One of the best ways for anglers to fish and have fun is while using fishing kayaks. Not only do fishing kayaks provide a great experience, they are also incredibly convenient for the amount of storage space they provide.
A fishing kayak is an essential component of any enthusiast’s fishing gear. Fishing kayaks differ from regular sports kayaks because they give you options to carry gear, store fishing rods, and offer storage spaces to bring home the fish you caught.
Buying a fishing kayak can be a tough task. There’s obviously the big safety factor to consider, but you’ll be quick to notice that it’s mainly about money. The price can range from $300 all the way to nearly 4 grands for fishing kayaks.
The Best Fishing Kayaks in 2018
We’ve compiled a list of what we believe are the best fishing kayaks available in 2018. The compilation has been done to ensure that we tackle every price point – be it the ultra high quality variants or the affordable yet dependable ones. We also have a dedicated buyer’s guide at the end and will answer some frequently asked questions too.
Before we start though, let’s remind ourselves that one additional essential tool for fishing are the all-important fishing reels. Be sure to check out our comprehensive Best Saltwater Spinning Reels for 2018 article to see some great fishing reels to choose from.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at what we believe are some of the best fishing kayaks in 2018. Let’s get into some fishing kayak reviews!
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler
The Cadillac of Kayaks
Though it comes with an incredibly steep price, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is arguably one of the best kayak ever made for fishing. It is extremely sturdy, has a ton of features, and is a pedal kayak that gives you the right type of hands-free maneuvering you need while fishing. This is the apex of fishing kayak technology right here.
Vibe Skipjack 90
Lightweight and Affordable SOT Kayak
At just 45 pounds and nine feet in length, the Vibe Skipjack is a lightweight, affordable, yet high-performance sit on top kayak that is ideal for those on a budget or just starting out their kayaking exploration. It provides the user with everything needed, covering all the essential basics and additional add-ons that can be ordered later to further improve your experience.
- Dimensions: 12’L X 36” W
- Weight: 105 pounds (128.5 pounds when fully rigged)
- Maximum Capacity: 500 pounds
With the incredible Mirage Drive System and Hobie’s state of the art material choices and design, the Mirage Pro Angler kayak is for us the best fishing kayak you can get your hands on. It provides an almost luxurious fishing and kayaking experience with its huge set of features and incredible performance.
The Mirage Pro Angler possesses incredible speed and maneuverability due to its unique drive system. The pedal based system propels the kayak forward or backwards using fins underneath.
Since it is driven by pedals, this system makes it extremely easy to fish while maneuvering the kayak. For those who prefer more traditional methods of control, paddles are also available.
The material choice for the Hobie Pro Angler are also high grade. You can stand and fish on this kayak with ease and without fear of it tipping due to its rugged and stable design built with high quality Rotomolded Polyethylene.
The seated experience is even better due to an incredible seat that is adjustable at three different points for utmost comfort and ergonomics. The lumbar adjustment in particular ensures you can fish for hours without the risk of suffering from lower back problems.
In all honesty, it’s rather difficult to find multiple ways to praise this Hobie fishing kayak and list all its quintillion features. This is a feature-loaded vehicle that provides the acme kayak fishing experience, which is why we consider it as one of the best fishing kayaks ever made.
- Incredible set of features that makes fishing a complete experience with this kayak
- One of the fastest fishing kayaks available
- Ample storage space
- Fantastic build quality and stability
- Fully compatible with Fish Finders and GPS systems
- Very expensive
- On the heavier side
- Dimensions: 9’ L X 32” W
- Weight: 46 pounds
- Maximum Capacity 300 pounds
Weighing at just 46 pounds, the Vibe Skipjack 90 is an ultra lightweight fishing kayak that comes at a comparatively affordable price without compromising on quality.
It may not be as packed with features as some of the other products on this list, but the Vibe Skipjack 90 isn’t supposed to be. It is designed to provide a streamlined experience for individuals looking to fish in oceans, lakes, and calm rivers.
The Skipjack features a distinguished keel on the stern and bow. This keel aids in better tracking and makes the kayak more stable; the sides protrude outwards to provide a skirt.
At just 9 feet in length, the Skipjack isn’t as incredible at tracking as some of the more expensive and longer competitors. Generally, longer boats provide better tracking than shorter ones. Nevertheless, it is far superior to any other 9’ kayak in speed and tracking
If you’re fishing with someone else, you should expect them to bring their own kayak, as the Skipjack does not have enough space to fit even a dog or cat alongside sailor.
