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Whether you’re a shore-bound angler getting into fishing kayaks to reach unexplored waters or a boat fisherman who recognizes a fishing kayak as a new exciting way to get out on the water, there’s something in kayak fishing for absolutely everyone. But with so many different kinds of fishing kayaks out there, how can you tell which one’s right for you?
In this post, we are going to detail our top picks for the best fishing kayaks of 2022.
Key Considerations for Buying the Best Fishing Kayak
Before heading out and buying any old fishing kayak, there are a few things you'll definitely want to consider before making your final purchasing decision. Here's a look at everything you'll need to know to make sure you find a fishing kayak that will live up to your expectations.
Fishing Kayak Seating Styles
Finding the best fishing kayak will depend on a range of different factors. One of the most important is the seating position. There are two main seating positions that you can choose from, sit-on-top and sit-inside. Here's a look at these two seating options for your new fishing kayak.
The sit-on-top kayak seating style makes for a versatile and easy to maneuver fishing vessel, granting a kayak angler the advantage of being able to quickly and easily exit and enter the kayak. Sit-on-top fishing kayaks also allow for plenty of legroom, easy access to onboard gear, and, in many cases, offer anglers adequate stability to stand up whilst fishing. This seating style can be found in multiple models and price points, ranging from a single person to multi-person boats, and varying in length and width.
Sit-inside kayaks are perfect for those anglers that enjoy long-distance open water fishing expeditions or for those that regularly fish in cold water conditions. The enclosed hull not only gives the craft added stability while underway but also protects the kayak angler from being exposed to the elements. A sit-inside seating style helps to protect anglers from splashes from cold water, like those produced from rowing or rapidly moving water, and the outside elements, like persistent rain and snow.
Fishing Kayak Propulsion Type
So anglers aren't having to sacrifice precious fishing time with paddling, a few different fishing kayak propulsion alternatives have been developed. Here's a look at the different options.
Pedal or Fin-Driven
Pedal or fin-driven fishing kayaks allow anglers to propel the kayak with a pedal mechanism at their feet. This means that an angler's hands are free to hold fishing gear, leaving them able to focus on maneuvering themselves into the best position to find and land fish.
Motor or Propeller-Driven
Just like a fishing boat fitted with a trolling motor, a propeller-driven fishing kayak is fitted with a small 12-volt 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.
Fishing Kayak Dimensions
Another huge consideration to make when choosing the correct fishing kayak for you is its size and dimensions. The length, width, and weight of a kayak will not only determine how well-suited a fishing kayak is to certain water conditions but will also affect how easy it is to transport and store. Here's a look at how size and dimension will possibly shape your final purchasing decision.
The length of a fishing kayak will affect its ability to be used in rough water conditions, how stable it is, how well it maintains speed, and even how it tracks in the water. Length is also an important factor to get right for your individual height and weight. A kayak that is too small may result in instability, trouble with maneuverability, and paddle acceleration. While a kayak that is unnecessarily big will make it harder to lift, move about, and transport.
Also, if you enjoy bringing all the extra fishing gear you can fit with you, a long spacious fishing kayak will provide plenty of room for multiple storage areas.
Like length, a fishing kayak's width is also a determination of how well it will manoeuver, track, turn, and how stable it will be in rough water conditions. A fishing kayak that is substantially wide enough will offer good stability, legroom, and larger storage areas. While a fishing kayak that is too wide won't turn well and will be harder to manoeuver. Getting the width of a kayak right is really down to balance, water conditions, personal preference, and will largely be determined by the type of fishing you enjoy the most.
When chasing river fish like bass or cod, a wide short kayak that is easy to stand up and doesn't require long-distance travel may be more preferable. On the other hand, ocean fishing or trawling may call for a long, less wide fishing kayak. This shape will help a kayak build and maintain enough speed to cover long distances, suspend an ocean lure at the correct depths, while also being stable enough that offshore swell won't tip the vessel over.
