Whether you’re preparing for the new fishing season or you’re in the process of swapping out your current fishing kayak for a shiny new one, you’ve found yourself in the right place!
Fishing on a kayak is increasingly becoming a more and more popular pastime for anglers everywhere. Not only does it allow you to get to the very best fishing spots that a larger boat couldn’t, but it also means that you’re no longer restricted to having to fish from the shorelines.
The best kayaks for fishing will offer superior stability, exceptional maneuverability, and have plenty of storage, allowing you to feel confident, comfortable, and have the best fishing experience possible.
If you’re wondering what fishing kayak will be the best one for you, don’t stress it. In this article, we’ve spent some time selecting some of the very best fishing kayaks available to purchase today. Ready to take your love for fishing to the next level? Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about river kayaking, as well as finding the perfect one for you from our top pick selection:
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best Fishing Kayak - Comparison Table
Buy on Amazon
Best Fishing Kayak - Reviews
The first kayak we’ve shortlisted is the Intex K2 Explorer Kayak.
Ideal for everyone, this kayak has been made with comfort in mind and features two cushiony seats with an adjustable backrest, as well as a roomy cockpit for plenty of space.
It is made of heavy-duty 30-gauge vinyl over a 1200 denier nylon shell with an inflatable floor. It is labeled as being puncture-resistant and has been made to meet the highest performance standards, as well as boasting maximum durability.
Additionally, compared to other two-person kayaks, this particular one from Intex is very lightweight at just 31 lbs, which we’re sure will be appreciated when it’s time to transport it! This kayak also features two carry handles that are rigid, durable, and made of lightweight vinyl material.
The Explorer K2 can hold the weight of 2 adults without affecting its performance; however, the kayak has a maximum carrying a weight of 350 lbs which is enough for an adult and a child, as well as any fishing and safety gear you plan on bringing along for the adventure.
Thanks to the open cockpit, this kayak is made for two people, so you’ll find two inflatable seats in the design of this kayak, with both being very comfortable with a higher back-rest. The adjustable seats are removable, and you can attach them to the kayak with the Velcro pads at the bottom of the boat (how clever is that?). Additionally, they are featured with strong and well-made buckles on the sides which are able to provide you great support to lean back comfortably on the backrest.
Made with your safety in mind, the Intex K2 Explorer Kayak is featured with three separate chambers: one on the bottom, and one on each side of the kayak. This means that if something were to go wrong and one of the air chambers got punctured, the other two air chambers can get you safely to shore.
The Explorer K2 is built with a flat hull that is for recreational kayaking, and with the high nose and tail of this board, its sporty design, and sharp details, you can absolutely use this kayak for fishing on lakes, rivers or in open waters! This kayak is easy to manoeuver and control (especially when the featured skeg is in place) as it dramatically improves speed and tracking especially if you are paddling in a straight line. You’ll find a removable skeg along with the kayak, and you can easily attach it via the slide-in box underneath the boat.
Next up is the Sevylor Unisex Adventure Kayak, which is a great choice if you’re looking to go fishing with a group, or you’d like extra storage space onboard. This inflatable, 3 people canoe-like kayak is extremely rigid and delivers a stable and smooth kayaking experience, regardless of the weather conditions.
Ideal for fishing, this kayak features high side walls in order to guarantee maximum protection against the ever changing water conditions while out on the river, lake, or sea. The adjustable seats will allow you to quickly transform your boat into a two or three-person vessel at a moment’s notice, or you can use it solo and use the extra cockpit space for storage. As a side note, when this inflatable sit-on-top kayak is set up for three people, it’s meant for two adults and one child (not three adults) as it can hold a maximum weight to 200 kg.
Made to last, this compact Canadian canoe- style kayak comes with a durable polyester hull, two PVC side chambers, floor chamber with i-beam construction for high stability and safety out on the water - it’s great quality for money!
Similar to many other popular inflatable kayaks, the Adventure Plus comes with Boston valves for easy deflation and inflation, as well as a manometer for pressure control. This compact canoe also comes with an impressively robust polyester hull and a floor chamber with sturdy I-beam construction. If you’re looking for a craft that will keep you comfortable while you’re fishing or exploring, this could truly be the kayak for you.
