Best Fishing Kayaks – 2017 Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

It’s that low silent glide across the water that draws the solo adventurer to kayak fishing. As fishermen cast their line and keep balance at the same time, they must trust the kayak beneath them. Saltwater oceans, freshwater lakes, and smooth river runs call out for the best fishing kayaks in each genre. Kayaks change from one style to another depending on an angler’s needs and desires. The best fishing kayaks, however, have certain qualities in common that every buyer will want to look for. Jump into this examination and learn the styles, designs, and abilities of today’s fishing kayaks.

Guide To Finding The Best Fishing Kayaks

What Differentiates Fishing Kayaks From Other Kayaks?

The question is this. If you take off the rod holders, fish finder, and live bait well, is there any notable difference between kayaks? Stripping a kayak of all fishing accessories, you’ll find they come in two base designs. Any angler who takes an interest in kayaking should be aware of the difference. Both styles offer a vessel you can fish from, though one is much more practical than the other.

The Sit Inside Kayak

Best Fishing KayakJust like they sound, sit inside kayaks are hollow and the occupant sits on the inside. They’re almost a hybrid canoe. Sit inside kayaks have their own range of different designs. These are the ones people take white water rafting. Their design includes a skirt that locks the passenger in, sealing off the water. They can flip upside down and roll right back up. This does include taking a deep breath before it happens.

For certain uses, anglers do take sit inside kayaks out fishing. They are not, however, the kayak design that fishermen prefer. Sit inside kayaks have a few issues when it comes to fishing. They may be maneuverable, but they don’t provide much weight capacity for tackle storage. Taking off the skirt that seals an angler in provides some storage space, but better hope it doesn’t fill up with water. Because of this main disadvantage, a sit inside kayak performs best out on calm flat water.

The Sit On Top Kayak

Best Fishing KayaksNow you’re looking at a kayak model that adapts perfectly for anglers. You won’t lock into these types and roll with the rapids. In fact, you can fall right off. As far as safety goes, it’s better to have to climb back on a sit on top kayak. With its protective skirt off, a sit inside kayak fills with water when it tips. Bailing out all that water is a huge task versus simply climbing back on. Sit on top kayaks solve the issue of weight capacity and have better space for tackle storage. They also provide a more stable platform less prone to tipping.

Common Qualities Of The Best Fishing Kayak

Durability and performance are the proper concerns every kayak angler should have. Manufacturing technique shows up first on the list. It’s possible to save money on a weld or heat seam kayak, but sooner or later it’s going to leak. For much better quality and durability, seek kayak manufacturers that use a rotational molding technique. Definitely check the material makeup, but roto-molding forms a seamless kayak.

Best Fishing KayakWhen it comes to performance in the best fishing kayak, anglers must make some decisions. Stability means a wider kayak but speed requires a thinner model. Sometimes fishermen just can’t have the best of both worlds. The rule here is that thin and long will slip easily through the water with less surface drag. Problem is the kayak will be more tipsy and have a lower weight capacity. Wider kayaks may still be long but will have more drag, slowing the velocity down. The bonus is they’ll be harder to tip and hold more gear.

Comprehending Kayak Manufacturer Specifications

One of the blessings about choosing a kayak is the simplicity of specifications. You can easily figure the dimensions by laying out a tape measure on your living room carpet. Weight capacity is another spec that’s easy to understand. The kayak will have a limit for safety purposes. Weight of the kayak itself will be important for transportation. Next will be the material composition, and polyethylene is the standard choice. But is it high density polyethylene? Sometimes the specs don’t provide all the information you might want to know.

Best Fishing KayaksFor instance, many kayak specs don’t say whether they are two piece welded units or 1 piece roto-molded models. You might see the term high density polyethylene in the features of a kayak, but it’s not a bad idea to find the thickness of the walls. Another spec the best fishing kayaks claim is high tracking. High or good tracking means the kayak stays on course with each stroke of the paddle. Poor tracking means the back end kicks out opposite the force of each stroke making it difficult to keep course.

