In recent years, the popularity of fishing from a kayak has increased substantially. Because of that, more manufacturers of kayaks have made it their mission to offer a larger variety of kayaks for just that purpose. That means that an excellent fishing kayak is now much more full-featured than just a kayak that includes a place for your fishing rod. No matter what sort of fishing you are into, there is likely an option out there to meet your needs. Whether you are a true beginner to kayak fishing or a seasoned professional, this guide will run through the important things to know about kayaks for fishing.
With so many options out there in terms of types and models of fishing kayaks, it can be challenging to select the perfect one. This guide will help answer that question by providing information about the ten best fishing kayaks you can buy today. So without further ado, let’s look at your options and then go over some tips for choosing the right boat.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Fishing Kayak of 2023
- 2 Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 Fishing Kayak
- 3 Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
- 4 Vibe Skipjack 90 Fishing Kayak
- 5 Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-RA220 Riptide Angler Fishing Kayak
- 6 Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak
- 7 Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Fishing Kayak
- 8 Brooklyn Kayak UH-TK181 Tandem Fishing Kayak
- 9 Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Fishing Kayak
- 10 Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak
- 11 Vibe Yellowfin 130T Tandem Fishing Kayak
- 12 Choosing the Perfect Fishing Kayak
- 13 Stability Matters
- 14 The Proper Amount of Storage
- 15 Length & Width of Your Kayak
- 16 Weight’s Effect on the Kayak
- 17 Thinking About Your Budget
- 18 Potential for Accessories
- 19 Considering Your Skill Level
- 20 Extra Thoughts for Sea Fishing
- 21 Wrapping Up
The Best Fishing Kayak of 2023
Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 Fishing Kayak
For a beginning kayaker, there’s no need to spend thousands on a first fishing boat. You want something that is entry level while you learn more about the sport and determine your preferences. The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 is a fantastic option for someone new to fishing in a kayak and it comes at a reasonable price at under $500. That might make some people wary, but we’ll look at the feature you get even at that price point. You may find yourself surprised in a good way.
The Excursion is extremely popular and there are numerous reasons for that. Sure, it doesn’t have all the features of an expensive model, but what it does have is done right. The boat itself is 10 feet long and 30 inches wide, which makes it fairly small, but it also has a lot of stability. It’s just over 40 pounds so storing, loading, and moving it wouldn’t be a huge issue, even alone. It also often gets rave reviews for how it tracks and can keep a straight line, which is impressive for the price.
This type of kayak is going to excel in slower rivers and smaller lakes. It does a great job on flat water and turning with it is straightforward and simple. You’ll be able to navigate even the tiniest of waterways without breaking a sweat. That said, it may not be as useful if you want to fish in the ocean. It hasn’t been built for major swells and it also isn’t fast enough for longer journeys. In addition, the capacity is only 250 pounds so bigger fish might cause issues for storage.
The Excursion has a sit-inside design which many people consider more stable. This makes it perfect for a beginner who wants to have fun without a lot of stress. Despite that, the design of the cockpit makes it more open than other sit-inside boats, so it offers a feeling of comfort rather than feeling cooped up.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
The Tamarack Angler by Lifetime is a fantastic option for both beginners and more experience fishers who appreciate a solo trip on a lake. It has a great stability on the water which makes it an excellent choice for a newcomer to the sport. Beyond that, the price is right at under $500. Going much lower than that can be a gamble as the quality isn’t always the best. However, with the Tamarack Angler, you get a five-year limited warranty, which says a lot about the construction and durability. It’s best used in calmer rivers and lakes.
However, the Tamarack might not be perfect for those who want to fish for long periods of time. It’s not perfect if you are interested in open ocean fishing, either. It is a stable option, but it isn’t designed for speed and has a limited capacity of only 275 pounds. Rougher conditions might mean there is a better fishing kayak out there for you. That said, it does well in other waters and beginners will likely get a lot out of their experience using it.
There are tons of features on this kayak, including those you often see only on more expensive models. It has a well-designed hull that tracks great along with stability chine rails that allow you to stand up and fish if you like. It also has some storage available for snacks, bags, and coolers. There are hatches in the bow and the middle of the kayak to store smaller items. It also comes with a total of three rod holders, including one that is a swivel-top model. The kayak comes complete with a paddle and is lightweight for convenience while carrying and transporting it.
