Kayak fishing has exploded in popularity in the last decade which has led to an explosion of fishing kayak makers and options for the angling community. Figuring out where to look or what kayak to buy for fishing can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re completely new to the sport. So we wanted to do our best to compile a list of as many options as we could find, give our feedback on the ones we are familiar with and hopefully give you some ideas on how to figure out what kayak is right for your fishing adventures. We are partial to a few kayaks that we use on a regular basis including famous kayak brands like Old Town, Hobie, BOTE, Wilderness Systems and more, but we want the angling community to be informed on the options available now to kayak anglers.
What to consider when buying a fishing kayak
Buying a fishing kayak is no small task. You can spend a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars depending on what you plan to do with a fishing kayak. Honestly, this is what we love about this relatively new niche in fishing. You can get into it for a few hundred bucks, but then, you can expand as you get better and upgrade to a boat capable of handling big water and rough conditions with less worry. You can make kayak fishing a lot more convenient with tons of add-on options depending on how you setup your portable fishing kayak. The main things to consider when buying a kayak would be the following:
The nice thing with having a lot of options in fishing kayaks is you can find one that meets your budget. As you start figuring out what will be most stable for you, how hard it will be to transport, whether you will paddle, pedal or use an electric motor, how long you want it to last and what features you want to add to it make fishing more convenient, the price will undoubtedly go up. Our hope with this guide is we show you what’s available and help you figure out what of all these criteria matters most to your fishing so you can make an informed purchase. While we’ve not been able to fish out of every model, we have researched with other anglers, manufacturers and folks in the industry to flesh out a pretty comprehensive list of options for fishing kayaks.
Specific fishing kayak questions
Once you decided to get into kayak fishing, then you will have to ask yourself questions like the following:
- Do I want to sit or stand when I fish from a kayak?
- What length do I need?
- How good is my balance? Do I need stability add-ons?
- Do I want to paddle, pedal or use an electric motor?
- How will I transport my kayak? How will I store it? Is inflatable right for me?
- How much abuse can it take from dragging, banging into cover, riding in transport?
- Do I want to add a fish finder to my fishing kayak?
- Do I need storage add-ons, coolers, life jackets, bump boards, etc.?
- Will I fish alone or with another person?
Once you considered all the factors from budget to add-ons, then it’s time to look at the fishing kayak options and see what fits your criteria for price, portability, stability, add-on features. You might be interested in fishing kayaks under $500. You might be interested in the most stable fishing kayaks. You might be interested in fishing kayaks that offer the most add-on options. You might be interested in the most portable fishing kayaks like inflatable fishing kayaks. Generally speaking shorter fishing kayaks in the 9 to 10-foot range will be more for kids and light adults and they will maneuver better as far as turning and getting around in tight quarters. Your mid-range length fishing kayaks in the 11 to 12-foot range will be good middle of the road for most adults and are a good balance of stability and maneuverability. While your 13 foot and larger kayaks will be more for fishing open water and with multiple anglers. So it makes sense to consider where you want to fish when deciding on a length. Stability is a key aspect of choosing a good fishing kayak. Bigger guys or people with limited mobility need more stable platforms to fish out of while smaller more nimble anglers can be very efficient in a smaller narrower fishing kayak. So consider your size and mobility when thinking about the right kayak. Paddling a fishing kayak is always an option, but pedal drives became the rage with fishing kayaks because anglers need their hands free to hold their rods and reels and land fish while still being able to maneuver their personal water crafts into position. The last couple of years there has been tremendous advancements in electric motors that pop in and out of these fishing kayaks quickly and easily through custom in hull mounts or that can be added to the back of some models. As you get more serious about your fishing kayak and expand to larger bodies of water, you will want to add things like fish finders, gps units, Livescope transducers and such to be able to break down bodies of water quickly and efficiently from a small boat. Rod holders for trolling, bump boards and other things will likely be added as you go. So see what can easily be added to the various options.
