One of the most underrated and often misrepresented pieces of fishing equipment an angler can have is a fishing kayak.
For years, fishing kayaks have gotten a bad rep. Everything from being too unstable to fish in to not being able to hold up to stress.
However, fishing kayaks are growing in popularity. Anglers are beginning to see the value of having a vessel that can get them into areas that have not been fished in a long time.
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Best of all, newer kayaks are more durable and more stable than generations past.
In this article, we are going to cover several aspects of the best fishing kayaks on the market today, how they are made, the different styles, and more.
5 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviewed for 2023
1. Best Pedal Kayak
Perception Pescador Pilot
- Propel your exploration and fishing to a new level
- Pedal-driven performance at an unbelievable price
- Ample storage Features to accommodate fishing gear
The Perception Pescador Pilot fishing kayak is hard to beat when it comes to functionality vs. price. It has plenty of compartments and features you’d expect and comes with a comfortable chair for a full day of fishing.
It works in flat, slow-moving, and even calm coastal conditions.
It’s stable and durable, which you need if you plan to use this often. Best of all, it’s made in the USA.
2. Best Hobie Fishing Kayak
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
I’ve been a fan of Hobie kayaks ever since I sat in one a few years back. This kayak brand offers some of the best in the market. They glide effortlessly through the water and have all the right features and compartments an angler needs.
Their seats are super comfy, and the sidebars make it easy to add outriggers if you need more stability or want to do more big-game ocean fishing.
Their unique propulsion system makes cutting through the water fun. It’s like you have your own fins in the water, like a fish.
3. Best Tandem Fishing Kayak
Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-PK14
- THE PERFECT KAYAK FOR OUTDOOR FUN: Our Brooklyn Kayak...
- FULLY LOADED ACCESSORIES: Our kayak comes equipped with 2...
- DUAL PEDAL DRIVE SYSTEM: Get your tandem kayak moving faster...
This kayak will cut through the water with authority because both passengers have a pedal drive system. It’s a 14-foot-long kayak and comes in just under 3 feet wide.
It can be used for both fresh and saltwater making this a versatile kayak. Also, if you hit a submerged object, there’s a safety mechanism to disconnect the pedal drive system.
If you’re looking for a sturdy and powerful ocean kayak for you and your friend to go offshore kayak fishing on, check this one out.
4. Best Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110
- KEY FEATURES | 1-person sit on top fishing kayak - 11ft...
- MOUNT FOR ACCESSORIES | Includes 2 flush-mount rod holders...
- OPTIMUM CONTROL | Pre-installed toe controlled rudder system...
If you’re not ready to splurge on a pedal drive kayak, then you should check out this sit-on-top from Vibe. It’s a great size for easy transporting while providing enough stability for a day on the water.
It has rod holders, plenty of storage, and a foot-driven rudder system. It’s plenty sturdy to fish, either sitting or standing. Just make sure you wear a fishing life jacket if you stand in case the big fish pulls you overboard!
This kayak is stable and has helped me thru foot-high waves that would have scared the daylights out of me in some other kayaks.
It comes in 11 and 13 feet, depending on what your needs are. Throw this on your kayak trailer, and you’ll be from your house and in the water in no time.
5. Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Seyvloy Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- 18-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
- 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover provide durable...
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated...
Buying a legit fishing kayak can put a huge dent in your wallet. That’s why we recommend that if you’re not sure how serious you are about it, start with something cheaper and easy to transport, like an inflatable version.
If you already have a kayak and want something that is easy to bring to hard-to-reach areas, then it might be worth having the best inflatable fishing kayak as your secondary vessel.
This inflatable kayak is puncture resistant and is guaranteed not to leak. It has rod holders and is sturdy enough for a few hours on the water without worry.
Some people have experienced a few issues such as slight deflating over time, but Coleman has a solid support group that will put your worries at ease.
A fishing kayak is somewhat different than the kayaks we picture racing down a raging river.
There’s a lot that goes into the design of a fishing kayak—for example, storage which can be quite important for a day out on the water.
Sit On Top vs. Sit Inside Kayaks
Another consideration is stability. There are basically two types of fishing kayaks. Sit-on-top and Sit-Inside.
Sit-on-top kayaks offer an angler more freedom of movement, which can help prevent leg cramps. The downside is they are not as stable as a sit-inside kayak. This is due in part to the fact you are sitting higher than your center of gravity.
