For some people, there’s no better day out than heading onto flat water and enjoying a day of fishing. Whether that’s alone or with friends, it doesn’t really matter. For the most part, it’s reconnecting with the wild, relaxing and trying to get the better of the biggest fish you can that’s key. However, to get out on the water and make this idyllic situation a reality, you’re going to need to add one important extra to your standard land-based fishing equipment — one of the best fishing kayaks.
While many available options can fit into a dual-purpose category, the best fishing kayaks include a few handy extras which differentiate them from standard kayak models. Some helpful fishing-specific features include:
- Rod holders
Sadly, it’s rarely a case of cast and reeling in your prize fish right away. There’s going to be plenty of time when you’re waiting for a bite. Rod holders let you set up multiple rods and rest them on the side of your kayak, letting you sit back and take in your surroundings.
- Mounting racks
In addition to rods, you may also have additional tech to help with your fishy pursuit. Mounting racks let you fix devices like fish finders in place and within view for a more comfortable time out on the water.
- Tacklebox and additional storage space
While recreational kayaks may prioritize speed, resulting in a more compact shape, fishing kayaks find a balance to ensure there’s plenty of space for storing your fishing essentials nearby when you’re on the water.
- Alternative propulsion (pedal power or a built-in motor)
Not everyone wants to paddle for a whole day which is why fishing kayaks offer alternative propulsion options, be it built-in pedals or an even more comprehensive answer, like a built-in motor.
- Adjustable seating
If you’re going to be in a kayak for extended periods, comfort is key. Many fishing kayaks offer lawn chair-style seats or the ability to adjust them at least. It’s far more preferable than the simple, molded options you’ll find in many recreational kayaks.
- Intended standing platform
Casting and sight fishing is far easier when you’re standing up. Standing up is far easier if your kayak includes an area designed specifically for this purpose.
Granted, there is no one-size-fits-all in terms of the best fishing kayak. This is because different fishermen prioritize different elements. For some, space is at the top of the list. For others, it’s a comfortable chair. The important thing is to ask yourself that question and figure out what kayak features will lead to you having the best time (and most success) out on the water.
Below, you’ll find nine of our favorite fishing kayaks with options for every kind of fisherman and every kind of budget, too.
1. Lifetime Teton Angler Kayak
The Lifetime Teton Angler Kayak is a great, all-around fishing kayak choice. From its durable, UV-protected, high-density polyethylene construction to its unique shape for in-water stabilization, it’ll make your days on the water relaxed and enjoyable, even if the fish never show. At either end of the kayak, you’ll find T-handles for easy portability, while the six-point bungee system lets you store your in-boat essentials close by. For comfort, there are multiple footrest positions. The design also includes self-bailing scupper holes if the weather turns bad, and you’ll have the choice between a blue or cream color for your vessel.
2. Lifetime Hydros 85 Angler Kayak
At under $300, it’s hard to beat the Lifetime Hydros 85 Angler Kayak’s value. This luminous green, one-person kayak sports everything you need for a successful day out on calm waters, no matter whether you’re fishing or recreationally paddling. The pontoon-style kayak comes with a single paddle and includes a range of footrests for riders of different heights as well as a front T-handle and molded handles for easy maneuverability and transport. It also has front and rear bungee cords for in-boat storage. Additionally, you’ll find two flush-mounted rod holders and a single adjustable holder, allowing for plenty of lines in the water.
3. Lifetime Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak
As everyone knows, fish are a suspicious bunch, which is why heading out in this drab-colored Lifetime Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak could be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful trip on the water. This popular, 10-foot-long kayak is constructed from high-density polyethylene for a lightweight yet durable feel and comes with a single paddle. For in-boat comfort, you’ll find an adjustable seat, while the built-in hatches and bungee cords ensure you’ve got plenty of storage for your essential items. Additionally, there are T-handles at the front and rear of the boat for maneuverability as well as three rod holders, one adjustable and two flush-mounted, for easier rod management.
4. Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon Boat
For a slight variation on a kayak, try the Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Pontoon Boat. This inflatable vessel is made from tough, abrasion-resistant PVC and nylon and boasts a wealth of onboard storage space, including 10 mesh pockets, 12 zippered pockets and two insulated drink holders. Additionally, at the back, you’ll find a large storage rack alongside the boat’s motor mount. It comes with two oars as well as a fish ruler to ensure you can measure your prize on the spot. While you’re waiting for a bite, the oars can be locked into place and your rods can be rested on the included rod holders.
5. Intex Excursion Professional Series Fishing Kayak
Intex is known for its high-quality inflatable products, and this Intex Excursion Professional Series Fishing Kayak is no exception. The two-person vessel, which is made from a super tough, laminate PVC with a polyester core, includes two oars and adjustable seats to maximize your comfort. The spring-loaded, high-pressure valves allow for quick inflation and deflation, while the I-beam floor provides added rigidity during use. The design also features two skegs which are removable for shallow water use. Furthermore, the kayak is supplied with a storage bag which makes transporting your boat simple.
6. Emotion Stealth Pro Angler 118 Fishing Kayak
The Emotion Stealth Pro Angler 118 Fishing Kayak sports an advanced seating system which includes the ability to change your seating position, depending on the task at hand. If you’re fishing, sit high. If you’re paddling, sit low. And, if you’re relaxing, recline. The kayak’s hull is also designed to seamlessly cut through the water for minimal effort on your part. The design includes adjustable foot braces to suit all angler heights. You’ll find two flambeau tackle boxes included with the kayak for storing your fishing essentials. Furthermore, the self-bailing scupper holes and flush-mounted rod holders help deliver a more comfortable fishing experience.
7. Jackson Kayak Kilroy HD 13 Fishing Kayak
If your priority is in-boat comfort, you may want to consider the Jackson Kayak Kilroy HD 13 Fishing Kayak. It sports an easy-to-adjust seat and includes plenty of space to stretch out when the day is becoming long. This large space is also handy for users who want to carry lots of additional gear, while the standing pad provides targeted stability for safer casting and sight fishing. There’s also integrated storage for up to four rods as well as rod stagers which further help to keep your lines tangle-free.
8. Perception Pescador Pilot 12
If oars aren’t your thing and you feel you’d be better suited to using your feet to get around, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 could be the choice for you. This USA-made, pedal-powered boat is available in a range of attractive colors and sports a lawn chair-style seat for maximum comfort during use. The built-in buoyancy provides additional safety, while the large amount of open storage space in the front and back ensures there’s room for your tackle box and other trip essentials. In addition, the integrated accessory rails on each gunwale provide a handy rest area for fish finders and other electronic equipment.
9. Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 136 Kayak
If your ideal day on the water involves as little physical effort as possible, bar that required to land a fish, you may want to invest in the Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 136 Kayak. With a built-in 12V Minn Kota motor, there’s no need to worry about putting in the effort to get around. You can instead lean back and relax as you let the autopilot controls navigate your speed and direction as you wait for a bite. For further coverage in the water, you’ll find two forward-facing and two rear-facing flush mount rod holders.