In the world of both fresh and saltwater angling, kayaks have taken off as the vessel of choice to chase fish from. More portable and less expensive than other traditional fishing boat alternatives, it makes sense that more and more anglers are choosing to add a fishing kayak to their arsenal of gear.
There’s been some killer advances in recent years that have turned the average kayak into a fully equipped fishing boat with everything you need to get on the water in comfort and style — and with all your required gear.
Between all the options available, kayaks are no longer the poor mans alternative to row boats and motor boats when it comes to angling. With so many different yaks on the market these days, there’s something out there specific for your fishing needs.
We’ve put together a top ten list of the best fishing kayaks currently on the market so you can find what vessel is best for your favorite stream, lake or stretch of coastline and get on the water.
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1. Feel Free Lure 11.5 Fishing KayakPros:
- Excellent stability while stand-up fishing
- Patented “wheel-on-the-keel” allows you to transport this kayak on your own with ease
- Tons of deck space for gear in addition to the dry well, center console and recessed keel
- Included gravity seat is the Cadillac of kayak seating, allowing you to fish for hours without feeling jammed up and in need of a stretch
- The accessories offered by Feel Free for mounting on the rail system are pricey, so be prepared to spend some more dough if you want to customize this kayak with attachments by the same manufacturer
- Coming in at a significant 76 pounds, this kayak is barely light enough to be put on a car top by yourself
- Built in rod holders are not very deep
The Feel Free Lure 11.5 Fishing Kayak is one badass boat. This sit-on-top kayak is to me, the standard in stand-up fishing kayaks. Its tough polyethylene hull is designed particularly for stability while fishing. Although not the speediest boat when paddling longer distances, this boat tracks very well and can’t be beat when it comes to keeping an even deck. I purchased a Lure 11.5 last spring and can personally attest to this boats incredible stability.
I stand and cast a fly rod with complete confidence that I wont take a spill. It’s a fantastic boat for sight fishing due to how high it puts you above the water — perfect for finding those bass beds during the spawn! If you’re looking for a boat to fly fish from then look no further, this kayak provides excellent casting space from both the sitting and standing position.
Feel Free’s patented gravity seat is a major game changer when it comes to comfortability and practicality while fishing. You can paddle with the seat lowered flush with the deck for maximum stability and paddling strength, or lift the seat to its highest setting in order to stretch your legs and get a great vantage point over the water.
A uni-track rail system on the front of the boat makes this kayak totally customizable — great for the serious kayak fishermen looking to put all the bells and whistles on their boat. Rod holders, a center console, a dry well and recessed storage space on the stern make this boat the full package.
Perhaps the coolest feature of this kayak is the wheel-on-the-keel; allowing you to simply lift the bow and roll your yak right to the water. Feel Free also offers this model in 10 foot and 13 foot lengths, so if you’re looking for just a little less or a little more boat, they’ve got you covered.
A top of the line kayak that can be customized to your needs, the Lure 11.5 is what so many of the other kayaks out there are trying to emulate. Check out the video below for a full run down of all the included features.
2. BKC UH-TK181 12.5 Foot Sit On Top Tandem Fishing KayakPros:
- Free home delivery with a scheduled delivery window!
- Comes with two paddles and seats included
- Fairly lightweight at just 68 pounds- especially if your loading/unloading with a friend
- Includes seven rod holders across the boat
- Aluminum paddles are adequate, but not the highest quality
- Customer complaints that orientation of the flush mount rod holders interferes with paddling
- Weight capacity is only 450 pounds, not leaving much room for gear if both passengers are on the heavy side
This tandem yak by Brooklyn Kayak Company is a seriously sweet ride for any die hard duo looking to get into some fish! This boat comes ready with everything you need to gear up with a friend and get fishing! The UH-TK181 comes with two lightweight aluminum paddles and two padded kayak seats included, so you and your buddy are ready to get on the water as soon as this boat comes off the shelf!
The seats are removable, so if you choose to ride solo then you might consider removing the front seat for added deck space and casting berth. I love to bring my dog along fishing in my rowboat, but I think removing the seat in a kayak like this would provide plenty of deck space for a pooch.
