Best Fishing Kayaks of 2023 (Review and Buying Guide)
Vibe Sea Ghost 110
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit In Kayak
Joe Appleton Updated on March 17, 2023. In Fishingby
Fishing from a kayak is a great way to spend the day on the water. Fishing kayaks can take you to fishing spots that are inaccessible from the shore and too difficult to get to on a larger vessel. Sure, you could get yourself a small pontoon boat but a kayak is a more practical vehicle for traversing trickier waterways, and in most cases, they’re easier to transport too!
It’s no wonder that more and more anglers are fishing from kayaks than ever before!
If you’re tempted to upgrade your fishing experience and take your angling to the next level, we’ve put together a list of the best kayaks for fishing, with a short buying guide that outlines everything you need to know about these cool ‘yaks.
1. Vibe Sea Ghost 110
Vibe’s Sea Ghost is fast becoming a favorite among kayak fishing enthusiasts. It’s relatively new to the market when compared with other well-established players, but this unassuming brand is making a big splash.
The Sea Ghost 110 is a single-seater sit-on fishing kayak which carefully balances space and stability with speed and handling. It’s designed to offer increased comfort for long days of fishing, and even features a dual position seat with exceptional support.
Like most of the best fishing kayaks, the Sea Ghost has a toe-controlled rudder that keeps you on track and stops you from wasting energy steering with your paddle. It’s ideal for windy conditions and strong currents.
Other great features include endless storage options (including two hatches and a bungee rear tank), flush mounted rod holders, and integrated gear tracks.
Each kayak ships with a high-quality paddle and a number of other interesting and useful accessories. What’s more, it comes in four different color options! If you need something bigger, Vibe also has a slightly larger model, the 130, which is better suited to ocean kayaking.
Weight: 62 lbs
Capacity: 425 lbs
2. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is arguably one of the most popular fishing kayaks among angling enthusiasts. It’s capable, spacious, practical, and easy to steer, making it a great choice for beginners and experienced kayakers alike.
This 12 ft kayak comes equipped with pedals which can be used for forward and reverse momentum, leaving your hands free for rod control and effortless steering. One very cool feature of the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is the fact that it features Kick-Up Fins which retract when they make contact with an underwater obstacle. This prevents damage and opens up shallower waterways.
Other top features include a spacious stowage area, EVA-padded seating, integrated rod holders, and enough space to add some additional extras, such as a portable fish finder, storage for up to four rods, and other fishing aids. It can also be controlled with regular paddles (included) if pedaling isn’t your cup of tea.
Weight: 132.5 lbs
Capacity: 500 lbs
Propulsion: Pedals and Paddles
3. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit In Kayak
At the budget end of the spectrum, we’ve got the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10. This economy-class sit-inside kayak is a great choice for those looking to get out on the water without spending a fortune. It’s a tough and durable fishing kayak that’s easy to maneuver, comfortable to sit in, with plenty of storage space—all for a respectable price.
Constructed from a high-density polyethylene, this hard shell kayak can carry a surprising amount of weight, and features more storage space than you’d think. While it’s not strictly designed for fishing, a simple addition of a rod holder can easily transform this into a viable option.
It already comes equipped with a comfortable seat with high back support, a stern hatch for tackle storage, a water bottle holder, and carrying handles for easy transportation. It even comes with a limited lifetime warranty! If you’re in need of a budget-price sit-in kayak then this is a worthy choice.
Weight: 40 lbs
Capacity: 250 lbs
4. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
Next up, we have another budget option. This is the Tamarack Angler 100, a small and compact fishing kayak that’s simple, sturdy, and surprisingly spacious too. It’s a single seater kayak with enough interesting features to make your next fishing trip a pleasure, but without a frighteningly high price tag.
This little kayak is made from a high-density Polyethylene material with a UV protective coating. It has a flat bottom hull, with formed areas for practical storage and multiple seating positions. The foot rests are adjustable, and the seat has ample padding.
There are a number of storage compartments, as well as front and rear shock cord straps to help keep things tied down.
