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Best Fishing Kayaks – Our Top Picks for 2021

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Kayak fishing is quickly becoming a hot trend and rightly so. There are many benefits of fishing on a kayak of which convenience and accessibility easily come to mind. Kayaks allow you to explore remote waters that larger boats may not be able to reach. Also, kayaks are easier to transport which explains their convenience.

Kayaks are also more affordable than motorized boats. And let’s face it, paddling is a fun exercise. All these reasons and more are responsible for the increasing popularity of kayak fishing.

With the several kayaks available on the market, it’s only natural that there are kayaks tailored towards fishing. These fishing kayaks come in different types and what might be a good fishing kayak for you may not be the same for another person.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a fishing kayak of which stability and storage space, and water conditions stand out. I’ve carried out extensive research and testing to compile a list of the best fishing kayaks on the market. Chances are that you’ll find a fishing kayak that meets your needs on this list. Continue reading to learn more about the best fishing kayaks.

The 7 Best Fishing Kayaks for 2021

Emotion Stealth Angler Fishing Kayak

Emotion Stealth Angler Fishing Kayak, Sandstone, 11'

$499.99  in stock
2 new from $499.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2021 2:18 am

The Emotion Stealth Angler Fishing Kayak is designed to bring out an enjoyable kayak fishing experience. It features a flat bottom hull which greatly enhances its stability. And the sharp bow brings about increased speed, tracking, and maneuverability. There’s also a tracking skeg that specifically improves the tracking of this yak and allows you to paddle straight.

You can expect to navigate the waters with ease on the Emotion Stealth. There’s a rod holder on this kayak and this will make fishing more convenient for you. The seat is comfortable and there’s a footrest with multiple positions. This way, you can position yourself in the best comfortable position for fishing.

The large storage capacity and maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs mean you can bring crates and all your fishing gear onboard. There’s also a storage hatch where you can keep stuff away from water. Thanks to high-density polyethylene material, this kayak is very rugged and can take some abuse. You are going to be using it for a very long time.

 Specifications

  • Type:  Sit-on-top kayak
  • Size: 11ft x 30.5 in / 335.2 x 77.5 cm
  • Kayak weight:  59.3 lbs / 26.8 kg
  • Weight capacity:  300 lbs / 136 kg
  • Number of paddlers: 1 person

Pros

  • Excellent stability.
  • Impressive speed, tracking, and maneuverability.
  • Comfortable seat with multiple footrest positions.
  • Large storage space.
  • High weight capacity.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • While the seat is comfortable, some users may need a little seat cushion for more back support.

Other Buying Options:

Pelican Basscreek 100XP Angler Fishing Kayak

Pelican Kayak BASSCREEK 100XP Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak Kayak 10 Feet Lightweight One Person Kayak Perfect for Fishing

$699.99
$463.06
 in stock
4 new from $463.06
1 used from $899.95
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2021 2:18 am

Pelican is a well-known brand in the kayak industry and this fishing kayak made by them has gained the attention of paddlers due to its superb performance.

At 10ft, this kayak is shorter and compact than most other kayaks. This reduction in length brings a lot of benefits such as lightweight design, increased agility, and maneuverability. It’s very easy to maneuver this kayak and it’s also fast while tracking well.

Pelican’s multi-chine flat bottom hull makes this kayak very stable. You’ll get all the stability you need when casting lines and reeling in fish. There’s also ample storage space that will be able to accommodate your essential fishing gear.

I like the ErgoFit G2 seating system that includes a padded seat cushion and an adjustable backrest cushion providing better support. And the two retractable carry handles make it easy to carry or transport this kayak from your car to water bodies.

 Specifications

  • Type:  Sit-on-top kayak
  • Size: 10ft x 30.5 in / 304 x 77.5 cm
  • Kayak weight:  50 lbs / 22.7 kg
  • Weight capacity:  325 lbs / 147 kg
  • Number of paddlers: 1 person

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Excellent maneuverability.
  • Good tracking.
  • Good stability.
  • Ample storage space.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • The short length means it’s not ideal for large people (6ft tall and over 250 pounds).
  • More suitable for small ponds, creeks, and backwaters.

Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 Fishing Kayak (Paddle Included), Lime Green, 101 Inches

$780.00  in stock
2 new from $780.00
Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2021 2:18 am

With a length of about 8ft, the Lifetime Hydros is what I’d describe as a perfect little fishing kayak. The small size makes this kayak very lightweight and easy to carry/transport. Carrying this kayak from your vehicle to shore and back isn’t going to be a burden. And storage at home should be easy if you have a bit of space.

Maneuverability is the hallmark of this kayak thanks to its short length and it’s ideal for use in small ponds, creeks, and backwaters. It’s also very stable thanks to the hull design and the tracking is also good.

There are two flush-mounted rod holders on this kayak to improve your fishing experience. And there’s enough storage space for essential fishing gear. There are also front and rear shock cord straps that help to secure your cargo.

The multiple footrest positions and seats make you comfortable on the water. Made of high-density polyethylene that is UV protected, this kayak is very durable and you’ll be using it for a long time thereby getting value for your money.

 Specifications

  • Type: Sit-on-top kayak
  • Size: 8.4ft x 2.4 ft / 256 x 74 cm
  • Kayak weight:  38 lbs / 17 kg
  • Weight capacity:  225 lbs / 101 kg
  • Person capacity: 1 person

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to carry/store.
  • Excellent maneuverability.
  • Good speed and stability.
  • Includes rod holders.
  • Good durability.

Cons

  • Not ideal for large people.

Other Buying Options:

Perception Outlaw 11.5 Fishing KayakOur Top Pick

Perception Outlaw 11.5 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak | Fold Away Lawn Chair Seat | 4 Rod Holders | Integrated Tackle Trays | 11' 6" | Dapper

 out of stock
Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2021 2:18 am

With four integrated rod holders, the Perception Outlaw is ready for kayak fishing right out of the box. The rod holders allow you to have quick access to your fishing rods while also keeping the rods out of your way as you paddle.

This kayak also features a removable seat that’s comfortable and raised a few inches above the deck height to give you a good vantage position for fishing.

The stability of the Perception Outlaw is superb and this will make fishing a lot more convenient for you. There’s also enough storage space to store all your gear including those as big as coolers. You’ll also find a cup holder where you can store your favorite drinks on this kayak.

The seat is comfortable even if you are going to spend a long time on the water. And the self-draining scupper holes in the footwell to keep you dry. Durability is an important feature to look out for in any product and I’m glad to tell you that the Perception Outlaw isn’t found lacking in this regard.

 Specifications

  • Type:  Sit-on-top kayak
  • Size: 11ft x 35 in / 335.2 x 88.9 cm
  • Kayak weight:  77 lbs / 35 kg
  • Weight capacity:  425 lbs / 192 kg
  • Number of paddlers: 1 person

Pros

  • Superb stability.
  • Comfortable seats.
  • Large storage space.
  • Rod holders included.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Other Buying Options:

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Tan, 120""" (90508)

$473.96  in stock
19 new from $473.96
Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2021 2:18 am

Whether you just want to paddle around on the water or go kayak fishing, the Life Tamarack kayak will ensure you have a nice time on the water. Thanks to the high-quality polyethylene material, this kayak is very durable and capable of withstanding regular wear and tear.

This lifetime kayak can withstand UV, abrasion, impacts, and so on. The sturdy frame of this kayak makes it very stable. There are also the flat bottom and tracking channels that make this vessel easy to maneuver.

A comfortable seat is key to having a good fishing experience and the Tamarack comes with a padded backseat that supports your spine. There are also multiple footrest positions for different sized kayakers that bring about a smooth paddling experience. This makes this kayak suitable for long-distance expeditions.

There are fishing rod handles for angler kayakers and two spacious storage compartments to store your gear. Thanks to the front and rear handles, you can easily transport this kayak to and from the shore.

