5 Best Fishing Kayaks of 2017 [Reviews and Buying Guide]

Looking for a new kayak to go fishing in? Here, we'll attempt to answer all of your questions and provide you with detailed reviews of 5 of the best fishing kayaks on the market today.

If you're new to kayak fishing or just looking to upgrade, to a newer model kayak, you probably have a few questions that need to be answered; along with a few recommendations that can help point you in the right direction.

Don't worry because we've got you covered! Our detailed buying guide and kayak reviews will help you pick the best fishing kayak for your fishing needs.

Best Fishing Kayaks Quick Comparison:  

Brand

Length

Width

Price

Rating

12 ft

31 in

$$

Ascend FS12T

12 ft

31 in

$$

13.5 ft

36 in

$$$

12.9 ft

34 in

$$$

13.2

34 in

$$$

**Below, you'll find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see the most current prices or read more customer reviews on Amazon. 

How to Choose The Best Fishing Kayak 

In the last 10 years kayak fishing has seen a boom with eager anglers in search of a cheaper, more stealthier way of getting closer to their prey.

The problem is that most newbies have no idea what kind of kayak to buy. Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention a variety of price points.

In case you're wondering, some of the most expensive kayaks can cost you upwards of $3,000.

Here are some questions one might ask when looking to purchase their first kayak:

  • Which type of kayak is better for fishing?
  • How long and wide of a kayak do I need?
  • How much money should I spend on my first kayak?
  • What kayak brands are the best for fishing?

While I know the appeal of sneaking up on a school of tailing redfish may have you wanting to immediately head to your local sporting goods store and buy the first kayak that you see; I highly suggest that you read this article first.

How Much Should You Pay

There is a kayak for pretty much any budget. How much you spend depends on the size, the number of fishing accessories added and whether or not you want a traditional paddle kayak, pedal propelled kayak, or motor driven kayak.

Keep in mind though that pedal and motor driven kayaks typically cost much more than a traditional paddle kayak.

Everyone's requirements are different, so don't write off that $400 dollar kayak. It may be just enough for your fishing needs.

However, if you are a serious fisherman, I highly recommend that you purchase a good quality kayak that comes with plenty of extras such as rod holders, a paddle holder, a comfortable seat, and plenty of storage.

A great starter kayak that meets these requirements and is also under $600 is the Ascend fs12t. This was actually my first kayak and for the price, you can't beat it.

Sit-on-top, Sit-inside, or Hybrid Kayak

Sit-On-Top Kayaks

sit on top fishing kayak

Sit-on-top kayaks are the go to kayak for many anglers, especially in places that have warm climates and water such as Florida and the Caribbean.

This is in part because with sit-on-top kayaks you tend to get a little wet due to the open platform.

Believe me, this can be a real welcome when you're out fishing in the middle of the day in Florida and dealing with 90 degree plus heat.

I personally think that for fishing, you can't beat a sit-on-top kayak. Due to having scupper holes, you never have to worry about taking on water, because it just drains right out.

This is especially helpful on those days when the water is a little more rough than you would like it to be.

Also, if you do happen to flip it over, or decide you want to get out and fish on the flats, they are much easier to get back into than a sit-inside or hybrid kayak. Hopefully though, you'll never have to worry about tipping it over.

These kayaks are also much more stable than their sit-inside counterparts, making it easier to stand up and sight fish if you want to.

Sit-Inside Kayaks

sit inside kayak

Sit-inside kayaks are great options if you want to stay as dry as possible, which I'm sure you do, if you're fishing in colder conditions.

Unlike a sit-on-top kayak, with a sit-in kayak you actually sit inside a cockpit surrounded by the boat. This allows you to stay drier.

However, if you happen to flip while out on the water, it is extremely hard to get back inside.

As far as maneuverability, there really isn't much difference between the two.

Hybrid Fishing Kayak

hybrid fishing kayak

Another option you may want to consider is a hybrid kayak such as the Ascend H12. It's a combination of a sit-on-top and sit-inside kayak.

With a hybrid kayak, you get the dryness of a sit-inside kayak, along with the stability of a sit-on-top kayak. This means that you will be able to stand and sight fish.

However, like the sit-inside kayak, the hybrid kayak doesn't have scupper holes.