The weight of a fishing kayak is also an important factor to consider, a light kayak is great for lifting on and off a car roof but it may not be able to carry as much gear while out on the water as you'd like it to. While a heavier kayak is more likely to be able to provide enough lift to be able to overcome any additional gear like trolling motors, an esky full of food and drink, and that flashy new fish finder of yours, but it will be harder to carry about and transport.
Matching the Right Fishing Kayak to the Correct Water Conditions
The optimal fishing kayak type is very much determined by local water conditions. For instance, a kayak used on the calm still water of a pond is going to look vastly different from what a kayak fisherman is going to need to navigate the fast-moving waters of a rapid-dominated river. Here's a look at some of the considerations you should make when choosing the applicable fishing kayak for different water conditions.
Lakes and Ponds
Lakes and ponds make great fishing spots, the conditions in these bodies of water are often very calm and flat. This makes them the perfect places to enjoy a fishing trip with a buddy in a tandem kayak, pedal kayak, or even an inflatable kayak. A wider kayak or pedal fishing kayak that has a whole heap of room for fishing accessories like a tackle box or bow hatch is just what is needed in lakes and ponds. Plus, the wider the kayak the more you’ll feel comfortable to stand, squat, and sit as needed.
Rivers and Streams
Rivers and streams, those conditions favored by fish like trout and bass, require a fishing kayak that's both fast to turn, agile enough to accelerate quickly, but also stable enough that tipping isn't a risk. A stable kayak that is both short and wide is your best option for these types of conditions.
Open Water and the Ocean
Kayaking in a sea or ocean environment can be hazardous if the waves are powerful enough to capsize your kayak. With that in mind, it is ideal to use a larger and longer vessel that offers more stability and keeps waves or swell from overpowering the kayak and throwing it off balance.
Fishing Kayak Paddle Guide
Choosing the right fishing kayak is one thing, but something that is sometimes overlooked is the accompanying paddle. A paddle that is too small can cause a kayaker's hands to constantly hit on the side of the kayak while paddling, which certainly isn't pleasant. While a paddle that is too long will force a kayaker to work harder during each stroke to maintain momentum, which is not ideal either.
To help you avoid these potential problems, here is a quick fishing kayak paddle sizing guide.
|Optimal Paddle Length
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to look out for when choosing the right fishing kayak for you. Here’s a list, broken into categories, of the best fishing kayaks that we personally recommend for 2022.
The Best Paddle Fishing Kayaks
Length: 320cm/10’6” | Width: 85cm/33.5in | Weight: 40kg/89lbs | Carrying Capacity: 172kg/380lbs
The Big Fish 105 is a stable, extremely responsive kayak for anglers who want a versatile fishing vessel. It tracks well and turns on a dime. It features adjustable footrests and a stand-up assistance strap to make paddling, standing up, and sitting down feel super comfortable and safe. There are plenty of spots to mount fishing accessories, including rod holders, tackle storage, and an accessory outfitting track system. In addition, there's a removable center console with two large storage compartments that can be taken out, stocked up, and replaced ready for your next big fishing trip.
As low as $100/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 365cm/12’ | Width: 104cm/41in | Weight: 45kg/100lbs | Carrying Capacity: 181kg/400lbs
The Big Fish 120 is the ultimate kayak for anglers in search of an affordable fishing platform that delivers both performance and storage. Offering the same design features as Big Fish’s premium models, it boasts spacious cargo hatches to hold your rods, tackle, and other gear while the exclusive Big Fish seat can be easily adjusted and customized to create all-day comfort for any body type.
As low as $109/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 365cm/12’ | Width: 104cm/41in | Weight: 35kg/77lbs | Carrying Capacity: 295kg/650lbs | Propulsion Upgrade Options: pedal pivot drive, bow motor mount, torqeedo motor, outboard motor, or EPS
The NuCanoe Frontier 12 is the ultimate hybrid kayak, designed from the hull up for the serious angler. It features a spacious bow hatch, two fishing rod holders, and two GunWale Paddle Holders - making it super easy to plan and pack for your next fishing adventure. The Frontier 12’s generously sized bow hatch can be used as an ice chest or dry box while out on the water. It has plenty of room for hauling gear and is bow mount motor compatible. This kayak will take you anywhere you want to go and it's built to last!
