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Best Kayaks for Big People

Best Kayaks for Big People

What are the best fishing kayaks for big and tall people? We break down the most stable fishing kayaks with high weight capacities for the big and tall anglers. Whether you are tall or thick boned, there is a fishing kayak right for you. In the most recent Kayak Anglers Resource podcast, Travis Randall and JT McClanahan broke down the most important factors to consider when searching for your kayak and their six best fishing kayaks for the big and tall.

Before we dive into the most stable kayaks on the market, let's look at some of the important kayak terminology and the factors we considered when ranking our fishing kayaks. Here are a few things we looked at:

  • Weight Capacity
  • Kayak Length
  • Kayak Width
  • Hull Shape
  • Seat Height

Primary & Secondary Stability Defined

Primary Stability

This refers to how stable a kayak feels when you're sitting flat on calm water. A kayak with good primary stability will feel steady and balanced, making it easier to get in and out of and to paddle in a straight line. Think of it as the initial stability of the kayak when you're just sitting still.

Secondary Stability

Secondary stability comes into play when the kayak is tilted or leaned to one side. It's about how stable the kayak feels when it's leaned over, such as when you're making a turn or dealing with choppy water. A kayak with good secondary stability will resist tipping over even when it's tilted at a significant angle.

In a fishing kayak, both primary and secondary stability are crucial. Good primary stability provides a stable platform for activities like casting, reeling in fish, or standing up to get a better view. Meanwhile, good secondary stability ensures that the kayak remains stable and won't suddenly tip over if you lean to the side while fighting a fish or navigating rough waters. Balancing these two types of stability is key to choosing a kayak that suits your fishing needs and preferences.

Two Main Hull Shapes for Fishing Kayaks

V-shape Hull

Like its name, a V-shaped hull comes to a deep V from the sides of the kayak to the hull point. The defining characteristic of V-shape hull kayaks is straight line speed. Due to the V shape, these kayaks ‘knife’ and ‘cut’ their way through the water with minimal drag. When taking on rougher water, this kayak hull shape performs well by knifing its way through choppy water. Paddlers looking to reach higher speeds with less effort and excellent tracking will like kayaks with this hull shape.

What these hulls offer in speed and efficiency they sacrifice in stability in calmer water. If you are new to kayaks, you may find that v-shape kayaks feel ‘tippy’ when you first sit in them. Much like riding a bike, these types of kayaks feel more stable as you gain more speed. If you will be fishing water that is typically calm or has very little chop, a V-shaped hull may not be for you. V-shape kayaks are also more difficult to turn.

V Shape Hull


  • Moves through rougher water more easily
  • Fast and easier to paddle
  • Tracks and maintains its line very well
  • Great for longer trips that require lots of paddling


  • Less stable when at rest and in calm water
  • Does not turn easily
  • Difficult to stand and fish

Poontoon-style Hull

As you probably gathered, the pontoon-style hull mimics that of a pontoon boat. Pontoon hulls are sometimes also known as ‘tunnel’ hulls because underneath they have two channels for the water to move through. Pontoon hulls are popular on fishing kayaks because, much like a pontoon boat, they offer incredible stability. Many anglers prefer to stand and cast from their fishing kayak. With a pontoon-style hull and more stability, anglers can stand with more confidence.

To obtain that level of stability, however, pontoon-style hulls sacrifice speed and precise maneuverability. Like a pontoon boat, pontoon-style kayaks take an extra paddle stroke or longer pedal stroke to turn.

Pontoon-style hulls are good all-around fishing kayaks that provide stability in multiple water conditions such as rivers, lakes and open water. They can handle bigger waves, but they sacrifice speed and do not ‘knife’ through rough water as well as a V-shaped hull.

Pontoon Style Hull


  • Extremely stable
  • Great for dropping anchor or casting in one spot
  • Can stand and fish in most pontoon-style kayaks
  • Great for calm rivers, lakes, streams and protected coastal bays


  • Not known for top speeds
  • Moderate tracking, but not as good as V-shape hulls
  • Handles waves when still, but doesn't 'knife' through rough water like V-shapes
  • Requires more effort to paddle when relocating, especially in current or choppy waters

Fishing Kayak Drive Types

Before we break down the 24 Best Paddle, Pedal and Powered Fishing Kayaks, let's examine the different propulsion types available. Each has pros and cons and operates a bit differently.


A traditional-style kayak that is powered by using a paddle. If you are on a budget or want to spend more money on accessories, paddle kayaks tend to be less expensive than kayaks with a propulsion drive. Hull shape is important when considering a paddle-only kayak – kayaks with a V-shape hull, for example, knife through the water more easily and require less effort.

Pedal Drive System

Pedal drives allow anglers to propel the kayak with a pedaling system much like a bike. Pedal drives require full circular revolutions just like a bike that spins the prop. Most pedal drives allow for forward and reverse by pedaling in either direction. This can offer a big advantage when in tight spots. A drawback to propeller drives is they don't perform well in shallow water or in debris.