The Intex Excursion Pro is another inflatable kayak that has made our shortlist. For starters, it is designed to provide incredible comfort. This kayak will be able to support your body and provide optimal comfort. What’s more, you won’t be stuck in a single position like you would have with the normal kayaks - so you don’t need to worry about your legs becoming numb, or your back starting to ache - it’s very comfortable.
For starters, the Intex Excursion Pro is great for a long day fishing because as it is inflatable, it is cushioned and padded This means you will be very comfortable since you will not be seated on a hard surface. Secondly, this boat comes with two adjustable seats that have an adjustable backrest. These seats should also be inflated, so you can only imagine the level of cushioning they will provide to your back. However, if you do plan on using it solo, you could leave one seat deflated to have more space to hold your fishing gear.
As well as this, the kayak also comes with one removable seat booster that helps in increasing comfort, as well as raising the seat. These two seats are fitted with buckles that lock the backrests in place, so you won’t experience any rocking, instability, or moving.
Additionally, besides the adjustable seats, the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak also comes with two adjustable footrests. We think that these footrests will come in handy and improve your comfort levels. You just have to fix them in the right position, and your legs won’t become numb.
This kayak is made from high strength 30 gauge vinyl material that has been laminated with a polyester core. This construction allows this inflatable kayak to serve you for years without being affected by general knocks and bumps. This material can also withstand exposure to saltwater, oil, sunlight, gas and abrasion. For this reason, the performance of the Intex Professional Excursion kayak is incredible! Moreover, you don’t have to worry about tipping over because the vessel is wide and stable enough to withstand different water conditions, as well as you moving around if you get a catch. It will take more than 400 lbs to destabilize or sink this kayak.
The kayak also comes with 2 skegs that contribute a lot in terms of maneuverability and tracking. One of the skegs is shorter, thus making it ideal for shallow waters. With these skegs, you will be able to steer your boat and change the direction quite easily which is super ideal for fishing.
If you’re on the lookout for a kayak that you can count on, we think that you’ll love the Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak! This Kayak from Tamarack is a highly affordable and straightforward kayak that can easily be upgraded with additional accessories if so desired. For this reason, it’s a great fishing kayak for anglers of all levels.
Looking for a kayak that does the job without all the bells and whistles of competing kayaks? This might be the kayak for you. Although the Tamarack is a more simple design, it has all the most important features a fishing kayak needs to be effective and enjoyable on the water.
To make sure you can easily bring along all of your fishing gear and then some, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-on-Top Kayak features two six-inch storage compartments on the front and rear of the deck that can be used to keep fishing gear (or a life vest) that you would like to be out of the way. The addition of shock cord straps on the bow and stern of this kayak adds to the Tamarack’s storage capacity and will allow you to effortlessly fasten gear you’d like in the cockpit with you, such as a rod, bait or GPS finder.
Two flush mount rod holders located behind the seats allow you to bring a few rods out, and a third adjustable rod holder inside the cockpit is perfect for actively fishing bait. Multiple footrest positions ensure the cockpit can comfortably accommodate any size angler. Deep hull tracking channels run the length of the flat bottomed hull, so this boat is pretty darn stable while paddling or fishing in rougher waters.
At ten feet long, the Tamarack is a great intermediate length that provides plenty of deck space without becoming too cumbersome to transport or maneuver. Weighing in at 52 pounds, this boat will also be relatively easy to transport on your own. Plus, though Lifetime offers a five-year limited warranty on this kayak, we doubt you’ll need it due to its rugged design. With a rugged construction, stable design and all the important features you need in a fishing kayak without having to pay for anything extra – this kayak is a fantastic choice!
If you like the sound of a Sit-on-Top kayak, we think that you might love the Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak! For starters, it is made up of a high volume of Polyethylene which is known for being extremely long-lasting and durable. Thanks to this, this kayak is strong, durable and can quite easily withstand general wear and tear, as well as being resistant to seawater and corrosive substances like gasoline. It is also UV-protected, so this kayak can withstand the effects of UVA/UVB exposure.
