Kayak fishing has been gaining popularity in recent years. Mainly due to price drops and more manufacturers stepping in to produce quality kayaks at a good price.
However, kayak fishing still is a difficult game to step into as kayaks, while cheaper, are still quite expensive especially for someone who just wants to fish leisurely. Many fishermen still opt to buy one because kayaks give fishermen the option to reach further and explore different locations that would be unavailable on foot.
In today’s article, we talk about our best picks for kayaks, why we picked them as well as how we can go about buying the best kayaks for fishing.
Top 10 Fishing Kayaks:
In the list below, we talk about our top 10 picks of best fishing kayaks as well as some of the reasons why they were picked.
1. Intex – Excursion Pro (Professional Series Inflatable Kayak)
As its name suggests, the Excursion Pro is an inflatable kayak that is made of a super-tough laminate PVC material with a polyester core. Making the kayak very lightweight and abrasion-resistant.
The Excursion Pro is a 2 seater kayak that is 12’7” in length and is the largest of 5 kayaks that index produces. Fully inflated, the kayak is rigid and stable, its width is 3’1” which gives users enough space to move around while still enabling the kayak to be maneuverable.
The kit also includes 2 skews which help with directional stability for both deep and shallow water, 2 floor-mounted footrests, 2 fishing rod holders as well as 2 adjustable bucket seats. There is also a removable and adjustable mounting bracket that enables users to mount accessories such as GPS systems, fish finders for small boats, bags, and other things.
There is also storage space in the bow and stern that comes complete with steel D rings that are perfect for tying down dry bags and other accessories. The weight limit of the kayak is up to 400lbs or 180kg.
The great thing about inflatable kayaks is that it can be deflated so storage is easy. The Excursion Pro also comes with a nifty storage bag that stores away your deflated kayak.
2. Elkton Auklet 120 Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
The Elkton Auklet 120 is a single-seat kayak that is very well constructed. It is made from a tough and durable rotational molded exterior shell which essentially creates a very even thickness throughout the kayak, which makes the kayak incredibly well balanced.
It also features a SmartTrack Rudder system which is a rudder system that is pedal-operated which enables users to maneuver in tight spaces easily. The 2 foot pedals are also easy to use and feel incredibly well built.
The Elkton Auklet 120 was built with the needs of anglers in mind as it features many mounting plates for rod holders or other accessories that users may require. There is also additional dry storage space at the bow of the kayak which comes in handy when you need to keep your lunch dry during a short fishing trip!
Its 2 active rod holders and 4 vertical rod holders also ensure that carrying extra rods on any trip won’t be a problem. This gives fishermen the option for backup rods or just more options to fish with.
The seat is a high back EVA padded seat which makes it very comfortable. It is lightweight and adds little to the overall weight to the kayak.
3. Perception Outlaw 11.5 Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
The Perception Outlaw is a steady and well-built kayak that is built like a tank. It is a very affordable fishing kayak option for novice fishermen looking for a stable kayak that is packed with options.
Made in the USA, it is an affordable sit on the top fishing kayak that is designed to accommodate even larger paddlers. Its maximum capacity is a whopping 425lbs and it is only a single-seat kayak.
At 11’6” it is long enough to maintain directional stability while not being too long such that it impedes turning in smaller areas. The seat is removable and lightweight, giving anglers the option to stand if they want to.
Storage space on both sides of the seat allows for add on Outlaw Saddlebags that offer easy excess to plano boxes that can house extra gear or lures! The kayak also features 2 double barrel rod holders which ensure that you will always have somewhere to place your rods or bring extra setups if a need arises.
It also features replaceable skid plates that enable users to drag their kayaks without fear of damage to the hull!
4. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
The Tamarack Angler 100 is a nifty no-frills kayak for the novice looking to dip their toes into kayak fishing. Constructed of UV resistant high-density polyethylene, this kayak is built with very good materials.
Fit for 1 angler, the Tamarack Angler 100 features adjustable padded seats as well as multiple mounted rod holders. This kayak is not feature-rich, however for its price, it is a steal!
Measuring 10ft in length, it is a good length that lets most anglers maneuver with ease. It also is surprisingly stable for a small kayak.
The footrest is also adjustable ensuring a comfortable fit in the kayak while paddling. The kayak also features 2 6” storage compartments in the rear and center of the boat.
