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10 Best Fishing Kayaks for 2024 – Review & Buyer’s Guide

There’s nothing more peaceful than getting out on the water and waiting for that first fish to take the bait. The quiet, the fresh air, and the little sounds of nature all around make for a perfect day.

I have been fishing ever since I can remember. Indeed, one of my earliest memories is when I was around four years old and sitting by my Pops at the water’s edge waiting for a fish to bite. When it did, I was hooked (okay, pun intended!).

As I grew older, my passion continued. At 18, I had saved enough to get my first fishing kayak. I thought I had done my research and bought the best I could afford. But, unfortunately, it turned out I was wrong.

I had to make do with that kayak for a couple of years until I had saved enough again to buy another. This time I learned from my mistakes and I bought the best fishing kayak that I could for my money. That’s why I want to share what I’ve learned over my many years of fishing kayak purchases.

You, too, can have a great experience fishing out on the open water in the best fishing kayak that you can get for your money. Read on to find the right one for you.

Top 10 Best Fishing Kayaks In 2022

01 Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 fishing kayak is the best fishing kayak out there, in my experience, if you want a sit-on-top kayak. This kayak is even a great choice for beginners too as it is not too complicated and is extremely stable when out in the water.

We also tried it standing up and it was stable enough for this way of fishing too. Additionally, it tracks in a straight line thanks to deep tracking channels in the hull and is quick enough to please most anglers.

Likewise, this sit-on kayak is lightweight (52lb) and has T-handles for easy transportation from the shoreline. It also has ample space for your gear and tackle. It is 31” wide and has a flat bottom that features chine rails for stability.

There are two flush-mounted rod holders and one top-mounted so that you can fish hands-free. There’s a paddle cradle for when you catch a fish and need to reel it in. The cords will hold the paddle safely.

Whilst this kayak doesn’t have a lot of the fancy-pants features that are more expensive, it certainly meets most anglers’ needs. Indeed, you can always personalize it with added extras and accessories.

At the time of our research, this one cost just under 500 dollars, which is not bad at all for such a good kayak. On top of that, it can beat any model under 600 dollars easily. Indeed, it is the third cheapest on our list! It comes with a five-year warranty too.


  • High-density polyethylene
  • UV protected
  • Many footrests and positions
  • Flat, stable bottom
  • Padded seat that’s adjustable
  • Flush-mounted rod holders (two)
  • One top-mounted holder
  • Shock cord straps at the front and rear
  • Rear and Center 6” storage compartments
  • Adult paddle
  • Paddle keeper
  • Deep tracking channels in the hull
  • Rear and Front T-Handles for transportation
  • Chine rails for stability


  • Stable fishing platform
  • Reasonable price
  • Excellent value for money
  • Spacious with storage room
  • Rod and paddle holders
  • Five-year warranty


  • The paddle isn’t the best quality
  • Seat cushion is not very padded
  • Material can scratch easily

Our Verdict

For a great, reasonably priced sit-on kayak, you can’t go far wrong with the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100. It has some excellent features that are the envy of many similarly priced models such as its paddle keeper and rod holders.

What sets it apart is its stability even when standing and its lightweight, which allows you to transport it easily, even when you’re fishing alone! The cushion and paddle aren’t the best, but these can easily be upgraded at very little cost should you wish.

Overall, it is an excellent kayak for fishing and you can’t go wrong buying it.

02 SUNDOLPHIN Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak

SUNDOLPHIN Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak

This great little kayak measures 10 feet in length and is 30” wide. It is by far the best budget fishing kayak that also packs plenty of great features! Remember, it is an entry-level kayak, so don’t expect bells and bow of the more expensive kind!

This doesn’t mean it isn’t a great little yak for fishing. The fact that it is reasonably priced also means you won’t be concerned if you let your kids use it and they accidentally scrape it on a rock!

This one is designed primarily for recreation and is easy to use. It is ideal for rivers and lakes. Despite its budget price-tag, and one that’s compact too, it has lots of storage space such as a PAC (Portable Accessory Carrier). This sits on the rear cargo area.

It has a sealed hatch inbuilt that can store small items safely. It has its own carry handle so it can be removed from the kayak by itself.

This is a great idea if you’re going camping and want to take the contents to your tent. There’s also an open tank storage area if you take out the PAC that has bungee cords. In the seat front, there’s a storage hatch that’s sealed as well as a cup holder.

This kayak weighs just 44lbs and has a weight capacity of 250lbs. Despite its lightweight, it has a comfortable seating area with easy entry and exit. There are adjustable braces for your feet and protective thigh pads.

We found that this sit-on-top kayak handles and tracks well and offers great stability too. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, especially given its cheaper than average price. At the time of our research, this one cost less than $500.


