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Best Fishing Kayak Reviews
When it comes to fishing, the best fishing kayak is the one that helps you land as many big fish as possible. Regardless of your angling style, today’s top fishing kayaks offer features that are helpful for all anglers throughout the many types of open-water fishing.
Today’s fishing kayaks are designed specifically to provide anglers with functional tools that make using them both enjoyable and very practical.
Anglers need a boat that can carry all their essential fishing gear, and get them onto the hottest fishing.
Of course, staying comfortable when you are on the water is super important as well. But how can you know which kayak will perform for your fishing needs?
Below we review 5 of the best fishing kayaks that come in at a variety of prices.
We want you to find the right kayak that works for you. Which fishing kayak will get the job done for you will depend on how you intend to use it. Beneficial features like rod holders, a rudder, or Scotty mounts for accessories like fish finders are worth considering. However, paying a little extra for something that you don’t really need doesn’t make much sense.
You can see all the details on our favorite hard-shell fishing kayaks, but you also might make out better checking out our inflatable fishing kayak review. Check out our comparison chart below for quick answers and features that are easy to compare.
Fishing Kayak Features To Consider
Today’s fishing kayaks have features focused on the needs of anglers. Long-gone are the days of having to sit on a stiff plastic seat all day. And beyond fishing friendly features, manufacturers have fine-tuned their boats with super comfortable seating and state of the art designs that add to their overall stability.
- Fishing Features – If you are a serious angler then you’ll want the best fishing kayak you can afford so you get all the features you need. Covered hatches are ideal for storing your fishing gear and keeping equipment dry during a long day on the water. Of course, rod holders are a necessity, but mounting surfaces for fish finders or Scotty Mounts allow for customization that will benefit your specific fishing preferences.
- Transportation – Smaller kayaks can be lighter and a lot easier to load on a vehicle when compared to big kayaks. They’ll take up less storage space as well. Though there are benefits to owning a smaller kayak, there are also some downsides that may limit the versatility of your fishing kayak.
- Stability – This is one of the downsides of smaller fishing kayaks. A longer and wider fishing kayak will generally be more stable than a small boat. If you intend to use your fishing kayak in the ocean, we recommend buying the biggest kayak you can handle, transport, and store.
- Storage Space – If you just don’t have enough space for storing a big kayak, you might be pleasantly surprised that inflatable kayaks can pack away in very small spaces. And transportation really becomes a non-issue since inflatable kayaks can easily fit in a compact car.
- Comfort – A long day on the water is only going to happen if you can remain comfortable. A comfortable seat is going to be a big necessity, but the ability to temporarily stand and stretch your legs and back is a great benefit as well.
Top Fishing Kayak Comparison Chart
Best Fishing Kayak
1. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
At the very top of our list of best fishing kayaks is the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130. This fishing kayak packs a ton of useful fishing features into a versatile and maneuverable 13 foot design.
With two flush-mount rod holders you won’t have any trouble finding a good place to stash an extra rod or two. If you like to troll or drift a line the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 fishing kayak has exactly what you need.
One huge plus of this fishing kayak is that the Hero seat is tremendously comfortable. Forget those hard plastic seats, this seat is adjustable and can even flip up out of the way entirely.
Stability is worth considering with any kayak. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 a width of 33 inches which provides good stability without being so wide as to make distance paddling a exhausting task.
Best of all, this fishing kayak is really fitting for a huge variety of water. Whether you want to fish lakes, rivers and streams, or chase the big boys in the salt, the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 is ready to take it on.
Footrests and a foot-controlled rudder system come pre-installed so you can have extra directional control on those windy days or when you need better tracking. When you don’t, the rudder conveniently flips up and out of the water. And the foot rests are easily adjustable for paddlers of all sizes.
The stern of the boat features a large tank-well providing spacious open storage. While the bow hosts a giant 20-inch covered and hinged hatch for dry storage below deck. Immediately behind the seat is another 8-inch covered hatch that keeps gear close at hand. Both hatches come standard with bag inserts.
Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Specs:
Length: 13 feet
Width: 33 inches
Weight Capacity: 550 pounds
Kayak Weight: 75 pounds
Paddlers: Single Person
Tackle boxes are accommodated by tray holders on each side of the seat, which fit plano 3600 trays perfectly. You’ll also find 6 top-mount gear tracks to make sure you have enough space for mounting nearly any and every accessory imaginable.
The roto-molded body is rugged and features a molded skeg, or tracking fin, which helps with straight tracking rather than zig-zagging through the water. The boat also features scupper holes for drainage purposes if water gets into the boat. Scupper plugs are included to close off whichever holes you want.
Coming in at 75 pounds, this 13 foot fishing kayak is somewhat of a mid-weight. To help with transport, four carry handles on front, rear, and sides help when moving and loading the boat.
Considering the features, comfort, and build quality of this fishing kayak, it was no surprise that it topped our list for best fishing kayak. You can expect to pay a little under$1000 for this fishing kayak and it is absolutely worth the price, and is built to last.
Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Pros
- Very Rugged
- Mid-weight boat
- Self-bailing (pass-through scupper holes)
- Very Stable
Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Cons
- May need kayak trolley for distance walking
Here is a video going over the extensive features on the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak:
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2. Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pedal Drive Fishing Kayak
For anglers looking for a pedal drive kayak that doesn’t fall short on any of the other features we have come to expect, the Pescador Pilot 12 offers an impressive pedal drive kayak in an affordable package.
Of course, a pedal drive kayak created specifically with fishing in mind sweetens the pot, and the the Pescador Pilot 12 from Perception is definitely a sweet fishing kayak. The Pescador Pilot 12 combines all the awesome features of a pedal drive system with those of a top fishing kayak, so lets get started with the specifics.
Digging into the details, you’ll find that this pedal drive fishing kayak adds some weight when compared to our other fishing kayak reviews, which is to be expected. The Pescador Pilot 12 is 85 pounds with a width of 33.75 inches, so you can know this is a fairly stable pedal drive kayak.
Over the past few years this pedal drive design has proved to be exceptional and much more affordable than most pedal drive kayaks on the market. Perception tweaked their initial pedal drive design on the Pilot 12 to up the performance. As a result, this fishing kayak has become one of the most reliable pedal drive boats around.
Top side, the Pilot 12 has ample storage space and a bungee tank well in the bow and stern to secure large items like a marine cooler. SInce the pedal drive system occupies the typical location of a center console, Perception integrated two covered storage spaces on either side of the pedal drive system. Both are easy to access and right within reach.
The seat is really rocking on this fishing kayak. It’s super comfortable on your back and legs, and it provides a lot of support for those long days on the water. When you are ready to engage the pedal drive system, you can easily tilt the seat back for a more ergonomic pedaling position.
For anglers that need fish finders, extra rod holders, or accessories, the Pescador Pilot 12 includes plenty of space for accessory mounting and for aftermarket fishing equipment.
Fishing kayaks need to be rugged if you are taking them in the salt and surf. Perception markets the Pilot 12 as a reliable option for everything from rivers and lakes to the open ocean. Perception made this fishing kayak tough with a strong abrasion resistant hull to stand up to really hard use. For added security and safety, the Pescador Pilot 12 is designed with a leak proof one-piece construction that provides an inherently buoyant design throughout.
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Specs:
Length: 12 feet 6 inches
Overall Width: 33.75 inches
Kayak Weight: 85 lbs
Weight Capacity: 475 pounds
Paddlers: Single Person
No one likes to have their day on the water cut short because they’re uncomfortable. With that in mind, the Pilot 12 fishing kayak really brings a lot to the table combining tremendous seat design, storage, and fishing friendly features and adjustments, so you can find a setting you like.
We really like how the Pescador Pilot 12 zips through the water very nicely. With the seat in the tipped-back position, and the pedal drive engaged, this fishing kayak can move. And the combination of the hand controlled rudder system does an amazing job at keeping the kayak tracking in a straight line even in fairly blustery winds.
