Kayak fishing is an exciting experience for both shore-bound and boat fishermen looking to explore new water. Where you decide to fish is a very important choice.
Will you prefer to pedal or paddle? Will it be small ponds or the vast ocean? Do you want a stable platform or a light and agile kayak? Stability, size, speed, agility, and other features are all things to consider.
Luckily, there are is an abundance of options to choose from kayaks that are made specifically for kayak fishing. While a perfect fit is not assured, with all the options to choose from, there’s a good chance that you will be able to find a fishing kayak tailored to your needs.
You should also know how to rig and store a kayak before buying one.
How to Know Which Kayak Is the Best Pick?
First of all, you should be aware that there’s no perfect fishing kayak for every occasion. You should evaluate where and how you will be doing your fishing and paddling before making a decision on purchasing a fishing kayak.
Consider your needs in detail. Are you going to fish in shallow saltwater for striped bass and bluefish? Or will you try pond fishing for largemouth bass? Will you brave the rivers and streams to fish for trout and smallmouth bass? Will you just be fishing with this kayak? Will you use it for fishing, a relaxing cruise with family members or maybe even surfing in the open ocean?
When you’ve decided on what specifics do you prefer, you should find the ones that match your needs. You should try all the ones you like. Never buy a kayak before trying it first!
You should be aware of the important characteristics of kayaks before you go and examine fishing kayaks at the store. While fishing kayaks are usually quite versatile, be aware that no single kayak can be appropriate for every occasion.
You should carefully consider what features and specifications you are looking for. Make a list of what features you certainly need and which ones are not really necessary. When you have fully understood your options, you may begin picking the right kayak for your needs. There are some basics that you should keep in mind before you buy your fishing kayak.
8 Things to Consider When Buying a Fishing Kayak
1. Will it be a SOT or SIK kayak?
Sit-on-top kayaks (SOT) are preferred by most saltwater fishermen. They can roll over without filling with water, making them safer. They provide more room for the angler and you can even throw a leg over the side so you can keep stable while dealing with a fish.
Sit-inside kayaks (SIK) are better for flowing streams and when you want a lightweight and more maneuverable kayak. You should also consider the fact that sit-on-top kayaks would mean a splashier ride.
2. How will you propel your kayak?
While most kayaks are propelled through paddling, pedals have made an entrance in kayak designs.
The Old Town Predator PDL features a pedal/propeller drive. The Hobie Kayak Mirage Drive series has been the forerunner in leg-powered kayaks. These are preferred by anglers since they allow for fishing while propelling. They are also electric motor-powered kayaks and they are becoming more and more common.
3. How long will the kayak be?
The rule of thumb is the longer a kayak is, the faster and easier it will cover distances. Longer kayaks tend to be less maneuverable in tight spots. They are also more difficult to transport to launch sites.
4. How wide will the kayak be?
Wider kayaks provide greater stability and more capacity. It is important to note that width does not assure stability.
5. How much will the kayak weigh?
You should evaluate how much you can transport when you are choosing a kayak. You may need a wheeled cart to move the heavier kayak types.
6. How much storage should your kayak have?
You should evaluate how much storage space you will need on your kayak. You should consider how much storage space you will need for keeping fish, spare clothes, live bait, etc.
You should also consider whether or not you will be doing any kayak camping.
7. How will your kayak Seats be?
Kayaks on the more affordable side have basic seating pads or molded seats. You should consider adjustable seats with good back support. This option is becoming more and more popular.
8. Will you prefer to Stand-and-Fish?
A stable and wide kayak will provide the option for anglers to stand and sight fish while fishing.
3 Things to Consider When Rigging a Fishing Kayak
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a total newbie, it’s always good to remember the basics when rigging your boat.
1. Preparing Rod Holders
No matter what type of vessel you might have or what type of fish you’re planning to target, rod holders are a must-have. Thankfully, a majority of the kayaks available now come with pre-installed rod holders. Even if not, they come with areas prepared for custom installation.
You should have at least a single rod holder in the front and two space holders in the back. You can carry more, but it is advised to just stick with a total of three rod holders as the seems to be the optimal number.
