Best Beginner Fishing Kayaks in 2024

Explore the world of kayak fishing with our top picks for beginners. Find the perfect balance of price & functionality for your next water adventure.

Best beginner fishing kayaks

We may earn a commission from links, but we only recommend products we back. Why trust us?

We may earn a commission from links, but we only recommend products we back.

Why trust us?

Looking to take your angling game to the next level? Kayak fishing might be the perfect adventure for you! But with so many fishing kayaks on the market, finding the right one as a beginner can be challenging.

Don’t worry—we’ve done the research for you. We’ve sifted through countless options to bring you the best beginner fishing kayaks available today. We’ve looked at the top performers, budget-friendly picks, pedal-powered options, and even inflatable fishing kayaks to ensure there’s something for everyone.

For more information, check out our in-depth comparison and analysis. Also, don’t miss our FAQ section where we answer common questions beginners often have when hunting for their first fishing kayak.

The Best Beginner Fishing Kayaks

Check out our picks for the best beginner fishing kayaks, or keep scrolling for in-depth reviews of each model.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105

Best overall beginner fishing kayak

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105

Specifications

Length: 10’6″ | Width: 32″ | Weight: 55 lbs | Capacity: 325 lbs

Today’s best deals

What we like

  • Ideal stability for beginners
  • Ample storage options
  • Comfortable seating
  • Solid build

What we don’t like

  • Less maneuverable than some competitors
  • Weight impacts portability

Impressively designed with a balanced blend of stability, comfort, and ample storage, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 confidently claims our pick for the best overall beginner fishing kayak.

While slightly heavier than some of its competitors, the Tarpon 105 more than makes up for this with impressive speed and tracking. And for those looking to further enhance these capabilities, the option to add a Wilderness Systems Rudder Kit (sold separately) is available. It’s not the most agile kayak on the market, but it has more than enough maneuverability for most fishing situations.

A standout feature is the Phase 3 AirPro seat. This is a kayak you can comfortably sit in for hours, making those long fishing trips much more enjoyable. In addition, the 325 lbs weight capacity means it can handle a variety of paddler sizes or even extra gear if you’re planning a full day on the water.

Storage space is another area where the Tarpon 105 excels. From the large rear storage well to the front dry storage hatch, there’s plenty of room for all your fishing gear. Other handy features, such as a segmented storage tray, removable dry box, and magnetic water bottle strap system, make the Tarpon 105 a pleasure to use.

Its portability may not be the best due to its weight, but the rigid carry handles somewhat mitigate this issue, making transportation a little less challenging.

Perception Pescador 10.0

Excellent value for beginner kayak anglers

Perception Pescador 10.0

Specifications

Length: 10’6″ | Width: 32″ | Weight: 57 lbs | Capacity: 325 lbs

Today’s best deals

What we like

  • Good stability, well suited to beginners
  • Comfortable seat designed for long trips
  • Ample storage and angler-specific features
  • User-friendly design

What we don’t like

  • Maneuverability is decent but not exceptional
  • Rod holders might be too big for some fishing poles
  • Placement of carrying handles can complicate single-handed transport

The Perception Pescador 10.0 is a testament to high-quality design at a great price point. This fishing kayak is packed with impressive features, each integrated into the kayak to improve performance and usability, all within a 10′ 6″ frame.

Its stability is a strong selling point, making it a fantastic choice for beginners still honing their balance and paddling skills.

The kayak’s design provides generous storage space, accommodating both you and your gear comfortably up to a weight of 325 lbs. In addition, the plush seat contributes to the comfort level of the kayak, allowing you to spend extended periods on the water without discomfort.

One of the standout features for those new to kayak fishing are the two molded-in rod holders. However, you may find the rod holders too large for certain fishing poles. Also, the kayak’s weight and the positioning of its side carry handles can make transportation a little challenging if you’re tackling it single-handedly.