As low as $100/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 384cm/12’6” | Width: 104cm/41in | Weight: 36kg/80lbs | Carrying Capacity: 272kg/600lbs | Propulsion Upgrade Options: pedal pivot drive, bow motor mount, torqeedo motor, outboard motor, or EPS
The NuCanoe Unlimited Fishing Kayak is the must-have kayak for anglers of all skill levels. Its unique design and well-thought-out layout will give you a definite competitive edge on the water. The NuCanoe Unlimited Fishing Kayak has multiple features - including Tarpon Drainage System with 7 scuppers, on-demand storage with GearPod, watertight hull integrity, 3 wiring access plates, 4 ThruHull Wiring Ports, XL Transducer Pod, rotating and cocking stern handle, and a 360 Fusion Seat. Plus, the NuCanoe's hassle-free warranty will provide peace of mind while you paddle through unexplored waters in search of that big catch.
As low as $107/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 320cm/10’6” | Width: 87.5cm/34.5in | Weight: 33kg/73lbs | Carrying Capacity: 166.5kg/367lbs
The Sportsman 106 is the ultimate compact fishing kayak for anglers who want to get on the water, enjoy some peace and quiet, and consistently catch fish. It's stable enough to stand in, while nimble enough to navigate tight passages or chase fish into shallow waters. The Sportsman is loaded with a ton of features that help you connect with your surroundings - like the adjustable seat that lets you customize the feel of your ride, an integrated paddle holder for safety, 3 flush-mount rod holders, and cup holders that'll keep your beverages cool while out on the water.
As low as $82/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 370cm/12’ | Width: 85cm/33.5in | Weight: 37kg/82lbs | Carrying Capacity: 227kg/500lbs
If you're looking for a fishing kayak that will get you to the fishing hot spots with ease, this kayak is for you. The Sportsman 120 was built with an ample amount of storage and an extra-wide seat making it extremely comfortable on long paddles. With its length and width, this kayak tracks well and is easy to paddle. Plus, with the integrated recessed handles, it is super easy to carry and transport. It also comes with cargo storage making it convenient for day trips or overnight excursions. And it even has a large front hatch for all your fishing tackle and gear.
As low as $91/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 400cm/13’2” | Width: 86.5cm/34in | Weight: 39kg/86lbs | Carrying Capacity: 193kg/425 lbs
The Old Town Sportsman BigWater 132 is the ultimate fishing kayak. It features a unique hull design that provides optimal stability, maneuverability, and storage for any paddler at any skill level. Whether you are looking to do some fly fishing or baitcasting, this kayak has all of your needs covered. With features like 3 flush-mounted rod holders, dry storage areas, and plenty of accessory mounting options, it's super easy to optimize the feel of your ride while out on the water.
As low as $131/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 365cm/13’2” | Width: 88cm/34in | Weight: 32kg/71lbs | Carrying Capacity: 270kg/595 lbs | Propulsion Upgrade Options: motor mount, Fin Drive system, Propeller Drive system
The Sauger is the most comfortable tandem fishing Kayak in its class, with a revolutionary seating system that has been designed to offer a wide range of adjustments for all body shapes and sizes. This level of comfort is thanks to the standard fitting of two removable Tool Pods, a seating system that grants anglers a whole new level of leisure. Additionally, a massive 595lbs carrying capacity, to store all the essential gear, makes this fishing kayak one of the best on the market today.
As low as $108/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 305cm/ 10’4” | Width: 89cm/35in | Hull Weight: 32kg/71lbs | Motor Weight: 5kg/10lbs | Carrying Capacity: 200kg/440lbs | Propulsion Upgrade Options: motor mount, Fin Drive system, Propeller Drive system
The Vanhunks Shad is the ideal multipurpose fishing Kayak for all seasons. It is built with a hull shape that offers superior stability, speed, and maneuverability in the water. With multiple rod holder positions and a convenient bow hatch for all your essential fishing gear, this kayak is sure to help you find more fish faster than ever before. The Shad also features adjustable foot support so you can enjoy all-day comfort whether you are ocean fishing or just cruising around your local lake.