2. Getting Comfy with your Seat
A comfortable seat can really make a huge difference when you spend a day fishing. You should consider your specifications and also the fact that you will be doing a lot in your seat, paddling, reeling, fishing, etc. You should really take the time for trying out a seat if possible.
3. Organize year gear
It should come as no surprise that you are limited to what you can carry in a kayak. You should carefully think and plan what you will bring. Optimally, you want to be spending as much time as possible when out in the water. To achieve this you need to minimize your time spent trying to find things.
You should resist the urge to just jam everything in the most convenient spot, only put the things you definitely know you are going to use. If you think you might use something, try putting in the tank well.
How to Store a Fishing Kayak
Unfortunately, most people are uninformed when it comes to storing kayaks. To prevent damage to the hull of your kayak you should carefully consider where you will store them. Here are some things to do when storing your kayak.
1. Thoroughly Clean your Kayak
Kayaks accumulate a lot of residue, bugs, and dirt after use. These need to be cleaned before you store your kayak. You should put the kayak somewhere away from direct sunlight before you begin this process.
Remove and wash any kind of fabric such as seat cushions. Use a gentle cycle in the washing machine. Use a line to dry these out and store them carefully.
You can use a mild detergent mixed with water to spray clean the kayak. We recommend using a brush while doing so. Fully rinse every possible crevice and spot on the kayak and open the drainage plug. Make sure to get rid of any excess water.
Finally, put the kayak in sunlight and make sure to open any storage spaces so the boat dries completely.
2. Storing your kayak
While indoor storage is the best solution, frequently this is not an option, especially with the bigger kayaks. That said, as long as you take the necessary precautions, outdoor storage should be no problem.
A common mistake is wrapping the entire kayak in a tarp and leaving it like that. Unfortunately, moisture can seep under the tarp and will accumulate on the kayak’s surface.
What you should do is create a sheltered structure like a tent and put the kayak under it. You should use a tarp and some PVC pipes to create a structure that lets the water drain off.
To ward off any pests you might also consider tightly wrapping the cockpit area and putting some moisture-absorbing packets beforehand.
If you’re thinking about storing it indoors then you should consider any open spot of wall or ceiling. You could also rent an appropriate storage unit. Just make sure to find an environment that is consistent. Places that vary in moisture and temperature can considerably damage the kayak. Also, avoid places that are too hot and too dry to prevent the kayak hull from cracking.
3. Position your kayak properly
Kayak hulls are not sturdy enough to resist their own weight or extended periods of time. Never put a kayak to sit on a flat surface for more than two days. Instead, you should devise a proper way to store your kayak.
Your first option is to put 2 planks on the ground and put the kayak right side up on top of the planks. This way you can distribute the weight evenly on each plank. Lean the other side of the kayak against the wall. Remember to rotate the sides of the kayak every 30 days.
An alternative is to buy a kayak storage rack. Similar to the first option it will allow your kayak to sit upon evenly distributed beams. You can also build a storage rack if you want.
Another alternative is to hang a kayak upside down. You can use straps or bars that are anchored to the ceiling. Just make sure the straps go around the entirety of the kayak. Never hang it from its handles or rudder.
A final option is to simply strap your kayak to a wall. Put your kayak upright. The stern should be on a soft spot (preferably a cushion) on the ground. Anchor the boat on a stud in the wall using some bungees or straps. The cockpit should be facing out. Also, make sure not to wrap the boat too tightly as to not damage the hull.
Our Selection of 33 Best Fishing Kayaks
Price: $899| Weight: 75 pounds | Capacity: 550 pounds | Width: 33″ | Length: 13′
With a highly customizable work deck and 500 pounds of capacity, The Sea Ghost 130 has all the gear and hauling capacity a kayak angler could want. The Vibe Sea Ghost 130 is the best premium angling kayak of its kind. It has an integrated rudder, rigging, and storage options. It has a greater range of features and storage than any comparable angling kayak.
