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Kayak fishing continues to grow every year. Popularity on social media, larger kayak fishing tournaments across the country, and anglers looking for a new way to experience their fishing adventures are pushing this sport further and further. With the increase in fandom and demand, kayak manufacturers are answering the bell by amping up their kayaks. There are so many great options out there heading in to the 2023 season.
A question you may be asking yourself is, what is the best kayak for you? With so many options and price ranges, we'll break down some of the best paddle, pedal and powered kayaks on the market. Before we do, let's look at some of the key differences of the available propulsion types.
Fishing Kayak Drive Types
Before we break down the 23 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.
Matching the Right Fishing Kayak to Your Demands
The optimal fishing kayak type is very much determined by local water conditions, physical abilities, and fishing preferences. For instance, a kayak used on the calm still water of a pond is going to look vastly different from what a kayak angler is going to need to navigate the fast-moving waters of a rapid-dominated river. Price point can vary a great deal which may also sway many buyers in a certain direction. Create a budget for your kayak while also considering what you may want for accessories. Factoring in accessories to your budget can help set an appropriate price point and save you a headache later.
Another thing to consider is what your physical abilities are. Someone with lower body joint issues may have a harder time using a pedal drive vs. a fin drive or powered kayak. If you are going to be on the water for a really long time or fishing in tournaments, powered kayaks allow anglers to save energy to focus on fishing for longer periods. Without further delay, here are our 23 Best Kayaks of 2023.
The Best Paddle Kayaks
Length: 9' | Width: 32" | Weight: 51lbs | Carrying Capacity: 330lbs
The design of the Manatee 9’0 deluxe single fishing kayak is to provide maximum stability, maneuverability, and performance on the water. Given its width of 32 inches, you’ll feel steady as a rock while standing and fishing from our Manatee.
Ideal for beginner, intermediate, and advanced kayakers, the Manatee fishing kayak is the perfect choice for any leisure occasion. The Manatee comes with a premium aluminum seat, a water-resistant hatch, a round storage hatch, one swivel rod holder, accessory tracks and a fish finder compartment.
Length: 11'6" | Width: 35" | Weight: 77lbs | Carrying Capacity: 425lbs
The newest generation in affordable fishing, the Outlaw 11.5 boasts a wide-open deck, an expansive standing platform, seriously elevated seating, and intuitive features throughout. With room to accessorize and several unique attachment points, rigging has never been easier.
Designed to accommodate small to XL paddlers, the Perception Outlaw 11.5 has a large bow and stern tankwells and provide ample storage for crates and fishing gear. There is a large stern deck surface for customizing your boat, transducer scupper on hull, 3 Solo Mount Recesses, two double-barrel rod holders and a 35L cooler storage area.
Length: 11'3" | Width: 33" | Weight: 63lbs (without drive) | Carrying Capacity: 375lbs
Stability and maneuverability make the NuCanoe Flint versatile enough for narrow rivers to large lakes. Designed for all-day comfort, the Flint features a custom height seat and a wide-open deck to give you complete control of how you build your kayak.
Anglers will love the four flush-mount rod tubes, two horizontal rod holders, tackle box pockets and five accessory tracks throughout the kayak. Additional features include a transducer recess, integrated foot pegs, and multiple storage options. NuCanoe's Flint is a blank canvas waiting to be painted by anglers who know exactly what they want.
Length: 11'6" | Width: 35" | Weight: 74lbs | Carrying Capacity: 400lbs
The Bite performs to the high bar of paddling and stand-to-fish standards associated with the Jackson Kayak name. With the trend in price point fishing kayaks tending towards compromise in hull quality, performance, gear management, and comfort, Jackson Kayak’s Bite Angler doesn’t cut corners.
The open-concept deck gives the angler one of our roomiest platforms to stand and fish. Rod stagers allow for the staging of up to four rods, a stand assist strap will help you into and out of a standing position, two front scupper holes accommodate many transducer sizes, gear tracks located around the Bite, are but a few features of this kayak.
Length: 13'4" | Width: 34" | Weight: 73lbs | Carrying Capacity: 500lbs
The 2023 Malibu Two XL Angler is one of the first tandem sit-on-tops specifically set up for kayak fishing. Perfect for families who want to introduce the sport of fishing to their kids and create memories together. You’ll never want to fish alone again.