  • Paddle holder
  • Foot braces that are adjustable
  • Carry handle
  • Extra storage space in the open well
  • Comfortable and large seating area
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to carry


  • Great storage facilities
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Great tracking
  • Reasonable cost


  • Lacks some features of more expensive kayaks.
  • Be careful in stronger winds due to its flight weight

Our Verdict

For a great little 1 person kayak to get you started with fishing on the water, the Sundolphin Bali SS is a great buy. It’s reasonable in cost and has some fantastic features, particularly where its weight and storage come into play.

We found it comfortable enough for a day on the water with ample storage for our lunch and snacks too! Overall, you’re going to get a good value for the money.

03 Perception Pescador Pro 12 Fishing Kayak

Perception Pescador Pro 12 Fishing Kayak

Next up is the Perception Pescador Pro Kayak. It certainly leads the way with its superb fishing performance, comfort and stability. It is another sit-on design with lots of options for accessory mounting and ample storage which makes it an easy choice for those wanting to spend the day out of the water.

There is an adjustable and removable chair which is one of the most comfortable seats that we found on any fishing kayak that we tried. It can be lowered if you want to relax and enjoy the experience or raised if you want to have improved casting ability. It is made from a mesh that’s breathable, so it’ll give you comfort no matter the time of day.

The kayak is shorter in length than some and light in weight too which meant that it was easy for us to maneuver and to transport too. It measures 12” in lengths and is 32.5” wide. The boat itself weighs 64lbs and it has a larger capacity than many others at 375lbs.

We sailed away from other anglers and found some smaller, quieter areas in which to fish as a result. It is made as a one-piece, leak-proof vessel and has its own buoyancy built-in for your safety.

As for its storage, we loved the large open storage at the front and rear. It meant our tackle and gear was kept secure and cool. There are also accessory rails that are integrated including fish finders and rod holders. It’s ideal for ponds, lakes, or slow-moving rivers as well as calmer coastal areas.

This one was a little more expensive at the time we researched, costing in the region of $850. Despite it being more expensive than the first two sit-on kayaks on our list, this one is a great little buy due to all its fantastic features.


  • One-piece, leak-proof design
  • UV protected
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Comfortable and adjustable seat
  • In-built buoyancy for increased safety
  • Designed and made in the USA
  • Accessory rails integrated into the design
  • Ideal for rivers, lakes, and pond
  • Weight 64lbs
  • Capacity 375lbs
  • Length 12 feet.


  • Extremely comfortable adjustable seat
  • Storage areas
  • USA built
  • Safety features like inbuilt buoyancy


  • More expensive than other entry-level sit-on kayaks
  • Difficult to get plugs out for fishing rods

Our Verdict

Whilst this was the most expensive of our three sit-on kayaks, you definitely get what you pay for. We could have sat on the seat all day every day in comparison with some of the others we’ve tried. Not only was it super comfortable but it was also adjustable at two levels which meant we could relax or cast out to our heart’s content.

The inbuilt buoyancy was also incredibly reassuring for if the wind picked up a little when we were in the middle of a larger lake! Overall, this kayak gave us a great experience.

04 Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak

Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak

The next on our list is the best sit-in fishing kayak and this one is also a Sun Dolphin design. At 10 feet, this one is lightweight and can be carried easily. We found it a great experience for fishing when we tried it out on a lake and on a slow-moving river.

Furthermore, due to its compact size, we could sneak into the smallest of spaces for a quieter fishing experience. It tracked and paddled with ease and we felt stable at all times.

There are two flush-mounted rod holders as well as one swivel holder too. It has shock-cord rigging on deck for dry storage as well as a bottle holder. There are protective pads for your thighs and a paddle holder, making for an altogether more comfortable experience.

It even has a comfortable padded seat as well as foot braces that are adjustable.

What we loved the most was how durable this kayak was. It is rugged in its design with Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene that has been UV stabilized. Despite this, it was easy to carry from shore to vehicle.

This one came in at around $640, which certainly wasn’t the cheapest, but it was far from the most expensive either. We found it a good shout if you want the best fishing kayak that you can sit in.


  • Two flush-mounted rod holders in the rear
  • One swivel rod holder
  • Deck rigging with shock cord
  • Cupholder
  • 250lbs capacity
  • 10 feet long
  • 40lbs in weight


  • Perfect for recreational fishing trips
  • Great stability – doesn’t tip easily
  • Good tracking
  • Adjustable footrests


  • Speed isn’t great as stability is prioritized
  • Paddle isn’t the best quality
  • Rod holders are behind the seat which makes it tricky

Our Verdict

For an entry-level sit-in kayak, this Sun Dolphin is a great buy. We found it comfortable on our short testing trips and it was extremely stable, which is essential for novice anglers. The adjustable footrests were certainly an added plus and we found that it tracked really well.

Obviously, there has to be some compromise somewhere and we found that this one didn’t have great speed.

