“Open waters are like highways, best traveled in a Kayak”
Kayak fishing has become popular in recent times. It is an extraordinary outdoor activity combining your body strength and the excitement for fishing. No doubt, any angler would love to venture into the waters than sit around the pier and end up with a meager catch.
More and more fishers are preferring kayaks over regular boats. The benefits of Kayaks are
- Kayaks give you access to areas where boats cannot venture.
- Kayak fishing gives you comfort, convenience, and allows you to enjoy the serenity of the water body.
- By being smaller and lighter than regular boats, kayaks are easy to control and maneuver.
These traits have made kayak fishing very popular amongst both experienced and new anglers. You must be looking forward to purchasing your own kayak. But you know what the most challenging part of kayak fishing is? Selecting the right kayak!
There are multiple options in the market. Every vessel has different features, specifications, and is suited for a particular type of activity. Will you use the kayak for fishing? Are you purchasing it for touring purposes? Is it for excursions and overnight wilderness?
Wait! Is there are kayak that can do all these? Your mind must be getting filled with endless questions and queries. That’s why we have compiled a review of the top 10 best fishing kayaks for rivers and lakes. We have also put together a buying guide that will help you in selecting the best one.
Before moving into the reviews of the best kayaks, let us check out the different types of kayaks.
Fishing Kayak Types
There are many different kinds of kayaks available in the marketplace. Generally, rookies, photographers, or paddlers choose the recreational one. Professional fishermen opt for the ones with advanced features suited for a great fishing experience. Two basic types of kayaks are –
Sit on Top Kayaks
These kayaks are comfortable and easy to maneuver. Here the fisherman sits on top of the kayak. It is easy to get in and get out of the kayak. These types of kayaks are ideal for rivers, lakes, canals, and saltwater. Sit on Top models have a wider hull giving more stability to the kayak.
The flip side of these is it slows down your speed, and you get a wet ride. Being vast and massive, it cannot move fast in the water. At the same time, you have no protection from the water splashes.
Sit in Kayaks
In this case, the paddler has to sit inside the kayak, in a space known as the cockpit. The kayak has a spray skirt that keeps you dry from the water splashes. The disadvantage that you may experience is that these are not very stable. You will always feel that you are about to tumble into the water.
Besides these two types, you can also categorize kayaks as inflatable, non-inflatable, and pedal kayaks. If space is a concern, then inflatable kayaks are the best. You can store it in any corner and quickly inflate it before you go fishing. These are incredibly light and inexpensive. The pedal kayaks allow you to use your legs to move the kayak. This means you can use both your hands for fishing and also need not learn the art of paddling.
It all depends on your requirement, the kind of water you want to venture into, the type of catch you are expecting, and your level of expertise. Without further ado, let us check out the reviews.
Top 10 Best Fishing Kayaks For Rivers And Lakes
1. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
If you are stepping into kayak fishing for the first time and are looking for an affordable kayak, then start with this inflatable model. The Intex Challenger is resistant to puncture, comes with two air chambers, mesh storage on the bow, and lots of room for your gears.
It is a single-seat inflatable kayak with aluminum oars. The kayak has a maximum load capacity of 220lbs. So be careful of the number of gears and equipment you carry along.
- The kayak comprises of heavy-duty, durable vinyl material.
- It gives strength and performance on the lakes and rivers.
- The cockpit is pretty spacious.
- You can relax and continue fishing for long hours without worrying about back soars and cramps.
- The seat has a backrest, and the inflatable beam floor adds stability to the kayak.
- There is mesh storage in the front and clamps at both ends for pulling out or launching it into the water.
- It comes with a hand pump for inflating the kayak before launching it into water.
- There is an 84-inch-long aluminum oar for maneuvering the kayak in the lakes and rivers.
- The kayak is 30inches wide, 15inches in height, 108inches in length, and weighs 27.2lbs.
- It is lightweight, easy to use, and the Boston valves allow you to deflate and inflate it in minutes.
- Inexpensive inflatable kayak
- Easy to carry and store
- Adjustable seat with backrest
- Bright colors and added graphics give extra visibility in the waters
- Single-seat kayak
- Comes with limited storage space and load capacity
- Vulnerable to get punctured
This is ideal for novice anglers. You can hone your kayak fishing skills using this inflatable model before going for the expensive ones. The Intex Challenger would be an excellent choice for camping, excursions, touring around, and fishing in the nearby lakes and rivers.
2. Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Another inflatable, high-performance, and an inexpensive kayak is the Sevylor Colorado Fishing Kayak. Go out fishing with your friend or partner and come back with a beautiful catch.
It comes from 18gauge PVC, with a tarpaulin bottom and nylon cover, ensuring ruggedness and strength. The kayak has adjustable seats with backrests. You can conveniently paddle along without cramping your legs or even use the Sevylor motor if you want to rest your feet (motor has to be purchase separately).
