Being on the water is a relaxing activity. Fishing is a relaxing activity. So if you’re thinking of meshing the two together for the ultimate form of leisure and relaxation a fishing kayak is probably on your list of things to buy. With so many different kayaks and manufacturers in the market, it’s tough to decide the one that is best for you.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best fishing kayaks below to help you come to a decision about which one you’ll commit to buying. Top fishing kayaks vary in price and features, but they all are suited to certain environments and styles of fishing. Depending on where you’re fishing, it’s likely there are a few things worth looking into.
This list features the top-rate fishing kayaks. These kayaks have all or some of the best features that kayak fishers look for. If you’re just starting out your shopping, this article will point in the right direction based on features, use, and price.
Different Types of Kayaks for Fishing
Sit-In Kayaks are closed body vessels with a cavity you sit in. The closed body style offers advantages with speed and security of your belongings on the inside. These types of kayaks are best for leisure kayaking where paddling will be your main priority. Sit-in kayaks are great for speed since their hulls are constructed to provide better tracking.
With the sit-in style kayak, you risk getting water into your kayak, in which case you will want a pump to quickly remove any excessive water. If you buy a cover for the cavity, you can use sit-in kayaks when you go white water rafting or in the surf so that water doesn’t enter the cavity.
This style of kayak is best for fishing or rough-water kayaking or fishing. These models are wide open and offer a lot of range of motion. These solid body kayaks are resilient to taking on water and can hold the most weight capacity.
They often have a lot of features and storage tanks to store your tackle or belongings.
Recreational kayaks are meant for the leisure kayaker who likes to wake up early and go out on the lake to relax. These kayaks are great for paddling and taking in the environment. They vary in size and features but often have very extras. They’re basic models that are meant for the relaxed paddler who just likes to kayak. They’re not ideal for fishing, but anyone who is looking to use it for that purpose could easily modify them to offer a rod holder or storage within the deck.
Tandem Kayaks are two-seater kayaks for the couple, or the friends who want to venture together, but not be in separate kayaks. These kayaks are long and stable and are often packed with features. They’re great for people who don’t want to kayak alone, but offer little space for activities like fishing.
These kayaks are more expensive than one seat kayaks and have a much larger weight capacity to hold two people.
Overview of the Top 5 Fishing Kayaks
1. Lifetime Tamarack Sit-On-Top Kayak
A good place to start with your fishing excursion is a sit-on-top kayak. These open vessels allow for maximum mobility and range because you aren’t enclosed in a hull. This open style gives you plenty of range for casting, reeling, baiting the hook, or removing the fish.
This kayak is made of UV-protected high-density polyethylene so it won’t fade from direct sunlight. It also has a stable flat bottom and stability rails so you don’t tip back and forth and end up flipping easily. It comes equipped with multiple footrest positions for kayakers of different sizes or ones who prefer to rest their feet in multiple positions. The adjustable padded seat maximizes comfort and it comes with two flush mounted fishing rod holders.
Rear and center storage compartments give you easy access to your tackle and paddle cradles secure your paddles while you’re fishing.
This is a great kayak for the beginners who are just starting out with kayak fishing and will serve you well for the years to come. It’s an affordable kayak at and can easily be handled by one person. It has a 275 lb. weight capacity and is 10-feet long. This sit-on-top kayak weighs 52lbs. and has plenty of extras to suit your needs.
2. Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
This is the best sit-in fishing kayak because it has a tracking and turning hull design that allows for easy mobility and quick movements to get to where the fishing is good. With two flush mount rod holders and a swivel holder, you’ll be able to cast in different directions without having to move. The cockpit has a wide open design despite it being a sit-in kayak, which gives you a lot of space to maneuver.
What’s great about sit-in kayaks is that you can store a lot in them because the enclosure around you feet is accessible and closed off to the water, unlike the sit-on-top kayaks which are wide open.
