A fishing kayak allows you to combine the tranquility, skill and anticipation of fishing with the freedom, physicality and adrenaline of kayaking. Fishing kayaks vary widely in price, quality, features and functions.
There is quite a lot of specialization going on in the market. For better or for worse, we are truly spoiled for choice.
Whether you are shopping for your first fishing kayak or are an old hand at fishing in a kayak, buying a well-built reliable vessel that complements your needs and abilities will pay dividends in the long run. A sturdy high-quality kayak, if taken care of, can last you a lifetime and provide countless hours of great outdoors experiences.
We have five main types of kayaks on our list. They are: sit in, sit on, stand-up, pedal powered and inflatable kayaks.
They are all quite different in function as well as form. The one you choose should be based on factors such as the environment you will most often be kayak fishing in, weight and size restrictions, and many more.
|#1||Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit on Top Fishing Kayak||Sit on Top||56lbs||450lbs||13’4″||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#2||Hobie Mirage Outback Sit-On-Top Pedal Fishing Kayak||Pedal kayak||81lbs||400lbs||12’1″||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#3||Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game II||Sit on Top||71lbs||660lbs||12’9″||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#4||Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-TK181 12-foot 5-inch Sit On Top Tandem||Two person stand-up||85lbs||440lbs||12’5″||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#5||Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak||Sit-in||41lbs||250lbs||10″||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#6||Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak||Two person inflatable||37lbs||470lbs||10″||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
Finding a Fishing Kayak That Works for You
Kayaks have been around for more than four thousand years. Humankind’s love affair with the vessel is still alive and kicking.
The first kayaks were relatively cumbersome and fragile vessels made of wood and sealskins. However, their modern counterparts are light, nimble and extremely sturdy.
There is a kayak out there to suit most anyone’s needs. But finding one that fits you like a glove can take some time and a lot of digging around.
People used the first kayaks to hunt seal and other marine wildlife. They were an important weapon in man’s struggle for survival.
Modern fishermen praise the kayak as a stable fishing platform. It provides a level of immersion and contact with nature that you cannot achieve with other, more stationary types of fishing.
There is a mind-boggling array of fishing kayaks available on the market. You will see a great variety of sizes, functions and other characteristics.
Your choice of fishing kayak can be influenced by a wide variety of factors. This ranges from your budget to the water you are likely to fish in and your level of fitness.
For example, one fishing kayak may excel in a placid lake for small anglers. But it could be woefully inadequate or even borderline dangerous for larger game fishing in fast flowing or open waters.
Some vessels are built for speed, others for stability. Some are great for stand-up fishing while others are geared towards comfort and carrying capacity.
Before you start looking for your dream fishing kayak, there are a few key questions you need to ask yourself:
Are You Going to Stand in the Kayak?
This is a really important question that you need to ask yourself before reaching for your credit card. The two main types of kayak are stand-up and sit-down vessels.
They are completely different in look, feel and function. Stand-up kayaks are wider and more stable than sit-down ones. However, they can be heavier, slower and less maneuverable.
Stand up fishing in a kayak requires a certain level of skill. It also allows you to fish a greater area by sight fishing. It lets you have more control over where and how you make your cast.
Sit down kayaks are better for beginners and anglers who value comfort and stability.
Stand up kayaks provide an extra dimension to kayak fishing. They can add a dose of adrenaline to your fishing trips.
On the other hand, they can be lacking in storage space and some safety features. For example, stand-up kayaks, unlike sitting kayaks, are often not self-bailing and can be difficult to paddle responsively.
How Will You Transport and Store Your Kayak?
In all the excitement about cherry picking your new fishing kayak, it can be easy to overlook the more mundane, practical aspects of your purchase.
While a large, heavy kayak may be just what you need on the water, it can be more of a hindrance if it does not fit well with your reality on dry land. Before purchasing any kayak, it is important to do a quick reality check.
Carefully measure the size of your garage or other space where you will be storing your kayak. Make sure that you have enough space to comfortably maneuver, store and un-mount your fishing kayak.
Imagine forking out a lot of cash on your dream kayak only to find out it cannot fit comfortably into your garage, or that it requires a ludicrous amount of manhandling.
The same applies for transportation: measuring and planning is key. Check the maximum load weight and recommended dimensions for your car/truck rack, and shop accordingly. If you have your heart set on a kayak that you cannot comfortably store and transport, it might be time to modify your search criteria.
How Much Storage Space Will You Need?
The storage space you will need in your fishing kayak will depend both on personal preference and the type of fishing you will be doing. Some people are minimalists and prefer carrying the bare minimum of supplies and equipment.
Others are more comfortable stocking up well, just in case. On the low end you should at least have space for safety essentials such as a first aid kit and emergency water supply.