There is plenty of room for storage at the bow and stern. It has got enough D rings and rod holders, giving you all that you need for an exceptional fishing experience.
- The 18guage PVC, 1000D tarpaulin, and 840D nylon protect the kayak from puncture and shock.
- It comes with multiple air chambers. So even if one gets damaged, you can quickly return to the shore.
- Easy to inflate and deflate, and you need not worry about storage space at all.
- You can go for hands-free fishing as this kayak comes with the Berkley Quick rod holders to adjust the pole directions.
- It has a facility (D rings) for a lot of other attachments and gears, and you can even add a trolling motor in case you are tired of paddling.
- There are multiple mesh storage pockets around the inner body of the kayak. This keeps your snacks and gear at arms distance.
- Rugged, sturdy and durable
- Room for adding trolling motors
- Boston Valves for quick inflation and deflation
- It is highly stable and will not tumble even in the face of strong winds
- Might have water leakage if there is not sufficient air in the chambers
- You may need additional dry bags to protect your gears
This model has a lot of great features and is a perfect choice for a 2-person kayak. Add a trolling motor and head out for a fantastic fishing adventure with your partner.
3. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-FK184
If you are looking for a lightweight, compact, single sit on top kayak, then check this model from the Brooklyn Kayak Company. BKC has provided some of the best kayak models over the years. You can trust BKC on durability and toughness. They have never disappointed any angler.
This kayak weighs only 45lbs and has a load capacity of 250lbs. It comes with four rod holders, carry handles, and an adjustable seat with backrest.
- Comfortable paddle parks and bungee cords to keep them in place.
- It comes with four carry handles, which means you can easily carry it from one place to another
- The kayak has four flush and one articulating fishing rods. You can deploy multiple fishing rods at the same time.
- It has a comfortable seat with enough room for leg space. You can fish all day without worrying about cramps or aches.
- The BKC UH FK184 has a watertight storage compartment in the front, while another storage space covered with elastic ropes is present at the back.
- Maneuver easily in narrow water bodies
- Highly portable and convenient to carry along
- Can be used by both professionals and novice anglers
- It is a single-seat kayak
- You may not get the speed with this kayak
The takeaway is that if you want to fish in calm waters, like inland lakes, then this can be the right choice. Pack your books, snacks, and gears in the watertight compartment and set out for a long adventure. Moreover, it is portable; you can even carry it and launch single-handedly in your 60s as well.
4. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-In Kayak
The Sun Dolphin Aruba is one of the best fishing kayaks for rivers and lakes. It is ideal for both fishing and recreational purposes. High-quality UV Fortiflex Polyethylene goes into making the body, giving it durability and ruggedness.
This Kayak is a single angler, sit in model with two rod holders, storage space at the bow deck, and a well-padded seat. It has a large foot area, adjustable foot braces, and a convenient design for easy carry. This company is manufacturing excellent kayaks for 22 years, and this model would not be an exception. Thus, for beginners out there, it is worth every penny.
- It is lightweight and can one person is enough to carry the kayak from one place to another.
- The kayak is extensive and offers extra stability. You can paddle with easy without having any fear of tumbling over.
- The foot braces are adjustable and give you a comfortable ride.
- Plenty of storage space at the back, covered with elastic bungee wires.
- Large seating area with a well-cushioned backrest.
- The High-density UV Polyethylene makes it ready for heavy-duty performance.
- Large open area cockpit
- You can choose from a lot of color options
- Lots of space for storing your gears, equipment, and catch
- Low ceiling cockpit
- The inner linings are not durable
- Low weight carrying capacity
This may not be the best for the professional anglers if you are planning for a big bounty. But for the rookies and those looking for recreational purposes, this Sun Dolphin kayak can be a great buy. You have plenty of space, easy to carry design, sturdy and durable body, and all these come at a very affordable price.
5. Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Fishing Kayak
The Perception Pescador Pro is an ultimate kayak for both pros and rookies. You get comfort, durability, storage, and performance, all wrapped in one model. Any day, this model can beat a standard fishing boat on comfort and storage. The kayak is short and light, offering easy transport and carry, also allowing you to fish in narrow waters where boats cannot reach.
This kayak comes with a well-padded, adjustable seat, two tank wells, bungee wires for securing the gears and boxes, leakproof material, and exceptional comfort for an incredible fishing adventure.
- The seat has two levels of adjustment and a fine mesh to give you day-long comfort. Single piece fabrication gives no room for water leakage.
- Abundant storage spaces in the back and front secured with elastic bungee ropes. It keeps your boxes, gears, equipment wholly safe and secured.
- It comes with 2 rod holders so that your hands are always free. The fish finder system and the gear tracks make it ready to surpass all your expectations.
- Drag handles are present at both ends, along with skid plates. You can easily drag it along the ground without worrying about any kind of damages to the kayak.