05 SUNDOLPHIN Aruba SS 12-Foot Sit-in Kayak

SUNDOLPHIN Aruba SS 12-Foot Sit-in Kayak

Here we have another SunDolphin kayak; a 12-foot sit in version. This one is great for rivers and lakes and we had a fantastic experience when we tried it in both these locations. The material is a Fortiflex high-density polyethylene that is rugged and strong. It has also been UV stabilized to prevent sun damage.

We found this sit-in kayak to be stable and it tracked easily, giving a great fishing experience. In terms of transporting it from the shore to a trailer or vehicle, this is also easy. It has retractable carry handles and is light in weight.

As for its comfort, the seating area is comfortable and large and has adjustable footrests which allow for added versatility. There are also thigh pads for protection in that area too.

Storage-wise, there’s a Portable Accessory Carrier (PAC) which is versatile in its usage. It can be a tow-behind storage compartment or one that’s on deck too. There’s also the deck rigging with a shock cord.

This one was slightly cheaper than the previous 10-foot sit-in SunDolphin kayak. At the time of our research, it cost just over $500, which is a really reasonable price for a sit-in yak. We enjoyed our experience and found that using the PAC as a tow-along helped with onboard storage.

We were able to fish for a whole day in relative comfort with lots of space. It is a great kayak for beginners, either beginner kayakers or beginner anglers.


  • Comes with Portable Accessory Carrier (PAC)
  • High-density polyethylene
  • Covered Console
  • Retractable carry handles
  • Shock cord deck rigging
  • Thigh pads
  • Large seating area
  • 47lbs weight
  • 12” long
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Rod Holders


  • PAC can be used as a tow-along
  • Lots of space and storage options
  • Lightweight
  • Retractable carry handles
  • Affordable budget option
  • Handles well in calm waters
  • Good stability


  • Not comfortable if you’re over 6’2” or larger in size
  • Difficult to maneuver in rougher waters
  • Carried by the wind easily

Our Verdict

For a budget, 12 ft sit-in kayak, this one is a great buy. It is packed with excellent features and is comfortable (as long as you’re no giant!) and stable. It handles and tracks well in calm waters but could prove a challenge if it’s too windy or the water is rougher.

That said, as a beginner recreational kayak or first angling kayak, this one is certainly a good buy.

06 Lifetime 10 Foot Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak

Lifetime 10 Foot Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak

This two-person tandem fishing kayak has a unique design in the hull which makes it ultra-versatile. You can sit side-saddle with this one, if you wish, to dangle your legs into the water or you can stand up and easily fish.

It has a weight capacity of 500lbs, and Lifetime boasts that it is almost impossible for it to tip over. In fact, if three of you don’t meet the weight limit, you can even fit a third person there!

There are even three-rod holders that are flush-mounted for hands-free fishing. Of course, you need to know how to paddle a tandem kayak if you end up getting one.

There’s a large, 6-foot hatch for storage which is in the rear for your convenience. This can hold pretty much everything you could need when out on a fishing trip. There are shock cords and ditty trays as well to secure anything that is loose.

We loved the footrests and seating. The last thing you want is to get a cramp whilst on the water. The seating is also called “High and Dry” as it keeps you elevated above the kayak floor. The seats are designed to be ergonomic, so your spine follows the correct alignment and the seats have padding too for all-day comfort.

We could also move the footrests for our own individual needs, which we loved.

We found this 2-man tandem kayak to be extra durable as the low-density polyethylene is also protected from UV rays. It, therefore, resists fading, peeling and cracking, and will stand the test of time.

To transport it, there’s a molded carry handle at the front. It also comes with two paddles and paddle clips as well as a limited warranty for five years.

A slight downside is its cost, coming in at just under 700 dollars at the time of our research. However, it can easily beat any model coming under 800 dollars. But, let’s not forget that this is a 2 seater tandem kayak making it a pretty reasonable shout.


  • 500lbs capacity
  • Tandem comfortably seating two, possibly three within the weight limit
  • 6-foot storage compartment
  • Ditty trays
  • Shock cord storage
  • Ergonomic, padded seats
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Three rod holders
  • “High and Dry” seating
  • UV protected
  • Two paddles
  • Paddle Clips
  • 5-year limited warranty
  • Molded carry handle
  • Super stable hull design


  • Large storage hatch (6 feet!)
  • Very stable
  • Large weight capacity of 500lbs
  • Large and comfortable seating area


  • More expensive than some kayak options

Our Verdict

If you want an extremely stable two-seater kayak that comfortably seats two people, then this kayak is the one for you. I think the keyword for this one is most definitely comfort. We felt like we could stretch out our limbs whilst on the water and we weren’t cramped at all.