The ideal storage space can also depend on the conditions you will be fishing in and amount of time you plan on spending on the water at one time. If you will be going on short fishing trips after work, you will require a lot less storage space than if you want to be on the water all day.
Camping enthusiasts can opt for the largest hulled kayaks that have ample space for both fishing and camping gear.
Last but not least, kayaks with more storage can be indispensable if you plan to keep your catch. There is, of course, a fine line between weight and speed. The more you are weighed down, the slower and less agile you will be in the water.
How Strong of a Kayaker Are You?
Physical strength and kayaking skill can both influence what vessel you should buy.
Wider kayaks are in general more stable than narrower ones and are a lot more difficult to tip. Sit-in kayaks offer a feeling of safety and stability. However, inexperienced kayakers might have problems if the vessel takes on water.
This problem can be remedied by buying a sit on top kayak that has a self-bailing system. This means that you are sitting above the level of the water.
The kayak has several plugs and holes in positions that use gravity to drain water from your boat. You can also do that with hand pumps. However, that can be stressful or complicated for rookies.
Your physical strength can also limit you in your choice of fishing kayak. If you have a lighter build or are not that strong, some heavier/larger models might be impractical. That is especially true if you will not have a pair of helping hands around.
Fishing kayaks are as varied as the waters you can paddle and fish in. Sheltered bodies of water like lakes or small ponds require a vastly different type of kayak than open water or white-water kayaking.
Calm waters do not require high maneuverability. You have the luxury of choosing a wide, long, comfortable vessel.
On the other hand, river and open water fishing kayaks need to be nimble and stable enough to handle tricky rapids or choppy waves.
Plan on paddling in extreme conditions? You should think about how your kayak reacts to tipping. How easy would it be to right in the event of capsizing?
Weather and water temperature are also important factors. Open kayaks are great for freedom of movement and accessibility.
However, you may get a bit wet when paddling. That is refreshing in summer but can be uncomfortable if the air and water temperature is low. If you live in colder climates, a closed hull kayak might be a better option.
How Many Rods Do You Use?
It’s pretty easy to set up multiple rods when fishing from the river bank. But that can be tricky in a kayak. To accommodate fishing with multiple rods simultaneously, your kayak needs both rod holders and ample room for storage.
Rod holders come as standard on all fishing kayaks. However, their number and layout can vary from model to model.
Several models have ample rod storage space. They are great for facilitating multiple rod fishing.
Selection Criteria: How We Ranked the Best Fishing Kayaks
To be as precise as possible in our ranking of the best fishing kayaks, we chose a few key characteristics for easy classification and differentiation. All of the kayaks on our list are listed by the following: type, length, weight and load capacity.
It is important to note that the impact of a certain characteristic can vary depending on the specific conditions you will plan to use your fishing kayak in. The following is a detailed list of the criteria we used to classify and compare the characteristics of each of the fishing kayaks on our list.
All of the products on our list are classified by type, depending on the seating position in the kayak. The five main types are sit-in, sit-on-top, stand-up, pedal and inflatable kayaks.
Each of these types has its specific strengths and flaws. Those can depend on fishing conditions and personal preference.
The most user-friendly fishing kayaks are sit-on-top. That is thanks to their high stability and the fact that they are extremely easy to get in and out of.
In addition, you do not feel confined in them, as can be the case with other models. Another safety feature is that, should you fall into the water, they are easy to get back on.
While sit-on-top kayaks can leave you soaked, sit-in kayaks provide more protection. They are great for the fishermen who wants to stay dry in colder water.
They are also more hydro dynamic and are faster moving in the water. Therefore, they are the go-to model if you want to generate some speed.
A definite downside is that righting a flipped sit-in kayak can be an arduous task, or near impossible if it floods or you lack experience.
Stand-up kayaks are generally the widest models. They provide a stable platform on which you can stand in relative comfort.
If you prefer a standing to sitting stance when fishing, stand-up kayaks provide more visibility and an increased casting distance, allowing you to practice varied fishing techniques.
Inexperienced kayak fishers might have balance issues and feel unstable standing in a kayak, but the learning curve is not that steep.
Pedal kayaks are foot-operated. They do not require a paddle for operation.
There are two main types of drive systems. One uses a propeller similar to a boat. The other has a side to side motion resembling a fin.
Pedal kayaks require more water clearance and are generally more expensive than other types of kayak.
Inflatable Kayaks have always been an issue of heated debate among kayakers. Some love them some can’t stand them.
While they are insanely light and practical (they can inflate in a matter of minutes), they perform best in calm waters and might not be a good choice for open water use. They are a perfect choice if you have limited storage and transport options.
