Best Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks

Looking for the perfect sit-inside fishing kayak? We’ve reviewed the best options, from compact budget picks to luxurious tandem models.

Best Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks

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

Why trust us?

While most fishing kayaks are of the sit-on-top variety, this may not be preferable for you for various reasons. Sit-in kayaks offer more protection from the elements while also being more streamlined, providing a better top speed.

We’ve taken a look at the best sit-inside fishing kayaks on the market today and broken them down into five categories while ranking their strengths and weaknesses. So you can spend less time scrolling through the internet and more time with a fishing rod in your hand. For more information, check out our comparison table and buying advice.

Our Top Picks

If you’re in a hurry, here are our top picks. Or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best Overall: Jackson Kayak Kilroy

Length: 12′4″ | Width: 31″ | Weight: 71 lbs | Capacity: 325 lbs

Jackson Kayak Kilroy

Just updated in 2024, the Jackson Kayak Kilroy crams all the necessary fishing accessories into its 12’4″ keel. 

Any fishing kayak worth its salt comes with designated fishing rod holders. But Jackson has taken this a step further, installing specific, molded tubes into the hull to add an additional layer of protection to your precious fishing rods while in transit. 

Once you’ve hit your preferred fishing spot, various gear tracks allow you to custom-fit your kayak with additional rod holders, GPS, cameras, or areas to hold lures and other gear. 

The significant addition to the 2024 update is the seat. Utilizing Jackson’s new hi-low seating system, the latest version features a super comfortable chair that can be adjusted forward, back, and up and down. This gives you a higher angle when fishing, improving casting accuracy and providing a better field of vision for spotting schools of fish.

If you’d prefer to cast from a standing position, that’s an option too. The Kilroy has a well-padded standing platform, and the boat’s excellent stability ensures that anglers of all kayaking experiences will feel comfortable standing up. The extra padding isn’t only comfortable, but it also muffles the sound of your feet, so you don’t scare any nearby fish.

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent stability allows you to stand and cast
  • Extra protection for fishing rods
  • Easy to adjust the seat in four directions

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not a ton of storage space

Best Value: Old Town Loon 126 Angler

Length: 12′6″ | Width: 31″ | Weight: 60 lbs | Capacity: 450 lbs

Old Town Loon 126 Angler

If the Kilroy has a shortcoming, it’s in the weight capacity category. While 325 pounds should be enough for most overnight trips, the Old Town Loon 126 Angler offers an enormous capacity of 450 pounds. There’s also more storage space to take advantage of that load capacity, with a larger stern hatch and room in front of the cockpit for bulkier items.

You’ll find the standard issue flush mounted rod holders and custom gear tracks beloved by all kayak anglers. In addition, a cleverly designed work deck is mounted in front of the cockpit, giving you a great platform to lay out spare hooks, lures, and other small gear. 

Despite the extra load capacity and similar keel length, the Loon 126 is 11 pounds lighter than the Kilroy, making it a solid option for those fishing solo most of the time. 

While the seat on the Loon is comfortable, it cannot be adjusted up and down. The kayak is also not rated stable enough to stand and cast from, so there’s no standing pad. However, its exclusion does provide a little more protection for your legs from the elements.

Reasons to buy:

  • Anchor trolley system is excellent for keeping you in place
  • Work deck helps keep gear organized and accessible
  • Lightweight with a considerable load capacity

Reasons to avoid:

  • Simpler seat than the Kilroy

Shorter Alternative: Old Town Loon 106 Angler

Length: 10′6″ | Width: 31″ | Weight: 55 lbs | Capacity: 325 lbs

Old Town Loon 106 Angler

As the name suggests, the Loon 106 Angler looks and performs like the little brother to the Loon 126. It measures two feet shorter, which limits its load capacity to the Kilroy’s level, and the amount of storage space has also been minimized due to the stubbier keel design. 

While this will make the Loon 106 a little easier to maneuver in cramped areas, it also limits its speed. This makes it better for casual day outings where your fishing spot isn’t far away. However, if you intend on doing more extended paddles, it may be better to go with a longer kayak.

The layout is almost identical to the Loon 126. There’s a watertight stern hatch with room in front of the cockpit where gear can stay reasonably dry. The flush-mounted rod holders, customization options, anchor trolley system, and work deck have all been ported over to make your life easier.

It also features good stability, but like the Loon 126, I can’t recommend trying to stand up in it. The 55-pound weight should allow some anglers to carry it to and from the water solo. But I’m surprised they couldn’t shave more weight off it with the shorter keel.

