Best Fishing Kayaks Buyer Guide of 2018-Tested And Reviewed
Fishing kayaks have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. As a matter of fact, outdoor and sports goods stores now offer hundreds of makes and models to suit every need. Whether you are a hobbyist, a fishing enthusiast or a seasoned pro, there are the best fishing kayaks designed just for you!
Although having options is not a bad thing, it can create a bit of a problem:
With so many options to choose from, it can get a bit overwhelming to pick the best fishing kayak that is perfect for you.
Well, that’s where we come in! In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best fishing kayaks on the market. But before we get into the best fishing kayak reviews, let’s look at some of the most important features that you should be looking for before you buy a fishing kayak.
Our Selection Top Best Fishing Kayaks Compared!
10 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviews
Advanced Elements has done a fantastic job with this inflatable kayak. It is a hybrid kayak that has a folding frame at its heart. It is one of the easiest kayaks on the market to carry around, and if you have problems lifting heavy weights, this kayak is worth considering.
However, it is not the only great thing with this kayak, though. The unique design of the kayak allows the angler to adjust the seating position. As a matter of fact, there are seat positions for solo or tandem paddling.
The seats have high support and are quite comfortable as well. Even if you need to spend hours on end on this kayak, it won’t hurt your back, which is a great achievement for an inflatable kayak.
The structure of the kayak is sturdy and well made as well. The aluminum used in the bow and stern keeps the weight down at the same time offers superior strength and stability. Although it is an inflatable kayak, it tracks as well as some of the hard-shell kayaks on the market.
The kayak is made from durable material that is puncture and scratch resistant. The kayak withstands normal wear and tear like a pro!
Coming in at 10’5” in length, it strikes the right balance between speed and maneuverability. The kayak is easy to fold up, quick to inflate and easy to store in tight spaces as well.
The kayak is easy to inflate and store
It has enough storage capacity
The rigid aluminum frame is sturdy yet light weighing 55 pounds
Three seating positions allow easy solo or tandem paddling
The seats are removable
For an inflatable kayak, it is surprisingly stable
The kayak does little to protect your legs from the sun
The kayak can be a bit tricky to carry around even though it is light
If you are in the market for an entry-level best fishing kayak for the money that is stable, lightweight and won’t break your bank, the Sun Dolphin Aruba is the kayak for you. It is a sit-in kayak that is designed as an entry level kayak for people who are just starting out in the sport.
Although it is an entry-level kayak, Sun Dolphin has some robust features that make it one of the best in its category. The high-density polyethylene used in the shell is sturdy and light for easy carrying and maneuverability. One of the best features of the kayak is that it comes in a variety of colors to appeal to the younger anglers.
As this kayak is a hard-shell kayak, it tracks better than similarly priced inflatable kayaks. The Aruba is also very easy to carry around thanks to the strategically placed carrying handles.
The kayak is ideal for quiet conditions on rivers and lakes. However, as the kayak has some good quality spray deflectors, it is more than serviceable in fast streams as well. That said, this is not a kayak that you would want to take in Rapids for extended times.
Another feature that makes this kayak a compelling buy is a room in the cockpit. There is enough room to maneuver the kayak comfortably. There is also space to store your bait as well as the catch of the day.
Although the kayak has a seating capacity of just one angler, it is very stable in calm conditions. It can be a bit tricky to control it in heavy winds, though.
If you are a newbie or just want to try kayak fishing, the Sun Dolphin is an ideal first kayak for you. If you are a seasoned pro, you might be better off choosing one of the other options on this list.
Sturdy polyethylene built
Single seating with lots of room
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
The kayak is not very stable in rough conditions
It is not suitable for stand fishing
Another fantastic kayak on the list, the Ultra 4.3 is an improved version of the well-known Ultra 4.7. The kayak is stable, lightweight and most importantly comfortable compared to some other similarly priced kayaks on the market.
The kayak features a central hatch that has compartments for a fish finder, GPS and other electronic systems that you may be using. Although the kayak sits only one person, it is quite roomy. The seats are very comfortable even for long fishing days.
The paddle keepers ensure that your peddles don’t drift away when you are busy fishing. There are four fishing rod mounts on the kayak as well-two on each side. It also features two molded cup holders that can hold almost any beverage that you might enjoy while fishing.
One of the best features of this kayak is the storage compartment. You can fit almost any size fish with ease in this spacious storage compartment with no issues.
It is a great purchase for anyone who is looking for a small kayak that has a huge storage compartment. It is ideal for sea water as well as lake and river fishing.
Compartments for all of your electronics
It is blazing fast kayak
It is not the lightest kayaks on this list and can be a tad difficult to carry on land
The Sea Eagle 420x is the second inflatable kayak on this list. It packs in all the goodness of a lightweight kayak with the strength and durability of a hard-shell kayak. It boasts one of the most innovative designs that you will ever see in an inflatable kayak.