This kayak has a weight capacity of 250 lbs. and is 10-feet long. It’s lightweight which makes for easy transportation and ease-of-use. A storage hatch behind the seat of the kayak can hold your tackle and makes deck rigging easier in the event you have to swap gear or you cut a line.
Foot braces on the interior are easily adjustable from the large cockpit. A high back-padded seat adds comfort so you can be on the water all day without any aches or pains. This kayak is ideal for exploring a river or relaxing on the lake. The hull’s stable design makes it a versatile kayak for fast moving water or for the wakes of the bigger boats that pass you by.
This kayak comes in olive green or sand colors and the material runs straight through so scratches won’t show. It compares well to other advanced top-rated fishing kayaks.
3. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
This is one of the most popular fishing kayaks on the market. The hull design is one of kind as it is fast, stable, and quiet. You won’t be scaring the fish away as you sneak up on them in this versatile kayak. You can handle tough or calm waters with this kayak and fish in a river, on a calm lake, or in the surf with ease.
A hatch in front of the kayak offers easy storage and you can store multiple rods below the deck. Two rod holders beside the comfort seat make fishing with multiple rods easy and if you’re paddling, will secure your rod in place while you venture through the wakes and the tides or along the banks. An oversized tank in the stern of the kayak will easily hold a cooler, tackle box or a milk crate. Take your catches home with you or storage all of your tackle with this top fishing kayak.
This model is made for more advanced kayak fishers. Ocean Kayak is a well known manufacturer of kayaks and has a reputation that sells itself. At a premium price tag, this kayak won’t disappoint anyone who buys it.
This kayak is great for the surf because it has advanced stability for ocean ventures. The sealed hatches protect your belongings if you come across rough waters and this performance kayak is well-equipped with plenty of features.
4. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
This 10-foot kayak is ideal for the intermediate kayak fisher who’s looking for a light and mobile kayak to transport easily. It’s equipped with a three-rod configuration, two flush mounts and one swivel mount. This offers ample security for multiple rod fishermen or ones who find they’re casting in all different directions.
A comfort rest system that’s planted in the molded seat folds down and there’s a large storage area behind it for tackle storage. Straps secure your belongings in place and paddle keepers hold your paddles while you’re casting and reeling with ease. Paddle keepers are a must-have for any fishing kayak because it’s unlikely you’ll be handling your paddles while holding your rod.
The sit-in design makes this one of the best rated fishing kayaks because the cavity is wide open and offers ample foot room and maneuvering space. Handles on the front, back, and side make for easy transportation and carrying with a lightweight design that weighs this kayak in at 47 lbs. The hull is designed for maximum stability and smooth tracking with durable UV-protected polyethylene and has a max capacity of 280 lbs.
This kayak comes in olive or sand colors and it’s a sit-in model made for nearly every water condition from lakes and slow-moving rivers to the surf. This kayak is packed with many features despite it being a smaller model.
5. Malibu Kayaks Stealth 14 Fish and Dive Package Sit-On-Top Kayak
This sit-on-top kayak features unparalleled stability, which is something you definitely want if you’re fishing. Casting, baiting and cleaning your hook can be accompanied by plenty of jerks and sudden movements that would throw your average kayak off balance.
With four rod holders, this sit-on-top kayak offers plenty of versatility and features a patented center bait tank system which gives you ease of access to your hook and bait. It also has a patented casting platform which offers you that unparalleled stability. The adjustable foot rack adds to your comfort with a padded seat. Plenty of tank wells offer you a lot of storage options for tackle, a cooler, or whatever else you bring on your adventure.
This kayak measures 14-feet long and has a weight capacity of a staggering 550 lbs. With a lifetime warranty, Malibu ensures you’ll never be short of a kayak necessary for your needs. This kayak is a larger kayak you will need a roof rack for this. As a solo kayaker it’s often difficult to carry a kayak this large by yourself. If you’re moving all over the place often, this kayak may be difficult to carry. But if you live on a lake and have a dock, this fishing kayak is perfect for you because it’s packed with all of the features the best fishing kayaks have to offer.