Most of the reviews for the Tamarack are quite good and beginners love the added stability. It’s known to be easy to fish from but may take a while to get used to in the beginning. It’s also noted that maneuvering is easy with the kayak and it has sufficient storage. However, there are also some negatives to note. Many people find that the seat is not super comfortable and sometimes water can get in the scupper holes. However, overall, it’s a great choice for a beginner with a smaller budget.
Vibe Skipjack 90 Fishing Kayak
For those who are a bit more experienced fishing from a kayak, you probably know that it can be difficult to find an option that does everything you like while still being a reasonable price. Most of the high-quality kayaks out there are well over $600, but thankfully the Vibe Skipjack 90 is an exception to the rule. While this is decidedly a fishing boat, it can also be used in a recreational manner. It’s nine feet long and 32 inches wide, which makes it a nice stable option. It has more pronounced edges than many kayaks as well, so you can stand while casting without issues. The small length also adds better maneuverability than some alternatives.
You might expect horrible tracking due to the size of the boat, but that isn’t the case. The way the keep is designed makes it track quite well compared to other boats in the nine-foot range. However, it will have less speed due to both the width and length. However, this is probably not the type of kayak you’d choose if speed was all that mattered in the first place. It is highly portable, though, which is a huge advantage. It doesn’t deflate or fold up but it’s so small it can easily fit on the back of an SUV. It also weighs less than 50 pounds so moving it around on your own won’t be overly challenging.
While the other kayaks we’ve mentioned are best used in rivers and lakes, the Skipjack can also do well in lakes, bays, and even coastal oceans. However, it will not have the capability needed for touring. You’d have to paddle extremely hard when you consider the size and speed of the fishing kayak. If you just want to fish and do a bit of padding during the day, you’ll get all that you want and more with this boat.
Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-RA220 Riptide Angler Fishing Kayak
Staying under the $600 price tag is the Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-RA220 Riptide Angler. If you go by the manufacturer’s information, this particular kayak is the “Swiss Army Knife” of fishing kayaks. That’s not overly surprising and it might be true considering the many features that this boat will offer you. This is a sit-on kayak that is over 11 foot in length with a weight of 70 pounds. This might seem a little heavy, but it can also hold a capacity of up to 440 pounds, which is great for some serious fishing. On top of that, it also comes in various colors, so you can choose the one that fits your style.
With the Riptide Angler, you are getting a boat that has a fairly broad hull along with deep channels. That means your boat is going to be quite stable and offer you fantastic control. It offers enough stability that standing up for long casts is a breeze. You can use it as a platform for fishing without worrying about falling into the lake. However, it also has a nice seat for those who prefer to sit and fish. With the size of this boat, it has a ton of storage. There is a cargo area in the back which includes tie-down traps, along with three other compartments to hold all of your gear.
Anglers of all experience levels will appreciate the design that allows you to secure your paddles while fishing. Too many people know the horror of getting involved in a fish catch only to see that your paddle has fallen and drifted off in the water. In addition to that, there are three rod holders. One is adjustable and the other two are flush-mount for when the rod is not in use. The boat also has side handles which makes it simpler to carry. A forward handle is also available on the hull to make securing the kayak to your rack a bit easier. All in all, this is a great boat with tons of features for its price and it shouldn’t be counted out.
Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is a bit of a unique choice for a fishing kayak. It is a great choice for a fisher on a budget though since it runs less than $400. It’s also made specifically for fishing and nothing else. While you might think that an inflatable boat would be a bad choice for fishing, that isn’t the entire truth. With the Coleman Colorado, there’s no real need to stress about that because the boat is made to be used on a lake. Lakes have everything from branches to sharp rocks and debris in every corner, which is why this kayak is made of an 18-gauge PVC that is then covered by 840 D nylon and 1000 D tarpaulin bottom.
This feature also means that catching a hook isn’t going to puncture the boat. In fact, the boat has numerous air chambers so that if you are in the unlikely position of getting a puncture, you can get back to shore instead of needing to take a dip in the lake to get back to shore.