Although the kayak is on the more expensive side, it is one of the most durable and yet comfortable kayaks on the market. Just a few minutes in this kayak and you will forget that is, in fact, an inflatable kayak and not a hard-shell kayak!
The craftsmanship that goes into making this gem is top-notch. The kayak weighs in at 54 pounds and supports two anglers with no issues. The material of construction is also interesting. Sea Eagle went with a high strength and high durability polyester fabric rather than the more conventional rubber material. The material keeps the weight down as well as resists punctures and scratches better than rubber.
The interior of the kayak is also spacious, and there is a lot of space for anglers as well as their catch. The maximum capacity of this kayak is about 855 pounds which are more than even some hard-shell kayaks.
Other features of the kayak include four self-bailing drains to keep the interior of the kayak as dry as possible. The kayak also features a vast and roomy center skeg in the rear.
Whether you on the quiet waters of a lake or Class 4 rapids, the Sea Eagle always has our back! If you are looking for a truly multi-purpose inflatable kayak, look no further.
Very durable polyester material
Ideal for still water kayaking as well as kayaking in the rapids
Surprisingly stable for an inflatable kayak
Can support 855 pounds
The kayak is on the more expensive side
Some people may find it difficult to assemble as the instructions are not very clear
The aptly named Hobie Pro Angler 12 is truly a kayak for a pro! It is one of the best fishing kayaks on the market. The kayak manages to be classy, stylish and functional all at the same time, which is a rare feat.
One of the best features of the kayak is just how comfortable it is. The high back support seats make it comfortable even for longer fishing times. As the kayak sits on top kayak, it offers a much better support for your spine, and there is a lot of leg space as well.
The kayak features a paddle system that you can operate with your feet. It allows you to have your hands free for the one thing you are in the kayak in the first place- fishing! The peddling is also easy, and the maneuverability is also great with this kayak. You will have no issues in maneuvering this kayak through tight spaces although it is quite big.
The biggest draw of this kayak and the reason for the high price tag is the additional features. The kayak is jam-packed with modern features including mounts for GPS, fish finders and even your rod and reel. There is enough space for the catch as well as for the live bait if you wish to carry some.
The attention to detail in building the kayak is just incredible. From the floor mats to the handle grips, artisans at Hobbie have thought of it all!
The kayak is very stable even in some rather rough conditions. No matter what you throw at this thing, it always comes on top. If you have a decent budget and don’t mind paying a bit extra, this kayak offers excellent value for your investment.
Built like a tank and can withstand almost anything
Very comfortable seating
Easy to paddle and maneuver through tight spaces
Even though it is 12 feet kayak, it is surprisingly portable
It dries quickly
Price is perhaps the only issue with this kayak
Another gem from Hobie, the Mirage Outback is a great kayak for a solitary angler and has a lot of space to spare. The kayak has a capacity of almost 400 pounds which means you can store quite big catch with no issues.
The one feature that stands out in this kayak is the innovative ‘Thru-Hull Wire Plugs’ peddle system. The system allows an angler to peddle backward without changing the seating position. The seats are also quite comfortable and have a foam padding that is sturdy and yet soft. The kayak also features some holders and spaces to keep your equipment and the catch.
The kayak also features a twist and stow sail mount that can be used to sail through windy conditions. If you have a favorable wind current, you can use this system to sail along the water without the need to peddle whatsoever! Pretty neat, if you ask me.
You also have a bow hatch for storing the fish, that opens neatly. The twist and lock system allows for easy access to the storage compartment and protects the catch as well.
The hull of the kayak is made from strongly reinforced polyethylene that requires next to nothing regarding maintenance.
If you are in the market for a kayak for a single angler that is easy to maneuver, spacious and sturdy, this one from Hobie is a serious contender!
Strong polyethylene hull
Very comfortable seating
Unique stow away sail
Big storage compartment
The kayak is a bit too wide for some people
The Old Town Vapor is one of the best fishing kayaks for anyone who is looking for a light kayak that can hold some serious amounts of catch. It is a very stable kayak given its light weight and as a result, performs exceptionally well in turbulent waters.
Make no mistake, this is an entry-level kayak, but easily give the so-called professional models a run for their money. The cockpit is large is very comfortable. The kayak also features adjustable seating to make kayaking and to fish a fun experience.
One of the main draws of this model is the portability. The kayak is very portable and can be carried around on one shoulder with no problem whatsoever. Weighing in at just 49 pounds, it is one of the lightest kayaks on this list.
