My goal is to spend several hours a week in my fishing kayak. So that means I need the best sit-on-top fishing kayak to stay comfortable and have the most enjoyable experience during a long day of fishing.
After testing dozens of kayaks over the last several years, I found what I like and don’t like about sit-on-top kayaks, and I’m going to break it down in this article so you can choose the best one for you.
To cut to the chase, the Ascend 133X is the best-sit-on-top fishing kayak because it’s comfortable and has all the fishing features you need at a ridiculously reasonable price.
If this isn’t the kayak for you, don’t worry, you can keep scrolling to see the rest of the SOT kayaks!
Top 3 Best SOT Fishing Kayaks
Below are my top picks for sit-on-top kayaks after testing many different brands and models:
When testing a fishing kayak, I focus on several features. Stability, comfortability, fishability, and price all heavily influence what makes the best fishing kayak.
- Stability: If a sit-on-top fishing kayak is not stable, then you’ll end up in the water, losing your gear, or having a terrible accident. I don’t want that for you or anyone else, so I made sure the kayaks on this list were stable enough to stand and fish from in most instances.
- Comfort: As I mentioned, I spend many hours in my fishing kayak every month, which means comfort is a major consideration. The seat, seat height, and leg room all factor into how comfortable a kayak is; you’ll thank me when your back and butt aren’t sore after sitting in your new fishing kayak for 5 minutes.
- Fishability: If we’re talking fishing kayaks, they better be made to make anglers’ lives easier. I look for yaks loaded with fishing features above and beyond built-in rod holders. I like to see that a kayak is customizable to fit each individual angler’s wants and needs.
- Price: We’re all on a budget, and some of us are on a tighter budget than others. So while I could have gone with all the high-end expensive yaks, I tried to keep the price in mind as much as possible. There are many kayaks I had to leave off simply because they’re too expensive for the average paddler.
BEST SIT-ON-TOP FISHING KAYAK OVERALL
- Length: 13’
- Width: 36.5″
- Weight: 125lbs
- Max capacity: 550lbs
Why We Chose It
TheAscend 133X blew me away while testing it, which is why it’s the best sit-on-top fishing kayak. I couldn’t believe a fishing kayak this comfortable and stable was so inexpensive.
Ascend is the Bass Pro and Cabela’s brand for various outdoor gear. So to say I was surprised by how well this yak was designed is an understatement.
The Ascend 133X is so stable you won’t ever feel like it’s going to flip, even when standing to fish. In fact, you’ll fall out of the kayak before it tips over, and you lose all your gear.
Speaking of gear, you’ll be able to bring along all of your fishing gear with the number of storage areas available.
There’s bungee storage in the tankwell and a dry storage hatch, so you can bring along stuff that can and can’t get wet.
You can also customize this yak with fish finders, a kayak trolling motor, and a Power Pole Micro because it has places built-in to mount these accessories, and the wires are already run throughout the kayak, so you won’t have to drill holes and run them yourself.
I also thought the foam-padded seat was very comfortable, and the seat height made standing or stretching my legs easy. It’s tough for me to use any other kind of kayak seat after sitting in this one.
Lastly, you’re getting a steal of a deal with this fishing kayak. It’s barely over $1,000, whereas most kayaks with this many features and comfortability will cost you another $500 or more.
Just look at the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. Though it’s half the weight, it’s not as customizable or comfortable, and it costs almost $100 more than the Ascend 133X.
While I believe this is a killer kayak, I must be honest and admit there are a few things I don’t like about it.
The first is how heavy it is. At 125 pounds empty, it makes transporting and paddling it very difficult.
Not to mention how much weight you add with batteries, fish finder, trolling motor, Power Pole Micro, and all your other fishing gear!
To compare it to another motorized kayak, the Brooklyn Kayak Company PK12 on Amazon is a little more than half the weight, plus a trolling motor. However, it’s more expensive and not as customizable or stable.
The other downside I’d like to see changed is the number of gear tracks on the yak. I’d like to see more or make the accessory rails longer.
I’m a huge fan of Nucanoe kayaks (that’s why I own two) because they have gear tracks everywhere. But they’re very expensive, which is why they didn’t make the list.
Even with these cons, the Ascend 133X is the best sit-on-top fishing kayak because the seat is super comfortable, it’s customizable, and perfectly priced for the average yak angler.
Oh, and there’s an option to buy the Ultimate Fishing Package, so you’ll have the best start you could possibly get when buying a fishing kayak.
BEST SIT-ON-TOP PEDAL FISHING KAYAK
Hobie Mirage Passport 12
- Length: 12′
- Width: 34″
- Weight: 73lbs
- Max capacity: 400lbs
Why We Chose It
The Hobie Mirage Passport 12 is the best sit-on-top pedal fishing kayak. I love how effortlessly I could pedal, turn, and fish while testing this yak.