The Tamarack Angler 100 also comes equipped with a lightweight paddle as well as a paddle keeper to ensure that fishermen don’t lose their paddles on open water. It also features T handles at the front and the rear of the kayak for easy handling.
5. Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Fishing Pontoon Boat with Motor Mount
This addition is an interesting one! The Classic Accessories Colorado is actually a fishing pontoon boat which essentially is very stable and maneuverable in small spaces. For fishermen not looking to go far, this pontoon boat is a great option for you!
The pontoon boat is special because it functions more like a float with a metal frame in the center, housing the main seat and accessories. The seat is very well built and is very comfortable.
It also features rod holders that can be mounted in 3 different positions as well as an anchor with a pulley system that will secure you in place when fishing at any particular location. The boat is also inflatable and offers many storage pockets as well as drink holders.
Keeping the boat is simple as there are quick deflation valves on each side. The boat measures at 9’ in length, 56” in width, and has a maximum capacity of 400lbs, which is plenty!
Each of the pontoons is constructed with heavy-duty abrasion-resistant PVC bottoms and a tough nylon top. The steel frame in the center is powder-coated to ensure rust resistance.
6. Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
The ATAK 120 by wilderness systems is one of the kayaks we prefer more than the rest. Mainly due to its premium build as well as the comfort it provides.
While it is not that the rest of the kayaks we’ve mentioned are uncomfortable, it is that the ATAK 120 is exceptionally comfortable especially for long trips. The ATAK 120 features Phase 3 AirPro Seating, which is touted to be one of the most comfortable seats available today!
The patented suspension styled seat isn’t too clunky and is an extremely comfortable seat. It features a fully adjustable mesh seat that allows for great airflow while keeping the seat ergonomic, great for long fishing trips.
The kayak also features a large stern accessory mount area that gives you options to mount multiple accessories directly onto the boat. While there are better options for mounting areas, it is sufficient, spacious, and well thought out.
The ATAK 120 measures at 12’3” in length and 35” in width, giving the user plenty of space to move around in the kayak while not compromising stability. It also weighs 86lbs which isn’t very heavy, so most fishermen should be able to move and carry the kayak on their own which is a plus!
7. Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe Kayak 12ft
The Vahunks Voyager Deluxe kayak is a very basic, no-frills yet well-built kayak. It is a sit on top kayak that is constructed of high-density polyethylene rotomolded, which essentially ensures even distribution of material all around the kayak.
The kayak is also incredibly light, weighing in at 51lbs, even a child could drag it around. Measuring at 9 ft, the kayak is shorter than most, however, this makes the kayak more maneuverable especially in tight corners.
What’s interesting about this kayak is that even though it measures 9ft, it comes with 2 seats! This reason makes this kayak a great option for fishermen who want the option of a second seat but don’t want too big a boat.
The kayak also features large storage compartments at the front and rear which are secured via bungee cords, as well as 2 storage hatch compartments that can be used for bait or other essential items that you might want to keep dry.
8. Pelican Sit on Top Sentinel 100X 9.5ft
Pelican is a brand that many people are probably familiar with. They produce some of the best rugged dry cases in the market and are known for their stylish yet functional products.
Unsurprisingly that one of their kayaks made it to this list because they are just so well built! The Sentinel 100X is a single-seat 9.5ft kayak that is designed for agility, stability, and speed in mind.
What’s cool about this kayak is that it is built with Pelican’s proprietary multi-layered material called RAM-X which is essentially a high-grade polyethylene. This material is touted to resist impacts and therefore reduces the chance of the boat cracking or breaking.
While the Sentinel 100X is the smallest kayak of their series, it still packs a punch. The EXOPAK removable storage compartment is spacious enough for you to store all the essentials you need for a solo fishing trip, it also features 2 vertical rod holders.
There is also a rubber mat in the kayak which prevents items from sliding around, especially in more choppy waters. There are also convenient handles on the sides which help with moving the kayak from place to place.
9. BKC 9’ Single Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
Things like a comfortable seat, paddle parks, dry storage just to name a few. The 2 paddle parks enable fishermen to securely fasten the paddles on either side of the boat.
The kayak also features 4 carrying handles which makes transporting this kayak a breeze. It is also constructed of sing piece rotomolded high-density HDPE which makes the kayak incredibly resistant to abrasions and impacts.