Pelican Getaway 110 HDII

Best starter pedal kayak for fishing

Pelican Getaway 110 HDII

Specifications

Length: 10’6″ | Width: 33″ | Weight: 59 lbs | Capacity: 300 lbs

Today’s best deals

What we like

  • Excellent comfort with a seat that can be used as a beach chair
  • Efficient pedal system ensuring easy navigation
  • Good maneuverability and stability
  • Versatile for both recreational use and angling with added accessories

What we don’t like

  • Pedals don’t fold flat, making transportation slightly awkward
  • Lacks built-in fishing features, requiring additional gear
  • Portability is somewhat compromised due to its size and weight

The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII does well to blend leisure and action in a water-ready package. Its pedal system ensures effortless navigation and heightened maneuverability. Despite its dimensions, the kayak remains well-poised, striking a satisfying balance between stability and control, even for heavier users.

Although not the most portable of options, the Getaway 110 HDII doesn’t shy away from displaying its strengths where it truly matters. The highlight of this kayak is undoubtedly its seat, which ingeniously doubles as a beach chair. In addition, with the pedal system fine-tuned to your preference, the kayak provides a comfortable and efficient ride.

Storage-wise, it’s moderately equipped. It offers a rear storage platform with bungee cords, two bottle holders, and accessory eyelets. Yet, when it comes to built-in fishing features, the Getaway 110 HDII doesn’t exactly shine. However, gear tracks allow rod holders and other fishing accessories to be added. Alternatively, a kayak crate with built-in rod holders can prove to be a functional addition.

While the foot pedals are efficient for navigation, they present a minor issue when it comes to transportation. Their inability to fold flat can make transporting the kayak slightly cumbersome. A small compromise for a kayak that otherwise performs impressively.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler

Best inflatable fishing kayak for beginners

Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler

Specifications

Length: 9’8″ | Width: 35″ | Weight: 41 lbs | Capacity: 300 lbs

Today’s best deals

What we like

  • Exceptionally stable and comfortable for prolonged use
  • Durable construction promising longevity
  • Customizable accessory frame offering versatility
  • Quick setup and high portability for hassle-free transportation

What we don’t like

  • Tracking can occasionally be subpar
  • The placement of the accessory frame may be inconvenient for some
  • Requires diligent cleaning and drying after each use to avoid mildew

With the Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler kayak, entering the realm of kayak fishing as a beginner has never been more welcoming. Its defining characteristics of high stability, comfort, and impressive portability make it a standout choice. With a compact and easily manageable frame, coupled with a 41 lbs weight, solo kayaking adventures are simple.

The true prowess of this inflatable kayak lies in its stability—a fundamental aspect for battling sizable fish. This stability is achieved thanks to a broad beam. And with multi-layer material, abrasion pads, and multiple air chambers, the StraitEdge Angler bravely faces rough conditions and can confidently maneuver through class III rapids.

This kayak stands out from the crowd of inflatables with its removable accessory frame. While the placement towards the bow might be considered inconvenient by some, it introduces a world of customization. From adding rod holders and a fish finder to any other gear that suits your angling style, the StraitEdge Angler becomes a tailored extension of your fishing prowess.

For comfort, the high back seat with inflatable lumbar support exceeds expectations. It’s both cushy and adjustable, enabling you to find your ideal position for maximum fishing efficiency.

When it comes to portability and setup, the StraitEdge Angler reigns supreme. In just about 5 minutes, you can inflate and prep it for the water, with the take-down process being even quicker. However, a word of caution: cleaning and drying thoroughly after each use is essential to prevent mildew build-up.

Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler

Best budget-friendly option for beginners

Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler

Specifications

Length: 9’6″ | Width: 30″ | Weight: 44 lbs | Capacity: 275 lbs

What we like

  • Compact and lightweight for easy transportation
  • Practical, fishing-focused features
  • Sufficient storage capacity
  • Excellent maneuverability

What we don’t like

  • Seat comfort could be improved for longer trips
  • Dry storage compartment isn’t entirely waterproof
  • Stability could be a concern for heavier users.

