The Best Fishing Kayak For Any Situation

I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than fishing in a kayak even if you don’t catch any fish! It’s so much fun and a great way to relax.  It can be a great solo activity or it’s fun with friends.  You do need to make sure you have the proper equipment though.  

These days there are so many different fishing kayaks for sale, it is hard to know which one is the best fishing kayak.  It is not a simple equation, the best angler kayak for one person may not be the best one for you.  It really depends on how you plan on using your kayak for fishing.

How to Choose Kayaks for Fishing

The best kayak brands all have models specifically made for fishing so there are plenty of choices when looking for good fishing kayaks.  When you are looking to buy a kayak, think about how you plan to use it and what is important to you.  

Just like recreational kayaks, fishing kayaks can be either sit on top or sit inside.  Sit-insides are the more traditional looking kayaks that have an open cockpit where the paddler climbs in and actually sits inside the hull.  Sit on tops are quickly gaining in popularity and allow the paddler to sit on top of the kayak deck.  You can find great options for both types of fishing kayaks, it really is a personal preference which I discuss in more detail further on in the article.

To further narrow down the list, you will need to think about how you plan on using the fishing kayak:

  • How often do you plan on using the kayak? The more you plan on using it the sturdier and more comfortable it will need to be.
  • Would you prefer a kayak that is more stable or would you rather have more speed? Typically, a wide fishing kayak is more stable but not as fast.
  • Will you be kayaking with other people? Of course, each person can kayak in their own boat, but you may want to consider getting a 2 seater fishing kayak.
  • What is your budget? The price range for fishing kayaks varies greatly.  Kayaks can be an investment, but some of the more expensive ones will hold their value.

Fishing Kayak Reviews and Comparison Charts

I like to read about what is currently on the market (everyone likes to do a bit of window shopping!) so I’ve been able to put together a list of the best fishing kayaks, based on my own experiences and that of my friends, as well as extensive research on the top rated kayaks out there.  For my top fishing kayaks, I read countless angler kayak reviews for many fishing kayak brands and evaluated each one in regards to their price, stability, comfort, and other features.  Additionally, I have summarized other key information for top rated fishing kayaks throughout this article to help you figure out which is the best angler kayak for you.

Top 10 Fishing Kayaks

NameImageSingle/ TandemSit On Top/ Sit InsideOverall RatingCheck Price
Feelfree Lure KayakSingleSit On Top9.5
Old Town Vapor Angler Fishing KayakSingle Sit Inside9.5
Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Fishing KayakSingleSit Inside9
Lifetime Sport Fisher Tandem KayakTandemSit Inside9
BKC UH-TK181 Sit On Top Tandem Fishing KayakTandemSit On Top9.5
Old Town Twin Heron Angler Tandem KayakTandemSit Inside10
Native Watercraft Slayer Propel KayakSingleSit On Top10
Ocean Kayak Trident Ultra 4.7 Angler KayakSingle Sit On Top10
Perception Pilot Pedal Drive KayakSingleSit On Top8.5
Perception Kayak Pescador Pro BsSingleSit On Top9.5

Below I provide more detailed information about the different types of fishing kayaks to help you with your decision.  In my opinion, the ultimate fishing kayak is Native Watercraft Slayer Propel Fishing Kayak because it can be customized and really has everything including pedals (which can also be removed).  Click here to check out the reviews for the Native Watercraft Slayer Propel Fishing Kayak.

If you are really tight on budget and you can’t find any kayaks on sale, don’t get frustrated, there is one more alternative.  You can buy a kayak that is not specifically designed for fishing.  This may also be a good alternative for beginners who are not ready to make the investment in a serious fishing kayak.

Read on for my more detailed fishing kayak reviews!

Best Sit On Top Fishing Kayak

Advantages

Sit on kayaks tend to be more popular for fishing because they are:

  • easier to get in and out of. You can just slide into the water for a quick swim and easily get back on the kayak again.
  • full of storage options and that makes it easier to access your fishing gear generally wider and more stable so it is easier to reel in big catches. The self-bailing Sit on top kayaks (ones with scupper holes to allow any water on the deck to drain) are virtually unsinkable. Worst case, if they capsize, you would just flip them back over.  Any water that seeps inside the cockpit drains instantly through the many scupper holes.

Staying Dry

Some people are concerned about getting wet on a sit on top angler kayak, especially if the water is cold!  If you would like a slightly drier ride, you can get scupper plugs for your Sit on Top Kayak which will cover the self-bailing drain holes.  Scupper holes allow water that splashes onto the deck to drain back out and not pool underneath you.   Scupper plugs keep tiny splashes from coming up from underwater through the holes but it will keep the water that makes its way onto the deck from draining back out.