As low as $90/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 275cm/ 9’8” | Width: 87cm/35in | Hull Weight: 28kg/62lbs | Carrying Capacity: 190kg/419lbs | Propulsion Upgrade Options: motor mount, Fin Drive system, Propeller Drive system
The Vanhunks Pike is a highly versatile all-rounder that will allow you to catch just about any freshwater or saltwater species you are targeting. It offers an extremely stable, smooth, and well-balanced ride. With its efficient hull shape, it glides across the water with ease and allows for extra-long fishing sessions without tiring the angler. Plus, adding your tackle boxes to the front deck rigging points or adding rod holders and fish finders are all easy ways to customize this perfectly balanced all-rounder from Vanhunks.
As low as $90/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
The Best Pedal Fishing Kayaks
Length: 320cm/10’6” | Width: 89cm/35in | Weight: 50kg/110lbs | Carrying Capacity: 180kg/397lbs
Take in the sights and sounds of the water with the 3 Water Big Fish 103 Pedal Drive Fishing Kayak. This stable, multi-purpose fishing kayak features a Trimaran hull design, flush-mounted rod holders, plus an EZ Rider Seat for supreme comfort on long and short paddles. This kayak is perfect for paddling around the lake, getting into tight spots, or making the most of ocean fishing. And with a 397 lb capacity, you can easily use this kayak for both solo sessions or for family fishing trips
As low as $124/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 11’ | Width: 96.5cm/38in | Weight: 61kg/135lbs | Carrying Capacity: 204kg/450lbs
The Big Fish 108 is the next step in pedal-powered fishing kayaks. With a super-efficient hull design, it goes faster, tracks better, and has greater stability than any other pedal kayak on the market today. With a carrying capacity of over 450 lbs., this kayak can handle anglers over 6'6" tall or 350lbs. in weight and still has the capacity to move at speeds fast enough to keep pace with fast-moving water or elusive trophy fish.
As low as $131/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 350cm/11’6” | Width: 86cm/34in | Weight: 39kg/87lbs | Carrying Capacity: 193kg/425lbs
Offering effortless speed, ease of use, and maneuverability, the Feelfree Lure 11.5 V2 Overdrive is the newest evolution in pedal-powered kayak propulsion. Equipped with a lightweight and adjustable seat as well as ergonomic molded handles and handy side pockets, the Feelfree Lure 11.5’s cockpit features infinite adjustments and conveniences to accommodate any kayak fishing enthusiast’s tastes.
As low as $150/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 411cm/13’6” | Width: 86cm/34in | Weight: 48.5kg/107lbs | Carrying Capacity: 227kg/500lbs
Enjoy the freedom of FeelFree's Lure 13.5 V2 Overdrive Pedal Powered Kayak. This kayak is pedal-powered for easy maneuvering and provides quick, effortless speed to conquer any body of water. It has a spacious hull, two-rod holders, and a patented Gravity Seat so you can enjoy all your solo fishing trips in ultimate comfort.
As low as $160/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 394cm/12’11” | Width: 94cm/37in | Weight: 56kg/124lbs | Carrying Capacity: 204kg/450lbs
The award-winning FeelFree Dorado 125 Overdrive Fishing Kayak is the ultimate fishing kayak, with all the features to make your kayak fishing trips more enjoyable and, more importantly, super successful. This ultra-stable sit-on-top fishing kayak is designed for anglers who love to paddle and fish in shallow water along shorelines and offshore banks. It's got all the features you need to make your day on the water an unforgettable one, with plenty of stability, cargo space, and four fishing rod holders with rod leashes, you certainly won’t come back empty-handed!
As low as $186/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 432cm/14’2” | Width: 91cm/36in | Weight: 48kg/105lbs | Carrying Capacity: 215kg/500lbs
The Feelfree Lure II Tandem Overdrive V2 is the perfect tandem kayak. It will take you and your fishing buddy out on the water in comfort, style, and safety. Whether you're spending an afternoon trolling for trout or just paddling down your favorite saltwater canal, this kayak offers unparalleled performance and stability. Its sleek design makes it easy to transport by car or boat, while FeelFree's famous patented Gravity Seats provide a smooth ride no matter what body of water you choose to explore.
