TOP 15 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviewed 2023 [An Essential Guide + FAQ]
There are few activities more blissful than getting out into nature on a picturesque day.
However, most anglers will tell you that it’s fishing that is the ultimate way to leave all your troubles behind and clear your head in the great outdoors.
And while casting a rod in from the bank is calming enough, if you really want to get away from it all you need to be out on the water.
You’ll catch a lot more fish, too!
Kayak fishing is enjoying a purple patch of late, as more enthusiasts discover this fun pastime that can be as serene as it is exciting, as thrilling as it is tranquil.
Here then is your essential guide to everything to do with the hobby, from finding the best fishing kayak of 2023 in our review to a complete buyer’s guide, tips, tricks, advice and full FAQ section.
You need to look no further for your one-stop-shop for all things kayaking fishing.
Without further ado, let’s get into some reviews.
- TOP 15 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviewed 2023
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak
- Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
- Third Coast Avalon 120 Sit-On Angler Kayak
- Vibe Kayaks Skipjack Angler & Recreational Kayak
- Sun Dolphin Boss SS Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak
- BKC RA220 Single Fishing Kayak
- Riot Kayaks Enduro 12 Angler Kayak
- BKC TK122 Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak
- Old Town Predator 13 Fishing Kayak
- Wilderness Systems Radar 135 Fishing Kayak
- Perception Pescador Pilot Fishing Kayak
- Hobie Mirage Compass Sit-On-Top Pedal Kayak
- Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak
- Choosing the Best Fishing Kayak
TOP 15 Best Fishing Kayaks Reviewed 2023
Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Review: The only inflatable kayak for fishing worth mentioning is this rugged, tandem model from Sevylor Coleman.
It is made from a durable, 18-gauge PVC construction, a 1000 denier tarpaulin bottom and 840 denier nylon cover to provide unbeatable resistance to punctures.
The craft is NMMA certified, and has multiple air chambers to stay inflated in the unlikely event one is damaged.
The air-tight system is guaranteed not to leek and it comes with plenty of fishing hardware options, including Berkley Quick Set rod holders and trolling motor fittings.
The Boston valve ensures fast inflating and deflating and at only 40 lbs, it’s the lightest fishing kayak in the review.
- Great price for what you get.
- Loads of features.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Heavy duty materials.
- The hardware can get in the way.
- The seats are not going to be the most comfortable.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak
Review: Another entry-level option is this Lifetime Tamarack model which could well be the best beginner fishing kayak on the market.
Its tough-as-nails construction is made from UV-protected, high-density polyethylene, offering molded, multiple footrests to accommodate paddlers of any height in its sit-on-top design.
It offers a wealth of features considering the price, including two flush-mounted fishing rod holders, one top mount holder, and two six-inch storage compartments at the stern and midship positions.
It has a flat hull for greater stability and a skeg to improve tracking through the water.
There’s 275 lbs of maximum weight capacity and the kayak is suitable for adults up to 6 feet tall.
- Excellent price.
- Solid construction.
- Good storage.
- Not the most comfortable seating.
- No real options for mounting accessories.
Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
Review: Sundolphin make some outstanding recreational kayaks at affordable prices and this is no exception. It’s compact and lightweight, with a nice balance of stability and tracking performance.
Storage solutions include their Portable Accessory Carrier (PAC) – a removable compartment that can hold up to 250 lbs of stuff.
There’s also shock-cord webbing at the bow and stern, and two flush mounts and one swivel-mounted fishing rod holders.
The open cockpit allows easy entry into its padded and adjustable backrest, while the adjustable foot braces ensure your comfort.
It has a 280 lbs maximum weight capacity in this 10-foot model.
- Great price.
- Good storage options.
- Quality build and manufacturer.
- On the small side.
- No seat padding.
Third Coast Avalon 120 Sit-On Angler Kayak
Review: This Third Coast Avalon model is a really smart looking kayak that is well designed and constructed while offering some great features, still at a price you can afford.
It has an adjustable padded seat and deluxe backrest, excellent storage with two nine-inch clamshell hatches with removable bags and bungee cord webbing over stern storage well.
There are side handles and a paddle holder, adjustable fishing rod holder, ditty trays and an adjustable foot brace system.
It also offers mounts if you want to add extra tech or hardware like GPS systems or fishfinders.
- Versatile design.
- Excellent features for the price.
- Good storage options.
- If you find something let me know in the comments.
