10 Top-Rated Fishing Kayaks for 2020 Reviewed

Are you looking for a new fishing kayak? You came to the right place. We know that finding the right fishing gear is hard. That is why we took some time to review the long catalog of Yaks to find you a fine selection of suitable candidates.

Don’t worry; here you have a kayak for any kind of budget and need. So, let’s cut to the chase and see some of the best fishing kayaks in the market. 

Best Fishing Kayaks Comparison Table

 Length (feet)Width (inches)Weight (pounds)Carrying Capacity (pounds)Seats Style
Lifetime Tamarack Angler1031522751Sit-on-top
Vibe Kayak Sea 1301333755501Sit-on-top
Perception Pescador Pro 12 1232.5854751Sit-on-top
Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot1032412501Sit-inside
BKC UH-TK181 12-Foot1230684402Sit-on-top
Hobie Pro Angler 1212321005001Sit-on-top
Intex Explorer 2-Person1024374002Sit-on-top
Old Town Loon 1261231543251Sit-on-top
Intex Challenger93024.22201Sit-inside
Wilderness Systems Radar 1151234.5854501Sit-on-top

10 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviews

Lifetime Tamarack Angler

Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Tan, 120"
  • Constructed of uv-protected high-density...
  • Adjustable padded seat back and seat pad for...
  • Front and rear shock cord straps. Two 6" storage...

Let’s start with one of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks you can find in the market. The Lifetime tamarack has a high-density polyethylene construction with a UV protection coating. So, if you wish to purchase a long-lasting, affordable fishing kayak, the Lifetime tamarack is a serious candidate. 

Inside the Kayak

It comes with three-rod holders. Two of which are flush-mounted behind the seat. The third, an adjustable rod holder, sits on the right side of the deck. 

The fishing kayak features a single seat with an adjustable padded seat. It is not the most comfortable seat you will find but is not the worst either. 

Storage-wise, this sit-on-top fishing kayak features two crossing bungee cords at either end of the deck. Plus, you have two 6” storage hatches in the center and rear of the Yak. 

The deck floor has multiple footrest positions to accommodate anglers of all ages. And, like most of the sit-on-top fishing kayaks, this one features six holes that drain the water that gets inside the deck. 

Below the Kayak

The Lifetime tamarack has a flat hull to increase stability. You can even stand up and down whenever you please without worrying about falling off. 

Thanks to the sharp bow, this fishing kayak gets through the water with ease. The flat skeg in the rear helps to keep the fishing kayak in a straight line. 

Due to the flat hull, this is not the fastest fishing kayak. But it is remarkably quiet, meaning that you can get very close to your fishing spot without alerting the fishes. 

Key Features

  • Length: 10 feet.
  • Width: 31 inches.
  • Weight: 52 pounds.
  • Capacity: 275 pounds.
  • Sit-on-top.
  • Single seat.
  • 3x rod holder.
  • 2x 6” hatches and bungee cords.
  • Single double-edged paddle.
  • High-density polyethylene construction. 
  • Adjustable paddle back seat. 

Pros:

  • Plenty of rod holders.
  • Affordable. 
  • Durable. 

Cons:

  • Not the most comfortable seat. 
  • The hatches are rather small. 
  • Low carrying capacity. 

Vibe Kayak Sea Ghost 130

Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 13 Foot Angler Sit On Top Fishing Kayak (Blue Camo)...
  • KEY FEATURES | 1-person sit on top fishing kayak -...
  • MOUNT FOR ACCESSORIES | Includes 2 flush-mount rod...
  • OPTIMUM CONTROL | Pre-installed toe controlled...

Moving towards the pricey end we bring you the Vibe sit-on-top sea ghost 130 fishing kayak. It has a beautiful single-mold polyethylene construction that comes in 5 different colors. 

As we said before, this fishing kayak isn’t cheap. But all the features make the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 a worthy candidate of the best fishing kayak under $1000. 

Inside the Kayak

The first thing that you will notice when looking at this sit-on-top 1-person fishing kayak is the space. The deck has open cargo space in the read with bungee cords to secure anything you place there. It is big enough to fit a bag or tackle box. 

But that isn’t the only place to store your gear. You have three cargo hatches along the deck: One 20” hatch in the front, one adjustable console in the center, and one more rear compartment. The center console is a safe place to keep water-sensitive equipment at hand. It also features a universal fish finder stand and an in-built cup holder.

The Vibe sea ghost 130 has two flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat. You can quickly take your rod at any time as they are within reach.

