Looking to fish from a kayak? While any kayak can be used for fishing, specific fishing kayaks offer excellent features that make your experience more enjoyable.
But what are the best fishing kayaks? We’ve looked at ten different designs representing a diverse array of categories. So whether you need an inflatable, a budget option, or you’re just looking for the highest quality kayak out there today, you’ll find a detailed recap and review below.
Our Top Picks
Check out this quick list of our favorite fishing kayaks, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.
- Best Overall: Jackson Kayak Coosa HD
- Best Sit-Inside: Jackson Kayak Kilroy
- Best Value: Perception Pescador Pro 10.0
- Best Budget: Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
- Best for Big Guys: Jackson Kayak Yupik
- Best Lightweight: Eddyline Caribbean 12 Angler
- Best Inflatable: Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack Angler Series
- Best Tandem: Jackson Kayak TakeTwo
- Best Motorized: Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 120
- Best Pedal: Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
Best Overall: Jackson Kayak Coosa HD
Length: 12′6″ | Width: 34″ | Weight: 83 lbs | Capacity: 425 lbs
Big, flexible, and the sort of stability you want when you’ve got a big fish on the line, the Jackson Kayak Coosa HD provides everything you need in a fishing kayak.
The Coosa isn’t overly wide like many fishing kayaks, measuring a reasonable 34″ in width. This gives it a decent top speed for a sit-on-top design of this length (12’6″) and a fine choice if your preferred fishing spot is a reasonable distance away.
The Coosa feels stable underneath, though I’m unsure how I feel about standing and casting unless the water is flat. Performance-wise, it’s best to keep the Coosa on calmer, protected water.
All the amenities you expect to find in a top fishing kayak are here. A gear track accessory system and multiple rod holders mean you don’t have to leave anything behind.
There’s an impressive amount of dry storage space for a sit-on-top, coming with a pair of large covered hatches in the bow and stern. In addition, there’s a handy storage hatch beneath the seat and a pouch attached to the back of the chair, which is large enough to hold lunch, spare tackle, and whatever else you need.
The seat is elevated, giving you a great view of the water and making it easier to spot passing schools of fish. It’s also well-padded, and the sliding foot tracks provide a comfortable fit for paddlers of all shapes and sizes.
Best Sit-Inside: Jackson Kayak Kilroy
Length: 12′4″ | Width: 31″ | Weight: 71 lbs | Capacity: 325 lbs
A sit-inside kayak is a rarity in the fishing kayak world. And high-quality designs like the Jackson Kayak Kilroy are few and far between.
Unlike many sit-in kayaks, the cockpit is wide and spacious, with the layout feeling more like a sit-on-top kayak. However, one drawback to this design is that there aren’t spray skirts big enough to cover the mammoth cockpit, leaving you exposed to inclement weather. The bow is somewhat protected still, keeping lapping waves off your legs.
Despite being 3″ narrower than the Coosa, the Kilroy has excellent stability. You can safely stand and cast thanks to the standing deck being below the waterline. An assist strap helps you stand and sit safely. The narrower hull also increases your paddling efficiency, providing a better top speed than most sit-on-top designs.
For comfort, the Kilroy’s seat can be raised for better accuracy when casting or lowered for enhanced stability while in transit. Vertical and horizontal rod holders keep your fishing poles secure while paddling. Once you arrive at your fishing hole, accessory tracks allow you to deploy a GPS, fish finder, cameras, and whatever else you deem necessary.
Best Value: Perception Pescador Pro 10.0
Length: 10′6″ | Width: 32″ | Weight: 57 lbs | Capacity: 325 lbs
If you don’t want to splurge on a high-end fishing kayak, there are still several quality options to choose from. Our favorite of which is the Perception Pescador Pro 10.0.
It’s a little shorter than the previous kayaks on this list, measuring 10’6″ in length with a width of 32″. Put those together, and you’ve got a boat that still has the stability you want in a fishing kayak, but won’t reach high speeds. This doesn’t matter for most anglers, but there are better options to look at if you’re planning a more extended overnight trip.
The seat doesn’t move vertically but can recline and is easily adjustable thanks to the recessed track system. The seat bottom is well padded, and the mesh back is comfortable, though some may wish it had a little more support.
The value comes in all the angler-focused features crammed into the hull. There’s an accessory track for customization and rod holders. But there’s also a paddle holder which keeps it secure when you’re ready to switch to your fishing rods. A tackle storage console can be configured to hold a fish finder, and the 5″ stern deck provides access to the hull.
The rigid plastic hull is plenty durable. I especially like the built-in and replaceable skid plate along the keel, which gives it extra toughness if you need to drag your kayak short distances.