Pedal vs Paddle Kayaks

Pedal Kayaks

One of the biggest differences between the two is the price. You can expect to pay anywhere between 1-3 thousand dollars more for a pedal kayak such as the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14.

Another difference in these kayaks is their ability to enter super skinny water. Pedal kayaks like the Hobie use a flipper system to propel the kayak. This system protrudes from the kayak's bottom, limiting you to only being able to fish in several feet of water.

Obviously you can take the flipper system out and either use a paddle or push pole to fish in shallower water, but this can be a real pain in the butt.

On the flip side, a pedal kayak does have its advantages! For instance, since you are using your feet to propel the kayak, this leaves your hands free to fish more. As we all know the more you cast in an area, the better your chances are to catch fish.

Also, with a pedal kayak, you have the ability to cover more water in less time. This can be super beneficial when your preferred fishing grounds are several miles away.

Paddle Kayak

In my opinion, a traditional paddle kayak is the best bang for your buck. With a good quality fishing kayak such as the Old Predator 13, you really have no limits when it comes to where and when you fish.

Paddle kayaks are also significantly less expensive than pedal kayaks, which is a major plus when it comes to beginners looking to just get into the sport. You can actually get a good fishing kayak for less than $600.

These kayaks are also much lighter than pedal kayaks, which makes them ideal for transporting on the top of a car, or in the bed of a truck. The average weight is about 70 pounds compared to 120 pounds and up for a pedal kayak.

Does Size Matter?

The size of your kayak should be based on 3 things:

  1. What type of fishing are you planning on doing?
  2. Is speed or stability more important?
  3. How are you going to transport it?

If you are planning on traveling long distances on the water, a longer narrower kayak will definitely get you there faster. However, you will have a hard time standing up and sight fishing from it.

If stability is your main concern, whether you want to stand and sight fish, or just want to have a little more room to move around in, I highly recommend that you get something that's at least 12 feet in length and 30 inches wide.

Just remember that the wider the kayak is, the slower it will track (move) in the water. This can make a ½ mile trip seem twice as long.

Something else to think about is how you are planning on transporting your kayak. If you plan on lifting it up on a roof rack, you may want to choose a kayak that is a little on the lighter side.

I'm in reasonably good shape and lifting my 80 pound kayak is pushing my limits.

Also, think about how long you plan on spending on the water. If you only plan on fishing for an hour or two, you probably don't need a battleship like the Predator 13.

It might make more sense to choose a lighter kayak such as Malibu Kayak's Stealth 12 fishing kayak. At only 60 pounds, it makes loading and unloading extremely easy!

Pick a Comfortable Seat

If you're going to be on the water for extended periods of time, you need to be comfortable. I highly recommend that if possible opt for a kayak that has a really comfortable seating system.

A few kayaks with really comfortable seats include The Old Town Predator, FeelFree, Ascend, and Ocean Kayak's Prowler Big Game 2. They all have a steel frame seat that adjusts to different heights.

This type of seat is much more comfortable than the foam seats that other kayaks come with. This extra comfort will enable you to stay out on the water much longer without back pain.

What's The Best Color

Just so you know, the fish don't care what color your kayak is but there are a few things you may want to consider before deciding on a color.

If you plan on taking lots of pictures or video of your fishing trips, I highly recommend a kayak with a brighter color. Blues, reds, yellows, and oranges look much better in photos and video.

Also, a lot of people think that if you have a camo colored kayak, people won't intrude on your secret spot because they will have a hard time seeing you fishing there.

I totally disagree with this thinking. I feel that if you are fishing in a brightly colored kayak they will be much more likely to see you from a distance and stay away.

However, if they can't see you and get close enough to see that you're catching fish, it's much more likely that they will hang around.

Now with all that being said, the color of the kayak shouldn't be a deal breaker when making your decision, but when possible, I would choose a brightly colored kayak.

Our Picks For The 5 Best Fishing Kayaks in 2016

Ascend FS12T

If you're looking for a fishing kayak that has many of the same features as some of the more expensive models, but at a fraction of the cost, then you have to check out the Ascend FS12T.

ascend fs12t

Overall Rating:

Other than the very reasonable price of $599, the first thing that caught my eye with this kayak was the seat. Unlike other kayaks in this price range, the Ascend FS12T had a seat that you would expect with some of the more expensive fishing kayaks.