If you were wondering about fishing the shallows, the pedal drive flips up into he belly of the boat and keeps the majority of the mechanism entirely out of your way. The substantial width of this fishing kayak also allows it to slip through shallow water that would be completely inaccessible by conventional hard shelled kayaks.
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pros:
- Affordable Pedal Drive Kayak
- Excellent Gear Capacity
- Very Comfortable
- Tracks Nicely
- Hands-Free Fast Kayak
Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Cons:
Here is a video showing how easy it is to use the Perception Pescador Pilot 12:
3. BKC Kayak Riptide Angler
For our top choice of most stable fishing kayak under $800, we look at an 11-foot 6-inch fishing kayak from Brooklyn Kayak Company. This fishing kayak has a lot of features you’ll only find in more expensive kayaks.
You’ll immediately notice that this fishing kayak has a wide beam, or width, which to provides a huge amount of stability. BKC Kayak highlights that the Riptide Angler is standup-stable due to the convergence of exceptional width and hull design. Get on your feet, because long casts are well within reach with this fishing kayak.
In front of the seat are three watertight hinged storage hatches with bag inserts to protect your gear from the elements an keep in withing reach. The rear tank well provides ample space and a bungee tie-down system for securing larger gear. This fishing kayak can really carry a lot of gear with a 450 pound carrying capacity and plenty of storage space.
BKC Riptide Angler Specs:
Length: 11.5 feet
Width: 34 inches
Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
Kayak Weight: 68 pounds
Paddlers: Single Person
Included Items: 86″ aluminum paddle, kayak rudder kit
Behind the seat-back are two flush-mount rod holders for safe storage or even keeping your lines in the water while paddling or drifting. Bungee paddle parks are included along the side to retain your paddle when you need to keep a rod in hand. After all, lets not forget this is a fishing kayak.
If you are in the market for a capable kayak that comes outfitted with a rudder system, then the BKC Riptide Angler is a really good choice. You can flip it up when its not needed, or use the rudder to keep a straight track even in a good cross-wind or chop.
This is the largest of our fishing kayaks and it comes in just slightly under $800. If you are considering a boat that you might take in the ocean or large lakes at some point, then we suggest buying this fishing kayak over smaller models. The larger size will really help with stability in choppy water.
BKC Riptide Angler Pros
- Solid Stability
- Terrific features
- Free shipping
BKC Riptide Angler Cons
- Fairly awkward for one person to load/unload
- May need kayak trolley for walking
4. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
The Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak from Lifetime took our top spot for best budget fishing kayak. If you need a good fishing kayak but just can’t afford anything close to $800, the Tamarack Angler 100 has you covered.
We’re not going to pretend that the Tamarack Angler will provide the same level of performance or comfort as our previous choices. But for a budget fishing kayak the Tamarack Angler has many of the fishing features and comforts that anglers need.
Beside the seat back you will find two flush-mount rod holders to keep your rods ready to pick up and cast at a moments notice. And if you need to put a rod down to paddle or release a fish, the Tamarack Angler comes with an additional top-mount rod hold for quick and easy access.
Padding on the seat bottom and back provides sufficient comfort for long stretches on the water, and is much better than the old-school hard plastic seats. The seat back is fairly firm but does have some flex that brawny anglers might not appreciate.
Scupper plugs are included
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Specs:
Length: 10 feet
Overall Width: 31 inches
Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
Kayak Weight: 52 pounds
Hatches: 6 inches
Paddlers: Single Person
The center console features a molded drink holder as well as one of the two 6-inch storage ports that keep your gear out of the weather. The second of the 6-inch storage ports is located behind the seat in the large storage tank well.
Shock cord is included on the front and rear to secure any extra gear that can be stored above deck. High density polyethylene construction provides for a durable fishing kayak and molded foot rests to accommodate a variety of anglers.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100Pros
- Amazing stability
- Loaded with fishing features
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100Cons
- Fairly heavy
- Higher price
Here is a great video showing a full-blown setup for the Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak: