The 20 Best Fishing Kayaks

Kayaking is a great, exhilarating way to enjoy the outdoors, as it combines some serious upper body strength moves with the primal excitement of catching your own meal. It is also a surprisingly versatile sport, as it allows you to adapt to both deep salty seawaters and local streams alike – wherever your favorite fishing spots happen to be.

Kayak fishing has been experiencing a bit of a revival over the last few years. It’s been practiced for centuries in certain regions, to be sure, but it seems that a lot of us have recently realized the advantages it holds over simply choosing a spot by the pier or renting a full boat and then sticking to that same lake for the foreseeable future.

Whether you are only now dipping your toes into the world of kayak fishing, or have been fishing for years, chances are you are ready to invest in your own specialized fishing kayak. And nothing beats a good deal like buying quality from the get-go. It will save you a lot of trouble later down the road (or stream!) if you don’t have to patch up or repair your new purchase after every trip.

The Best Fishing Kayaks

Feelfree Lure 11.1Feelfree Lure 11.1

One of the top-rated kayaks currently available, the Lure 11.5 is also a pleasant sight. It is a bit wider than average, but still light enough to be easy to carry into any pond.

Feelfree is a well-known brand for adventure sports fans, but they have really scored a hit this time with their Lure. It is consistently described as having one of the comfiest seats available, which can withstand long rides without producing any cramps or requiring frequent adjustments.

Weighing 74 pounds and with a 425 pounds capacity, the Lure 11.1 is equipped with a multi-height Gravity Seat with over 10 adjusted options. It also has an electronic pod that allows fish finders and nets to be attached easily and a removable FeelFree sonar.


Brooklyn Kayak UH-220Brooklyn Kayak UH-220

One of the U.S.’s most established kayak manufacturers, Brooklyn, has oriented the UH-220 to durability above all. Coated in their proprietary Anti Fade color finish, which is meant to endure saltwater and UV radiation alike, this is a stable and comfortable vessel. Despite being designed as a Sit-On-Top model, its standup stability is more than decent to allow you to keep your knees straight during those tricky sections.

This kayak is 11 foot, 6 inches tall, and only weighs 68 pounds. Its high-end articulating rod holders, hull hatches, and bungee tie system make it stand out along with its waterproof storage space.


Jackson Kayak Cuda 14Jackson Kayak Cuda 14

Jackson Kayak considers the Cuda to be the apple of their eyes, and as one of their top selling models, it definitely deserves the attention. The finish and features clearly show a lot of dedication and love placed on the model’s last iteration. Despite its width, the Cuda remains remarkably fast without sacrificing comfort.

Thirteen feet long and with a highly-endorsed sliding seat, the Cuda HD is also equipped with molded-in rod tip covers and a good tackle box. It is also fully compatible with the YankAttack tracking systems, and can often be purchased together. Add a sturdy standing pad and a bow hatch system, and you have a masterpiece in the making.


Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler ranks as both one of the top-rated and most widely sold fishing kayak models among experts and hobbyists alike. It may be the option providing the most storage space, although it doesn’t have a waterproof compartment. It comes with its own rod holder plus the room to install some extra (or a fish finder). It also offers both pedals and paddle.

As it’s geared at serious fishermen, the Hobie Pro Angler did not bother trying to be light or portable. It weighs 98 pounds when empty and is 12 feet long. Even the paddle is extra-large (260 cm). It’s equipped with dual steering and storage for 4 rods.


Pelican Sentry 100X AnglerPelican Sentry 100X Angler

Pelican is one of Canada’s major kayak brands, and there is something irresistibly appealing about the Sentry 100X Angler. Despite being usually considered a budget option, it is still a very stable SOT vessel. The sailing experience is remarkably above what you would expect from an inflatable kayak. The storage space is limited, but it is specifically aimed at anglers and those who like to fish solo.

The Sentry is only 45 pounds and 10 feet long, but thanks to its slim design, it can reach some very high speeds. Made of thermoform plastic, it has the capacity for 3 rods, a relatively comfortable backrest, foot rests, and knee pads.


Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

Wilderness Systems have long stopped being a newcomer to the kayaking and boating scene, but they have kept their fun, socially-conscious spirit at the forefront for their new high-end creations. The Tarpon 120 is a great example of this. Specifically designed for super performance on rivers and water currents, this vessel is equipped with all the basics and leaves room to expand on the frills. Their limited “Heroes on the Water” edition will put some of your purchase money straight into rehabilitation programs for active combat vets.

Twelve feet-long and 30-inches-wide, the Tarpon 120 has a Phase 3 SOT seat, sturdy drain plugs, self-bailing scupper holes, and good storage space – although it isn’t completely waterproof, so take care of your beer cooler.


Lifetime Sport Fisher, Tandem VersionLifetime Sport Fisher, Tandem Version

Fishing often gets an unfair reputation for being a lonely activity. While it’s true that most fishing kayak models are only designed for one person, the Lifetime Sport Fisher is here for those who don’t want to leave their best friend behind. There are single and tandem versions for this model, but we wanted to highlight the tandem one as it has super maneuverability for a kayak of its size. Sturdy, sleek-looking paddles are combined here with a great tracking system, all coated in resistant, durable polyethylene.

At 10 feet long, this kayak feels surprisingly spacious from the inside, and has a carrying capacity of 500 pounds. It has three fishing pole holders. A rear storage hatch, and both the seats and footrests are easily adjustable.


Old Town Vapor 10 Angler Fishing KayakOld Town Vapor 10 Angler Fishing Kayak

Johnson Outdoors has released many flashy kayak models over the past few years, and some of them have had no difficulty finding their way into the top seller lists. There is something extra about their unassuming Old Town line – always ready to serve newcomers and experts alike, but built by those who see fishing as a way of life. The Vapor 10 Angler is a great example of this spirit. They’re compact yet spacious. They have subdued looks but high-quality finishes that are meant to last for countless fishing expeditions.

Despite only being 28.5 inches wide, the Vapor 10’s cockpit is large enough (48 x 19.5 inches) to fit even bigger fishermen inside. An anchor trolley system, rugged hull coating, and an oddly placed drain plug complete the ensemble.


Hobie Mirage OutbackHobie Mirage Outback

Those who know their kayaks will not be surprised to see Hobie as one of the brands that appear on this list more than once.

The Hobie Outback is a great choice for those who can’t choose between speed and stability – so, instead, they go big. Despite its carbon hull and paddles, this is not a light vessel, but it packs anything you may need to stay comfortable while waiting for your catch.

Slightly over 12’’ long, and 33’’ wide, the Outback is equipped with Vantage CT seats and Hobie’s own MirageDrive propelling system. It also has a lot of dry storage and a sail mount for those who want to experiment.


Pelican Catch 100Pelican Catch 100

The Catch 100 is quick to point out what it was built for, starting from the name. This is a quick and light kayak made for fly fishing and bass fishing, and provides the stability and stamina necessary to keep the pursuit going. Thoroughly accessorized with rod holders, straps, and an angler ruler, the tunnel hull is made from durable, multi-layered polyethylene, and is sure to keep you afloat for several fishing seasons on the road.

Ten feet long and 34 inches wide, the Pelican Catch 100 weighs only 58 pounds, but can carry up to 350 pounds, which makes it a well-rounded family option; even the smallest members of the crew will be able to pull their own weight. It also has a dual-position seating system and a quick-lock hatch.


Hobie Mirage i9SHobie Mirage i9S

Hobie is a varied and versatile brand, and so are their models. Where the Outback and the Pro Angler were designed for lifelong fishermen, the i9S is an inflatable, highly portable option that won’t need its own trailer. Inflatable kayaks are usually targeted towards the budget-conscious audience, but the Mirage clearly isn’t. Instead, it packs all the necessary accessories even if it can be stored underneath your bed. If you are the kind who likes to hit the woods every long weekend but have to make do with a city loft the rest of the time, this is a great option for you.

