The Best Fishing Kayak of 2018

best fishing kayak

The Best Fishing Kayak of 2018: The Complete Guide

what makes the best fishing kayak the best fishing vessel?

Following up from descendants of the ancient inuit who used kayaks for hunting on on the water we have continued that tradition today. In fact Fishing Kayaks are growing so rapidly in popularity that they are over taking canoes as the preferred fishing vessel. There are a few reasons behind this.

  1. Fishing Kayaks Allow more customizability
    It is far easier to fish solo on a kayak
  2. Fishing Kayaks are more maneuverable
  3. Kayaks are more versatile allowing you to fish in different environments

Now don’t get me wrong, as with many of you I grew up fishing in canoes and they have long been a staple to a great past time. However, kayak fishing allows you to take fishing to a whole different level in terms of flexibility and time spent on the water.

Lets face it, after an extended period of time your bum will often get sore sitting on those hard wooden seats which can oftentimes cut your fishing session short. Todays fishing kayaks allow you to be seated more comfortably, giving you more time on the water and allowing you to add more extensions to your fishing experience.

Looking for the Best Fishing Kayak can be a bit of an ask but this video breaks it down into a much more simple and reasonable process. 

If you are a fisherman who likes to add doodads and gadgets such as kayak fish finders to your fishing experience a fishing kayak will most likely be for you. With kayaks built for fishing you get standard features included with the kayak such as storage/ dry hatches to place gear, rod holders and tank well storage. These are at strategic places to allow you to grab your gear at convenient locations along the boat. 

If you want to take it a step further many companies such as the Hobie Cat company allow you to add fishing extensions such as fish finders, extra rod holders, comfortable seats and the like to enhance your fishing experience.

The Criteria of the Best Fishing Kayak

#1 Hobie Pro Angler 12

Fishing Kayak

9.4/10 Rating
  • Pedals Make it Fast
  • Pricey
  • Lots of add- on options

#2 Hobie Mirage Outback

Kayak

9.3/10 Rating
  • Great Stability
  • Features Rudder
  • Great Customer Rating
best fishing kayaks

#3 Malibu Stealth 14

Fish and Dive Kayak

9/10 Rating
  • Can Stand on it for Fly Fishing
  • Solid Tracking
  • Great for Diving

When looking at the best fishing kayak there are several things to consider, Durability, Speed, Stability, Features and Value. Since Kayak Fishing is not exactly a race we put less emphasis on speed and more on the other four criteria as those are what most fisherman desire. All these models are respected brands with high customer tested ratings.

The Best Fishing Kayak Buyers Guide: What to Look for

  • A Respectable Brand
  • A Kayak with High Customer Ratings
  • A Brand that is Innovative
  • Great Value (Do you get what you pay for?)
  • A Stable Platform to Fish and Operate

Fishing Kayak Full Reviews

Tap (or Click) below to see Full Reviews)

Purpose: A fishing kayak that gives you a ton of of customization and add on options that is both stable and fast

Best For: The more technical Fisherman with at least some fishing experience who wants a high quality fishing experience

Not the Best For: Fisherman on a Budget

Recommended Bodies of Water: Ocean Bays, Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: Rotomolded Polyethylene

Features:

  • Dimensions: 12’L X 36” W
  • Weight: 105 Lbs (fully rigged 128.5 Lbs)
  • Maximum Capacity: 500 Lbs
  • Mirage Drive with Glide Technology
  • Vantage Seating System
  • Two Rod Holders
  • H Rail Mounting system
  • Drillable Mounting Plates
  • Two Large Dry Hatches(See Picture)
  • Retractable Skeg
  • Two Pop up Tackle Boxes
  • Retractable rudder

This is like the Rolls Royce of Fishing kayaks. The Hobie Pro Angler 12 gives you so much that you won’t believe all of that can fit in a fishing kayak.

What makes this kayak unique to many others is the fact that it has the Hobie Mirage Drive 180 featured inside of it. The Mirage Drive is a pedal based system that allows you to propel the kayak forward or backwards using fins that propel back and forward. This allows this kayak to be mostly hands free meaning you can get to a desired fishing spot faster than paddling. For the traditionalists out there don’t worry, they did not get rid of the paddle!