Although the kayak is light, it can withstand some severe beat down as well. You will have no issues even if you bump the kayak into stones and cliffs while fishing. The maximum capacity of the kayak is 325 pounds that make it ideal for a single angler.
If you are in the market for a lightweight and inexpensive kayak that is stable and durable, the Vapor 10 is worth your time and money!
Sturdy polyethylene hull
Adjustable seating with foam seats
Very easy to carry around
Lightweight; weighing in at 49 pounds
Although the kayak is durable, it can get scratches on the surface quite quickly
If you are looking for a light but sturdy kayak that is built like a tank, the Lifetime Sports Fisher kayak is worth considering. It is one of the most durable kayaks on the market that is under 10 feet in length.
One of the best features of this monster kayak is how comfortable the seating arrangement is. The balanced seating is so comfortable that you will never want to leave the waters! You can use this kayak as a solo ride or as a tandem ride with up to 3 people. It is perfect for some family time on the lake.
The tunnel hull design of the kayak makes it very stable and dry. Not only can you comfortably sit in the kayak, but you can also stand and cast your reel in shallow waters.
There are many additional features in the kayak that make it perfect for kayak camping if you are into such thing. It has molded carry handles, multiple footrest positions, a storage hatch in the rear of the vessel and fishing pole holders as well.
The kayak weighs in at about 66 pounds which are not the lightest, by any measure, but it is worth the extra weight. It is a durable piece of equipment that is built to last.
Another great feature of the kayak that stands out is the stability. The kayak is very stable, even in rapids. It is an especially important feature to have if you are planning to take more than one person onboard.
The Lifetime Sports Kayak is truly a beast of a kayak that is great if you are into kayak camping or if you want to spend some time with your Kid and family on the lake.
Lots of storage space and holders
Very comfortable seats
You can stand and fish in this kayak
Can support up to 3 adults
The seats are not cushioned; although that’s not a deal breaker
Although it is stable, it can rock a lot in very windy conditions
The Wilderness Radar 115 is a fishing kayak that many people were eagerly waiting for past year or so. It is a whole kayak system rather than a kayak. The biggest draw of this system is the versatility of the system.
The kayak comes with a motorized rudder that you can attach with ease to the kayak. The beauty of the system is that you can detach the rudder system anytime you want and the kayak operates like a traditional kayak!
Even with all these mods, the kayak manages to keep the weight down to about 82 pounds and has the capacity of 450 lbs. The rudder system allows you to maneuver the kayak even in a narrow space like a pro. The steering control system in this kayak is also easy to learn and master.
The seating is also quite comfortable and allows for long sessions on the waters.
The only downside of the kayak is the price range. It is arguably one of the most expensive kayaks on this list. That said, with the features and power under the hood, this is an investment that is worth it!
Excellent built quality
Detachable rudder system
Comfortable and ergonomic seating system
Good storage compartments
Price is perhaps the only downside for this kayak; although as I said earlier as well, it is worth every penny
One of the lightest best fishing kayaks on this list, the Riot Escape 12 is a beautiful kayak that is surprisingly stable. The seats also have excellent back support, and the sliding foot braces are also quite comfortable to use.
There are two flush mount rod holders; one on each side. The kayak also features a decent amount of storage space in the back as well.
The Escape is a blank canvas for any pro angler to make this kayak indeed his/her own!
Awesome built quality
Comfortable seating system
Adjustable sliding foot braces
Pilot rudder plan and an excellent anchoring system
Ample storage for your catch as well as all your electronics
It does not track as well as some of the other kayaks at a similar price point.
The kayak is not able to carry a lot of loads.
What to look for in the best fishing kayak?
Fishing kayaks come in many different varieties. No matter how well the kayak is designed, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ kayak in the market. However, certain features are ‘must-haves’ in a best fishing kayak for the money. Let’s take a look at some of these features now.
What is the type of the kayak- SIK or SOK?
Most fishing kayaks are either sit-on-top kayaks (SOK) or sit-inside Kayaks (SIK). As the name suggests, you sit on the top of the SOKs. These kayaks are best for saltwater fishing. They are safer compared to the SIKs as they tend to roll over and don’t get filled with water. Also, they offer more room and even allow an angler to throw one leg over to balance it in turbulent waters. SIKs, on the other hand, are best if you are planning to fish in moving water and you need a lighter craft. As you sit inside these kayaks, they offer a drier ride compared to the SOK kayak.
The choice between SOK and SIK come down to what you want from a kayak. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages.
What is the type of propulsion?
Gone are the days when your only option for a propulsion system on a kayak was a peddle. These days, most kayak manufacturers offer a choice of alternative propulsion mechanisms. For instance, some of the best kayaks for fishing on the market are powered by the legs which leave the hands of an angler free for the more important stuff- fishing!