It was definitely a winner in the comfort department! It’s also an excellent choice for sports fishing. For a tandem kayak under 1000 dollars, it isn’t too badly priced either.

Other Lifetime models worth checking out: Tamarack 120 Angler, Tamarack 100, Kokanee, Muskie, Youth Wave, Teton, Yukon 116, Weber 110 angler, Recon, Hydros 85, Sport Fisher, Yukon Angler 116, Triton, Payette 116.

07 BKC UH-TK181 12-foot 5-inch 2 Person Fishing Kayak

BKC UH-TK181 12-foot 5-inch 2 Person Fishing Kayak

BKC stands for the Brooklyn Kayak Company and this tandem fishing kayak ticks a lot of boxes! It comes with great accessories too. It measures 12.5 feet and weighs 68lbs. Its maximum weight capacity is 450lbs so it’s ideal if you want to angle with a pal (although check your combined weights first!).

We found that it tracked well and was stable on the calm waters of the rivers and lakes that we tried. It has a beam measuring 34” so it can keep you balanced and tracking well and on the right course, even if the wind picks up a little.

It seems to have its own intuition thanks to its features, which is great. Despite it being a tandem kayak, it is also nimble enough if you’re fishing solo.

There are many rod holders (seven in fact!) and three of these are adjustable. For storage, there are a couple of storage hatches for small items, both of which are waterproof. These are in a convenient location between each angler’s legs. There are also lots of scupper holes in case you’re caught out by water splashing into it.

This one cost a little more than some, at around $830 at the time we tested it out. Having said that, we thought it was well worth the money and is definitely up there with the best fishing kayak for two: a top-rated double if ever there was one!


  • Seats 2
  • 4 flush-mounted rod holders
  • 3 adjustable rod holders
  • 2 waterproof storage compartments
  • 4 carrying handles
  • 2 paddle holders
  • Bungee cord storage area
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • One-year warranty
  • 68lbs in weight
  • 450lbs weight capacity
  • 5 feet in length
  • 30” in width
  • Two aluminum paddles (86”)


  • Various choices of colors
  • Manageable weight when carrying
  • Can be used solo
  • Two paddles included


  • Upper weight capacity quite low for two fully grown men
  • No rudder
  • Can’t stand up to fish

Our Verdict

With a choice of camo colors, seven different options for rod holders and a second seat, this tandem kayak ticks lots of boxes indeed. You can carry it fairly easily, even if fishing alone, and can use it solo too. There isn’t a rudder, but it does track fairly well when you’ve got to grips with it, especially if there are two of you with a paddle.

As long as you don’t rock the boat by being over the capacity limit, you’ll have a great day on the water with this kayak.

08 Intex Excursion Pro Fishing Kayak

Intex Excursion Pro Fishing Kayak

Up next is our best inflatable fishing kayak. We really think it is the best fishing kayak that you inflate yourself! Let’s have a look at why. Firstly, it has been made with laminate 3-ply PVC that is super tough as well as having a polyester core. There’s also the i-beam floor for extra rigidity.

This means that not only is it light in weight, but it’s also very resistant to damage caused by UV rays, impacts, and abrasion. It’s in three chambers for added security. It also comes with a repair patch just in case and a carry bag to protect it when it’s not in use.

It can be inflated and deflated very quickly thanks to the spring-loaded high-pressure valves. The high-pressure of its inflation means that it is extra stable and rigid. It can take an overall weight capacity of 400lbs, which isn’t bad! However, considering it’s got two seats, you may struggle to have two fully grown adult men using it.

There’s extra storage space in the stern and bow with other D rings made from Stainless Steel so that you can tie down any other gear or backpacks. The two bucket seats are also adjustable with inflatable boosters as are the footrests.

You might think that with this being an inflatable fishing kayak that it doesn’t have much about it. But you’d be wrong! It has adjustable and removable mounting brackets so that you can add accessories such as fish finders, GPS systems, or fishing rod holders.

It already has two recessed rod holders that are integrated into the design and have two skews that are removable for different depths of water (shallow and deep).

Lastly, there’s a drain plug and it comes with its own pump (just in case you were wondering if you had to blow it up!). There’s a pressure gauge and two paddles included too. The best thing about this one for us though was its price.

Costing under 300 dollars, by far, it’s the cheapest fishing kayak on our list and great if you’re on a budget.


  • Weighs 01lbs
  • 7’ length
  • Two paddles
  • Hi-output pump
  • Carry bag
  • Pressure gauge
  • 400lbs weight capacity
  • Two skegs for deep and shallow water
  • Two-person capacity
  • 3-ply construction
  • Polyester core
  • 3 air chambers
  • 2 integrated fishing rod holders
  • Inflatable seat pads and backrests for adjustments
  • Storage space
  • Accessory mounting bracket
  • D-rings for added storage


  • Comes with everything you need in an inflatable kayak
  • Easier to store compared with other kayaks
  • Lots of fantastic features
  • Amazing price – great value for money


  • Small maximum weight capacity (400lbs)

Our Verdict

If you are on a budget and want a cheap fishing kayak (tandem or otherwise), this one is a great buy. It really won’t break the bank nor cause you too many storage issues thanks to it being inflatable as well as reasonably priced.

