Smallest Fishing Kayaks in 2023: Compact Size, Big Results

Discover the smallest fishing kayaks in 2023! Our guide covers top-rated compact options, perfect for anglers seeking portability and performance.

Smallest Fishing Kayak

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Why trust us?

In the world of fishing kayaks, bigger doesn’t always equate to better. For those seeking a lightweight, portable, and potentially more affordable option, the market offers a diverse selection of smaller fishing kayaks tailored to your needs. However, finding the perfect compact kayak can be a challenge.

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve carefully evaluated and selected nine of the smallest fishing kayaks, considering various factors such as maneuverability, stability, construction quality, and overall value. We’ll also delve into the unique features and benefits of each kayak, as well as their drawbacks. For more information, check out our comparison table, buying guide, and FAQ section

The Smallest Fishing Kayaks

Here’s a quick rundown of our favorite small fishing kayaks, with in-depth reviews and insights on each product further down the page.


Best sit-on-top small fishing kayak



Length: 9′ | Width: 32″ | Weight: 44 lbs | Capacity: 330 lbs

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What we like

  • Paddle included with purchase
  • Stable enough to stand and cast from
  • Impressive tracking for its size

What we don’t like

  • Footwells can be uncomfortable for some

Don’t be fooled by its compact size; the FK184 from Brooklyn Kayak Company offers a feature-packed experience for anglers looking for a smaller, more portable option. With customizable options, multiple dry storage spaces, and several included extras, this model serves as an excellent introduction to kayak fishing for beginners while also catering to casual and intermediate anglers.

The hull is designed with stability as a top priority. It’s rare to find a kayak of this size that still feels so stable, and the unique layout of the hull allows paddlers of all experience levels to stand and cast confidently. The FK184 is versatile enough to handle lakes, rivers, and mild ocean chop, though it’s not recommended for big rapids or challenging ocean conditions with strong tides.

The load capacity of 330 pounds is suitable for a nine-foot kayak, and multiple storage spaces allow you to make the most of every pound. The stern features a spacious open-air storage area with classic bungee cord rigging. The two watertight bow and stern hatches with 11″ openings are particularly impressive, providing ample room for your gear.

A good fishing kayak should offer customization options, and the FK184 delivers with multiple mounts ready to hold your extra fishing rods, gear, cameras, and tackle. A mount in the middle of the kayak in front of the seat is excellent for trolling, while a built-in paddle holder on the port side makes the FK184 a perfect “grab and go” kayak.

Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler

Best value sit-on-top small fishing kayak

Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler


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

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What we like

  • Central storage compartment
  • Adjustable footpegs
  • Multiple eyelets and rod holders

What we don’t like

  • Relatively low load capacity

Pelican is known for its affordable kayaks that deliver impressive features and performance for their price range. The Sentinel 100X Angler continues this trend, providing a reliable fishing platform that’s lightweight and perfect for accessing hard-to-reach spots or navigating shallow waters that larger fishing kayaks can’t handle.

One of the standout aspects of the Sentinel 100X is its customizable features. A pair of accessory eyelets is ready for various gadgets, while multiple rod holders allow you to bring a wide range of gear depending on the conditions and circumstances. The central console, with its multiple compartments for small items and tackle, adds even more value to this kayak.

Stability is as expected from a fishing kayak, offering a solid platform that paddlers of all experience levels should feel comfortable in. The adjustable footpegs and padded seat provide most paddlers a comfortable experience. Although narrower than the FK184, it’s stable enough for most uses. However, standing and casting from this kayak is not advisable.

While the Sentinel 100X may not have the same dry storage options as the FK184, its durable construction and mesh covering on the bow and stern compartments provide secure areas for your personal gear. However, the load capacity of 275 pounds may be on the low side for some larger paddlers, potentially requiring you to leave some equipment behind to avoid overloading your kayak.

Lifetime Hydros Angler 85

Best budget sit-on-top small fishing kayak

Lifetime Hydros Angler 85


Length: 8’5″ | Width: 29.5″ | Weight: 38 lbs | Capacity: 225 lbs

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What we like

  • Very small and lightweight
  • Three rod holders
  • Design balances efficiency and stability

What we don’t like

  • May be too small for some paddlers
  • Limited load capacity

The Hydros Angler from Lifetime is a stripped-down sit-on-top design that offers an easily transportable kayak for those on a budget. This entry-level kayak is ideal for prospective anglers who don’t want to break the bank, as well as more experienced kayakers seeking a lightweight fishing kayak for easier portage to remote fishing spots.

Due to its budget-friendly price and shorter hull, the Hydros Angler doesn’t provide the same level of customization as some other kayaks, lacking gear tracks or accessory eyelets. However, it does feature three rod holders—two flush-mounted and one adjustable design—that allow you to keep your line in the water while paddling.

The hull is well-designed, featuring a tapered bow that transitions into a pontoon-style stern, offering a decent blend of paddling efficiency and stability. However, it’s not advisable to stand up in the Angler 85 due to its smaller dimensions. Measuring less than 30″ wide and 8.5′ long, it’s a maneuverable kayak, but its performance can suffer in adverse weather conditions, such as strong wind and waves.

As expected in a kayak of this size, storage space is limited. Deck rigging covers tank well storage spaces in both the bow and stern, which are large enough to hold day gear. However, the modest load capacity of 225 pounds means that you must carefully consider how much equipment you bring along.

Old Town Loon 106 Angler

Best sit-inside small fishing kayak

Old Town Loon 106 Angler


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

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What we like

  • Work deck keeps gear organized
  • Comfortable and spacious cockpit
  • Longer keel for better top speed

What we don’t like

  • Minimal deck bungees

The Loon 106 from Old Town is a feature-rich sit-inside kayak designed to enhance your angling experience. Boasting one of the more spacious cockpits in a sit-in kayak of this size, it comfortably accommodates paddlers of various sizes without feeling cramped.

The extra cockpit space is utilized efficiently with Old Town’s innovative work deck. No longer will you have to fumble with fish hooks and gear in your lap, as the work deck keeps everything organized and easily accessible, making it simpler to switch between lures. The included anchor system also lets you maintain your position once you’ve found the perfect fishing spot.

The Loon 106 offers standard flush-mounted rod holders and well-designed storage areas to maximize its 325-pound load capacity. As someone living in cold and wet southeast Alaska, I appreciate any kayak with multiple watertight storage hatches, and the spacious stern hatch and additional room in front of the seat towards the bow provide ample storage.

Old Town is known for its comfortable kayak seats, and the Loon is no exception. The well-padded seat, both on the back and bottom, along with adjustable foot pegs, helps you find the perfect paddling position. In addition, built-in thigh braces within the cockpit allow for better bracing in choppy water and improved paddling efficiency.

Perception Sound 9.5

Best value sit-inside small fishing kayak

Perception Sound 9.5


Length: 9’6″ | Width: 28″ | Weight: 38 lbs | Capacity: 300 lbs

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What we like

  • Slim width is easy to paddle
  • Open and spacious cockpit
  • Multiple customization options

What we don’t like

  • Lack of dedicated dry storage space

The Perception Sound 9.5 is an excellent value sit-inside fishing kayak that manages to pack an array of features into its compact 9’6″ frame. Its narrow 28″ beam offers a pleasing balance of paddling efficiency and maneuverability while ensuring that all your gear is readily accessible when you arrive at the perfect fishing spot.

While Old Town’s seat is still my preferred choice, Perception puts up a good fight by offering a well-padded seat and a surprisingly spacious and open cockpit, given the kayak’s slender frame. In addition, a handy deck space with a single bungee cord provides a convenient platform for your phone or extra fishing tackle.

The Sound 9.5 comes with all the customization options that avid anglers expect. For example, the dashboard features mounting points for a GPS, camera, and other gadgets. Additionally, two flush-mounted rod holders are positioned behind the seat for easy accessibility and minimal interference.

One drawback of the Sound 9.5 is the lack of designated dry storage. While you can store water-sensitive gear in front of the foot braces towards the bow, it’s not a watertight solution. However, the open-air stern hatch is large enough to accommodate most fishing and camping items, and the bungee cord rigging secures everything in place during choppy water conditions.

Lifetime Payette Angler 98

Best budget sit-inside small fishing kayak

Lifetime Payette Angler 98


Length: 9’8″ | Width: 30″ | Weight: 45 lbs | Capacity: 250 lbs

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What we like

  • Impressive performance for its size
  • Three-rod holders
  • Built-in paddle holder

What we don’t like

  • Seat bottom lacks padding
  • Small storage compartment in stern

Lifetime has made a name for itself by offering simple yet reliable kayaks at affordable prices, making them ideal for casual anglers and newcomers. The Angler 98 may not outperform more expensive kayaks, but it provides stability, easy maneuverability, and control. So if you’re seeking an economical way to enjoy a day on a calm lake or gentle river, this kayak is an excellent choice.