Price: $4599 | Weight: 132 pounds | Capacity: 500 pounds | Width: 36″ | Length: 12’
The MirageDrive 360 allows you to move and spin with great agility effortlessly. You no longer need fear shallow areas as the new Kick-Up Fins immediately retract upon impact. With stain-resistant EVA padding, rod holders, and a host of incredible features, this kayak is truly a great premium pick.
Price: $1399 |Weight: 75 pounds |Capacity: 325 pounds |Width: 34″ |Length: 10.5’
With its pedal propulsion, you can go where you want with great authority and ease. You can also stretch your legs or cast a lure thanks to a wide cockpit area with EVA floor padding. The Mirage Passport is also quite comfortable thanks to its breathable mesh seat. The Mirage Passport also boasts an under-seat and gunnel tackle storage, two fishing rod holders, accessory tracks, and a transducer cavity and scupper for installing a fishfinder easily.
Price: $2999 |Weight: 103 pounds |Capacity: 425 pounds |Width: 34″ |Length: 12’9”
The Outback provides a kayak built for every possible fishing trip. It is simply a fully-loaded fishing machine. Anglers will have a great vantage point for spotting fish and an improved platform for casting. With its extra width and novel design, the Mirage Outback’s seat will provide anglers with impeccable comfort.
Price: $2099 |Weight: 87 pounds |Capacity: 400 pounds |Width: 34″ |Length: 12′
Outfitted with Hobie’s MirageDrive pedal system and Kick-up Fins, the Mirage Compass is an elegantly simple design. You can easily stand and fish thanks to its flat deck. It also provides the best stability possible thanks to its large cockpit. It also includes a transducer cavity for installing a fishfinder, molded-in rod holders, and H-Track Accessory mounts.
Price: $2779 |Weight: 88 pounds |Capacity: 350 pounds |Width: 28.5″ |Length: 13’5”
The Mirage Revolution 13 is great for quick maneuvers and pursuing fish. For this reason, you should definitely consider this option if you are looking to hunt for striped bass. You can fish comfortably all day thanks to the great Vantage CT seat. The Kick-Up Fin and MirageDrive provide anglers the opportunity to full-power reverse and fully hands-free fishing. It also comes in 16 and 11-foot hull configurations.
Price: $3739 |Weight: 129 pounds |Capacity: 500 pounds |Width: 36″ |Length: 12’
Whether you’re fishing in small ponds or the open ocean, The Mirage Pro Anglers has got your needs covered with its Kick-Up Turbo fins and maximum stability. You can easily pedal from spot to spot. You will also have ample storage and can easily stand-up fish. It also has 17 and 14-foot configurations.
Price: $2199 |Weight: 91 pounds |Capacity: 400 pounds |Width: 35″ |Length: 11’6”
The Bite FD provides with you one of the best price/performance kayaks on the market. It provides an optimal platform for both paddling and standing. It has a large storage capacity thanks to its open-concept deck that is made with a touring-style bungee cord system.
Price: $3499 |Weight: 125 pounds |Capacity: 550 pounds |Width: 40″ |Length: 13’3”
The Big Rig FD is based on one of Jackson’s best-selling fishing kayak and has been further improved by an addition of Flex Drive 3D pedals. The propeller is also compatible with the Flex Drive E engine. Experience great hands-free fishing. Rod tubes on both sides of the bow are accompanied by Big Rig rod troughs.
Price: $2599 |Weight: 125 pounds |Capacity: 500 pounds |Width: 34″ |Length: 12’6”
With more fishing storage, mounts and recesses for electronics, an improved rudder, and a comfortable elevated seat, The Slayer Propel 13 is definitely considered to be one of Native’s best designs.
Price: $1399 |Weight: 79 pounds |Capacity: 355 pounds |Width: 29″ |Length: 13’6”
If you’re looking for a great balance of stability, performance, speed, and maneuverability, look no further. The Trident 13 has great performance in rough and open seas and surfs. Thus, it is ideal for chasing false albacore, bluefish, and stripers on the coasts. The Trident 11 and 15 models also come highly recommended.