As the price tag dips lower, fishing kayaks often sacrifice functionality. However, the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler strikes an impressive balance of price and quality, underpinned by thoughtful, fishing-focused design.

Among the Sentinel 100X’s standout features is the center console with integrated compartments. These provide a convenient space for tackle and other small items. Accompanying this are two recessed rod holders, paddle and fishing rod clips, and accessory eyelets, which ensure you have everything you need within arm’s reach during your angling expedition.

Beyond its features, the Sentinel 100X has been engineered for ease of use, making it an excellent option for fishing enthusiasts new to kayaking. Its compact design enhances its maneuverability, allowing access to tight fishing spots that would be inaccessible to larger vessels. The kayak’s relatively light weight, at 44 lbs, is a bonus, making transportation to and from the water’s edge a breeze.

While the kayak’s comfort level is satisfactory for short outings, longer fishing trips might demand a seat upgrade for optimal comfort. Furthermore, the kayak’s stability is passable, but larger paddlers may find the kayak’s dimensions pose a balancing challenge. This is something to bear in mind if you’re planning on hauling in bigger catches.

Storage-wise, the Sentinel 100X is equipped with a compartment for essential fishing gear and a sizable removable storage bin at the rear. One caveat, however, is that the dry compartment isn’t entirely waterproof. Therefore, it’s recommended to refrain from storing valuables there to avoid potential water damage.

Comparison and Analysis

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 Perception Pescador 10.0 Pelican Getaway 110 HDII Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105Perception Pescador 10.0Pelican Getaway 110 HDIIAdvanced Elements StraitEdge AnglerPelican Sentinel 100X Angler
Overall Score72/10069/10069/10067/10063/100
Speed (5%)7.07.07.04.06.0
Tracking (10%)7.07.08.04.06.0
Maneuverability (10%)6.06.07.07.08.0
Stability (15%)7.07.08.08.06.0
Comfort (15%)8.07.09.08.06.0
Storage (15%)8.07.05.05.06.0
Fishing Features (10%)7.08.05.07.06.0
Build Quality (10%)8.07.07.07.06.0
Portability (10%)6.06.05.08.07.0
Length10’6″10’6″10’6″9’8″9’6″
Width32″32″33″35″30″
Weight55 lbs57 lbs59 lbs41 lbs44 lbs
Height15.25″14″11.25″13.25″
Weight Capacity325 lbs325 lbs300 lbs300 lbs275 lbs
MaterialPolyethylene plasticPolyethylene plasticRAM-X polyethylenePVC tarpaulinRAM-X polyethylene

This section of our article delves into a detailed comparison and analysis of the best beginner fishing kayaks available. Our evaluation of these kayaks involved meticulously examining various performance aspects. Each category held a different weight in our final overall score, mirroring their significance in the fishing kayak realm.

For example, the kayak’s stability was assigned a weightage of 15% due to its importance for beginners. A stable kayak not only ensures safety but also provides a secure and reliable platform for casting or reeling in a catch. This aspect is particularly vital for beginners who are still getting accustomed to the mechanics of kayak fishing.

Speed

When it comes to fishing kayaks, speed isn’t typically the highest priority. However, it becomes a factor when considering how quickly you can move to a new fishing spot or return to shore. The speed of a kayak is influenced by several factors, including its length, width, weight, and hull design.

man paddling a fishing kayak

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 and the Perception Pescador 10.0 share similar specifications in terms of length, width, and weight. Consequently, they have comparable speed characteristics. As a result, they are both excellent choices for beginners looking for a reasonably quick kayak.

The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII uses a different approach to propulsion through its pedal system. The physical mechanics of pedaling allow for an efficient transfer of power to the water, often leading to better speeds than traditional paddling, especially for longer distances. While it’s slightly heavier, the pedal system makes it a suitable choice for those looking for a good balance between speed and convenience, particularly for more extended fishing expeditions.