There are also a few fantastic features with this boat. Rather than having only a few extras like most inflatable fishing kayaks, the Coleman Colorado has everything you could imagine already included and even mounted for you. There are two different Berkley quick set rod holders, along with paddle holders, trolling motor fittings, and even D rings so you can attach everything else. On the sides you’ll also find mesh pockets to put any little extras you have laying around. The boat also comes with a carry bag and even a pressure gauge, but you don’t get a pump. This is something that is fairly uncommon for an inflatable fishing boat. It also has no paddle included so consider that before making your purchase.
Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Fishing Kayak
The Vibe Sea Ghost 110 is undoubtedly a fishing kayak and nothing but that. It contains two flush mount rod holders that are on the stern. This allows any fisher the ability to mount various rods, which can help with catching more fish. The mounts are also cut quite deep, so you never have to worry about them being pulled out of the boat. There are also caps for the holders, so you can plug them up when they are not in use. Another great feature is the center console of the boat. There is a ton of space available for anything you want to bring along on your trip. Plus, the console is sealed so you don’t have to worry about getting water in your gear. On top of the console are mounting points so you can add devices as you like.
While some of the boats above aren’t great for rough or windy conditions, the Sea Ghost 110 is certainly capable. It has a toe-controlled rudder system that makes the process much easier. It’s also simple to attach and you’ll get it down quickly. This makes straight tracking and turning your kayak much easier when the conditions aren’t the best. The boat also offers plenty of room to move around, but the kayak seat that comes with it is a dream. It has proper support and manages to be comfortable at the same time. The seat is made of a mesh that offers plenty of airflow and it dries easily if it gets wet. It can also be adjusted up or down, so you are comfortable at all times. The seat is tied down with bungee cords, as well, so you won’t find yourself falling into the water.
This particular model of kayak comes with a Vibe Journey paddle which is great for people of all skill levels or paddling styles. The shaft is made from aluminum for durability while the blade is made of a strong polypropylene. It’s also not overly rigid so even beginners to fishing in kayaks will quickly learn how to use it. There is also a port on the boat that allows you to mount your kayak fish finder. This is just another example of how this has been kitted out to be perfect for those who love a spot of fishing.
Brooklyn Kayak UH-TK181 Tandem Fishing Kayak
The Brooklyn Kayak UH-TK191 is a boat with an interesting aesthetic. Rather than being a solid color, it has a camo design. While this may partially be due to the popularity of the pattern, the company claims it was chosen in order to allow kayakers to blend in while fishing to keep the fish from spooking. Bright colors can be jarring for fish and the camo will prevent that from occurring.
As far as the boat use goes, it has great tracking and the maneuverability is top notch. Most tandem boats are going to be worse with maneuvering, but this one boat has been designed right. Even if you plan to fish all day long, there are going to be times when you need to handle the kayak and move to a new location. This kayak has a balanced hull for great stability no matter what the state of the water is. Even if you get a little carried away fishing in this kayak, you aren’t going to have to worry about stability being a problem. You can keep right on fishing without any worries.
This boat will hold two people and have a capacity of 450 pounds. It’s clear that the manufacturer was looking to build a kayak that would not just haul two people but also have enough space for their equipment and all the tasty caught fish. There’s also plenty of cargo for even the most experience of fishers. One storage point is found in the rear and it includes a tie-down system, so you don’t have to worry about anything getting wet or lost. Each seat also has storage space available for some small belongings.
That said, this boat is not the lightest. It weighs nearly 70 pounds. That isn’t so large that two adults can’t carry it around, but for long distances, that can be a problem. However, it does have a total of four carrying handles so if you have friends available, it won’t be as big of an issue for you.
Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Fishing Kayak
With the Perception Pescador 12.0, you get a sit-on kayak that is made for all your fishing needs. It’s 32 inches wide and has a great level of stability. You never have to worry about losing your gear while you’re spending the weekend on a fishing trip. It has a weight capacity of 375, which should be sufficient for most people, even if you need some extra gear nearby and you get lucky with your catching. The boat is made of polyethylene and has two rod holders as well as a space for your paddle to keep it safe.
As for storage, there isn’t a ton of it, but there is a hatch on both sides of the seat to store things like your wallet, keys, and phone. There is also a cargo deck complete with bungee cords, so you can also store larger items like your tackle backpack. Small items can go in the bow, which includes a mesh cover for protection. There is also an area for track storage and even a cup holder, so you don’t lose your drink while reeling in a big one.
