Best Fishing Kayaks in 2021 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons
No matter if you prefer fishing along the shore or getting out into deeper waters and casting the rod, fishing kayaks are a fantastic option. They can help you get to the spots where the fish are biting the most.
Whether you plan on fishing in small ponds, lakes, or in the ocean, one of the kayak options below is bound to suit your needs.
In this article, you’ll find a list of the top five fishing kayaks on the market, as well as a comprehensive buyer’s guide and some frequently asked questions.
Best Fishing Kayaks Reviews
Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS
If you are looking for a moderately priced fishing kayak, something durable, stable, and really versatile that lets you sit in comfort for hours on end, the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS could be a great option for you.
This is a 10-foot-long, 30-inch-wide vessel, which means that it’s excellent for surface stability and speed. It is made out of UV-stabilized Fortiflex, which is high-density polyethylene. This material has a lot of impact resistance and will last you a long while. The material is light enough for one-person carrying.
The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS performs well while still being very versatile and stable. It’s perfect for rivers and lakes and makes paddling incredibly easy.
Storage is something that you need to consider when buying a fishing kayak. The Dolphin Journey 10 SS features an accessory carrier in the rear where you can store all your fishing equipment and other essentials. A bungee cord storage area is located in the kayak’s front, allowing quick access to everything you may need urgently.
Since you’ll be floating inside the kayak while fishing and you can’t exactly stand up and stretch without risking losing balance, a certain amount of extra room is needed. The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS has a well-padded seat for maximum sitting comfort and protective thigh pads with adjustable foot braces.
You’ll find paddle holders on both sides, which are very useful for fishing, plus it features three rod holders – two flush-mount and one swivel.
What really stands out about this particular kayak is that it is built for long-term comfort. It comes with various features, such as plenty of leg space, thigh pads, and more, which allow you to remain comfortable all day long.
One thing that could be improved upon is this kayak’s tracking. Simply put, it doesn’t stay on course too well and has a tendency to veer off to one side or another, something that can be a bit annoying when fishing.
- Durable design
- Fairly stable
- Lots of room
- Plenty of storage
- Decent price
- Light enough to carry
- Not for fast moving waters
- Relatively poor tracking
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
If you are looking for an affordable fishing kayak, one that has a surprisingly high weight capacity, plenty of room, and some other neat features too, all without forcing you to pay an arm and a leg for it, then the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 could be a good option for you.
The Tamarack Angler 100 is an affordable kayak option. Still, despite its agreeable price tag, it’s made of UV-protected, high-density polyethylene. This material is rigid, strong, and durable but doesn’t add too much to the vessel’s weight. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is considered a light kayak.
Given that this is a relatively small vessel (10 feet in length and 30 inches in width), the 275-pound capacity is somewhat surprising.
Due to its reasonable price, you can’t expect a ton of bells, whistles, and fancy features. However, you’ll still find a substantial amount of storage capacity here. There are two round compartments for small tool and tackle storage. You’ll find a sizeable storage deck at the stern, while the bow features a smaller storage deck. Both of these are equipped with bungee cords to keep your things secure.
The Tamarack doesn’t exactly impress in the comfort department, however. The seat consists of two parts and has an adjustable back, but don’t expect a ton of comfort. Yet, given its size, the Angler 100 has a decent size cockpit with a few footwells, which help you attain a comfy position for paddling.
What is good about this particular kayak is that it is ideal for beginners. It’s a simple and affordable kayak that is fine for some basic fishing on calm waters, as long as you don’t want to fish for a whole day. It’s a great thing to get if you want to try kayak fishing for the first time and don’t want to empty your bank account.
In all honesty, the bad part about this fishing kayak is that due to its relatively low price tag, it also doesn’t come with many great features. Yeah, it has some storage, but not much, and it’s not overly comfortable either, so it’s definitely not something you’d get if you plan on kayak fishing for full days throughout the fishing season.
- Good for basic use and short fishing trips
- Quite lightweight
- Durable enough considering the price
- Decent amount of storage
- High weight capacity
- Great price
- Not overly comfortable
- Stability could be better
- Not for serious fishing trips
BKC FK 184
If you are on the hunt for a small and super portable kayak that you can pop on the roof of your car with ease, something that is somehow still very comfy in spite of its small size, the BKC FK 184 could be a good option for you.