Once you have decided on the type of fishing kayak you will be going for, the next characteristic to consider is the length and width of your vessel. The dimensions of your kayak affect the key performance factors of your kayak in the water. In addition, they affect ease of storage and transport outside the water.
A rule of thumb is that long and narrow kayaks accelerate faster and can reach greater speeds with more ease. Short and wide models are slower but more stable.
Wide and stable boats facilitate fly fishing and other more physical approaches but can be unsuited for covering a lot of distance. Long, narrow kayaks are great for covering a lot of ground. They can even be used to troll offshore.
The weight of your kayak is important for a variety of different reasons. Heavier kayaks can feel more stable in the water
That is great for beginners. However, they can be more sluggish than lighter models.
Keep in mind that the weight of your boat matters just as much out of the water, sometimes more so. That applies when you are lifting it out of the water or getting it on and off your car.
Storage is also an important factor. Some storage systems work better than others depending on your kayak’s weight.
Each and every kayak has an official weight capacity. That can vary drastically from model to model.
Cheaper models tend to have lower weight capacities. A common misconception is that this number is the amount of weight you can safely put in your kayak and still be able to paddle comfortably.
The weight capacity is, in fact, simply the maximum weight you can put in a kayak without it sinking. If your weight along with the weight of your supplies is around the maximum weight capacity of your kayak, it will be sitting dangerously low in the water and make paddling almost impossible.
When paddling, kayaks inevitably get wet, and water is heavy. Therefore, it is prudent to factor this into your capacity calculations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What size kayak do I need?
- I want to do more paddling than fishing (or vice versa) what model should I choose?
- What paddle should I get?
- How should I set up my seat?
- Are fishing kayaks stable?
- Can a fish tow my kayak?
- Can I kayak if I have a bad back?
- Can I put a motor on my kayak?
- Should I buy a single or a tandem kayak?
- Can you keep bait alive on the kayak?
- To paddle or to peddle?
- How do I maintain my kayak?
- Where should I store my kayak?
- How do I pack for my fishing trip?
- What should I pack in my kayak?
What size kayak do I need?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Finding the right answer can save you the inconvenience of ending up with a kayak that does not fit you well.
The stats you should pay attention to are width, length and carrying weight. In general, shorter kayaks are more nimble, while longer kayaks provide better tracking.
Regarding carrying weight, best practice is to add 150 lbs. to your body weight and use that number to know what weight capacity you should look for in a kayak. If you are not a gear junkie, and plan to travel light, you can take this number down to 100 lbs.
Leg room is another important consideration, especially if you are taller than average. Adjustable foot pegs are a great option to have for dialing in the leg distance you are more comfortable with.
Taller kayakers might feel more comfortable in a sit on top kayak than a closed deck one, as closed kayaks can be confining and uncomfortable on the knees.
I want to do more paddling than fishing (or vice versa). What model should I choose?
A common scenario is for a kayaker to transition into kayak fishing, and a vessel closer to a regular kayak is great for this purpose. A sit inside kayak allows you to paddle more smoothly and for greater distances, while providing ample room for fishing and storage space for supplies.
If you want to spend more of your time fishing, a sit on top kayak gives you a versatile and stable platform for casting, reeling and trolling. The most active fishermen can opt for models that they can stand on and fish much as they would from the river bank.
What paddle should I get?
When it comes to paddle size and shape, everyone has their own preference. The length of your paddle ultimately depends on two factors: your boat width and your height. There are a lot of great size charts available online that can help you figure out the right paddle length for you.
As far as materials are concerned, the three main combinations of blade and shaft materials, respectively, are nylon/carbon, fiberglass/fiberglass and plastic/aluminum. Lighter paddles are easier to use, but the lower weight usually comes with a higher price tag.
The last thing to consider is shaft shape. The classic shaft shape is straight, and lets you paddle quickly but can leave the less experienced kayaker with blistered hands. If you value comfort over performance, you might consider getting a bent shaft has two kinked sections for more ergonomic handling.
How should I set up my seat?
The quality and set up of your kayak seat can have a huge impact on your comfort when you are out in the water. Fishing kayaks have straps that are used to adjust the level and rigidity of the seat.
Although loosening and lowering the seat might seem like a good laid back option, it can make paddling inefficient and unnecessarily tiring.
For the best in comfort and performance, tightening the straps on your seat and achieving an upright sitting position is highly recommended. In addition to this, many fishing kayak owners buy additional specialized cushions that minimize soreness on long rides without compromising performance.
Are fishing kayaks stable?
In general, fishing kayaks are more stable than ordinary kayaks, as they have to provide leverage when you are reeling in a big catch. Stability can vary greatly, and this is most influenced by kayak width.