While the Angler 98 may lack the customization features found in other kayaks, it does come with three rod holders—two flush-mounted and one adjustable holder in front of the seat. These features allow for hands-free trolling and gear management while searching for the perfect fishing spot.

Weighing 44 pounds and measuring nearly ten feet in length, it’s slightly larger and heavier than other small fishing kayaks. However, its size and weight still make it manageable for many anglers to portage and reach remote fishing spots that heavier, more expensive kayaks cannot access.

Although sit-inside fishing kayaks can feel wobbly compared to sit-on-top models, the Angler 98 features hard chines that minimize rocking, and a sharp keel to improve tracking. Additionally, Lifetime has incorporated deep hull channels along the underside, helping you maintain course in windy or wavy conditions.

Old Town Topwater 106 PDL

Best small pedal fishing kayak

Old Town Topwater 106 PDL


Length: 10’6″ | Width: 36″ | Weight: 105 lbs | Capacity: 450 lbs

What we like

  • External frame seat
  • Traction pads allow easy standing
  • Generous load capacity

What we don’t like

  • Heavy and very expensive

There are times when pedaling is more convenient than paddling, especially when fishing, as it removes the transitions between handling a paddle and a fishing rod. Old Town’s Topwater 106 PDL, a durable and efficient pedal kayak, is the perfect solution to this dilemma.

Featuring a built-in rudder and joystick-style steering, the Topwater 106 PDL offers a gentle learning curve, enabling users of all experience levels to quickly master the pedal system, glide across the water, and navigate tight spaces with ease. In addition, its impressive load capacity and spacious storage make it one of the few kayaks on this list suitable for overnight trips.

The Topwater’s stability enables standing while casting, enhancing accuracy and distance. A pair of rod holders and multiple pockets for tackle and gear are easily accessible from the cockpit. Additionally, the kayak’s transducer system is compatible with most fish finders.

However, there are some drawbacks to the pedal system, primarily its weight. The Topwater 106 PDL weighs over twice as much as other kayaks on this list, making it less suitable for long portages. But this is an inevitable consequence of any pedal kayak.

Pelican Catch PWR 100

Best small motor-compatible fishing kayak

Pelican Catch PWR 100


Length: 9’9″ | Width: 39.5″ | Weight: 75 lbs | Capacity: 450 lbs

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What we like

  • Organized battery compartment
  • Abundant customization options
  • Comfortable seat that adjusts easily

What we don’t like

  • Expensive

For those who prefer not to paddle or pedal, motor-compatible kayaks have gained popularity in recent years, particularly among the fishing community. Now they can even be found on smaller kayaks, allowing you to cruise across the water with little to no effort.

The Pelican Catch PWR 100 features a dedicated eight-inch battery compartment, keeping hardware out of the way and maintaining a sleek, efficient appearance. The standout feature is the external-frame seat mounted on sliding rails, allowing quick and easy position adjustments without dealing with clips and straps.

Despite its higher price, the PWR 100 offers excellent value with its motor system and numerous fishing accessories. Multiple eyelets accommodate GoPros and GPS devices, while four recessed rod holders ensure no gear is left behind.

While the kayak includes some storage hatches, the dedicated storage options are not as extensive as you’d expect from a kayak with a 400 lb capacity. Resourceful packers can manage weekend trips, but organizing gear may not be as intuitive as with other kayaks on this list.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler

Best inflatable small fishing kayak

Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler


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

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What we like

  • Durable inflatable design
  • Comfortable seat with a high back
  • Self-bailing scupper holes

What we don’t like

  • Heavier than some hard-shell kayaks

In recent years, inflatable kayaks have seen significant advancements, and Advanced Elements has been at the forefront with numerous impressive designs for various paddling experiences. The StraitEdge Angler can be added to that list, boasting easy set-up and durable construction.

Incorporating custom features into an inflatable fishing kayak can be challenging, but the StraitEdge offers an accessory track compatible with most gadgets, ensuring accessibility from the cockpit. While the base model doesn’t include built-in rod holders, the accessory track allows for customization with additional purchases.

Although inflatable kayaks can’t match the paddling efficiency of hard-shell kayaks, Advanced Elements has made substantial performance improvements. Aluminum ribs provide extra rigidity, prevent bending in waves, and enhance tracking in windy or wavy conditions.