This kayak can be paddled solo or tandem and comes with two comfort plus seats that can be situation forward facing or to face one-another. Also included are four deck mounts and two Scotty rod holders, up to two round Gaspachi hatches (bow, stern), molded in carry handles and bungee storage.
Length: 11'8" | Width: 34.5" | Weight: 85lbs | Carrying Capacity: 500lbs
Introducing the Radar series – Wilderness Systems’ first tri-powered kayak with paddle, power and pedal capabilities. The Radar features S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology that combines Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness and Tracking throughout the entire design for ultimate performance in multiple water environments.
Other highlights of the Radar include circular bow hatch storage, flat mounting surface for customization, room for addition of pedal or power drive, center watertight storage hatch, multiple accessory rails and two different seating options for even further customizability.
The Best Pedal Fishing Kayaks
Length: 12'3" | Width: 35" | Weight: 97lbs (without drive) | Carrying Capacity: 400lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal
Specifically designed to accomodate the Rapid Pedal Drive system that features the smooth steer system to provide maximum propulsion, the Seastream Angler 120 is fast. Keeping your hands free and fresh for fishing, the Seastream 120 PD also includes the EZ Rider multi-position wide seat for long days on the water.
The Seastream Angler 120 PD includes the UNI-Track accessory system, flush mounted rod holders, rod tip protection for horizontal storage, and stability for stand-up fishing. Fishing features, a fast pedal system and the Beaver Tail Rudder make the Seastream 120 PD a great pedal kayak for fair starting price.
Length: 9' 8" | Width: 35" | Weight: 62lbs | Carrying Capacity: 419lbs | Propulsion Type: Fin or Pedal
Whether you're a drifting fisherman, a tournament kayak angler, or an avid recreational paddler; the Vanhunks Pike Fishing Kayak is the ultimate all-around kayak that will suit any water conditions. The Vanhunks Pike's maneuverable 9’8 design offers excellent stability and superior comfort. Combine this with the adaptability of the Tool Pod, and it becomes the perfect fishing companion.
And no matter if you are a novice or experienced paddler, this kayak is a great all-rounder for anglers wanting to get out on the water without breaking the bank. And with its sleek design and compatibility with either Vanhunks’ Fin Drive or Propeller Drive, it's for many accessory and upgrade options.
Starting at $1,695
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
Length: 142' 6" / 384 cm | Width: 33" | Weight: 70 lbs | Carrying Capacity: 407 lbs | Propulsion Type: Fin or Pedal
At first glance, the vast amount of storage space jumps right out from the Vanhunks Zambezi 12'6" fishing kayak. A large, lockable, rectangular hatch is large enough for camping gear or your day's catch. Below the bow hatch, a center console open towards the paddler allowing easy access while out on the water.
A great kayak for any adventurer, the Vanhunks 12'6" Zambezi did not forget about anglers. Four integrated sloping rod holders make trolling a breeze. Two more rod holders are positioned in front of the seat. Striking a perfect balance between length and width, the Zambezi 12'6" was built for stability and speed. With a whopping 617 pound carrying capacity, no adventurer will need to sacrifice any gear with this kayak. Can be upgraded to include the Vanhunks Fin or Prop drive.
Starting at $1,794
Length: 10'6"| Width: 35" | Weight: 110lbs (without pedals) | Carrying Capacity: 397 lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal
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 pedalling around the lake, getting into tight spots, or making the most of ocean fishing. Forward and reverse capability allow this kayak user to cover great distance and get in and out of any jams by simply reversing their pedalling.
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.
Length: 13' | Width: 35.4" | Weight: 92.5lbs | Carrying Capacity: 617lbs | Propulsion Type: Fin or Pedal
If fishing is your game, then the Elite Pro Angler is equipped with all the features you would need to take your fishing to the next level. The Elite Pro Angler is Vanhunks culmination of all of their fishing kayaks' best elements.