Wider kayaks can be stable enough to comfortably stand on, while narrower models are built more for speed and should be operated in the seated position. However stable your kayak is, you should always be prepared for carrying out a self-rescue should you capsize.
Can a fish tow my kayak?
The cartoonish cliché can be true: fish can tow your kayak, and this is definitely an aspect of the sport that many kayakers enjoy. Even a small bass fish can tow your vessel as an impressive rate. Beginners, however, might not be used to this, and could feel anxious about not being in total control of their boat.
If you do hook a huge fish that starts pulling you out in a way that makes you uncomfortable, like to deep water for instance, it is best to cut the line and cut your losses.
Can I kayak if I have a bad back?
The short answer is, depends. If you paddling regularly, with good technique, you will strengthen your core muscles, so kayaking could end up improving your overall back health. On the flipside, bad paddling technique can strain your back unevenly and lead to further complications
There are models that are powered by foot pedals, so this might be a great option for those with bad backs. If you have a preexisting spinal condition, consult your physician as you would for any physical activity.
Can I put a motor on my kayak?
This is quite a common question, and in most cases, the answer is yes you can. Many manufacturers leave space at the back of the kayak, and there are plenty of lightweight efficient motors available on the market that are built specifically for kayaks.
Some kayaks are better equipped to deal with a motor than others. When you are installing a motor, be advised that you also need enough room for a battery to power it.
The models that are most well suited to having a motor installed have covered, raised battery mounts that keep the battery from getting wet from above as well as below, which is always a smart idea.
Be warned though, fishing kayak purists do not always look kindly on such modifications, the same way that avid cyclists see electric bikes as the worst thing to happen to the sport. In addition, you will probably have to register your kayak when you put a motor on it, the same way you would a boat. Check with your local water traffic regulations.
Should I buy a single or a tandem kayak?
This is a question that mostly comes down to personal taste, but there are definite advantages and disadvantages to tandem kayaks. Having some company on your fishing kayak can be fun, especially if you want to introduce your kids or friends to the sport.
For more sport-oriented kayak fishers, it might be more of a hindrance than a help to have a full grown adult with you on the water. Tandems can be cramped, and the close proximity can be a nuisance when casting rods and reeling in your catch.
Can you keep bait alive on the kayak?
Most fishing kayaks have a lot of storage space, so it is easy to carry live bait on your kayak. There are many bait tanks on the market that are specifically designed for use on kayaks.
If you do not want your bait tanks to take up space on your kayak, there are several off board solutions for carrying live bait by trailing it behind you.
To paddle or to peddle?
Pedaling, or foot propulsion to be more precise, has only recently been introduced into the world of kayak fishing. The first commercial pedal fishing kayak was released in 1997, and this type of kayak has become loved and loathed in equal part.
The main advantage of pedal powered kayaks is that you have your hands free for casting, reeling, trolling and baiting your hooks.
Putting away your paddle when you have reached your desired fishing spot can be tricky and time-consuming. Pedal kayaks come into their own on calm waters, as they are faster and less physically challenging to operate than paddle powered kayaks.
The pedal mechanism, however, take up a lot of space, and many kayak fishers do not want to sacrifice precious storage space. Another downside of pedaling is that pedal kayaks require more maintenance, and the pedal drive system is prone to malfunction.
Peddle kayaks are also significantly more expensive, and this puts off some buyers from the get go. Pedaling is arguably more disruptive than paddling, as an experienced kayak fisher can paddle in such a way that there is almost no splash to scare away fish.
Advanced maneuvers, such as the draw stroke (also known as side ladling) are impossible with a pedal kayak.
How do I maintain my kayak?
Modern kayaks are usually made of either polyethylene plastic or fiberglass, and both materials are relatively easy to maintain. Unlike wood, they are not susceptible to rot, but there are a few things you should do regularly to keep your kayak in ship shape.
Kayaks can take a fair amount of abuse, so you should look over the hull for any damage after every voyage. Most dents can be fixed in a very simple low tech way: leaving your vessel in the sun on a hot day will more often than not pop your kayak back into its original shape. Heaters can be used in colder months.
Rigging, such as perimeter lines and bungee cords, is usually the most prone to deterioration, so you should be vigilant in inspecting them, and replacing any damaged parts as soon as you see signs of wear. Fixing something on time is a lot easier than having it fail you on the water.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, and your kayak is no exception. You don’t have to go into great detail when cleaning your kayak, but a thorough spray down is recommended after each use to prevent dirt, mold and corrosion.
In addition to regular spray downs, scrub the inside and outside with a sponge and soapy water a couple of times a year and it should last you a lifetime.
Where should I store my kayak?
