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Reel in the Big Catch – A Guide to Choosing the Best Fishing Kayak

Reel in the Big Catch - A Guide to Choosing the Best Fishing Kayak

Are you interested in joining the growing ranks of anglers discovering the joys of kayak fishing? Or perhaps you already hit the water in a ‘yak and are looking to upgrade your ride. This in-depth kayak fishing guide will help you discover the ideal boat tailored for your needs.

We’ll provide key considerations when selecting fishing kayaks, highlight popular styles, and share insider knowledge from seasoned kayak anglers. With a purpose-built kayak, you can access remote hot spots, customize a mobile fishing platform, and reel in the big catch!

Types of Fishing Kayaks

Today’s fishing kayaks offer features tailored for anglers. The main categories are:

Sit-On-Top Kayaks – Versatile Performers

Sit-On-Top Kayaks - Versatile Performers

Sit-on-tops provide open access and ease of movement:

  • Open deck design allows standing, easy access to gear
  • Self-bailing scupper holes drain excess splashed water
  • Increased stability for casting, landing fish, and standing

Pros: Beginner-friendly stability, paddle with ease

Cons: Less dry storage, can flood in waves

Top models from NuCanoe, FeelFree, Bonafide.

Sit-Inside Kayaks – Protection from the Elements

Sit-Inside Kayaks - Protection from the Elements

Enclosed sit-inside designs offer a drier ride:

  • Protects angler from splashes and weather
  • Comfortable padded seats
  • Initial and long term secondary stability

Pros: Dryer, secure feel sitting low inside hull

Cons: Harder access to gear, less standing stability

Look into Wilderness Systems, Perception, and Old Town.

Inflatable Kayaks – Portable and Affordable

Inflatable Kayaks - Portable and Affordable

Inflatable fishing kayaks provide versatility at low cost:

  • Lightweight hull inflates with foot pump
  • Deflates and rolls up for easy transport, storage
  • More rigid floor for standing stability

Pros: Extremely portable, inexpensive, easy storage

Cons: Less durable, slower, challenging stability

Top models from Advanced Elements, Sevylor, and Aquaglide.

Pedal-Drive Kayaks – Hands Free Fishing

Pedal-Drive Kayaks - Hands Free Fishing

Pedal-powered ‘yaks allow hands-free fishing:

  • Foot pedals control propulsion and steering
  • Leave hands free to fish at all times
  • Expensive but growing in popularity

Pros: No paddling, precise boat control

Cons: Heavy, performance issues in shallow water

Hobie MirageDrive pioneered pedal drive systems.

Tandem Kayaks – Bring a Buddy

Tandem Kayaks - Bring a Buddy

Tandem kayaks allow two people to fish together:

  • Increased weight capacity and gear storage
  • Wider beam improves stability with two anglers
  • Fun way to fish and share gear with a friend

Pros: Fish with others, split tasks

Cons: Maneuverability compromises, challenging seating

Look at options from Vibe, Lifetime, and Sun Dolphin.

Now let’s explore key considerations for selecting your ideal fishing kayak.

Choosing a Fishing Kayak for Your Needs

With many options, keep these factors in mind when deciding:

How and Where You Fish

Match the kayak design to your specific fishing activities:

  • Lakes and rivers – look for stability to cast and land fish
  • Big open water – need tracking and speed to cover distance
  • Surf launches – stability for managing waves and easy access
  • Flats fishing – shallow draft, pole anchor systems
  • Trolling – tandem kayak allows running multiple lines

Choose designs that align with your local waters and style.

Fishing Gear You Use

Consider how to outfit your kayak for your specific gear:

  • Rod holders properly position rods within reach
  • Tackle storage and organizers keep essentials handy
  • Mounting options for anchors, flags, fishfinders, batteries
  • Space for landing nets, gaffs, and other essentials

Customize your setup for effortless access to important gear.

Launching and Transport Considerations

Assess your practical needs for transporting:

  • Cart required for long distances from parking to launch site
  • Ability to load/unload solo or need helper
  • Vehicle roof rack capacity or need a trailer
  • Weight and portability if car-topping
  • Clearance and draft for shallow river launching

Choose kayaks suited for how you’ll get them to and from the water.

Additional Features and Priorities

Factor in other preferences:

  • Seating comfort and adjustability for full days on the water
  • Dry storage capacity for gear that needs to stay dry
  • Safety additions like pumps, lights, and tow ropes
  • Rod leashes to avoid losing rods overboard
  • DIY customization and accessory potential

Find designs that align with your wishlist and priorities.

Frequently Asked Kayak Fishing Questions

For more insights from seasoned kayak anglers, here are answers to common questions:

What kayak length provides the best stability?

Wider kayak beam has more impact on stability than length. Avoid ultralight kayaks under 10 feet long. Wider kayaks feel more stable.

Can I stand and fish from a sit-inside kayak?

It’s possible but very challenging unless you have great balance. Sit-on-tops are far better suited for standing and fishing.

How should I transport a kayak on a car roof?

Use foam blocks, kayak carrier straps or J-racks to securely fasten the kayak upside down. Bow and stern ropes help prevent sliding.

What’s the best paddling technique for efficient kayaking?

Keep your back upright and utilize core rotation rather than just arms. Alternate paddle sides smoothly without splashing. Let the paddle blade glide into the water for clean entry and exit.

Is it safe to kayak fish alone?

It’s better and safer not to fish alone when possible. Always wear a PFD. Carry safety items like a whistle, flares and phone. Avoid risky situations in rough seas or remote areas.

The ideal fishing kayak gets you to the fish comfortably and reliably. Keep these key factors in mind, test prospective boats if possible, and invest in a kayak aligned with your needs and local waters. With the perfect fishing platform, you can access remote hot spots and reel in that trophy catch!


Kayak fishing continues to grow in popularity for good reason – these compact boats allow anglers to reach hot spots away from shore crowds and customize a high-performance mobile fishing rig.

There are now specialized kayaks designed with the angler’s needs in mind to enhance the fishing experience. By outlining your priorities and fishing style, you can invest in the ideal kayak to take your angling adventures to the next level.

Have you joined the kayak fishing movement? What tips would you share for choosing a fishing kayak? Drop your best recommendations in the comments below to keep the conversation going!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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