Fin Drive System

Fin drives, like pedal drives, are propelled using pedals. Two fins attached to the pedal system flap sideways to propel the kayak. Fin drives only require minimal pedaling strokes forwards and backwards. Fin drives don't require full circular revolutions and can be put flush against the bottom of the hull in shallow or debris-filled water. Fin drives are a good option for shallow water and for operators who may have limited joint mobility. Not all fin drives are capable of reverse movement.

Powered Drive System

Just like a fishing boat fitted with a trolling motor, a propeller-driven fishing kayak is outfitted with a motor. This approach to kayak propulsion is both great for quickly covering long distances and also keeping quiet while closing in on a prime fishing spot. Many after-market motors can be added to almost all fishing kayaks, but we'll focus specifically on fishing kayaks that come with a motor. All powered kayaks require a battery.

Kayak Attributes to Consider for Bigger Anglers

Weight Capacity

This is straight-forward. If you are a larger angler, one of the most important attributes to look at is the weight capacity of kayak. One of the biggest reasons a kayak can feel unstable is because the weight capacity has either been exceeded or is being pushed far too close to the max. Exceeding the weight capacity alters the primary and secondary stability of a kayak.

An angler must consider more than what a kayak's max capacity is rated at. There is a general rule of thumb that says you should take what the listed max capacity is and times it by 70% to get your usable capacity. The 70% rule is not a definitive rule, but can help keep you in the desired weight range to maintain your stability and maneuverability. For example, if a kayak's weight capacity is 500lbs, you'd want to try and keep your total weight (angler and gear) in the 350-375lb range.

Considering the 70% "rule," you'll want to keep your own weight as well as your gear weight in mind when searching for the right fishing kayak for you.

Kayak Length

Kayak length does not always equal stability. The reason we mention length is primarily for taller anglers. A longer kayak may provide more cockpit space for those of you who have longer legs and torsos.

When kayak length does play a role in stabilty is when taking on waves or wakes. Longer kayaks typically cut through waves and wakes a bit better than shorter kayaks. This is also when kayak hull shape comes back into play. The longer V-shaped kayaks will knife through current and waves far better than pontoon-style kayaks.

Longer kayaks do not always equal more cockpit space either. For example, the cockpit space of an Old Town Sportsman 106 vs. 120 is not that different. The extra length gives more bow & stern storage space. Talk with a dealer to learn if longer versions offer more space for your legs or not.

Kayak Width

Kayak width plays a bigger role in primary stability than kayak length does. When at rest, a wider kayak will feel more spacious and more stable. Wider kayaks are typically easier to stand and fish in than skinnier kayaks. As mentioned above, a narrower kayak with a V-shape hull will feel far more stable when in current or while moving.

A wider kayak will also offer more room to stretch out and more room for gear without the angler feeling as cramped.

Seat Height & Material

Perhaps one of the most overlooked attributes of a fishing kayak is the seat. However, your kayak seat may play the largest role in how long you are able to stay on the water and how much you enjoy your kayak experience. Having an uncomfortable seat, for the big, tall or small, will lead to frustration very quickly.

Heavier and taller kayak anglers need to look even closer at kayak seats when considering their purchase. Here are two main things to pay attention to:

  • Height: An elevated seat is easier to get in and out of, easier to stand up from and easier to sit back down in while providing a better platform to cast and paddle from.
  • Does it swivel? Not mayn kayaks on the market today have caught on to the swivel seat. But the ones that have get a bonus point for the big & tall angler. Swivel seats are typically elevated and can be turned to the side for entering and exiting a kayak. They also allow you to turn to your gear without twisting.

Best Fishing Kayaks for the Big & Tall Angler

NuCanoe Unlimited Fishing Kayak

Length: 10' | Width: 39" | Weight: 62lbs (without drive) | Carrying Capacity: 500lbs | Propulsion Type: Paddle, Pedal or Power

A kayak that was designed to get through any obstacle, the NuCanoe Unlimited's hull is built for speed, stability and to take on any water conditions. Ready for pedals, power, and electronics, the Unlimited is ready to be rigged out however any serious angler wants.

Featuring the new Tarpon Drainage System, a GearPod, watertight hull integrity, 22' of aluminum accessory tracks, thru-hull wiring ports and a transducer pod, the NuCanoe Unlimited is ready for any accessory. Other features include flush rod holders, tackle pockets, rod tip holders, and easy wiring access ports and plates. Build your NuCanoe in an Unlimited amount of ways!