Where to purchase fishing kayaks
If you live near a decent body of water or river, you will likely have a few dealers nearby. But if you’re in a metropolitan area, you may only have big box stores as options for fishing kayaks. The best bet when you get ready to buy a fishing kayak, is to go to the manufacturers website and look-up their dealer page to see where the nearest dealer is to you so you can go see the kayak in person. There are also kayak communities on social media where you might be able to find used kayaks for sale. If you go to local resorts on bigger bodies of water you might even be able to rent kayaks to test before you buy. We will do our best to link to resources for purchasing these fishing kayaks throughout the guide.
Must have items for fishing kayaks
Obviously a fishing kayak helps get you out on the water farther than you can from the bank. But that also means you will need a few necessary options. The absolute necessities for your fishing kayak include the following:
- life jacket
- tie downs
- dry storage
If you are going to get out on a fishing kayak, and regardless of how strong a swimmer you are, a personal floatation device (PFD) is an absolute necessity. We cannot stress this enough. We’ve unfortunately reported on a number of kayak fishing tragedies over the years, and most could have been avoided with a life jacket. Please make this a critical purchase with your fishing kayak. A paddle is the next most important item. While pedal drives and electric motors are all the rage now in fishing kayaks, a good paddle never fails you. I’ve seen pedal drives get out of whack (often times in transit). I’ve seen electric motors get shorts. But a paddle will always get you back. A good comfortable paddle can be a solid investment, but your run of the mill paddle will get the job done on a small body of water. Whether you’re towing a kayak to the lake or creek, or just trying to keep up with your personal belongings while in the kayak, tie downs are a handy option to consider when buying a kayak. There are a lot of options that we’ll cover in our Kayak Fishing Accessories Buyers Guide soon. But a good set of bungee straps will serve you well. Most good fishing kayaks come with a seat and even the lower priced models will have a molded seat area. But if you plan to spend hundreds of hours in your kayak, comfort should be a serious consideration. Look at the seat options in these kayaks as you make your decision. Some fishing kayaks offer very advanced seating these days. If you don’t have good dry storage in your fishing kayak, you might consider grabbing a dry bag that you can tie down to keep your valuables dry and secure on your fishing adventures.
Best Fishing Kayaks for 2023
Now that we’ve covered down on everything related to general kayak fishing, let’s dive into some of the best fishing kayak options available to the angling community for this season. Again this is meant to be a resource for current options as well as some of our personal experiences with several of these kayaks. For some anglers, the best fishing kayak means the one with the most propulsion options. For others the best fishing kayak will be the one with the most stability for them. Yet for others, the best fishing kayak is the one that can handle the biggest waters while still others will say the most nimble kayak is the best fishing kayak. So we tried to cover the key categories and components to help you make informed decisions on each as well as links to each manufacturer so you can do your own research and find your own best fishing kayak. Here’s the rundown…
Hobie Mirage Compass
Simplicity defined, the Mirage Compass is powered by the MirageDrive 180 pedal system and Kick-Up Fins. Experience forward and reverse pedal propulsion with Hobie’s Square Tip Fins.
New for 2022 is an anodized aluminum alloy frame seat offering incredible comfort, durability and breathability with monomesh and ripstop nylon construction.
The Compass offers maximum stability and an oversized cockpit and flat deck for standing. A sharp turning radius makes this fishing kayak nimble in tight quarters, yet able to speed over open water in stealthy fashion.
Length: 12 feet | Weight: 87 pounds | Capacity: 400 pounds | Propulsion: Pedal | $2,599
FeelFree Lure 11.5 V2
The Feelfree Lure 11.5 V2 with Overdrive features the modern evolution of pedal powered kayak propulsion offering effortless speed, ease of use and adaptability. The Overdrive unit is the only two-in-one system that offers forward and reverse pedal or power-driven capabilities in one single unit when paired with the optional Motordrive.
