Best Fishing Kayaks for Beginners

If you're in the market for your first fishing kayak, this article will turn you on to three of the best fishing kayaks for beginners. But before we get into our recommendations, here are a few tips for buying your first kayak.

Tips for Buying Your First Fishing Kayak

Choose a kayak with enough space for you and your gear. Most kayaks sold specifically as "fishing kayaks" have plenty of space for you and your gear, but each model has slightly different dimensions that either give you room to stretch or make you feel claustrophobic.

Be honest with yourself: if you have a big frame, you probably won't be very comfortable in a 10-foot kayak; and if you're 4'10," a 13-footer might be too much boat to handle.

If you're the kind of angler who likes to bring one rod and a small bag of tackle for a day of fishing, a small fishing kayak may be all you need. But if you want to have two or three rods rigged up and every lure and hook you own at your disposal, plus a cooler strapped to the back, you're going to need a larger kayak.

Choose a kayak you can load onto the roof of your car with ease. One of the most appealing aspects of kayak fishing is that you can pack up quickly and head to the lake whenever you have a few spare hours. Make sure the kayak you choose is easy enough to lift and transport by yourself.

If your kayak is heavy and cumbersome to transport, or you need to rely on someone helping you lift it, there's a chance it won't see much use. And you are buying a kayak so you can use it, right?

Consider the kayak's resale potential. You're shopping for a beginner fishing kayak now, but if you stick with kayak fishing, you won't be a beginner forever. As with most fishing-related things, the impulse to upgrade your gear is something that is very difficult, if not impossible, to suppress.

So, knowing that ahead of time, try to make your first kayak purchase one that holds its value well so you can sell it to another aspiring kayak angler sometime later on. Try to store your kayak properly and develop a good maintenance routine to keep your kayak in great shape so you can sell it for top dollar if you so choose.

The Best Fishing Kayaks for Beginners

1. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Angler

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You can't go wrong with an Old Town Kayak.

The company has been making human-powered watercraft for over 100 years, and everything they build is of outstanding quality and value.

The Vapor 10 Angler continues Old Town's strong tradition, has a very attractive price, and a great set of features, making it one of the best fishing kayaks for beginners.

The first thing you notice about the Vapor 10 Angler is that it's a sit-inside kayak. Now, most fishing kayaks these days are sit-on-top kayaks, but the Vapor 10 is designed specifically with fishing in mind and the sit-inside design offers some advantages that may be just what you're looking for.

First, as a sit-inside kayak, the Vapor 10 Angler is very easy to transport and carry. The cockpit makes it easy to grab the kayak by the sidewall, hold it on your shoulder, and carry it wherever you need to go. Second, the sit-inside design offers a warmer ride, which is beneficial if you live in colder climates and want to do some late-fall fishing before the lakes freeze over.

Although the Vapor 10 Angler is only 10 feet long, which is shorter than most higher-end fishing kayaks, the cockpit is very roomy, offering plenty of room for larger-framed paddlers. And it has a deck height of 16.75 inches, leaving enough room to accommodate large shoes under the deck.

In terms of fishing-specific features, the Vapor 10 Angler comes with two flush-mount rod holders, a recessed gear compartment behind the seat, and an anchor trolley system. The anchor trolley system makes it quick and easy to drop your anchor at the stern of the kayak to post up and fish a spot.

The Vapor 10 Angler is a very stable kayak that tracks reasonably well, but you may want to consider installing a skeg to keep the kayak from drifting and turning while you're fishing. The kayak is great for larger users, but if you are shorter-than-average, you may have difficulty reaching the cup holder in front, and you may need to use an extra seat cushion to help you clear the side walls when paddling.

With those few considerations, the Vapor 10 Angler is a very nice fishing kayak for beginners, and coming from a company with a very strong track record of making excellent canoes and kayaks, you should have no problem selling it if you ever choose to upgrade.

2. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

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The Sun Dolphin Journey is definitely on the lower-end of the fishing kayak spectrum, but that's not to say it wouldn't make a great first fishing kayak.

You'll notice that the Journey is a sit-on-top kayak which is by far the most popular style of kayak used for fishing. Sit-on-top kayaks offer a ton of stability and keep you riding higher off the water which is advantageous for spotting fish and provides better casting clearance.

Like the Old Town Vapor 10, the Sun Dolphin Journey is also a 10-foot kayak but doesn't have as much space in the cockpit as the Vapor 10. Users taller than 6'0" may find the Journey a bit cramped.

The Journey is decked out with two flush-mount rod holders behind the seat and one swivel rod holder positioned between the legs. There's also a dry storage compartment located behind the seat, providing space for storing any extra gear you want to bring along. The storage compartment has a flat top that gives you additional usable space where you can lash down a small cooler or fish bag.

If you want to get into the sport of kayak fishing for as little money as possible, the Sun Dolphin Journey is a great entry-level fishing kayak that will get you on the water and give you a big taste of kayak fishing freedom.

3. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

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Our final pick for the best fishing kayaks for beginners is the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13.

While this kayak is still considered entry-level, it is a fully capable fishing kayak that can easily keep up with high-end kayaks double or triple the price.

The Prowler is the longest kayak on our list, measuring 13'4" from bow to stern.

The longer length gives the Prowler tremendous stability, especially in rougher water conditions, and the sleek hull design cuts through the water resulting in higher top speeds and the ability to cover water with more ease.

While the Old Town Vapor 10 and the Sun Dolphin Journey are best suited for paddling on freshwater lakes and calm saltwater use, the Ocean Kayak Prowler can easily handle any inshore saltwater fishing you throw at it and is even capable of heading out to nearshore waters in search of bigger fish.

Behind the seat, there are two flush mounted rod holders and a large cargo area where you can keep a cooler or your kayak fishing milk crate. In front of the seat, there's a cup holder and a flat surface where you can install a rod holder or fishfinder holder. In the bow, you'll find a hatch for dry storage.

If you plan on logging some serious hours on the water and want a kayak that you can take on just about any type of water, it only makes sense to invest a bit more up front and go with the Ocean Kayak Prowler.


The three best fishing kayaks for beginners that we've introduced you to today offer a great way to kickstart your journey into kayak fishing. Once you get your kayak, deck it out with some kayak fishing accessories, get a nice, lightweight paddle, then head to the lake and let the lures fly!

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