Feature And Design Options In The Best Fishing Kayaks

Here lie some of the more angler specific choices that come with different fishing kayaks. First things first, you’ll want to decide upon the kayak design that feels best for you. Once you make that determination, start looking into features that accessorize your kayak into a better fishing vessel. Here are the major points to consider before making any final decision.

Design Options In The Best Fishing Kayaks

Get your kayak length and width down first. Longer kayaks tend to track better and wider models hold more gear. If you want speed and you have good balance, choosing a thinner model isn’t a poor choice. You’ll have to pack lighter though. Speaking of weight capacity, take a close look at the kayak’s layout with your gear in mind. Does it offer enough area to secure all the equipment you need? Finally, think about the weight of the kayak and how you plan on transporting it. How much weight can you put on top of a car before a trailer becomes the better option? 40 – 50 pounds is the common cut off line.

Features Of The Best Fishing Kayaks

Here’s the part where fishing kayaks get fun and each angler finishes their vessel off with a personal touch. The list of features and accessories you can add to a kayak is extensive. Some of these come with the kayak, especially fishing models in particular. Rod holders, water proof storage, and tie down straps can add to the overall value. Here’s some of the biggest features and accessories anglers look for in the best fishing kayaks.

Best Fishing Kayaks

Where Did The Other Kayak Angler Go?

  • Rod Holders
  • Tie Downs And Rod Leashes
  • Storage Area Including Water Proof Storage
  • Comfort And Adjustment Of Seating & Seating Area
  • Mounting Rails
  • Live Bait Well
  • Fish Finder
  • Trolling Motor Mount

These are just a few examples of the different features and ways to accessorize your fishing kayak. Some kayaks may include them which can save time and money. You may want those mounting rails and motor mounts to also come along with your purchase. Remember, kayaks can always be a work in progress. You’ll buy time to put it all together. Start with the basics so you can get a feel for balance and enjoy fishing your kayak.

Top 5 Fishing Kayaks Of 2017 – Angler’s Best Fishing Kayak Favorites

#1 Old Town Vapor 10 Angler Kayak – Best Value Smooth Water Sit Inside Kayak

Best Fishing Kayaks

Old Town Vapor 10 Kayak.

Sit inside kayaks aren’t the usual choice for anglers, but for calm freshwater lakes and ponds the Vapor 10 Angler is a handy little unit. Old Town produces the Vapor 10 and it comes at an incredible deal. Being a sit inside model, Vapor 10 Angler kayaks bring great stability and maneuverability.

Seating in Vapor 10 Angler kayaks offers extreme comfort with flex padding, adjustable foot pegs, and thigh pads. Amenities include a cup holder in a molded cockpit tray. More practical for fishing are the rear flush mounted rod holders, one on either side behind the seat.

At 28.5 inches wide and 10 feet long, Vapor 10 Angler kayaks provide years of use. Pack up your gear in the rear storage well and travel to different fishing hot spots. Bungee straps on the front provide additional space for a cooler or waterproof bag.

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#2 (BKC) Brooklyn Kayak Company’s UH-RA220 – Highest Performance & Quality

Best Fishing Kayaks

Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-RA220

Fish fear this sit on top angler’s masterpiece they call the Riptide Angler. Features that specifically hone in to the avid fisherman’s needs abound in the Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-RA220. Keep in mind as you read through the description that the same quality is available on BKC tandem kayaks. 2 or even 3 anglers can fish from the UH-TK219, a 12 foot model with 5 rod holders!

These 11.5 foot long kayaks offer extreme stability and are perfect for saltwater fishing excursions. Versatility for fishing accessories is the name of the game with Riptide Angler kayaks. They have 5 rod holder locations, 4 waterproof storage areas, and a large bungee tie well on back.