Having said that, you may need to compromise with the weight capacity as it has one of the lowest we’ve found for a tandem kayak. That said, this is certainly the best fishing kayak on the market if you want an inflatable and are on a budget too.

09 Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Our last category is pedal driving fishing kayaks, and this one is a great choice! It is made in the USA and gives pedal-driven top performance but at a great price too for this type of kayak. It has a leak-proof construction made from one piece only so there is no compromising with potential gaps or seams coming apart over time.

It also has inbuilt buoyancy to give you that added reassurance and peace of mind. It measures 12.5 feet and weighs 95lbs. This is one of the heavier kayaks to handle from our list, but for a foot paddle driven kayak, it isn’t too cumbersome. It has a loading capacity of 475lbs.

For your comfort (and ours!) it has a mesh seat in a lawn chair style. There are two adjustment settings, and the mesh is breathable so that you are comfortable all day without any back pain. So that you don’t experience draft, the foot pedal system can be recessed fully into the hull too.

For storage, there are two open storage areas at the rear and at the front for your tackle, cooler, or other gear.

There are even gear tracks, four fishing rod holders and fish-finders too! The accessory mounts mean that you can customize this kayak to suit your needs too. Oh, and let’s not forget the drinks holder!

The pilot drive propeller pedal system is removable and makes maneuvering effortless even if you are going in reverse. This means that you can keep your hands free for photo taking or, of course, fishing!

The adjustable seat means you can have laid-back pedaling or faster, sportier pedaling as required. The rudder can be controlled with just one hand and the vessel has a turning circle of 360°. It is ultra-quiet so don’t need to worry about scaring away any fish either. We certainly loved our experience with this one!

Additionally, it was great in terms of its safety. We found it sleek and fast, and we were able to cover good distances without much effort. It was certainly one of the more relaxing experiences we’ve had out on the water. Of course, with all of these features, you do need to expect that it won’t come cheap. This one came in at just under $1800 at the time of our research.


  • 95lbs in weight
  • Loading capacity of 475lbs
  • Leak-proof once-piece vessel
  • Removable pilot pedal system
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Removable and adjustable chair with breathable mesh
  • Excellent stability
  • Safe
  • Exceptionally durable high-density polyethylene
  • One-handed rudder with 360° turning circle
  • Rod holders
  • Fishfinders
  • Accessory mounts


  • Effortless maneuvering
  • Extra comfortable
  • Lots of accessories
  • Very safe, stable and reliable
  • Durable body that’s leak-proof


  • Rod holders a little too big for some rods
  • Expensive

Our Verdict

As far as pedal kayaks go, we absolutely loved this one. We found it easy to maneuver and it meant that we could get into some really tight fishing spots with ease. The accessories that came with it were great, but we did have to change up the rod holders as they were not a standard size in comparison to our rods.

Despite this, it was a great experience and this kayak is definitely one that I’d be happy to keep all the time. Other Perception models worth noting: Pescador pro 100, Pescador Pro 120.

10 Old Town Topwater 106 PDL Angler Fishing Kayak

Old Town Topwater 106 PDL Angler Fishing Kayak

Last but not least is the Old Town Topwater kayak, another pedal kayak. This is a top-of-the-range kayak (so you can imagine it has a price tag to go with it, more on that later!). This one gives a stable and comfortable ride in a whole nimble little package. It is easy to maneuver in a hands-free way, giving you your hands back so that you can use them for fishing!

There’s a pedal drive that allows you to go forwards as well as backwards and it has an easy system for docking which is patent pending. You can also remove the pedal drive if you wish – it can tip up in an instant if you are docking in shallow water. For turning, there’s a trucker-style knob for controlling the rudder.

It is full of amazing features including an Air Seat and a huge stern tank that can store all your gear. There are also three fishing rod holders, tackle storage, and deck pads made from EVA foam for your comfort and traction while you’re standing to fish.

There’s a double hull to this kayak as well which makes it even more stable. It is easy to transport too, thanks to its innovative and compact design. The transducer mounting system is revolutionary, making it even easier to mount your kit.

It is a 10-foot six-inch fishing kayak and has a maximum capacity of 450lbs. It also has a limited lifetime warranty. If you want, you can also buy their paddle to go with the kayak too. Of course, this one has the biggest price tag of all our kayaks, which is why we’ve squeezed it into 10th place. It is amazing, but it cost around a cent under $2000 at the time we researched.


