Best Fishing Kayaks – The Complete Guide To Buying A Good Fishing Kayak

best fishing kayaks
The BKC UH-TK181 12.5 foot Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak With Paddles and Seats included
best fishing kayaks

The BKC UH-TK181 12.5 foot Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak With Paddles and Seats included

I have never really had the kind of budget that allowed me to splurge on a boat. This meant that if I went fishing, I had to rely on one of the best fishing kayaks around.

Not only do these kayaks offer me a lot more independence, there are also cheaper to boot! I’ve tried my fair share over the years which has helped me distinguish the good from the bad.

In this guide, I show you some of the best options available to you on the market.

There are a few things that I look for in a good fishing kayak.

The first is stability as not only do I want the vessel to be steady in choppier waters, I also want it to remain even as I reel the fish in.

The second thing that I consider is where I’ll be sitting. Typically, I prefer the sit on top kayaks as it makes it easier for me to fish.

Then there is the matter of function – just how conducive is the kayak to fishing.

Take a look at which ones I thought fit the bill well:

Fishing Kayak Reviews 2017

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Fishing Kayak

What I particularly like about the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 is that it has thought of everything that you could need for a fishing trip.

This is not too surprising considering it is precisely what this vessel is made for.

My personal favorite is all of the storage space that you get with this kayak. There is more than enough room for your tackle and other equipment. Even with all of these items, the kayak doesn’t feel overcrowded or messy. There is also a six-inch hatch, complete with a lock. It has got a storage bucket so it is ideal for storing fish.

In addition to this, there are two rod mounts and a place to keep your paddles once you have found your perfect spot. Not necessarily all that important but I appreciate that there are two cup holders as these come in quite handy after a long day of fishing.

Speaking of comfortable, the seat is adequate and while it is not exactly plush, it is not hard on your back or your rear end.

The vessel is quite stable as well and will not be tipped over very easily.

In the same vein, the Prowler 13 is pretty good at handling those choppier waves. This is largely due to the noticeable V shape of the hull, allowing the vessel to simply carve through the waves.

Although it is on the pricier end of the spectrum, this kayak does offer up durability in return. You will certainly be able to use it for quite a while.

Specs:

  • Constructed from polyethylene
  • Sit on top design
  • Capable of supporting 475lbs
  • Storage features

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak, Brown Camo
  • One of the original and still most popular kayaks designed specifically for fishing
  • Performance hull is fast, stable and quiet and is designed to handle calm or rough waters
  • Large front hatch with easy access to bow to stern internal storage and accommodates multiple rods...
  • Comfort Plus seat, 2 rod holders, 6" hatch with storage bucket, 2 cup holders, 2 paddle keeps,...
  • Rear oversized tank well designed to easily accept coolers, crates, tackle boxes, bait wells and...

Sun Dolphin Excursion – Best Affordable Fishing Kayak

If you are looking for an affordable fishing kayak that will also perform well then I would recommend the Sun Dolphin Excursion kayak.

Just looking at this vessel, it can feel quite basic.

For this price point, of course, it is difficult to expect much else. However, the kayak is not lacking in any way. This is a sit-in type kayak.

While this may not be favored by all fishermen, I did appreciate just how much it protected me from the elements. Perhaps the stand out feature of this kayak was its tracking ability. I found that it was quite easy to turn when I was in the water. As a result, I got where I needed to go a lot faster and with a lot less effort to boot.

Now, this kayak is deceptively small as it is a sit-in. Nonetheless, you will find that most people can stretch out quite comfortably. Its compact size does have an advantage. It means that you can transport the vessel in most large vehicles and it doesn’t require a lot of strength to carry it around.

Let’s talk about the actual fishing-related features it has. Well, it does have a swivel rod mount and one flush rod mount that you can use. There is also a storage space at the back which actually has a surprising amount of room. A bungee cord holds the lid in place and is quite secure.

Is this kayak perfect? No.

This is not something that I would recommend for long fishing trips. Just a few hours in and I began to feel quite sore. There is also the slow speed to contend with. Apart from that, I was quite happy with this kayak.

Specs:

  • 10-foot kayak
  • Sit-in design
  • Swivel and flush rod mounts
  • Storage space
Sale
Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Fishing Kayak (Sand, 10-Feet)
  • Great for rivers and lakes
  • Two flush mount rod holders
  • One swivel rod holder

BKC UH-TK181 Fishing Kayak

The BKC UH-TK181 kayak can look quite intimidating at first glance. This is with good reason, however, as it needs to be quite sturdy to be able to carry two people who want to go fishing.