Hobie makes the highest-quality, most advanced watercraft and kayaks on the market. The Mirage Passport 12 is no exception.
There’s so much to love about the patented Hobie MirageDrive pedal propulsion system. You can quickly get to your fishing spots and still have the energy to fish.
Pedaling also keeps your hands free to fish. The only times you need your hands are to switch from forward to reverse or vice versa and to make minor steering adjustments.
The best thing about the MirageDrive pedals is that the Kick-Up fins are designed for those times when you don’t see a log or rock, and instead of breaking, they kick up to get over the obstacle and then quickly reset to keep going.
The rudder also kicks up if you hit anything with it.
While testing this kayak, I could do circles in an area not much larger than the kayak. So if you need a tight-turning kayak, the Mirage Passport is the one.
The Mirage Passport 12 has rod holders, gear tracks, and lots of storage for your fishing tackle. Plus, the 400-pound weight capacity means you can bring just about anything you’d like to on your kayak fishing trip.
I thought the adjustable mesh seat was comfortable while pedaling and fishing, even though it was a bit low for standing.
There are a couple of reasons everyone doesn’t own a Hobie. Hobie makes excellent kayaks, but you will pay a high price for any of them, including the Mirage Passport 12.
However, it’s cheaper than the Old Town Sportsman Big Water PDL, which has an instant reverse pedal drive system and is a foot longer.
Speaking of instant reverse, that’s the only reason I didn’t fall in love with the MirageDrive system; you have to pull a cord to switch between forward and reverse.
The MirageDrive 360 allows you to instantly pedal in all different directions, but it’s not included with this model.
The Hobie Mirage Passport 12 is the best pedal fishing kayak if you can get past the sticker shock and lack of instant reverse because it’s comfortable, customizable, and makes kayak fishing easier.
BEST INFLATABLE SIT-ON-TOP FISHING KAYAK
- Length: 12’ 6”
- Width: 38″
- Weight: 48lbs
- Max capacity: 375lbs
Why We Chose It
TheNRS Pike is the best sit-on-top inflatable fishing kayak because the seat is cozy, it’s designed with angling in mind, and you’ll have to desperately try to tip it.
I used to be skeptical of inflatable kayaks until I tested this one out.
I was blown away by how lightweight and stable it was! I had no problem standing, paddling, or fishing from it. I never once felt like it was going to tip, thanks in part to its wide base.
Even though it’s lightweight, that doesn’t mean they skimped on the materials.
The NRS Pike is built to last from heavy-duty PVC and a protective EVA foam deck pad, so you won’t want to worry about hitting a stick or sharp rock and getting a hole in it.
The kayak seat was very comfortable. I love that it sits up higher than the Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 seat, which makes standing easier, and it’s a more comfortable position while paddling.
While the paddling was great, this yak is designed for fishing, so you can quickly install and remove the YakAttack gear products which come with it.
I’ve always had heavy fishing kayaks, which means I need a trailer to transport them. I like the NRS Pike because you can transport it in any vehicle thanks to it being lightweight and packable.
One might think that being lightweight means it doesn’t handle as well as it could, but I found that it tracked very well with the rigid keel insert.
Even though this yak single-handedly changed my mind about inflatable kayaks, I still found a couple of downsides.
The first is the lack of dry storage. However, this can be compensated for by using a dry box or dry bag, so it’s not the end of the world.
I also didn’t like the price. There are many other cheaper fishing kayaks that are more customizable than the NRS Pike. But it is easier to transport and sometimes comes with YakAttack mounts.
Despite the cons, the NRS Pike is still the best inflatable fishing kayak on the market because it’s easy to transport, comfortable, designed for fishing, and holds all your gear in the bungee storage areas.
BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY SIT-ON-TOP FISHING KAYAK
Lifetime Kayaks Kenai Angler
- Length: 10′ 3″
- Width: 31″
- Weight: 53lbs
- Max capacity: 275lbs
Why We Chose It
Lifetime Kayaks make inexpensive kayaks, so it makes sense they’re my budget-friendly kayak choice. Since the Kenai Angler is under $1,000, most people can justify purchasing it.
I like that this kayak has rod holders, so you can bring multiple fishing poles with you. The Kenai Angler also has lots of bungee storage and a dry storage area, so you can bring your tackle boxes and items that need to stay dry.
After paddling heavy kayaks, it’s refreshing to find one lightweight like this to paddle for a bit. I found that it was very easy to maneuver and paddle, making it an excellent option for beginners since it comes with a paddle.
The lightweight design also makes it easier to load into the back of a truck or on top of an SUV, so you won’t have to buy a kayak trailer to transport it.
However, remember that the more money you “save,” the more features you’re giving up, and I found quite a few that you’re giving up to save a few bucks.
