Ocean Fishing Kayak: Buying Guide
1. Length & Width
Longer boats between 15 to 20 feet are quicker and don’t make you feel too small on the open sea. Shorter kayaks are comfortable for beginners but small and slower on the ocean.
Compared to thinner models, wider kayaks are more stable and less prone to capsize. Besides, they offer more space for sitting and storage.
Depending on your fishing style, you need to choose between an inflatable or hard kayak.
a) Inflatable kayaks
Inflatables are more convenient to store or transport. They’re larger, less prone to damage with impacts, and easier to repair. They also make less noise, ensuring you don’t scare off the fish.
Yet, inflatables are difficult to maneuver and get damaged with prolonged sun exposure. Besides, they’re prone to puncture, and here is where their number of air chambers comes handy. Thus, we recommend you choose those with many air compartments. This is because they can still float if one chamber gets a puncture. This makes the Intex Excursion kayak the best option for inflatables.
b) Hard-shell Kayaks
These boats can withstand impacts from sharp objects like rocks, hooks, and knives. Hard-body kayaks are much more popular because they’re easier to maneuver. They’re cheaper than inflatables and great for beginners. Most of our reviewed choices are hard-shells but Pilot 12 is still the best if you want to make a choice.
Most kayak manufacturers use polyethylene material which is a lightweight and durable plastic. It gets warped if left for hours in the sun so we tell you to cover it up when unused.
Another trendy kayak material is fiberglass. This one is lighter than polyethylene but more prone to damage. Yet, fiberglass is easier to maintain and gives a more durable lifespan.
If you want to spend extra bucks on a good quality kayak material, pick Kevlar and carbon types. They’re lighter and more durable than plastic and fiberglass kayaks.
4. Weight & Portability
Kayaks weight around 60 to 70 pounds and this seems too heavy for many people. The weight may not impact on their performance but does for transportation. So, always consider how you’re going to transport your new kayak to the sea.
To convey your kayak from the house to the ocean and the water is often difficult. You need to check if your kayak fits your truck and how to move it from the vehicle to the sea. The difficulty in carrying increases if you load it up with many fishing accessories. Meanwhile, the work is a little easier if you transfer the boat directly from the carrier to the water.
If you really have to drag it through mud paths in the shore, opt for a lightweight or inflatable kayak. The Intex Excursion kayak weighs around 40 pounds - the lightest on this list.
5. Easy to Maneuver
Though we suggested you look for a longer kayak, it should also have good tracking. This means it should be easy to control with less likelihood to drift with the wind or current. The best kayak for the ocean should have extras like skeg or rudder to help you get smooth turns.
Speed is pretty important when you fish in the ocean. Longer kayaks are faster and can travel long distances in a short time. You should pick models that enable you to reach your fishing place and return to shore in a short time.
7. Single or Two Person Kayaks
First, figure out if you’re paddling alone or with someone. We recommend against a single person using a two-person kayak to avoid instability. Besides, the boat might get filled with water, becoming too difficult to handle.
The best kayak for ocean fishing must be stable enough to tackle wild currents. Though they’re also narrow, the factor of secondary stability in their designs prevents them from tipping. Here, the hull is round or tunneled to give it the perfect balance. The increased stability allows you to stand to enhance your sight during fishing.
9. Seat Comfort & Adjustability
You need a comfortable seat if you want to spend a lot of time on the sea. Some kayaks come with seats while others don’t, requiring you to buy. But, this seems good as it allows you to pick the one with the most comfortable features. You should also look for seats that are adjustable and have paddings at specific areas.
Storage is essential since you will likely travel long distances. You should figure out the space available and ensure your items will stay dry. The bungee system is another extra feature for attaching large fishing equipment.
11. Weight Capacity
The kayak you choose should be 100 pounds more than your body, equipment, and fish weight combined. You should also check how many people will use your kayak at a time. A boat with at least 400-pound load capacity should be perfect for a single paddler. The Elkton Outdoors is for anglers looking for models with fantastic weight capacity.
Since you won’t feel comfortable traveling such long distances in a tight space. Hence, your cockpit should be spacious, allowing you to straighten or move your legs with ease.
13. Fishing rod holders
Many manufacturers add rod holders into the boat’s design for easier fishing. These rod holders should be plenty and easy to access. The BKC UH-TK 181 kayak features seven-rod holders which are the highest on this list.
14. Water Type
The area of water you plan to paddle is pretty important for your choice of a kayak. You should check if it’s suitable for flat or choppy water.
These include tributaries, mangrove swamps, closed cloves, and estuaries. Boats optimized for flatwater have a wider cockpit with a rounded hull. This design makes them easier to maneuver.
b) Choppy water
Choppy water areas are the vast sea and coasts with much tidal action and wind. The best kayak for ocean have a v-shaped hull and narrower cockpit. This helps to overcome swells and block water from entering.
Ocean kayaks' price is between 300 to the 2000-dollar range. Hence they cost more than the traditional types because of their high-quality construction. That said, if you want models with a comfortable seat and durable material, be ready to pay higher. For the most affordable options, pick our Intex Excursion Pro and Lifetime Tamarack choices.