Best Budget: Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Length: 10′ | Width: 31″ | Weight: 56 lbs | Capacity: 275 lbs
Just because you’re looking for a budget option doesn’t mean you need to settle for a subpar kayak. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 won’t perform at the same level as some more expensive options. Still, it’s more than enough to provide a memorable afternoon on the water.
The Tamarack Angler is built with stability in mind thanks to the flat bottom, deep hull channels, and high chines. This makes it an excellent boat for newcomers. But it does mean that the paddling performance isn’t at the same level as more svelte kayaks.
For fishing, you get a handful of the features you’d expect. There are several rod holders and a paddle holder similar to the Pescador Pro. However, the custom accessory tracks aren’t included. In addition, the storage space isn’t as plentiful, and the only dry storage area available is a small center hatch.
The seat is adjustable and well padded, but the foot braces leave something to be desired. There’s no foot track system like there is on higher-end models. Instead, Lifetime has opted for the multiple footwell system favored by recreational sit-on-top kayaks. These are fine for a while, but they can make it hard to find a comfortable position and don’t provide excellent support.
Best for Big Guys: Jackson Kayak Yupik
Length: 12′2″ | Width: 35″ | Weight: 90 lbs | Capacity: 425 lbs
Another high-end boat from Jackson Kayak, the Yupik can be appreciated by anglers and paddlers of all sizes. But it’s the big and tall kayakers that will really enjoy the vast cockpit with heaps of legroom. That said, its dimensions are comparable in size to other Jackson Kayaks, so while a 90-pound weight may seem unwieldy, it’s par for the course for a fishing kayak of this size and material.
Once on the water, the excellent stability and full standing pad allow you to stand and cast. At the same time, the kayak’s padding muffles sounds and decreases the chance of spooking fish.
Staging areas for fishing rods allow you to keep multiple poles close at hand. Large holders for tackle boxes flank the accessory track system for the rest of your toys. And with an impressive 425-pound load capacity, there’s no reason to leave anything behind.
For comfort, there’s an ergonomic seat and a sliding track system for your feet. While there’s plenty of storage space in the bow and stern, I wish there was more dry storage for those paddling in wet environments. However, it’s a minor nitpick. The Yukip has a vast array of gadgets and accessories, all in a super comfortable design that paddlers of all sizes can appreciate.
Best Lightweight: Eddyline Caribbean 12 Angler
Length: 12′ | Width: 30″ | Weight: 45 lbs | Capacity: 275 lbs
While most fishing kayaks are bulky and heavy, the Eddyline Caribbean 12 Angler stands out for its lightweight design while still measuring 12-feet. The light material, long keel, and narrow hull give the Caribbean 12 a competitive top speed, capable of outrunning heavier kayaks of similar size.
However, the drawback to this lighter weight is that the Angler 12 has a lower load capacity than most fishing kayaks. The 275-pound capacity may be enough for day trips or overnight camping adventures, depending on what you bring. Still, you’ll want to double-check to ensure that you don’t overload your boat.
The Caribbean 12 features several rod holders and a gear track system. You can’t overload it with custom options like you can with other fishing kayaks, but there’s still enough room to add a GPS or other gadgets.
The bow storage area is watertight, with a good-sized hatch providing easy access. The stern hatch is recessed with bungee cords over the top to help secure items.
The seat is comfortable and well-padded, and I love that it can be removed with little trouble, giving you a handy camping chair at the end of the day.
Best Inflatable: Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack Angler Series
Length: 12′6″ | Width: 36″ | Weight: 45 lbs | Capacity: 635 lbs
With room for up to three passengers and capable of holding an incredible 635 pounds, the Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack Angler Series can feel more like a raft than a kayak. While you won’t get the same performance from an inflatable as you would from a hard-sided design, the 385fta still has impressive rigidity and the sort of stability anglers crave.
The wide hull makes it stable enough for you to stand and cast from. While it won’t maneuver as well as narrower boats, it’s still capable of safely weaving through Class II rapids.
The 385fta has a flexible design, so while the wider hull diminishes its speed when paddling, additional accessories can be purchased that allow you to install a small motor. However, this will require the extra expense and isn’t included.
The inflatable hull doesn’t allow for the same accessory track systems you find in the typical hard-sided fishing model. Still, Sea Eagle won’t let you go out empty-handed. Built into the hull are specific holders for your fishing rods, lures, hooks, and other tools. They’ve also included a fishing ruler.
Best Tandem: Jackson Kayak TakeTwo
Length: 13′9″ | Width: 37″ | Weight: 110 lbs | Capacity: 500 lbs
The largest capacity model from Jackson Kayak, the TakeTwo can handle an impressive 500 pounds and boasts remarkable flexibility.