  • 450lb weight capacity
  • 95lbs in weight
  • 5 length
  • EVA foam deck pads
  • Pedal Drive system
  • Forwards and backwards system
  • Pedal drive is removable
  • Double hull
  • Huge stern tank for storage
  • Transducer mounting system


  • PDA system
  • Huge storage capabilities
  • Extremely stable
  • Large weight capacity
  • Comfortable and easy to maneuver


  • Top of the range so very expensive

Our Verdict

If it’s the ease of use, comfort, and quality you’re after, then this kayak is the stuff of dreams (if the budget stretches that far, of course). It can easily accommodate big guys. The patent-pending pedal system is easy to use and can be removed easily when reaching shallow waters. You can also buy Predator Angler paddles separately for this one. Everything about this was comfortable for me. The only drawback was the price tag!

Other Old Town models that you might like to check out: Predator 13, Vapor 10, Topwater 120 PDL, Vapor 12, Loon 126, Loon 106, Trip 10 Deluxe, Predator XL.

Best Fishing Kayak for The Money: Buying Guide

Best Fishing Kayak for The Money - Buying Guide

1. Type

There are primarily two types of kayak: the sit-on-top kayak and the sit-in kayak. Both types have wide beams for enhanced lateral stability. Each style of the kayak has its own set of advantages for fishing.

  • Sit On Top Kayak

The sit on top variety of kayak is quite new for kayaking and for fishing too. Most people picture sit-in kayaks when they think of the vessels. They are more practical for fishing in many ways as you are at a good height for casting and reeling.

  • Sit Inside Kayak

Sit-in kayaks are what people usually think of when asked to think of kayaks. They provide the added assurance of being within the boat so that, in the event of it tipping, you can stay closer to the boat. They have a hollow area for your kit (and your legs).

They give greater paddler performance as they can take more weight and provide more options for mounting and storage. The sit-in kayaks that are designed for white water are not at all practical for kayak fishing.

  • Tandem Fishing Kayak

If you don’t like fishing on your own, then a tandem kayak is a good bet if you or your pal don’t have two kayaks. It means you stay together too. The stability does depend on how experienced both kayakers are though. Also, you can add two kayaks to form a catamaran. This will offer more space.

  • Motorized and Pedal Kayak

Electric or Motorized and pedal kayaks give the advantage of being hands-free and without the need for a paddle so that you can concentrate on catching fish. Jet powered models are also available on the market. They do tend to be more expensive though.

  • Inflatable Fishing Kayak

An inflatable kayak is a good option for if you have little room to store a kayak at your home. They are also a cheaper option too. They are great for fly fishing. Having said that, you’ll need to be careful not to get a puncture, although they are usually very robust in their design.

2. Material & Quality

There are many materials from which kayaks are made. Let’s have a look at the options:

  • Plastic
    Plastic is what most entry-level and beginner kayaks are made from. Polyethylene is most common but there are some manufacturers that use polycarbonate too. It handles impact well but can scratch fairly easily. If it gets broken, it’s difficult to repair.
  • Fiberglass
    This is a fiber-glass-embedded resin. It is resistant to scratches in an improved way compared with standard plastic. They are easier to repair. But they don’t handle impacts all that well.
  • Kevlar
    This is the same material that makes up a bullet-proof vest. It is basically a fabric that has been very tightly woven. Due to this, it is not only stronger than other materials such as fiberglass, but it is lighter too. The downside is that it can flex AND it is really expensive.
  • Wood
    Once, all boat types were made from wood. Wooden kayaks are pretty rare these days. Having said that, wood is typically strong and lightweight, but the quality is not always adequate.

3. Weight

The weight of a kayak is usually due to a few different factors:

a) The dimensions of the boat

Larger kayaks need more materials so weigh more.

b) Added features

Propulsion mechanisms, fish finders and heavy seats all make kayaks weigh more.

c) Material

Kevlar is the heaviest material, then plastic and then fiberglass.

4. Length

How long your kayak is will impact on what type of water you can use it on. If it’s shorter than 11 feet it means it is more maneuverable, but it does mean it won’t be as speedy as longer kayaks. However, for small lakes, you wouldn’t need more than 8 ft long kayaks.

5. Stability

This is an important thing to prioritize. Think about your own body size and shape when looking at kayaks. Will you plan on fishing whilst standing for example? Wider kayaks offer greater stability to larger people. But, if you’re just going to troll the water and not stand, then narrower will be more easily maneuverable and faster.

Most importantly, if you feel any lack of stability, you can always add extra fishing rigs to your kayak. Outriggers would surely give you the confidence that you’d feel sitting on a pontoon. This is why most kayak fishermen tend to apply DIY solutions to customize their kayaks using this rigging technique.