Your kayak will spend most of its time in storage, so it is good to put some thought into where you will be keeping it. Kayaks can be stored both indoors and outdoors, as long as they are kept out of direct sunlight.
Prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays will adversely affect the color, but even worse, can weaken the plastic and make your vessel prone to cracking and brittle.
If you are keeping your kayak in your garage, there are many storage solutions that are custom built to store kayaks safely; ranging from racks to ceiling hoists.
Be sure to cover your cockpit, to keep out critters, bugs and other undesirable organisms making your hull their home. Be sure to dry out the inside beforehand to ward off mold.
How do I pack for my fishing trip?
If you are big on gear, or plan to spend a longer time on the water, packing correctly is extremely important. Most people pack their kayaks on dry ground, but find that their setup is impractical in the water.
Before you push off into deep water, it is a good idea to test your setup in a pool or in shallower water. Practicing rolls will not only make you better prepared for an emergency, but will also test your storage system.
What should I pack in my kayak?
While every angler has his or her own preferred set up when it comes to rods, tackle and bait, there are a few things every kayak fisher should have on their boat.
A first aid kit is a must have, both for your peace of mind, and in case you come across someone in need of help. Investing in a quality dry bag or dry box will ensure all of your essentials are safe and dry, even in the event of a capsizing.
The next must have is a life jacket, and not only because they are a legal requirement in most places. Not only can it save your life in a tricky situation, but you can also give you a way to cool off in the water without having to use energy to stay afloat.
If you can, it is a good idea to try on the life jacket before purchasing it in order to get the size just right: snug but not uncomfortable is what you should be going for.
Bring water with you, no matter how short of a trip you are planning. It can get really hot out on the water, and dehydration is no fun. If you are kayaking on salt water, stock up with as much bottled water as you can. If you are on fresh water, iodine tablets or a water-filtering device will take care of all your hydration needs.
When kayak fishing, you are out in the sun all day and should protect yourself. Take sunscreen with you, and apply liberally. The water reflects a lot of UV rays, so paying attention to areas such as underneath your chin and nose can save you from irritating sunburn.
Last but not least on your list of must have items is a pump and sponge. While there are models that are self-bailing, you are bound to take on water at some point or another. At best it can leave you with a wet backside, and at worse can sink your kayak, so having a way to rid your boat of water is a must.
Rankings & Reviews
By now you should have an idea of what to look for when choosing a fishing kayak that is just right for you. There are so many models out there that just browsing through them all can be quite time consuming, or frustrating even.
We have your back with this, and have done our homework. Below is our pick of the top 6 kayaks on the market that will leave a smile on every kayak fishing enthusiast’s face.
Each product on our list has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and we have tried to provide a detailed and objective assessment that will be useful to potential buyers. Let’s get started with the reviews.
- Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit on Top Fishing Kayak
- Hobie Mirage Outback Sit-On-Top Pedal Fishing Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game II
- Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-TK181 12-foot 5-inch Sit On Top Tandem
- Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- Type: Sit on Top
- Weight: 56lbs
- Weight capacity: 450 lbs.
- Length: 13’4″
The high points: Extremely stable in both calm and choppy waters. Lots of practical storage space, high quality camo paint job. The kayak is fast and tracks well, and its low profile means it will be less affected by the wind.
The low points: Seat can be uncomfortable for all day paddling, no scupper plugs provided. The center phone/key hatch does not hold a seal and tends to leak.
The Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit on Top Fishing Kayak comes in as our number one pick as the boat that gives the most bang for your buck. It has a pronounced keel for cutting the water, which makes it ideal for smoothly paddling through rough waters. Bungee cord paddle holders provide a simple but effective way to safely keep your paddle out of the way when fishing.
The back storage is generously oversized and can even fit scuba tanks and large coolers. The kayak is 28 inches wide, which is plenty for ensuring stability when seated, but standing up on the Ocean Kayak Prowler is not recommended.
For its large size, this kayak is relatively lightweight and has a great carrying capacity. The storage space is ample and extremely well laid out. The kayak has two rod holders, 2 cup holders, two paddle keeps, and a 6 inch hatch with storage bucket, as well as large internal storage that can fit multiple rods for safe below deck storage.
What DO reviewers say?
By and large, this kayak received extremely positive reviews. On the top of the list of positives is that the boat is very stable and tracks even choppy water with great ease. The kayak is reported to be a veritable workhorse of a boat, and can take a lot of abuse.
While the kayak received ample words of praise for both the versatility and amount of storage space, several reviewers had an issue with the small center hatch, as it is not watertight and tends to leak. An oar holder, carrying straps and the hardware in general is reliable and well-built.
Several larger kayakers report that they are very happy with the Ocean Kayak Prowler. That is because of its high carrying weight.