Some kayaks also have a paddle or a propeller type of a system as well. Some even offer an electrically motorized version of a fishing kayak that takes all human effort out of the equation!
Again, the choice is up to you whether you want a classic paddle propulsion, paddle propulsion or a motorized propulsion. However, make sure you know what type of propulsion you are getting in a kayak.
What is the length and width of a kayak?
The length of a kayak is directly proportional to its speed. In other words, the longer the kayak, the faster it is to move around. With a longer kayak, you can cover a longer distance compared to a shorter kayak. However, the length comes with a downside. Longer kayaks are harder to maneuver compared to shorter kayaks especially, in tight spaces. Also, longer kayaks can be difficult to transport to the fishing destination.
The width is also an important feature to consider. In general, wider kayaks are more stable compared to narrower kayaks. Wider kayaks also offer more room for you and your catch as well. The tradeoff is that they are heavier compared to less wide models and hence take more effort to row.
What is the weight of the kayak?
The weight of a kayak, as you rightly guessed, is an important factor to consider. If your kayak is too heavy, you will find it difficult to carry it around, and it may even require a wheeled cart to move from your car to the water body.
Are the seats comfortable?
Fishing is a sort of patience. Everyone who has fished knows that sometimes it can take hours before you can catch anything. In that case, the comfort in your kayak is essential. Most kayaks that are inexpensive have some molded seating system that has removable seating pads. However, some of the more expensive kayaks have what they call a ‘lawn chair’ style seating system. These systems allow you to adjust the seats to your comfort level and offer excellent back support.
What are other extra goodies in the kayak?
Other features that are good to have include storage. Many kayak manufacturers offer an excellent place to store live bait as well as your catch in the kayak. Some even provide a place to keep a change of clothing as well. Again, if storage is important to you, look at all these features carefully before picking a kayak.
Another thing that some anglers want in their kayak is the ability to stand and fish. While most long and slim kayaks won’t let you stand and fish in them, some wider models are designed to allow the anglers to stand while they fish. It is an especially great feature if you are planning to sight-cast in shallow waters.
Most kayaks on the market have many of the features that we just saw. However, some kayaks do better on one feature than some others. As I said earlier as well, there no perfect kayak with all the best feature packed in one. That said, many kayaks get a lot of the things right and are worth your time and money.
Let’s take a look at some the best fishing kayaks on the market now, shall we?
Things To Consider Before Buying a Fishing Kayaks
The latest craze in the fishing industry is fishing kayaks. Their appeal comes largely from how portable an in-expensive they are as well as the fact that they can be used in fresh or salt water. Wherever your adventures take you a fishing kayak is a way to go. There are several things you need to know before buying a kayak. The pointers below will help you to determine what you want and narrow your search.
Length and Size:
Depending on where you will be you will want to get the right length of the kayak. Shorter kayaks are easy to maneuver while longer ones offer more speed. A smaller kayak is suited for rivers and ponds whereas longer ones do better on lakes. An important tip to remember when choosing length is to take your height and weight into consideration. You want to be sure you fit comfortably in the kayak, regardless of the water you are in. Regarding size, it is better to opt for wider styles. This helps with stability in the event you stand up or if you have a large body type.
Keels and Anchors:
Keels are fin shaped plastic pieces that improve speed on kayaks. Some are integrated while others are retractable. If you are planning to be in open water or spend the day trolling, then a keel is recommended. Keels are not necessary if you are only floating in shallow waters or fish in a standing position. You may also want to look into an anchor system. Beneficial in open water, however, they do add extra weight which is a problem for drifting. They are worth researching before you buy, in the event one will fit your needs.
Kayaks initially provided the benefit of being portable. While they are still easier to move than boats, the recent advances in designs have caused them to be heavier than previous models. If you plan to go straight from truck to water, then this is not an issue, but if you will have to carry the kayak often, then opt for a lighter version. It is worth noting that the models that you sit on are going to be heavier than those that are a sit-in. Your preference of style will, therefore, affect the portability.
Final considerations for a fishing kayak involve storage. Fishermen are notorious for having a lot of gear, so there needs to be ample space to store this without cramping your style. Storage in the form of enclosed hatches is available in sit-on models and sit-in models give you extra space in the hull. Additional storage can also be provided by an outer carton or crate or other integrated storage sections. A fun fact is that recent advancements have allowed certain models to now accommodate electronics, so this is definitely worth researching before you buy.
Fishing is a great outdoor activity, and a kayak is a great way to take it to the next level. A good kayak can make fishing fun and enjoyable. We hope that this article will help you to narrow down your options and you have a better idea about the choices that you have.
The kayaks that we just reviewed are some of the best fishing kayaks on the market, and each one of them deserves your time and money. So, what are you waiting for? Let set sail in your brand new kayak!