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler exhibits slightly less speed, which is common in shorter kayaks. This is often due to increased water resistance because of the broader bow wave they create.

As an inflatable kayak, the Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler faces certain limitations when it comes to speed. Although extremely portable, inflatable kayaks often sacrifice speed due to their wider and shorter hulls. This doesn’t necessarily diminish their appeal, as their portability and stability are significant selling points. However, inflatables might not be the best option for those wishing to cover more considerable distances.

Tracking

Tracking refers to the ability of a kayak to maintain a straight path in the water, a trait that becomes crucial when traversing longer distances or dealing with currents and winds. Kayak tracking is influenced by its length, width, hull design, and, in some cases, the addition of a skeg or rudder. Good tracking makes for a more efficient paddling experience, allowing you to spend less energy correcting your path and more time focused on fishing.

Man and woman kayaking

The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII impresses with its tracking ability. Its long hull design and pedal-driven system contribute to its good tracking performance. This design allows it to maintain its course more efficiently than traditional paddle-driven kayaks, especially over longer distances.

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 and the Perception Pescador 10.0 are both noted for their solid tracking capabilities. With similar dimensions and hull design, they can hold a straight line well and handle currents and winds adeptly. This ability is an asset when fishing in open water where wind and currents can try to push the kayak off course. The option to add a rudder to the Tarpon 105 can enhance tracking even more, particularly in windy conditions.

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler has slightly reduced tracking performance due to its shorter length. As a result, it requires a bit more effort to keep it on a straight path.

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler struggles to match the tracking ability of hard-shell kayaks. However, it’s worth noting that inflatable kayaks often face challenges in tracking due to their lighter weight and wider hulls.

Maneuverability

Maneuverability is a key trait in a kayak, especially for anglers looking to navigate narrow waterways or make sharp turns around obstacles. It describes the kayak’s ability to change direction quickly and efficiently.

Two people kayak fishing

Among the kayaks reviewed, the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler stands out in terms of maneuverability. Its shorter length (9’6″) and narrower width (30″) grant it agility and responsiveness, allowing it to navigate tight turns and small spaces with relative ease. This maneuverability makes it an excellent choice for fishing in enclosed environments such as creeks or marshes where quick and sharp turns are required.

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler also shows good maneuverability. Its inflatable design gives it a certain flexibility that helps when making quick direction changes. In addition, the Pelican Getaway 110 HDII’s pedal system contributes to its ability to make quick movements without the need to put down the fishing rod and grab the paddle.

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 and the Perception Pescador 10.0 have slightly reduced maneuverability due to their longer length. However, these characteristics contribute to their excellent stability and tracking abilities, making them better suited for open waters or larger bodies of water where maneuverability is less critical.

Stability

Stability is a vital aspect of a kayak’s performance, especially for beginners who need a steady platform for casting or reeling in a catch. There are two types of kayak stability to consider: primary stability (the initial steadiness when sitting in calm waters or when first entering the kayak) and secondary stability (how the kayak handles when it is leaned on its side or in rougher waters).

Elderly man kayak fishing on a lake

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler shines in terms of stability. Its wider design (35″) contributes to a substantial amount of primary stability, making it a sturdy platform for anglers. The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII also scores high thanks to its 33″ width and pedal-driven design. The pedal system helps maintain balance during motion, making it a steady choice for beginners or anglers in more unpredictable waters.

Both the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 and the Perception Pescador 10.0 have good stability due to their balanced designs. Their lengths and widths contribute to a sense of steadiness, making them reliable for beginners or any angler who appreciates a reliable fishing platform.

However, it’s important to note that the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler’s stability might be a little less forgiving for larger paddlers, given its narrower width of 30″. While this allows for better maneuverability, it also means it might feel less stable to those not familiar with kayaking or if larger catches are involved.

Comfort

When you’re planning on spending hours out on the water, comfort is a critical consideration. It’s important to keep in mind that comfort in a kayak is more than just about the seat; it also involves the design and layout of the kayak’s cockpit, the amount of legroom, and the presence and positioning of footrests.

