How to Choose a Fishing Kayak

Kayak fishing is only rising in popularity within the world of outdoor sports and whether or not you are a newbie to kayak fishing, a recreational kayaker looking to bring fishing to your vessel, or an expert kayak fisherman looking for a new boat - there is a fishing kayak out there for you.

Specifically, there is an entire realm of kayaks built solely for fishing and many of which are crafted with remarkable comfort and stability. These kayak boats feature anchor systems, tackle hatches, rod holders, and livewells. Prior to purchasing your new fishing kayak it is good to consider what you would like out of your boat in order to narrow down your options. Take your time when shopping and make sure to visit your local paddlesport shop to check out the kayak you have your eye on, in person. One size does not fit all when it comes to fishing kayaks and with the plethora of differing boat models being presently manufactured, you have a great chance of finding the perfect fishing kayak to fit your specific needs.

Finding the right Fishing Kayak for you…

As you begin your search for the perfect fishing kayak is important to consider where and how you plan to do most of your fishing and paddling. Take this time to identify your needs: Will you be fishing in freshwater or saltwater? Do you plan to paddle in streams or rivers? Are you interested in catching largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or trout? Does venturing into open ocean and launching through surf sound interesting to you? And lastly, will your kayak be solely for fishing or do you plan to use it for recreational paddling as well? Once you have thought through everything you desire out of your fishing kayak, then and only then will it be time to select a key few that fit your existing criteria. Prior to purchase remember to demo your kayak. Always, always, try before you buy!

When shopping for your new fishing kayak is paramount that you understand the boats most important characteristics. While fishing kayaks may be used for a variety of aquatic activities, no one kayak excels on all fronts. Choosing a kayak is much like choosing a boat or car which means pouring over a long list of specifications and deciding which ones you can compromise on and which ones you can not. After you thoroughly understand your options, then you can start down the journey of picking out the right kayak for your intended purposes. Below you will find some of the basic characteristics to consider before you purchase your next or even first, fishing kayak.

SOK or SIK: Fisherman popularly prefer self bailing, sit-on-top kayaks (SOK), especially when saltwater fishing. SOK boats tend to be safer since they hold the ability to roll over without filling up with water. Plus, anglers have more room to move their legs around which comes in handy when dealing with an aggressive catch. Sit-inside kayaks (SIK) are preferred when moving waters are apart of the equation. SIK boats are lighter weight than SOK boats and they also provide a drier ride.

Propulsion: Almost all basic kayaks are powered through manual paddling, but pedals are an option in several of the newer kayak lines. A favorite leg powered kayak is the Hobie Kayak Mirage Drive Line because anglers hands are then totally freed up for fishing and catching. Electric motor powered kayaks are also on the rise and we recommend checking out the Old Town Predator PDL model if this type of kayak interests you.

Length: In short, the longer the kayak, the more speed it will have to cover long distances. However, this characteristic does come with a trade-off as a good amount of maneuverability is lost in small spaces. Keep in mind that a longer kayak can also prove to be difficult when transporting and storing.

Width: Wider kayaks provide heaps of stability and have the capacity to hold more. Wider kayaks are great for calmer waters.

Weight: Weight plays a large factor in your cartop capacity and how much you can personally carry or wheel. Heavier kayaks tend to require a wheeled cart to transport from storage facility to launch site.

Storage: It is imperative that you consider how much storage will you need prior to purchasing your desired kayak. Does your current living situation host a large enough storage area for your chosen kayak or will you have to outsource its holding area? Also, you will need to consider how much storage your fishing kayak allows. This is important if you plan on carrying any camping supplies or live-bait with you while you paddle.

Seat: Inexpensive kayaks typically host molded in seats with basic removable seating pads. If you are looking for something more comfortable make sure to check out fishing kayaks offering ‘lawn chair’ styled seating. This style provides excellent back support.

Sand & Fish Capabilities: Supremely stable and extra-wide kayaks are built to allow anglers to stand and cast when fishing in shallows. If this is your preferred type of fishing, you will need to purchase a kayak with these characteristics and capabilities.