The kayak is easily able to manage a combined weight of 450 pounds so you won’t have to worry about having someone else on board. As you can imagine, being able to accommodate two people does leave less room for storage. So your things will be relegated to a small space at the back, held down by bungee. However, there are two small storage containers in front of each person which is quite nice if you want to separate your catches. What there is plenty of space for, nonetheless is fishing rods.

Altogether, this kayak has enough of room for four flush mount holders and three swivel mount holders. There are also two paddle rests so that you don’t have to be worried about the paddles getting in the way.

I actually quite liked how comfortable the seats were. I would argue that they are some of the most comfortable that I have sat on a hard kayak.

Despite being a sit on top affair, this kayak boasts some decent stability. This is especially important due to the fact that you need to take extra body weight into consideration.

This is not the cheapest option around but I feel that it is worth every dollar, when you look at the space, features, and durability of the kayak.

Specs:

  • 12 foot, tandem kayak
  • Can hold up to 450lbs
  • 4 flush mount and 3 swivel rod holders
  • Separate storage hatches
Sale
BKC UH-TK181 12.5 foot Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak Paddles and Seats included (Green Cammo)
  • 2-Person Tandem Sit On Top Fishing Kayak: 12.5-foot length, 34-inch beam 68-pound kayak great for...
  • Fishing Rod Holders: 7 fishing rod holders; 3 are adjustable for convenience and 4 are flush-mounted...
  • Multiple Storage Areas: Features waterproof storage compartments for wallet, keys, etc. and rear...
  • Paddle Rests: Two secure paddle parks that prevent paddles from falling overboard when not in use
  • Multiple Carrying Handles: Four comfortable carrying handles for easy overland transport

Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak

Now, the Lifetime Sport Fisher kayak is about ten feet long and apparently capable of fitting up to three people in the vessel.

In order to do this, it is able to withstand about 500lbs worth of passengers. I will say that there is plenty of space for two people. That being said I would recommend this kayak to individuals who are quite tall and find it difficult to get kayaks that fit them. They will find all the room that they will need with this model.

The sole virtue of this kayak does not rest with its size. Perhaps my favorite feature on this vessel is the stability. Of all of the kayaks that I tried, this was the one that seemed least likely to tip over. You can even stand up in it without feeling like you are falling over. This is great for fishermen who like to wrestle with those larger catches.

There is a small price to pay for this stability, however. This is the relative slow speed at which the kayak moves.

The tracking is not bad but I would not rely on the kayak remaining on course in windy situations.

There are three rod holders attached which is not bad but could get restrictive if you are fishing with more than one person.

There is a limited amount of storage and you are stuck using a six-inch hatch.

I would say that the seats are mid-range comfortable with padded backrests to help things along.

Specs:

  • 10 foot tandem kayak
  • 500lbs carrying capability
  • Storage hatch
  • Three fishing rod mounts
Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, 10 Feet, Olive Green
  • Blow molded from High Density Polyethylene for superior strength and durability; Backed by a 5-year...
  • Designed to seat up to 3 people; 500 lb. weight capacity
  • Hull design provides ultra stability and great tracking
  • Multiple footrest positions for different size riders
  • Includes: 2 double-sided paddles, paddle clips, 2 padded backrests, 3 fishing pole holders, and a 6'...

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

If you haven’t used one before, it can be daunting to take an inflatable kayak out on a fishing trip.

Nonetheless, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is one of the best options out there.

In case you are concerned about the durability, don’t be.

The kayak is constructed from 18 gauge PVC and is protected from punctures. In the unlikely event that there is a puncture, the kayak has been designed in such a way that the air chambers are separate from one another. This means that the whole vessel will not deflate.

“So what makes this such a great fishing kayak?”

Well for starters, the Berkley Quick Set rod holders. These are adjustable so you can maneuver the rods any way that you like.

I also appreciate the fact that there are trolling motor fittings. Therefore, you can easily add a suitable motor and have the kayak go that much faster. This makes it great if you want to take longer trips.

By looking at it, you may feel as though the kayak doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of space. However, there are mesh pockets that you can use to smaller gear or even food.

There are additional D-rings that allow you to attach larger pieces of equipment.

If you don’t have a suitable vehicle to carry your kayak in or if you are looking for a more affordable option, I would certainly recommend this kayak.

Specs:

  • 18 gauge PVC construction
  • Can hold up to 470lbs
  • Adjustable fishing rod mounts
  • Mesh pockets and D-rings for storage
Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
  • 18-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover provide durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
  • Airtight® System is guaranteed not to leak
  • Berkley® Quick Set Rod Holders are adjustable for enhanced hands-free fishing

Sun Dolphin Journey Best Fishing Kayak For Beginners

While the Sun Dolphin Journey is a sit on top kayak, it still has enough of a compartment for you to feel more stable.