First off, it does not have gear tracks, so to mount additional rod holders or a fish finder, you will have to drill holes in your kayak, which I’m not a big fan of doing.
The seat is another area where they cut costs, the backrest is adjustable, but the thin foam and low height quickly got uncomfortable while testing this yak.
Lastly, I prefer to have carry handles that are secured to my kayak by more than just a rope because it makes carrying them much easier.
But this isn’t the end of the world because high-end kayaks still do this with their handles. Even the Pelican BassCreek 100 Angler XP has better handles than some high-end yaks.
The Lifetime Kayaks Kenai Angler is best for someone on a tight budget but still wants to go kayak fishing. Don’t let expensive kayaks stand in your way of enjoying this amazing activity.
Old Town Topwater 106
- Length: 10′ 6″
- Width: 34.5″
- Weight: 73lbs
- Max capacity: 440lbs
Why We Chose It
The Old Town Topwater 106 is perfect for someone looking for a small sit-on-top fishing kayak at a reasonable price.
Old Town is one of the most trusted brands in the watersports industry. They’ve been making quality kayaks and canoes for decades.
It has all the features you need in a compact package, making transporting it more manageable than with a longer kayak like the Perception Pescador Pro 12 or Old Town Sportsman 120 (which is the same kaya, just longer).
The Topwater 106 is stable and perfect for beginners who might be nervous about tipping it while fishing.
The adjustable ergonomic seat keeps you comfortable while paddling and fishing and helps make standing easier when you pull yourself up using the strap between the adjustable foot braces.
I really like the strap and wish more kayaks thought of that, especially when they have a low seat height.
The stability and EVA foam deck pads also make standing to fish a breeze. The foam pads keep your feet comfortable, and the stability keeps you safe in the kayak. I didn’t have any trouble while standing in this yak.
I found there to be plenty of built-in rod holders and storage areas to hold all my gear. The dry storage is at the bow (front), and the bungee storage is at the stern (rear); both are easily accessible.
I like that the bungee storage has scupper holes to drain the water out when it splashes into the tank well, so my gear wasn’t sitting in water the entire time I was testing it.
The main thing I think could be improved is the weight. It’s heavy for such a short yak. However, rotomolded fishing kayaks are known for being heavy, so this isn’t a surprise.
The Old Town Topwater 106 is trusted by beginner and expert kayak anglers, and the price is tough to beat with all the fishing features and comfortability you get out of this yak.
SOT Fishing Kayak Buyer’s Guide
The following features are things to keep in mind when purchasing a sit-on-top fishing kayak. These are my preferences when I buy a new kayak.
I want a stable kayak. It’s a safety factor, and it keeps all my gear in the kayak where it belongs instead of on the bottom of the lake or river.
Having a kayak that you can stand up and fish from is ideal for long fishing days. Plus, it often gives you a better vantage point to see potential catches.
Maneuverability doesn’t matter as much in a SOT kayak as it does with a sit-in kayak, but it still matters, especially if you’re fishing rivers.
You need to be able to maneuver your kayak to get the perfect cast to catch more fish.
Was the kayak designed for fishing, or is it a recreational kayak with rod holders slapped on it?
Fishing kayaks are more versatile than other styles of kayaks, but they’re also heavier.
The fishability of a kayak often comes down to storage options, comfortability of the seat, stability, and the availability of gear tracks.
We all have a unique way of fishing. Can your kayak match your style? Or do you have to conform to your kayak?
I prefer kayaks that I can customize to my style of fishing.
You’re likely going to spend hours in this kayak at a time; make sure it’s comfortable.
Otherwise, your fishing experience will be overshadowed by a sore back and rear end.
You’ll Also Need
Now that you’ve bought a new fishing kayak, you’ll need a few other items to stay safe and have even more fun.
Rigging your kayak can be almost as fun as fishing from it!
I never leave the bank without my lifejacket secured. It’s not worth the risk, and I’m a decent swimmer.
Don’t skip our best kayak fishing PFD article if you need a life vest; we reviewed the top life jackets designed for kayak fishing.
I was surprised the first time I bought a kayak, and it didn’t come with a paddle. I just spent over $1000, and it doesn’t come with a paddle.
Sit-on-top kayaks often require a longer paddle. If you’re confused about what paddle to get, we have a comprehensive guide to choosing the best kayak paddle.
I recommend learning how to fish without a fish finder. That way, you’re not dependent on a single piece of gear.
Once you’ve figured out the basics of fishing, you can choose the best kayak fish finder.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions we get regarding sit-on-top fishing kayaks.
Few things in life are better than catching fish from a SOT fishing yak.
I’ve found that having the best sit-on-top fishing kayak, like the Ascend 133X, makes kayak fishing even more enjoyable if that’s possible!
We love hearing from you, so if you have any questions about the best SOT kayak, then let us know in the comments!