Length: 11 feet 6 inches | Weight: 87 pounds | Capacity: 425 pounds | Propulsion: pedal (motor option) | $1,399
To Purchase: feelfreeus.com
Old Town Salty PDL 120
A hull design built for speed and stability, this is the perfect grab and go kayak for moving water and handling waves. This grab-n-go kayak is perfect for currents, waves and even handling surf and tidal conditions. Supported by the award-winning PDL Drive, this boat features instant forward and reverse with a 5-year warranty. This highly manoeuvrable 12-foot fishing kayak has tons of storage areas, tie downs for backup paddles, an adjustable seat with lumbar support, tracks for add-ons, and more. Designed to cut through waves and currents, this is the kayak you want if you plan to be fishing inshore in the ocean or up a creek with or without a paddle.
Length: 12 feet | Weight: 104 pounds | Capacity: 346 pounds | $2,199
To Purchase: OldtownCanoe.com
Old Town Sportsman PDL 120
We have spent a considerable amount of time in Old Town Fishing Kayaks and these are some of the best fishing kayaks on the market we believe. Old Town builds their fishing kayaks to last a long time. They focus a lot of their engineering around stability, comfort and easy maneuverability in a variety of fishing conditions.
The Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 pedal kayak provides hands free fishing in a performance kayak that’s both nimble and stable. With instant forward and reverse, the award-winning PDL Drive is one of the most reliable and easy-to-use pedal drives on the market. Not only is this a durable and stable kayak, but it has a superior seat design with lumbar support on a shuttle track to make it completely adjustable for comfort. This fishing kayak features tracks on either side for mounting options, custom rod holders throughout, non-slip EVA pads for stand-up fishing as well as transducer mounting system for your fish finder.
Length: 12 feet | Weight: 116 pounds | Weight Capacity: 384 pounds | Pedal drive | $2,499
Bonafide SS 127 Sit/Stand Fishing Kayak
You’ll notice right away that the SS127 sit-on-top fishing kayak is a very stable kayak, which is somewhat surprising considering its 33 1/2-inch width. It’s really crazy stable. But it tracks really well and glides smoothly for a good distance. It’s very maneuverable. It’s a fairly unique hybrid catamaran hull design in that it fishes well sitting down and is very stable standing up for such a narrow kayak.
This paddle fishing kayak also features a YakAttack GearTrac for rigging, a sliding Junk Drawer under your High Rise customizable seat that acts as a tackle storage and rod management in conjunction with the Boss strap in the front that can keep rods secured as well as your paddle when not in use. It’s a very customizable, stable, stand-or-sit paddle fishing kayak.
Length: 12 foot 7 inches | Weight: 94 pounds | Capacity: 475 pounds | Propulsion: Paddle | $1,799
BOTE LONO Aero 12 6
BOTE is a relative newcomer to fishing kayaks, but we are very familiar with their inflatable stand-up paddleboards and have been very impressed with their ability to carry that proven technology into an inflatable fishing kayak offering. We hope they continue to build and expand their fishing kayaks for many year, because their first foray into inflatable fishing kayaks is solid.
BOTE’S inflatable kayaks were designed to solve for common kayak fishing headaches by building for portability and stability, optimizing surface space, and enhancing sight-lines. Featuring industry-shaping design and engineering, the LONO is constructed with BOTE’s inflatable AeroBOTE Technology and goes from travel bag to a 12’6” kayak or SUP in a matter of minutes. The Lono features the new Verge Camo shown here with the same pedal drive compatibility with the Apex Pedal Drive (add-on) and extreme stability to make standing up fishing a breeze. The keel guard and side bite fins protect the underside when fishing in the shallows and around cover. You can configure it to stand up, pedal or paddle and fish with ease. Lots of bungee straps and velcro throughout to make holding all your fishing gear snuggly in the boat. The removable seat is perfect for comfortable fishing and paddling or just lounging on the shore.