This does make the Skipjack a bit limited in its application, but it certainly doesn’t make it a bad product. In fact, we believe there isn’t a single better fishing kayak available under $600. It’s made from sturdy single layer polyethylene material, which isn’t as strong as some of the higher end models, but it shouldn’t take damage easily either if you take good care of it.
The Vibe Skipjack remains the highest rated and most well regarded fishing kayak for under $600 in the market. We highly recommend it for anyone on a tight budget looking for some alone time.
- Very lightweight and maneuverable both in and out of water
- Comes with all the essentials so you can start your adventures immediately
- Good storage space for a 9’ kayak
- Great value for money
- Not as fast as some of the larger kayaks
- No additional space for even a pet
- Dimensions: 12’1” L X 33” W
- Weight: 81 pounds (99 pounds when fully rigged)
- Maximum Capacity 400 pounds
With another Hobie product on the list, we’re hammering in the idea that Hobie is the best fishing kayak brand out there. The Angler is a monstrous fishing kayak designed for the enthusiasts, and trailing it slightly is the Mirage Outback.
The Mirage Outback fishing kayak by Hobie is a beast, and if it weren’t for the Pro Angler, it’d have been awarded the best overall kayak by us.
The Mirage Outback differs from the dearer Angler because it is not as heavily dedicated to fishing. You can consider the Outback as a hybrid, used as both a serious fishing kayak as well as a leisure kayak to pedal around in and have fun.
That doesn’t mean the Outback is devoid of features – far from it. It has just about every feature you find in the Angler 12. The only difference is that it is slightly shorter and a lot narrower. The perk of this is that it’s a lot lighter. The negative is the obvious lack of space compared to its bigger brother.
The Outback features the same fantastic Mirage Drive 180 drive system that utilizes pedals instead of paddles. Once again, we find this extremely convenient as your free hands can be better used for fishing and storage. It also allows you to get a quicker pace than conventional paddle-driven kayaks.
We recommend using this kayak for fishing in ocean bays, lakes, and steady rivers. Though it can be used in tougher conditions, it’ll be a lot harder to control because of its hybrid design. We also recommend it to individuals who have a decent amount of angling experience prior to buying this.
At slightly above two and a half grands, the Hobie Mirage Outback is still quite expensive. However, like with most Hobie products, you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. This is a fantastic, high-end product, and there’s very little to criticize about it.
- Mirage drive system is great and easy to use
- Great stability that makes it easy to stand and fish
- Twist and Stow Rudder system is great once you get used to is
- Price tag is still hefty
- Still not as light as other kayaks
- Dimensions: 10’L X 30” W
- Weight: 40 pounds
- Maximum Capacity: 250 pounds
This minimalistic fishing kayak offers the most rudimentary experience for individuals just looking to get into the hobby. A casual gaze at this kayak indicates how basic it is in function and structure, and that it’s meant for the minimalist who is just look for a lonely fishing experience.
At just $300, this is one of the most affordable branded fishing kayaks on the market. The Sun Dolphin is a sit-in kayak which features three rod holders that you can use at the same time. Due to its sit-in nature, it also has ample cockpit room for the single individual. It also features a basic storage hatch in the bow.
Due to its extreme lightweight design and basic function, this Sun Dolphin kayak isn’t meant to be used in tricky conditions. It’s not as durable as some of the other kayaks, so using it in calm waters will yield in the longest life and optimal experience.
With that said, it’s reasonably fast due to how thin it is. Measuring just 30 inches wide, the Excursion 10 has less drag in water, which grants higher speeds than what you’d usually find in shorter kayaks. However, the kayak is flat bottomed, and due to the smaller width, its stability is compromised, which is precisely what makes it an unrecommended choice for harsher conditions.
Overall, the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 is highly preferred by many customers due to its affordability and ease of use. It’s a no-nonsense fishing kayak meant to serve the purpose it was made for in the most basic manner possible.
- Great for beginners and amateurs
- Good value
- Good speed and decent tracking in calm waters
- Very lightweight and easy to transport
- Does not perform well in rougher waters
- Build and materials aren’t built to last decades
- Storage space is limited
- Dimensions: 13’L X 28” W
- Weight: 56 pounds
- Maximum Capacity: 475 pounds
This long, incredibly slender fishing kayak is the ideal bridge between the incredibly expensive Hobie kayaks and the affordable ones from Vibe and Sun Dolphin listed above.
Right off the bat, it has a great looking design with a camouflage paintjob that instantly gives the kayak a professional and no-nonsense appearance. It is designed for a variety of water conditions and features a surprisingly large amount of storage space despite its narrow width.