At 9 feet (and a few inches) of length, the BKC FK 184 is a reasonably small fishing kayak (the shortest on the list). However, it is incredibly maneuverable and stable, even in very choppy waters. It’s almost a performance kayak model. Still, there are a few features that make this BKC model excellent for fishing.
The FK 184 is made of polyethylene, making it resilient while keeping its weight at mere 45 pounds. The 250-pound load capacity is impressive considering its light weight. Although you shouldn’t rely on this, it is said that this kayak can support much more than 250 pounds.
There are two screw-off hatches for storing all the necessary tools and water-sensitive items, such as electronic equipment. The BKC 184 also features as many as five rod holders (four flush-mounted and one articulating holder).
The BKC FK 184 has an adjustable seat and a substantial amount of legroom, considering it’s among the smaller kayaks available on the market.
Most fishing kayaks are around 30” wide, and this BKC model is about 32”. This width doesn’t generally excel in the stability department. However, with this model, it is surprisingly well-balanced.
The good part about the BKC FK 184 is that it is ideal for beginners and for people who are a bit wary of the water. Due to its high level of stability, it’s great for large people and it works well on waters that aren’t necessarily calm, not to mention that in spite of its small size, it still seems to be rather comfy with plenty of storage and rod holders.
One bad thing about this fishing kayak that due to its wide and short design, it doesn’t excel at moving fast, and it’s not great at tracking either. There’s also the fact that this thing clearly is not made for tall people.
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Decent price
- Surprisingly comfortable
- Surprising amount of storage
- Very stable
- Ideal for beginners
- Fairly durable
- Not for tall people
- Not meant for speed
- Not great in terms of tracking
Pelican Basscreek 100XP
If you are looking for an affordable kayak that is somewhere between a beginner’s model and a full-scale professional fishing kayak, the Pelican Basscreek 100XP may be a good option for you to check out. While it doesn’t come loaded with all of the bells and whistles that much pricier models come with, it does have some impressive features none the less.
The Pelican Basscreek 100XP isn’t the most cutting-edge fishing kayak on the market. It doesn’t bring the most advanced features to the table, and it is not the most diverse one on the market either. Yet, it’s not your average beginner’s kayak, either. It’s right there in the middle.
The Pelican Basscreek 100XP is easy to paddle and very straightforward. It’s a sit-on-top kayak with a decent amount of surface stability. This doesn’t come at the cost of maneuverability or storage space, though.
In terms of size, the Basscreek is relatively standard for fishing kayaks – it’s 10 feet long and 30 inches wide, weighing about 49 pounds. Its maximum capacity, however, is pretty impressive – it can hold up to 325 pounds.
The footrests are adjustable for comfort and placed at an efficient paddling position. It boasts a RAM-X Premium build, which is multi-layer polyethylene material. It makes the Basscreek resilient while still being light.
There is a quick-lock hatch with a bungee cord, three flush-mount rod holders, and a swivel holder. If you’re looking for a reliable fishing kayak for casual use, the Basscreek 100XP is a great option.
The good part about the Pelican Basscreek 100XP is that it’s just an all-around decent kayak for a decent price. It’s nothing super special, but it gets the job done just fine. It’s reasonably comfortable, has a decent amount of storage space, and is fairly durable too, all for a reasonable price.
The bad part about this fishing kayak is that it doesn’t really excel in any one area, well, besides weight capacity. Everything here is just OK, but not fantastic, which means that it’s definitely not designed for heavy-duty, long-term, and professional use.
- Good price
- Ideal for beginners
- Relatively stable
- Relatively durable
- Decent storage capacity
- Decent comfort level
- Not ideal for fighting big fish
- Does not excel in terms of tracking
- Padding is not the best
Perception Pescador 12.0
If you are on the hunt for a really nice fishing kayak that comes with plenty of space, comfort features, stability, and a good length for both speed and maneuverability, and you are willing to spend a good amount of money on something fairly advanced and high quality, the Perception Pescador 12.0 could be ideal for you.
This kayak is stable, fast, and capable of taking on a variety of conditions. It’s made of high-density polyethylene, which makes it resilient and leak-proof while still lightweight and portable. It’s 12 feet long, which makes it bigger than average in size for a fishing model. This leaves a lot of room for comfort.