You can choose between two positions with the fully adjustable seat this fishing kayak has. Plus, it is very comfortable, even after prolonged use. Additionally, you have an adjustable footrest and a toe-controlled rudder system for easy paddling. 

Below the Kayak

The Vibe sea ghost 130 has a flat beam that grants enough stability to stand up while casting. Plus, the sharp design of both the bow and stern make this fishing kayak capable of developing a decent speed. 

The adjustable rudder increases maneuverability and decreases the paddling time. 

Key Features

  • Length: 13 feet.
  • Width: 33 inches.
  • Weight: 75 pounds.
  • Capacity: 550 pounds.
  • Single seat.
  • Sit-on-top
  • 2x rod holder.
  • 3x cargo hatches.
  • Rear cargo area.
  • Single double-edged paddle.
  • High-density polyethylene construction. 
  • Fully adjustable seat. 
  • Toe-controlled rudder system. 

Pros:

  • It has a rudder.
  • Insane storage space. 
  • Amazing carrying capacity. 
  • Comfortable seat. 

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Heavy. 

If you like this fishing kayak, but you feel that it is too long, you should check the 11-feet version. 

Perception Pescador Pro 12

Perception Pescador Pro 12 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak with Adjustable Lawn Chair...
  • Your perfect first fishing kayak
  • Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat...
  • Seat can be lowered for relaxed paddling or raised...

The Perception Pescador Pro 12 is a 12 feet fishing kayak that has a single-mold high-density polyethylene construction. As the Lifetime tamarack, the Pescador Pro 12 is amazingly resistant to both abrasion and shock. 

If 12 feet is too long for you, there is a 10 feet version that you can purchase. It has the same construction and features, all for a few bucks less. 

Inside the Kayak

The deck layout looks like the last fishing kayak we reviewed. You will find a cargo area covered with a meshed fabric at the front. Similarly, the rear has another storage area. This time, it has crossing bungee cords instead of a meshed fabric. 

Like the Vibe Sea Ghost 130, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 has a center console. There you can store water sensitive gear such as phones. 

Towards the back, you have two flush-mounted rod holders. As happens with the other two fishing kayaks, these are easily within reach. There is plenty of free space for you to fix some extra adjustable rod holders if you happen to need them. 

The seat has two different positions: full recline and normal sitting position, which is very comfortable for paddling. Plus, the fabric is breathable, so it dries out extremely fast. 

Below the Kayak

Nothing special here; the kayak has a flat hull with sharp bow and stern. It does have a multi-chine bottom that enhances stability. The layout allows you to stand up and down without any hassle. 

Key Features

  • Length: 12 feet.
  • Width: 32.5 inches.
  • Weight: 85 pounds.
  • Capacity: 475 pounds.
  • Sit-on-top
  • Single seat.
  • 2x rod holder.
  • 1x cargo hatches.
  • 2x cargo areas.
  • Single double-edged paddle.
  • High-density polyethylene construction. 
  • Fully adjustable seat. 

Pros:

  • Durable construction.
  • Stable. 
  • Comfortable seats.
  • Decent carrying capacity.

Cons:

  • Heavier than the other kayaks we have reviewed thus far.
  • Even though it has a decent carrying capacity, the hatches are rather narrow.

Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-in Fishing Kayak (Sand, 10-Feet)
  • Great for lakes and rivers and to get to those...
  • Lightweight, easy to carry
  • Tracks and paddles with ease while offering...

Sun Dolphin has a wide variety of quality fishing kayaks raging from sit-on-top to sit-inside. In this opportunity, we bring you one of the company’s bestsellers: The Excursion sit-inside fishing kayak. 

Inside the Kayak

In contrast with the other fishing kayaks we have reviewed thus far, this one has a closed deck design. Sadly, this also means that getting in and out from the Yak will be a little bit difficult. Plus, standing to cast or reel the fish in is also out of the question. 

At the front of this sit-inside fishing kayak, you will have a cord rigged storage area. It isn’t too big. So, you might have a hard time finding something to fit there. At the backside, behind the seat, you have a larger dry storage area with a hatchet. 

You have two flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat. Plus, one adjustable holder in front of the cockpit. Sadly, there is not much room left to install more holders if you need them. 

Inside the cockpit, you have an adjustable padded back seat and footrest.

Below the Kayak

The hull is flat and grants enough stability to get in and out without a problem. Plus, the stern design allows the kayak to track well. This fishing kayak performs better in lakes and calm waters. 

Due to its size, you can easily take it to navigate through narrow creeks and side channels. 