Length 12 foot 6 inches | Weight 73 pounds | Capacity 400 pounds | Propulsion Paddle/Pedal (Add-on) | $1,749
To Purchase: Boteboard.com
Vibe Shearwater 125
Spend more time fishing and less time fighting the wind with shallow freeboard designed for maximum efficiency on the Vibe Shearwater 125. Designed to be the most customizable fishing kayak, the Shearwater features 4x the storage with 4 horizontal rod holders, 4 vertical rod holders, 4 tackle tray slots, under seat drawer and the Versa console with weather tight storage locker, magnetic tackle tray and quick access bungee to hold a full boat worth of gear. Three optional propulsion systems with the included paddle, the add-on Vibe X Drive pedal drive or add-on Bixpy Jet Motor give you options to your fishing maneuverability. The seat offers 5 sitting options including a standing deck and stand-up assist strap anchor. The Vibe offers sleek styling, customizability, and. a lot of fishing kayak for your money.
Length: 12 foot 6 inches | Weight 82 pounds | Capacity: 475 pounds | Propulsion paddle (pedal/motor optional) | $1,599
To Purchase: vibekayaks.com
Hobie Mirage iTrek 11
Basically, this fishing kayak is the Hobie Mirage 9 Ultralight’s big brother. It’s a little longer, a little more stable, and just as much (if not a teensy bit more) fun. Whether you’re out fishing or just out for a pedal, the iTrek 11 can handle whatever you throw at it. This inflatable fishing kayak is made to travel. Pack it in your car, RV, or take it on your next flight – it weighs just 28 lbs.
Length: 10 feet, 8 inches | Weight: 44 pounds | Capacity: 400 pounds | Propulsion: Pedal | $2,799
FeelFree Moken 12.5 V2
The updated Moken 12.5 fishing kayak now features the new super comfortable EZ Rider Multi-Position + Height Adjustable Seat & Removable Sonar Pod! And, like most Feelfree kayaks, the Moken 12.5 also comes with everything you need to get out and go fish including Uni-Track accessory rails for unlimited outfitting configurations, flush-mounted rod holders and a large tankwell to store your fishing gear or a cooler. Compared to most kayaks designed for fishing, the Moken is still manageable at only 85 pounds. What makes the Moken unique is a fully functional paddle-designed fishing kayak featuring the patented wheel-in-the-keel saving you the need to drag your kayak on the bottom, or purchase an aftermarket cart for transport.
Length: 12 feet 6 inches | Weight: 85 pounds | Capacity: 400 pounds | Propulsion: paddle | $929
To Purchase: feelfreeus.com
Seastream Angler 120PD
The Angler 120 PD was designed for the dedicated kayak angler who’s not only looking for the most in angler-ready features, comfort, convenience, and stability but also the option to put down their paddle for a true hands-free experience. This kayak was specially designed to accommodate the Rapid Pedal Drive, featuring the smooth steer system, combined with the oversized Beaver Tail rudder for the ultimate propulsion experience at an attractive price point for a pedal system fishing kayak.
Length: 12 foot 3 inches | Weight 97 pounds | Capacity: 400 pounds | Propulsion: pedal | $1,649
To Purchase: seastreamkayaks.com
Native Ultimate FX 15 Tandem Fishing Kayak
This solid tandem, hybrid canoe/kayak platform makes fishing accessible in a multiple of ways. The Ultimate FX Tandem fishing kayak features two high/low seats for improved fish-ability and all day comfort and can be easily converted to a solo paddling boat for single angler missions. In addition, the Ultimate FX 15 Tandem offers ample storage with it’s open footprint to meet all of your kayak fishing needs. A sturdy enough option to stand up or sit and fish regardless if you want to paddle alone and fish or fish with a friend or family member.
Length: 15 feet 3 inches | Weight: 90 pounds | Capacity: 600 pounds | Propulsion: paddle | $1,699
To Purchase: nativewatercraft.com
Pelican Catch Classic 120
The Catch Classic 120 fishing kayak is designed for versatility and comfort. Built on a tunnel hull, this 11-foot, 8-inch kayak is stable and offers great manoeuvrability. Its wide and flat deck platform provides a large standing area and room for your fishing gear. This fishing kayak also includes adjustable footrests, an ERGOCAST CLASSIC dual position seating system, a quick-lock hatch and a storage platform with bungee cords to secure your gear. Built with patented RAM-X PREMIUM material, this sit-on-top kayak will provide years of fun fishing adventures.