Made with your convenience in mind, this kayak has front, rear, and side carrying handles in order to make transportation as easy as possible (you could quite easily transport this kayak by yourself without feeling weighed down). Additionally, this kayak features molded-in freedom footwells will ensure that your legs don’t go numb, while secure foot bracing will help you to feel safe and secure before beginning to paddle the kayak.
Alongside this, this kayak is also very user friendly with plenty of standout features. It is generally made for fishers who are focused on purchasing a kayak that offers stability and consistent performance that they can count on. As for the storage, you’ll be spoilt for choice! This kayak features a tank well with cargo net storage (which is ideal for keeping bait and other gear you'd like within arms reach) while storage beneath the kayak deck is great for keeping additional items such as food, a life vest, and water to drink.
Plus, to keep the inner area of the kayak dry, there is a special feature of holes which are commonly referred to as scupper plugs in the cockpit and tank well which will drain water as it enters to keep you dry and the kayak from sinking.
Another superb sit inside kayak option for you to consider is the Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak. Perfect for both new paddlers and kayaking oldtimers alike, the Perception Flash 9.5 delivers a fantastic performance that you can count on.
It features a stable hull and true tracking which will ensure that you stay on the straight and narrow without drifting off-course (especially when out on open waters such as the sea) without compromising on quick and fuss-free maneuverability. Not only that, thanks to the included smooth aluminum shaft kayak paddle, but you’ll also be able to accelerate and navigate through the water with ease, while the addition of a rear drain plug will allow for easy cleaning and draining.
To ensure you stay comfortable out on the water (especially if you’re spending the day fishing) this kayak features an exceptionally roomy cockpit that makes it easy to get in and out of the kayak. For this reason, if you’re a fisher that likes to hop in and out of your kayak to wade fish, but you’d prefer more protection than a sit-on-top kayak, this is a great choice for you.
The soft, padded seating of this kayak ensures that you won’t experience any aches or numbness, while the adjustable backrest allows you to tailor the position to suit you so that you always feel optimally supported. As well as this, for additional comfort, this kayak from Perception also features thigh and knee pads, while an adjustable foot brace system will help you to maintain the proper paddling posture for more efficient strokes.
One of our favorite features of this kayak is its molded-in dashboard. It is ideal for organizing all of your fishing lures, snacks and other small necessities into one safe and secure place, while the stern well is able to support a small cooler.
If you’d prefer a kayak that is both suitable for fishing and able to boast great speed, the Expression 11.5 provides the best of both worlds!
Combining the forgiving handling and stability you’d expect from a touring kayak with the speed and width of an adventure kayak, the Perception Expression Sit-Inside Kayak is a versatile choice that offers all of the features needed for fishing.
It features an easy-entry cockpit which is great for those moments when you find yourself in shallow waters and fancy trying out some wade fishing, while its adjustable premium seat features extra comfy and cushiony padding that will encourage you to sit in the most ergonomic position so that you don’t experience any aches or pains. As well as this, its tilt-adjust seat bottom will also be able to support your thighs to stop you from experiencing any numbness.
Promoting maximum safety, the Perception Expression 11.5 features a leak-proof design with built-in buoyancy to make sure you always stay afloat, while the addition of a TruTrak skeg with cockpit control will help you to stay on course in every changing currents and strong winds.
Its wide, flat bottom offers fantastic stability for beginners and will give you the freedom to stand up while fishing, while its sharp sides will allow for easy maneuvering from side to side - which we’re sure will come in handy when you’re trying to squeeze into a snug fishing spot! There’s also plenty of storage space including rear storage with a sealed cover (which is great for storing valuables that you don’t want to get wet, as well as gear that you don’t want up on deck with you) with the option to add bungee cords.
Plus, just like other Perception Kayaks, the Expression features high-density polyethylene, roto-molded construction that enables fantastic resistance against the effects of UV exposure, abrasion from ocean and saltwater and general knocks and bumps.
If you’re planning on fishing on lakes and rivers exclusively, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2 Person Fishing Kayak is a great option for you to consider.
There’s plenty to love about this fishing kayak. Ideal for fishing with a buddy or going solo and having room to bring along extra fishing gear, the Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak is made of 18-gauge PVC with a thick tarpaulin bottom, as well as a tough nylon cover. Its rugged design means that it will serve you for plenty of years without any issues! If anything should happen, this clever kayak from Sevylor features multiple air chambers integrated within the design that will be able to get you back to shore safely and without any issues if you do happen to experience a puncture.