 Specifications

  • Type: Sit-on-top kayak
  • Size: 10ft x 31 x 14 in / 304 x 78 x 36 cm
  • Kayak weight:  52 lbs / 24 kg
  • Weight capacity:  275 lbs / 124 kg
  • Person capacity: 1 person

Pros

  • Sturdy frame makes this kayak stable.
  • Easy to maneuver.
  • Top-notch comfort.
  • Suitable for long-distance paddling.
  • Spacious storage compartment.
  • Very durable.

Cons

  • Weight capacity is a bit small for a long expedition kayak.

Wilderness Systems Radar 115 Fishing Kayak

Wilderness Systems Radar 115 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak | Premium Angler Kayak | 11' 6"

$1,349.00  in stock
Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2021 2:18 am

This Wilderness Systems kayak is different from the previous kayaks on this list in that it is a pedal kayak. The company is well-known for producing quality kayaks and the Radar is one of their finest creations.

Wilderness Systems claimed that the Radar features SMART technology which represents Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness, and Tracking. And I have to agree with them after my findings.

Thanks to its compatibility with Helix PD Pedal Drive and Helix MD Motor Drive (you’ll have to buy separately), it offers you the latest operational advancements that will satisfy all your electronics cravings.

Thanks to the fully adjustable and ergonomic phase 3 AirPro seating, this kayak is very comfortable. This yak is also very spacious and you’ll be able to move freely. And the large storage space means you’ll be able to store all your gear.

This kayak is also part of our selection of the best pedal kayaks.

 Specifications

  • Type: Sit-on-top kayak
  • Size:  13ft x 34.5 in / 396 x 87 cm
  • Kayak weight:  88lbs / 39.2 kg
  • Weight capacity:  450 lbs / 204 kg
  • Number of paddlers: 1 person

Pros

  • SMART technology.
  • Compatible with Helix PD Pedal drive.
  • Fully adjustable and ergonomic AirPro 3 seating system.
  • Spacious storage space.
  • Freedom of movement.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Other Buying Options:

Perception Sound 10.5 Fishing Kayak

Perception Kayaks Sound 10.5 | Sit Inside Kayak for Fishing and Fun | Two Rod Holders | Large Rear Storage | 10' 6" | Grasshopper

 out of stock
Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2021 2:18 am

The Perception sound is a quality fishing kayak that’s very easy to maneuver and performs excellently on lakes, slow-moving waters, as well as coastal waters. Thanks to the tri-keel hull, this kayak has super stability, a feature that will come in handy during your kayak fishing expedition.

Despite the compact design of this kayak, larger kayaks will still fit into the Perception Sound with ease. And the ergonomic zone seat comes with extra cushioning for added comfort. The adjustable backrest even makes this kayak more comfortable.
As a result, you can paddle for as long as you want without feeling any pain in your hands or legs. There are also the quick-adjust footrests that can be used by paddlers of all sizes.

Thanks to the two molded-in fishing rod holders and the large storage compartment capable of accommodating a fishing crate and other fishing gear, this kayak is ready for kayak fishing right out of the box. And the rear and front molded-in handles make it easy to transport this kayak.

 Specifications

  • Type: Sit-on-top kayak
  • Size: 10’6″ ft x 29.5 in / 320 x 75 cm
  • Kayak weight:  46 lbs / 21 kg
  • Weight capacity:  335 lbs / 152 kg
  • Person capacity: 1 person

Pros

  • Can accommodate paddlers of different sizes.
  • Excellent stability on water.
  • Performs well in different water conditions.
  • Extra cushioned seats make this yak very comfortable.
  • Fishing rod holders and large rear open storage area make this yak ideal for fishing.
  • Rugged and durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcoming.

Other Buying Options:

Best Fishing Kayaks – The Guide 

In this section, I’ll be discussing all the factors you need to put into consideration when buying a fishing kayak. The aim here is to make you understand what makes a fishing kayak great or bad. And this will help you make informed decisions when buying a fishing kayak.

Sit-on-Top vs. Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks

Kayaks generally have two basic designs and that’s the sit-on-top and the sit-inside designs. I discussed in detail the differences between the two, their pros, cons, and the activity they are best suited for in my article: Sit-on top vs Sit-in kayaks. However, I’ll talk briefly about sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks here.