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack Angler & Recreational Kayak
Review: Just to give the Avalon and the Boss something to think about, I’ve included a quality mid-range Vibe kayak that is highly versatile.
Marketed as a fishing and recreational craft, it’s compact, lightweight and stylish, with a funky look regardless of the color scheme.
Offering a midship, water-tight storage hatch, bow and stern tank wells with bungee cords, four flush-mounted rod holders and an ergonomic back-rest with a built-in cushion, the Skipjack has got a lot going for it at a very affordable price.
It’s built to marry speed with stability, in a solid, all-in-one construction with added buoyancy for peace of mind.
- Great versatility.
- Paddle included.
- Choice of colors.
- Not as customizable as other fishing kayaks.
- A top-mounted rod holder would have been nice.
Sun Dolphin Boss SS Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak
Review: A second entry for Sun Dolphin is their Boss model fishing kayak, with a catamaran style hull offering greater stability.
With non-slip pads with stand-up strap, the Boss gives you the ability to stand and cast from the deck – which many kayak anglers prefer.
It has a dual-position, fold-down seat, four carrying handles, paddle holder, four flush-mounted rod holders and one swivel-mounted holder.
With bow and stern quick-lock waterproof hatches and tank wells with shock-cord webbing, there are loads of good storage solutions onboard this kayak.
It has a 500 lbs maximum weight limit which more than a solo angler will ever need.
- Excellent storage options.
- Catamaran Hull.
- Non-slip deck for standing.
- The seat might need some tinkering with.
BKC RA220 Single Fishing Kayak
Review: Just before we start hitting up the more expensive kayaks, this model from the Brooklyn Kayak Company is definitely one of my favorites.
There’s so much going on for the price it’s almost absurd.
Featuring a foot pedal-operated rudder for extra control through choppy waters, twin flush-mount rod holders, a super-stable hull allowing standing casts, and plenty of water-tight storage for all your tackle and gear.
There are plenty of options for customizing and pimping up your kayak here, offering a large 450 lbs maximum weight capacity.
Continually one of the most top-rated fishing kayaks out there.
- Rudder system.
- Excellent storage.
- Cool choice of colors.
- Super comfortable seat.
- Paddle included.
- Only two fishing pole holders.
Riot Kayaks Enduro 12 Angler Kayak
Review: Well, here’s a turn up for the books – a sit-in kayak appearing on our fishing kayak review. That being said, Riot manufacture some outstanding kayaks and this one is worth inclusion.
With a track-rite retractable skeg system, this sleek design offers unbeatable tracking and speed through the water.
On the bow deck, there is one swivel-mounted rod holder, and two flushes mounted holders to the stern. There are also bow & stern sealed bulkheads with 15-inch rubber hatches for storage.
It’s a hybrid recreational, touring and fishing machine with an outstanding all-round performance.
The best sit-in fishing kayak option for your money.
- More protection from water.
- Excellent tracking.
- Not as stable as sit-on-top kayaks.
BKC TK122 Tandem Fishing Kayak
Review: Built for superior stability, this tandem kayak is another entry for the Brooklyn Kayak Company. It features a wide, flat bottom and the ability to take a maximum weight load of an astounding 770 lbs.
That’s more than enough for you, your partner, perhaps your dog and all your tackle and gear.
It is absolutely packed with features, which include two, super-comfortable, aluminum-framed deluxe seats so you can stay out on the water for longer.
The kayak also boasts a large storage capacity, with each seat having access to a secure watertight storage hatch.
Additionally, there’s a stern cargo area with bungee cords and forward recessed area that can be fitted with a mesh cover.
Four flush-mounted and two articulated rod holders are also incorporated.
- Paddles included.
- Packed with features.
- Choice of colors.
- Quality seating.
- It might be too heavy for some users.
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak
Review: Based out of Georgia, Vibe Kayaks are new on the scene but they’re really making a name for themselves.
This is their popular Sea Ghost kayak, which offers a toe controlled rudder system for excellent tracking in rough waters.
It includes two flush-mounted rod holders and four integrated gear tracks for customized rigging if you want to install your own setup.
It packs in the storage options, with a large center console, 20-inch bow oval hatch, stern hatch and large bungee rear tank well for a cooler or tackle box.
It’s highly-stable, with the option of standing casts if you require. The Sea Ghost can take a maximum weight of 550 lbs.
- Highly customizable.
- Excellent seating position.
- Rudder system.
- Great storage options.
- Storage latches are a little fiddly – but I’m nit-picking.