It does come with a number of rod holders, including two flush mounted fishing pole holders and a forward mounted pole holder Unfortunately it’s not a swivel rod holder, which is a bit of a shame. Still, for a budget model, this one is surprisingly capable. It’s comfortable, handles extremely well in the water, and it’s not going to break the bank either!
Weight: 50 lbs
Capacity: 275 lbs
5. Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 10
The Slayer Propel from Native Watercraft is a kayak designed for anglers who like to travel fast. It’s a sit on pedal-powered kayak that can travel at impressive speeds across the water without much effort at all.
The kayak’s hard shell body is made from a tough layered polyethylene which makes it a durable option. Underneath there’s a protected rudder that will keep you on track no matter the conditions. On the inside, it features hand-sewn cushions for the seat, dry storage areas, and an advanced pedal mechanism.
With little effort on the peddler’s part, the Native Watercraft Slayer Propel can easily hit a speed of 4.2 miles per hour—all without breaking a sweat. Greater speeds can be achieved, but that all depends on your level of willingness. As well as a pedal drive, the Slayer also comes equipped with paddles too.
Other cool features include two fishing rod mounts, water resistant padding in a number of areas, a storage hatch, and a spacious flat deck that you can easily move around on.
Weight: 62 lbs
Capacity: 400 lbs
Propulsion: Pedals and Paddles
6. Brooklyn Kayak UH-RA220
The Brooklyn Company (BKC) has a number of exciting fishing kayaks in their catalogue, but the BKC UH-RA220 is one of the best we’ve seen. It’s a comprehensive sit-on kayak that’s geared up for fishing, with easy paddle propulsion and hands-free pedal steering.
The hull is a strong and sturdy unit that features a number of exciting features. Apart from being a comfortable ride, it’s sturdy and stable enough for anglers to stand on, offering serious fishing versatility. It also boasts a cut out for mounting a fish finder or special GPS system, storage sections, and a UV resistant coating that resists sun damage, and also makes it ideal for use in salt water too.
A simple pedal steering mechanism allows you to focus on paddling without having to worry about your heading. What’s more, it has a cut out for a trolling motor if you don’t feel like paddling at all!
Other top features include fully articulating rod holders, a useful bungee tie-down system, clever watertight storage, and paddle holders.
Weight: 68 lbs
Capacity: 450 lbs
7. Bonafide SS107 Kayak
The Bonafide SS series are given the S.S name thanks to the Sit or Stand nature of their kayaks. The SS107 is a compact but practical kayak that’s designed for ultimate stability, useful versatility, and real fishing. Considering how many features it fits within its small footprint, this kayak is a steal for the asking price.
The hull features a unique hybrid catamaran design that turns the kayak into a stable fishing platform that can also cut through the water with ease. The sculpted hull also offers a wide range of integrated storage solutions, with waterproof hatches and practical under-seat draw storage.
Rod management is easier than ever thanks to a wide range of rod holders and special perch pads that allow for comfortable rod control no matter where you’re casting from, or what position you’re in.
Of course, the Bonafide SS107 Kayak also comes equipped with the usual bungee tie-downs and upright seat positioning, but it also comes equipped with a number of cool rigging options that allow for the addition of a trolling motor, rudder system, or anchor.
Weight: 84 lbs
Capacity: 425 lbs
8. Sea Eagle 350FX Fishing Explorer
Next up, we have an inflatable fishing kayak. Unlike most of the others on this list, this kayak doesn’t have a hard plastic shell. Instead, it floats using three air chambers, made from a sturdy and durable fabric. This is the Sea Eagle 350FX, with the FX standing for Fishing Explorer. Sea Eagle is a well-established manufacturer of quality marine equipment, and we love their products.
The 350FX is built on top of three air chambers made from a tough 2000 denier material that has been reinforced in layers to add extra protection. It can be inflated in as fast as 7 minutes, and it’s rated for up to Class IV rapids if you’re properly equipped for it.
What makes this a good fishing kayak is the fact that it has 6 built in rod holders, comfortable seating, and a sturdy base that you can confidently stand and cast from. If that wasn’t enough, it can also be equipped with a small 34 lbs thrust electric trolling motor if needs be.
This is the best inflatable fishing kayak out there if you need something comfortable, practical, with a huge weight capacity.