Key Features

  • Length: 10 feet.
  • Width: 30 inches.
  • Weight: 41 pounds.
  • Capacity: 250 pounds.
  • Sit-inside.
  • Single-seat.
  • 3x rod holder.
  • 1x cargo hatches.
  • 1x cargo areas.
  • High-density polyethylene construction. 
  • Adjustable footrest.
  • Adjustable padded back.  

Pros:

  • Lightweight. 
  • Stable.
  • Perfect for beginners.
  • Good tracking. 

Cons:

  • It doesn’t come with a paddle. 
  • Lack of room.

BKC UH-TK181 12-foot 2-Person Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

BKC TK181 12' 8" Tandem 2 or 3 Person SIt On Top Kayak w/ Soft Padded Seats, 2...
  • THE PERFECT KAYAK FOR OUTDOOR FUN: Our Brooklyn...
  • FULLY LOADED ACCESSORIES: Our kayak comes equipped...
  • CRAFTED FOR STABILITY: Our Roto Molded single...

The Brooklyn Kayak Company brings a treat for those anglers who like to go fishing with a friend: The UH-TK181. Sure, the name sounds more like a weapon of mass destruction than a kayak. But, believe us, this is one of the best 2-person fishing kayaks in the market.  

Inside the Kayak

The open deck and short walls make you feel a little unprotected once you are inside. So, we don’t recommend using this yak on rough waters.

You have one watertight storage hatch in front of each paddler seat. They are not too big. But it is more than OK for your phone, wallet, keys, and some snacks. 

Towards the back, you will find a large cargo area with bungee cords to secure everything in place. Here, you can store most of your tackle with the exceptions of the rods. But don’t worry, this 2-person fishing kayak has 7 rod holders: 4 flush-mounted behind each seat and the rest are adjustable holders. 

The BKC UH-TK181 has two rests on either side of the kayak for the paddles. They are easy to use, which speeds up the rod/paddle switch. 

Each seat has a comfortable cushioning. Plus, the adjustable padded back and multiple footrests promise to accommodate anglers of all sizes. 

Below the Kayak

The sharp bow cuts the water with ease. And the wide, flat beam offers superior stability even if you choose to stand up. The UH-TK181 has excellent tracking thanks to the keel and wide skeg at the end of the stern. 

Key Features

  • Length: 12 feet.
  • Width: 30 inches.
  • Weight: 68 pounds.
  • Capacity: 440 pounds.
  • Sit-on-top.
  • 2x seats. 
  • 3x rod holder.
  • 1x cargo hatches.
  • 1x cargo areas.
  • High-density polyethylene construction. 
  • Adjustable padded back.  
  • 2x double-edged paddle.

Pros:

  • Lightweight. 
  • Decent carrying capacity. 
  • Easy to get in and out. 

Cons:

  • Expensive. 
  • Even though it has a decent carrying capacity, there is not enough room to put it. 

Hobie Pro Angler 12

As the name suggests, this bad boy is for the most demanding anglers. It has everything you need for your trip. Plus, it comes with an anchor trolley system if you wish to install one.

The Pro Angler 12 has a 12 feet high-density polyethylene frame with UV protection. And, all the metallic pieces are resistant to corrosion.

Inside the Kayak

The Pro Angler 12 doesn’t look like any of the other sit-on-top fishing kayaks we previously reviewed. First, you sit higher on this one. Thus, you can get up and sit down faster. 

The area where you stand has a non-slip EVA covering. Between them, you will find a rectangular hatch where you can store your lures or hooks. The pivoting system keeps everything organized and within hands reach.

You have a big hatch in the front. There you can keep fish, ice, drinks, or snacks. Towards the back, behind the seat, you have a large cargo area. It is big enough to store big bags, tackle boxes, or an extra cooler. But if that isn’t enough for you, there is an 8” hatch in the same area. 

You can have up to 6 lines in the water at the same time. Yes, it is a little too much. But as we said, this fishing kayak is for the most demanding adventurers. 

On either side of the seat, you will find two horizontal rod holders. So, you can take up to 10 different rods on your trip.  

In the middle section, you have the pedal system. It works by pushing each pedal back and forth. If you wish to go in reverse, you can do so by pulling the reverse handle.

Below the Kayak

The rounded stern yields sufficient stability and eases the kayak glide. The sharp bow cuts through the incoming water like a hot knife do with butter. The result: a moderate fast kayak with a jerk-less motion. 

Lastly, the hull has two rudders that help to keep the kayak straight.