The Hobie Pro Angler 12 comes with an adjustable skeg that helps with tracking as well as a retractable rudder. Unlike many kayaks the rudder is actually controlled by hand because your feet are preoccupied with the pedals. With a simple flick of a switch you can steer your kayak left or right and get there in the quickest amount of time

There is ample room to store gear on this boat as it has two large dry hatches, pop up tackle boxes and the Hobie H-Rail system which is a rail placed on the sides of the kayak that allows you to install add ons such as fish finders, rod holders, and mounting plates for even more gear. All these features allow you to add more fishing rods, give you more space to function and  bring more than you could of hoped for on a single fishing trip. It’s functionality and storage rivals fishing boats.

best fishing kayak, hobie pro angler 12

Hobie features one of the best seating systems in the business. Their vantage seating system is both comfortable and adjustable. You can adjust the seat at three different points, the seat bottom, the seat back and lumbar support. The Lumbar support is particularly handy, as many fisherman know, fishing for too long in an uncomfortable seat can cut your fun on the water in half and therefore limit your chances of catching the fish you desire. With the Vantage Seating system you can fish comfortably for hours or even the whole day!

>>What Customers Think<<

The Hobie Pro Angler 12 is the Best Fishing Kayak for a number of reasons. It’s speed is faster than most paddle fishing kayaks. It’s stability is almost unrivaled as you can easily stand on this boat and spot or fly fish and not worry about it being tippy. It is made of a high quality Rotomolded Polyethylene which gives it good longevity provided it is well taken care of. While this is an expensive kayak it is warranted based on all the customisation that can be done to this kayak which will result in a higher quality fishing experience for you .

Perhaps the single factor that trumps all the rest of the fishing kayaks are the features that are both included and can be added to the Pro Angler 12. As a result it is one of the highest rated kayaks by the customer, especially for the price range. WIth a larger price range bring larger expectations and Hobie has provided just that.

See The Full Review of Pro Angler 12

What We Liked

  • One of the fastest Fishing Kayaks around thanks to the Mirage Drive System
  • Extremely Stable Platform to stand on
  • Ample Storage on the Pro Angler 12
  • Included H Rail system gives you more add on options
  • Is Fully Compatible with Fish Finders and GPS systems
  • Comes with Skeg and Rudder system for great steering and tracking

What We Didn’t Like

  • Price Tag is pretty hefty
  • This is a heavy kayak so help may be needed for transportation

Purpose: A two in one leisure or fishing kayak that allows for ample customisation

Best For: The technical Fisherman with at least some fishing experience who wants a high quality fishing experience

Not the Best For: Fisherman looking for a Budget Kayak

Recommended Bodies of Water: Ocean Bays, Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: Rotomolded Polyethylene

Features

  • Dimensions: 12’1 L X 33” W
  • Weight: 81 Lbs Fully Rigged L 99 Lbs
  • Maximum Capcity: 400 Lbs
  • Vantage CT Seat
  • Hobie Mirage Drive
  • Two Dry Hatches (see Picture)
  • One Storage hatch on Stern
  • Four Rod Holders
  • Twist and Stow Rudder

The Hobie Mirage Outback is a supreme fishing vessel that just lost out to the Pro Angler 12 for the Top pick. This is because the Pro Angler is designed specifically for fishing and has options specifically catered to such. The Mirage Outback is a kayak that can be used as both a serious fishing kayak as well as a leisure kayak to pedal around in.

The Mirage Outback features almost everything that the Pro Angler 12 has but does not include the H rail system. You can however still add it to this kayak as an add on and use almost all of the same add ons as the Pro Angler 12.

This is a great kayak to take out in a secluded ocean bay, lake or river. You can theoretically take it out in tougher conditions but I would not recommend it as your center of gravity is higher up and I have seen a few people take their Hobie’s out in very choppy conditions only to capsize and lose a good portion of their gear.

>>What Customers Say<<

The outback features the Mirage Drive 180 which utilises your legs instead of your arms. I feel this is a very smart design as our strongest muscles are in out legs (after all they do hold us up!). This allows you to go at a quicker pace than most fishing kayaks all while allowing your hands to be free to cast a line and occasionally steer.

best fishing kayak, hobie mirage outback

The Twist and Stow Rudder allows you to turn on the dime with a flick of a knob on the side of the kayak. It gets a bit of getting used to as it is a bit sensitive but with anything time allows you to adjust accordingly. If you are a more traditional guy/ gal you can always pull the T shaped control handle and the rudder simply engages and disengages so you can paddle instead.