The sit-inside fishing kayaks are more stable on the water but can be problematic to anglers that are taller. The most common issues are leg cramps and your feet falling asleep.
Fishing kayak companies have added design features to help overcome these issues. One feature has been offering varying sizes so people of different weights and heights can feel more comfortable.
Increase Your Kayak Stability
To increase the stability of your sit-on-top kayak, you can buy or build your own outriggers. This adds much more stability, even for the longest cast or hardest hook sets.
How to Choose a Fishing Kayak
Fishing kayaks are made of high-impact plastics and polymers. They are made using prefabricated molds that are of the basic design of the fishing kayak being made.
Fishing kayaks typically range in size from 8 to 16 feet. The average width is 30 inches.
If you’re going to be doing some serious fishing, you should look at adding a live well to your kayak so you have plenty of bait for the day on the water.
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
There are actually inflatable kayaks available on the market today. While these may not appeal to anglers wanting to get down a stream full of logs and other debris, they can be quite handy on lakes and otherwise open areas of water because of their ease of transport.
Obviously, even though these kayaks are made of tough material, it would be advisable to make sure there is no threat of something puncturing the kayak.
The most common method for manufacturing fishing kayaks today is pouring melted plastic into two molds.
One mold is for the forming of the deck, and the other is for the forming of the hull itself. The two halves are then joined together at what is known as a seam.
It may surprise you that your kayak is actually two pieces joined together. Don’t worry. The method used to seam the two halves together is as strong and, in most cases stronger than the rest of the kayak due to the added material making the seam.
Paddle vs. Pedal Kayaks
It’s hard to hold a fishing rod and paddle at the same time. Throw a big fish into the mix, and you’ll need an extra brain to make sure everything gets accomplished the right way.
That’s why it’s worth checking out some of the pedal fishing kayaks on the market. They allow you to use your feet for propulsion so you can move across the water while casting.
If paddling isn’t for you and a pedal kayak is too expensive, another option is to attach a cheap trolling motor to your kayak. You’ll have to create a way for it to attach it, but following DIY guides make the process straightforward.
This would be helpful, especially if you’d like to do some trolling in your kayak and want to keep a consistent speed while holding your rod.
Fishing in Your Kayak
Considering that fishing kayaks come in many different sizes, you can use them just about anywhere.
This is especially true for areas where access may be difficult with a regular-size boat, and also in areas where stealth is important to avoid spooking fish.
Lakes and Streams
Fishing kayaks are commonly seen on rivers, lakes, and tributaries. The ease of transport and the light weight also make them ideal for carrying across the land to get to otherwise inaccessible areas.
They are an excellent choice for fishing in ponds and can be handy when fishing around banks.
Fishing kayaks make it possible to glide across from one bank to another. This eliminates vibrations from walking around the bank, which can spook fish laying in wait for prey.
Fishing kayaks are not only a handy and economical way of getting to some prime fishing locations, but they are also a lot of fun as well.
Granted, it can take some getting used to, but fishing from a kayak is well worth it once you get the hang of it. All you need is the right gear for the occasion.
One of the biggest factors many anglers report is an issue in the sense of unbalance. To overcome this, it is a good idea to take your fishing kayak out for a few test runs before going fishing.
Make sure to bring sunscreen and fishing hats for summer. Dry suits, wet suits, and layer your clothing if you plan to go kayak fishing in winter.
Stay safe on the water, and don’t forget your life vest!
State laws vary in what they require for a vessel in federal/public waterways. In some states, any vessel fourteen feet or greater requires a title or “proof of ownership”.
Additionally, some states do not require any registration for fishing kayaks and canoes.
As for an actual boating operator license, this comes into consideration when operating a motorized vessel on a federal/public waterway.
Considering the varying laws that govern boating/vessel operation, it is advisable to check with the state you plan to use your fishing kayak in to avoid possible fines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are fishing kayaks expensive?
A: This depends greatly on the model and size you choose. The smaller fishing kayaks can range as low as $150.00 to the larger models, with all the options ranging over $2,000.00
Q: Can you put a motor on a fishing kayak?
A: Yes. There are attachments that can allow you to add a trolling motor.
Q: Do fishing kayaks have storage?
A: Yes. Depending on the model you choose, you can even get them with live wells.
Q: Are fishing kayaks hard to maneuver?
A: Most fishing kayaks glide effortlessly across the water as well as turn very easily.