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Things to Consider when Choosing the Best Fishing Kayaks
As we've just noted, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing the best fishing kayaks. So before choosing the ideal fishing kayak, you should know where and how you'll be doing your fishing. This means that you should identify your fishing needs. Will you be fishing in streams and rivers or do you plan to venture out into the open ocean? Are you looking to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or trout? Will you strictly do kayak fishing or do you plan to indulge in other recreational activities?
Once you've decided how you'll be using the fishing kayak, you can choose the kayak that has features that suit your desired criteria. In other words, you should choose the must-haves and the ones that you can do without. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing an ideal fishing kayak for you.
Type of Kayaks
There are several types of kayaks but there are two common types of kayaks: Sit-On-Top and Sit-In Kayaks.
Sit-On-Top Kayaks - They are stable, user-friendly, and easy to paddle. You can easily get in and out of them and can be used in many types of water including lakes, rivers, canals, and saltwater bodies. These types of kayaks are generally wider to make them quite stable, which is a significant feature for any angler to consider.
This wider hull may, however, make them slower, so this may not be a good option if speed is a priority. You'll also get wet and the kayak doesn't protect you from the wind.
Sit-In Kayaks - Even though sit-in kayaks share the same features with sit-on-top kayaks, the major difference is that sit-in kayaks have an enclosed place to sit. This will ensure that you keep dry during your fishing escapades and protected from wind, thereby enjoying a warmer ride.
On the downside, it may be a lot harder to get out of the water in case the kayak flips. They're, however, perfect if you want a lightweight kayak.
Modern kayaks are propelled either by paddle power or pedal. You'll be using your hands if you go for a paddle-powered kayak while you'll use your legs if you choose a pedal-powered kayak. Needless to say, pedal-powered kayaks are the preferable options for fishing as you'll free up your hands for fishing. There are also electric-motor-powered kayaks that are increasingly becoming popular.
Storage and Extras
You'll need some storage space on board the kayak. Whether you want to store your catch or your essentials, you need enough storage to make your fishing escapades much better.
A longer kayak is a lot better if you want a vessel that will be faster and cover more distance. You'll, however, sacrifice maneuverability, which is essential especially if you'll be fishing in tight spaces. It can also be difficult to transport longer kayaks. On the contrary, shorter kayaks are great if you want a vessel that maneuvers and turns better.
Wider kayaks are more stable and can be great if you want to go fishing with a friend. You should, however, keep in mind that there are additional factors that may affect the stability of the kayak.
When kayak fishing, the last thing on your mind should be tipping over. Whether you want to stand or sit, it's essential to go for a stable kayak and this means that the hull should be wider even though this may compromise your speed.
The weight of the kayak may affect how you transport it. A heavier kayak may require a wheeled cart to transport it.
You, of course, want a seat that's comfortable and adjustable to your liking. Some kayaks even offer adjustable "lawn chair" style seats with superb back support.
Some kayaks are extra wide and stable enough to allow you to stand when casting your lines or when fighting fish.
The Best Fishing Kayaks
With so many kayaks on the market promising almost the same things, finding the ideal fishing kayak for you can be a time-consuming process. But if you've been wondering which one will be best for you, we've given you a head start.
Here are the best fishing kayaks
Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler (Best all-rounder)
The Prowler 13 Angler is widely considered one of the best fishing kayaks in the market. This 13-foot sit-on-top fishing kayak boasts a combination of incredible speed and efficiency, as well as a plethora of practical fishing features. At 28 inches wide and 13 feet long, the Prowler 13 may be a little narrower than other models but it remains very stable and can withstand rougher waters.
Thanks to its stability and narrower hull, it's more hydrodynamic and can be an excellent choice for ocean fishing. This also makes it more efficient and reliable, which means that you'll become less fatigued even if you're paddling over longer distances.
The Prowler 13 can be a superb choice if you're looking for a very versatile fishing kayak. Whether you want to go fishing in calm lakes and rivers or rough seas and bays, this kayak will be perfect for you. This is because it's designed to handle a wide range of conditions.
- Speed and Efficiency
- Good storage
- It only has holders for two rods
- The seat isn't great for longer trips
Hobie Mirage Outback (Best Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak)
As a manufacturer, Hobie has never been afraid of pushing the boundaries in water sports. Whether you're looking for a wonderful vessel for surfing, sailing, or kayaking, it's been the driving force behind huge technological advancement in the water sports world. The Hobie Mirage Outback is a sure proof of this.
