you can store all your water-sensitive gear like electronics and GPS.
What makes it suitable for fishing?
Apart from its evident comfort, the Excursion Pro offers plenty of storage space and has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. It is also very stable and tracks well. Although you might not be able to stand while fishing, you will appreciate the fact that there is plenty of space in the cockpit to stretch your legs. On the downside, it does not come equipped with rod holders.
• It is comfortable
• Portable and lightweight
• Very easy to set up
• Plenty of storage space
• It is very durable
• Not suitable for rough waters
• It tends to get deflated after hours of use.
If you are searching for an affordable tandem kayak that will offer you excellent features and functionality at an affordable price, then you’d better check out the BKC TK181. This fishing kayak is perfect for all anglers as it comes equipped with all the features you might need, coupled with excellent comfort and stability.
The TK181 comes equipped with two adjustable deluxe seats that provide optimum comfort. You don’t have to worry about feeling cramped up with this kayak, as is the case with most two-person kayaks out there. This is because it has plenty of room in the cockpit for two passengers.
It also comes fitted with multiple footrests that allow you to adjust your fishing position without sacrificing comfort.
One of BKC TK181’s most endearing qualities is its excellent stability. It handles small to moderate waves effortlessly and cuts through choppy water with ease.
It is also stable enough to accommodate children and pets. And although it is not explicitly designed for standing, you can stand in it, as long as the water is calm. It can also carry more than 450 pounds (its stated weight capacity)
For a tandem-style kayak, the BKC TK181 is very maneuverable. It has a keel at the bottom that makes it track very well. Its limited length also comes in handy during turning as it turns in a dime, making it easy to maneuver crowded waters.
Piloting this watercraft through small waves and rough waters is also quite easy, even for a single peddler.
The BKC TK181 comes loaded with plenty of spaces to store your gear. It features a bungee-equipped storage area at the stern and a small space at the front of the kayak that can store small items that don’t need to be secured.
It also features two watertight compartments that are accessed via a twist-lock-style hatch. Both compartments are located directly in front of the seat.
There are seven-rod holders on this kayak; one articulating rod holder at the stern, one on each side of the rear seat, and four flush-mounted rod holders at its sides.
What makes it good for fishing?
Being a tandem kayak, it is a great fishing vessel for bonding with a friend or family member. It is also very stable and tracks quite well. The BKC TK181 also features plenty of storage spaces for your gear and can handle a substantial amount of weight (450 pounds)
• Excellent stability and tracking
• It is very comfortable
• It comes with seven independent rod holders
• Plenty of room for gear and passengers
• Does not feature a standing platform.
• It is quite heavy; it requires at least two people to carry it.
Introducing the first paddle-powered kayak on our list, and quite frankly, one of the best in the market. The Perception Pescador is a high-performance kayak that is powered by a paddle-driven propeller drive. Although it is quite expensive, the features and functionality it offers make it worth the money.
The Perception Pescador is probably the most comfortable kayak on our list. It features a mesh seat with an adjustable backrest. The mesh comes in handy in providing sufficient airflow, thus ensuring you don’t sweat a lot through your back when fishing on hot sunny days. The seat also supports front and back adjustments that make it very easy to adjust your sitting position.
Compared to most sit-on-top kayaks out there, the Perception Pescador is one of the most stable kayaks on the market. This makes it possible for you to remain dry, even when fishing in choppy water, as it does not wobble too much.
If you like fishing while standing, you will appreciate the fact that not only is it effortless to get on and off this kayak but also you can stand on it confidently. This is thanks to the special hull design, coupled with the built-in buoyancy features.
The Perception Pescador handles like a dream on the water. Thanks to its sleek design, coupled with the pilot drive propulsion system, it cuts through water like a knife and reaches high speeds in no time.
The pilot drive propulsion system enables you to travel ruler-straight lines across the water, and its one-handed rudder control (which rotates 360 degrees) allows it to make hairpin turns.
The Perception Pescador Pilot 12 comes equipped with lots of storage spaces to accommodate all your gear. You get two tackle boxes on both sides of the seat and two waterproof compartments in front of the peddles.
It also features two large open storage spaces at the front and rear of the watercraft that can carry coolers and other large items. An easily removable mesh cover covers the space at the front. It also features four-rod holders at the rear.
What makes it good for fishing?
The pilot drive propulsion system leaves your hands free, so you can concentrate on catching fish. It also means that your hands don’t get tired quickly, as is the case with paddle-driven kayaks.
It’s also very stable and provides excellent comfort. Although you can’t stand on it, the mesh seat offers all the raise you need, not to mention the added convenience that comes with it.
• It has an excellent stability
• Ample storage space
• It sits relatively high on the water, so you don’t get wet easily.
• High-quality propulsion system
• It is very comfortable
• Roomy cockpit
• The rod holders are a bit too shallow and wide.
• It isn’t easy to assemble.
Buying guide: Factors to Consider before Buying a Fishing Kayak
1. What are your needs?
Before you go kayak-shopping, you should first identify your needs. You need to think about where you are going to fish (river or lake?) and the purpose of your fishing trips (recreational or economical); if you plan on fishing for recreation and relaxation purposes, then you should choose a lightweight craft that is easy to transport. However, if you plan on hauling a lot of fish, you should get yourself a kayak with ample storage capacity.
The most important feature to look out for in a fishing kayak is its stability. But, as much as stability is crucial to a fishing kayak, too much stability can limit the kayak’s maneuverability.