See The Full Review of the Outback Mirage

What We Liked

  • Comes with Mirage Drive
    Superior Stability for standing
  • Vantage CT Seat allows you to be comfortable while fishing
  • Comes with Twist and Stow Rudder system
  • Less expensive than Pro Angler 12
  • Less Heavy than Pro Angler 12

What We Didn’t Like

  • Comes with Less Features
  • Price Tag is still hefty
  • Still pretty heavy for a kayak

Purpose: A Fishing Kayak that is extremely adaptable to both rougher and calmer waters. Makes for a great Diving Kayak for both Snorkelling and Spearfishing

Best For: Fisherman who like a kayak that provides ample room to put gear, or even another person

Not the Best For: Maneuverability in tighter waterways

Recommended Bodies of Water: Ocean, Lakes, Calm wide Rivers

Materials: Rotomolded Polyethylene

Features

  • Dimensions: 14’4” L X 33” W
  • Weight: 64 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 550 Lbs
  • Center bait tank
  • Four Rod Holders
  • Adjustable foot track system
  • Front Gator Hatch with bungees
  • Rear Hatch with Bag  

The Malibu Stealth 14 is a great candidate for ocean fishing as it can take bigger waves than most. This is thanks to it’s great stability and 14 foot design that allows this kayak to cut through the water with relative ease thanks to it’s pointed stern. Many fishing kayaks have a rounder stern which makes them difficult to maneuver in chop and as a result become more of a passenger then a driver. 

best fishing kayak, malibu stealth 14

If scuba diving/ snorkeling is your thing this a great candidate for that because of its large gator hatch which allows you to store snorkel gear or bigger objects in the stern of the kayak. You can also seat two people (provided you are both under 550 lbs combined) on top of the gator hatch so you can either fish with your son, dog, buddy or even significant other (as long as they like to fish heh heh) .

Storage is the name of the game with this kayak as you have the mentioned gator hatch, as well as the middle bait tank, side hatches and bow hatch located towards the back. The Bait tank is patented and can be used for live bait (pump not included) or simply gear such as hoodie’s ,coats ect.

The Side hatches are great for placing smaller items such as tackle, hats and other small gear.

>>What Customers Say<<

the Malibu Stealth 14 provides better speed than it’s cousin the 12. This was a factor in the 14 ranking ahead of the 12. Another reason why the 14 is prefered is because of the center bait hatch which gives the fisherman more room for bait or other gear they is prefered. The Stealth 14’s features were a big part in it taking up the third spot. The superior stability durability and a solid value for what you get also played a role in this ranking.

Overall Customers who ordered this kayak were very pleased with it and many cited it as the most stable kayak they have ever used, even in challenging conditions.

What We Liked

  • One of the most stable kayaks out there
  • Pointed Bow allows you to cut through the water with ease
  • Has the most storage hatches
  • Paddles smoothly
  • Perfect for a wide array of different water conditions
  • Great for Spearfishing and Scuba/ Snorkeling
  • You can get on and off of it with ease
  • High Customer rating

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not the most maneuverable kayak
  • Gator hatch has been said to leak from time to time(this could be for older models though)
  • Comfortable X Seat not included
  • A bit on the heavy side

Purpose: The Swiss Army Knife Kayak (Does almost everything Well)

Best For: Tracking (with and without ruder), Solid Stability, and storage room

Not the Best For: Durability (a few customer complaints in that field)

Recommended Bodies of Water: Ocean Bays, Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: Rotomolded Single Piece Polyethylene

Features

  • Dimensions: 13’ L X 33’ W
  • Weight: 75 Lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 550 Lbs
  • Comes with Hero Seat
    Vibe Journey Paddle
  • Pre-installed Rudder kit
  • Fish Finder Transducer port and mounting points
  • Two Flush Mount Rod Holders
  • Two Sealed Dry Hatches
  • Rear Tankwell
  • Large Center Console
  • Ten Scupper Holes with Plugs

Vibe is a very underrated kayak company that can float with the top manufacturers in its class. The Sea Ghost 130 is no exception to this rule. It is cited by many customers as one of the best all in one kayaks out there.

So why is it ranked 4th on out list? The reason lies in it’s Rotomolded Single Piece Polyethylene. I have seen a few reports of it being rather easy to scratch which in calm deeper lakes is not necessarily a bad thing.

For faster moving waters such as rivers or even oceans this may not be the craft of choice .
Now I got that out of the way, let’s talk about what this kayak does right. The answer is nearly everything.

The Vibe Sea Ghost 130 tracks very well without the rudder and feels like its on train tracks when the rudder is down! This is usually a pretty difficult feat for wider fishing kayaks but Vibe seemed to have figured it out.

I will say this kayak is one of the better ones for the price. It even comes with a good quality seat and a pre installed rudder system! For the price being charged you can usually expect a kayak to not have a rudder or a seat let alone a paddle as well (like the Stealth 14 for example).

This kayak is also an extreme looker with unique patterns that you are hard pressed to see on other kayaks. Colors include camo, orange white and black, blue white and black and ghost (while and black in a camo color).

