Best fishing kayak guide – Buy the best fishing kayak for your needs

If you’re a shore angler who wants to explore fishing further from the shore to increase your fishing reach, or someone who thinks that the fishing boats are difficult to manoeuver in tight rivers, or someone who wants to explore fishing further in the lake, river or sea but is worried about not having the space to store boats, a fishing kayak is best suited for you!

Kayak fishing is definitely cheaper and more convenient than fishing on a boat, and gives you more flexibility compared to fishing from the shore. In this post, we’ve gone on a search to find the best fishing kayaks available for you!

Scroll right to see more recommendations for our top fishing kayaks

 Sun Dolphin Bali SSHobie Pro Angler 14Renegade XT KayakLifetime TamarackSun Dolpin ExcursionLifetime Sport Fisher Tandem
Hobie Pro Angler 14Renegade XT Kayaklifetime tamarackSun dolphin excursionlifetime 10 foot sport fisher tandem
Rating5 stars3.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars4.5 stars
Length (ft)12 ft14 ft10 ft10 ft12 feet10 ft
Width (ft/ inches)2.5 ft/ 30 inches3 ft/ 38 inches3 ft/ 36 inches2.5 ft/ 31 inches2.5 ft/ 29.5 inches3 ft/ 36 inches
Weight (lbs)48 lbs110 lb49 lbs52 lbs47 lbs65 lbs
Capacity (lbs)395 lbs600 lbs275 lbs275 lbs395 lbs500 lbs
TypeSit-on-topSit-on-topSit-on-topSit-on-topSit-inSit-on-top
Best featureGreat price and large capacityComfortable seats with back support!
Comes with an option for reverse
Sturdy Construction with large storageLots of accessories optionsCuts through water like a hot knife
through butter!
Takes 3 people! High capacity

Fishing kayaks vs normal kayaks

If you already own a kayak, you’ll wonder why not just use your old kayak to fish? There are some reasons why you’ll want a fishing kayak instead of a normal kayak.

Speed and stability

In a touring kayak, you’ll see it being narrower, thus moves faster through the water. Having a fast-moving kayak is probably what you won’t need as you won’t be “chasing” after fishes to a race, you would also not be moving around too much on the water while you’re fishing. While fishing, you’ll want to be on a more stable craft that lets you focus on fighting the fish rather than focus on maintaining your balance.

Storage

In a typical touring kayak, it does offer much storage on board the kayak, but they’re less accessible compared to fishing kayaks. The storage option for touring kayaks are meant to be accessed before and after the water activity instead of it being accessible DURING the on-water activity. Fishing kayaks allows you to put equipment on top of the kayak which makes them easily assessable for you. Having sufficient accessible storage on a fishing kayak will allow you to change your setup easily while you’re out in the water. The additional stability that we mentioned above also helps. It’ll be unfortunate to capsize when changing your rig.

Mountings

Fishing kayaks have specific areas that allow you to include mountings for your rods and still allow you to operate your kayak safely and effectively without hindering you while paddling. Touring kayaks on the other hand, would not have such features inbuilt for their designs. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have mounts on your touring kayak, but they’ll probably hinder your paddling movements and annoy you.

Ease of use

Touring kayaks, through allows you to move faster, require more skill to manoeuver around. The less stable nature of the touring kayak will distract you on what you really want to do while out in the water: fishing. Fishing kayaks on the other hand, will be easier for anglers; just sit and go!

Find a fishing kayak that’s the best for your needs

There are many considerations when choosing a fishing kayak that makes you proud to say it’s “MY fishing kayak”. We’ve listed some considerations that will help you decide what types of fishing kayaks will suit your needs.

Water body

The kayak that suits you will also need to suit the type of water body that it’s going to be operating in. Different water bodies will place a premium over certain characteristics of the kayak over others. Will you be fishing in a lake, fast flowing river, or even the open sea? Decide which is the type of water body that you’ll most likely be fishing in, then move to the next few points to decide which types of fishing kayak works for you.

Dimensions

The dimensions of the kayak can help you achieve different goals; they can be as practical as asking yourself “how am I going to store the kayak at home?” to performance related goals focusing on the kayak’s maneuverability, or even the size of fish that you’re trying to target. Length and speed – We’ve covered this earlier, the longer and narrower kayaks are easier to travel straight and thus cover longer distances, but sacrifice on the stability of the craft (and you) and the ease of maneuverability in the water. If you’re interested in covering long distances to reach your fishing spot, or need to cut through waves, longer and narrower kayaks would be suitable for you. Shorter kayaks are great for maneuverability and provides you superior control over your kayak especially when you’re fishing in rivers or a water body which has more obstacles. Wider kayaks are more stable and thus allow you to focus on enjoying the adrenaline rush that presents itself when you’ve hooked up a big fish instead of focusing on keeping yourself balanced on the kayak. Wider kayaks can also carry a heavier payload due to its ability to have a larger displacement.

Sit-In or Sit-On-Top Kayak?

Sit-in kayaks have an enclosed deck that allows you to install a skirting to keep your lower body relatively dry while you negotiate faster waters or waves. Most fishermen prefer sit-on-top kayaks due to their stability from the wider body. They are inherently safer for the inexperienced paddler as the paddler can just hop off the kayak in case of a capsize; sit-in kayaks require more skill by the paddler to escape due to its enclosed nature. Recovering and getting back of sit-on-top kayak after a capsize is easier as they do not collect water within the kayak; sit-in kayaks can collect substantially more water in the kayak because they are enclosed and water can only be emptied out of the kayak through its cockpit. And since we’re more interested in fishing compared to kayaking as a sport, we’ll recommend the sit-on-top kayaks more often!