Its adjustable seats will ensure that you stay nice and comfortable thanks to their padded design, while its roomy cockpit area will ensure that you can stretch your legs out and avoid any numbness - especially if you like to spend the day out on the lake!
If you’re interested in adding extras to your kayak and upgrading it, you’ll be pleased to hear that this kayak is compatible with motor trollers! This means that you’ll be able to easily move through the water with ease if you feel like taking a break from paddling, while the addition of convenient holders will allow you to easily set down your paddles securely without fear of them going overboard.
Speaking of convenience, the Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders will allow you to adjust your pole angle (of your rod) for the ultimate fishing experience, while the addition of mesh pockets and attached D-rings will allow you to keep all of your fishing gear nice and safe.
Best Fishing Kayak - Buyers Guide
Fishing Kayak Features to Consider:
Before deciding to part ways with your hard-earned dollars, it’s super important to first consider a few different features before settling on the one that you feel is the best for you. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best fishing kayak:
To begin, we’re going to be kicking this section off with the construction quality. When it comes to fishing kayaks, in particular, they tend to be made by employing a process that is known as ‘roto-molding’ which involves plastic pellets and a large two-piece mold. The pellets are melted and the mold is blended at different angles so that the liquid pellets are able to carefully coat the interior of the mold. By doing so, it results in a one-piece kayak that is very strong and less prone to any leaking when exposed to the water.
On the other hand, some of the lower quality fishing kayaks are sometimes made by just combining two halves of the hull and then sealing the same to join the kayak together and create a single unit. Though this method usually means more affordable kayaks, unfortunately, one of the most common issues seen within these types of kayaks is that there is usually leaking at the seam. However, if you are on a budget, it’s worth noting that most leaks begin to appear after a few years, so you can get good use out of these types, too.
The stability of a fishing kayak is so important and is, in our opinion, a priority.
Though fishing kayaks do tend to sacrifice speed and agility for more carrying capacity and maximum stability, we don’t see this as being an issue. Due to the nature of fishing and how leisurely it is, it’s not likely that you’re going to need to paddle at an overly fast pace. Rather, when it comes to fishing on a kayak, you’re going to want to make sure that your kayak is wide enough to offer complete stability.
Generally speaking, a fishing kayak design features two modes of stability: the primary stability and the secondary stability - with both working together to offer the maximum amount of stability possible. The primary stability is the ‘overall’ feel of the kayak. So, when you sit down in your kayak, you shouldn’t at any point get the feeling of unsteadiness, or as though the kayak may capsize at any minute. When selecting a fishing kayak, a good indicator of overall stability is a kayak with sharp edges.
On the other hand, secondary stability is a little different from the primary stability. It is where the kayak is able to tilt either side before it flips over. When it comes to picking a kayak, we suggest choosing a kayak with a round edge because they don’t flip over so easily.
This is another feature to consider when hunting for the best fishing kayak. At the very least, your kayak should offer a few storage compartments built-in to the kayak, as well as additional cords that can be used to tie pieces of equipment down that you’d like to have on top with you, such as a rod or bait.
Admittedly, this isn’t a necessity by any means. In fact, plenty of anglers never bother to upgrade their kayak with additional extras because it already has everything they need! However, most kayaks can be easily upgraded with additional bits and bobs.
For instance, if your kayak happens to have rail storage, you could quite easily attach a GoPro, fish finder or GPS (or just about anything else you might need) so that they’ll always be within arms reach without the worry of them accidentally falling into the water.
Additionally, if you’re the type of person that likes to spend a good amount of time out on the water fishing, you might like the idea of being able to take a break from paddling. For this reason, most kayaks support the addition of a sail, while some kayaks can even support a trolling motor!
If you like the sound of giving your arms a helping hand and powering your kayak with the help of a sail, you should know that there are several types to choose from. First off, the best kind for a kayak is going to be smaller sails which resemble little parachutes (cute, right?) they get attached to the front of the kayak and help to power you along the lake, giving you the opportunity to kick back and take in the surroundings or add some bait to your rod - the choice is yours!