In particular, I like that you really can stretch out in this kayak, complete with a comfortable backrest.

The seat isn’t padded, however, so you should carry a cushion with you if you don’t want to be sore after a couple of hours. This is definitely something that I would recommend if you want to spend a lazy day, fishing.

It is important to note that this kayak is better to suited for someone who is short or of average height. Taller individuals may feel like it is a bit of a tight squeeze.

The vessel is complete with one swivel mount rod and two flush mount rods.

There is also a storage compartment that is secured with a bungee cord.

If I were to point out a flaw, I would say that the tracking could use some improvement.

Also, you should be prepared to drift a bit if the breeze is strong and you are not paddling.

However, for the price that you pay for this kayak, this does seem like a minor inconvenience.

I would suggest this kayak for either beginner kayakers or novice fishermen.

This is largely because the features are quite basic and therefore, don’t require a lot of skill or knowledgeable in order to maneuver it.

Specs:

  • Polyethylene construction
  • Can hold up to 250lbs in weight
  • Portable storage carrier
  • Adjustable foot braces
Sale
Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak (Olive, 10-Feet)
  • Two flush mount rod holders and one swivel rod holder
  • Large comfortable seating area and open cockpit allows the easiest of entry
  • P.A.C. (Portable Accessory Carrier) can be used as extra storage, tow behind or a backpack
  • Dry Storage compartment, shock cord deck rigging
  • Adjustable foot braces

How To Choose The Best Fishing Kayak For You

More important than determining what the best fishing kayak is, you need to find the one that is right for you and your fishing style. Here are some features you need to consider:

Sit-on-Top or Sit-In Kayaks

This is a debate that has been continuing for quite a while now. The advantages of using a sit-on-top kayak is that they are very stable. Not to mention, professional fishermen find it easier to add various accessories to this type of kayak more easily. The other benefit is that should you decide to wade in shallow waters, it is just a hop, skip, and a jump.

This is not to discount the sit-in kayaks, however. They, too, afford a great deal of stability. Also, since you are safely enclosed in a cockpit-type feature you are a lot less likely to get splashed. These type of kayaks do pose a bit of a problem when trying to get in and out of them.

In the end, however, it is down to what you prefer and feel most comfortable in.

Stability or Speed

Unfortunately, as with most things in life, you have to pick one or the other. Such is the case of having to decide whether you would prefer a stable kayak or a fast kayak. It is relatively easy to tell whether a kayak is prone to speed or stability simply by looking at it. Typically, the longer that the kayak is, the faster it should be. The same theory goes for kayaks that are narrower. If you are looking for a kayak that is going to hold steady as you fish, though, then it is best to opt for ones that appear to be shorter and wider.

If speed is of importance to you, you should look for kayaks which allow for a trolling motor to be tacked on. Not only will this increase the speed with which you move, it also means less paddling for you. You will need to make sure that the rest of the features required for a fishing kayak are there, however.

Still Water or Moving Water

Do you tend to fish in relatively calm waters or are you the type that’s willing to brave choppier waves. It is important to make a decision regarding this before you purchase a kayak. This is because the design of the kayak is directly related to how it will perform in certain type of waters. One such feature is the upswept bow that is known as a rocker. This helps to cut through waves as you move forward. A kayak that sports this feature will do well with waves and even works where there is a current. Conversely, you will find that it performs quite poorly when the water is still.

Stock or Angler Kayaks

Since this article focuses largely on fishing kayaks, I have mentioned angler kayaks which are kayaks that are specially fitted for fishing. On the one hand, this certainly makes things easier for you as these come with rod holders and equipment storage already in place. The only disadvantage of all of these features is that they come at a higher price. This is why the more skilled individual may consider buying a cheaper stock kayak and simply adding on the various accessories. You should be aware that if you don’t have the required capabilities or tools, the project can go horribly awry.

Storage

Last but certainly not least is the amount of storage that your kayak has. Personally, I feel that this is a non-negotiable option, especially if you are a serious fisherman! After all, where are you going to put your rods or your catch once you are done? Just how much of storage that you want is entirely up to you. It is a good idea to look at (and measure) all of your gear. Then decide which kayak is able to support all of this. Don’t forget to look at additional features such as cup holders or space to put your food, either.

This guide should help you find the best fishing kayak for you. You will notice that a recurring theme with fishing kayaks is balance – what you gain with one feature, you lose with another. This is why you will need to decide what is most important to you when you decide to purchase such a kayak.

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