As the best-selling Hobie for many years, the Mirage Outback offers a very stable hull design with the widest point being 86cm. Stability is, without a doubt, an important feature when choosing a good kayak. This is exactly why the Mirage Outback offers an incredible amount of width and length.
With the Hobie Mirage Outback, the risk of tipping over will be eliminated. Even if you want a yak that you can stand from, the Mirage Outback won't disappoint you. In addition to stability, the Mirage Outback is designed to offer the utmost comfort with a maximum capacity of about 425lbs.
If your priority lies more towards finding a yak that has a solid rock hull, the Mirage Outback is the best way to go.
- Stability and maneuverability
- Very comfortable and plenty standing room
- Plenty of storage space
- Propelling is a lot easier
- It's a little heavier
- It lacks in outfitting
- It's less maneuverable than shorter kayaks
Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak (Best Budget Option)
If you've been looking for a great fishing kayak that doesn't compromise on stability and reliability yet is mid-range priced, look no further than the Lifetime Sport Fisher. This is one of the best fishing kayaks that are priced below $1,000 and are designed to be functional, easy to use, and comfortable.
If you're looking to fish while standing without tipping over, the Sport Fisher's tunnel hull allows for that. As a sit-on-top model, this yak comes with two ergonomically comfortable seating with a soft backrest that you'll appreciate if you plan to fish for longer periods.
Weighing just about 60lbs, this 10-foot hard shell PVC yak is lightweight and easy to transport. For your fishing escapades, it has four fishing rod holders that are strategically placed to make your fishing more enjoyable. In terms of storage, you get a storage space that can hold up to 500lbs in weight.
This is a very affordable kayak that is perfect if you want a vessel that's long, stable, slim, and fast.
- It's very stable and fast
- It's very maneuverable
- Good value for money
- Plenty room for two people
- Huge storage space
- It's lightweight and easy to transport
- It doesn't come with a rudder
- The seats aren't cushioned
- Its lightweight design might not be perfect for choppy waters
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 (Best Pedal Kayak)
Wide and perfectly balanced, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 offers superior stability, tremendous comfort, and a great hands-free way to get fish and get around with minimal effort. It may be a new entry to the market but it's the little brother to the Pro 14, which remains a well-liked fishing kayak.
Whether you're planning to fish in fresh or saltwater, this is a neatly-fitting yak that has numerous fantastic features that will make your fishing adventures quite enjoyable. Its MirageDrive 180 pedal-system is almost akin to riding a very smooth bike. The pedals don't have a rotational arch. Instead, they're pushed straight forward to mimic a rotor while working well to propel the kayak forward.
If you've sat on a kayak long enough, you'll certainly appreciate the importance of a very comfortable seat. The yak's Vantage ST seat is very comfortable, adjustable, and has great lumbar support, which is just icing on the cake.
It doesn't matter whether you'll be fishing in a lake, stream, river, or ocean. The Pro Angler 12 is a truly great and gorgeous feat of engineering that will ensure that your hands are always free to do the most important thing: fishing.
- It has an excellent pedal power
- The seat is comfortable and adjustable
- It has a huge 500-pound storage capacity
- It has dedicated storage for six fishing rods
- Offers maximum stability
- It's quite heavy
Old Town Loon 126 (Best Sit-In Kayak)
With extra volume and width, the Old Town Loon 126 is one of the most stable fishing kayaks out there. It's designed with a sleek and forgiving hull and remains arguably the best sit-in fishing kayak out there. Thanks to its sharp keel line, this yak offers effortless paddling performance and straight tracking to ensure that you get the most out of your time on the water.
This yak's plush seat comes with intuitive adjustments, premium paddling, and under-leg support, as well as flow-through ventilation to ensure that you remain comfortable throughout the day. Old Town Loon 126 is designed with comfort-fishing in mind. From the generously padded seat to the incredible leg support, this is a super comfy sit-in kayak.
- It's super-comfy
- It is stable and super buoyant
- Paddles are very easy and straight
- Offers tons of storage
- Quite expensive
- Has a drain plug
- Less maneuverable
Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 10 (Best Kayak for the Ocean)
Fishing from the Slayer Propel 10 is so much fun. For a 10-foot-long and 34-inch-wide kayak, this is an extremely stable kayak for ocean fishing. This yak is so stable that it can perfectly withstand swells and choppy waters and even allow you to stand when angling. While its stability may come at the expense of speed, you'll not be worried about the risk of tipping over even when the ocean waves are so huge.