16. Sit in vs sit on top kayak
Sit-in kayaks are perfect for ocean fishing as they’re tighter and more secure. Besides, they feature small holes where you place your legs to feel connected to your boat. These types are more stable for open sea fishing. Sit in models also perform better in choppy waters because of their lower center of gravity. The only problem is the difficulty in getting in and out of the boat.
Sit on types offer a lot of space for you to spread your legs and feel comfortable to move around. They also cheaper and allow easier access to gear. But they provide less protection against the elements.
Ocean Kayaking Danger & Safety Tips
Almost all recreational activities come with the risk of injuries or death. However, there’s always a way to prevent a mishap and that’s to follow safety guidelines. So, if you want to enjoy many years of kayak fishing with no accident, these tips are for you.
- Suit up against any sudden weather change and capsizing. Besides, you should wear suitable clothing for your climate. If you’re using a sit-in kayak, you’ll have some protection but that’s not the case on a sit-on type. We recommend that you gear up to reduce your level of exposure to the elements.
- Figure out if your proposed fishing area is home to sharks; if so, avoid them.
- Always watch out for other sea vessels and wear bright colors to make yourself more visible.
- Make sure you use only ocean specific boats that can handle bigger waves.
- Understand your water temperature and climate condition. If the weather is cold, wear a thick suit to stay warm. If in warm, get a long sleeve material to protect you from the sun’s UV rays.
- Know the boat rules of your area and follow them.
- Inspect your fishing gear against wear and tear. Again, don’t exceed your kayak’s rated load capacity.
- Check the weather beforehand to avoid dangerous offshore winds.
- Avoid the use of alcohol and drugs when you’re in the open sea.
- Learn the right water safety techniques before you launch your boat.
- If possible, avoid situations where you paddle alone.
- Take some self-rescue lessons in shallow water before you go into the ocean.
- Tell someone your fishing plans, including your fishing area and duration in the sea.
- Always wear a kayak fishing specific life jacket because they’re more comfortable.
Care & Maintenance Tips
Lots of work goes into owning a kayak, but the best of them is how to perform regular maintenance. Follow these tips to prolong your boat’s life.
It’s a good practice to wipe off the dirt from your boat before storage. A clean water and bleach solution will wash away salt water and harmful bacteria.
We recommend against dragging your kayak because they cause scratches and holes. Opting for a kayak cart protects the bottom from damage and makes your journey simpler.
Long exposure to the sun harms the kayak’s color and plastic hull that makes it prone to cracks. Make sure you use the manufacturer’s recommended UV protectant.
If you can’t store your boat indoors, use a cover. A cockpit cover helps protect your kayak from sun, rain, snow, bugs, and dust. It comes in different sizes; so pick the one that suits your boat’s size.
- Kayaks with Skegs and Rudders
Check and clean the cables, pedals, control lines, and lubricate the steering gear.
Inspect the hull against loose screws and tighten them. Also, repair or replace frayed batten hatches, bungee cords, and cables. Spray water-resistant lubricants on the zippers to make them function as intended.
It’s Time to Wrap Up
Now that you’ve read our best ocean fishing kayak reviews and buying guide, you’ll make the right choice. We’ve shown you the things to bear in mind and our top-rated choices available.
Our most favorite kayak is the Perception Pescador Pilot 12. It has a quiet and efficient pedal drive system that takes your hands off the paddles. If you want an all-round excellent fishing kayak, the Pilot 12 is perfect.
For anglers looking for a tandem vessel, the BKC UH-TK181 is great. It has plenty of storage rooms for equipment, holds seven rods, and handles two heavy adults. If you want an inflatable and lightweight model, our Intex Excursion Pro is worth considering.
- Will sit on top kayaks be good for the ocean?
Ans. The choice for sit-on or sit-top kayaks depends on your fishing ground. For instance, sit on boats are suitable for calm waterways while sit-in types are for areas with bigger waves.
- Where do I keep my catch?
Ans. Most fishing kayaks come with large storage compartments for you to store your catch.
- How can I know if my kayak will be useful for ocean fishing?
Ans. An ocean specific kayak has a wide cockpit and a longer hull. The extra width makes it stable against large swells. You should also check for storage compartments, fish rod holders, and available seats.
- Can I cast and fight fish in a standing position without losing balance?
Ans. Yes. Best-rated ocean fishing kayaks have wider cockpits that allow you to stand. But, your skill level determines your success. So you should first practice how to stand on shallow water.
- Should I buy a cheap ocean fishing kayak?
Ans. Yes, you can. That said, you shouldn’t break the bank to buy a good quality ocean fishing kayak. All you need is to match your specs with the models that suit your budget.
- How dangerous is ocean kayaking?
Ans. Ocean boats can ride waves under 3 feet but there’s the danger of capsizing if you paddle against bigger tides.
- What’s the difference between a fishing kayak and a regular kayak?
Ans. A good fishing kayak features rod holders, storage compartments, and padded seats. These extras help to make your trip convenient. Again, it has a longer hull and wider cockpit for speed and stability.