Price: $1449 |Weight: 70 pounds |Capacity: 600 pounds |Width: 34″ |Length: 12’9”
The Prowler Big Game II brings supreme stability and comfort to any aspiring angler. It is worth noting the especially large storage capacity. There are also mounting places in six strategic spots to allow for mounting electronics on to the boat without having to drill.
Price: $3799 |Weight: 143 pounds |Capacity: 558 pounds |Width: 37″ |Length: 12’
Minn Kota’s Spot-Lock technology allows anglers to maximize your motorized kayaks potential. It can hover over a specific position while also getting you where you want much faster. The Bluetooth connected i-Pilot remote makes commanding your kayak with a touch of a finger a breeze.
Price: $2599 |Weight: 117 pounds |Capacity: 500 pounds |Width: 37″ |Length: 12’
The Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 pedal kayak provides anglers with a speedy a steady kayak with no need for paddling. Move forwards and backward and maneuver in a flesh thanks to this kayak’s precise controls that require no hands while using. The acclaimed Old Town PDL is stable, easy-to-use, reliable and one of the best pedal kayaks of its kind.
Price: $2499 |Weight: 121 pounds |Capacity: 525 pounds |Width: 37″ |Length: 10’6″
A simple and easy-to-use kayak that is also quite fast, The Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota is a great pick.
Price: $3799 |Weight: 94 pounds |Capacity: 450 pounds |Width: 36″ |Length: 10’6″
Solid performance and both stability and agility are combined in the hands-free fishing experience provided by The Old Town Sportsman PDL 120. You can instantly speed ahead or reverse and turn on a dime thanks to its acclaimed PDL Drive. The PDL 120 is one of the best picks in terms of reliability and ease of use.
Price: $1899 |Weight: 104 pounds |Capacity: 450 pounds |Width: 34.5″ |Length: 12’
The Old Town Sportsman Salty PDL 120 is one of the best picks for fishing on the coasts. This kayak is well-suited for braving the waves and fishing. You can instantly speed ahead or reverse and turn on a dime thanks to its acclaimed PDL Drive. The PDL 120 is one of the best picks in terms of reliability and ease of use.
Price: $999 |Weight: 104 pounds |Capacity: 354 pounds |Width: 32.5″ |Length: 11’9″
Whether you’re out for hunting or angling, The Old Town Sportsman 119 Discovery Solo has got you covered. The Sportsman 119 is a hybrid canoe that is highly stable and lightweight. Providing a great combination of a classic solo canoe and a kayak, it provides simplicity, utility, agility, and maneuverability in a boat that is handy both in and out of the water. Make use of the great hull durability that is provided by the Discovery series, along with unique additions such as an accessory track, a comfortable seat and tackle, and rod storage. You should definitely try out this versatile and handy boat.
Price: $2199 |Weight: 105 pounds |Capacity: 500 pounds |Width: 36″ |Length: 12’
A 12-foot hull provides great maneuverability along with great hands-free fishing experience. The venerable Topwater series’ newest addition, The Topwater 120 allows anglers to silently speed through any body of water while it also enabling anglers to stand-up fish thanks to its incredibly stable DoubleU Hull. You can also try out the paddle propelled version of the Topwater 120.
Price: $1999 |Weight: 95 pounds |Capacity: 450 pounds |Width: 36″ |Length: 10’6”
The Topwater 106 PDL is a great choice for anglers that are looking for an easy to transport and highly maneuverable hands-free fishing experience. With a 10-foot 5-inch hull that only weighs 100 pounds, The Topwater PDL provides a stable, lightweight, agile, and good performing fishing kayak. The Topwater 106 also comes in a paddle propelled setting.
Price: $2599 |Weight: 117 pounds |Capacity: 500 pounds |Width: 36″ |Length: 13’2”
The new 2020 version of Predator PDL sports new EVA foam decks pads that allows for a great stand-up fishing experience and also a new composite rudder that provides superior control. You can instantly speed ahead or reverse and turn on a dime thanks to its acclaimed PDL Drive. The PDL system is easily installed and tips up in a flash to allow for docking and gliding in shallow waters.