Sit-on-top kayaks are not enclosed and lack the cockpit that traditional kayaks have. Instead, there’s a molded seat and you actually ‘sit on top’ of the kayak. This design is generally considered the best for beginners and fishing. The open-top design means the paddler has freedom of movement which is beneficial while fishing. Also, you can easily attach accessories to sit-on-top kayaks.
It’s easy to exit and enter sit on top kayaks while on the water and it’s common to see paddlers using SOTs going for a swim. SOTs are also literally unsinkable and their open design means you are exposed to the elements which is beneficial if you are paddling in hot conditions.

However, they are not ideal for use in cold weather and they are not as fast as traditional kayaks. Also, SOTs can’t handle rough waters and rapid currents.

Sit-inside is the traditional kayak design with the enclosed design and cockpit. They can also be used for fishing even though SOTs are generally considered more convenient for fishing. Sit-inside yaks are very fast, excellently handles rough waters, more maneuverable, and the enclosed design protects you from the elements.

However, some people feel like they are confined in a sit-inside kayak. You can’t enter or exit sit-inside kayaks as you’d do in a sit-on-top kayak.

best fishing kayaks - guide 1

Are Pedal Kayaks Good For Fishing?

Pedal kayaks are great for fishing. Since you propel pedal kayaks by a pedal mechanism, your hands are completely free and this makes it easier to fish. Pedal kayaks are also very stable and you can even stand up to fish. Learn more about pedal kayaks by reading my article about the best pedal kayaks.

Does The Color of The Kayak Affect Fishing?

Studies have shown that fish don’t see as many colors as humans. In fact, they pay more attention to shadows in their environment. As a result, the color of your kayak doesn’t affect your fishing. Color will become important when you want to choose lures but not kayaks.

So you can choose any color of kayak you want. Some people love blue because it blends with the sky overhead. Some prefer colors that have great visibility like yellow, orange, and red. And a buddy of mine chose a color that matches his wife’s eyes, haha.

How to Choose Your Fishing Kayak

Size/Length of The Kayak

The length of a kayak has a direct effect on its speed and maneuverability. The longer a kayak, the faster but less maneuverable it will be, especially in tight spaces. And the wider a kayak it, the more stable it’ll be.

This means that larger kayaks are generally more suitable for fishing. However, there is a tradeoff as larger yaks are bulkier and more difficult to transport.

Storage Space

How much storage space you’ll need is dependent on your gear. You have to consider if you’ll be keeping fish in which case you’ll need a crate; is live-bait storage important to you, and so on.

The good news is that fishing yaks generally have large storage compartments but you should still go for one that can easily accommodate all the gear you’ll be bringing along on your trip.

best fishing kayaks - guide 2

Rod Holders & Other Features/Accessories

Rod holders are the most important accessories on a fishing kayak. It’s also beneficial to have mounts for fish finders, cup holders, and so on.

Stability

Larger kayaks are generally more stable and there are models that are so stable that you can actually stand up to fish without either you or the kayak losing balance. I made sure to include only the most stable kayaks on this list. Standing up to fish can at times be more convenient than sitting.

Comfort / Seat

A comfortable seat is key to having an enjoyable time on the water. You won’t realize this until you have a kayak with uncomfortable seats and start feeling all kinds of pain after spending time on the water. The best kayak seats are well-padded, ergonomically designed, and have backrest support.

The kayaks on this list are of high-quality and come with comfortable seats. But it’s not unusual for paddlers to replace their kayak’s seats with more comfortable aftermarket seats. You can check out my article on the best kayak seats.

Weight / Ease of Transportation

This one is straightforward. The bigger a kayak, the more difficult it will be to transport. You have to consider the size of your vehicle when choosing a fishing kayak and go for one that’ll fit comfortably inside or on the roof of your vehicle.

Final Thoughts

If you intend to fish on your kayaking expeditions, then it’s important to buy kayaks that are specifically designed for this purpose. Fishing kayaks have everything to make your kayak fishing trips comfortable and enjoyable. Get one today and here’s to you catching enough fish to fill your crate, haha.

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