This kayak sells for a premium price tag and is meant for more advanced kayakers who have a grasp on what they’re looking for. This model has unique patented technology that will make your kayak fishing experience easier and more comfortable.
Best Fishing Kayak Brands
Ocean Kayak specializes in kayaks meant for the surf and rough waters. Their sit-on-top models are great for the frothy waves in the surf the rough banks of a river. These kayaks are often longer and sturdier than traditional kayaks and have a reputation for being very well built and stable. The longer the boat, the more stable it is. These kayaks meant for navigating the open waters or the sea are ideal for anyone who is planning to fish in open, rough water.
Old Town Kayaks are a traditional kayak brand is very well made. Dating back to 1898, Old Town kayaks have innovated with materials and features in their kayaks.
Old Town manufactures sit-on-top kayaks, sit-in kayaks, recreational and fishing kayaks. They offer various models in multiple sizes and have the innovative design that has lasted Old Town over 100 years.
Lifetime kayaks are meant for beginner, intermediate, or advanced paddlers. These kayaks feature a stable design and safe features that accompany kayakers of all ages and sizes.
This brand is more affordable than most kayaks and they offer a wide breadth of features so you won’t be trading off much by spending less money. These kayaks are a bit smaller than the bigger ocean kayaks and offer safety and security. They’re a great starting place for anyone who is looking to get into kayaking.
Sun Dolphin kayaks come in sit-in, sit-on-top, tandem, or recreational models. These affordable kayaks are made from thermoformed polyethylene and are typically up to 12-feet long. They average 10-feet long and are great for solo paddlers looking to start kayaking.
Like the Lifetime brand, these kayaks are affordable and easy to use for people of all ages and sizes. They can come with or without all of the features available in most of the bigger, more expensive kayaks.
Fishing Kayak Buying Guide
When buying a fishing kayak here are a few things to consider. Keep in mind where you’ll be fishing. If you’re fishing on a lake and want something that’s comfortable and can secure a lot of your things without risking losing them, get a sit-in kayak. These models are made for quick, smooth maneuvering and safety as they have a closed design.
You can take these models onto a river or into the surf if you’re a more advanced kayaker too. If you’re looking for something that’s more suited to fishing and will allow you to handle more rods and offer advanced flexibility go with a sit-on-top model. These kayaks are ideal for kayak fisherman who but the fish before the kayak. They offer a wide range of motion, plenty of storage and adhere to stability.
All of the best rated fishing kayaks have ample rod storage and rod holders. If you fish with multiple rods get one with plenty of holders. The swivel rod holders are also good for the fishermen who find they’re always casting in different directions without rotating their kayak. Also, consider how you’ll be transporting the kayak.
If you don’t have a roof rack but have an SUV you can store the kayak in, get a smaller 10-foot one. The smaller kayaks are ideal for stability and quick maneuvering on the water. The bigger kayaks are harder to move if you’re alone.
A solo kayaker doesn’t need much storage space unless you plan on taking a long trip out on the lake or river, in which case you’ll need a bigger one for more storage.
Find a kayak that has paddle holders as you’ll likely need them. This is important because you won’t be holding your paddles if you’re fishing and if you lose them, well, you’re stranded on the water with no means to efficiently get back to shore. If you’re sharing the kayak with your family and someone who is using it is substantially shorter or taller than you, get the kayak with adjustable foot rests. These will offer everyone ample comfort when they’re fishing.
Fishermen who swap gear often will likely want a kayak that allows them to more readily access their hook and bait setup. These kayaks will likely have multiple rod holders located close to the seat where the line can extend down in front of you. Kayaks with storage tank for coolers are also nice for kayak fishers who keep what the catch. With this feature, you’ll be able to store your catches easily either behind you or in front of you for the duration of your fishing excursion.
After reviewing this guide you likely have an idea of which kayak is best for you. It all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend and what kind of water you’ll be fishing in. Sit-on kayaks are best in rough waters, while the sit-ins are best on calmer, more open waters where speed will serve you well to get out there and find the best spot for fishing.