As low as $179/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 320cm/10’6” | Width: 94cm/37in | Hull Weight: 34kg/75lbs | Carrying Capacity: 204kg/450lbs
The new 2020 Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 pedal kayak is a great addition to the long line of award-winning, quality-built Old Town kayaks. Boasting a lighter weight and more durable design than previous models, this fishing kayak will help you navigate through almost all water conditions with ease.
Featuring an 11 foot ultra-stable DoubleU Hull and an overall weight of under 80 pounds, the Sportsman 106 PDL is a great option for solo kayak anglers. This fishing kayak also comes equipped with an easy-to-use removable pedal-drive system, outfitted with non-slip EVA foam deck pads.
As low as $125/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 370cm/12’ | Width: 91.4cm/36in | Weight: 39.46kg/85lbs | Carrying Capacity: 227kg/500lbs
The next generation of fishing kayaks is here. With the Sportsman PDL 120, you can now fish more secluded fishing holes than ever before. Specially designed for solo anglers, this comfortable fishing kayak has an absolute plethora of features that will make it an essential part of your fishing tackle. The Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 is perfect for exploring remote waters or simply cruising around your neighborhood lake. Either way, this kayak's unmatched maneuverability, and stability will help you catch more fish - guaranteed!
As low as $138/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 402cm/13’2” | Width: 91cm/36in | Weight: 43.5kg/96lbs | Carrying Capacity: 227kg/500lbs
The Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 is the perfect way to explore those open-water fishing hotspots. With its large size and comfortable seats, it's the ultimate in big water or open water fishing. Tackle boxes are integrated into the rear deck for easy access to your gear. Plus, the BigWater PDL 132 features an adjustable rudder system that allows you to easily steer the boat from either side while paddling. Built with a sporty yet stable design, this kayak is super ready to tackle anything from long-distance touring journeys to ocean and open water fishing expeditions.
As low as $163/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
The Best Motorized Fishing Kayaks
Length: 320cm/10’6” | Width: 94cm/37in | Hull Weight: 34kg/75lbs | Carrying Capacity: 177kg/390lbs
The Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota Fishing Kayak is equipped with the power of the award-winning Minn Kota electric trolling motor. This beauty is sure to get you on the fish faster with a compact, low-profile design that anglers can easily car-top with minimal effort. From fishing hot spots to secluded waters, Old Town's new Sportsman 106 makes it easy to explore farther than ever before.
As low as $157/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 370cm/12’ | Width: 94cm/37in | Weight: 54kg/119lbs | Carrying Capacity: 253kg/558lbs
Offering an impressive amount of fishing features, the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Fishing Kayak is perfect for anglers who want to spend more time catching fish and less time paddling. This model from Old Town features a 12V Minn Kota motor that gives you the power to go where you want when you want. It's the perfect tool for the avid angler to navigate distant waters and previously unreachable fishing holes. Plus, with a spacious, dry storage compartment and molded-in rod holders, the Sportsman AutoPilot 120 lets you bring along your favorite gear so you can be prepared for just about anything.
As low as $250/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
Length: 410cm/13’6” | Width: 94cm/37in | Weight: 56kg/124lbs | Carrying Capacity: 299kg/660lbs
The broad beam of the Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 136 provides stability and capacity while maintaining excellent maneuverability. A seamless hull design makes it easy to load with gear and, on your return home, remove your catch. The roomy cockpit includes removable seating, a large front hatch for easy access to your gear, two flush-mount rod holders, and adjustable foot braces that can accommodate paddlers of different sizes.
As low as $250/mo with Affirm. 0% APR options available
When it comes to kayak fishing, there are really only three things that you need to be successful: a kayak that’s easy to maneuver, a kayak that’s easy to control, and a kayak that’s easy to use. In other words, pick a kayak that fits you, your body type, your needs, and your experience level. Once you've picked out a kayak that works for you, the only thing left to do is to head to your favorite fishing spot!
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