Sit on Top Kayaks

If you have decided that a sit on fishing kayak is best for you, then I can recommend the following models:

Ocean Kayak Trident Ultra 4.7 Angler  

This kayak has a pretty impressive pedigree.  It’s based on the Ocean Kayak Prowler, which was one of the first kayaks built specifically for fishing but updated for even better performance. The Trident Ultra 4.7 incorporates more volume across the bow for a drier ride, a moderate rocker to help performance in ocean swells and a more pronounced tail fin to aid in tracking. The center hatch cover rotates, which is a nice touch.


It’s a pretty large kayak (15.5 ft) and at 79lbs it’s fairly weighty too and that can make it a bit unwieldy to unload and launch, but the trade-off is in performance and stability.  It’s a fast,
stable fishing kayak that handles breaking waves and rough seas well. It includes a rudder for better tracking. This kayak has lots of storage that is easy to access, and you can also purchase a special cooler that fits in the ice box storage pod.  The Ocean Kayak Trident Ultra 4.7 Angler includes a comfort hybrid seat back, 4 flush mounted rod holders, cup holders, and paddle keeps.  I know some tall guys who swear by this kayak. Check availability and current prices here.

Feelfree Lure Fishing Kayak

This kayak is ideal for short trips on rivers and lakes. The wide hull and padded platform are reassuring enough for casting in either seated or standing position. If you spend much time standing up you’re going to make a mental note to improve your core strength before long!



The designers have clearly thought about comfort and usability with the Feelfree Kayak.  There is the “wheel in the keel” which makes it a lot easier to transport than some kayaks! There are handles molded into the frame on the back and sides. There’s a useful center console, but it’s not water tight.  For that, you’re going to want to use the dry hatch in the front which is a good size and watertight. There are a couple of cupholders by the seat (one on each side), and besides those, a couple of flush mount fishing rod holders.

What really makes the Feelfree Lure Kayak unique is what the manufacturers call its Gravity Seat. It’s the most adjustable seat on the market, making it easy for users to raise up to gain the optimal height for fishing (between 5” and 10”); or flush for additional stability when paddling long distances. Note that 2” to 5” isn’t recommended though – it will place undue stress on the frame.

The Feelfree Lure Kayak is available in 10, 11.5, and 13.5 ft lengths.  Check availability and current prices here:

 

Perception Kayak Pescador Pro

Perception have been around a while and clearly know what they’re doing! The Pescador Pro Kayak is a pretty simple design and there are others out there with more add-ons, but this has got it where it counts. The stadium-style seat is fantastic and you should be able to use this kayak for several hours without discomfort. It’s removable and has two seating positions – upright and recline.  Perception say you can do this on the fly, and it’s possible if you’re careful as you have to get out of the seat to do it. It is possible to stand in the Pescador Pro – if you’re good!

There’s plenty of storage and rigging opportunities. The bow tank well has a mesh cover which isn’t waterproof, but if you throw all your stuff into a good waterproof bag you’ll achieve exactly the same result and it will be easy to get to. The rear tank well is pretty big. There are molded-in rod holders, recessed tackle box storage, accessory track system, and a center console for rigging fish finder electronics. Handles are well placed and pretty sturdy, so you can transport it even if you’re on you own.

The Pescador Pro is available in 10 foot and 12 foot sizes.  Check availability and current prices here:

 

Best Sit in Fishing Kayak

Advantages

While sit in fishing kayaks may not be as popular as sit on kayaks, you still may want one because:

  • if you plan on kayaking in colder waters, you will stay dryer in a sit in kayak which means you will stay warmer.
  • you have more storage space that will keep your stuff dry.
  • the low center of gravity makes them easier to paddle and faster.

Oh flip

Many people are apprehensive about buying a Sit Inside Kayak because of the “flipping factor”.   Truthfully, it really is not easy to flip your kayak over.  Whether sit-on-top or sit-inside, the flipping factor has more to do with the design and shape of the hull than it being a sit-on-top or sit-inside.  And don’t worry, if you do happen to flip it over, you will not be stuck.  You will pop immediately out of the kayak.  Then you have to get your kayak to shore to drain it out.

Sit-in Kayaks

If you have decided that a Sit-in Kayak is best for you, then I can recommend the following models:

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor Angler Fishing Kayak

If you’re still worried about flipping your kayak, this Old Town Kayak is about as stable as it gets, even in choppy water.  You’d have to try pretty hard to flip this.  It’s wide and roomy, with plenty of space for storing gear.  I have heard it described as like paddling around in a bathtub, which is a bit unfair.  It’s surprisingly fast for a wide boat and tracks pretty well.  At 44lbs it’s pretty easy to transport.