>>What Customers Say<<

The Sea Ghost 130 also has ample storage and customizability. On this kayak you get a removable long center console with mounting points to store tackle or install rod holders, fish finders or GPS to be located right in front of you, a 20 inch dry hatch for gear they you don’t want to get wet, a large rear cargo well that fits a fishing crate as well as can be used for cushions and jackets. Perhaps the most unique thing is the fact that this kayak features a gear track system where you can install add ons such as swivelling rod holders, GPS systems and more.

Overall this is one of the highest customer rated kayaks but with a couple of related complaints about the durability of this craft it gets pegged in the number 4 spot. This would be the “Value Kayak” in the best kayaks list because it manages to do almost everything well.

What We Liked

  • One of the Best Customer Rated Fishing Kayaks
  • Is priced well for what you get
  • Quick on the water
  • Is very stable
  • It’s a great first fishing kayak for serious fisherman
  • Tracks well without rudder system, even better with
  • Rudder System included
  • Included Track system
  • Excellent colour scheme

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Material is a bit questionable (scratches easily)
  • Not recommended for fast moving waters

Purpose: A solid Fishing Kayak meant for speed and traditionalist fishing

Best For: Fisherman who prefer getting to their destination quickly with customisation available

Not the Best For: Comfortable Seating and staying high and dry

Recommended Bodies of Water: Oceans, Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: Robust Gen2 Polyethylene.

Features

  • Dimensions: 12’ 3” L X 30” W
  • Weight: 63 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity 350 Lbs
  • Phase 3 Air Pro Sit On Top Seat
  • Keeprs XL foot Brace
  • Bow and Mid hatch
  • Self Bailing SCupper holes
  • Slide Trax accessory system
  • Gear pockets
  • Rear Tankwell

The Tarpon 120 is a popular favourite among serious fisherman. It is faster than most paddling fishing kayaks with it’s sharp hull design and the fact that it is 30” also give sit less drag in the water. It also paddles smooth and can handle a wide variety of different water conditions including class I and II Rapids. A few customers have stated that it is not a good idea to paddle this kayak in rougher waters because the bow sits too low and as a result the kayak takes in water.

best fishing kayak. wilderness systems tarpon 120

This is what I would call the minimalists fishing kayak because while there are storage options readily available, it’s maximum capacity is 350 lbs which is about 200 lbs off of the top kayaks listed. So if you are planning on bringing a crate full of gear I would look elsewhere. However if you plan on bringing a tackle box and fishing rod and maybe some snacks you should be good to go. This kayak, like the Sea Ghost 130 has a rail system where you can put add ons such as tethers, various different mounting plates as well as motor mounts. So if you really dislike the idea of paddling you can add a motor mount to the rear or side of the kayak.

The Tarpon 120 has ample amount of storage with mesh pockets below your legs for sung glasses/ lures, a mid hatch and a larger stern hatch at the front. This kayak is stable to sit in but I would not recommend standing on it for a couple of reasons. There is no real standing platform and the kayak is only 30” wide compared to the 33” wide Hobie and Malibu’s.

>>What Customers Say<<

Overall this is a good fishing kayak for durability and speed. The fact that you can attach accessories is also a bonus for this kayak although your choices are a bit limited compared to Hobie.

What We Liked

  • Fast on the Water
  • Can take on most reasonable conditions
  • Great for fishing minimalists
  • Large rear tankwell area on the kayak
  • Tracks relatively well
  • Solid Customer ratings
  • Customization available thanks to SlideTrax Accessory system.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Takes on a good amount of water
  • Seat is cited to be uncomfortable by a few paddlers
  • Not a good Standing/ Fly fishing kayak
  • Storage hatches are cited to leak

Criteria for the Best Fishing Kayak Under $600

Vibe Skipjack 90

#1 Vibe SkipJack 90

Fishing Kayak

8.2/10 Rating
  • Great Budget Kayak
  • A lot of Features Available
  • Great Customer Rating

#2 Life Time Tamarack

120 Angler

7.9/10 Rating
  • Reasonable Price
  • Seat Could be Better
  • Solid Stability
best fishing kayaks

#3 Sevylor Colorado

Inflatable Fishing Kayak

7.8/10 Rating
  • Lots of room for Gear
  • Lots of Customization
  • Sneaks up on Fish

While our Criteria Variables are the same as above (based on durability, speed, stability, features and value) we rate these ones more generously. In my mind it is unfair to rate these kayaks against the Best Fishing Kayaks because they are in a completely different price range and as a result the rating would be unfair to both the kayak and the user who could be missing out on a great kayak! You will see this rating on any fishing kayaks under $600 that we rate.  You wouldn’t compare a Rolls Royce to a Honda Accord would you?