If you plan on fishing while standing, you should get yourself a wide kayak with excellent stability. However, if you want a fast and easy kayak to paddle, you should get a narrower kayak.
3. Means of propulsion
Most fishing kayaks on the market are propelled using paddles. That being said, some manufacturers produce paddle-powered kayaks. If you want a hands-free experience, you should get yourself a leg-powered kayak. These kayaks are, however, more expensive than their paddle-propelled counterparts.
Sit-on-top vs. Sit-in Kayak
1. Sit-on-top fishing kayaks
Sit-on-top kayaks generally have an expansive, open deck with a seat. Your legs are not enclosed, and everything sits on top of the kayak, including braces.
• Self-bailing. Sit-on-top kayaks come equipped with scupper holes that allow water to drain off the deck.
• They are very stable.
• Easy to get in and out of
• You can stand while fishing.
• Have a larger storage capacity
• You get many options to choose from. Sit-on-top kayaks are very popular. As such, manufacturers tend to produce more sit-on-top kayaks than sit-in kayaks.
• It can be quite challenging in windy situations.
• They have a higher center of gravity.
• They are generally quite heavy.
• Easy to get wet when riding
2. Sit-in fishing kayaks
In sit-in kayaks, your legs are enclosed in the cockpit. They are mostly used in cold weather areas because they allow a wet skirt, thus preventing you from getting wet.
• They provide you with greater control, speed, and maneuverability.
• They require less physical effort to paddle.
• They are quite light, making them easier to transport.
• Lower wind exposure. They don’t have a large surface area exposed to wind; hence they don’t get blown around as much as sit-on-top kayaks.
• You get to enjoy warmer rides. As we said earlier, sit-in kayaks allow you to use a wet skirt that keeps you dry and warm.
• They offer more waterproof storage options than sit-on-top kayaks.
• Sit-in fishing kayaks have a low center of gravity, meaning you are generally closer to the water, which can be quite disadvantageous to most fishers.
• Hard to get in and out of
• If you don’t have a wet suit, you’ll probably need a bilge pump to remove the water from getting into the kayak.
• They tend to get hot and stuffy in hot weather.
• They don’t have a lot of storage space for fishing gear.
• Fewer options to choose from. Sit-in kayaks are not very popular. The lower demand equates to fewer models to choose from.
Kayak fishing has been around for centuries. Since its invention, fishing kayaks have improved tremendously in functionality and storage options due to improved manufacturing technologies.
In the article, we have reviewed five of the best fishing kayaks on the market. We have tried our best to evaluate each feature to depict what you’re getting clearly. Before you go shopping for a fishing kayak, read through the buying guide section so that you know what to look for in a fishing kayak.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How much does a fishing kayak cost?
A fishing kayak can set you back an average of between $800 and $1200. However, higher-end models from big brands can go for as much as $5000. If you are on a budget, you can find a decent fishing kayak for $400. Unfortunately, most budget fishing kayaks lack the comfort, stability, and storage features offered by more expensive models.
Is it worth buying a kayak for fishing?
Yes, it's worth it! Fishing kayaks are among the most popular vessels used by anglers around the world. They offer more versatility since they can maneuver most water bodies with ease and can reach areas that conventional boats wouldn’t.
What are the most stable fishing kayaks?
The most stable fishing kayaks available on the market include: Lifetime 10 Foot Tandem fishing kayak, Hobie Mirage Outback fishing kayak and BKC UH-TK181 Sit-on-Top fishing kayak.
What color kayak is best for fishing?
The color of your fishing kayak does not affect your fishing in any way. That being said, color can have a significant effect on safety. Most kayakers prefer bright colors that can be easily seen, even in bad weather. The best color to go for is yellow since the human eye detects it faster than any other color.
What is the best fishing kayak to buy?
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak gives you all the comfort and stability of high-end fishing kayaks at an affordable price. It is made from UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene, which makes it very durable. It also features an adjustable padded seat and multiple footrests to keep you comfortable.
What is the best pedal fishing kayak?
If you are looking for a pedal fishing kayak that will offer you excellent comfort and usability at an affordable price, then the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 might just be it. It runs on a fully-accessible drive paddle system and comes with a breathable, adjustable mesh seat to keep you comfortable. The Perception Pescador Pilot 12 also offers plenty of storage space.
What is the best two-person fishing kayak?
The BKC TK181 inflatable tandem kayak is one of the best two-person inflatable kayaks out there. It comes equipped with seven-rod holders that make angle fishing that much easier. Four of the rod holders are flush-mounted, while three of them are articulated. The BKC TK181 also features waterproof storage hatches, twin paddle rests, a secure cargo area, and multiple carrying handles that make transporting effortless. In terms of comfort, the BKC TK181 does not disappoint. It comes equipped with two adjustable seats with plenty of room in the cockpit.
What is the best sit on top fishing kayak?
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is the best sit on top fishing kayak out there. It is made from UV-protected high-density polyethylene that can withstand all sorts of impact and abrasions. It has an angled bow that helps it cut through water easily, with minimal splashing, and its wide, flat-bottom hull makes it very stable. There is plenty of room in the cockpit for both you and your gear in terms of comfort. The padded seat is pretty comfortable, and the footrests allow you to adjust your position for a seamless fishing experience.
My name is Bryan and I’m the chief editor of kayakiye.com. My goal is to share my experience with readers of kayakiye.com. Here I tell you how to choose the perfect kayak for fishing, camping, and traveling. I share reviews of the best kayaks on the market. I hope that my blog will be useful to Kayakers and Fishing folks.