The open-air cockpit features a comfortable seat with an extra-high back, suitable for taller anglers. Despite its inflatable nature, the seat offers ample support. With a 300 lb capacity, the StraitEdge Angler is more suitable for day trips rather than overnights, but it does provide generous stern storage for day gear.

Small Fishing Kayak Comparison Table

BKC FK1849′32″44 lbs330 lbsPaddleHard-shell
Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler9’6″30″44 lbs275 lbsPaddleHard-shell
Lifetime Hydros Angler 858’5″29.5″38 lbs225 lbsPaddleHard-shell
Old Town Loon 106 Angler10’6″31″55 lbs325 lbsPaddleHard-shell
Perception Sound 9.59’6″28″38 lbs300 lbsPaddleHard-shell
Lifetime Payette Angler 989’8″30″45 lbs250 lbsPaddleHard-shell
Old Town Topwater 106 PDL10’6″36″105 lbs450 lbsPaddle/PedalHard-shell
Pelican Catch PWR 1009’9″39.5″75 lbs450 lbsPaddle/MotorHard-shell
Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler9’8″35″41 lbs300 lbsPaddleInflatable

Small Fishing Kayak Buying Guide

Man fishing in the ocean from small kayak

This buying guide will help you compare the kayaks we’ve reviewed above across various categories to find the best fit for you.

Stability and Maneuverability

Fishing kayaks typically have stable hulls that resist capsizing. Generally, sit-on-top kayaks like the BKC FK184 offer more primary stability due to their wider design, making them feel more raft-like and less prone to tipping for beginners.

However, they can be more vulnerable when rocking in wind or waves. In contrast, sit-in kayaks like the Old Town Loon 106 are designed to rock on waves. Although they may feel tippier in calm water, you can easily adjust to the balance after a few outings.

Shorter kayaks usually provide more maneuverability than longer ones. As this article focuses primarily on small fishing kayaks, all models should outperform longer counterparts in terms of maneuverability.

However, some longer kayaks on this list, such as the Old Town Topwater 106 PDL, include a rudder system. Despite being over ten feet long, its pedal system necessitates a built-in rudder, making it more responsive than some shorter kayaks despite its larger frame.

Hull Design

The construction of a kayak’s hull plays a significant role in its performance and behavior on the water. Fishing kayaks often focus on maximizing stability and providing a reliable platform for paddling and catching fish. As a result, many of these kayaks feature a pontoon-style hull that distributes your weight and minimizes rocking.

While a pontoon hull ensures stability, it can be less efficient, creating extra drag that slows you down and makes paddling through wind or waves more challenging.

Lifetime kayaks innovative hull design is especially noteworthy. They incorporate a sleek keel at the bow that transitions to a pontoon hull near the stern. This design allows these shorter kayaks to glide through the water more efficiently than those with purely pontoon hulls, while still offering the stability beginners desire. Although they won’t break any speed records, this design significantly enhances their performance.

Weight Capacity

When dealing with smaller kayaks, it’s crucial not to overload them. Exceeding the manufacturer’s recommended kayak weight limit will cause it to sit lower in the water than intended, making it less responsive, slower, and compromising its stability, increasing the likelihood of the kayak flipping over.

The Old Town Topwater 106 PDL boasts an impressive load capacity of 450 pounds, allowing you to pack all the gear necessary for a weekend fishing trip. However, if you prefer a non-pedal kayak, finding a similarly sized kayak suitable for overnight adventures can be more challenging.

A good alternative is Brooklyn Kayak Company’s FK184, which has a load capacity of 330 pounds. While this capacity is somewhat limited, it should still accommodate a one or two-night paddling trip without forcing you to leave too much behind.

Remember that a kayak’s weight limit includes your weight as well. So be sure to factor in both your weight and the weight of your gear when determining the appropriate capacity for your needs.

Storage Solutions

In smaller kayaks, storage space can often be limited. The BKC FK184 stands out in this category due to its multiple dry storage hatches and additional small compartments, providing various options for organizing and storing your gear.

The Topwater 106 also offers ample storage space. Although it only features one watertight hatch, the large stern hatch is equipped with sturdy bungee cords across the top, ensuring that your belongings remain secure while paddling.

If you have numerous oversized items and reside in a warm, dry climate, consider opting for a kayak with more open-air storage, such as the Old Town Topwater 106 or Perception Sound 9.5. These models provide greater flexibility in accommodating larger gear without compromising on overall storage capacity.

