Which Fishing Kayak is Right for You?
The bottom line in choosing the best fishing kayak for your needs is that there is no one-size-fits all. Before you decide on purchasing a kayak for fishing, the most important thing you can do is to take stock of where and how you plan to do most of your paddling and fishing. Identify your needs: Will you be fishing in freshwater ponds for largemouth bass? Navigating streams and rivers to catch smallmouth bass and trout? Poking around saltwater harbors, estuaries and flats for striped bass and bluefish? Or do you plan to venture out into the open ocean and launch through surf? Also, will this kayak be strictly a fishing vessel, or do you plan to use it for relaxation and recreation with your family? Once you’ve thought about what you want from a fishing kayak, it’s time to select a handful that appear to match your desired criteria. At that point, try them all! Always demo a kayak before you buy it!
Before you can evaluate the fishing kayaks at your local paddlesport shop or marina, it’s helpful to understand some of the important characteristics of kayaks. Most fishing kayaks can be used for a variety of activities, but no one kayak excels at every activity. Choosing a kayak, like choosing a boat or a car, means mulling over a long list of specifications and deciding what features are “must-haves” and which ones are compromises. Once you understand your options, you can start down the path of choosing the right kayak for your intended purposes. These are some of the basics to consider before you buy your first, or next, fishing kayak.
What Kind of Kayak is Best for Fishing?
Pedal kayaks have become very popular for fishing because they free up your arms for holding a fishing rod. There are several options in pedal-powered kayaks by Hobie, Old Town, Native, Ocean Kayak, Pelican and others. Check out our guide on picking the best pedal-powered fishing kayak. Electric-motor-powered kayaks are also becoming a popular option. Paddle kayaks tend to be less expensive than pedal kayaks, and some anglers prefer the simplicity and lightweight of paddle kayaks.
What’s the most stable fishing kayak?
Fishing kayaks are remarkably stable. In general, wider kayaks are more stable and can support more capacity, which is often advantageous when fishing. However, width is far from the only factor that affects stability. Hull design can have a big effect, so test a fishing kayak before buying.
Is a longer kayak better for fishing?
In general, the longer the kayak, the faster it will be and the more easily it will cover distances. The trade-off is a loss of maneuverability in tight spaces and difficulty in transporting the kayak to launch sites.
Can I stand up and fish from a kayak?
Extra-wide and stable fishing kayaks allow an angler to stand and fish. If you are a fly-fishermen, or if you enjoy sight-casting to fish in the shallows, stand-up capability might be very important to you in choosing a fishing kayak.
Do I need a fish finder on a kayak?
A fish finder can be very helpful when fishing from a kayak, but it isn’t necessary. It depends on what types of fishing you will be doing, and if knowing the depth and detecting fish under your kayak would be helpful.
What else should I consider when buying a fishing kayak?
Weight: Consider your cartop capacity and what you can carry when choosing a kayak. A heavy kayak might require a wheeled cart to move it down to the launch site. Storage and Extras: Consider how much storage you’ll need on board your kayak. Will you be keeping fish? Is live-bait storage important to you? Will you be doing any kayak-camping? Many kayak fishermen use milk crate systems to store tackle and extra rods. Seat: Less expensive kayaks have molded-in seats or basic removable seating pads. More fishing kayaks are now offering adjustable “lawn chair” style seats with excellent back support. Test them out to see what you find comfortable.