6. Propulsion

Pedal or Paddle: it’s that debate again! Pedal propulsion means that your hands are kept free, which is an advantage, and they can allow shorter boats to track better. You also don’t get as tired if you’re out all day on the water.

But they are more expensive and heavier too. Always make sure you choose the right paddle size for your kayak.

7. Type of Water

The type of water has an impact on which fishing kayak you should look to buy. Do your research and make sure you know whether your kayak of choice can be used in rougher ocean waters such as offshore, saltwater, or sea fishing, or whether it can only handle calmer freshwater areas.

8. Loading Capacity

You will need to consider your own weight as well as that of your kit before deciding which kayak to buy. The last thing you want to realize is that you can’t put everything you want in your kayak, or that you and your friend are too heavy together for your tandem.

9. Storage

So, which kayak is best for fishing in terms of storage capacity? The sit-in models offer less storage capacity than the sit on top models. There are many different ways of storing things in a kayak. There may be internal hatches or Portable Accessory Holders (PACs) or even a tow-along!

Whatever there is, you need to mentally calculate what you would need on your fishing trip and see if there is enough space to store it all. A sit-in kayak often has more space available as you are sitting in the hull itself.

10. Speed vs Turning

Longer kayaks get through the water better and are therefore faster. Shorter kayaks are much easier to turn than longer ones. So, both of these need to be factored in so that you get the right balance. The keel, if rounded, will mean it’ll turn better too.

11. Tracking

Shorter kayaks don’t tend to track as well when paddling and create a bit more of a ‘wag’ as you propel each side in turn. This effect is not as strong if the kayak is longer. If it is over 13 feet, the kayaks should track well. Rudders or skegs help with tracking in all kayaks, especially when it is windy.

12. Number of Seats

This is important mainly if you are considering tandem fishing. Many kayaks hold two people and some even hold three!

13. Portability

You need to consider how you will get your kayak to the water. If you’re carrying it alone, weight is a really important factor, as are the carry handles. Sit on models tend to be heavier, as do those with pedal systems,

14. Keel or No Keel

Some fishing kayaks have a keel. This is a fin-shaped bit usually made from plastic which is in the water at the hull and improves the tracking and speed. If the water will be deep, you should have a keeled kayak. If fishing in shallow or rocky water, no keel is best.

15. Stand-and-Fish Capability

Think about whether you prefer to fish standing up or sitting, or a combination of the two. For standing and fishing, you’ll need the most stable kayaks to remain on the safer side.

16. Budget

The budget is what holds most of us back. There are kayaks that fall into every kind of budget, as you would expect. Specialist kayaks or ones with pedal systems tend to be the most expensive and can be availed under 1500 dollars.

Firstly, work out your budget and then look at kayaks within that range. It is pointless paying over the odds for a kayak if you won’t use it much or if you really cannot afford to.

For discounts, you can check out the Black Friday deals. Also, it’s worth checking out the craigslist for inexpensive options under 400, 300 or 200 dollars or even less.

17. Others

  • Dry Storage

Dry storage is important if you want to take things like a phone, camera, or keys, out in the water with you. Usually, dry storage containers are small so will only take these little items, but some kayaks do have larger sealed dry storage areas.

  • Water Safety

Make sure you know the safety features of the kayaks that you are looking at. Stability is crucial if you are a beginner or novice kayaker. Wider is better in these cases.

  • Rod Holders

Many people believe that the more holders the better, but not necessarily. Too many and your kayak looks cluttered and they get in the way. Two or three rod holders are plenty. Make sure there’s a deck-mounted as well as a flush-mounted pole holder if possible.

  • Trolling Motor

A trolling motor is more often found on an inflatable kayak. Most traditional ones up for sale don’t have the ability to have one. You can add one on yourself, but the manufacturer may not allow this as it may compromise the warranty and your safety.

  • Anchor Trolleys

An anchor trolley is rigged directly to the kayak. Most fishing kayaks already have these built-in.

  • GPS Unit

A GPS will help you to find your way if you drift and get lost. You can also signal for help should you need it.

So, Which Fishing Kayak is Right for You?

As we have discussed, the first thing you need to do is look at what your individual wants and needs are in a fishing kayak. You also should consider your budget as this usually puts a limit on what you can and cannot buy in terms of a kayak and its accessories.

Once you have decided on all of this, you need to consider where you would store a kayak and how you will get it from A to B. Think of the weight too, especially if you’ll be lugging it about on your own. If it’s a great kayak but you struggle to get it in the water, then it’s not all that great for you, is it?

Think about your own body shape and size. If you’re six foot six then a smaller, 10-foot kayak may not be long enough. If you’re heavier, or wider, you’ll need to take that into consideration too. Always choose the right kayak size that is proportionate to your body size. You can follow our beginner kayak buying guide for more information.

Care & Maintenance Tips

Before you set out on a trip, you should make sure that your kayak is fit for purpose and ready to go.