When it comes to size, this isn’t the smallest kayak but it’s also not the largest. It weighs under 65 pounds and can be moved around by you or you and a friend without a whole lot of trouble. This is made even easier due to molded handles that are comfortable to use. It also includes a skid plate which will give you a boost of strength if you drag it on the ground as you go to your fishing destination.
This is a fantastic kayak for someone who is new to fishing in one. It’s quite stable and has a reasonable amount of space, as well as the option for adding accessories as you purchase them. It is easy to maneuver provided you are fishing in a slow river or lake and tracks quite well in moderate conditions based on the hull shape.
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak
Vibe is one of the go-to companies when it comes to modern fishing kayaks and for good reasons. This is a fantastic option for tandem fishing, but as with other tandem boats, it also has some limitations. The seating on the boat includes two deluxe seats along with two cup holders. Each seat can be adjusted and are comfortable enough for a long day on the kayak. The straps on the seat are resistant to UV rays which means they won’t get worn when in the sun.
With Vibe, you often can expect to have a lot of options for gear mounting and the Sea Ghost Angler offers exactly that. There are four different areas for mounting accessories like bait boars and anchor locks without having to come up with a solution based on what you have on hand. There are also two fairly deep rod holders on the side of the kayak. Each side also has a paddle park, so you don’t drop a paddle into the water while you’re reeling in a fish.
The storage space is quite reasonable on the Sea Ghost Angler with the standard rear hull space. This is secured by an included bungee cord. There is also a dry storage hatch located in front of both seats. They have a decent amount of space and are watertight. This means they make a fantastic spot to drop your keys, wallet, phone, and other items that you want to keep out of the water if possible.
This is a great boat for going out on the water with a friend. However, it can take some time to get in sync with the other person and paddle in unison. For those who prefer fishing trips with a buddy, this is one of the best options on the market right now and would likely fit your needs quite well.
Vibe Yellowfin 130T Tandem Fishing Kayak
Our tenth and final fishing kayak is also by Vibe and it is another tandem option. This one is a bit different because it provides multiple seating options, so it can be easily used on your own or with a friend. It’s made of a single rotomolded polyethylene piece and is sleek and rigid because of that. It isn’t going to cause a ton of drag on the water nor will it flex even in reasonably large swells. That said, it doesn’t have a skin plate, so it requires some caution when you’re in shallow water. If you take care of it properly, though, it should last for years.
The storage on this boat isn’t the best but it’s not horrible. There are storage hatches in front of each seat along with a cargo deck at the stern. It does come with bungee cords, so you can be sure all your gear is safe and secure as you fish. The Yellowfin 130T Tandem also has four mounting areas for accessories and two rod holders of the flush-mount type.
There is plenty of room for two anglers to enjoy the boat together and a solo fisher is going to have more than enough space to get comfortable. The adjustable seats can also be placed in any of three locations, so you can customize your fishing experience as you like. While the boat doesn’t include knee or thigh pads, it is reasonably comfortable despite that. It’s a stable kayak which can handle choppy water and allows fishing while standing or sitting. It also has a capacity of 500 so even with two riders and gear, you’ll have plenty of room for the fish you catch while you’re enjoying your day.
Choosing the Perfect Fishing Kayak
Everything from the stability of your kayak to the design, storage, and size are going to be things you should factor into your decision when purchasing a fishing kayak. There are going to be features that matter a lot to you that might not to the next person, so having an idea of your needs is a must. We looked at many of these things when compiling our list and we want to share some insight to help you ensure you get the right boat for the fishing you want to be doing.
On any vehicle that is on the water, you want a large amount of stability. It makes casting, moving around, bringing in your fish, accessing your gear, and casting nets much easier. In most cases, the best stability comes from a sit-on top model of kayak. It usually has a wider hull than one that you need to climb up and into. However, the degree that stability matters also varies based on skill and where you fish. If you’re going to be out on the ocean, you want a high level of stability to ensure you don’t capsize just by reaching for some gear.
The Proper Amount of Storage
Everyone needs room for their gear when going out fishing. However, those who are going far away from shore may need more space than others. Some boats now offer modular options where you can play your storage where you like. Beyond having the right amount of space, you also want to have the means to get to it easily. Crawling around to get to your bait is going to get frustrating after a while. Consider both how much storage is available and how accessible it is for the best result.