Reasons to buy:

  • All the same customization options in a more petite frame
  • Easier to maneuver
  • Built-in paddle clip.

Reasons to avoid:

  • Lower top speed
  • Minimal storage space.

Best Budget: Perception Sound 10.5

Length: 10′6″ | Width: 29.5″ | Weight: 46 lbs | Capacity: 335 lbs

Perception Sound 10.5

Perception kayaks have made their bones by churning out reasonably priced and reliable kayaks in various categories. The Sound 10.5 fishing model is no different, offering a lightweight kayak frame and excellent stability despite the narrow beam.

While the Sound 10.5 doesn’t have the same dry storage space as the kayaks discussed above, it does have a big open-air storage spot in the stern that’s secured with bungee cords making it better for overly large items than its competitors. Like the other models, you’ll find semi-dry storage space in front of your feet.

The Sound 10.5 has a small deck in front of the seat, somewhat similar to what the Old Town Loon models have but much smaller. It’s meant more for personal items like your phone, but there’s a little room for fishing gear.

While customizable, the Sound doesn’t have the same versatility. You get a pair of flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat, but there’s no gear track system. Instead, there are a couple points in front of the chair for additional rod holders or a GPS, but if you’re looking to fully trick out your kayak, you may want to look elsewhere.

Reasons to buy:

  • Lightweight and well priced for casual paddlers or beginners
  • Ample storage space in the stern
  • Narrow hull gives it decent speed for its keel length.

Reasons to avoid:

  • Lack of custom options
  • Seat is not as well padded as higher-priced models.

Best Tandem: Old Town Twin Heron Angler

Length: 13′6″ | Width: 31.5″ | Weight: 62 lbs | Capacity: 500 lbs

Old Town Twin Heron Angler

Longer than all the single kayaks we’ve reviewed but with a similar width, the Old Town Twin Heron Angler provides a swift and speedy design that easily outpaces other kayaks. The narrow beam also allows it to be paddled solo by more experienced kayakers.

The drawback to most tandem kayaks of this length is the extra seat really bites into the boat’s storage space. Unfortunately, there are no designated storage areas. There’s room in front of the bow seat, and some bungee cords are stretched across the stern, but it’s hard to imagine how you can take advantage of the 500 lb weight capacity.

However, the front seat can be removed, so solo paddlers should be able to fit any of the gear they want. 

Customization is more limited in the Twin Heron. There’s a pair of flush-mounted rod holders next to each seat, but you won’t find the same gear track or customization options as in other designs. Nevertheless, the Heron is an excellent fast-moving tandem kayak that can work for overnight journeys where you want to do some fishing too.

Reasons to buy:

  • Can be paddled solo or tandem
  • One of the faster fishing kayaks available
  • Well padded seats with adjustable foot braces.

Reasons to avoid:

  • Lack of custom options
  • Not a lot of storage space if being paddled as a double

Sit-Inside Fishing Kayak Comparison Table

Sit-Inside Fishing KayakLengthWidthWeightCapacitySeating
Jackson Kayak Kilroy12’4″31″71 lbs325 lbs1
Old Town Loon 126 Angler12’6″31″60 lbs450 lbs1
Old Town Loon 106 Angler10’6″31″55 lbs325 lbs1
Perception Sound 10.510’6″29.5″46 lbs335 lbs1
Old Town Twin Heron Angler13’6″31.5″62 lbs500 lbs1 or 2

Sit-Inside Fishing Kayak Buying Advice

man fishing from sit-inside kayak

While comprehending the differences between various kayak models is useful, it’s also helpful to understand what characteristics set these sit-in fishing kayaks apart. Our buying advice will help you distinguish the factors that can affect a kayak’s on-water performance, allowing you to choose between not just fishing kayaks but all kayaks in general.

Kayak Type

Sit-in kayaks have several advantages over sit-on-top models. The biggest is that they can be narrower without sacrificing their stability. This allows them to be quicker across the water, making them preferable if your fishing location is some distance away.

The drawback is they can be more cramped depending on the size and height of the paddler. If you prefer more legroom and don’t mind a slower ride, there’s a considerable number of sit-on-top fishing kayaks available too. 

Material

All of the kayaks we’ve reviewed are made of polyethylene plastic. Favored for its rigidity and cost efficiency, most recreational and fishing kayaks are made of this material.

In some cases, you may see companies market their own patented type of polyethylene. While there may be a few additional advantages to some of these fancy plastic molds, they’re all relatively similar, and I wouldn’t let that factor be a tiebreaker in my decision.

