The Best Fishing Kayaks to Get You on the Fish



Anglers are always trying to reel in the best possible way to get on the fish. One of the techniques on the rise is fishing from a kayak. Fishing-specific kayaks are stable, silent and highly mobile. You can haul one in with ease and reach fishable waters previously unavailable to you. There is a wide range of fishing kayaks available these days, and there is one for every budget. We use them ourselves and here are some suggestions on the best fishing kayaks available.

1. Vibe Yellowfin 120 Kayak – Editor’s Pick

Incredible stability

The Vibe Yellowfin 120 Kayak may well be the best fishing kayak on the market. It boasts one of the most stable platforms on the market and matches that with speed and a smooth ride. This combines to give you a kayak that will paddle easily and get you to where you want to go extremely fast. The Yellowfin has a 400lb capacity and what may well be the most comfortable seat available on a fishing kayak. Vibe could have stopped there, but they also added extremely adaptable storage options, including slots of Plano 3600 tackle trays. It is rudder and transducer ready and even includes a matching paddle. If you want to be able to do a lot of stand-up fishing, this is the kayak for you.

Pros/Most stable fishing kayak. Well-thought out design.

Cons/Your buddies will want to borrow it all the time.

Bottom Line/One of the best available. Period.

2. Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 136 – Most Innovative

Plot your course and just fish

Old Town has been making kayaks and fishing kayaks for quite some time. They married their top-of-the-line fishing kayak with electric motor technology from Minn Kota to bring the AutoPilot 136 to anglers looking for a stable kayak that doesn’t require paddling. You use the handheld iPilot remote and program where you want the kayak to go. It features Minn Kota Spot-Lock, AutoPilot, and the i-Pilot remote that works well with a Humminbird fish finder/GPS, so you can program your kayak to hit the hot spots. It has a comfortable, adjustable seating system with high and low positioning and great lumbar support. Four 18-inch accessory tracks to mount gear, like that Humminbird unit. There are two forward-facing,  and two rear-facing flush-mount rod holders. Non-slip EVA foam deck pads keep you from accidental slips when standing. There is an under-seat storage including custom tackle box to keep your lures in. This is about as advanced as a fishing kayak can get.

Pros/Hands-free movement, frees tyou up to focus on fishing

Cons/It’s pricey and blurs that line between kayak and boat

Bottom Line/Let’s you worry about fishing and not paddling

3. Perception Pescador Pro 12

A stable and easy-to-paddle kayak

One of our editors has been using this fishing kayak for a couple of seasons now and really likes it. The Pescador Pro is a 12-foot sit-on-top kayak from Perception with a very comfortable lawn-chair style seat that is adjustable for height and tilt. It is extremely stable on the water and has plenty of storage for your fishing gear, coolers and more. Accessory rails allow for adding rod holders and fish finders. The Pescador Pro 12 has a 375lb max capacity. It tracks straight and true in the water, and does well when the chop picks up. The weight is 57lbs, so it can be portaged when needed. Carry handles help with that too.

Pros/Very Stable with a lot of cargo capacity.

Cons/The built-in rear keel can cause you to get pushed around in higher winds.

Bottom Line/A very stable fishing platform.

4. Sun Dolphin Journey 10 – Budget Pick

An economical way to get into kayak fishing

It can be a hard pill to swallow to spend big bucks for a fishing kayak. For the angler looking for the best fishing kayak to fit a modest budget, the Sun Dolphin Journey is a great buy. It is a 1o-foot sit-on-top kayak with a max capacity of 395 pounds. It is a great, basic fishing kayak that comes with a lot of storage capability and three rod holders, two flush-mount and one swivel mount. It is UV protected for long life. At under $300, it is a great buy for any angler.

Pros/Lower cost and good features make this a great beginner fishing kayak

Cons/Not as stable as some other options

Bottom Line/More affordable 10-foot fishing kayak option

5. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak – 2 Pack

As good as a two-fer gets!

It’s a lot of fun to go fishing with a buddy, but kayak fishing can be a solitary thing unless you have a buddy with one, or you buy two. That can get pricey, unless you get the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak Pair. For what you’d expect to pay for one fishing kayak, you get two – with free shipping! These stable kayaks have storage capacity and padded, adjustable seating. They come with a moveable rod holder and additional rod carry capacity. These fishing kayaks also include the paddles, making this an even better deal. This is a great way to take your child, wife or buddy fishing with you. 

Pros/Good deal on a good kayak – GREAT deal on a pair!

Cons/Modest cargo capacity.

Bottom Line/Best option for the angler looking to buy more than one fishing kayak.

6. ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket – A MUST Have!

No fish is worth your life!

If you’re going to kayak, you need a life jacket. Seriously – you NEED a lifejacket. No fish is worth the risk. For kayak fishing, we really like the ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket. It has pockets and fold-out platforms making it easier to change lures, re-tie line and more. Plus, it is very comfortable, as it was designed for fishing from a kayak.

Pros/Made specifically for kayak fishing with specific pockets to make it easier

Cons/There are no cons to wearing a lifejacket

Bottom Line/Best fishing kayak life jacket!

The advantages of kayak fishing

Fishing from a kayak has grown in popularity to the point that now there are competitive leagues of anglers who chase big cash prizes for the best catch. Kayaks allow you to have the advantages of fishing from a boat without the costs associated with most fishing boats. In other words, it is MUCH cheaper to get into a fishing kayak than it is to buy most used boats, let alone new ones.

Kayaks also have an incredibly shallow draft, so they can get into spots on the lakes and rives that are too shallow for most boats. They also have less disturbance of the water, so fish can be less spooked and increases the chances of a good bite.

Kayak regulations

Currently only seven states in the United States require a registration, or additional taxes, on kayaks used on public waters. This includes fishing kayaks. There are several states looking at adding these fees, so it is important that you check your local regulations before venturing out for the fist time on your new kayak.

When using a trolling motor, such as the Old Town kaka above, you also need to check those regulations because you may now be classified as a motorboat. California requires registration and fees, and there are other states that follow suit.

Do I need to register my kayak?

It depends on where you live, or where you plan to use your kayak. Check local regulations before heading out.

Can I stand up in my kayak?

Some kayaks are stable enough and are designed to allow you to stand up while using one. Check your kayaks design and give it a try in shallow water first. Always wear your PFD!

Do I need to wear a life jacket in a fishing kayak?

Check your local regulations first. Of course, we suggest ALWAYS wearing a life jacket when on the water. No fish is worth your life.

About the Author

Derrek Sigler has been a professional outdoor writer for more than two decades since earning his Master’s Degree in creative writing with a thesis about fishing humor. But if you ask anyone that knows him, he’s been telling fishin’ stories since he was old enough to hold a pole. He has written for Cabela’s and served as editorial director for Gun Digest books. Over the years, he has also written for Petersen’s Hunting, North American Whitetail Magazine, Wildfowl, Grand View Media, and has worked with Bass Pro Shops, Hard Core Brands and Bone Collector. Successful Farming had him write for their magazine and he has appeared on their TV show to discuss hunting and ATVs on multiple occasions. He writes about the things he loves – hunting, fishing, camping, trucks, ATVs, boating, snowmobiles and the outdoor lifestyle he enjoys with his family in their home state of Michigan and more as they adventure around North America.

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