Some of the features include SIX integrated rod holders, multiple accessory rails for all of your gear, multiple storage areas including circular hatch, integrated rudder, removable tool box to be propeller or fin drive compatible, integrated transducer plate on the bottom of the hull and much, much more.
Starting at $2,044
Length: 10' 6" | Width: 36" | Weight: 76lbs | Carrying Capacity: 450lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal
Quickly becoming one of the most popular fishing kayaks among enthusiasts, the Old Town Sportsman PDL (pedal) 106 is built for performance. At under 11 feet and less than 80 pounds, the Sportsman PDL 106 is easy to maneuver and load/unload than many larger kayaks.
Smaller and lighter does not always mean less durable or stable. With a DoubleU hull, the Sportsman PDL 106 has a comfortable stand-up platform. The included pedal drive is forward and reverse capable, helping anglers get in and out of their favorite fishing spots with ease. Other features of the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 include rod and tackle management in an oversized tank well, dedicated horizontal rod storage, two 18" accessory tracks, universal transducer mounting system for a fish finder, and superior seating. Whether setting out for a quick fishing trip or hitting the water for an all-day tournament, the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 is ready for whatever you can throw at it.
Length: 12' | Width: 36" | Weight: 85 lbs | Carrying Capacity: 500 lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal
The Old Town Sportsman 120 PDL takes many of the beloved features of the Topwater 120 PDL and tweaks them slightly. The Sportsman 120 PDL has molded in stern handles vs. offset molded handles, a new seat design, a new premium floor non-slip floor, and an expanded, wider stern tank well.
Like the Topwater 120 PDL, the Sportsman 120 PDL features the ultra-stable DoubleU hull for stand-up fishing. Two 18-inch accessory tracks for mounting your favorite gear, oversized tank well and under seat storage, as well as dry storage in the sealed bow hatch means anglers don't have to leave any gear behind on your fishing trips. Also equipped wtih a universal transducer mount system, the forward/revers pedal drive and molded-in rod holders, the Sportsman 120 PDL and Topwater PDL are both great choices for a premiere 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
Length: 13' 2” | Width: 36" | Weight: 96lbs | Carrying Capacity: 500lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal
An updated version of the former Old Town Predator PDL 132, the Sportsman PDL 132 is built on the same design. Also equipped with a forward/reverse pedal drive, an updated seat and newer color options, the Old Town Sportsman PDL 132 took the best elements of the Predator before it and made them better. The Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 Pedal Drive system also includes a patented easy-docking system to make launching and landing pain-free.
Measuring just over 13 feet, Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 is ready to take on open water and still provide the necessary stability when standing. Accessory rails are located both in the front and the back for multiple mounting options. A new adjustable seat design with lumbar support, breathable mesh covering and adjustable leg length on a shuttle track provide all-day anglers the needed comfort for long fishing trips. Built for anglers, the Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 also includes molded-in rod holders, a universal transducer mounting system and tons of storage. If you hunt fish in large bodies of water, the Old Town Sportsman PDL 132 combines stability, space and agility for long days in waves.
Length: 12' 7” | Width: 35" | Weight: 107lbs | Carrying Capacity: 450lbs | Propulsion Type: Pedal
The Coosa FD combines the top-selling Coosa HD hull and deck layout with our innovative Flex Drive Mark IV System, which is uniquely engineered to retract the propeller into the hull when beaching or when running over submerged obstacles. Bringing all of these features together makes the Coosa FD a highly versatile fishing platform.
Loaded with features, the Coosa FD has everything an angler will ever need. A huge rear tank well, perfectly sized for an Orion Core 45, molded in rod tip protectors, tons of gear tracks, PowerPole and Torqeedo plate ready, through-hull wiring ports, sealed hatch, and EZ HILO seat are just a few of the features of the Jackson Coosa FD.
Length: 12'9" / 3.89 m | Width: 34" / .86 m | Carrying Capacity: 425 lbs / 192.78 kg
Fully-loaded for fishing, the Hobie Mirage Outback is for anglers looking to hunt monsters on the ocean or well-hidden bass in freshwater. Hobie's Mirage Outback features an extra-wide EVA standing deck to improve stand-up casting in all types of water conditions.