Weight: 51 lbs
Capacity: 575 lbs
Propulsion: Paddle (or Trolling Motor)
9. Hobie Mirage Compass Duo
The best tandem fishing kayak on the market has to be the Hobie Mirage Compass Duo. If you’re in the market for a sleek, strong, and stable fishing kayak built for two, then this is the best one around. It’s a sit-on, open cockpit model that beginners and experienced kayakers can both enjoy.
With a hard shell made from Rotomolded Polyethylene, this tough sit-on kayak can handle anything that the water throws at it. It’s powered by two MirageDrive GT pedal systems that allow for ergonomic and comfortable forward propulsion, leaving your hands free for precision casting and rod control.
On deck, there’s ample space for two adult passengers, along with below deck storage and other practicalities. Four molded rod holders come as standard, along with two sealed hatches, a tie-down bungee cargo area, H-track accessory mounts, cup holders, and paddle holders.
Other nice additions include a kick-up rudder which retracts if it makes contact with any obstacles, ergonomic tie-down points, and plenty of deck space.
Length: 13’ 5”
Weight: 92 lbs
Capacity: 475 lbs
Propulsion: Pedal and Paddle
10. Native Watercraft Titan Propel 10.5
The last option on our list is for those who are looking for the best fishing kayak with a motor option. There are plenty of kayaks out there that have the facilities for mounting a trolling motor, but if you want the best, then we recommend the Titan Propel 10.5 from Native Watercraft.
Made from Plastifoam, this kayak has exceptional performance and safety features. The material’s additional stiffness makes it cut through the water easily, while the foam interior boosts flotation for improved safety and stability. It’s easy to stand on, allowing anglers to perform strong casts, and reel in catches without fear of toppling over. Also, at 10.5’ in length, it’s also easy to transport on a truck bed.
Premium features include bow and stern dry hatch storage, an underseat storage tray a sliding seat system, horizontal rod holders, flush mounted rod holders, paddle holders, cup holders, seven different carry handles, and a boat anchor mounting area.
The Titan Propel 10.5 comes with a propel pedal drive system with a rudder steering system as standard, but it also boasts a transom motor mount that can accommodate most off-the-shelf trolling motors.
Weight: 133 lbs
Capacity: 500 lbs
Propulsion: Pedal, Paddle, or Trolling Motor
Buying The Best Fishing Kayak: A Guide
Buying a new fishing kayak isn’t something you should rush into. Even the cheapest models on the market are still quite expensive, so you want to do your homework before pulling the trigger on a new kayak.
To make things as easy as possible, we’ve got a short guide that covers the most important features about fishing kayaks and what features you might want to look out for. Let’s get started by looking at the types of fishing kayak available.
Types Of Fishing Kayaks
What makes a fishing kayak different to a regular kayak? Not much really, apart from the addition of a rod holder or two! That’s not strictly true though, there’s actually quite lot of difference between a regular kayak and a fishing model, and there’s plenty of differences between different types of fishing kayaks too. Here are the most popular styles on the market:
Sit On Top Kayaks
Also known as SOKs (Sit-On-top Kayaks), these vessels have a shallower profile and they’re designed for improved stability. This makes them a great choice for beginners or for anglers who need a bit of stability when reeling in bigger catches. They’re comfortable, easy to maneuver, and can’t fill up lots of water.
Sit In Kayaks
Alternatively, you might want a SIK, or a Sit In Kayak. These models are vessels that you physically sit inside, like traditional kayaks. The enclosed design makes them ideal for precision maneuvers on the water, which is why they’re favored by anglers who like to navigate difficult streams and rivers. They’re light, nimble, and fast. For fishing purposes, we think these are better suited to more experienced anglers and kayakers.
Inflatable fishing kayaks are becoming more and more popular. While they’re an excellent choice for the casual kayaker, they’re not just aimed at beginners. Sure, they’re inexpensive and pack up easily, but they’re enormously capable and tough. Plus, they’re so easy to transport they’re ideal for those with limited storage space. Gone are the days of cheap and flimsy inflatable boats—modern inflatables are rugged, durable, and can withstand anything the water throws at them.