This sit on top kayak features two rod holders, two cup holders, and two paddle holders, and can also incorporate a transducer or Fish Finder. The Fish Finder feature is a great welcome in a kayak that costs just around one grand, as its mostly available in ones well above the two and half grand price point.
Due to its length, the Ocean Kayak Prowler is quite speedy. You might not able to hit top speeds comparable to the Hobie kayaks with the paddles, but it’s still faster than most regular kayaks in the same price point. This is primarily thanks to the incredibly reduced drag from the narrow width of just 28 inches.
The length of the kayak can make it a bit difficult to turn though. While it won’t turn like a truck, it won’t be as agile as some of the other kayaks on this list. Nevertheless, this is a fishing kayak design to track well and work in various types of conditions. It is a high performance kayak that, in our opinion, is one of the best you can buy in this midrange price point.
- A huge amount of storage space for such a slim kayak
- Great design and build quality
- Good tracking and speed
- Lightweight for such a long and feature-rich kayak
- Length of kayak can make turning a bit difficult
- Dimensions: 12’L X 32” W
- Weight: 64 pounds
- Maximum Capacity: 375 pounds
The Perception Pescador Pro is, in our opinion, one of the best fishing kayaks available in the market at a price below $1000. This is an incredibly stable and well-built sit on top kayak that people swear by. It has very high ratings for its reliability, ease of operation, and overall great value for money.
It is made from the well-known and durable polyethylene material and features two molded rod holders as well as a place to keep your paddle while fishing. There is a small hatch in front of the eat as well as an additional one behind it. There is also a spacious cargo deck behind the seat to secure larger items as well.
Perception put a lot of focus not just on the external functionality of the fishing kayak, but also the comfort. Fishing can take quite a while, so expect to sit for a long time.
With the Pescador Pro, you get a comfortable stadium-style mesh seat with a mesh seatback that can be adjusted to an upright position (ideal for paddling) or a more relaxing reclined position (great while fishing). In addition to the seats, there are also adjustable foot rests that allow for more stable paddling and fishing.
The Pescador Pro also comes in an alternate, smaller size for slightly less money in the form of the Pescador Pro 10. However, we recommend the 12 feet version for its additional storage space. A longer boat also provides the additional benefit of better tracking, and Pescador Pro is great at it.
Overall, if you want something that won’t leave you broke but is reliable, sturdy, and high quality, then the Perception Pescador may be the right dedicated fishing kayak for you.
- Great stability and build quality
- Rigged for gadgets
- Comfortable seating and ergonomics
- Good storage space
- Great tracking ability
- Limited dry storage area
- Water can pool below the seat
- Dimensions: 10’L X 30” W
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Maximum Capacity: 250 pounds
An alternative to the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10, the Journey is another affordable, lightweight, and minimalistic fishing kayak available for $300. Like with other Sun Dolphin kayaks, this is a single person sit on top kayak that is built for rudimentary fishing function.
It has 2 fixed rod holders, one swivel rod holder, two dry storage wells, and a paddle holder. It is predominantly meant for lakes and rivers and is ideally suited to calm waters.
It’s difficult to split between the Excursion and Journey in-terms of which is better. However, it seems most reviewers and users seem to slightly prefer the Journey over the other, despite similar design and construction.
One drawback to this Sun Dolphin fishing kayak is that is tends to turn when stationary even in calm waters. For this reason, a rudder might be useful to use with this kayak.
Overall, there isn’t much to say about the Journey because of how similar it is to the Excursion. Many prefer it over the Excursion despite its slightly higher weight. The added bonus seems to be the extra storage space available, which is always a huge plus in a fishing kayak. They are both very portable and great value, and perform the task without any additional bells and whistles.
- Affordable and good performance for price
- Minimalistic design with plenty of space
- Very lightweight and easy to transport
- Good speed in calm waters
- Material choice could be better
- Will need a rudder for better stability while fishing
- Dimensions: 13’L X 33.5” W
- Weight: 86 pounds
- Maximum Capacity: 425 pounds
And finally we have the Old Town Predator. This brilliant fishing kayak is the third-most dearest product in this list, coming at a price close to $1400.
We believe that this is an ideal price point for a very high quality fishing kayak that isn’t necessarily an enthusiast, elite level one like the Hobie Pro Angler 12.
The Old Town Predator is a dedicated fishing sit on top kayak that is designed to handle large bodies of water such as lakes, bays, and coastal waters. It can work fairly decently in rough waters, but the fishing experience may not be as streamlined as it would in calmer waters.