They report an extremely comfortable fit. They also feel more agile and secure than in other kayaks they had tried.
Some kayakers recommend upgrading the seat, as it can be uncomfortable on longer rides. They recommend at least getting some specialized padding.
Another thing to consider is that you will have to purchase your own scupper plugs. These are inexpensive, but reviewers note that the manufacturer could easily have provided them with the kayak.
Features & Considerations
You can upgrade the kayak in several ways. The manufacturer has taken care to provide all the necessities for a straightforward upgrade.
To name a few, there are pre-drilled holes for those wanting to install a rudder. In addition, there are designated space for transducers. Those help if you want to install a fish finder.
This kayak is extremely light for its size, so you can carry it by yourself. If you are a solo kayaker, this can be a distinct advantage. It is light and reliable, providing great value for money.
Our #2 Pick: Hobie Mirage Outback Sit-On-Top Pedal Fishing Kayak
- Type: Pedal kayak
- Weight: 81 lbs.
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs.
- Length: 12’1″
The high points: Fast and extremely nimble, comfortable. Lots of useful features geared towards making fishing easier. Can hold up to six rods with ease.
The low points: Relatively high price, quite heavy.
The Hobie Mirage Outback Sit-On-Top Pedal Fishing Kayak presents the best and latest in kayak pedaling technology, and has heaps of fishing-friendly features.
The main feature of this boat is the MirageDrive system, which consists of two flexible fins that propel the kayak while you pedal.
The fins are located under the center of the vessel which makes for great tracking, and reduces drifting significantly. The pedal drive system has forward and reverse propulsion. Shift cables pivot the fins 180 degrees for maximum agility on the water.
There is less storage room than on paddle fishing kayaks. However, all of the spare space is used efficiently. There are storage compartments, bins and pockets all around the kayak. Therefore, storing and organizing your equipment should be a breeze.
Shore landings are almost impossible for most pedal kayaks because of their increased water clearance. However, the Mirage outback has a simple solution. You can retract the fins and rudder to facilitate kayak beaching without damaging the drivetrain.
As if pedal and paddle power was not enough, the Outback also offers one extra form of propulsion. For sailing enthusiasts, this kayak includes a sail mount. The package does not include the sail.
What Do reviewers say?
This kayak received mostly positive reviews, especially for the mirage drive system. Reviewers reported that it is extremely easy to use as well as being energy efficient and allowing them to cover a lot of ground fast.
Many reviewers have switched from paddling to paddling kayaks, and have noted that the Hobie Mirage Outback handles very much like regular paddle kayaks, which is a definite plus. Switching between pedal and paddle power does not sacrifice performance.
The seat is comfortable, even on longer rides, and highly customizable. There are options for adjusting seat back, height, bottom and lumbar support. It offers a great vantage point as it is pretty high up, and provides a comfortable paddling experience with lots of support.
Features & Considerations
This kayak is chock-full of features, ranging from sail mounts to GPS mounts, custom fish finder mounting spots and even a sail mount. A definite downside of this kayak is its weight, so you should factor this into your decision.
The rubber is retractable, but this can be quite a tricky process especially when you are fatigued from a full day on the water. Even though this kayak is pedal powered, the provided paddle will definitely see some use, particularly in shallower waters.
Our #3 Pick: Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game II
- Type: Sit on top
- Weight: 71 lbs.
- Weight capacity: 660 lbs.
- Length: 12’9″
The high points: Lots of color choices, plenty of room, great scupper system, sturdy and good for big game
The low points: Difficult to carry, does not come with plugs
The Ocean Prowler Big Game II can handle rough waters and catch big fish. Its impressive carrying capacity of 660 lbs. means you can pack as much as you want for your kayak fishing adventures.
The huge click and seal front storage area has a special suspended battery case. You can use it to power your fish finder or other gear.
The kayak includes the Glide Track Foot Brace system that is fully adjustable to fit your physique. It provides a lot of support when reeling in the big fish.
The manufacturer designed the seat of this kayak for both comfort and functionality. It is highly adjustable by both height and seating position. You can lift or fold down the seat and back of the chair to give room for standing.
A large and solid center console has water tight storage compartments for valuables as well as cup holders and mounting spaces for GPS systems. The center console has a magnetized area on it that keeps tools and other metal objects safely stored and easy to access.
The body of the boat has many built in options for further customization. If you chose to, you can drill extra holes for fishing rod holders or other accessories such as additional paddle holders.
What Do reviewers say?
The seat is usually a source of frustration on a fishing kayak, but the Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game II got full marks for the seat. Reviewers say that it provides great support and comfort, even on longer fishing trips.
A convenient bag on the back of the seat has a lot of compartments and rod/net holders, and even has holes for drainage.