The Slayer Propel 10 has a great pedal-drive system that can help you easily attain speeds of 3.5 miles per hour. This kayak is very maneuverable thanks to its small size and a propeller-driven motor that can move the kayak both forward and reverse. It also has a keel at the stern and bow to ensure that it tracks well and on the right course thanks to its perfect rudder system.
If you've been looking for a small kayak that's lightweight, easy to transport, maneuverable, and stable even in narrow passages, the Slayer Propel 10 can be a great option. It's structured with intelligent design concepts such as the rudder and pedal system to make it an excellent option for fishing in the ocean.
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Has a superb rudder system
- Stable and very maneuverable
- Has a good storage capacity
- The seat is comfortable
- The rudder isn't big enough
- The tracking is abysmal
- Quite expensive
Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak (Best 2-Person Kayak)
Even though most fishing kayaks are designed for a single angler, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person takes things a notch higher. It's designed based on the idea that fishing in the company of a friend is quite enjoyable and sometimes the best thing to do. This yak is designed with high-quality materials to offer superb stability for two people.
While going for a smaller kayak might be the best way to go, especially if you're fishing on small and narrow waterways, you may sometimes choose to go with a large and more stable kayak for better performance, maneuverability, and if you want to experience what it feels like fishing on a kayak in the company of a friend.
It's also designed with high-quality materials that can withstand rough waters and even survive punctures. This kayak offers a comfortable fishing experience, has hands-free fishing features, and has plenty of space for two people and your long legs. Whether you want to go kayak fishing with your friend or pet, this yak will serve you right and ensure that you both remain comfortable even if you sit in the kayak for the entire day.
- It's very stable
- It's comfortable
- It's spacious
- Great for two people
- It's lightweight
- The sidewalls are bulky
- Doesn't include pump and paddle
Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Kayak (Best for Speed and Tracking)
For serious kayak fishing anglers, there are times when using a fast, stable, and versatile kayak is the only way to go. The Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 is designed not just to track straight in variable conditions but it's designed to be fast and effortlessly cover long distances on the water.
This boat is lightweight and is designed with two stadium-style seats that will make your fishing adventures comfortable. Measuring about 32-inches in width, this is an exceptionally stable kayak and is very buoyant.
Although many users have complained about its lack of storage space, you still find enough space to hold your paddles and fishing rods. This is a very versatile yak that can be used for both fishing and other recreational activities. This is a real fishing kayak for real anglers thanks to its loads of incredible features, tracking capabilities, and stability that serious anglers expect.
- Very durable
- It's fast and easy to maneuver
- Comfortable and spacious
- Offer plenty of storage space
- The rod holders are shallow and unsteady
- Doesn't have water seal hatch
Malibu Kayak Stealth 12 (Best for River Fishing)
If you've been keen on angling in a river, the Malibu Kayak Stealth 12 might be a great option for your river fishing escapades. You're probably looking for stability, maneuverability, storage, comfort, and many more. This kayak provides them all. With the Malibu Kayak Stealth, tipping over under normal river conditions is almost impossible. This means that you can fish when standing.
Even though it's not one of the fastest yaks, it has incredible maneuverability and is well-balanced to tackle even the most fearsome waters. It also has four-rod holders, adjustable footrests, and a tracking system to make sure that your fishing adventures are done in the utmost comfort.
- It's very stable and maneuverable
- It has ample storage
- It's versatile
- It's lightweight
- The balance is heavy in the stern
- The floor space is too cluttered
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler (Best for Small Water)
The Wilderness System Tarpon 100 Angler is an amazing little kayak that's perfect for angling in tight water spaces. It's very stable and tracks impeccably well for such a shorter boat. This is because it's very easy to paddle and control as it is very light thanks to its plastic build.
This is a very comfortable yak thanks to the adjustable seat that can offer the driest ride when kayak fishing. The kayak has a reasonable amount of padding, ventilation, and support to make it absolutely functional and reliable. This sit-on-top kayak has several incredible features and is the best way to go if you're planning to fish in tight water spaces.
- It is stable and maneuverable
- It has plenty of storage space
- It is lightweight
- It's comfortable
- It is slow
- It lacks enough foot room
About THE AUTHOR
From a young age I was introduced to fishing, hiking, camping, snowboarding and more through family, friends, and scouting. After 20 years of learning and participating in these outdoor activities, I share what i've learned (and continue learning) with you.Read more about Scott Kimball