Old Town Predator 13 Fishing Kayak
Review: The oldest kayak company in the world have had a long time to perfect their products, and their Predator model is one serious piece of fishing kit.
There’s so much going for this I don’t know where to start. With a maximum weight capacity of 425 lbs and tons of storage space, the Predator can pack in anything you need for your trip.
This includes an innovative ModPod storage system for tackle and gear with removable trays and a slip-resistant Exo-Ridge deck and tank well.
There’s plenty of scope for customizing, also featuring a fish finder transducer scupper, horizontal rod storage options, and a water-tight large bow hatch with Click Seal cover.
The seat is a particular plus point, too – super-comfortable with an excellent field of vision. This kayak doesn’t just have a cool name.
- Cool name.
- Just about everything else.
- I dare you to find one.
Wilderness Systems Radar 135 Fishing Kayak
Review: Much like Old Town, Wilderness Systems are a by-word for quality in the kayaking world.
They offer two excellent fishing kayaks, but I’ve gone for the high-end Radar model. It’s a versatile craft that is totally customizable with all the mod-cons you would ever need.
The ability to install pedals and motors is an excellent selling point, but it’s got plenty to keep you occupied as standard. The AirPro Max seat has three adjustable positions and can travel much of the length of the kayak, which offers an unrestricted fishing position where you need it.
The Radar also packs in SlideTrax rails, a front paddle park, multiple hatches, and generous tankwell storage. The maximum weight capacity is 450 lbs.
- Tri-power options – it’s super versatile.
- Moveable seating system.
- Great balance between performance, stability and comfort.
- It’s expensive to kit it out with all the extras.
Perception Pescador Pilot Fishing Kayak
Review: Perception have been pumping out quality kayaks for over 40 years, so they’re no strangers when it comes to what makes a good kayak.
Their Pescador Pilot model has a built-in pedal drive which can be fully recessed into the hull for zero draft. The kayak is solidly built in a one-piece construction that has additional buoyancy for added safety.
It offers two large storage wells with shock-cord webbing, a 475 lbs maximum weight capacity, gear tracks, fishfinder consoles and four rod holders.
There’s a one-handed rudder control with 360-degree turning radius, with more storage under the comfortable and removable mesh seat.
- Pedal and rudder system.
- Gear tracks and consoles – no need for drilling.
- Choice of funky color schemes.
- Lightweight it ain’t.
- No storage hatches.
Hobie Mirage Compass Sit-On-Top Pedal Kayak
Review: There really is no getting away from the quality that Hobie produces – the fishing kayaks that all other fishing kayaks aspire to. What sets them aside is their truly outstanding pedal drive systems as well as just about everything else on board the craft, too.
First up we have their Mirage Compass model, which is a stylishly designed craft that incorporates their award-winning Mirage Drive GT and retractable, spring-loaded rudder system.
They include a breathable, mesh seat in an excellent fishing position and storage underneath, as well as stern and bow storage wells and a midship compartment.
Pedal with this machine out on the water and the fish will never see you coming.
- Award-winning drive system.
- Beautifully simple, eye-pleasing design.
- Excellent stability all round.
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak
Review: Everything about this kayak screams quality. From the elevated seating position (in a chair that wouldn’t look out of place in an office). The powerful Hobie Mirage Drive 180 with Turbo Fins and a retractable rudder system (you can reverse in this kayak).
The multitude of rod holders, storage options and built-in Lowrance transducer mount with pre-installed cable plug (Hobie working with the makers of some of the best fish finders in the business).
The list is seemingly endless. It’s not just the most comfortable fishing kayak, it’s probably the best fishing kayak ever assembled. But as ever with Hobie – for this kind of quality you’re going to have to pay for it.
- Outstanding build quality and construction.
- The best seating system on a kayak.
- Fully customizable.
- Powerful, silent pedal drive that can reverse.
- Vertical access H-rails.
- Exorbitantly expensive for a kayak.
Choosing the Best Fishing Kayak
There might just be a lot on your mind when it comes to making a fishing kayak purchase, as there’s plenty of things you should consider before parting with your hard-earned cash.
Here’s what you should be looking out for when you’re in the market for a new kayak.
A full FAQ section will follow.
Kayaks generally come in two different types, both with their advantages and disadvantages – depending on where you’re going to use them and what you’re going to use them for.
These kayaks a usually longer and thinner than the sit-on-top variety. You sit inside a cockpit so the kayak effectively becomes an extension of you.