Only 9 feet long but 36 inches wide, the Hobie Mirage will only sit one person, but it’s made of an impressively sturdy 1000 denier PVC that will resist rocky areas and bumps surprisingly well. It comes with pedals, but fully compatible sail kits or electric motors are available as add-ons. The seat is padded and adjustable while the storage is spacious. It can carry up to 325 pounds, but the fitted hull weight is only 48 pounds.


Lifetime Muskie AnglerLifetime Muskie Angler

Fishing is not always about rapid chases – in fact, many experienced fishermen will tell you that it’s a stealth-and-patience based game rather than a quick or energetic one. The Muskie Angler’s designers clearly understood this and suited their sketches to suit. The result was a spacious vessel that, while not the fastest, is remarkably silent and easy to stop – meaning that your fish won’t hear you coming half a mile upstream. Made from good, UV-protected polyethylene, the Muskie Angler has hit the bullseye for a difficult market to please: those who are after the hard-to-get prizes instead of a quick dinner.

Twelve feet-long and 31-inches-wide, the Muskie weighs only 50 pounds but can carry up to 275 pounds. It’s equipped with front and back handles that make it easy to load it on top of your car, or even to carry it overland. It also has 2 paddle cradles, mounted rod holders, and storage compartments both in the rear and the middle of the vessel.


VIBE Sea GhostVIBE Sea Ghost

It’s always refreshing to see new players enter the fishing kayak market. VIBE is a very outdoorsy, daring brand that specializes in adventure sports gear but nevertheless understands the comfort needs of kayak fishers. This model is wide, comfy, tracks well, and can perform just as well in rivers or in seawater. Decorated in bright camo patterns, there are four color combinations to choose from.

This is a stable kayak rather than a light one. It’s 11 feet long and weighs 62 pounds. However, it also comes equipped with multiple accessory mounts, a large storage space, a high-quality paddle, and a rudder for long trips.


Ocean Kayak Malibu TwoOcean Kayak Malibu Two

Few fishing kayaks dare to directly target the much more limited sea kayak fishing market, which means that those who do don’t have many chances to disappoint and still survive. The Malibu Two was designed to bring a social, salty vibe to kayak fishing: space for two people meets high saltwater resistance, gear straps, and a light, bright-colored look. Despite its comfortable chairs, the Malibu Two’s paddles are long enough for standing navigation whenever you need to get to the next fishing spot quickly. The hull was also specially designed to allow easy stacking, and with a maximum capacity of 425 pounds, this kayak can endure it.

For a kayak that weighs only 57 pounds, this is a decently-sized kayak (12 feet long and 34 inches wide). It also has side carry handles, allowing it to be moved about easily, even overland. Each seat has three different positions available, and for those who like the occasional solo trip, there is also a smartly-designed overlapping foot well.


Old Town Predator 13Old Town Predator 13

If chasing new scenery is not your thing, but you are a frequent visitor to your nearby lake, the Predator 13 is the heavyweight after your own heart. It was designed to provide maximum stability on large bodies of water – think coast or lake rather than quick stream – and will keep you upright and stealthy even when battling against a scaled monster. Its patented mounting plates can be moved around and re-installed easily, which allows for superior customization options – even if it comes with all rod holders, bungees, and paddle holders you would need.

Thirteen feet long, 33 inches wide, and 86 pounds may sound like a lot of boat, but the Predator can also carry a lot of fisherman (and fishing gear) – up to 425 pounds, to be exact. A three-position adjustable seat and a slip-resistant coating round out the package.


Sun Dolphin Aruba 10Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

So far, both this list and the premium fishing kayak market in general have been dominated by sit-on-top options. Worry not! The Sun Dolphin Aruba is here to stand up (or sit down!) for sit-inside kayaks, placing itself as a statement for the maneuverability and protection offered by SIK models. Made of high-density polyethylene, the Aruba 10 also has a surprising amount of discreet storage space and superior high back support.

Despite weighing only 40 pounds and being 10 feet long and 30 inches wide, the Aruba 10’s cockpit is large enough to carry a bulky fisher inside that tops over 6 feet. In addition, it has a maximum capacity of 300 pounds. A hard shell structure and a stern hatch make it stand out from most other premium options on this list, and it also has carrying handlers and a water bottle holder.


 Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 10Native Watercraft Slayer Propel

The fast-sailing darling by Native Watercraft, the Slayer, can easily reach up to 4.2 miles an hour while keeping your pedaling relaxed. This likely makes it the most versatile and fast pedal-based fishing kayak available right now. There is a lot of attention to detail hiding in the Slayer: from hand-sewn seat cushions to an easy-to-switch forward and reverse pedal mechanism, to a resistant hard shell and separate open and dry storage hatches. The paddles are also of superior quality and they come with water-resistant padded handles. The degree of comfort these handles offer should not be underestimated!

Ten feet long, 30 inches wide, 62 pounds of sturdy, layered polyethylene make the Slayer a high-voltage fishing kayak. The drive unit can carry up to 400 pounds, and it is equipped with two flush rod mount holders, a 5’’ dry storage hatch, and a rudder protective keel.


Riot Kayaks Edge, Flatwater VersionRiot Kayaks Edge, Flatwater Version

This is a remarkably safe sea kayak that still looks cool enough to please the daring sea fishing crowd. Stable enough to handle rough waves, the Edge keeps the needs of long-haul sailors in mind thanks to its waterproof front and end storage compartments, which are spacious enough for an overnight stay at the groves. The seat is also custom fit and provides a superior SIK experience.

The Edge is 13 feet long but only 44 pounds, and you can confidently carry up to 300 pounds in it. It also features a well-placed drain plug and a pilot rudder system.


Perception Pescador ProPerception Pescador Pro

The Pescador Pro is marketed by its manufacturers as the ideal “first fishing kayak,” but a quick look at its features shows that it should be your first great kayak instead. Lightweight and maneuverable, the Pescador Pro is nevertheless equipped with enough tools to please even an experienced angler. Yet its custom-made paddle is clearly meant to add extra confidence for beginners, and can handle calm coastal waters as well as open ocean conditions.

Twelve feet long and just under 33 inches wide, the Pescador remains light at only 64 pounds – which makes it easy enough to lift on top of a good van. It can carry up to 375 pounds.


ATAK 140 by Wilderness SystemsATAK 140 by Wilderness Systems

As far as versatility and power go, the ATAK 140 probably takes the crown. Meant for kayak fishers who know what they want and how they like it, it kept its design open in order to allow for easy customization without sacrificing stability.

However, the most eye-catching feature of this kayak is its seat, which is large and comfy enough to keep your energy and concentration for hours – until everything’s ready to battle the big catch of the day.

This is a heavyweight model: 95 pounds, 14 feet long, and 34 inches wide. However, it can also resist heavy loading of both fisher and gear up to 550 pounds maximum capacity. It also has extensive storage space.



What Makes a Great Fishing Kayak?

We have always been big fans of quality over quantity, and when it comes to kayaking, the quality of what you buy tends to come at a price. We have strived to test and review a few fishing kayaks under a $1,000, but for the most part, most of our options here are in the high-tier market.

In addition to durability and the sturdiness of materials, we have also looked at their weight, their safety standards, and their rigging capabilities. We have also looked at reviews by both experts and verified buyers, and chosen reliable specialized brands to feature here.


Types of Fishing Kayaks

Despite the variety of models, appliances, and perks available out there, fishing kayaks can be divided into two main categories: self-bailing “sit on top” kayaks (or SOKs) and sit in kayaks (also known as SIKs.)

Sit on top kayaks provide extra stability and are a bit safer, especially for beginners. They tend to have a slightly bigger chair and allow you to roll over a bit more without getting full of water, sinking, and losing your catch. If you are going after big prey, that can make a huge difference.

Sit in kayaks are, on the other hand, the ideal choice for those who are usually trying out new streams and rivers. They have greater maneuverability in moving waters and they tend to be significantly lighter as well. If you’ll be on the move, these are an excellent choice.

Inflatable kayaks are often seen as a budget-friendly option, ideal for those who are only getting started. However, because they are so easy to pack up and even board on a plane, many serious kayakers (the kind who want to try their luck all over the world) are now seeking high-quality professional-grade inflatable kayaks. The market has responded, and some amazing new models have appeared over the past two years.