Key Features

  • Length: 12 feet.
  • Width: 32 inches.
  • Weight: 100 pounds.
  • Capacity: 500 pounds.
  • Sit-on-top.
  • Single-seat. 
  • 6x rod holder.
  • 3x cargo hatches.
  • 1x cargo areas.
  • High-density polyethylene construction. 
  • Fully adjustable seat.  
  • Fishing kayak with pedals

Pros:

  • Comfortable seat
  • Pedal system. 
  • Large capacity.
  • Anti-slip EVA foam covering. 

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Extremely heavy. 
  • Not for beginners. 

Intex Explorer 2-Person Inflatable Kayak 

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and...
  • Comfortable for Anyone: Kayak Includes an...
  • Dimensions: Inflated Size 10 Feet 3 X 3 Feet X 1...
  • Directional Stability: Removable SKEG for...

Are you tired of expensive options? If so, you will be happy with us for bringing this kayak. The Intex Explorer is an inflatable kayak with two seats and a PVC construction. 

The Explorer 2-person inflatable kayak is more a recreational Yak than a fishing kayak. Still, with its price tag, space, and carrying capacity would a crime not to put it on our list.

Inside the Kayak

There is nothing too special about this fishing kayak. It has enough room to accommodate two adults. 

Like the kayak, the two seats are inflatable. They are comfortable and provide excellent support. Plus, you can adjust the padded back to your convenience. 

The kayak lacks storage hatches or cords. Still, there is enough room in the bow and stern for a small bag or tackle box. 

Another disadvantage that could be a deal-breaker is that there are neither paddle holders nor rod holders. So, you must be extremely careful not to drop either one in the water. 

Below the Kayak

Although it has a PVC construction, the round bottom grants enough stability. The downside is that you can’t fish from a standing position. 

To help with the tracking, the Intex team added a removable skeg. It has its limitations, and, since this is a 2-person fishing kayak, you must make sure that you and your partner are paddling at the same tempo. 

Key Features

  • Length: 10 feet.
  • Width: 24 inches.
  • Weight: 37 pounds.
  • Capacity: 400 pounds.
  • Sit-on-top.
  • 2x seats. 
  • PVC construction. 
  • Adjustable padded back. 
  • 2x double-edged paddle.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Decent capacity.
  • Portable. 

Cons:

  • No holders. 
  • No compartments.
  • Lack of room.

Old Town Loon 126 Angler Fishing Kayak

The Old Town Loon 126 has a three-layer polyethylene construction with superb durability. Plus, the cockpit is larger than other sit-inside fishing kayaks. Therefore, getting in and out of this kayak is not hard at all. You can even fish while you are standing up. 

Inside the Kayak

In terms of storage, you have two hatches: One at the front of the cockpit, which is removable. And another behind the seat. The detachable hatch is watertight and, if you pay a few extra bucks, you can get a USB charging port. Additionally, the cockpit has plenty of space to keep a small tackle box.

You also have bungee cords at either end of the kayak. You can use them to place gear that can get wet. 

The seat is notably comfortable, and the fabric dries out fairly quickly. And, like most high-end fishing kayaks, you can fully adjust it to your convenience. 

You have two in-built rod holders behind the seat. But if you wish, you can install another pair at either side of the cockpit.

Below the Kayak 

The Old Town Loon has a simple, yet efficient hull design. It features a wide bean to increase stability. But the front section is quite slim; thereby, increasing speed and maneuverability. 

The 12-feet long hull increases tracking and eases the paddling. As a result, you won’t have such a hard time keeping the kayak straight.

Key Features

  • Length: 12 feet.
  • Width: 31 inches.
  • Weight: 54 pounds.
  • Capacity: 325 pounds.
  • Sit-inside.
  • Single-seat. 
  • Three layers of polyethylene. 
  • Fully adjustable seat.
  • Anchor trolley.
  • Water drainage system. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable seat. 
  • Maneuverable. 
  • Wide cockpit.

Cons:

  • Pricey. 
  • It doesn’t come with a paddle

Intex Challenger 1-Person Inflatable Kayak

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and...
  • Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded...
  • Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized...
  • Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on...

If you like the Intex Explorer we reviewed before, but you like to go fishing solo, this one’s for you. It has a similar PVC puncture-resistant built with two separate sections. 

Inside the Kayak

In contrast with the Explorer, the Challenger does have a cargo net in the bow section. It won’t accommodate a large bag. But you can’t ask too much for a kayak that sits below the 100 bucks limit. 

The cockpit is wide, and it has a comfy seat with an adjustable padded back. 

Sadly, it does come with neither rod nor paddle holders. However, you can stick the latter inside the bow net to secure it. 

Below the Kayak

The displacement hull yields great stability. However, the Challenger is quite slow, and it is only suitable for calm waters. 

Like the previous kayak from Intex, this one has a removable skeg. It is useful to keep the Yak in a straight line. 