Length & Width of Your Kayak
When it comes to the length of the kayak, you can expect the longer options to be both straighter and faster when you are traveling. However, what you give up with a longer kayak is the high degree of maneuverability. Most of the longer boats are also heavier than the alternative and can be challenging to lift in your rack or cart to the water.
Looking at width, you will find that most wide kayaks have a better level of stability than a narrower one. However, that isn’t the only factor that determines stability. Another factor that width weighs into is the size of the cockpit. If you choose a wider kayak, it will offer more room to stow your gear and to walk around on your trip.
Weight’s Effect on the Kayak
Once your chosen kayak is in the water, it doesn’t particularly matter how much it weighs. However, it would be a mistake to believe that means it doesn’t matter at all. You are going to need to move your boat to and from your vehicle at some point. You’ll also need to manage to get it to the water from your vehicle. You should consider that when selecting a kayak, but keep in mind that the average kayak will weight around 60 pounds or so.
Another factor in terms of weight is any accessories and gear you are lugging with you onto the boat. All of these things can be heavy and while they can also be useful, some may or may not be worth the trouble in the end. It’s up to you to decide on that. This mainly applies to expensive and heavy accessories that may or may not be a benefit to your fishing style.
Thinking About Your Budget
There are kayaks of all shapes and sizes and you can find a kayak at nearly any price point. However, that doesn’t mean that every kayak is the same. The amount you choose to pay should be based on what you can afford, how often you will use it, what your skill level is, and what you actually need. You can expect that the more specialized models will often cost more. You will also find that in most cases, the price does reflect the quality of the kayak itself. There are exceptions but as a general rule, a more expensive boat is going to be better.
That said, if you are a beginner to fishing on a kayak, there is no reason to choose a model that is expensive. There’s nothing wrong with selecting a budget option and upgrading later if you keep up with the sport. However, be aware that by choosing an inexpensive model, you may not get all the extra features that the top quality kayaks provide you with.
Potential for Accessories
Nobody wants to buy a cool new device for their kayak only to realize that there is nowhere to mount it. The good news is that many brands come with a space for attaching extras or a modular design that will hold almost anything you can imagine. The best option is a kayak that has universal acceptance of accessories, which means you can use any brand you like. Make sure you check on that because if only proprietary attachments can be used, that will limit your options.
Considering Your Skill Level
Learning to kayak fish is a skill and it takes time to get good at it, just like any other skill. If you are a beginner, you may have very different needs from an expert. You’ll be learning to keep your craft upright, how to paddle properly, how to get in and out of the boat, and how to keep stable. As such, you should be aware that a sit-in model is going to fill up with water if you turn over. A stand-up model may be better for a beginner because you will have less to worry about. It’s also a lot simpler to get into and out of this type of kayak and they are often considered to be more stable than the alternative.
Extra Thoughts for Sea Fishing
If you are planning to take your fishing kayak out onto the sea, you want to be rather particular about the boat you choose. One of the things that can be helpful is a flared bow, which helps you move over the waves instead of moving through them. This takes some of the pressure off of you in terms of keeping going forward and staying upright when the water isn’t calm. Stability is also quite important in the ocean, as is having a reasonable amount of storage. You want room to store your gear as you move farther from shore, as well as additional space to store your catch from the day.
It doesn’t matter if you are entirely new to fishing in a kayak or you are experienced and just looking for a new kayak. There is a great kayak out there for you and this list of ten is a fantastic place to start. We’ve included boats that work well for beginners, those that are better for experts, and some that are perfect for those somewhere in between those two stages. We’ve also included boats of all different prices, so you can find the right boat for your needs. We’ve even thrown in a few helpful kayak fishing tips.
In the end, a lot of these things boil down to preference. What’s most important is that your kayak is comfortable and useful for you, not the next person. This list is a look at a few kayaks that are largely considered the best out there. You can easily find one that fits your preferences and then head off to the river, lake, or ocean to catch some fish over the weekend. Good luck out there!
Ryan is an extreme kite surfer. When Ryan isn’t shredding in on the waves he spends time with his riding his bike, canoeing, and surfing.