Weight and Transportability

If you live just by the water body with your own kayak “parking lot”, this section or consideration is not relevant to you. But if you’re like most of us who need to travel to the water body just to enjoy fishing, this will be an important consideration. A heavy kayak will inherently be more difficult to transport; especially so if you intend to transport your kayak on top of your car or SUV on a rack. Hauling a heavy kayak onto the rack can be damaging to your back (or your car if you accidentally hit your car with the kayak) if not done properly. You might consider having trailers to transport heavier kayaks or if you have more kayaks to transport when you go fishing.

Comfort

If you’ll prefer to lounge in your kayak once you’ve reached your fishing spot, a comfortable seat or a kayak that lets you customize your kayak seat will be something that you should consider placing more emphasis on.

And now that we’ve decided on the components of a kayak that’s important for you, here are the top 6 best fishing kayaks that we’ve found!

Top 6 Best Fishing Kayaks

Sun Dolphin Bali SS 12-Foot Sit-on-Top Kayak

Sun dolphin Bali SS

We’ve done a full review of the Sun Dolphin SS 12 here.

Here’s a quick summary:

What we like

  • GREAT ACCESSIBLE PRICE
  • Large capacity compared to other kayaks of its size (suitable for larger and bigger guys and girls)
  • Relatively wide kayak for increased stability
  • Light weight (48 lbs) which allows for easy transportation
  • Open cockpit design makes it safe for the most inexperienced to get out of the kayak in case of a capsize
  • Easy to get on and off the kayak on shore or at the launch pontoons
  • The retractable carrying handles are a good addition to reduce clutter on deck of the kayak.

What we don’t like

  • Lack of cushion on the seats, this makes it uncomfortable after kayaking for a prolonged time (but you can order a cushion online together with the kayak)
  • Prepare to get your bottoms wet with the seat being at the lowest point of the kayak (other than the bow of course!)
  • Difficult to gain speed with the kayak (but it can be expected for a fishing kayak)

Hobie Pro Angler 14 Olive

Hobie Pro Angler 14

We’ve done a full review of the Hobie Pro Angler 14 here.

Here’s a quick summary

What we like:

  • Large capacity compared to other kayaks of its size (suitable for larger and bigger guys and girls)
  • Relatively wide kayak for increased stability
  • EXTREMELY comfortable
  • Hands free kayaking with the MirageDrive propulsion system
  • Lots of options to mount additional accessories to help the angler

What we don’t like

  • Price – the price of this kayak might be beyond the budget of most anglers with a MSRP of about $3,000.
  • Bulky and heavy – With the stability of this kayak comes its bulkiness. It’s unlikely that you can transport this kayak on top of your car with a car rack. You will either need a truck or trailer to transport this. At 110lbs, we don’t recommend you to carry this kayak alone.
  • Difficult to maneuver in waters with tight space

Emotion Renegade XT Fishing Kayak

Renegade XT Kayak

We’ve done a full review of the Emotion Renegade XT Fishing Kayak here.

Here’s a quick summary

What we like:

  • Low price
  • Ease of maneuvering
  • Reasonable comfort
  • Large storage areas
  • Extremely sturdy
  • Light weight

What we don’t like

  • Lack of ability to add much accessories for the kayaker
  • While easy to maneuver, the length of the kayak makes it difficult to track.
  • Difficult to maneuver in waters with tight spaces
  • If your items move within the dry well, it can be difficult to retrieve while on the water.

Lifetime Tamarack Sit-on-Top Kayak

lifetime tamarack

We’ve done a full review of the Lifetime Tamarack Sit-on-Top Kayak here.

Here’s a quick summary

What we like:

  • Low price
  • 5-year limited warranty (shows how confident they are about their products)
  • Ease of maneuvering
  • Comfortable with the adjustable seats
  • Large storage areas
  • Light weight

What we don’t like

  • Accessing the storage compartment at the bow can be difficult on the water
  • Molded-in footrests can be awkward for those whose feet happen to be between the 2 footrests
  • Not very speedy

Sun Dolphin Excursion 12-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak

Sun dolphin excursion

We’ve done a full review of the Sun Dolphin Excursion 12-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak here.

Here’s a quick summary

What we like:

  • Allows more control of the kayak due to its close-deck
  • Ease of maneuvering
  • Feet and bottom of the kayaker can remain relatively dry
  • Large storage areas
  • Light weight

What we don’t like

  • Difficult to access the storage compartments after strapping larger items on the deck
  • Requires slightly more skill to use this kayak.

Lifetime 10-Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak – Best Kayak for 2 to 3 people

lifetime 10 foot sport fisher tandem

We’ve done a full review of the Lifetime Tamarack Sit-on-Top Kayak here.

Here’s a quick summary

What we like:

  • High capacity – Suitable for heavier and larger guys
  • Low price
  • Comfortable seats with backrests
  • Elevated seats
  • Option for add-ons to be mounted onto the kayak

What we don’t like

  • Difficult to maneuver
  • Lack of storage space
  • It’s quite a squeeze for 3 people. It fits 2 comfortably

That’s it!

And this wraps up our top 6 recommendations for the best fishing kayaks for different needs. Check out our other articles written to make your fishing trips more enjoyable and fruitful.

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