It has an adjustable mesh seat with two optional height levels and forward/backward adjustment options that make paddling easy, regardless of your height.
The Pescador has an open storage area in the front, while the rear hold is intended for coolers and boxes. Everything you store inside this kayak is easy-to-reach at all times.
In terms of on-water performance, the Pescador 12.0 is durable, reliable, fast, and maneuverable. Getting out of it can be a bit tricky, although its fantastic stability makes it that much easier. In fact, the Pescador 12.0 can even hold and support you while standing, which isn’t something you see very often in average kayaks. Yes, you can fish upright on this model.
The seat itself is made out of breathable mesh, allowing air to pass through, keeping your bottom fresh and cool, even when it’s sweltering outside. Given its length, the Pescador 12.0 has a lot of legroom.
The good part about this fishing kayak is that it is ideal for heavy-duty and long-term fishing. It’s got more than enough space and features for all-day comfort, it’s super stable, it’s long and agile, and it has enough storage space for a day’s catch too. This is a real fishing kayak.
One of the only bad things about the Perception Pescador 12.0 is that it is a bit pricey. If this is your first time buying a fishing kayak, you do need to consider that this is quite the investment.
- Fast and agile
- Good tracking
- Lots of comfort features
- Plenty of storage
- High level of durability
- A bit hard to get out of
- Quite expensive
The list above should contain at least one fishing kayak that works for you. Getting acquainted with some fishing kayak basics can help you determine the best model for your needs. With this in mind, we present you with our fishing kayak buyer’s guide.
Types of Kayaks
There are various kayak types available on the market. There are tandem kayaks (for two people), pedal-driven kayaks (which are pedaled like bicycles), inflatable ones for easier storage, even motorized kayaks. However, the two main kayak types are sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks. Sit-inside kayaks aren’t generally a preferred option for fishing. This is why every kayak from the above list is a sit-on-top.
Sit-on-top kayaks offer the best storage options, the most legroom, and the pleasantness of open-air fishing. They also provide the comfiest chairs and the best overall fishing experience.
Compared to boats, canoes, and other larger water vessels, kayaks aren’t too stable. However, the portability and convenience they bring to the table are unmatched, which is why many people opt for buying a fishing kayak.
Although it isn’t the king of stability, the modern fishing kayak provides a reasonably stable fishing platform. But how stable are we talking here?
As a rule of thumb, the wider the vessel, the more stable it will be on the water surface. However, most kayaks on the list above are around 30 inches wide (more or less).
The main two measurements that are usually mentioned in most reviews are the kayak length and its width. For fishing models, the typical length is somewhere around 10 feet. A third measurement is often neglected: displacement (or volume), which is the kayak’s total weight with you on board.
Reduce a kayak’s width, and you’ll have to increase its length to obtain the same displacement and vice-versa. This is how displacement works. Pay attention to these measurements.
Naturally, a kayak’s weight capacity is critical – quite simply put, the weight capacity governs how much physical weight a kayak can handle. Ideally, a fishing kayak will have somewhere between 250 and 325 pounds. Everything lower than 250 pounds means questionable capacity.
You need to keep in mind that a fishing kayak doesn’t only have to handle your own physical weight. You also need to consider your fishing equipment and whether you’re bringing along a couple of beers to crack open after you’ve tossed out your rod. In addition to fishing equipment, drinking water and snacks can take up a significant portion of a kayak’s weight capacity.
Of course, your actual physical weight is something that you need to consider as well. If you weigh 250 pounds or more, you’ll want to be in the ballpark of 300 pounds of capacity on your kayak. When looking at a kayak’s capacity, add another 50 pounds to your own weight as a rule of thumb.
The purpose of a fishing kayak isn’t just getting you from point A to point B. Although you can disembark from it and go to your favorite land fishing spot, a fishing kayak is supposed to be fully capable of having you stay in it for a few hours and fish.
No matter where you need to sit for a fair amount of time, you need to consider the comfort factor. A sore back, butt, or legs are out of the question, at least for the first few hours of kayak fishing.
Ideally, you’ll want a kayak with an adjustable, padded seat. Plus, there needs to be enough wiggle room in the legroom department – you need to be able to stretch out your legs every now and again.