Starting at $1,799

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NuCanoe Unlimited Fishing Kayak

3 Waters Big Fish 108 Pedal Drive Fishing Kayak

Length: 11' | Width: 38" | Weight: 135 (without seat and drive) | Carrying Capacity: 450lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal

With a super-efficient hull design, the Big Fish 108 goes faster, tracks better, and has greater stability than many pedal kayaks on the market today. With a carrying capacity of over 450 lbs., this kayak can handle anglers over 6'6" tall or 350 pounds in weight and still has the capacity to move at speeds fast enough to keep pace with fast-moving water or elusive trophy fish.

Built with anglers in mind, the Big Fish 108 includes rod tip protectors, a reinforced standing platform, Uni-Track accessory rails, flush mounted rod holders, a Beaver Tail rudder, and a transducer mount. The Big Fish 108 is a big, stable kayak built for all sizes of anglers.


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3 Waters Big Fish 108

Wilderness Systems Recon 120 HD Fishing Kayak

Length: 12'2"| Width: 38" | Weight: 115 lbs | Carrying Capacity: 450 lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal

With a fully customizable open platform, a lineup of revolutionary new features, and the freedom to choose the preferred mode of propulsion – paddle, pedal, or power – the Recon series of kayaks are the future of fishability. The Recon 120 HD model comes standard with the tried-and-true, easy-deploy Helix PD™ Pedal Drive system.

The Recon 120 HD is loaded with features. Large storage hatches, horizontal rod holders for up to 6 rods, midship side pockets, tackle box recesses, and a functional under-seat area, AirPro ACE seat with a one-handed mechanical lever for quick adjusting, rear-mounted transducer area to ensure scanners are protected and many more.

Starting at $2,819

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Wilderness Systems Recon 120 HD

Jackson Big Rig FD

Length: 13'3" | Width: 40" | Carrying Capacity: 550 lbs

The beloved Jackson Kayak Big Rig has returned, this time fully integrated with our Mark IV Flex Drive System. The Big Rig FD boasts an enormous capacity and is well-suited for lakes, large, lazy rivers and inshore saltwater applications. Bring all the gear you'd like - we're hauling it, with the Big Rig FD.

NEW for 2024! Jackson's EZ Hi-Lo (Patented) seating system takes comfort to new levels and allows you to raise and lower your seat with one hand. The latest version of our Flex Drive is faster, quieter and more durable than ever before.

Other features include four-hole bolt patter on stern for mounting, bungee-less bow design, rod management storage with tip protection, tons of gear track, and an included hatch bin for tackle storage in the hull.


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Jackson Big Rig FD

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 360 Fishing Kayak

Length: 12' / 3.66 m | Width: 36" / .91 m | Carrying Capacity: 500 lbs / 227 kg

The Hobie Pro Angler 12 with 360 Drive Technology is made to cut through any water with ease. Move in any direction and in any depth with the patented Kick-Up fins to navigate through shallow waters, kelp or even over rocks and logs.

Avid anglers will find the Pro Angler 12 packed with features they love. Six rod holders, Vantage ST seating with lumbar support, a retractable transducer shield and an extra-wide hull give this fishing kayak everything a dedicated angler could want.

Other features on the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 include an anchor trolley system, large front hatch with removable liner, pivoting tackle system, large hatch with another pivoting tackle management system, and a molded in vertical rod holder.


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Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 360

Old Town BigWater 132 ePDL+

Length: 13'2" | Width: 36" | Weight: 143lbs (fully assembled) | Carrying Capacity: 500lbs

The patented Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL+™ 132 is a power-assisted pedal drive that delivers unmatched adaptability. Seamlessly switch between manual pedal, power-assisted pedal, or fully motorized cruise control, giving you the freedom to move on the water the way you want.

Designed to keep anglers in the chase, ePDL+ combines pedal and battery assist to propel your fishing experience to the next level. Fish all day with light to moderate motor assist. Need to get there quick? Crank it up and get there first. Need a break? Set it to cruise control and let the motor get you there. With motorized versatility at your fingertips, your odds out on the water just got a whole lot better. All the advantages of the BigWater 132 combined with the ability to pedal or power you kayak all with the push of a button make this kayak a true one-of-a-kind on the market.


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Old Town BigWater 132 ePDL+

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Hooked! The Kayak Anglers Resource is your one-stop resource for all things fishing kayaks. Watch, listen and engage with kayak anglers like you. Our experts cover everything from kayak fishing for beginners, fishing kayak accessories to fishing kayaks with a motor. Whether you are new to the sport or an experienced kayak angler looking to learn new tricks, the Kayak Anglers Resource aims to help every kayaker of all levels of experience.

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It is easy to get wide eyes when dreaming of your perfect kayak setup. We see some of the craziest setups around in our line of work. But, those kinds of advanced setups with all the bells & whistles are not necessary for everyone. Sometimes, it is easier to take fellow kayakers' word for it rather than a retailers. That's why we created the Kayak Anglers Resource - a community of kayak anglers who share their experiences, ask questions and give honest reviews and assessments of kayaks and accessories. We can share our expertise until we are blue in the face, but a fellow anglers words often mean more.

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Blog posts

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