Best Fishing Kayak Under 600 Buyers Guide: What to Look for

  • A Good Quality Brand
  • A Great Price
  • Good Quality/ Craftsmanship
  • A Kayak with good functionality
  • High Customer Ratings

The Above Best Kayak options are all fantastic options for fishing but lets face it, not everyone has $2000 + to spend on a fishing kayak. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best fishing kayaks under $600. These models are the most popular among folks and have great customer ratings as well as reasonable durability among them.

These kayaks are ideal for the minimalist or do it yourself er fisherman who just needs a few rods, a tackle box and paddle. The best kayak under $600 is the Vibe Skipjack 90

Fishing Kayaks $600 and Under Full Reviews

Tap (or Click) below to see Full Reviews)

Purpose: A Single Seater Kayak that is great for manoeuvrability

Best For: Fisherman who want a quality designed kayak that can take on most environments

Not the Best For: Tracking or putting another person on it

Recommended Bodies of Water: Oceans, Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: Rotomolded single piece high density polyethylene

Features

  • Dimensions: 9’ L X 32” W
  • Weight: 46 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity 300 Lbs
  • Sealed Mid Hatch and Stern Hatch
  • Four Flush Mount Rod Holders
  • Customisable with mounting points
  • Adjusting seat with rear pouch
  • Rear Cargo Storage with Bungees to hold gear down

This is probably the best designed kayak in the best kayak under $600 list. Not only does it sport creative colours but the hull is also well designed with a distinguished keel on the stern and bow. This keel helps this kayak track better and also makes this kayak more stable as the sides protrude outwards to provide a skirt to keep the stability of the kayak. It’s 32 inch width also helps makes this kayak very sturdy.

The Vibe Skipjack 90 also features ample storage space for a boat of it’s size as it features two dry hatches in the midship and stern that can carry smaller gear that you want to remain dry such as wallet, phones sunglasses ect. There is also space to put gear such as backpacks or tackle boxes in the cargo well. If that wasn’t enough the seat also features a pouch on the back to put in things like jackets, a lunch bag ect.

What makes the Skipjack 90 a good fishing boat is the fact that it has four rod holders that are placed in good areas as well as the aforementioned storage hatches. This is also a kayak that can fit into the little areas that bigger yaks have trouble getting to. Making the Skipjack 90 one of the more manoeuvrable kayaks on this entire list.

best fishing kayak, vibe skipjack 90

While the Skipjack 90 may not be the best tracking kayak available it can be excused for this as the kayak is only 9 feet. As a general rule of thumb shorter boats generally do not track as well as longer ones.

Overall this kayak has one of the highest customer ratings for a kayak of its price range. Many customers that are both experienced and newer anglers really complimented this kayak for the value they saw in it as well as how it handled along it’s maiden voyages. The only real complaints directed at the kayak was the fact that a fishing crate cannot be fitted in the cargo well and that it was a bit too compact for what people were looking for.

See The Full Review of Skipjack 90 

What We Liked

  • Good tracking for a boat of its size
  • Very Maneuverable and can get to places many kayaks cannot
  • Comes with everything needed including lined storage, scupper plugs and paddle
  • Features a decent amount of storage room for a kayak of 9 feet
  • Great versatile kayak that can tackle many different types of conditions thrown at it
  • Great kayak for experienced and beginner fisherman alike
  • Very stable
  • Very transportable

What We Didn’t Like

  • Cannot fly fish from it
  • Cannot fit a fishing crate in the back
  • Cannot fit dog or child on it

Purpose: A good All- Around Fishing boat that has good value attached

Best For: Beginner Kayak Fisherman

Not the Best For: Long Fishing Trips and taller folks

Recommended Bodies of Water: Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: Durable high-density Polyethylene (HDPE) construction

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’ L X 31” W
  • Weight: 52 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Padded Seat Backing
  • Front and Rear Bungee Cargo Wells
  • Two Flush Mount Rod Holders
  • One Swivel Mount Rod Holder
  • Molded Footwells
  • Two 6” Storage Hatches

You may well recognise this kayak! It’s featured in a lot of sporting goods and department stores and is probably one of the best selling angler kayaks around. This is because of it’s affordable price and what you get with the package. Many kayak companies especially ones that are selling budget kayaks typically do not include a swivel mount rod holder, a seat and even a paddle. LifeTime are known for building durable outdoor products and this kayak is no different. It is also pretty well thought out as well!

The LifeTime Tamarack 120 features a total of Three rod holders. Two in the back and one that is a swivel mount rod holder located in the front. Actually LifeTime has done a pretty good job at the placement of these rod holders as many times these rod holders get in the way of the paddle and can be annoying when on the go. So you can have a total of three lines going!