One of the best aspects of the Predator 13 is the prominent keel at both the bow and the stern to aid in tracking. This combines extremely well with its Tri-Hull design to provide extra initial stability. The speed and tracking of this fishing kayak is thus nothing short of praiseworthy.
Another key additional feature of the Predator fishing kayak is its Element Seating System. This allows for a variety of different positions for optimum comfort and performance, be it while chasing fish or lazily floating in calm waters.
In addition to these key features, it also provides paddle rests, a large dry-storage compartment accessible via a large hatch, a center console with a cover, and more. You also have the added option of placing Fish Finders and GPS trackers, which is always a welcome feature to have in high-performing fishing kayaks.
- Good stability and speed
- Decent amount of storage space both forward and aft
- Good built quality and design
- Great comfort due to excellent seat design
- Bulky and heavy, which makes it a bit difficult to move
In case you didn’t know, there are two types of kayaks. There are the sit in kayaks where the cockpit is build inside a sort of cavity. This provides great control, stability to the individual, and ease of rowing.
Then there are the sit on top fishing kayaks. These kayaks are somewhat ‘open’ where you sit on top of the deck. A sit on kayak can offer much greater maneuverability to the individual, but they are generally more prone to let in a lot of water.
People prefer a sit in kayak for sports and a sit on top kayak for fishing. A sit on top fishing kayak tends to be sturdier and rugged, and the added space on and around the deck allows for storage of essential fishing items like rods, dry-storage components, and boxes.
If you are a more seasoned paddler, you’ll probably be able to manage fishing quite well with a sit in kayak. For everyone else, sit on top types are the way to go when it comes to fishing kayaks.
Storage space is a very important part of fishing kayaks. You will need plenty of storage options to store and keep all your gear equipment.
Most of the price is actually invested in how much storage space and stability you have (more on the latter later). Costlier fishing kayaks will provide users with ample storage space, while more affordable ones will skimp on it.
No matter how much you’re paying for the fishing kayak, it’s important to remember that a dry-hatch storage is of the utmost importance. This is where you will store all your essentials that absolutely cannot get wet or need protection from corrosive elements.
Stability and tracking are not necessarily related, but both are extremely important for the overall fishing experience.
For a watercraft, stability is obviously very important because you don’t want to have a rocking vehicle when you are moving around, casting, accessing gear, or angling. This will not only let in a lot of water but could also result in gear falling into the water and perhaps even lead to slipping and injury.
Sit on top models tend to be a lot more stable. The hull design is a lot wider which offers greater stability to the watercraft. Generally, the weight and length of a fishing kayak plays a big role in the stability.
Tracking basically means how straight a kayak moves after you stop paddling. Great tracking does reduce maneuverability, but it’s extremely useful in chasing fish, which makes it ideal for fishing kayaks.
Tracking depends on a multitude of factors and varies between every model. Generally, a better weight distribution, larger length, and good stability will result in better tracking.
Not all fishing kayaks are built to tackle every body of water in all kinds of conditions. In fact, most fishing kayaks are best used in calmer conditions. That’s not to say it’s impossible to find one that will work in rough conditions, but you’ll certainly need to spend beyond the “affordable range” to get yourself one.
Regardless, it’s important to decide what type of water you’ll be fishing in. Rough conditions will limit your choice more than still water such as lakes.
Does the color of the kayak matter?
This might seem like a silly question, but it’s actually not. We highly recommend you buy a kayak with a brighter color so other people can see it more easily. This is for your safety.
Why can’t a keep myself dry even with an expensive kayak!?
If you’re fishing in a kayak, you’ll get what no matter how expensive your fishing kayak is. That’s the part of the experience. Just make sure the kayak isn’t accumulating water.
Are pedals an absolute must for fishing kayaks?
No, they’re not. Fishing kayaks with pedals are not only rare, they are also usually very expensive. They certainly make life easier, but it’s completely possible to learn to fish while using a regular paddle.
Is a longer or shorter kayak better?
This largely depends on where you’ll be fishing and how fast you want to be. If you want a hybrid experience (i.e. fishing and sports), then a longer kayak will be better. A larger overall kayak is also better in rough conditions. The general rule of thumb is that the longer a kayak is, the faster it will be and the better it will track.
Is a PFD important?
According to the law, you should be wearing a PFD or life jacket on board at all times. You should get an inflatable one and wear it at all times. If you have children who will accompany you, they will also need to wear a PFD or life jacket. One sitting at the back of the kayak is as good as useless, so you should always have it strapped on to yourself. Remember: you should never compromise on safety.