Powered by the MirageDrive 180, the Hobie Mirage Outback has forward/backward pedal capability and the Hobie patented Kick-Up Turbo Fin technology to avoid the headaches of shallow water and debris. A notched MirageDrive Well provides even more shallow water protection.
Hobie's Mirage Outback also boasts a forward accessory mount, H-rail with patented RAM hand-track, Vantage adjustable seating, utility trays, retractable transducer shield, and four molded rod holders.
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.
The Best Powered Fishing Kayaks
Length: 10'6” | Width: 37" | Weight: 121lbs | Carrying Capacity: 525lbs
Simple, intuitive, powerful and built for the serious angler. Old Town's Sportsman 106 powered by Minn Kota is a must-have for anglers looking to up their fishing game or tournament anglers wanting to climb the leaderboards. One of the most popular motorized kayaks on the market, the Old Town Sportsman 106 Minn Kota is easy to operate and gets you on your fish faster.
Every part of the Sportsman 106 Minn Kota was built with fishing at heart. Saltwater ready, the Minn Kota motor has 45 pounds of thrust, forward/reverse capability, foot brace steering and a built-in battery meter. With tournament-ready channels securing your fish measuring board, multiple flush mounted rod holders, four 18" accessory tracks, three through-hull wiring kits and a universal transducer mount, the Old Town Sportsman 106 Minn Kota is a serious kayak for serious anglers.
Length: 12' | Width: 37" | Weight: 119lbs | Carrying Capacity: 558lbs
Building upon the ultra-popular Old Town Sportsman Minn Kota line, the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Fishing Kayak takes powered kayaks to the next level. The AutoPilot 120 leverages Minn Kota's Spot-Lock technology to get you to your fishing spot faster and holding your position on your favorite hole. With a touch of your thumb, the AutoPilot 120 uses the Bluetooth i-Pilot remote to make driving your kayak as easy as possible.
Hands-free fishing is made possible by combining the motor with a foot brace steering system. Premium adjustable seating using textilene keeps you comfortable, dry, and cool on long days on the water and in the sun. EVA foam deck for stand-up stability, lift assist deploy and stow motor for quick adjustment in shallow water or transport, four 18" accessory rails, three-hull wiring kits and a universal transducer mount are but a few of the features this fishing kayak offers. A culmination of all the Old Town kayaks that came before it, the Sportsman AutoPilot 120 is the result of years of research, adaptation, and a drive to build the best fishing kayak possible.
Starting at $4,349
Length: 13'6" | Width: 37" | Weight: 124lbs | Carrying Capacity: 660lbs
All of the accomplishments of the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 with a bigger hull designed to handle bigger water and even more stability. Old Town's AutoPilot 136 leverages Minn Kota's Spot-Lock technology, the Bluetooth i-Pilot remote to power yourself to your favorite hole and sit on top of it despite water conditions.
Hands-free fishing is made possible by combining the motor with a foot brace steering system. Premium adjustable seating using textilene keeps you comfortable, dry, and cool on long days on the water and in the sun. EVA foam deck for stand-up stability, lift assist deploy and stow motor for quick adjustment in shallow water or transport, four 18" accessory rails, three-hull wiring kits and a universal transducer mount are but a few of the features this fishing kayak offers. A culmination of all the Old Town kayaks that came before it, the Sportsman AutoPilot 136 is a high weight capacity fishing kayak built for the angler looking for every possible advantage to hunt down their trophies.
When it comes to kayak fishing, there are 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!
If you find yourself overwhelmed or still unsure which kayak is best for you, check out some of our additional resources. A great place to start is by joining our public community, The Kayak Anglers Resource, where you can ask questions of members who have real experience. Or, check out our YouTube channels for reviews and how-tos: Eco Fishing Shop and Kayak Anglers Resource.
We also recommend browsing our entire blog for additional write-ups and product breakdowns to help you on every step of your kayak journey. Here are some you may find useful:
Browse all of our blogs and Buyer's Guides to most of our brands below. To check out our full range of the best fishing kayaks and accessories we have to offer, available to you via free and fast shipping, click HERE. We are happy to help and answer any questions. Click the chat button, give us a call or ask your questions in the public community, we will be there to answer no matter how you communicate!