Key Features

  • Length: 9 feet.
  • Width: 30 inches.
  • Weight: 27.2 pounds.
  • Capacity: 220 pounds.
  • Sit-inside.
  • Single-seat. 
  • PVC construction
  • Padded adjustable back. 
  • Single double-edged paddle.

Pros:

  • Cheap.
  • Perfect for beginners. 

Cons:

  • It lacks room. 
  • Low carrying capacity.
  • It doesn’t come with any extras.

Wilderness Systems Radar 115

Wilderness Systems Radar 115 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak | Premium Angler Kayak |...
  • A bestselling tri-powered kayak with paddle, power...
  • Compatible with the Helix MD Motor Drive and Helix...
  • Offers a flat platform for standing and freedom of...

Lastly, we bring you this beautiful polyethylene sit-on-top fishing kayak. It is a perfect option for both beginners and seasoned anglers alike who are looking to make a long-lasting investment.

Inside the Kayak

The layout is quite similar to that found on the Vibe Sea Ghost we review earlier in this guide. It has an open design with plenty of space. You can even stand up and walk a few steps towards the bow. 

The Wilderness Systems Radar 115 features an adjustable footrest and seat. You can even move the seat up, and down thanks to the in-built rails. 

This kayak is trolling motor and pedal system-ready. Sadly, you have to purchase it separately, as neither come with your purchase.

You have two storage hatches: One in the center to keep any water-sensible gear, and another in the bow. Plus, you have a huge cargo area at the stern.

Unfortunately, this fishing kayak doesn’t come with a single rod holder. But, it has two rails on each side of the deck. You can purchase anything you need and install them there. 

Below the Kayak

The Wilderness Systems Radar 115 has what they called a S.M.A.R.T hull. It stands for stability, maneuverability, acceleration, responsiveness, and tracking. Thankfully, they were not lying about this, as paddling with this fishing kayak is remarkably easy. 

Key Features

  • Length: 12 feet.
  • Width: 34.5 inches.
  • Weight: 85 pounds.
  • Capacity: 450 pounds.
  • Single-seat.
  • Sit-on-top
  • 2x cargo hatches.
  • Rear cargo area.
  • Single double-edged paddle.
  • High-density polyethylene construction. 
  • Fully adjustable seat. 
  • Rail system for further upgrades.  

Pros:

  • Enough room to move. 
  • Comfortable seat. 

Cons:

  • It doesn’t come with rod holders or paddle.
  • Heavier than other kayaks in this price range. 

Our Picks

We know that choosing the right fishing kayak for you is a hard decision. So, to help you make up your mind, we choose two kayaks that, in our opinion, stand out from the rest.  

Best Fishing Kayak Under $500

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is hands down, the best fishing kayak in this price range. It comes with a lot of extras such as three holders for the rod and two hatches. This is more than what you get with the Sun Dolphin Excursion and Intex Explorer.

The carrying capacity is greater than that of the Sun Dolphin. Yes, the Index Explorer has a higher capacity. But remember that this is a 2-person kayak. So, you can easily deduct 200 pounds, at least. 

In conclusion, the Lifetime Tamarack is an ideal fishing kayak for those budget-conscious anglers. 

Best Fishing Kayak Under $1000

Our pick for this price range is the Perception Pescador Pro 12. It comes with a handful of extras such as rod holders, and two cargo areas. The carrying capacity is bigger than that of the Old Town Loon 126 fishing kayak, and one of the largest of this guide. 

The layout and performance are quite similar to the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 but at almost 300 dollars less. This means that you will have more money to buy extras and customize your new fishing kayak to your liking. 

The main drawback is its weight. The Pescador Pro 12 is among the heaviest fishing kayaks in this guide, which means that it isn’t as portable as others. 

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look When Buying a Fishing Kayak

Even though kayaks are among the cheapest types of craft in the market, you still want to get the best value for your money. In other words, you want to get the best fishing kayak for your money. But, as you might find a lot of options, over a wide range of prices, the first thing that you should do is to narrow the search down. 

So, how do you do it? Quite simple; you start to ask yourself some questions. Depending on the answers, you will rule out some candidates. The first and most logical question is: how much money am I willing to put down? This way you won’t waste precious time checking, and falling in love with that 1500 kayak that you can’t afford. Besides, expensive doesn’t always mean better. 

But enough of the lollygagging. It is time to dig deeper. 

The Kayak’s Anatomy

Before we start talking about technical details, let’s take some time to review some important features about kayaks. Many people tend to confuse kayaks with other types of crafts such as canoes. While they have similar parts, they look quite different. So, before any purchase, you should get acquainted with the kayak’s anatomy and how it affects performance. 