This model is a hit with equipment heavy kayakers, and they reported easy and convenient fish finder installation. The re-designed scupper system in the deck of the Prowler easily accepts any kind of transducer.
The center console is a hit with reviewers, as it is extremely practical and versatile. In addition to being watertight, the magnetic area of the center console lets you have important tools close at hand and secure.
Last but not least, there are quite a few eye catching color schemes to choose from. For the classic hunting look you can choose brown, orange or urban camo. If you want to go bright and bold, the lemongrass paint job will not leave you unnoticed.
Features & Considerations
The Prowler can carry a lot of stuff, but is quite cumbersome as a result. Although it is not that heavy as kayaks go, it is notoriously cumbersome and as such quite difficult to carry on your own.
This is a great kayak to buy if you are planning on adding modifications. The manufacturers had modders in mind, and left plenty of convenient room for drilling, tinkering and upgrading.
- Type: two person stand-up
- Weight: 85 lbs.
- Weight capacity: 440 lbs.
- Length: 12’5″
The high points: Lots of features, high carry weight, room for two people, good price
The low points: Can take on water in choppy conditions, screws and eyelets are sub-par
The Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-TK181 12-foot 5-inch Sit on Top Tandem takes the fourth position on our list. This kayak is ideal for beginners as it has a lot of equipment already installed.
The kayak comes with two seats and two aluminum paddles, as well as seven fishing holders. Four of them are flush mounted rod holders, while the other three are articulated rod holders, allowing you more movement of your rod.
Sturdy carrying handled make for easy transport and carrying, and two secure paddle rests leave your hands free for fishing while keeping your paddles snugly out of the way. This boat has large bungee secured storage areas in the front and back, that can easily fit a large tackle box each.
An interesting feature of this kayak is the two watertight secure cargo areas that are meant for storing valuables like phones, wallets and keys. They are conveniently located in front of each seat for convenient access.
The kayak is pretty wide at 30 inches, so it provides a stable platform for standing and sight fishing. There are two well-balanced standing spots on the kayak so theoretically two people can sight or fly fish simultaneously.
What Do reviewers say?
Many reviewers commented that this model is great value for the money, and provides a significant amount of useful features. The pre-installed threaded bolt holes received praise, as they are useful for mounting motor or other accessories.
Some reviewers were not satisfied with the quality seat eyelets and handle chords. According to one reviewer, vibrations from driving with the kayak mounted on a car roof can dislodge some of the hardware.
Stability is a big plus with this kayak, and two adults can comfortably sit, paddle and fish in this kayak. However, people have reported that it can take on a bit of water in choppy conditions. Therefore, you should not use them on open waters.
The seats received mixed reviews, from satisfied to completely underwhelmed. One reviewer removed the seats altogether, but still found the kayak comfy enough without them.
Features & Considerations
This is a great purchase if you want to go kayak fishing with a buddy, or even take your kids out on the water without breaking the bank. At its price it is quite a steal. It will be tough to find a better tandem kayak for that money.
There is a lot of storage room on the kayak. However, the largest storage area is open.
To carry supplies in comfort, you will have to buy additional storage solutions. These include bait boxes and dry boxes.
This is a sit on top kayak, so it performs more poorly than sit in kayaks on rough waters. In calm waters, it is stable enough to stand and fish from, but turbulent conditions can make it take on a lot of water and compromise your safety.
Our #5 Pick: Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
- Type: sit-in kayak
- Weight: 41 lbs.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs.
- Length: 10’
The high points: Extremely low weight, superior stability in calm waters, nimble, great entry level kayak.
The low points: Not intended for choppy or open water, slow upstream, tracking is not that great, not suitable for heavier kayakers, not for advanced level anglers
The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak is a no-brainer if you plan on fishing on a small calm body of water. It is light enough for one person to comfortably carry when out of the water, at only 100 feet long and weighing 41 pounds.
This kayak is extremely light for a hard polyethylene hulled vessel, is a generous 30 inches wide and has a low center of gravity. This, combined with the fact that it is a sit-inside model, makes it a great first fishing kayak as it is incredibly stable and safe in sheltered waters.
The kayak is sturdy, and the hull has UV protection. That means you do not have to worry about peeling or cracking. The protection also helps the paintwork keep its original color and makes it more resistant to fading and discolorations.
You can choose between three colors for this little guy. They are all in keeping with the kayak’s core principles: simple and effective. Depending on your aesthetic preference, you can go for sand, olive or gray swirl color schemes.
As the name suggests, this kayak is perfect for excursions, i.e. short trips. You might find it not up to the task of an arduous all day fishing adventure.
It does, however have all you will need for a short, casual fishing outing. It would be unreasonable to expect more than that for such a low price tag.