There’s paddle rests on both sides of the boat for each passenger, as well as four flush mount AND three adjustable rod holders. Yes that’s right, seven rod holders total.
There’s a dry well in front of each seat, as well as a rear cargo storage area with a bungee tie down system. Each seat also has a pocket in back — so there’s no shortage of space for stowing gear. The hull is a bit more narrow and sleek than a lot of the other kayaks listed in this review, so if you’re looking for speed then consider checking this boat out.
Customer reviews claim the UH-TK181 tracks well and maintains good stability on the water despite its sleeker build. At just 68 pounds, two people could really get this thing moving — a great boat for paddling into those more remote fishing spots without killing yourself. I think this boat is an excellent option for someone looking to buy a quality tandem kayak that is already adequately equipped to fish.
3. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-Top Fishing KayakPros:
- Very affordable option considering all the included features
- Open deck is easily customizable
- Portable accessible carrier (P.A.C) can be used for a variety of purposes
- Very light vessel, easily loaded and unloaded into/onto your vehicle
- Polyethylene hull is thin and susceptible to wear if abused
- Customer reviews claim the buoyancy is focused in the stern, so there are issues tracking
- Small weight limit and little leg room — not the kayak for larger built fishermen
The Sun Dolphin Journey is a great economic option for the strapped for cash or beginner fishermen who wants to get off the shoreline and onto the water. With plenty of included features, this kayak is truly a great value for the price. Perfect for getting out on the lake or stream, this boat is compact and great for sneaking into your favorite honey hole. At around 40 pounds, the Journey is easily lifted onto a car top or into a truck bed.
The open cockpit comes equipped with a cup holder, a mounted adjustable rod holder, two side pouches and a bungee system on the bow for stowing gear. There are also thigh pads located on the rails of the cockpit as well as adjustable foot pegs for added comfortability. Two additional flush mount rod holders are located behind the seat so you can bring a variety of rods out on your excursions.
The Journey comes with a waterproof portable accessible carrier (P.A.C.) which can be removed from the stern and towed — a pretty neat feature for such a budget kayak. The weight capacity is only 250 pounds, so this boat is best for smaller built fishermen and perfect for kids. Customer reviews complain that the scupper holes let more water in than out, so I would suggest plugging them if you want to ensure a dry deck.
The standard seat is adequate for long days on the water, but also easily removable and upgraded if you choose to install something a bit more luxurious. All in all, this kayak is by no means a top of the line product, but for the price this is an excellent boat.
For the do-it-yourself type, with a little elbow grease this economy fishing vessel could serve as an awesome template for some improvements through customization. Check out this video for an idea of what’s possible with the Sun Dolphin Journey.
4. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Fishing KayakPros:
- Sleek hull built for speed without sacrificing stability
- Equipped with rod holders and paddle stays, keeping your hands free
- Front hatch opens up to an under deck compartment spanning the length of the boat for stowing all your extra gear dryly
- The deck generally reflects heat on hot days
- Seat can become uncomfortable after a few hours (Ocean Kayak does offer an upgrade)
- Placement of the rod holders is a little awkward, requiring a big reach from the cockpit
- Although quite stable, this is not a stand up kayak
- Complaints that the smaller dry well located on the deck is leaky
The Prowler 13 by Ocean Kayak is another great option if interested in a sit-on-top fishing kayak. The performance hull of this boat is designed for speed, but also provides plenty of stability if paddling in the ocean. The rear storage space located in the stern is oversized to accommodate for whatever gear you want to bring out on the water — coolers, tackle boxes or even scuba tanks can be secured with the bungee system.
There’s plenty of dry storage space as well, a small hatch in the cockpit and larger storage well in the bow. The large hatch in the front of the boat opens to a compartment within the hull that stretches from bow to stern — so there’s a ton of under deck storage. Ocean Kayak even recommends stowing extra fishing poles below deck because the length of the compartment, which is a cool innovation in kayak storage potential if you ask me.
The Prowler 13 also comes equipped with two rod holders located behind the seat, so don’t worry you can comfortably keep your rods above deck as well.
There’s also two paddle holders on either side of the boat as well as two cup holders. The Prowler 13 is meant to keep your hands free and deck clear while you pursue the big one. This kayak is also transducer compatible, so be prepared to rig up your favorite electronics to the cockpit.
The small center console with bungee clip could be the perfect place to mount a fish finder. This boat can also be paired with a rudder kit for those who want optimum tracking while fishing in rougher waters or on the high seas.
Although some customer reviews claim you can stand in this kayak, it is not a stand-up kayak and you may find yourself in the water if you get ambitious and attempt to fish from your feet. None the less, the fact that some anglers are well balanced enough to fish standing in the Prowler speaks volumes about this boats stability.
Ocean Kayak builds their boats to last, so between the skid plate and tough polyethylene hull this kayak should hold up for years with the proper maintenance. All in all, this is a reliable, capable and affordable kayak with plenty of fishermen friendly features on board.
5. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90Pros:
- Only nine feet and 46 pounds!
- Very reasonably priced
- Great deck width for solid stability
- Includes four rod holders in the back and front of the boat
- Some reviews complaining that the seat becomes uncomfortable after a few hours of use (replaceable)
- Shorter length rules this kayak out as a stand-up vessel
- No track system on the rails — so any customization will require some ingenuity
The Skipjack 90 by Vibe Kayaks is perhaps the best boat for the value included in this review. At just $578 and with free shipping, you’ll be blown away by what this kayak has to offer. Constructed with roto-molded high density polyethylene, this is another tough hulled boat that should stand up to some good wear and tear.
At nine feet, the Skipjack is an awesome length for popping in the back of a station wagon or truck bed with ease. Although it’s a bit shorter than a lot of other fishing kayaks on the market, the 32 inch width of this kayak makes it a top competitor when it comes to stability.
There are four flush mount rod holders included, two on the front rails and two behind the seat, so no need to go purchasing modifications or mounts. A cup holder, and open cockpit add to the Skipjack’s efficiency as a fishing vessel. Vibe Kayaks really knows how to make a nine foot fishing kayak feel like an 11+ foot boat — the width of the deck being a major factor here.
A recessed storage space with bungee tie downs in the stern provides plenty of room for stowing gear as well as two sealed hatches in the bow and cockpit. Paddle mounts on either side of the cockpit ensure your hands will stay fishing.
At just 46 pounds, perhaps the best trait of this kayak is its light weight. For a fishing yak with the whole nine yards, it’s quite portable and easy to handle on your own. Four handles on the bow, stern and rails make for easy transport with the help of a friend or solo.
The Skipjack is praised as an excellent boat for beginners and advanced kayakers, so no matter your skill set, you’re gonnna want to check this boat out!
6. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 KayakPros:
- Slidetrax rail system is perfect for adding your favorite accessories
- Lightweight (42 pounds) and easy to transport with the included handles
- Included seat is praised by anglers as one of the more comfortable seats on the market
- Nifty side pockets within the cockpit for stowing smaller items
- Does not come equipped with any rod holders
- The recessed seat within the cockpit may impair casting a fly rod although protects from splash and wind
- Organization potential is not as handy as a lot of the competition
The Tarpon 100 Kayak by Wilderness Systems is another killer option for the serious angler looking to buy one of the better fishing kayaks on the market. This kayak is the whole package while still maintaining a simple, no frills identity.
I like that the seat is partially set down into the cockpit — making for a bit more of a sheltered ride than the standard sit-on-top kayak. This characteristic will no doubt reduce the effect of wind blowing you like a sail as it so often does in kayaks with exposed cockpits.
A large stern tank well with included bungee system ensures you’ll have space for a cooler or other cumbersome gear without jamming up your deck space. Two Orbix hatches are located on the bow and between the legs of the paddler for stowing smaller gear safely and dryly. A few extra bungees on the bow and in the cockpit add to this boat’s storage capacity.
Wilderness System’s slidetrax rail system adds huge potential to what this yak can do. A good track system on the rails of a kayak is to me, pivotal. Mounting some electronics, rod holders or camera mounts is a breeze with the tracks provided on this boat. The center plate in the cockpit located above the included cup holder would in my opinion be ideal for mounting a fish finder or GPS.