The seat is adjustable, padded and pretty comfortable. There’s a molded-in cockpit tray and cup holder which is very useful, but can be a little far out of reach for shorter users. Put a bit more padding on the seat though and you’ll be fine. It also has two behind-the-seat flush-mounted rod holders, anchor with trolley system, and deck bungee.

This Old Town Fishing Kayak is available in 10 and 12 foot lengths.  Check availability and prices here:

 

Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Fishing Kayak

The Excursion is really good value for the money.  This Sun Dolphin fishing kayak has good stability, tracks great, and is very maneuverable, making it ideal for rivers and lakes.  The cockpit is large and open making it easier to get in and out.  The seat is adjustable and has a padded back.  Some say the seat bottom is hard but that can be easily remedied with an inexpensive seat cushion.  The foot braces are adjustable and there are also protective thigh pads.  

It has plenty of places to hold all your fishing gear: two flush mount rod holders, a swivel rod holder, storage compartment with lid, shock cord deck rigging, and a water bottle holder.   The kayak is lightweight, making it easy to carry.  It is made from rugged UV-stabilized fortiflex® high density polyethylene, making it very durable.  Check availability and current prices here.

Best Two Person Fishing Kayak

Everything including fishing in a kayak is more fun with a partner, right? Of course, you could each go in your own fishing kayaks but what about doing tandem kayak fishing?  If you are a beginner, you could pair yourself with someone more experienced and it would be a great way to learn.  The downside is that you will need another person.  While you can paddle a 2 person fishing kayak on your own, it can be sluggish.

There are plenty of great options for 2 person fishing kayaks.  If you are looking for a two person fishing kayak, I can recommend the following models:

Lifetime Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak

This is a really well thought through design. The polyethene construction of this sit-on fishing kayak makes it rugged and durable. At 66lbs, it’s pretty heavy and it isn’t fast but it’s not designed to be. The tradeoff is stability.  You would have to try very hard to tip this kayak.  It’s stable enough to stand up in or sit side straddle but still tracks well.   The cockpit is designed to hold up to three people (up to 500lbs total), with multiple footrests so everyone will be comfortable, regardless of height. Seats are plastic, with no padding so some extra padding is recommended.

The kayak includes: 2 double-sided paddles, paddle clips, 2 padded backrests, 3 fishing pole holders, and a 6’ storage hatch. Overall, this kayak is excellent value for money.  You can check out my full review of the Lifetime Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak for more information.

The Lifetime Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak is only available in the 10 foot length. Check availability and current prices here.

Old Town Kayaks Twin Heron Angler Tandem Kayak
The Twin Heron is a sit inside two man fishing kayak that also performs well when paddled solo. The auto trim hull is designed to prevent the bow from popping up when there is only one person in the stern seat. And, if that’s not enough, you can completely remove the front seat making it perfect for your dog to ride along or easy access to your hunting or fishing gear. The Twin Heron is a great option for the outdoors family looking for a versatile craft.

At only 60lbs, it is surprisingly easy to transport for a tandem kayak. When you remove the seat, you get even more room for your gear.  There’s no dry storage, though, so you’re going to want a waterproof backpack, but that aside, this is a great kayak.

The Old Town Heron Twin Kayak is 13′ 6″ long. Check availability and current prices here.

BKC UH-TK181 Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak

This tandem fishing kayak from Brooklyn Kayak Company is well equipped, versatile and maneuverable. Don’t be concerned by the lack of brand name – a friend of mine has one of these and I have to say I am impressed. It’s stable and works well with one or two people.  It weighs about 68 pounds and can hold up to 450 pounds.  This kayak includes 2 paddle rests, 4 flush mount and 3 adjustable rod holders, a rear cargo area with bungee storage, and 2 waterproof storage pouches. It comes with two paddles that conveniently & easily snap apart and can be mounted in slots right behind where you’re sitting, which is helpful when you need to free up your hands. Check availability and current prices here.

Best Fishing Kayaks With Pedals

Since we each only have two hands, it is nice to be able to free your hands up with a fishing kayak with foot pedals.  Plus, having pedals can make your boat the fastest fishing kayak.  It also helps you hold your position which makes these great bass fishing kayaks.  

It is nice to be able to move through the water without paddling, but the selection of fishing kayaks with pedals is a bit limited.  

On the high end, I would recommend:

Native Watercraft Slayer Propel Fishing Kayak  
This is a high-end kayak, aimed at the serious fisherman (or those that aspire to be!) The drive system is excellent and gives you enough speed and power to cover a lot of water.  You can also reverse at almost the same speed.  The drive system flips up easily so that you can pedal when you need it and paddle when you don’t.  There are rail mounts from bow to stern that provide easy access to your gear and belongings.