Although it doesn't adjust in height or flip back to allow for more deck space for standing up fishing like other kayaks, it still allows for a comfortable experience on the water for hours.

It also has a wide open casting deck, and plenty of storage.

The kayak weighs 77 pounds, which makes it possible for you to pick it up and place on your car's roof rack.

The FS12T is 12 ft long and 31 inch wide, giving you the option of standing up and sight fishing from it.

Overall, this is a solid fishing kayak and a great option for newbies!

Fishing Accessories:

  • 1 large storage and 1 small dry storage compartment
  • Paddle holder
  • Scupper holes with scupper plugs included
  • 1 adjustable and 2 flush-mount rod holders
  • Front and rear carrying handles
  • Quality steal frame seating system
  • Adjustable foot pegs

What other people are saying about this kayak:

Pros

  • Super stable with plenty of room for standing up
  • Moves well in the water
  • One of the most comfortable seating systems on the market
  • Superior fishing kayak for the price

Cons

  • Not much dry storage
  • It doesn't come with side carrying handles

Lifetime Tamarack Kayak

While not the most advanced fishing kayak on the market, or the most comfortable, it does come with plenty of fishing features that will help make your time on the water that much more enjoyable.

lifetime tamarack fishing kayak

Overall Rating:

If you can't see yourself spending $500 or more on your first kayak, the Lifetime Tamarack's 12 ft fishing kayak is another great low cost option.

The Tamarack is perfect for those who are looking for a lightweight kayak. Weighing in at only 52lbs, makes loading the kayak on top of a car, or SUV a cinch. Even better is that you are not sacrificing size for weight.

Even though it's light, it measures 12ft long and 31 inches wide. The size, along with it's flat bottom makes it super stable in the water.

However, it's carrying capacity is significantly less than the other kayaks on this list. It can only hold a max weight of 275lbs. If you are a big person, I would not recommend this kayak.

Although they don't hold much, this kayak comes with 2 storage hatches in the rear and front. It also comes with 2 flush mount rod holders in the rear, along with 1 adjustable rod holder in the front.

While the seat is not one of my favorites, it is much better than some of the other foam seating systems on the market. You should be quite comfortable for several hours on the water.

In short, this is a great kayak for beginners, or those who need a lightweight fishing kayak for those quick morning fishing trips before work.

Fishing Accessories Included:

  • 2 storage hatches in center and rear
  • 1 adjustable and 2 flush mount rod holders
  • Padded foam seat
  • Stern, bow, and side carrying handles
  • Scupper holes
  • Paddle cradle

What other people are saying about this kayak:

Pros

  • Great Price
  • Has lots of leg room
  • Extremely light and easy to load on car
  • Works great in rivers, lakes, and saltwater

Cons

  • Has a max weight capacity of only 275 pounds
  • Not much storage

FeelFree Lure 13.5

The FeelFree Lure 13.5 may not be the lightest or fastest kayak in the water, but what it lacks in speed it more than makes up in stability and fishing ability. It's the perfect kayak for spending hours on the water.

feelfree lure 13.5

Overall Rating:

The lure is indeed a large, heavy kayak! It measures over 13 feet in length and weighs a hefty 95 pounds. This is not the best kayak to be lifting on a car roof rack, unless you have some sort of load assist mechanism.

However, just like it's cousins, the Lure 10 and 11.5, it is 36 inches wide which make it super stable. It also has a max weight capacity of 500 lbs.

The Lure comes with FeelFree's revolutionary “Gravity” seating system, which adjusts to different heights.

Most people who have bought this kayak rave about how stable it is. Some have actually compared it to fishing from a small Jon Boat.

The Lure comes standard with much of the same fishing accessories that you would expect from one of the best fishing kayaks on the market.

Fishing Accessories:

  • Built in cutting board
  • Carrying handles in the front, rear, and sides
  • Scupper holes
  • Uni-track accessory tracks for mounting
  • 2 rear flush mounted rod holders
  • Large insulated center console
  • Sonar pod for mounting you electronics
  • 1 large front dry storage hatch

What other people are saying about this kayak:

Pros

  • Love the wheel in the keel(back)
  • Recessed drink holders come in handy
  • Solid SUP style platform makes standing a breeze
  • Great kayak for spending long hours on the water
  • Love the “Gravity” seating system

Cons

  • The seats backrest is a little low
  • Extremely heavy, which makes loading on roof rack difficult

Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game 2

If fishing and camping are your thing, then you will definitely want to consider Ocean Kayak's Prowler Big Game 2 kayak.