The Tamarack 120 features a V Hull that allows it to track pretty well for an angler kayak. Fishing Kayaks usually focus more on stability than speed and tracking which, is quite understandable.  Lifetime has done a good job of of not compromising the stability of tracking ability of this kayak which is another reason why I would say it’s a good performer in the water.

Despite the good things said there are a few customer complaints about some things on this kayak. There are some reports of leaks in areas such as where the flush mount rod holders sit, as well as reports of leakage in the storage ports. The seat also sits quite low and the most common complaint is the fact that it is not very comfortable which means unless you bring cushions you will not be fishing all day without having some breaks.

See The Full Review of the Tamarack 120 Angler

 

 

Purpose: A Sturdy kayak that can fit two or more.

Best For: Kayaking Around the Lake with a friend

Not the Best For: On Water Perfomance

Recommended Bodies of Water: Calm  Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: 18 gauge PVC with Tarpaulin Bottom and Tough Nylon Cover

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’9” L X 39” W
  • Weight: 41 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity 470 Lbs
  • Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders
  • Paddle Holders
  • Sevylor Trolling Motor Fittings
  • Boston Valves
  • Mesh STorage Pockets
  • D- Rings
  • Two Adjustable Seats
  • Carry Bag and Pressure Gauge
  • One Year Limited Warranty

I can see the look on your face now.. It’s a confused look with perhaps an eyeball roll attached to the end. Look I get it, inflatable kayaks are seen to many as pool toys and the fact that you are fishing out of it and dealing with sharpy barbed objects called hooks makes you really question my choice. I understand the backfire, however Inflatable Kayaks have made leaps and bounds over the past 10 years in innovation and are actually one of the fastest growing industries in kayaking. The big plus in all of this? You don’t need a truck, trailer or roof top to transport it. Simply the back car seat or trunk will do.  

I’ll get this out of the way. You won’t be winning any paddling races with this kayak, not by a long shot (unless you use the trolling motor mount) . It does however, have benefits that you may want to look into if you are fishing in calm waters like lakes, ponds and steams such as the lack of noise. Chances are if you have paddled a hard shell kayak you know it makes noise as soon as you move your legs or thunk a paddle on its sides. Inflatable kayaks don’t do that though. Inflatable kayaks do not make a lot of noise at all because any impact against the boat will be absorbed thanks to the air inside.  They can be used as silent fish stalkers which can only be good news for you if you are fishing near them!

The Coleman Colorado is kind of like a hybrid between a boat and a canoe in the way it is designed. This is good for fisherman who want to pack a lot of gear and a friend as it’s maximum capacity is at 470 lbs! This kayak can take more gear than any of the other best fishing kayaks under $600 by a long shot! It’s sit in design gives you a lot of room to store a lot of gear, the fact that it comes with a motor mount encourages you to pack it to the brim!

The Coleman Colorado is rather accessory rich as it comes with two standing Berkley Rod Holders, four standing flush mounted rod holders, as well as two paddle holders and a motor mount if you need to go anywhere in a hurry!

>>What Customers Say<<

This inflatable kayak would also be the most durable kayak on this list as it it is completely protected by a layer of 18 Gauge PVC as well as a tough as nails nylon cover so that no hooks can penetrate this boat while fishing . Many people cannot be separated from their furry best friends and often times will take their dogs with them on the journey.

Overall this is a pretty highly rated kayak, however like with most inflatable kayaks sometimes there is the odd review about punctures. It seems Coleman does not have the best after sales support as a few customers have complained about the boat or valves leaking and have not heard back from Coleman themselves. This is also not the best kayak for tracking or on water performance in general.

See The Full Review of the Colorado

What We Liked

  • Durable (with a few exceptions
  • Good Customer Rating
  • Lots of Accessories included
  • Quietly stalks fish
  • Lots of room for storage
  • Can fit two people
  • 470 Lbs capacity is more than any other in this category
  • Inflates in 10 minutes

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Coleman’s After Sales Support is a bit questionable
  • Have been a couple of reports of valves leaking
  • Does not Track too well
  • Maneuvers like a boat
  • Seats are said to be slightly uncomfortable

Purpose: A Minimalists fishing kayak

Best For: Beginner Kayak Fisherman

Not the Best For: Long Fishing Trips and taller folks

Recommended Bodies of Water: Calm Lakes, Calm Rivers

Materials: Rugged UV-stabilised Fortiflex® High Density Polyethylene

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’ L X 30” W
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Two Flush mount Rod Holders
  • One Swivel Rod Holder
  • Adjustable padded seat
  • Large cockpit that is open
  • Protective Thigh pads
  • Bungee Deck Rigging and Storage hatch in the back
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • Adjustable Foot Braces

The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 is the minimalists dream kayak. Simply put it is a one man’s show as this kayak is relatively small and lightweight. All you would really need for this kayak is a roof rack and it will fit like a dream. It’s a particularly lightweight kayak meaning that as long as you are able you can load or unload the kayak by yourself without much help unlike some of the more expensive models of kayaks out there.