Price: $1499 |Weight: 86 pounds |Capacity: 425 pounds |Width: 33.5″ |Length: 13’2”
Whether you’re looking to fish rough-sea stripers or small-pond largemouths, the Old Town Predator 13 provides a highly engineered design to perfectly suit your needs. The Predator 13 also includes features such as a comfy Element Seat and a slip-resistant deck.
Price: $1499 |Weight: 78 pounds |Capacity: 425 pounds |Width: 34″ |Length: 12’6”
The Pelican Catch 130 HyDryve II provides a great price/performance pedal-driven and rudder-controlled kayak option for anglers on a budget. The hull is constructed out of RAM-X Premium, an advanced resin made with multiple layers of polyethylene. As a result, the top layer has a great glossy finish and the hull is superior to standard constructions. The hull is easy to move, strong, resistant, and lightweight.
Price: $999 |Weight: 75 pounds |Capacity: 450 pounds |Width: 39.75″ |Length: 9’9”
The Pelican Catch PWR 100 is a versatile personal watercraft that comes in both gas or electric motor configurations. You can easily connect your motor while stowing your battery in the front compartment as it is pre-wired.
Price: $699 |Weight: 54 pounds |Capacity: 350 pounds |Width: 34″ |Length: 10’
The Pelican Catch 100 has great stability thanks to its tunnel hull. It also provides a great platform for stand-up fishing. You will want for nothing thanks to its convenient and well-designed accessories. It also retains a lightweight that allows you to easily carry and launch it on your own. The Catch 100 is great for small anglers seeking to prowl in new waters.
Price: $999 |Weight: 51 pounds |Capacity: 575 pounds |Width: 39″ |Length: 11’6”
An inflatable kayak made by and for experienced fishermen, the Sea Eagle Fishing explorer has incredibly solid 2000-denier reinforced protective layers along with a fully adjustable foot brace and six built-in slots for holding rods. It is a fully self-bailing design with a generous maximum load capacity of 575 pounds.
Price: $999 |Weight: 63 pounds |Capacity: 350 pounds |Width: 31″ |Length: 12’3”
The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is a venerable classic that has been further upgraded with a paddler interface and even better speed, comfort, and stability. Whether you’re fishing in the ocean, lakes, or rivers, the new Tarpon design provides excellent performance and great agility and stability. Its innovative and optimally designed features make it a great choice. Variants include the Tarpon 105.
Price: $1499 |Weight: 86 pounds |Capacity: 400 pounds |Width: 35″ |Length: 12’3”
A compact and more manageable variant of the acclaimed Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 140, the A.T.A.K. 120 boats a fully customizable platform that is open and has a wind-shedding deck. Anglers may also purchase and install the Helix MD Motor Drive separately.
Price: $999 |Weight: 49 pounds |Capacity: 325 pounds |Width: 29″ |Length: 12’2”
The Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 is widely considered the best of its kind. This tried-and-true sit-inside recreational kayak is now available in a new and superior design. It delivers great performance in all water conditions. It also provides great stability, comfort, speed, and customization in outfitting. It is also available in The Pungo 105 and Pungo 125 variants.
Price: $999 |Weight: 84 pounds |Capacity: 425 pounds |Width: 34.5″ |Length: 10’7”
The SS107 is compact, portable, sleek, and provides premium fishing features. It has angler-friendly features along with a design that provides maximum stability and paddling performance.
Price: $999 |Weight: 77 pounds |Capacity: 425 pounds |Width: 33.5″ |Length: 11’7”
Designed in the United States, this authentic fishing kayak provides budget-conscious anglers the best pick. With a great balance of paddling performance and stability, the RS117 provides a very stable platform with its hybrid catamaran hull.
Price: $1599 |Weight: 94 pounds |Capacity: 475 pounds |Width: 33.75″ |Length: 12’7”
The SS127 provides the best stability without impacting paddling performance. It is a “sit/stand” design with a high back seat that allows anglers to sit with their knees bent, providing a much more comfortable experience. The SS127 is a highly versatile design that has great performance in all situations, whether you’re lake inshore or offshore fishing, river fishing, lake fishing.