In addition to being cheaper to construct, polyethylene kayaks are also very durable and capable of handling impacts, drops, and collisions without long-term damage to the hull or keel. 

Speed

The narrower beams of sit-in kayaks make them noticeably quicker than their sit-on-top counterparts. But kayak speed is also strongly associated with keel length. So the longer the kayak, the faster its top speed.

Add the extra paddler to the Old Town Twin Heron Angler, and you’ll understand why it’s far and away the fastest kayak on this list. Even if you’re paddling solo, I’d expect you’d be able to outpace the other models.

If you’re looking for a fast kayak designed just for solo kayaking, I will give a slight edge to the Old Town Loon 126. While the dimensions are almost identical to the Jackson Kayak Kilroy, the slightly lighter weight of the Loon 126 should allow you to coax a little more speed out of it.

In contrast, the Loon 106 is the slowest kayak on this list due to the shorter keel while still having a wider beam than the Perception Sound 10.5.

Maneuverability

Several different factors can alter a kayak’s maneuverability. And while mastering some basic paddle strokes can go a long way, we can also look at a kayak’s keel length to get an idea of how maneuverable it will be.

Shorter kayaks tend to be more maneuverable since there’s less water resistance when trying to alter your course. Narrower boats also have an advantage. So while the Sound 10.5 may be the slowest, it’s also the easiest to squeeze into hard-to-reach areas or maneuver through tight quarters.

Comfort

All the kayaks we’ve reviewed feature well-padded and adjustable seats that should keep you comfortable on the water. 

My preference, though, is the Jackson Kayak design, especially if you purchase the updated 2024 model. The seat is well-padded, breathable, and can be adjusted up or down and back and forth. This can add an extra layer of comfort and make it easier to cast accurately from a seated position.

Stability & Tracking

Of all the characteristics necessary for a successful day of kayak fishing, perhaps none are as important as stability. Sit-in kayaks can feel a little more wobbly than sit-on-tops due to their narrower keel and can take a little more practice before you feel comfortable. 

Nevertheless, all five kayaks are on this list because they’ve displayed above-average stability. As a result, you should feel confident handling them on rivers, lakes, and protected ocean environments.

I’ll give an edge to the Jackson Kayak Kilroy thanks to the impressive ability to allow you to stand and cast. The boat comes with a stand assist strap to help you safely get up and down, while the padded platform provides something to grip and prevent you from sliding around while you cast and reel in your catch.

Like speed, tracking is correlated to the length of the kayak’s keel. Therefore, longer kayaks, like the Old Town Twin Heron Angler, Loon 126, or the Jackson Kayak Kilroy, will do a better job of staying on course in wind and waves. 

However, since none of these kayaks come equipped with rudders, maintaining a straight line in these conditions can still be difficult compared to longer boats equipped with rudders or skegs

Durability

The rigid plastic hull puts all five of these kayaks near the top in regards to durability. Drops while carrying, on-water collisions with underwater hazards, and even rough landings on rocky beaches shouldn’t do any long-term damage. 

But this doesn’t mean that you should treat your plastic kayak with impunity. Prolonged drags or hard collisions can cause the plastic to warp and scratch over time. This will create extra drag on the water, decreasing your kayak’s speed and overall performance. When possible, carry your kayak to the water. Even if it means investing in a kayak cart to help you get there.

Portability & Storage

While plenty of fishing kayaks tip the scales at 100 pounds or more, all the kayaks on this list have a more lightweight, svelte design that makes carrying your kayak easier. Some lighter models, like the Sound 10.5, may be light enough to move by yourself, though tandem portages are always easier. 

Storage is a bit more limited in the smallest fishing kayaks since there’s not as much room for the mammoth, watertight bow, and stern hatches in bigger expedition models. If you’re looking to maximize storage capacity, go with the Loon 126, which offers a good-sized stern hatch to go along with room near your feet. 

While the Heron has a hefty load capacity, there’s not much dedicated storage space if you’re using it as a tandem. Paddling partners may be able to cram overnight gear into this kayak, but it will be tight. 

The Verdict

While all of these kayaks have their own strengths and weaknesses, their importance will vary significantly depending on your paddling and fishing goals. However, for overall angling, we find it hard to quibble with the Jackson Kayak Kilroy

The load capacity may not be quite as big as some of the Old Town models, but the flexible seat and the stability to stand and cast puts it in a class all of its own. 

Whichever of these five reliable models you choose to go with, we hope to see you floating over your favorite fishing hole soon, waiting for the bite to hit.