Seat Comfort and Adjustability

When it comes to seat comfort and adjustability, external frame seats are highly recommended. These seats provide excellent support and can be easily adjusted on the water without risking capsizing. You’ll find this external frame design in the Old Town Topwater 106 and Pelican Catch PWR 100. In addition to offering ample support, these frames help keep you cool during hot summer days.

While not featuring an external frame, the Old Town Loon 106 Angler also boasts a comfortable and adjustable seat. With its excellent padding, you can make adjustments while on the water without much difficulty. In addition, the inclusion of adjustable foot pegs and thigh braces in this model further enhances the comfort of the cockpit, allowing for hours of uninterrupted fishing enjoyment.

Fishing Accessories

A fishing kayak’s true value lies in its ability to accommodate all your essential angling gear. One standout built-in feature is the work deck on the Old Twon Loon 106. Having a dedicated space to lay out multiple lures and other fishing gear, without cluttering your lap, significantly enhances your fishing experience. While the Loon 106 could benefit from additional gear track areas, the work deck more than compensates for this.

The custom layout of the BKC FK184 is another noteworthy aspect. With multiple spots for accessorizing various types of gear, it offers excellent versatility for a range of activities in addition to fishing.

Portability and Transportation

A key advantage of smaller fishing kayaks is their portability and ease of transportation. These compact kayaks are lighter than their larger counterparts, making them simpler to carry, whether kayaking alone or with a partner.

However, pedal and motor-compatible models are exceptions, as their size and weight can make them difficult to move single-handedly. In these cases, investing in a kayak cart can help you safely transport your kayak without causing injury or damage to the boat.

Inflatable fishing kayaks, like the Advanced ElementsAdvanced Elements StraitEdge Angler, take portability to another level. Although slightly heavier for an inflatable at 41 pounds, it can be easily transported in your car’s trunk and stored in a hallway closet when not in use.

For hard-shell kayaks, the Perception Sound 9.5 is a great choice when it comes to portability. Weighing just 38 pounds and measuring less than ten feet, it’s suitable for solo transportation and is ideal if you need to walk a distance before reaching the water. Its compact size also allows it to fit on top of almost any vehicle, further enhancing its portability.

Material and Durability

All the hard-shell kayaks on this list are constructed from rigid polyethylene plastic. This material is popular among kayak manufacturers because it is relatively inexpensive and can be easily molded, making it ideal for mass production. Although some companies have patented versions of this plastic, their performance is generally comparable.

Polyethylene is the most durable material used in kayak production and requires minimal maintenance. It can withstand bumps, drops, and can even be dragged over smooth surfaces for short distances without causing damage.

The inflatable kayak from Advanced Elements is crafted from a more flexible yet heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin material. This material is designed to be puncture-resistant, and the stitched seams help prevent leaks from normal wear and tear.

Inflatable kayaks require more maintenance, and it’s not uncommon for them to develop leaks over time. Fortunately, the StraitEdge Angler includes a repair kit, so you’ll be prepared to address any leaks that may occur.

Frequently Asked Questions

The smallest fishing kayak on the market is the Lifetime Hydros Angler 85, which is 8.5 feet long. This compact kayak is suitable for those with limited storage space or who prefer a more maneuverable option.

Yes, you can successfully fish from a small kayak. Small fishing kayaks often provide excellent maneuverability and are designed with features specifically tailored for anglers, such as rod holders, gear tracks, and storage options. While their size may limit some aspects, such as weight capacity and storage space, small kayaks are suitable for anglers who prioritize portability and ease of transportation.

A longer kayak can offer certain advantages for fishing, such as increased speed, better tracking, and more storage capacity. However, longer kayaks can also be less maneuverable and harder to transport compared to smaller fishing kayaks. Ultimately, the choice between a longer and shorter kayak depends on your specific fishing needs, preferences, and the water conditions you plan to encounter.

The Verdict

So, which of these kayaks is right for you? The answer depends on your paddling goals, the water conditions you’ll navigate, and how much time you plan to spend on the water.

If you’re specifically seeking the best small fishing kayak, the BKC FK184 or Old Town Loon 106 Angler are hard to beat. The Old Town Topwater 106 PDL is also worth considering if you prefer a pedal-driven model, as it boasts a large load capacity and plenty of customizable options. However, if you’re searching for a more budget-friendly option, several reliable kayaks on this list should meet your needs.

No matter which kayak you believe is the best fit, I hope this article has helped narrow down your search, allowing you to spend less time staring at a computer screen and more time watching your line, eagerly awaiting the big catch.