  • Inspect the Hull

Look at the hull on the underside. Is it damaged? Are there any depressions in the plastic? If so, heat will usually do the trick and get the dents out.  Keep it sheltered from sunlight too as sunlight will damage the integrity of the surfaces.

  • Check the rigging

What about the rigging? Make sure all the bungee cords and lines are fit for purpose. UV can damage things over time so make sure you look it over.

  • Check the rudder and skegs

If anything is worn or damaged, be sure to replace the old parts.

  • Seat, Rod holders and accessories

Check that they are fit for purpose. Usually, accessories are easy to replace if they become damaged.

  • Replenish Supplies

Ensure that you have all the supplies that you could need in an emergency such as a repair kit. A first aid kit that is freshly stocked is essential too.

  • Clean your kayak

Make sure you clean your kayak after you’ve used it to remove grime or salt that can corrode the materials or allow mold to grow. Ensure that you dry the kayak after washing it and unload all the gear that you don’t need from in the kayak.

Following these tips will allow your kayak to stay in the best possible condition for the whole of its hopefully long lifespan.

Safety Tips

  • Know how to be safe in the water

Firstly, you need to know how to be safe in the water. You might presume that you know what you’re doing, but don’t make any presumptions. Kayak fishing is very physically demanding. Making sure that you have enough left in you to paddle back to shore is essential. You don’t want to be in a rush to beat the darkness or the weather, so make sure you’re fit and well equipped to deal with these situations.

  • Know what to do if you fall into the water

There are certain requirements in different states as to what safety equipment kayakers need to carry or wear. This includes things like a lifejacket, whistle or torch. Make sure you know what the regs are near you.

  • Plan your journey before you go

Make sure that others know where you’re headed. If you don’t come back, they’ll at least know where to start looking. Taking a GPS or mobile device is also a good idea if you have one.

  • Take fuel for yourself

This means having access to food and water if you’re a long way from where you set out.


Having gone through our fishing kayak reviews and guidance, hopefully, now you feel much better informed about the choices that you can make in regard to your own kayak fishing journey. There are some important decisions to be made about what type of kayak you want to use as well as some restraints about what you can afford and your own ability to kayak fish.

If, after reading and digesting everything you’ve read so far, you still are undecided, then plumping for our number one choice is definitely a good shout. It won’t break the bank and is everything you can want in a good all-round kayak to get you started.


1. What Is the Difference Between a Fishing Kayak and a Regular Kayak?
Ans: There is not always a lot of difference. Fishing kayaks tend to be more of the sit on top variety and have more accessories dedicated to fishing such as rod holders.

2. How Dangerous Is Kayak Fishing?
Ans: Kayak fishing is not a particularly dangerous sport as long as you follow safety advice and guidelines, ensuring you wear a lifejacket and tell others where you are going for example. Likewise, you need to be responsible and only go as far as you are able.

3. How Wide Should a Fishing Kayak Be?
Ans: Fishing kayaks don’t need to be wide but, the wider they are the more stable they are, so it depends on what you need. Incidentally, if you’re a little wider than average, you need to factor that into your choice of a kayak.

4. How Do You Fish in a River Kayak?
Ans: In a river kayak you can fish in two ways: standing or sitting, depending on the capabilities of the kayak you’re in! Otherwise, it is pretty similar to fishing on the shoreline!

5. What Should I Do With Live Bait?
Ans: Live bait can be stored in appropriate containers on the deck of your kayak or in one of the storage compartments if you have them.

6. What Color Kayak Is Best for Fishing?
Ans: Brighter colors are better if you get stuck or need help on the water as potential rescuers can see you! Of course, it remains to be seen whether fish are put off by brighter colors, though I suspect not!

7. Do I Need to Wear a PFD?
Ans: A PFD (personal floatation device) or life jacket is essential when out on the water, no matter how confident you believe you are. Anyone can get into difficulty. Some states insist that they must be worn, so check out the regs where you are.

8. Do Kayaks Flip Easily?
Ans: Some sit-in kayaks can flip and are designed to flip and roll. But these kayaks are really not advised for kayak fishing. Of course, pretty much any kayak can flip, which is why caution should be taken to choose a kayak that is stable enough for your fishing ability.

9. Which Is Better – Sit On or Sit In Kayak?
Ans: It really depends on what you need and want. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

10. Will I Get Wet When I’m Fishing With a Kayak?
Ans: You shouldn’t get too wet! But don’t be surprised if you get splashed occasionally!

About the author

Derrick Riley

I’m Derrick in my early 40s, but planning to bag from every saltwater source in America. In practice, I’ve explored over a dozen bodies of water that hosted almost all of the saltwater game fish. My personal favorites are brook trout and striped bass though. I don’t mind catching bluegill and white crappie either.

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