The first thing you’ll notice is the chairs. In addition to being supremely comfortable with various positions, they can also pivot a full 360-degrees, allowing paddlers to face each other if they want. Of course, with the potential for all that shifting weight, you want a kayak that feels stable. And the TakeTwo has that in spades, thanks to a wide hull and low waterline.
In addition, the TakeTwo can be safely handled by a solo paddler, which is a rare quality in a tandem kayak. I’d stay close to shore and not take any chances if I was out on my own, but it’s nice to have the option. The kayak is at its best in calmer, protected waters anyway. It should not be taken on big ocean crossing or through challenging rapids.
For fishing, you get all the goodies you’d expect with a beefy accessory track system and several large storage areas to take advantage of that big load capacity. In addition, there’s a spacious, open-air stern hatch and two smaller watertight hatches that are accessible while paddling.
I love the transducer scupper in the middle of the seat that allows you to set up a fish finder easily, while a narrow channel in the center of the boat gives you a spot to secure wires without them getting in the way.
Best Motorized: Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 120
Length: 12′ | Width: 37″ | Weight: 152 lbs | Capacity: 558 lbs
Not only is the Old Town Sportsman Autopilot 120 motor compatible, but it’s ready right off the shelf thanks to the included saltwater-approved motor. So why is it called the Autopilot? Because you get a Bluetooth-compatible hookup where you can adjust your course and speed without having to take your hands off your fishing rod.
You can monitor your direction from a screen that doesn’t get washed out on sunny days. Once you arrive at your fishing spot, the autopilot will even help you maintain your position and prevent you from drifting away.
The drawback is that the built-in motor and foot braces used to control the motor are difficult to remove, making the Autopilot 120 one of the heaviest 12-foot kayaks available at 152 pounds. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve got an extra pair of hands or a heavy-duty cart to get you to the water.
Four rod holders and accessory tracks give you all the custom options you’d expect in a high-quality fishing kayak. It’s also compatible with most fish finders, complete with thru-hull wiring.
Best Pedal: Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
Length: 12′ | Width: 36″ | Weight: 105 lbs | Capacity: 500 lbs
One of my biggest issues with pedal kayaks is the constant fear that I will hit those fragile blades on an underwater hazard. The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 gets around this with the ingenious kick-up fins, which allow them to retract if they come in contact with anything. This gives you an impressive top speed with little physical effort and without fear of damage.
It is a heavy boat, so if you are on your own, you may want to invest in a kayak cart to help you get to the water. There are handles along the side of the hull and the bow and stern to make tandem carries easier.
Once you’re floating, Hobie Mirage has its patented H-rail system to help you outfit your kayak however you please. Six, yes six rod holders allow you to bring any number of poles for whatever sort of fishing you fancy.
A vast covered bow hatch is the primary storage area. But there’s another massive, open-air storage container in the stern with deck bungees stretched across to secure gear. A smaller, circular storage space is beneath the stern tankwell. Finally, a little rectangular hatch in front of the seat holds a pair of Flambeau Tackle Boxes included with your purchase.
Fishing Kayak Buying Guide
Understanding the difference between the types of fishing kayaks available is important and valuable. But knowing the different variables that make these kayaks unique is just as vital.
In this section, we’ll discuss what separates these kayaks including the material they’re made of, how they perform on the water, and how easy they are to transport from place to place.
- Kayak Type
- Stability & Tracking
- Portability & Storage
The majority of fishing kayaks are sit-on-top designs. These have big, open cockpits with plenty of room for paddlers of all heights and sizes. In addition, their seats are placed higher above the water, giving anglers a more helpful view of what’s below and providing better accuracy when casting.
Their higher seats mean they have to be wider to maintain stability, so they tend to be slower than their sit-in counterparts. The single sit-in kayak on this list is the Jackson Kayak Kilroy. You won’t find as many sit-in fishing kayaks since they tend to be cramped and harder to fit in all the custom gadgets that anglers value.
While hard-sided kayaks can be made of several different materials, all the solid kayaks on this list are made of polyethylene. Polyethylene is the preferred material because it’s rigid and durable while still being cheap to produce.
The drawback is that it’s heavier than other materials, making many kayaks like the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 and Old Town Autopilot 120 challenging to carry without an extra pair of hands.
While there’s a fair share of cheap, poorly made inflatable kayaks that seem to spring a leak if they graze a rock, Sea Eagle’s models have excellent durability. The drop-stitch kayak floor and multiple air tubes allow you to paddle with confidence. Of course, you’ll still need to be a little more cautious when landing on a rocky beach, but you don’t have to live in fear.
When it comes to paddling efficiency, longer-keeled kayaks have an advantage. A narrower hull is also helpful, so if the kayak length is comparable, a skinnier boat like the sit-inside Jackson Kayak Kilroy should paddle at a faster pace.