Deck

The first you will notice from a kayak is that they either have a closed deck with one or two openings. Or an open design with the seats sitting on the top. Inside each opening or cockpit, you will find a seat. Depending on the type of kayak, the cockpit size and shape could be different. 

Some kayaks have hatches and bungee cords along the deck, which you can use to put some equipment.  

Furthermore, most kayaks have carrying handles at either end. These come in handy when it’s time to take the kayak out of the water. 

Scupper Holes

Wait, this kayak has holes, and still floats? Don’t worry; these holes have a unique design to prevent the water from getting inside. Plus, they suck the water out when the kayak is moving. 

Hull

The hull is the bottom part of the kayak. Ideally, it will be the only part that will be in contact with the water. Therefore, its design has a tremendous impact on stability and speed. For instance, a more extensive hull offers a greater contact area. Thus, improve weight distribution and balance. However, such gains come with a speed penalty. 

Following that same idea, most kayaks have one of these two types of hull: displacement or planning hull. 

  • Displacement hull: This type of kayak has a ‘U’ shaped bottom. Therefore, they displace water in all directions and have a higher draft. As a result, boats with this type of hull won’t be able to develop as much speed as others. Additionally, displacement hull kayaks are less sensitive to movement, which means that you won’t be able to make those tight turns or close loops. 

Boats with this hull have a higher weight capacity, and the transition through the water is smoother. 

  • Planning hulls: These hulls have a straight line that runs along the entire length of the kayak. It divides the bottom into two sections. Each one has a concave design that pushes the water out, but it also grants more buoyancy. That’s the reason that boats with this type of hull can reach higher speeds and are more maneuverable.  

However, in contrast with displacement hull boats, this design has a lower weight capacity, and the navigation is not as smooth. Therefore, boats with planning hulls aren’t the best option for long trips. 

There is another type of hull that sits in between both types we mentioned before: The semi-planning. In this case, the keel also divides the bottom into two sections. However, the sides follow a straight line instead of being concave. 

As you might expect, this design splits the difference between the rounded shape of the displacement hull and the concave sides of the planning bottom. Boats with a semi-planning hull are fast and can carry a moderate amount of weight. Additionally, they have a smooth glide through the water. 

If you want to know about hull shape and how it affects performance, we invite you to watch this video. 

The Beam

It is the widest point of the kayak. The most important thing about this section is, of course, its size. Wider kayaks are more stable. But they tend to be slower than slim ones. 

Deck Hatches and Storage Cords 

As we said before, most kayaks have hatches along the deck. But you can also find crossing bungee cords. You can use both to store some gear. Keep in mind that the bungee cords don’t offer protection against water. 

In the case you are fishing with live bait, you can place it inside the deck hatches. It will keep the water inside, and keep the bait from getting out.

You can also find some compartments within the cockpit. Although small, these are a perfect place to keep essential gear like GPS or maps as they are within reach. 

One of the principal disadvantages of kayaks is the lack of space. That’s why we strongly suggest buying a kayak with rod holders. Or to purchase one separately and install it. This way, you can keep your pole close while taking almost no space in the deck. 

The keyword for kayak fishing is to take advantage of every inch; keep it in mind when buying! 

The Cockpit

Only sit-in kayaks have a cockpit, and it is the circular or oval opening that you find in the deck. Inside it, you will find the seat and pedal or rudder system if your kayak has one. 

The size and shape of the cockpit changes depending on the specific kayak you end up buying. For instance, recreational kayaks have a bigger opening that eases the getting in and out process. In contrast, whitewater kayaks have a circular and tighter opening. It also has a water-repellent adjustable skirt that keeps the water out. 

You might also find sit-on-top kayaks. These models don’t feature a cockpit, and the seat is above the deck. While these are easier to use and allow you to stand up while casting or reeling the fish, they lack the stability and maneuverability of sit-in kayaks. 

Rudder

A rudder is a piece of plastic that looks a lot like a dorsal fin. It helps you to change the direction of the kayak to keep you paddling straight.  

Not all kayaks come with a pre-installed rudder. But the ones that do are often easier to control than those that don’t have one. Although, if you happen to buy one without a rudder, you can purchase one separately and install it on your yak. 

Some high-end kayaks feature a skeg. It looks like a rudder. But with the added feature that you can control how much of the fin gets out from the kayak. 

Types of Kayaks

All kayaks have the same basic shape. However, depending on the specific type, some are longer or wider than others. So, which kayak is the best for fishing? To answer that question, we will take some lines to summarize the different kinds of fishing kayaks that you commonly find in the market.

Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks

Let’s start with the version that looks more like a canoe than a kayak. 

These kayaks have an open or semi-open deck, which means that it will take you less time to switch between the rod and the paddle. Plus, everything is within reach.

The main advantage of sit-on-top kayaks is the extra space. You can stretch your legs, get in and out in no time, stand up, and cast your rod easily. However, they are a little bit more unstable than the other kayaks. And it is more likely to get soaked in water in a sit-on-top fishing kayak.

Many anglers believe that sit-on-top yaks are among the best kayaks for fishing, especially for beginners. 

Inflatable Fishing Kayaks

We don’t fancy this type of kayak. They are a suitable option if you don’t fish too often. 

Still, they have their advantages. For example, they are remarkably light and portable. There are even 2-person inflatable kayaks in the market that you can easily carry on your own. 

Sadly, for us, the downsides outweigh the pros of inflatable fishing kayaks. First, they have a lesser carrying capacity. They aren’t too stable when you are getting in or out of the Yak. Lastly, they are not as durable as hard kayaks. 

That’s why we only recommend buying an inflatable fishing kayak when the budget compels you. Or if you aren’t a regular angler. 

Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks

As the name suggests, this type of kayak has a cockpit with a seat where you can sit. Most of the kayaks you can find in the market are of this type.  

In contrast with sit-on-top fishing kayaks, the sit-inside has a closed deck, which means less space for you to move. Plus, it is harder to get in and out of the Yak. And it is unlikely that you can stand up to cast the rod. As you can see, the lack of space makes fishing a little bit harder. 

But not everything is bad news. Sit-inside fishing kayaks sit closer to the water. Therefore, they are more stable. Plus, you can go faster since the kayak poses less resistance. 

Additionally, the part of your body that is inside the kayak has protection against the element. And, thanks to the same reason, sit-inside kayaks have superior maneuverability.  

What Makes a Fishing Kayak Perfect? 

Now that we know the basic anatomy of most kayaks, and learn about the different types of fishing kayaks you can find in the market, it is time to see how the built affects performance. 

Length

The first thing that you will notice when looking at a kayak is its length. This feature has a close relationship with the kayak speed. Longer kayaks can reach insane speeds. That is why all racing, and most touring kayaks are longer than the average. 

But what you gain in speed, you lose in maneuverability. As a rule of thumb, you should go for longer kayaks when space is not a problem. Alternatively, short kayaks are more suitable for narrow rivers, and when you have to engage long hikes to reach the fishing spot. 

Width

The width has a tremendous impact on kayak stability and speed. For instance, kayaks with longer beans are more stable. However, this comes with a speed penalty. 

Typically, racing and touring kayaks are slimmer than their whitewater or recreational counterparts. The reason is simple, racing and touring kayaks sacrifice stability in favor of speed. 

Stability

The most important feature to have in mind when buying a fishing kayak is stability. Sadly, there is no way of telling, for sure, how stable a kayak is without testing it on the water. Still, you can estimate how stable it is by looking to its length, width, and type of hull. 

As we discussed earlier, wider kayaks are more stable. Similarly, round bottoms increase kayak stability even further. However, this doesn’t mean that you should always look for these features. It depends on your particular needs. For example, as kayaks with a rounded hull have more primary stability, they are ideal for fishing in calm lakes and rivers. 

In contrast, kayaks with a ‘V’ shaped hull have more secondary stability, which means that they are ideal for rough waters. 

You might be thinking, what in heavens is primary and secondary stability? The first indicates how stable the kayak while it sits on the water, while the latter refers to the steadiness when the kayak leans to one side. 

So, which one is better for fishing: primary or secondary stability? It all depends on where and what you are fishing. Typically, we suggest going for the kayak with the best secondary stability possible and moderate primary stability. The reason is that as you battle with the fish, the kayak is quite likely to tilt. Therefore, a boat with more secondary stability is less prone to turn upside down. 

Tracking

The tracking is the kayak’s ability to keep a straight course as you paddle. Typically, longer kayaks can easily follow a straight line. Thus, they are perfect for long trips through spacious water. 

Ease of Control 

While long kayaks have exceptional tracking, short ones have superior maneuverability. Therefore, if you are looking to navigate through narrow side channels or rapid rivers, you should go for a kayak with a short deck. 

As you can see, the more maneuverable the kayak is, the less tracking it has. So, you must carefully pick the length of the Yak, as it is the only way to choose the right control/tracking relation for you.