Another handy addition that lots of fishers like to put on their kayak is insect-repelling LED lights. They’re usually pretty affordable and can make your fishing experience a whole lot more enjoyable, as well as making your more visible,
Your safety is paramount. So, when it comes to picking the right kayak for you, it’s of the utmost importance that you familiarize yourself with the weight limit specified by the manufacturer. After making yourself aware of the weight capacity limit, we recommend calculating your weight, your partner’s weight (if you’re using a two-seater), and the weight of all of your fishing gear.
We also recommend working out the weight of any extras that you may overlook such as snacks, a life vest, and extra clothes. These all weigh up and you want to make sure that the combined weight of everything falls below the maximum weight limit.
Ease of Maneuverability
As you’re going to be fishing, you’re going to want to make sure that your kayak is as easy to move and navigate as possible - especially when you’re trying to get into those narrower fishing spots.
Generally speaking, a longer kayak is usually a lot more efficient through the water and is able to ‘cut’ through it - making these types easy to accelerate in. On the other hand, shorter kayaks can maneuver and turn a lot better than longer types, particularly side to side. We also recommend considering the keel of the kayak. When it comes to turning, a rounded keel is your best bet, especially for fishing. However, if you plan on fishing in waters that have a faster current, you might want to consider checking out a more pronounced rounded keel.
The Most Common Types of Fishing Kayaks:
When it comes to choosing the right kayak for fishing, you have more than one option! In general, there are two basic types of kayaks that you will come across: a SOT (sit-on-top) kayak and a SIK (sit-in-kayak). Here are the differences between the two:
When it comes to this type of kayak, the paddler will sit on top of the kayak (rather than inside it). For this reason, legs and feet will be exposed (which makes them more likely to get splashed) and they are a popular choice for many fishers because they are so easy to get in and out of.
Though this type of kayak is a popular choice for all types of kayakers (including recreational) they have a molded depression on top, seal hull and are easy to get in and out of which is ideal for fishing because you could easily jump out and wade fish in shallower waters. The open-top design is also great for ensuring easy access to your fishing tackle, as well as any other equipment that you have.
Plus, to ensure stability, SOT kayaks are usually very wide which makes them ideal for fishing. If you stand up to reel a catch in, move around a lot or you just like to feel safe, you’ll love the stability that SOT kayaks offer.
The only downside to these types of kayaks is that they are usually a little slower than other types. However, as you’re going to be fishing and stationed in one spot for long periods of time, we don’t think that the speed will be too much of an issue.
- Spacious design won’t leave you feeling confined
- These kayaks are very easy to get in and out of, making them a great choice suited to fisherman who like to hop out of their kayaks and wade fish
- Their wide design offers fantastic stability that will allow you to stand up if you wish
- You’ll easily be able to grab your fishing gear a lot more easily as compared to sit-inside-kayaks
- You are more prone to getting wet and splashed by the water, especially if you’re in the sea where you’re more likely to encounter waves!
- These types of kayaks tend to travel a little slower, which some fishermen may not like
On the other hand, a sit-inside-kayak means that the paddler will be enclosed within the kayak, and is another choice of some fishers.
Sit-in-kayaks feature a cockpit and a seat (s) which is designed to be enclosed carefully within the kayak. For this reason, the lower body is concealed from water exposure so you are more likely to stay dry.
Though fishermen usually tend to opt for a sit-on-top kayak, a sit-inside-kayak does offer its own individual benefits. If you like to fish in the sea, a SIK is great at offering stability while protecting you from the spray of waves. The lower center of gravity design (as your body is lowered into the kayak) means that turning and maneuvering feel more steady, with your body weight moving against the kayak in order to direct more pressure into your paddling strokes for enhanced power.
Additionally, though SIKs are a little more tricky to get in and out of (especially if you’re the type that likes to hop out into the water and do some wade fishing) they are very stable and offer more protection against the elements that SOT kayaks.