It comes with one swivel rod holder and two flush mount rod holders, as well as a storage hatch and shock chord deck rigging.
A feature that beginner kayak fishermen will welcome is that this kayak also has protective thigh pads. Those eliminate irritation inside the cockpit.
Adjustable foot pegs help achieve the optimal paddling position.
What Do reviewers say?
This kayak is extremely affordable. Reviewers who are new to the sport are extremely happy with the Sun Dolphin Excursion. The low weight and ease of transport and use are a recurring theme in reviews.
Several people mentioned that you should not use the rigging bungee cords for carrying or moving the kayak around outside of the water. They tend to snap under high tension. This model does not come with a paddle, so you will need to buy yours separately if you do not already have one.
The low carrying capacity was an issue for kayakers who weigh more than 100 lbs. It sits too low in the water when it contains too much weight. Lighter kayakers who prefer a minimalist approach to fishing did not find an issue with the carrying capacity.
Features & Considerations
This is an entry level kayak. People should use it on lakes or slow flowing rivers.
If you are aware of this, you will be extremely satisfied with your purchase. If, on the other hand, you are an advanced kayak fisher or plan to fish on open waters, it would be best to go for another model.
In conclusion, if you weigh less than 200 lbs., are new to the sport, do not want to spend a lot of money on your first fishing kayak and plan to fish in calm waters, this is a great choice for you. Even more so if you have limited storage space, as this kayak is on the small end of the spectrum as fishing kayak lengths go.
Our #6 Pick: Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- Type: inflatable two person kayak
- Weight: 37 lbs.
- Weight capacity: 470 lbs.
- Length: 10’
The high points: Quite compact and easy to transport when deflated, good value for money, provides a decent amount of comfort.
The low points: Can be cramped with two large adults, longevity of the material is questionable
Our list would not be complete without including at least one inflatable fishing kayak, and the best one we found all-around is the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak. This kayak is pretty short at 10 feet long, but has an impressive maximum load weight of 470 lbs., meaning you, a buddy and all of your supplies will fit without compromising stability.
The kayak has quite a striking appearance, as the slightly upturned nose and rear of the kayak make it resemble a kayak. The dark green camo paint job also gives it a slightly military/adventurous vibe.
Both of the seats are well built and provide an elevated seating position which makes paddling easier. Paddle holders at each side of the vessel keep paddles securely in place and out of the way when you are not paddling.
Inflatable kayaks might make some people uneasy, but the Sevylor Coleman Colorado consists of multiple air chambers. This means that you will stay afloat and be able to reach the safety of shore should you encounter a puncture or deflation.
If you prefer some motorized assistance, the Sevylor trolling motor fittings allow you to expand your fishing capabilities and get around without breaking a sweat. Strategically placed carry handles make this model extremely easy to transport.
The kayak has Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders. These are highly adjustable for an enhanced hands-free fishing experience.
The 18 gauge PVC construction is rugged and durable. However, you should not use it in extreme conditions.
The kayak comes with a pre-installed fin at the bottom which helps the kayak stay on course. The seats are also inflatable, so you can determine how sort or hard you want them to be.
What Do reviewers say?
Not surprisingly, ease of transport is a huge selling point of this kayak, and reviewers appreciate the fact that they can put the deflated kayak in their boot and pump it up on the shore, without need for car racks, mounts, trolleys or other external transport features.
There have been some complaints about the durability of the materials, and people have reported slow leaks. People have also reported morphing and material disfigurement after moderate to heavy use. However, you can expect that will happen when you don’t take proper care of an inflatable kayak.
The kayak does not come with paddles which was an annoyance for some reviewers. In addition, some paddlers report that the oars tend to brush the mounts when paddling, but this might be a simple case of bad technique.
As with most open top kayaks, paddling will inevitably lead to the vessel taking on water, which some reviewers complained about. You can solve this problem by buying a simple water pump. That should keep the kayak dry after splashing.
Features & Considerations
No matter how much manufacturers of inflatable kayaks try to deny it, an inflatable kayak will simply never be as robust and sturdy as a hard shell kayak. You need to keep this in mind both in and out of the water, and treat your inflatable kayak with care and mindfulness.
For example, brushing against rocks or bumping into docks or pulling your kayak carelessly ashore might be perfectly normal for rigid kayaks, but doing this with an inflatable kayak can significantly shorten its lifespan. While the materials are relatively heavy duty, you need to take extra care in order to avoid punctures and other costly damage.
If you take good care of your Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak, it will provide you with years of enjoyable kayak fishing. Make sure you check your vessel after every fishing trip for signs of wear or punctures. Small holes can be mended easily and cheaply, but can become problematic if not caught early.