The 6 Best Fishing Kayaks

Updated January 15, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

6 Best Fishing Kayaks
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Getting out on the water has never been easier than with one of these durable, sturdy and lightweight fishing kayaks. They will have you paddling lakes, oceans and rivers any time you like and, depending on the model, come with an array of features, like storage space for gear, rod holders, padded backrests, and more. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best fishing kayak on Amazon.

6. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS

The Sun Dolphin Aruba SS is constructed from high-density polyethylene, and has a lightweight, but stable, design, making it easy to maneuver in the water and to transport over land. It is available in either blue or green.
  • comfortable thigh padding
  • front and aft storage compartments
  • feels slow and drags in the water
Brand Sun Dolphin
Model 51865-Parent
Weight 47 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Lifetime Sport Fisher

The Lifetime Sport Fisher is ten feet long and can comfortably hold up to two people, with a total weight limit of 500 pounds. Its tunnel hull design allows a user to fish effectively from a standing position, which can make it easier to case or tackle big fish.
  • includes two paddles
  • scupper holes to drain the cockpit
  • doesn't perform well in high winds
Brand Lifetime
Model 90121
Weight 82 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90

With four flush-mount rod holders, you can have a large number of lines in the water at the same time when riding in the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90. It also has mounting points for additional accessories, like a GPS or fishfinder.
  • zippered storage pocket
  • drywell is smartly placed
  • roto-molded construction
Brand Vibe Kayaks
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 comes in six different color choices and has an adjustable foot bracing system that allows you to put more power into your paddles. An integrated cupholder and multiple gear pockets keep everything you want right at hand.
  • two orbix hatches
  • bungees for securing large gear
  • front and rear carrying handles
Brand Wilderness Systems
Model Wilderness Systems
Weight 41.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Coleman Colorado 2-Person

The rugged 18-gauge PVC body and multi-air chamber design of the Coleman Colorado 2-Person make it ideal for use in lakes or rivers where unseen sticks or rocks may lurk. If you don't have room to store a hard-bodied kayak, this is the one for you.
  • includes convenient paddle holders
  • easy to inflate and deflate
  • trolling motor compatible
Brand Sevylor
Model 2000014133
Weight 41.2 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler

Designed with a molded-in seat well and a hull that easily glides through calm and rough waters, the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler is one of the most versatile fishing kayaks around. Its tank well is big enough for SCUBA gear, too.
  • two built-in rod holders
  • feels very stable in the water
  • room to store rods below deck
Brand Ocean Kayak
Model 07.6380.1062
Weight 62 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

What Separates a Good Fishing Kayak From a Great One?

The difference between a good fishing kayak and a great one begins with stability. Unlike an average kayak, which is prone to tip from time to time you'll need a fishing kayak to remain stable, particularly when you're reeling in a big catch. Most top-of-the-line fishing kayaks weigh somewhere between 50-90 lbs., and their product descriptions include phrases like, sturdy and reliable. These kayaks are also built with a reinforced bulkhead.

The next area you'll want to focus on is the kayak's storage capacity. At the very least, you'll need a fishing kayak to store life jackets, tackle boxes, fishing rods, and whatever you catch. Beyond that you might want to have some space for storing your own food, some camping gear, and perhaps even a change of clothes. In addition, check to see if a fishing kayak has been built to accommodate more than one passenger. Obviously, it makes for a more entertaining trip if you can bring along someone else for the ride.

Now that you're past the basics, you'll want to consider each kayak's durability. Whether you're launching from a brook or paddling through shallow water, chances are a kayak's hull is going to brush up against some rocks. The most reliable kayaks are usually made of polyethylene, which is high-density. Top kayaks also feature several looping holes drilled into the body so that you can tie off a kayak if you happen to be docked.

In terms of comfort, a great kayak should offer significant leg room, and body room, along with padding around the kayak's seating areas, regardless of whether the kayak is designed for sitting inside or along the top (see below).

How Do I Choose the Right Fishing Kayak for ME?

Most fishing kayaks fall into two basic categories. There are sit-in kayaks (SIKs), and sit-out kayaks (SOKs). Sit-in kayaks are generally designed for any experienced kayaker who occasionally enjoys a bit of fishing. Sit-out kayaks are generally designed for any hardcore fisherman who prefers versatility, an aerial view, and ready access to several rods, each of which has been cast along the starboard and port.

If you enjoy kayaking and you simply want a vessel that can accommodate fishing rods every now and again, it's best to focus on whether the kayak has a sleek design and whether - based on its weight - the kayak will move swiftly in the water. This is especially important if you plan on using the kayak in ocean water that'll force you to paddle out past the breakers before the water gets deep.

Take into consideration how you plan on transporting the kayak. Do you have a luggage rack on top of your car that you can tie the kayak to? Do you own a flatbed truck that you can place a kayak in the back of? Will you need to pass through any low clearances on your way to the water? Is the kayak you're interested in light enough that you'll be able to remove it from the vehicle without help?

Finally, you may want to give some thought to aesthetics. If you plan on kayaking in a backwoods region, canvas brown, charcoal gray, or some form of camouflage might be the appropriate color. If you plan on kayaking in the ocean, green or blue might make the most sense. If you plan on kayaking at night, you'll want to veer toward high-visibility yellow, or red, or orange. The same goes for any waterway where you'll be competing with larger vessels - if you want to avoid collisions, you've gotta be smart.

A Brief History of The Fishing Kayak

Would you believe that kayaks were originally designed for fishing? It's true. Natives from the Arctic region developed kayaks more than 4000 years ago as a means of spearing fish in cold water. These early kayaks were hollowed out of wooden frames, which were, in turn, stitched water-tight by using animal hides. In many cases, hunters would use the hide of a seal to create the illusion of disguise.

Today's fishing kayak remains popular in that it allows for exercise, easy entry into narrow waterways, and zero docking costs. In addition, fishing kayaks are relatively low-maintenance, as opposed to a fishing boat, which necessitates ongoing repair, upkeep, and gas. What's more, people can afford to own two or more fishing kayaks, which allows for flexibility, depending on where - and why - someone is casting out.

Fishing kayaks have grown more sophisticated over the past 20 years, evolving to include everything from fish finders and GPS to running lights and trolling motors. A lot of these kayaks have also been crafted to remain buoyant, while featuring ample storage to fit several rods, tackle boxes, food, life jackets, landing nets, and more.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the modern fishing kayak and its Arctic ancestors is the placement of seating. Today's anglers prefer a kayak that allows them to sit above the vessel on a cushioned seat, whereas early Arctic hunters were almost religious about being seated inside the kayak, where they could blend in amidst preparing to harpoon a fish in fresh water.

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Last updated on January 15, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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