This all changes when you have an implement besides a paddle. The Autopilot 120 will cruise past a paddle-powered kayak regardless of its length or width. The same goes for the Hobie Mirage’s pedal system. It isn’t as fast as the Autopilot, but will still outrun most kayaks with little trouble.
The slowest kayaks on this list are the shorter vessels like the Tamarack Angler, which checks in at just 10-feet. While the Sea Eagle 385fta will have an excellent speed if you attach a motor, it’s wide and more difficult to paddle, so don’t expect a good top speed if using more traditional methods.
Tight turns are easier to make in kayaks with shorter keels as there’s less water resistance. Longer keeled kayaks can be difficult to navigate into tight areas without the aid of a rudder.
The design of sit-on-tops makes it challenging to install a rudder as there isn’t a natural spot to run the wires from the foot pedals to the stern. However, the rudderless sit-on-tops listed here still steer just fine without one, and maneuvering can be done with your paddle with just a few easy paddle strokes.
The pedal and motor kayaks are steered with either a rudder or the motor. The Hobie Mirage comes with a joystick system that allows you to control your course with one hand. But the Autopilot 120 takes home the most innovative steering system with its Bluetooth-compatible setup that lets you control your course completely hands-free.
There seems to be an arms race between competing fishing kayak companies to see who can make the plushest seat. So naturally, paddlers benefit from this, and I’m happy to say the majority of the kayak seats and foot braces are comfy with plenty of lumbar support regardless of the angler’s size.
The one exception is the lower budget Tamarack Angler 100. The seat is still pretty comfortable, but the foot support is lacking. Instead of the adjustable foot tracks, the Angler 100 has multiple footwells on each side to cup your heel. The problem is the hard plastic, and the distance between the wells can make it challenging to find a comfortable position.
It’s still a good kayak, and I wouldn’t say it’s uncomfortable. It’s just not as comfortable as the other, more expensive kayaks we’ve reviewed.
Stability & Tracking
Like their comfy seats, fishing kayaks are designed to feel solid and secure underneath you while you cast and reel in a catch. Some are stable enough to stand and cast, including the sit-inside Jackson Kayak Kilroy. It comes with a stand assist strap that makes standing and sitting easier and safer.
Tracking refers to how easy it is to maintain a straight course while paddling. In general, longer V-shaped keels have better tracking. Installing a rudder or utilizing a skeg like the one on the Hobie Mirage can also be helpful.
Since these kayaks are primarily meant for calm, protected paddling, you probably won’t encounter too many situations where tracking becomes an issue. But I’d caution you to be familiar with how to maintain your course with specific paddle strokes if you’ll be pushing further offshore without the aid of a rudder.
The hard-sided, polyethylene hulled kayaks are some of the toughest boats out there. They’re capable of hard landings on rocky beaches. They can even be slid over beaches for short distances without serious damage.
Long drags will cause the plastic to flake and peel after a while, which will decrease the paddling speed and efficiency. But you’ll have to work hard to punch a hole in a polyethylene kayak.
The Sea Eagle 385fta isn’t nearly as tough. It will be susceptible to punctures if you land it roughly on a sharp rock or try to drag it over shallow water with obstacles. But with a little bit of care and gentle landings, you can still expect it to last a long time.
Portability & Storage
The drawback to many of these big fishing kayaks that are flush with storage space and custom options is that they can be cumbersome. For example, the Autopilot 120, with its included motor, tips the scales at 152-pounds. Many of the Jackson Kayaks and the Hobie Mirage are also quite heavy, making carrying and transporting them to water difficult.
There are some lighter options, however. For example, the Jackson Kayak Kilroy and Eddyline Caribbean 12 Angler. However, you will sacrifice some load capacity if you opt for the Caribbean 12.
Storage capacity is immense for many of these models. For example, the Sea Eagle 385fta feels like a raft and can carry over 600-pounds.
One issue that often plagues fishing kayaks is a lack of dry storage space. Jackson Kayaks has fixed this with their Coosa and Kilroy models that feature multiple dry storage spots and make it easier to keep your gear out of the salt spray and rain.
While the best kayak for you will vary on your needs, storage space, and budget, we love the Jackson Kayak Coosa HD. As a result, we are confident in recognizing it as the best fishing kayak available today.
If you prefer, there are several larger and heavier models out there that have the option to add a motor or to be pedaled. In this case, you can’t go wrong with the Old Town Autopilot 120 or the Hobie Mirage, while the inflatable Sea Eagle 385fta can be stored and transported with ease.
Whichever kayak you deem best for your next fishing adventure, we hope this article has made the selection process much easier.