It's a super stable kayak with plenty of storage for all your fishing gear.

ocean kayak prowler big game 2

Overall Rating:

Ocean kayak refers to the Prowler Big Game 2 as it's “battleship” and for good reason! This thing is a beast! It can handle offshore fishing beyond the breakers, inshore bays, lakes and rivers.

It's almost 13 feet long and measures 34 inches wide which makes it super stable. This kayak is perfect for stand-up sight fishing. There is even a video on YouTube of a guy doing a handstand on it while in the water.

It has a max weight capacity of 600 pounds, enabling you to pack all your gear and then some. You could easily pack for a mulch-day fishing / camping trip if needed.

While the Big Game 2 doesn't come standard with rod holders, it does come with 6 replaceable mounting plates. This makes customizing the kayak to meet your fishing needs a breeze! Best of all, you don't have to drill holes in your kayak.

Even with it's size, it only weighs 70 pounds which make loading it and hauling it around very manageable.

With all of that being said, what really sets this kayak apart from the rest is the “Advanced Element” seating system! In my opinion, this is without a doubt the most comfortable seat on the market.

It adjusts to 3 different positions – low, high and even flips back to allow for more standing room if needed.

Fishing Accessories:

  • "Advanced Element" Seating system 
  • 6 accessory mounting plates
  • "Click Seal" storage hatch
  • Adjustable foot brace system
  • Oversize tank well in rear with bungee chords
  • "Mod Pod" center hatch
  • Scupper holes, including 1 that's transducer compatible
  • Stand-up assist strap
  • Front, rear, and side carrying handles
  • Battery bag in the front hatch

What others are saying about this kayak:

Pros

  • Super stable
  • Extremely dry ride
  • Ultra comfortable seat
  • Great kayak for spending long hours on the water
  • Tons of storage space

Cons

  • Center "Mod Pod" hatch sits a little high 
  • Seat does not remove

Old Town Predator 13

The Old Town Predator 13 is the kayak that I currently use, and also my number 1 recommendation when it comes to the best fishing kayaks on the market today.

old town predator 13

Overall Rating:

If the Prowler Big Game 2 is a “battleship”, then this thing is an aircraft carrier!

It measures a little over 13 feet in length and is 33 ½ inches wide, making it super stable in all types of water conditions.

It's packed with features that are made for stability such as it's performance-crafted tri-hull, slip resistant Exo-Ridge deck and a stand-up assist strap.

If you're into standing up and sight fishing, this is the kayak for you!

It has a max weight capacity of 425 pounds and weighs 86 pounds, making it a little on the heavy side. With that being said, I have no problem loading it onto my car's roof rack.

The Predator 13 comes with many of the same features as the Big Game 2. For instance, the 13 also comes with the Element seating system, and center Mod Pod hatch for storing and mounting accessories. It also comes with a roomy front storage area that includes the “Quick Seal” hatch.

It also comes with a few things that the Big Game 2 doesn't come with such as it's one way scupper plugs that allow water to drain, but won't allow it to come in. It also comes with 2 side storage compartments for storing things like pliers, fish grips, or whatever tackle you choose.

Fishing Accessories:

  • "Advanced Element" Seating system 
  • 6 accessory mounting plates
  • "Click Seal" storage hatch
  • Adjustable foot brace system
  • Oversize tank well in rear with bungee chords
  • "Mod Pod" center hatch
  • Scupper holes, including 1 that's transducer compatible
  • One-way scupper plugs included
  • Stand-up assist strap
  • Front, rear, and side carrying handles
  • Battery bag in the front hatch

What others are saying about this kayak:

Pros

  • Super stable
  • Extremely dry ride
  • Ultra comfortable seat
  • Great kayak for spending long hours on the water
  • Tons of storage space
  • Comes with one way scupper plugs

Cons

  • Doesn't come with rod holders
  • Seat does not remove

Final Thoughts

​When searching for a kayak, keep in mind that no kayak is going to be perfect!

Most of the time you have to sacrifice something for something. The trick is deciding what the most important things are for you and your fishing needs.

Even the best fishing kayaks will usually need some type of modifications in order to make them right for you.

We would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!​

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