Seating is good, comfortable and adjustable, and the elevated position means you won’t find yourself sitting in a pool of water. This makes it the most comfortable kayak. This fishing kayak offers rock-solid stability for standing and casting.  This is a high-quality fishing kayak with pedals that pretty much has everything you can think of! The Native Watercraft Slayer Propel fishing kayak is available in both a 10 foot and 13 foot model.

You can check out my more in-depth review of the Slayer Propel here.  Check availability and current prices here:

A more affordable fishing kayak with pedals is:

Perception Pescador Pilot Kayak

This is a newer model fishing kayak with pedals and a lot of potential.  Some issues with the drive have been noted but that seems to be fixed as of February 2017.  The pedal drive system is ergonomically designed for long fishing trips.  You can remove it easily and it allows you to pedal both forward and backward.  The rudder makes steering easier and more precise.  You won’t be able to go as fast as the Slayer Propel though, and the pedals are a bit noisy, although the savings may make the trade-off worth it.

It has loads of fishing features like four molded-in rod holders and two accessory tracks for mounting any necessary gear.  The Pescador Pilot has plenty of storage.  The kayak is 12’5″ and you can adjust the position of the captain’s chair on the go, making the Pescador Pilot ideal for anglers of any height.  

Check availability and current prices here.

Best Cheap Fishing Kayaks

You may not be able to find a fishing kayak clearance sale, but don’t fret.  The best cheap fishing kayaks are technically not fishing kayaks because they do not include the fishing gear.  However, with the savings, you can purchase the gear separately and still have a very affordable fishing kayak.  Intex makes several cheap kayaks that are great for beginners or those wanting to just try kayaking.  They offer both single and two man kayaks.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

For a single kayak, you are not going to find a better deal than the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak.  It is an inflatable kayak made of durable welded material with eye-catching graphics for added safety.  It is a sit inside kayak with its cockpit designed for comfort and maximized space.  It has a low profile so it easily slips through the water.   Inflatable I-beam floors add stability and provide comfort and the inflatable seat comes with a backrest.

There is a cargo net to store extra gear and grab lines on both ends of the kayak. The kayak comes with an 84-inch aluminum oar, removable rudder, high-output hand pump, and repair patch.  Since it is inflatable it is very lightweight (only 25 pounds) but it can only hold up to 220 pounds. You can find out more information about the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak in my in-depth full review.

Check current prices and availability here.

If you are looking for a cheap tandem kayak that can be used for fishing, you have two options: Intex Challenger K2 and Intex Explorer K2.  These kayaks are ideal for smaller bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers.  Both are great value for the money!

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak offers two people a sleek and highly portable craft to explore lakes and easy rivers.  The bright green color and sporty graphics make the kayak stand out in the water.  The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling and has a removable skeg for directional stability.  It is made of rugged, super tough vinyl that’s puncture- and UV damage-resistant for durability.  As an added precaution there are two separate air chambers.  

The Challenger K2 has a cargo net for extra storage, which comes in handy when you are fishing.  When inflated, the kayak measures 30 by 15 by 138 inches (W x H x D) and has a 400-pound maximum weight limit.  Two 86-inch aluminum oars, high-capacity pump, and repair patch kit come with the kayak.

Check availability and current prices here. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Like the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has a sporty and fun feel, designed to be streamlined to make paddling easy. It is bright yellow so it will also stand out in the water.   The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has a removable skeg for directional stability.  

The Explorer is a little wider (20 x 36 x 123 inches) than the Challenger and also a little more comfortable because it includes two adjustable inflatable seats with backrest.  The weight capacity is 350 pounds, which is a little less than the Challenger K2.  Similar to the Challenger, it is made of heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl and has two separate air chambers. This sturdy kayak has an inflatable I-beam floor for both comfort and rigidity. The Explorer K2 is easier to transport because it weighs less than the Challenger and has a grab line and grab handle at each end. The Explorer K2 Kayak includes two 86”aluminum oars, a high capacity pump, and a repair patch kit.  

Check availability and current prices here.

All of these kayaks are made by Intex Recreation, who has a strong pedigree in this field. They have been in business for 40 years, specializing in indoor and outdoor recreation equipment, such as above-ground swimming pools, air beds, inflatable toys, pool and lake boats, and their own proprietary Intex Saltwater Pool System.

For serious kayakers and those that plan to get significant use out of the kayaks, I would recommend going with fishing kayaks listed above because I think you will find the features and quality worth the extra dollars.

 

 

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