- The kayak is 12foot in length and 32.5inch in width, weighing 64lbs and having a carrying capacity of 375lbs.
- Comfortable 2 levels adjustable seat
- Plenty of storage space
- Completely customizable
- Easy to control and steer
- Abrasion-resistant, durable and long-lasting
- Being heavy, it will not offer much speed
- Seat buckles and straps are of poor quality
This would be the ideal option for lakes, slow-moving waters, and calm coastal areas. It has all the best features than you can ask for in a fishing kayak. If you plan to sit and fish all day long, then nothing better than the durable, safe, and comfortable Perception Pescador Pro fishing kayak.
6. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T Fishing Kayak
To increase your excitement quotient, all you need is some water and the Vibe Skipjack 120T Fishing Kayak. The two seaters, sit on top kayak doubles your adventure. You can paddle it alone or have fun paddling along with your partner. Add to that you can always accommodate a third person in this kayak. It has two water-resistant well-padded seats with backrest along with a molded seat in the center for your child or furry friend.
The kayak has a load capacity of 500lbs. With amazing features like foot braces, fishfinder consoles, waterproof storage area, comfort handles, and cup holders, this kayak is ready to give you the best fishing adventure.
- The kayak is 12.2ft in length and weighs 72lbs. It has two waterproof storage areas, built-in cup holders, and additional space at the back with bungee wires to secure items.
- It is a single-piece kayak made from rotomolded polyethylene, which makes it durable, leakproof, long-lasting, and gives it sufficient buoyancy.
- There are 4 flush mounted fishing rods, 2 mounts for fish finder consoles, 2 paddle rests, and 2 bungee side paddle parks.
- It comes with two paddles. The seats have ergonomic backrests, easy access in-built cup holders, and comfortable foot braces.
- Includes extra space for a child
- Robust, sturdy, leakproof construction
- Four handles for dragging and transporting
- Plenty of room for storage and leg space
- Versatile and ideal for a wide range of river and lakes conditions
- The kayak is pretty heavy
- Buckles and seat straps are of low quality
The ideal choice for taking your family for fishing. You can use it for solo adventures, recreation, fishing, as well as a family picnic. Besides being bulky, there is barely any disadvantage that comes along with this fantastic kayak.
7. Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak
For years we have known Old Town for its superior quality, innovation, design, and durable products. Be it kayaking, fishing, canoeing, or a casual paddling down the lake, and you will always best an Old Town product suited for your need
The Old Town Dirigo 106 model is ideal for a relaxed ride across the lake or recreational fishing in calm waters. It comes in bright colors and beautiful designs, with a weight capacity of 300lbs. You get a perfect combination of performance, features, and price with the Dirigo 106 kayak.
- The kayak is short, lightweight, and anyone can maneuver it. For beginners or people looking for a recreational kayak, this seems to be topping the lists.
- It is a single seater kayak, with plenty of storage space, secured by bungee wired at both ends. The cushioned seat with foot braces gives you the comfort you need all day long. The in-built tray and cup holder make it even better.
- Three layers of polyethylene have molded to create the durable structure of this kayak. It gives strength, longevity, and performance.
- Waterproof glove holders and easy access thigh pads make it easier to control and maneuver it like a comfy car.
- The kayak measures 10ft in length, 6inches in width, and weighs 42lbs.
- Excellent design on all the models
- Comfortable and easy to maneuver
- Study performance that will last a lifetime
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Not ideal for rough waters
- Storage space is less
If you are planning to bring a considerable catch, then this may not be the ideal choice. Keeping that aside, this is an excellent choice for all kinds of anglers. It gives you a lot of room for customizations and enjoys its sleek and beautiful design.
8. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
Our list would have been incomplete without one of the best pedal kayaks. The Hobie Mirage Pro is for hands-free fishing. You can maneuver it by pedals and is very lightweight, giving you all the features you wanted in your kayak.
The accessory mount, of the deck seats, plenty of storage space, and drainage scuppers make it a perfect choice for all fishermen. This masterpiece comes with comfy seats, rudder systems, pedal, and has a hold up to 500lbs.
- It comes well-equipped with the powerful Mirage Drive and turbo fins. You can get a better view of the fishes with the elevated seats. It has 4 adjustable levels and a lumbar support system.
- It has a rectangular hatch, plenty of storage, and bungee wires at the back to secure the materials.
- The fish finder instrument makes it easy for you to catch fishes. You can entirely focus on fishing with your hands completely free.
- Light and easy to carry handles make transportation easy. It has 2 vertical and 4 horizontal fishing rod holders along with a 2-part pedal system with a T-Handle.