Customer reviews rave about the comfortability of the Phase 3 Airpro sit-on-top seat. The seat is very well padded as well as ventilated for keeping that breeze around on those hotter days. Surprisingly, the Tarpon 100 weighs in at just 42 pounds, quite light for such an all inclusive boat.
At ten feet, this boat is a great intermediate size — not too large to transport nor too small for handling rougher waters. The manageable weight is really appreciated after those long days of paddling. Unfortunately, there are no rod holders included with the Tarpon 100 off the shelf, so plan on mounting a few on the slidetrax rail system before getting on the water.
Overall, this kayak by Wilderness Systems is a high end boat with a ton of customization potential so you can personalize it to fit your fishing style. Check out this video for a run through of the Tarpon 100’s features!
7. Vibe Kayaks, Skipjack 120T Tandem KayakPros:
- Very reasonable price for how much boat you are getting
- Four pre set mounting points for adding further accessories
- Fishes great solo or with two passengers
- Stable enough to accommodate a small trolling motor
- Complaints that this kayak doesn’t track well
- Quite a heavy boat if transporting on your own
- Customer reviews of the included seats suggest the buckles are low quality and prone to damage
The Skipjack 120T Tandem provides all the thrills of the Skipjack 90, but allows you to bring a friend along too. This boat, like the Skipjack 90, is very reasonably priced for the value at just $778. If you and a fishing buddy are looking to split the cost of a boat, then you would each spend a mere $389 on the Skipjack 120T. Not bad for a kayak this bad ass. Furthermore, there are three different seating positions, so if you choose to pop one of the seats out then you could effectively have this whole boat to yourself.
The 120T has all the features included with the Skipjack 90; four rod holders, paddle holders, two covered hatches for storage as well as four carrying handles. With a 500 pound weight capacity, there’s plenty of room aboard for two passengers and a solid amount of gear.
The 120T Tandem also comes equipped with four mounting points on the rails (two on each side) so you can get creative and add a few accessories of your own. Customer reviews insist the vessel is stable enough to stand and fish in, although I wouldn’t recommend both passengers stand at the same time. At 74 pounds you might consider pairing this boat with a kayak dolly if you plan on using it solo.
The weight although challenging to handle on your own is appreciated when on the water alone or with a buddy. Despite its longer length, the boat maneuvers easily and is capable of some good speed. Some anglers have even mounted a small trolling motor to the stern of the 120T, proving its versatility as a very customizable kayak.
8. Lifetime Tamarack Sit-On-Top KayakPros:
- Great price - only pay for what you need in a fishing kayak
- Comes with an adjustable rod holder located in the prime location for hands free bait fishing
- Tough hull capable of taking a beating coupled with a five year limited warranty
- Great intermediate size that is easy to handle on your own yet quite seaworthy
- Seat bottom is not padded, so if you’re looking for comfort you’ll have to modify something
- No track system on the rails, so if you DO want to customize this kayak you’ll have to drill some holes>
- Not a good kayak for standing
The Tamarack Sit-On-Top Kayak by Lifetime is a simple boat for the simple fishermen. If you’re interested in a no frills fishing kayak that does the job without all the bells and whistles of competitors, then this is the boat for you. Although the Tamarack is a simple vessel, it still has all the most important features a fishing kayak needs to be effective and enjoyable on the water.
Two six inch storage compartments on the front and rear of the deck allow for stowing gear out of sight and out of the way. Shock cord straps on the bow and stern add to the Tamarack’s storage capacity. The material used for this boat is a UV-protected high-density polyethylene, so the hull is super tough and prepared for some wear and tear.
Two flush mount rod holders located behind the seats allow you to bring a few rods out, and a third adjustable rod holder on the starboard side of the cockpit is perfect for actively fishing bait. Multiple footrest positions ensure the cockpit can comfortability accommodate any size angler. Deep hull tracking channels run the length of the flat bottomed hull, so this boat is pretty darn stable while paddling or fishing in rougher waters.
At ten feet long, the Tamarack is a great intermediate length that provides plenty of deck space without becoming too cumbersome to transport or maneuver. Weighing in at 52 pounds, this boat should be quite manageable to load/unload on your own. Lifetime offers a five year limited warranty on this kayak, but we doubt you’ll need it due to its rugged design.