Resting on a fishing kayak

The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII takes the crown when it comes to this, with its innovative seat that provides unrivaled relaxation on the water. In addition, the adjustable foot pedals provide added comfort, allowing you to tune them according to your preference.

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler also shines in this area. It features a high-back seat that’s not only comfortable but also adjustable. The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 also comes with a comfortable seat. It provides excellent support and adjustability, which is vital for long fishing trips.

The Perception Pescador 10.0 features a plush seat contributing to the overall comfort level of the kayak, allowing for extended periods of fishing without discomfort. However, it doesn’t offer the same level of adjustability as some of the other kayaks reviewed. And while the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler offers satisfactory comfort for short outings, it isn’t the best for long periods on the water.

Storage

Whether you’re packing for a short fishing trip or preparing for a full day on the water, storage is an important consideration. The ability to stow your fishing gear, personal belongings, and perhaps even a packed lunch, can significantly improve your overall fishing experience.

Man kayak fishing in the ocean

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 is the standout choice for storage. With a large rear storage well and a front dry storage hatch, it offers ample space to stash your gear. Moreover, additional features like a segmented storage tray, removable dry box, and a magnetic water bottle strap system contribute to making this kayak very storage-friendly.

The Perception Pescador 10.0 also provides generous storage space. It offers plenty of dry storage areas, crucial for keeping your belongings safe from water. Despite being a budget kayak, the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler is equipped with a decent storage compartment for essential fishing gear and a sizable removable storage bin at the rear. However, its dry compartment isn’t completely waterproof.

The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII offers moderate storage capabilities, including a rear storage platform with bungee cords. This kayak is suitable for basic fishing trips but may not be ideal for extended adventures due to limited storage space.

Lastly, given its inflatable nature, the Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler offers reasonable storage space. However, it can’t compare to the hard-shell kayaks when it comes to staying organized on the water.

Fishing Features

Fishing features on a kayak can significantly enhance your angling experience. They can include elements such as rod holders, tackle storage, mounts for fish finders, and anchor systems. How these features are integrated into the kayak can impact its functionality, ease of use, and overall fishing efficiency.

Young girl fishing from a kayak

With two molded-in rod holders, the Perception Pescador 10.0 provides a secure place for your fishing poles, giving you the freedom to paddle or relax while waiting for a bite. The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler doesn’t skimp on the fishing features either. Its standout is the removable accessory frame, which opens up a world of customization. Despite its inflatable nature, it allows for the addition of rod holders, a fish finder, and any other gear to suit your angling style.

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 offers a variety of fishing-friendly features, and the standout gear tracks allow you to outfit the kayak with all the necessary equipment.

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler is designed with the budget-conscious angler in mind, yet still manages to pack in some noteworthy fishing features. These include a center console with integrated compartments for tackle and other small items, two recessed rod holders, and paddle and fishing rod clips.

While the Pelican Getaway 110 HDII might not shine in terms of built-in fishing features, its gear tracks allow for easy customization. You can add rod holders and other fishing accessories, transforming it into a fully equipped fishing vessel.

Build Quality

Build quality in kayaks encompasses a range of factors, including the materials used, the robustness of the design, and the attention to detail in the fittings and finish.

Dad and kids fishing on kayaks

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 stands out for its excellent build quality. It combines robust materials with a design intended to withstand the rigors of regular fishing trips. This makes it a reliable choice if you’re planning on frequent use or fishing in a range of conditions. The Perception Pescador 10.0 and Pelican Getaway 110 HDII also showcase good quality.

While the Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler might not match the rigidity of a hard-shell kayak, its build quality is nevertheless commendable for an inflatable. It features multi-layer material, abrasion pads, and multiple air chambers, making it a robust inflatable that can handle rough conditions. Still, an inflatable kayak’s durability often depends significantly on proper care and handling.