It features three rod holders that you can use at the same time as well as ample cockpit room and a storage hatch that is located in the bow of the kayak. Now this is not the most feature rich kayak but by any means as the storage in this kayak is a bit limited. I suppose you can fit several things in between your legs but the storage hatch does not feature a heck of a lot of room unfortunately. If you are a fan of Sun Dolphin and you want to upgrade you can try the Sun Dolphin 10 SS as it has more storage. Although customers tend to favor the Excursion 10 a bit better.

On water performance the Sun Dolphin 10 Excursion excels in calmer waters like still lakes, ponds and slow rivers. It’s tracking ability is pretty good for its price. I would definitely not take it out in rougher waters as tracking appears to be compromised as the kayak is flat bottomed.  It’s 30 “ Width definitely gives the kayak less drag in the water although the stability would be a bit compromised as it is about 3” shorter than many angler kayaks. As this is a sit in kayak I would treat it as such and not stand in it.

>>What Customers Say<<

Overall Customers seem pretty fond of this little boat. It has pretty favourable reviews. It is definitely a great starter kayak although serious yak fisherman may want to look elsewhere when picking a fishing kayak as Sun Dolphin is known to not have the strongest materials in their kayaks compared to others such as Old Town or Vibe Kayaks.

See The Full Review of the Excursion 10 

 

What We Liked

  • Good Vale
  • Great For Beginners
  • Ideal for Minimalist Fisherman
  • Tracks well in calmer waters
  • Relatively stable
  • Kayak is lightweight and easy to transport
  • Water Bottle Holder is in a good spot

 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not a great kayak to be in rougher waters with
  • Materials used are a bit questionable
  • Not a great kayak to have if you rely on a lot of fishing gear
  • Taller people seem to have trouble getting in this kayak

Purpose: A Durable Sit inside Kayak with lots of room

Best For: Taller/ Bigger folks

Not the Best For: Tracking or Paddling fast

Recommended Bodies of Water: Lakes, Rivers, Ocean Bays

Materials: Single Layer Polyethylene

Features

  • Dimensions: 10’ L C 28.6” W
  • Weight: 49 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Molded in Cockpit Tray
  • Adjustable Comfort Flex Seat
  • Cup Holder
  • Stern Day Well Storage
  • Drain Plug
  • Anchor and Trolley System

The Vapor 10 Angler kayak is made from a respectable brand called Old Town which has a rich history of creating Kayaks and Canoes for years. As a result you can expect the same kind of craftsmanship and quality that goes into all Old Town Boats to go into this one. What is also surprising is the fact that this kayak is actually set at the under $600 price tag.

best fishing kayak, oldtown vapor 10

What is unique about this kayak is the fact that it has an anchor/ trolley system that actually comes with the kayak. This a great add- on by Old Town and I am honestly surprised that not many other kayak manufacturers have caught on. Being anchored while fishing, especially when it is windy is pretty crucial. Otherwise you have to adjust your position constantly while juggling your fishing rod.

Another great feature about the Vapor 10 Angler is the fact that it actually comes with a comfortable adjustable seat. Many Kayaks within this price range sacrifice your back by putting in cheap seats but not Old Town. It is also very accommodating to Taller people such as myself. That is because the cockpit is wider than most sit inside kayaks so as a result you can stick your knees or legs out and be comfortable!   

Perhaps this biggest win with the Vapor 10 is the fact that it is durable. Old Town is known for having boats that last a really long time and that is down to the construction of this boat. It can definitely take a pounding and is the most durable hard shell kayak on this list.

In terms of on water performance The Vapor 10 is decent but does not really excel in anything per say. It’s not fast, it’s tracking is ok and it can be released in Class I or II Rapids but many of the kayaks on this $600 and under list can outperform this kayak on the water. It is a very stable kayak thanks to its hull design but is also the thinnest kayak on this page by almost 5”. That makes me question the stability of this kayak but there have been a few customers that have come out and said it is very stable for a sit inside kayak.