Length: 11 feet 8 inches | Weight: 68 pounds | Capacity: 400 pounds | Propulsion: paddle | $639
To Purchase: pelicansport.com
Native Titan Propel 12
The Titan is a hands-free forward to reverse, Propel Pedal-driven, bass-fishing kayak that offers stability with ample room and flexibility to move around. Optimal for sight casting with plenty of leverage, this boat features easy-to-reach horizontal rod storage with rod tip protection on both sides of the kayak. The elevated hand-sewn seat is designed for comfortable transitions between standing and sitting. The unique Titan hull design paired with the rudder allows for a tight turning radius.
Length: 12 feet | Weight: 138 pounds | Capacity: 500 pounds | Propulsion: Pedal | $2,999
To Purchase: nativewatercraft.com
Perception Showdown 11.5
Developed to excel on lakes, rivers, and quiet coasts, the modernized Showdown pedal drive kayak boasts a host of impressive premium features. An elevated framed mesh seat provides a greater line of sight and promotes airflow to keep you cool and comfortable no matter how long you’re on the water. Silent traction pads provide added grip for stability while also dampening sound for fishing. Generous storage and accessory mounts ensure that your gear remains safe, secure, and organized while allowing you to enjoy hands-free fishing. This sit-on-top fishing kayak can be customized to be your best fishing kayak for years to come. With front and rear gear storage areas, double barreled rod holders, rudder controlled pedaling and rock steady stability to stand or sit and fish, this kayak checks a lot of boxes for functionality in a fishing kayak.
Length: 11 feet 6 inches | Weight 90 pounds | Capacity: 450 pounds | Propulsion: pedal | $2,129
To Purchase: perceptionkayaks.com
Wilderness Systems ATAK 120
The same design that made the A.T.A.K. 140 so popular is now available in a compact package for increased manageability both on-and-off the water. The A.T.A.K. 120 maintains all the core attributes of a solid fishing kayak – an open customizable platform, stability, and a wind-shedding deck – yet the 120 brings an entirely new set of specialized performance attributes to the table. Rocker has been increased to better negotiate moving water, and a secondary transducer scupper has been added to accommodate electronics (including side-scanning technologies) while utilizing the Helix MD™ Motor Drive (sold separately). Additionally, a new quick-release cam lever now allows the AirPro MAX seat to be adjusted fore/aft on-the-fly.
Length: 12 foot 3 inches | Weight: 86 pounds | Capacity: 400 pounds | Propulsion: paddle (optional motor)| $1,719
To Purchase: wildernesssystems.com
Jackson Kayak YuPIK
Named for the native Alaskan peoples that coined the word “kayak” (qayaq), the Jackson YuPIK changes the very definition of versatility. The new model also includes their latest seating innovation, the Comfort Seat. The generously-padded, comfortable seat features a new ergonomic bend to the back and robust frame to provide hours of use and comfort on the water. Bow To Stern track systems, rigging solutions and storage pockets molded in along the entirety of the boat allows the modularity for you to rig for your adventure without limitation.
Additions like the fully trimmable seat pan, their Strap Down Gear Track for 360 storage security make the YuPIK more versatile. Be sure to check out the Hawg Trough Fishing Accessory Tray for even more options on the water! New for 2022, includes their EZ HiLo Seat Slider System.
Length 12 feet 2 inches | Weight 90 pounds | Capacity 425 pounds | Propulsion: paddle | $1,669
Hobie Mirage iTrek 14 Duo
Grab your fishing buddy, wife, son or daughter or your neighbor and hit the water together in the iTrek 14 Duo tandem inflatable (and lightweight) kayak.
