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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. The key part is reconnecting with the wild, relaxing and trying to get the better of the biggest fish. However, to get out on the water and make this idyllic situation a reality, you’re going to need a boat. And while you could have any motorized fishing vessel, some fishermen believe the best way to enjoy the peace and quiet of the wild is with the best fishing kayaks.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayak For You
While many available options can fit the dual purposes of a fishing kayak (fishing and kayaking), the best fishing kayaks include a few handy extras to differentiate them from standard kayak models. Some helpful, fishing-specific features include:
Rod Holders – Sadly, it’s rarely a case of casting 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/Built-In Motor) – Not everyone wants to paddle for a whole day. In addition, while you’re holding a reel, it might not be possible to paddle at all. That’s why fishing kayaks often 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 the seats at the very least. These comfy options are far preferable to 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 the most success) out on the water.
Below, you’ll find 15 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.
MORE: Best Inflatable Kayaks
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. Pelican Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
With its compact and lightweight design, the Pelican Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak is a solid choice for one-man bands or groups more comfortable in individual vessels. It’s available in either an inconspicuous green or grey and incorporates retractable handles for easy portability when getting your kayak in and out of the water. For greater stability, the hull sports a multi-chine flat bottom which also allows the kayak to accommodate up to 325 pounds. Furthermore, you’ll find a quick-lock hatch, a four-inch day hatch, bungee cords and an Ergofit G2 seating system to ensure all your storage and comfort needs are met.
7. BKC TK219 Tandem Fishing Kayak
If you’re always fishing with your partner, best buddy or kids, this BKC TK219 Tandem Fishing Kayak could be the right choice for you. It’s molded from a single piece of high-density polyethylene for greater in-boat stability, and the lightweight construction weighs only 68 pounds while accommodating up to 595 pounds. On arrival, you’ll have everything you need to get going on the water, including two ergonomic seats, two paddles, six rod holders and two watertight hatches for keeping your valuable items dry. In addition, you’ll be able to choose from three camo colors, namely grey, brown and blue.
8. Jackson Kayak Bite Angler 11 Fishing Kayak
With its balance of comfortable sitting space, ample standing space and impressive storage space, the Jackson Kayak Bite Angler 11 Fishing Kayak is a vessel for every level of fisherman. The kayak’s hull has been designed with maneuverability and smooth riding in mind, while the trimmable Ergo seat ensures you remain comfortable throughout. For an increased chance of catching fish, the kayak features four individual rod stagers, including flush mount holders behind the seat for trolling when required.
9. Emotion Stealth Pro Angler 118 Fishing Kayak
The Emotion Stealth Pro Angler 118 Fishing Kayak sports an advanced seating system that 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.
10. Wilderness Systems Radar 115 Fishing Kayak
By offering a range of possible add-ons, the Wilderness Systems Radar 115 Fishing Kayak is a blank canvas that allows you to create the fishing vessel of your dreams. Don’t want to paddle? Add a motor. Want better tracking? Add a rudder. There are several possible extras you can choose to add to your kayak for a more personalized product. The base kayak boasts SMART Hull Technology, SlideTrax rails and an assistance strap, all of which combine to give you in-boat comfort and impressive in-water stability.
11. Perception Outlaw 11.5 Fishing Kayak
While catching fish is definitely a key part of any fisherman’s day on the water, for many anglers being comfortable and chilled out is equally as important. With the Perception Outlaw 11.5 Fishing Kayak under you, it’s easy to achieve all these goals, as you’ll find a comfortable, elevated seating console surrounded by rod holders, cup holders and molded-in trays within arm’s reach. Additionally, this USA-made kayak comes in blue, green or orange and also features ample storage in the bow and stern for all your other day trip essentials.
12. Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 Fishing Kayak
The Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 Fishing Kayak sports an award-winning design that is compact yet still makes managing your stuff incredibly easy. It comes in orange, midnight blue, aqua or camo green and includes a customizable platform that’s also Helix MD motor drive compatible, if you fancy a paddle-free experience instead. The wind-shedding deck incorporates a patented suspension-style seat, which offers a range of adjustable positions, allowing you to choose the right one for the exact purpose at hand. Furthermore, the extra-large foot braces give greater support and comfort while the bungees, tankwell, security straps and stern hatch ensure your stuff is secure.
13. Jackson Kayak Coosa Kayak – 2021
If your priority is in-boat comfort, you may want to consider the Jackson Kayak Coosa Kayak, a lightweight kayak for small water fishing, and new for 2021. Like other popular watercraft from Jackson Kayak, this fishing kayak sports an easy-to-adjust seat and includes plenty of space to stretch out when the day is becoming long. The short, rockered hull gives you a lot of maneuverability and control in the water, while the drag chain makes it easy to slow down. In addition, there’s plenty of wet and dry storage on board.
14. 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.
15. Old Town Sportsman 106 Motorized Fishing 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 106 Motorized Fishing 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.