The most crucial comfort factor that not many fishing kayaks can boast of is the possibility of standing up. Some kayaks allow you to stand upright, stretch out, and even enjoy fishing from a standing position. This requires a great deal of stability, but it’s an irreplaceable factor in fishing kayak models with that capability.
You can’t expect to go fishing without any equipment. Fishing rods, bait, and other paraphernalia are all part of a fishing adventure on land or from a vessel. You need to consider where you’ll be able to store your caught game – you can’t plan on leaving it between your legs. Then, there’s food and water storage.
And you might want to bring along a couple of cold beers. You also need to think about a water-resistant compartment for your phone, other electronics, regular clothes, wallet, etc.
These are just the bare fishing essentials, and there are plenty more to consider. You probably know all about this if you’re a seasoned fisherman.
In reality, a fishing kayak is supposed to have reliable storage options, some of which need to be resistant to water.
So, look for a kayak with a decent number of compartments and a substantial number of fishing rod holders (swivel and flush mount). Ideally, at least some storage compartments should be water-resistant or waterproof.
Can I Fish While Standing On a Kayak?
It depends. In theory, if you’re skilled, light, and balanced enough, you can stand on any kayak type. Of course, fishing while standing is an entirely different thing.
Most sit-on-top fishing kayaks aren’t an ideal option for standing while fishing. You may be able to balance for a while, but the risk of tipping the kayak over and falling into the water is ever-present. With that said, some fishing kayaks are relatively easy to stand up in and even fish from while in a standing position.
Another significant benefit of being able to stand up in a kayak while it’s in the water is the possibility of stretching – fishing sessions can sometimes take hours, and standing up and doing a few stretches can help prevent sore back, neck, and legs. If a kayak is stable enough to let you fish from it while standing, it’s probably a good choice.
What Safety Equipment Do I Need When Kayaking?
Whether you’re planning on kayak fishing on a small, calm lake during the afternoon or taking the kayak to the ocean during the evening, there are certain risks that you need to consider.
Therefore, bringing along some safety equipment should go without saying. Here are some of the most essential pieces of safety equipment to keep in mind:
- Life jacket or a PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
- A bilge pump for water removal
- Map, compass, maybe even a GPS
- Flashlight, flares, or other means of illumination
- Tow bag or throw bag
- First aid kit
- Extra paddle
Is Kayak Fishing Only Possible in the Summer?
Although kayak fishing is more popular during the warmer months, as long as there is no ice on the water, you can fish from your kayak. Naturally, dressing for the conditions goes without saying.
And we aren’t just talking about a warm winter jacket, underpants, a thick set of pants, and nice warm shoes. No, we’re talking about a dry suit and thermal underwear. You never know when a splash can come along, filling up a part of your kayak. You don’t want your feet (or any other body part) to be wet when it’s cold out there.
Bringing along warm, dry clothes and leaving them in your car is also a good idea.
What Kind of Paddle Do I Need for Kayaking?
A telescopic paddle is recommended for beginners, which can typically be adjusted from 95 inches to 100 inches. In 90 percent of instances, though, a 95-inch paddle will do the trick. If you own a large-size fishing kayak, you can go up to 102 inches.
The paddle length also depends on the user’s height. Let’s say we’re looking at kayaks with a width of 28-32 inches.
If you are shorter than 5 feet but up to 6 feet tall, a 90-inch paddle will do. If you are taller than 6 feet, you’re going to need a 95-inch paddle. This depends on the kayak’s width.
However, considering that all five of the kayaks mentioned above are in the 28- to 32-inch ballpark, a 90- to 95-inch paddle will do, depending on the paddler’s height.
What is the Best Way to Transport a Kayak on a Car Roof?
Given that all five of the kayaks mentioned above are relatively lightweight, they can be transported using any roof rack, with two lashing straps securing it. Make sure that the kayak is placed upside-down on the car roof for maximum stability.
We’re sure that one of the five kayaks that we’ve mentioned will work perfectly for your fishing needs.
The Perception Pescador 12-0, however, is the best choice overall. Not only is it the longest model, but it is perfectly capable of allowing you to fish from an upright position. It’s durable, reliable, fast, maneuverable, and has a great storage capacity.
The Pescador isn’t the most affordable fishing kayak on the market, but it certainly is one of the best.