This kayak features an inflatable design, is powered by the MirageDrives with Glide Technology and patented Kick-Up Fins that will pop up to let your fishing kayak travel over rocks, logs, grass or whatever is under your boat that ordinary drive systems catch and hang on. The wheeled storage bag makes it easy to transport in your car or truck while the pumps make quick work of getting the iTrek 14 Duo up and fishing.
Length: 13 feet, 8 inches | Weight: 73 pounds | Capacity: 600 pounds | Propulsion: pedal | $4,199
Apex Tyr Fishing Kayak
This fishing kayak was designed to blow through obstacles and give you control. A solid open deck with unlimited rig-ability. A remarkable hull design that is fast and stable, prepared for any waters. Plug & Play ready for pedals, power, and electronics. It’s one of the most open designs in today’s fishing kayaks. Which gives you a lot of flexibility to load gear, rig electronics, add extra seats, pedal drives or a variety of motors. In fact this boat is setup to have bow mount trolling motor, Torqeedo or outboard motor rear mounted or their proprietary NuCanoe EPS system where you can steer and drive your canoe from your fishing seat without a remote.
Length: 12 foot 6 inches | Weight: 84 pounds | Capacity: 400 pounds | Propulsion: Paddle (pedal/motors optional) | $1,799
To Purchase: nucanoe.com
Pelican Catch Mode 110 Fishing Kayak
This kayak features stability, maneuverability, rigging flexibility, comfort and all the features you could want in a fishing kayak for under $800 and 65 pounds. The Catch Mode 110 is built on a tunnel hull with anti-slip carpet on the deck and ERGOBOOST comfortable seat as well as a storage platform with bungees to store all your gear.
This kayak also has 2 rigging tracks to setup your accessories. Flush mount rod holders, multiple bait wells, and lots of mounting and tie down options makes this a very functional fishing kayak at an affordable price. It’s a little on the smaller side at 10 feet 8 inches and a max capacity of 375 pounds.
Length: 10 feet 8 inches | Weight: 63 pounds | Capacity: 375 pounds | Propulsion: paddle | $739
Old Town Sportsman Big Water PDL 132
Get to your spot, then stay there without paddling, on the Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 pedal kayak. With instant forward and reverse, maneuverability and stability, you’ll enjoy precise boat control while your hands remain free to fish. The award-winning PDL Drive is one of the most reliable and easy-to-use pedal drives on the market. This 13-footer is made to be very stable to get out on open water and stand up when you fish. The adjustable fishing seat with lumbar support, the large stern tank well for storing coolers or baitwells and the dry storage make this one heck of a fishing kayak platform for getting on bigger fisheries.
Length: 13 Feet, 2 inches | Weight: 122 pounds | Weight Capacity: 378 pounds | $2,999
Purchase at: OldTownCanoe.com
Hobie Mirage Lynx
Hobie is another builder of quality fishing kayaks that we have a good bit of experience in. They are constantly innovating and listening to the kayak fishing community to improve their offerings. They have offered a lot of support to not just building fishing kayaks but also to the kayak sport fishing community. The Lynx is an innovative pedal kayak with elevated seating that boasts extreme versatility, rugged performance, and a durable but lightweight design.
The Mirage Lynx, born out of demand for a hard-sided version of the popular Hobie i11s, is incredibly versatile and up for wherever your day of fishing takes you. A true jack of all trades, the Mirage Lynx can take kayakers from fishing to sailing (easily install the Mirage Sail Kit) to relaxing on the water and even the beach. Simply remove the chairs and lounge away in the sand. The effortless speed of the MirageDrive 180 with Kick-Up Fins combined with the streamlined, sleek hull of the Lynx make for a truly epic ride. These boats feature an EPS Foam Core, wrapped in fiberglass, then wrapped in a Thermoformed plastic skin and deck pads applied on top. So you get a very stable floating platform that slides through the water effortlessly.
Length: 11 feet | Weight: 63 pounds | Capacity: 350 pounds | Propulsion: Pedal | $2,999