Perfect for 1, the BKC 9′ is a stable kayak that is not too big or clunky. Unsurprisingly, it handles tight spaces very well and is very stable for its shorter length.
As for features, the BKC 9′ has 4 flush-mounted built-in rod holders as well as waterproof storage areas that allow for safe storage of valuables.
10. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2 Person Inflatable
Intex is a company that has been known to make some pretty good outdoor products. Their kayaks are no exception.
The last kayak in our list, the Intex Explorer K2 is an inflatable 2 seater kayak that is constructed of heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl. While it is not exactly packed with features, the kayak is surprisingly spacious and comfortable.
3 separate air chambers ensure that in the event the kayak is punctured, it will still probably stay afloat. Boston valves are built-in as well for quick inflation or deflation.
The Explorer K2 can take up to 400lbs of weight and measures at 10’3” with a 3’ width which makes it a very stable kayak. While it is not the most agile, it is one of the most stable tandem kayaks we’ve reviewed.
The seats on the kayak are also very comfortable and can be used for extended periods without feeling much discomfort.
Best Fishing Kayak Buying Guide
Now that we’ve gone through some of our top picks for the best fishing kayak, let’s take a look at how we can go choosing the best kayak for you.
Keep in mind, kayaks are generally a big investment and you should only invest if you are prepared to use the kayak on regularly.
1. Size Matters
A good fishing kayak usually measures at about 9-11’ in length. The reason for this length is that any shorter and it will compromise comfort.
We’ve found that the best kayaks usually measure at 10’ and it’s just nice for us to stretch our legs fully and still have everything you need within arms reach. Can you imagine having a 13’ kayak and trying to reach for something at the stern of your boat?
Likewise, just as the length is important, width is also equally important because it affects the stability of your kayak. While having a wider kayak will impede the speed at which you can row your boat to some extent, having a wider kayak helps greatly with the stability which is what we look for when fishing.
We feel that the best widths are somewhere between 3’ to 3.5’ because it’s just wide enough for the fisherman to feel comfortable while still maintaining the balance of the kayak should you need to lean over to any one side.
Features are very important when choosing a kayak. Some of the important features to note are:
Rod holders are important because having the option to put your rod somewhere securely while you paddle will save a lot of energy. Not to mention, most kayaks have at least 2-rod holders so you can bring spare setups for your fishing trips.
Most kayaks now come with some form of storage. Having options for storage increases the number of essential items that you can bring along for your trip, e.g terminal tackle, more lures, bait, etc.
These 2 features are by far the most important features when it comes to choosing a good fishing kayak. While there are other features e.g fish finding mounts or mounts for various other accessories, these are the basic 2 that you should have for every fishing kayak.
You might have noticed that most of the kayaks that we’ve mentioned above are hard-shelled kayaks and for good reason.
Hard kayaks generally fare better and last longer than their inflatable counterparts. While both do have their pros and cons, hard kayaks are usually the go-to choice if you are willing to spend a little bit more, as inflatables are usually cheaper.
Hard kayaks handle impact and abrasions much better than inflatables. A hard kayak can handle a puncture and still safely make it to shore whereas an inflatable would probably sink if the puncture is too large.
However, inflatable kayaks take up much less space than hard kayaks and if this is an issue for you, maybe choose an inflatable.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Usually, the most stable fishing kayaks are the kayaks that have a minimum width of 3’. The reason for this is so that there is more lateral (side to side) surface area in contact with the water, keeping the boat upright.
Some fisherman choose to go for smaller width kayaks, they basically exchange stability for speed and endurance, as a slimmer kayak travels further and faster.
Like what we’ve mentioned above, a good length to start with is a minimum of 10’ because it gives the angler ample space to stretch their legs as well as have ample areas for storage.
If you’re a beginner looking to get a kayak for the first time, get a good inflatable. Because inflatables are generally much cheaper than hard-bodied kayaks and will give you the same experience.
Of course, once you gain some experience and know what your preferences are, choosing a kayak that suits you will become easier, as you will have a better mental picture of what you want in your next fishing kayak.
We hope the article today has given you some insight on what to look out for in fishing kayaks. While it can be daunting given the number of choices in the market today, choosing a kayak can be simple if you know what you want to look for.
The top 10 fishing kayaks which we have chosen should give you a good idea of what to look for in a good kayak and how much you should be spending.