They’re built for speed and excellent tracking, which is why they’re predominantly used for touring or going greater distances.
You’re open to the elements in these kayaks, literally sitting on top of the craft in a seated position. They’re much sturdier in the water than their sit-in counterparts, which makes them ideal for fishing.
Generally speaking and with one or two exceptions, the best kayaks for fishing are the sit-on-top variety.
However, it comes down to your personal preference and you can check out the video below for more information that might help point you in the right direction.
Maneuverability vs. Tracking
Tracking is the word given to how smoothly a kayak or canoe tracks through the water.
Basically, how straight it goes.
The maneuverability is how fast and efficient the kayak is able to turn and react when you’re paddling.
As a rule of thumb, kayaks with a longer keel will provide better tracking.
Shorter kayaks with a flat hull will be more maneuverable.
It’s not always as black and white as that, but for the sake of this article – you should be looking for a more maneuverable kayak – because they’re much better for fishing.
However, it is possible to find hybrids that manage to balance both.
Check out the video below for tips on improving kayak tracking and turning.
Be honest with yourself – how good are you at fishing and how good are you at kayaking?
They are two completely different disciplines that require different motor and dexterity skills in order to be successful at each.
So, before you go throwing thousands of dollars at a kayak you have no idea how to control… Or, picking up pimped out fishing craft when you’ve never even bait a hook…
Take a moment to consider your skill level.
Once you understand that, you can start to weigh up which fishing kayak is likely going to be the best for you.
Check out the video below for some top tips on kayak fishing for beginners.
Unless you’re going straight for a kayak with a full rudder and pedal system, for the most part you make a fishing kayak go forward by the use of good-ol’ paddle power.
It might take a little bit of getting used to if you’re a rookie, but with a bit of practice, you’ll get the hang of it.
But for many pro or more experienced anglers, this simply isn’t enough.
They want to move hands-free through the water, faster, quieter and undetected. All the while having unrestricted access to their fishing rod.
Just on paddle power alone, you simply can’t do both at once.
With that in mind, it’s often good to look out for fishing kayaks that are adaptable and give you options for kitting it out with additional methods of propulsion in the future.
This might include a pedal system or a trolling motor.
Freeing your hands up to focus on reeling in that prize fish.
Tandem or Solo?
This is really another personal preference, but there are a couple of pointers you should remember.
Just because a kayak says it’s tandem, doesn’t mean you need two people to paddle it.
In fact, most good tandem kayaks will be specially built so they don’t tip-up at one end with only one occupant.
The advantage of using a tandem kayak when you’re fishing solo is that you’ve got loads more space for storage, room to maneuver on the deck and you will be much less restricted when casting or reeling in.
You can also bring your four-legged friend along for the ride if you’ve got a pooch that would enjoy a trip out on the water.
Tandem fishing is a lot of fun – it’s great to have a friend or family member to share your experiences enjoy a bonding session.
But it’s food for thought – you can fish solo in a tandem kayak but you can’t fish tandem in a solo kayak.
And even if you’re fishing solo now – it might be nice to have the option of bringing someone along for the ride in the future.
How much on-board storage a kayak has will very much depend on what the kayak is going to be used for.
Recreational kayaks tend to have limited storage while touring kayaks have much more for packing camping equipment and other useful gear.
Fishing kayaks generally have excellent storage solutions – because you need space for your provisions, your tackle boxes and any fish you might catch (if you’re not intending on putting them back, that is).
Look out for kayaks with tank wells – covered with shock-cord/bungee webbing – usually in the stern or the bow of the vessel.
They’re really useful for tackle boxes or coolers.
Water-tight storage hatches are usually found around the midship area – so you can access them from a seated position. They can also be located at the stern or bow, however.
They’re useful for smaller items and important gear that you don’t want to get wet.
The more storage the kayak offers a fisherperson – the better.
At a glance, perhaps the main difference between a fishing kayak and a recreational kayak will be the extra fishing hardware.
Flush-mounted rod holders, top-mounted rod holders, swivel/articulated rod holders, consoles, tracks and other such features set the fishing kayak apart from the crowd.
What you actually need is up to you, but you should have at least one flush-mounted rod holder and one top-mounted holder for when you’re actually in action.
Aside from rod holders, it’s nice to have the option of adding extra tech in the future.
These can include GPS systems for navigation and fish finders to direct you to the best casting spots.
