The 10 Best Fishing Kayaks

Updated April 30, 2018 by Chase Brush

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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Looking for a relatively inexpensive way to get out on the water in search of your next big catch? Then try one of these fishing kayaks, which, depending on the model, come with an array of handy features, such as storage space for gear, rod holders and padded backrests. Our list includes both sit-in and sit-on versions, as well as designs made specifically for fresh or saltwater. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best fishing kayak on Amazon.

10. Sun Dolphin Journey

Weekend fishermen and novices looking for an affordable entry-level option will appreciate the 10-foot Sun Dolphin Journey, which offers almost everything you'd want at a modest cost. It's made of durable polyethylene, but is still light enough to carry.
  • large open cockpit
  • swiveling rod holder
  • can drag and feel slow in the water
Brand Sun Dolphin
Model 51945
Weight 40.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

9. Lifetime Sport Fisher

The Lifetime Sport Fisher is only 10 feet long, but can still hold two people comfortably, with a total weight limit of 500 pounds. Its tunnel hull design allows you to fish effectively from a standing position, which can make it easier to cast and reel in big prey.
  • includes two paddles
  • multiple integrated footrests
  • very heavy construction
Brand Lifetime
Model 90121
Weight 82 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

The versatile Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is for anyone who spends as much time tooling around the ocean and bay as they do freshwater lakes and rivers. It's big enough to stay stable even in rough waters, but light enough to remain easily maneuverable at the same time.
  • phase 3 airpro seating system
  • comes in six different color combos
  • does not come with paddles
Brand Wilderness Systems
Model 9750215142
Weight 66 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

7. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

For those who prefer the convenience of an inflatable design, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado won't let you down. It's built with rugged 18-gauge PVC that gives it ample protection against unseen sticks and rocks, yett still packs down for easy storage.
  • 1000d tarpaulin bottom
  • multiple air chambers
  • doesn't glide as easily as hard body
Brand Sevylor
Model 2000014133
Weight 41.2 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

6. Hobie Mirage Pro 14

Only the most serious fishermen will be able to justify its price, but if you're one of them, then check out the Hobie Mirage Pro 14. This luxury cruise liner of a kayak has it all, from a raised Vantage seat and pedal-drive system to horizontal and vertical rod storage.
  • h-rail mounting
  • holds up to 600 pounds
  • very costly investment
Brand Hobie
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130

Ocean anglers will find all they need for a long day off the coast in the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130. There are really too many features to name here, but among its more standout ones are an extremely comfortable, dual position Hero seat and a toe-controlled rudder system.
  • fishfinder transducer port
  • tons of storage options
  • backed by lifetime warranty
Brand Vibe Kayaks
Model pending
Weight 75 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Sun Dolphin Excursion

Made of sturdy UV-stabilized Fortiflex polyethylene, the 10-foot Sun Dolphin Excursion is a great choice for the casual fisherman looking for a budget-friendly model that doesn't sacrifice on quality. A sit-in hull offers protection from the wind and rogue waves.
  • tracks and paddles easily
  • good option for camping trips
  • also comes in 12-foot version
Brand Sun Dolphin
Model 51340
Weight 50 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Perception Pescador Pro

Thanks to its superior tracking, ample gear compartments, and a stadium-style seat that all but eliminates fatigue, there are few places the Perception Pescador Pro won't let you go in search of the perfect catch. A bright green finish lets you do it all in style, too.
  • yakattack gear trac system
  • comes in 10- and 12-foot sizes
  • center console for electronics
Brand Perception
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13

The Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 may be made by a company known for its seafaring vessels, but don't let that fool you: this model is as at home in whitewater rivers and streams as turbulent surf. That's partly due to its performance hull, which tracks and glides effortlessly.
  • oversized rear tank for large gear
  • room to store rods below deck
  • attractive camo finish
Brand Ocean Kayak
Model 07.6380.1060
Weight 62 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90

Compact yet still packed with features, the popular Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 is the perfect fishing partner during days out on the local lake or pond. Four flush-mounted rod holders, paddle parks, and two sealed hatches with bag inserts help keep all your gear organized.
  • comfortable handles for transport
  • mounting point for a gps
  • great value for the price
Brand Vibe Kayaks
Model pending
Weight 46 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 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 or stowing all your gear. Most top-of-the-line fishing kayaks weigh somewhere between 50-90 pounds, 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 or debris. The most reliable kayaks are usually made of polyethylene, which is a high-density plastic material. 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 April 30, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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