See The Full Review of the Vapor 10 

What We Liked

  • Very Durable
  • Comes with Anchor and Trolley
  • Has a smart design that is useful for fisherman
  • Tray on the cockpit is handy
  • Seat is comfortable
  • Great for Bigger/ taller people
  • Good Customer testimonials

What We Didn’t Like

  • On Water Performance is okay
  • Tracking is said to be a slight issue with this kayak
  • Drain Hole is in questionable location

What to Look for in a Fishing Kayak

If you were to ask 10 of the top yak angler experts what their favorite kayaks were I guarantee you they would all have different answers. This is because each kayak fisherman has different opinions on what a fishing kayak should be and how it should be designed. My job here is to make it easier for you to choose which kayak will best suit your lifestyle. Some folks will even go as far as getting specialised kayak paddles for fishing !

Sit on Top Vs Sit In Kayak

Sit On Top Kayaks:

best fishing kayak

Most of the kayaks we reviewed are sit on top kayak models. This is because they are generally easier to fish out of due to their stability. In fact some Sit On Top Models you can stand on with confidence of not tipping over! This is because most of them have double hull construction where there is an enclosed air space between the inner and outer hulls. Sit on top kayaks are usually more customisable as well. Meaning you can fit a whole lot of different accessories to your kayak hassle free. If you are a fisherman who likes bringing a lot of gear typically a SIt on top will be better suited towards you.

If you are new to kayaking you may want to consider these kayaks first. I say this because they are easier to get in and out of on land as well as on the water. Capsizing and getting back into a SIt inside kayak takes a bit of training.

Sit In Kayaks:

best fishing kayak

While many anglers prefer Sit on top kayaks sit in kayak still have their advantages for angling. Sit in kayaks generally have a better hull displacement meaning if you want to get somewhere quicker they would be the better bet.  You are also more enclosed so that you are protected from the elements. This is especially key if you live in colder climates such as myself.

What I would suggest doing is trying out both types of kayak at a rental and see which one you prefer.

Fishing Kayak Length vs Width vs Weight

Whats the difference between a long kayak and a short kayak? How do they handle? Which is better for fishing?  I say.. It depends! If you put a lot of weight into traveling, tracking and kayak speed I would say go for a longer kayak. If you just want to putter around at the local lake and want a stable kayak, go with a shorter kayak. A general rule of thumb is that shorter kayaks are more stable while longer kayaks are faster. Figure out which one will apply to you can go from there!

How a kayak behaves in the water depends on the amount of weight in it, the manufacturer’s design and the weather/ water conditions. If you plan on bringing a lot of gear with you , make sure to get a kayak that can withhold it! Kayaks with a maximum capacity of 300 lbs and over are a good start. If you just want to fish for a short while and have minimal gear, a kayak with a smaller maximum capacity would be fine. Always estimate your weight and the weight of your gear to determine the maximum capacity of the boat.

Kayak Storage

This is a pretty important criteria for many fisherman and many times there is a correlation to the amount of storage a kayak has and its price tag. If you are a fisherman who wants all the doodads like a fish finder, a crate, multiple tackle boxes and live bait it will end up costing you more. There is no right or wrong answer to this question as many fisherman like to keep it simple or like to bring lots of gear with them!

Kayak Price

Kayak Buying Guide, best fishing kayak

Whats the difference between a $1,000 + kayak and a $300 kayak? Many things really. A reason why one manufacturer will charge more than another can come down to accessories included, the design of the kayak and the quality of materials used. If you are just getting started and don’t have a large budget a $300 – $500 kayak is perfectly acceptable. If you have been fishing for  along time and want a kayak that has all the bells as whistles like a Hobie It will end up costing you $2,000 +. The good news is there are plenty of kayaks in between that offer good quality and functionality at a reasonable price point.

Definitions

Bow: Front of the Kayak

Stern: Rear of the kayak

Hull: Shape of the bottom of the kayak

Skeg: The fin underneath the kayak that helps the boat go straight

Tracking: How straight the kayak goes (Good tracking =good straight line)

Bulkheads: A dividing wall between the compartments of the kayak

Chop: Short steep isolated waves that are caused by wind

Class I Water: Moving water with few obstacles

Class II Water: Rapids with wide clear channels, occasional maneuvering required  

Class III Water:  Rapids with moderate to irregular waves which can be difficult to avoid. Complex maneuvers and good boat control required.
Scupper holes: Pre Drilled holes usually located in the kayak footwells, tanks wells or cockpit that allow water to drain out by itself.

2 thoughts on “The Best Fishing Kayak of 2018”

  1. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed information you present.
    It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that
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    1. I appreciate this comment a lot. I work hard to make sure that this blog is not just rehashed content, but something that can actually help people to make informed choices by drawing from a bit of personal experience 🙂

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