You can always do a bit of DIY and install the mounts yourself – but this will nearly always involve drilling into the hull.
Keep an eye out for versatile fishing kayaks that have mounting options already pre-installed.
Can You Fish in a Sit-In Kayak?
You can – but depending on the model of kayak it might be a bit tricky.
I did include one sit-in kayak for fishing in my review above – but not all sit-in kayaks are suitable for the activity.
I certainly wouldn’t use a sit-in touring kayak for fishing.
Sit-in kayaks generally don’t have good primary stability. This basically means that they’re more likely to tip when placed on the water.
Not ideal if you’re trying to reel in a fish.
That being said, it’s perfectly possible to fish from a sit-in kayak and no law against it.
Just so long as you know what you’re doing as it takes considerably more skill to balance.
Are Sit-On-Top Kayaks Better for Fishing?
Further to the previous question – yes they are.
They offer more stability and are much less restrictive than a sit-in kayak.
This is of course ideal when you’re baiting-up, looking for your tackle or gear, landing a fish or even just laying back and relaxing.
How Do I Outfit a Kayak for Fishing?
There are literally hundreds of ways you can pimp up your fishing kayak.
And in all sorts of configurations.
Part of the fun of kayak fishing is doing just that – and no two craft are going to be the same out on the water.
How you kit your vessel out depends entirely on you.
From extra rod holders, storage compartments, GPS systems, tackle and cooler boxes, fish finders and other technical gadgets and gizmos – you could spend forever (and a small fortune) turning your kayak into a lean mean fish hunting machine.
But for some top tips and advice on how to do all of that, watch the excellent video below to learn how to rig your kayak into a feared badass on the waterways.
What Do I Need for Kayak Fishing?
A kayak would be a good start.
But joking aside, there’s all your fishing gear and tackle you would need to consider, too.
And this will vary greatly – depending on where and what you’re fishing.
Whether or not you’re in salt or freshwater.
Also, keep an eye on the weather and conditions – you might need to pack extra layers or waterproof clothing.
And something warm and dry is a good idea if you happen to get soaking wet.
Aside from a kayak, your fishing gear and appropriate clothing, perhaps the number one thing you need for the activity is a Personal Floatation Device (PFD).
Check out these amazing fishing PFDs that are perfect for this activity.
NEVER go out onto the water without one.
For more information in a really informative video, check out the link below on the ten must-haves for kayak fishing.
What Should I Wear for Kayak Fishing?
Well, apart from the aforementioned PFD, what you wear out on the water will depend on the season and conditions you’re fishing in.
In colder climes, you should layer your clothing, with waterproof and breathable gear that can wick moisture away from your skin.
In hotter temps, it won’t matter so much what you wear, but you must make sure you’re fully UV protected being so exposed.
There’s no shade out there.
Even 20 minutes on an open lake under a hot sun is asking for trouble if you’re not lathered in sunblock.
Hats and sunglasses are always a good idea, too. Nay, I would say essential.
Try to avoid wearing cotton – which doesn’t dry quickly and will leave you very uncomfortable should it get wet.
And pick yourself up a pair of these excellent kayaking shoes – they’ll take your kayak fishing experience to a whole new level.
What is the Best Fish Finder for Kayaks?
Ahhh, now there is a question that is likely to encourage a storm of debate and keep me writing this article for several days.
Rather than that, have a look at these outstanding fish finders for kayaks and make your own mind up. You’ll surely find the right fish finder for your kayak there.
Bear in mind, they’ve been specifically selected for kayak fishing – so multi-million dollar technology has thankfully not been included.
What Color Should My Fishing Kayak Be?
It is a question that is often overlooked – does the color of a kayak really make a difference?
If all comes down to a safety issue. Kayaks with bright and bold colors are much easier to see from a distance and in an emergency.
This is useful in any situation – but it will really make a big and potentially life-saving impact if you’re fishing at sea.
As mentioned before, there is no proof the color of a kayak has any significant impact on fish – so you’re not likely to frighten them off if your kayak is Day-Glo hot pink.
It once again comes down to your personal preference – but I would always err on the side of caution and think safety first.
(And also what looks really, really cool.)
In a mammoth article, I think we’ve just about covered everything to do with kayak fishing – particularly when it comes to hunting for the best fishing kayak of 2023.
Let me know in the comments below if you think anything has been missed off (apart from how to actually catch the fish, that is).
Also, tell me what you think is the best fishing kayak and why.
Best of luck out there – and happy fishing!