- Your fishing gear and valuables will stay better protected
- Very stable in adverse weather conditions
- Suitable for surfing waves
- They are a great choice for both beginners and experts alike
- Sit-inside-kayaks usually tend to be quicker and more agile than sit-on-top kayaks due to their more agile and sharp design, so they’re a great choice for fisherman who want a kayak they can easily accererate
- They are a little trickier to get in and out of compared to sit-on-top kayaks, which may be an issue for fisherman that like to frequently hop out of the hayak to participate in wade fishing
- Due to the design, it can be a little tricky to reach for fishing gear stored below the deck
- This style of kayak can be a little tricky to stand up in and you may find yourself potentially overheating on hotter days
Pedal and Inflatable Kayaks:
Pedal kayaks and inflatable kayaks are other options available to you. Pedal kayaks are a great choice for fishing because they are better able to free up your hands. They allow you to easily accelerate using your legs, which means you have time to grab a snack or load up some bait.
Many fishers love to opt for a peddling kayak because it means they can spend longer out on the water without overexerting their arms and getting too tired. What’s more, a paddling kayak is also very easy to use - making it a great choice for fishing kayakers of all levels! All you have to do is use your legs to propel your kayak through the water.
Another popular kayak choice for fishers are inflatable kayaks! This is because they are easy to transport and store, as well as being extremely comfortable and cushioned - which is great for fishers who spend long amounts of time out on the water.
5 Basic Kayak Fishing Tips That Beginners Should Know:
Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about fishing kayaks (including the different types available to you, all of the important criteria to keep an eye out for and checked out our top picks) Here are five tips to always remember before taking to the water:
1) Make sure you’re prepared:
Ok, so, apart from you and your usual fishing gear, you’re also going to want to make sure you have plenty of water, food and sunscreen for any exposed parts of your body (like your face and arms) the suns UV rays are very strong and can penetrate through clouds, so it’s important to stay safe, especially if you’re the type to spend a good few hours out on the water. We also recommend not only wearing a life vest but storing one, too! You never know what could happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Regardless, even if you just happen to spend longer fishing than you planned, it’s always good to have these essentials packed along with you and it’s something that we strongly recommend. Your safety and wellbeing are the most important!
2) Make sure you’re always aware of your surroundings:
Admittedly, this one is pretty obvious. However, we wanted to include this point because it can be easy to get caught up in the moment while fishing (especially if you get a big catch) and lose track of what’s going on around you. For this reason, we strongly recommend always making sure that you’re vigilant. The water conditions can change rapidly, rocks can appear from nowhere and if you’re out in open water, chances are you’re not the only one exploring it. Though fishing is fun and enjoyable, you do need to put your safety first - so make sure that you are regularly looking around, observing the water, and keeping an eye out for any obstacles.
Additionally, if you’re a beginner to the world of fishing on a kayak, we recommend gaining experience with a buddy (whether in the same kayak or just paddling side by side) because it will give you more confidence and your partner will be able to help you learn different tips and tricks. We also strongly suggest familiarizing yourself with the lake or river you plan to fish on so that you don’t encounter anything unexpected!
3) Keep Valuables Safe
You’re going to be exposed to water - so the last thing you want is to accidentally splash a valuable item or worse, drop it in the water! When it comes to any electronic devices (like a smartphone) we suggest keeping it stored away safely in a sealed storage compartment.
4) Always Check the Weather Forecast
This tip is very important and one you should always remember. It’s paramount to make sure that you know what the weather forecast predicts for the day before going out on the water. Though it could look sunny, the weather can quickly change and the water can be pretty unforgiving in the event of a storm or other type of adverse weather condition. If the weather is going to be anything but pleasant, we recommend saving your fishing trip for another day when the waters will be calmer.
5) Confidence is Key
This last point we can’t emphasize enough! No matter whether you are a beginner or fishing expert, you should make sure you are 100% confident in your kayak before you take to the water to spend a day fishing. No matter what, never going fishing in a kayak unless you feel completely able and educated enough to do so. If you’re a beginner or would like to gain more experience, we suggest getting comfortable in your kayak by practicing in shallow waters close to land. As your experience and confidence grows, we then suggest slowly building up your distance away from land and, just like we mentioned before, it’s always a great idea to partner up with someone more experienced because they will be able to both guide and advise you as you get used to maneuvering and paddling in a kayak.