Seating on board Riptide Angler kayaks put you up above the water and stability is enough to stand casting. You’ll fork out a bit more dough than you would on a basic kayak with the Riptide. Consider extra value items like transducer mounting brackets on front to easily install a fish finder. Perhaps the rudder system that ensures perfect tracking appeals most. Either way, you get what you pay for and BKC Riptide Angler kayaks do not disappoint.

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#3 Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak – Best Lightweight Portable Kayak 

Best Fishing Kayaks

Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak.

For a sit on top 10 foot fishing kayak, 52 pounds offers great portability. Carrying handles make it that much easier to launch the Lifetime Muskie Angler kayak, wherever it is you intend to fish. A slough of features accompany this fishing treasure starting with a comfortable fold down seat.

3 rod holders, 2 fixed and one adjustable, offer hands free storage and trolling ability. Tipping is difficult due to stability chine rails, though 2 hatches provide waterproof storage inside the hull. Bungee cord tie downs behind the seat and on the front of the bow provide additional storage space.

275 pounds of capacity isn’t shabby for such a lightweight kayak as the Muskie Angler. The best fishing kayaks also track well, and the Muskie Angler’s deep hull channels ensure a straight paddle course. Overall value in the Lifetime Muskie Angler kayak is high, especially weighing its capability vs price.

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#4 Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 – Top Value In A Compact Kayak

Best Fishing Kayaks

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90.

Skipjack 90 kayaks run a shorter 9 feet in length but pack a big fishing punch. They have a kind of hybrid sit on top design as the hulls are hollow. Comfortable seats do drop down inside the kayak just a few inches. While this makes it possible for more water to enter the cavity, it also keeps you lower on the water which means better stability. 6 scupper holes with plugs do provide drainage.

At 32 inches wide, Skipjack 90 kayaks weigh a mere 47 pounds and might just fit in the back of your SUV or van. Fishing features include 4 flush mount rod holders and mounting space for accessories such as fish finders. Storage is peak with 2 cargo hatches and a bungee deep well behind the seat.

Padding on the vibe deluxe seat brings pure comfort for hours on end and ladder foot grooves let you stretch your legs in an instant. Take the 9 foot Vibe Skipjack kayak into the tightest nooks and crannies of water. For a lightweight model, 300 pounds capacity means you can go multi day camping if you so desire.

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#5 Sun Dolphin Journey Fishing Kayak – Best Budget Kayak

Best Fishing Kayaks

Sun Dolphin Journey Kayak.

Dolphins enjoy having fun in the sun, why shouldn’t you? The 10 foot sit on top Journey fishing kayak by Sun Dolphin makes that possible. At 44 pounds, the Journey is one of the best fishing kayaks for portability and 30 inches of width give it a punch of speed.

A padded backrest leads to only hard shell seating, one of the kayak’s few drawbacks. Comfort will be an issue unless you take action to pad your rear. A sit on top kayak, the Journey resembles the dug in style of the Skipjack 90 above. There’s a narrow storage well up front while the rear has a hatch in the middle of a bungee deck.

You have cup holder between your legs as well as an open console for a fish finder or tackle. Two flush mount and a swivel holder allow optimum rod placement. The features, performance, and price make Sun Dolphin Journey kayaks a steal. They’ll get you out fishing, are perfect for starters, and will offer years of enjoyment.

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Best Fishing Kayak Conclusion – Buyer’s Final Opinion

Fishing kayaks have come on to the scene strong in the last decade and show no sign of slowing. The brands and models available go from relatively simple to extremely expensive. Some saltwater models can run thousands of dollars and leave nothing out of the equation. The guide above provides a strong foundation for finding the right kayak. The extravagant models are difficult to value at best, and target a high end clientele. Choosing one of the 5 best fishing kayaks from the reviews above offers a more practical product for the everyday angler. May strong launches and successful voyages accompany you on your fishing kayak.

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