Pedal Powered Kayaks
Most of the best fishing kayaks come equipped with some kind of pedal system. The most advanced models use pedal power to turn a prop, which generates forward and backward momentum. This leaves your hands free for fishing, rather than laborious paddling. Some kayaks have pedal steering instead, which lets you steer with your feet rather than with paddles.
Pedal power takes a lot of the stress out of kayaking, and if your budget can stretch to it, we’d recommend a pedal kayak over conventional paddles.
Motorized Fishing Kayaks
If the idea of paddling or pedaling doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are a few fishing kayak models out there that have been designed with special mounts that can accept a trolling motor.
Naturally, using a motor takes all of the physical effort out of kayaking which leaves you free to enjoy your day without working up a sweat. Unfortunately, these kayaks are more expensive and most don’t come with a motor included in the price.
Tandem Fishing Kayaks
Another popular kayak type are 2-person fishing kayak models. These tandem kayaks are built to accommodate two passengers, with enough room to keep them both comfortable and give them enough room to maneuver their rods. Tandem fishing kayaks can be purchased with pedal systems, trolling motor mounts, or traditional paddle power. They have excellent weight capacities, but they’re not so good if you ever need to go on a solo trip, since they can be unwieldy without two pairs of hands on deck.
Important Kayak Features To Look Out For
Now that you know what kind of kayaks are available, here are the most important features to look out for and keep in mind when you’re shopping around.
Fishing Rod Holders
The main feature that distinguishes a fishing kayak from a regular kayak is the addition of fishing rod holders. When searching, make sure that the kayak you have your eyes on has rod holders where you want them and where you need them for hands-free fishing. Some holders are molded into the kayak’s hull, while others are bolted on. Some even have full articulation, allowing you to position your rod exactly where you need it.
By “user comfort” we mean a range of things. Since fishing requires patience, it’s important that you’re comfortable while you’re doing it. A comfortable adjustable seat with a tall backrest and support in all the right places should be one of the first things you look for. On top of that, look for adjustable foot braces, cushioned inserts and padded sections of the kayak: you don’t want to injure yourself on a bit of hard plastic, do you?
Sliding seats, adjustable rests, and different seat mounting positions can really make an average kayak into a luxurious floating palace!
Thought we briefly touched on it earlier it’s worth going into a little more detail about here. Steering a kayak with a paddle isn’t rocket science, but the ability to use a pedal operated rudder system will make your life much easier. However, a rudder can cause you a headache if you don’t select the right type of steering system. We recommend investing in a kayak that has a flip-up rudder fin, that retracts when it comes into contact with an obstruction.
This will protect your rudder and allow you to explore shallower waters without worry.
Storage Compartments & Mounting Points
Having enough storage space is key to a good fishing trip. A fishing trip requires a lot of tackle, and a variety of different equipment, so it’s important to have places to store all of your gear. On top of that, you’ll also need dry storage space for your provisions and personal items too. And that’s before we even mention your fish finder and other fishing aids too.
Luckily, most dedicated fishing kayaks have dry compartments and mounting points that you can attach bungee cords to. A good selection on mounting points can make your life much easier. Not only will it give you more storage versatility, but you can also attach an anchor and other important gear with ease.
The dimensions of a kayak greatly affect how it performs on the water. In most cases, longer kayaks will cut through water faster and can cover greater distances with ease, but the added length makes them harder to maneuver in smaller areas.
Similarly, wider kayaks will offer more stability and will increase a kayak’s load capacity, but at the expense of speed and performance. The length and width of a kayak will give you an indication of how a kayak will perform in different areas.
For most kayakers, the most important factor about the dimensions is whether a kayak is easy to transport or not…
Last but not at all least, we have the portability factor. When searching for the best fishing kayak for your needs, you have to consider how you’re going to move it around when it’s not in the water. If you have a boat trailer with a special winch, then you can choose whatever size kayak you want!
If you’re relying on a roof rack, then you’re going to be limited to the maximum weight your car’s roof can handle. And if you don’t plan on using a car or truck at all, then you’re going to want an inflatable kayak that you can easily carry in a backpack!
Choose a kayak that you can transport—otherwise, it won’t be any good to you at all!
Felipe Castro on January 31, 2022
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