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler offers reasonable build quality considering its budget-friendly price point. It showcases thoughtful design, with integrated compartments and multiple features for anglers. However, it doesn’t quite match the same attention to detail as the higher-priced models.

Portability

Portability in kayaks is defined by how easily they can be moved from one location to another, particularly from your home to the water’s edge and back. Key factors influencing portability include a kayak’s weight, its carrying handles, and any features that enhance its transportability.

Man fishing next to a kayak

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler stands out in portability. It can be deflated and packed into a compact size for transportation. This makes it an excellent choice for those with limited storage space at home or those wishing to travel with their kayak.

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler also scores high due to its relatively light weight of 44 lbs. This makes the kayak easier to transport to and from the water’s edge, which is particularly beneficial if you’re venturing out for a solo fishing trip.

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 and the Perception Pescador 10.0 offer decent portability. Weighing 55 lbs and 57 lbs, respectively, they are slightly heavier than some of the other options. However, the Tarpon 105’s rigid carry handles somewhat mitigate its weight issue, making transportation a little less challenging.

The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII is the least portable due to its size, weight of 59 lbs, and non-folding pedal system. This makes transporting the kayak slightly cumbersome and might require extra effort or additional accessories such as a kayak cart to move it around.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best type of fishing kayak for beginners is the sit-on-top style. This design provides excellent stability, which is a crucial feature for those new to kayak fishing, and offers a wider deck with more room to maneuver. This extra space can make it easier for you to cast your line, reel in your catch, and handle any other equipment you need while on the water.

How much you should spend on your first fishing kayak can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. Your budget is obviously a significant consideration. Fishing kayaks can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. If you’re just starting out, it might be prudent to start with a more affordable model until you have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a kayak.

The location where you’ll be doing most of your fishing can also impact your decision. For example, a less expensive kayak might be sufficient if you’re primarily fishing in calm, local lakes. However, if you plan to tackle rougher waters or larger bodies of water, you may need to invest in a more robust and feature-packed kayak.

Another factor to consider is the frequency of your fishing trips. If you’re planning to go fishing only occasionally, it might not be worth spending a large amount of money on a high-end kayak. However, if you foresee kayak fishing becoming a regular hobby or passion, investing in a higher-quality kayak could be beneficial in the long run.

Finally, remember that there’s a learning curve associated with kayak fishing. Starting with a less expensive model can be a wise choice as you familiarize yourself with the sport. Then, once you’ve honed your skills and gained more confidence, you can upgrade to a more advanced model if needed.

Fishing kayaks are designed with stability in mind. Still, no kayak is entirely immune to capsizing. However, the risk of tipping is reduced in these kayaks, particularly those with wider hulls that are built to offer more stability, such as the beginner-friendly models on our list. These are designed to make it easier for newcomers to maintain balance and control, thus reducing the likelihood of tipping over.

The Verdict

The world of kayak fishing for beginners is filled with impressive options, each tailored to suit different needs, preferences, and budgets. The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 stands tall as our top overall pick, thanks to its balance of comfort, stability, storage, and build quality.

For those seeking value, the Perception Pescador 10.0 offers a robust blend of stability, comfort, and ample storage. It’s a user-friendly kayak ideal for beginners, with a range of angler-specific features at a great price point.

On the other hand, the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler proves that affordability doesn’t always mean compromising on quality. Its compact, lightweight design and practical features make it a commendable choice for newcomers to kayak fishing, especially those on a tighter budget.

The Pelican Getaway 110 HDII is a top choice for those interested in a pedal-powered kayak, and the Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler stands out as the best inflatable fishing kayak for beginners. Both options deliver unique features, emphasizing comfort, stability, and maneuverability.

It’s important to note that each kayak has its strengths and weaknesses. As such, the best kayak for you ultimately depends on your personal needs and fishing ambitions. Therefore, take the time to evaluate your preferences and select the kayak that will best serve your angling aspirations.