Carrying Capacity 

First of all, kayaks are among the boats with the lowest carrying capacity of the market. Therefore, if you are thinking about fishing with other friends in the same boat and bringing a lot of gear, a kayak is not for you. 

Yea, sure, you can find 2-person kayaks in the market. Still, you can’t take too much gear with you. That is the reason why we prefer a Yak for solo fishing. 

Carrying capacity is another major feature to look at when buying a new fishing kayak. It should be enough to transport you, the tackle, and, of course, your trophy fish. However, the chances are that, given the lack of space we mentioned before, you won’t come near to the limit. 

So, you might think that the safest and smartest thing to do is to purchase a fishing kayak with the largest capacity, right? Wrong! The carrying capacity depends on the dimensions of the Yak, and, of course, the hull. Naturally, bigger kayaks can handle more weight. So, make sure to re-check the length, width, and hull sections of this guide. 

Portability 

As with every piece of equipment in your fishing arsenal, portability is a crucial feature. And, fishing kayaks are not an exception. 

Larger kayaks can carry more weight, are typically more stable, but they aren’t as portable as their smaller counterparts. Therefore, choosing the right size is not just a matter of stability, speed, and carrying capacity. It is a question of portability. 

Our recommendation is simple. If you are going to transport your Yak in a car, and then carry it a few steps to the water, portability is not your principal concern. You will be ok with any fishing kayak that fits inside your trunk. Or on the roof of your car. But if you are going to engage in long walks to get to your fishing spot, you are better off with a smaller and lighter kayak.

The most portable Yaks you can find in the market are inflatable. However, these kayaks are not the best in terms of durability. That is why we only recommend inflatable fishing kayaks if you are not a big game angler. 

Propulsion

All kayaks have a paddle with a blade on either side to push your way through the water. It is quite hard to learn the technique at first, which is the main drawback of this kind of system. But once you do, it is like riding a bicycle you will never forget it. 

Fishing kayaks with a paddle propulsion system are typically less expensive than other means of propulsion. Additionally, they require less maintenance as they lack moving parts.

You can also find some fishing kayak with pedals in the market. These are easier to use than a paddle. Being able to move the Yak while keeping your hands on the rod is the main advantage of this type of Yak. Plus, the legs have most of the strongest muscles in all the body. Thus, you are more likely to pedal longer and farther without getting tired. 

But the most notable advantage of pedal propulsion is the stealth approach you can achieve with them. Therefore, if you are targeting fishes that get spooked easily, you should go for a fishing kayak with a pedal propulsion system.

There are two types of pedal mechanism. One that looks and works just like a bicycle. And another that works by alternatively pushing each pedal. In our case, we like the first kind over the latter. It is more intuitive and has faster movement. 

You can also install a trolling engine, so you don’t have to pedal or paddle at all. Beware that such systems are expensive and add significant weight. 

Materials

Plastic such as polyethylene, Kevlar, and fiber are the most common materials found in fishing kayaks. But sometimes you can even find wood Yaks in the market. These are significantly more expensive than the others. 

Extras

The most specialized fishing kayaks have some useful extras that will make your fishing a lot easier. But, as you might expect, more extras mean that you must put down more money. 

Don’t despair; you can separately purchase most of these add-ons and install them in your kayak later on. Let’s review some of these must-haves when kayak fishing. 

Rod Holders

A rod holder is the most useful extra any fishing kayak should have. You can quickly place the rod and wait for a bite. Alternatively, you can leave the rod in the holder and move the Yak if you wish to do some trolling. 

If your fishing kayak doesn’t come with a rod holder, you should purchase one. You can place it on either side of the seat. This way, the rod will be within reach. 

Many people ask us how many rod holders are too much? In our opinion, more than four rod holders are too much. You are building or purchasing a fishing kayak, not a rod stand. Besides, the chances are that you won’t be using them all. 

Anchor

An anchor is especially useful if you are fishing in moving waters. It will help to keep the fishing kayak in place, so you don’t have to worry about getting far away from your spot. 

Water-Proof Compartments 

Most fishing kayaks already come with a 100-perfect water-proof compartment. So, there is no good reason not to purchase a Yak with one, especially if you travel with your phone. 

Gear Organizers

The last thing you have in a fishing kayak is space. So, it is crucial to keep everything as organized as possible. Therefore, it is a great idea to purchase some bungee cords or bags where you can put some gear. Then, fix it directly into the deck. 

Paddle Holders

As rod holders are a must-have, a paddle holder is not different. Thankfully, most fishing kayaks already come with an in-built paddle holder at one side of the seat.

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About me

Hi! I'm Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started luremefish.com to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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