Solid construction, stable design and all the necessary features you need in a fishing kayak without having to pay for anything extra — this yak is an awesome choice for the economy angler who can catch fish out of anything.
9. Feel Free Moken 10 Standard Fishing KayakPros:
- Wheel-on-the-keel makes for easy transport to the waters edge
- Unitrack rail system makes this boat customizable in all the right places
- Kingfisher seat is highly rated for comfort and posture while casting
- Wide deck provides plenty of space for casting as well as great stability while paddling
- The Moken 10 although very stable, is not a stand up kayak
- Due to the width of this kayak, you may have issues fitting in the back of your station wagon or sedan
- Fairly expensive
The Moken 10 by Feel Free is another killer kayak I cannot recommend enough. A few of my fishing pals own this boat, and although they envy my Lure 11.5, they absolutely love fishing from the Moken. A bit more compact and one and a half feet shorter than the Lure 11.5, the Moken is a sweet alternative to Feel Free’s top end models.
The patented wheel-on-the-keel allows you to roll this kayak right from your vehicle to the waters edge. To be honest, sometimes I wish I owned the Moken myself when I watch my buddy toss it right in the back of his Subaru outback.
The unitrack rail system on both sides of the boat allow for maximum customization and can fit a wide array of accessories. The Moken comes equipped with the Kingfisher seat providing a very comfortable ride. Two flush mount rod holders behind the seat and the paddle mounts on either rail enable you to keep your deck clutter free.
Like the Lure, the Moken also comes with a water resistant center console that is awesome for stowing your personal items; it’s a simple feature that I can’t say enough about. An eight inch circular rubber hatch located between the legs of the paddler adds to this boats storage capacity. Side pockets and two cup holders on the rails also give you a bit more space for bringing along snacks and beverages.
If you are looking for a fishing kayak you can stand up in, then consider the Moken 12.5 — it’s essentially the same boat but with a bit more deck space equipped with a standing pad. The Moken 10 although not a stand-up kayak, is still an excellent choice for those looking to fly fish from their vessel.
The deck is open and the Kingfisher seat gets you above the water enough for plenty of back cast without slapping the water!
All in all, this boat by Feel Free has everything you need to crush it on the water and impress your friends. The fishing systems by Feel Free are truly state of the art and tough to rival — check out this video for a run through of the Moken line to find the yak best suited for you.
10. Wilderness Systems Ride 135 Max Fishing KayakPros:
- Plenty of deck space for standing
- Slidetrax rail system is perfect for customizing this kayak with your favorite accessories
- Adjustable and removable seat is quite comfortable and well reviewed by anglers
- Self bailing scupper holes keep the deck from pooling so you and your gear stay dry
- The length and width may be excessive for some, making this boat impossible to load on or into some vehicles
- The weight of this kayak (87 pounds) may discourage some from hauling it to the waters edge on their own
- One of the more expensive options on the market
This kayak by Wilderness Systems is a great option for the angler that appreciates space. At 13.5 feet, it’s quite a large kayak designed for both comfort and functionality. The deck is extra wide, adding to this boats stability when standing or when paddling through rough waters.
The seat is removable and also raises to a lifted position for getting up above the water. This is another great boat for full range of motion while casting a fly rod or longer surf casting gear.
Equipped with a cup holder and paddle mount, this kayak is designed to keep your hands free while fishing or relaxing. Orbix bow and midship hatches provide you with plenty of dry storage space to go along with the bungee storage well located on the stern. The “slidetrax” system on either side of the bow allows for further modification and additions to the boat- great for adding some more rod holders or equipping some electronics.
This boat is a great option for those interested in doing some ocean fishing due to its longer length and width. It’s a sea-worthy kayak that’s up for the challenge of taking some swells while you crank in the big one. Self bailing scupper holes ensure that acquired water moves out of the boat — keeping the deck space as dry as possible.
With a 550 pound weight capacity, you won’t have to leave any gear behind. Although its size makes the 135 Max a challenge to load up, comfort carry handles assist in moving the boat to and from your vehicle. If you have the means to transport this bad boy, then definitely consider the comfortability and customization potential of the 135 Max.
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