- Hands-free Kayaking
- Huge carrying capacity
- You can stand and cast, extremely stable
- Elevated seats for better viewing
- No waterproof storage compartments
- Pedals can get stuck in underwater plants and slug
If you want to try pedal kayaks, then this can be an excellent choice. Venture into the lakes and rivers and use the latest innovations and technology to aid you in your catch.
9. Feel Free Lure Kayak
One of the most popular kayaks for river fishing is the Feel Free Lure Kayak. It comes with a lot of advanced equipment like sonar, electric pod, and gives you scope for attaching transducer and extra power supplies.
The Gravity seat will completely amaze you. It can be adjusted and detached using a single level system. It gives super comfort and the best range for seat heights. You can either sit or stand and cast without any worry. Feel Free gives you the freedom to enjoy your fishing adventure to the fullest.
- You can equip it with the transducer and fish finders without drilling into the kayak. It has in-built electric pods for all the devices.
- It is highly stable, and you can easily fish while standing. The seat is the stand out feature for this kayak. Gravity seats are best in comfort, adjustment, and convenience.
- The kayak has wheels in its kneels for easy transport. Besides, there are handles at both hands so that you can comfortably drag it out of the water.
- It comes with two fishing rod holders, flush mount fishing rod holders, sufficient storage space for gear and equipment, and an oval hatch.
- Very stable and comfortable
- Light and easy to maneuver in the waters
- Ideal for both inland water and vast oceans
- Thin Hull
- Heavy pedal drive
Feel free to enjoy every moment of your expedition with this kayak. Gravity seats and electric pods are exceptional features. It is ideal for any anglers looking for medium-sized catches.
10. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Fishing Kayak
If you are planning for long days of the fishing adventure, then the Ocean Kayak Prowler is the best choice. The exceptional design, comfortable seats, and performance make it well-suited for river fishing. The kayak is 13ft, and the hull gives you complete stability even during stormy weather.
There is storage space below the deck where you can store all the gears ad equipment. Additionally, there is another more significant storage area towards the end secured with the elastic bungee wires. To increase your comfort levels, it gives you comfortable seats, cup holders, and paddle keeps.
- The adjustable and ergonomically designed seat gives you the ultimate comfort under all circumstances.
- Ocean Kayak comes with a long, stable, and fast hull, which gives you stability in harsh weather conditions.
- It has ample storage space below the deck as well as behind the seat.
- The kayak measures 13ft in length and 4inches in width. It weighs 56lbs but can support up to 325lbs.
- Easy to Customize
- 4-way-adjustable comfy seats
- Lots of storage space across the kayak
- Hull comes with a lifetime warranty
- Seat bottom might be hard
- You can get wet by water splashes
The bottom line is that this model in an expensive, versatile, and comfortable kayak suited for fishing under all conditions. The long and narrow body gives you speed and access to the areas where boats cannot reach.
Buying Guide for the Best Fishing Kayaks for Rivers and Lakes
There are multiple kayak options in the market. The most challenging part is to select the model best suited for your needs. Without proper guidance, you might end up spending enormous amounts on unnecessary features. Thus, before buying, you must understand the factors that will determine the success of your fishing campaigns.
What factors should you consider before buying fishing kayaks?
The type of kayak, sit in or sit on top, paddle oars or pedal system, inflated or polyethylene one will depend upon your need and location for fishing. For calm waters, inflated sit on top models are well suited. If you do not want to paddle, then the pedal versions are best suited.
The last thing you would want to happen is to tip over and fall into the waters. If you’re going to stand up and fish, then choose the ones which have a strong hull and extra support for more excellent stability.
Before purchasing your next kayak, think of all the materials that you would store inside your kayak – gears, baits, fishing rods, snacks, books, boxes, and tackles. Many kayaks have storage spaces at the stem and bow, along with space beneath the deck. If you need to carry only the essential pieces of stuff, choose the ones with watertight storage compartments. All the models we have reviewed have at least one storage space sufficient enough for the necessary items.
The length of the kayak would depend on the water body. For river fishing, wider kayaks would be better, which gives additional stability. But in case you want to venture into narrow creeks, or gain speed and momentum, then go for the longer and narrower kayaks. Remember to keep your balance and stability.
Speed has a direct connection with the length. Longer kayaks will give you high speed and is very useful for sporting events and activities. The shorter ones are easy to maneuver and control. Hence, this again comes down to the purpose of buying a kayak.
You would not want to waste a lot of energy on dragging the kayak. If you are going for recreational fishing, then inflatable kayaks would be better. They are easy to inflate and deflate, and you can carry them easily along with you. Before purchasing, calculate your weight and the weight of the items you want to take along. Your kayak must have a capacity greater than the combined weight. Never overweight our kayak. It can have dangerous outcomes.
The bottom line is that kayaking is all about fun and adventure. Researching well to set your priorities and select the best model from the list given above. Then, all you need to do is bring out your fishing hat and gloves, get your bait and equipment ready and say, “Today! I am going fishing!”